Purple Stain

Securities scams, karaoke-bar brawls, and the occasional boozy ride: At least there's one championship the Vikings might be winning

SCORE: 5

MITIGATING FACTOR: None apparent.

SCORE: 0

PSI: 10

 

PLAYER: Robert Tate

POSITION: Cornerback (1997-present)

STAT SHEET: Drafted as a wide receiver out of the University of Cincinnati, Tate saw little action in his first two seasons in that capacity--not surprising, considering the depth of the team's receiving corps. His blazing speed and aggressive hitting on special teams made him a coach's darling and, midway through the 1999 season, Tate was converted into a cornerback. It looked like a desperate measure to shore up the team's leaky secondary for the playoff run, but by most accounts Tate made the transition well. With the departure of veteran Jimmy Hitchcock, Tate may compete for a starting job next year.

SCORE: 2

RAP SHEET: In an affidavit filed in Pennsylvania Common Pleas court, Tate's former girlfriend--and the mother of his seven-year-old daughter--claimed Tate had threatened in a February telephone conversation to have her beaten by a cousin. Under the terms of a pretrial diversion agreement, Tate agreed to attend anger-management counseling and to avoid further contact with the woman.

SCORE: 3

MITIGATING FACTOR: Tate's attorney said the cornerback "regretted" his actions.

SCORE: 0.5

PSI: 4.5

 

 

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

BY 1990, DWI arrests had become a staple of the Vikings' growing public-relations difficulties, with 13 players arrested in a four-year period. Some beat the rap, and others were sent to treatment. Efforts at spin control encountered mixed success: Former general manager Mike Lynn's 1990 statement that the team's DWI problem had more to do with aggressive policing than an out-of-control club house flopped spectacularly.

Drunk driving has been less of an issue in recent years, with a few exceptions. In 1998 current running-backs coach Carl Hargrave pleaded guilty to refusal to submit to chemical testing in connection with an Eden Prairie fender bender, and in 1997 former Pro Bowl center Jeff Christy and backup tight end Greg DeLong were charged with the uniquely Minnesotan offense of boating while intoxicated. They pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of careless boating.

 

PLAYER: Keith Millard

POSITION: Defensive tackle (1985-91)

STAT SHEET: Millard was a key contributor on the 1987 Vikings team that missed the Super Bowl by one dropped pass, and he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1989. Had his career not been cut short by a knee injury, Millard might be remembered as one of the greats.

SCORE: 7

RAP SHEET: The notoriously hotheaded Millard's troubles were in evidence by the time he reached Washington State University. In 1983 he spent 15 days in a county jail after pleading guilty to simple assault after coldcocking his fraternity president in a dispute over first dibs on a slice of pizza. In 1985 during his rookie season with the Vikes, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in connection with a late-night row at a Bloomington hotel. In 1988 he was acquitted of head-butting a fellow patron at a Chanhassen bar. Arrested on drunk-driving charges in Washington in 1989, he entered a pre-trial diversion program, agreeing to sober up and attend counseling. Millard attributed a second DWI arrest, in Minnesota in 1990, to "bad luck," though he acknowledged having gone 73 in a 40-m.p.h. zone and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of careless driving. In another motor-vehicle incident, in 1991, Millard smashed his Corvette into a concrete flower planter at a Hardee's drive-through in Mankato and fled on foot to the training-camp dorm. He was not charged, but his 'Vette had a reported $7,500 in damage, and the planter sustained $700 worth.

SCORE: 5

MITIGATING FACTOR: Millard's statement to the arresting officer in the hotel fracas--"My arms are more powerful than your guns"--remains one of the most memorable utterances in Vikings history.

SCORE: 1

PSI: 11

 

PLAYER: Tommy Kramer

POSITION: Quarterback (1977-89)

STAT SHEET: As Tarkenton's heir, Kramer probably never could have lived up to expectations. Still, he proved to be an exciting if erratic performer, racking up three of the four highest single-game passing-yardage totals in team history. His 19 games with 300 or more yards remain a franchise record. He was the highest-rated passer in the league in 1986, his last season as a starter, and he was voted the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

SCORE: 7

RAP SHEET: Plagued by rumors of heavy drinking throughout his career, Kramer was arrested three times on suspicion of drunk driving.

SCORE: 5

MITIGATING FACTOR: He was acquitted the last two times, and later declared that he'd sobered up to avoid further hassles.

SCORE: 1

PSI: 11

 

PLAYER: Terry Allen

POSITION: Running back (1991-94)

STAT SHEET: A gritty and slashing runner at Clemson University, Allen wasn't drafted until the seventh round because scouts doubted he would fully recover from major reconstructive knee surgery. In his brief tenure as a Viking, Allen defused those concerns. His 1,201 rushing yards in 1992 remains the second-highest in team history. Following a second catastrophic injury, Allen became the first NFL running back to return to action on two rebuilt knees.

SCORE: 6

RAP SHEET: In 1997 Allen, then with the Washington team, led Georgia police on a wild car chase. Having been clocked at speeds reaching 135 m.p.h. (and estimated by cops at 180 m.p.h.), he was arrested after crashing his $135,000 Ferrari convertible into a tree. As part of a plea bargain, he spent five days in a county jail, was fined $2,400, and was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service

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