Purple Stain

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

SCORE: 4

MITIGATING FACTOR: It was a Ferrari and he was drunk.

SCORE: 0.5

PSI: 9.5

 

PLAYER: Chris Walsh

POSITION: Wide receiver (1994-present)

STAT SHEET: Used sparingly as a receiver, Walsh has maintained a spot on the roster thanks to aggressive special-teams play.

SCORE: 2

RAP SHEET: Arrested for drunk driving on January 3, 1998, Walsh pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of careless driving and was given a suspended sentence.

SCORE: 2

MITIGATING FACTOR: Emotional distress? The arrest came immediately after the Vikings' humiliating 38-22 playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers?

SCORE: 0.5

PSI: 3.5

 

 

ODDS AND TIGHT ENDS

THE VIKES HAVE had more than a few iconoclasts on the squad over the years, whose transgressions--if nothing else--represent a departure from that monotonous string of garden-variety raps.

 

PLAYER: Jim Marshall

POSITION: Defensive end (1961-79)

STAT SHEET: The original NFL iron man--and a charter Viking--Marshall started 270 straight games in his 19-year career with the team, a record that stands to this day. The dean of the famed Purple People Eaters defense holds the team mark for most career fumble recoveries (29). He earned the nickname "Wrong Way" for his role in the most famous play in Vikings history: a 66-yard fumble return to his own end zone that resulted in a safety. (As it turned out, the Vikes went on to win that 1964 tilt with the 49ers, 27-22.)

SCORE: 9

RAP SHEET: The free-spirited Marshall's post-Vikings career included a number of failed business ventures, and he lost his Bloomington home over a failure to pay taxes. In 1990 Wrong Way was arrested at gunpoint by Duluth police and found to be in possession of 56 grams of cocaine. He was sentenced to 90 days of house arrest and ordered to perform 3,000 hours of community service.

SCORE: 4

MITIGATING FACTOR: Owned up to his mistake in court. Bonus irony points: The legendary late-Seventies' Vikings party headquarters, located in the basement of Marshall's home, had an amusing moniker--Murder City.

SCORE: 2

PSI: 11

 

PLAYER: Broderick Thomas

POSITION: Linebacker (1995)

STAT SHEET: A big disappointment, Thomas was one of the Vikes' few high-profile free-agent acquisitions in 1995. The former first-round draft pick, who signed a three-year, $5.8-million contract, was expected to bring a pass-rushing threat to the linebacking corps. He didn't and was waived after a single season.

SCORE: 3

RAP SHEET: The image-conscious (or is that cost-conscious?) Vikings cut Thomas after he was arrested with a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun in his carry-on luggage at Houston International Airport. He was sentenced to probation.

SCORE: 2

MITIGATING FACTOR: Thomas had experience with the business end of a firearm. In 1991 he was shot in the shoulder by an air-force staff sergeant following a late-night scuffle outside a Tampa nightclub.

SCORE: 1

PSI: 4

 

PLAYER: Randy Moss

POSITION: Wide receiver (1998-present)

STAT SHEET: Coach Dennis Green still looks like a genius for rolling the dice and selecting Moss with the 21st overall pick in the 1998 draft. As a rookie, Moss sealed his reputation as one of the league's brightest stars with a pair of electrifying nationally televised performances: five catches for 190 yards against the Packers and three catches, all touchdowns, for 163 yards against the Cowboys. Though his sophomore season was more erratic, Moss has dominated the highlight reels like no Viking in recent memory.

SCORE: 9

RAP SHEET: Well-known, and the reason Moss--once a consensus top-ten draft pick--saw his stock drop when the details began to circulate. In 1995 Moss was convicted of battery following a fight with a Rand, Virginia, high school classmate. The other youth wound up in an intensive care unit with damage to the liver, spleen, and kidneys, and Moss was sentenced to probation and lost his scholarship to Notre Dame. At his next stop, Florida State, the burgeoning phenom was booted from the team for smoking pot--a violation of his probation--and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Since turning pro, Moss has stayed away from the cops and courts--not that he hasn't shown a lingering impulsive streak. Following the Vikings' dismal playoff loss to the Rams in January, a frustrated Moss was caught on camera squirting a referee with a water bottle. The league fined him $40,000; he appealed and the amount was reduced to $25,000.

SCORE: 4

MITIGATING FACTOR: Youth. Bonus irony points for appearing in Nike ad with the theme from The Dukes of Hazzard.

SCORE: 2

PSI: 11

 

 

INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY

Not all arrests end in charges, let alone convictions. Still, sometimes it's hard to dispel lingering suspicions--and the public-relations stains they leave behind.

 

PLAYER: Leroy Hoard

POSITION: Running back (1996-present)

STAT SHEET: A rugged role-player who contributed to Dennis Green's best teams, Hoard has spent most of his time with the Vikes playing second fiddle to fleet-footed straight arrow Robert Smith. He led the club with nine rushing touchdowns in 1998, specializing in short-yardage and goal-line situations. A free agent, he is not expected to return next year.

SCORE: 5

RAP SHEET: In November, during the Vikings' bye week, Hoard drew the attention of police after reportedly arguing loudly with a female companion outside a Florida nightclub; he was arrested and charged with possession of the designer drug Ecstasy.

SCORE: 1

MITIGATING FACTOR: Ecstasy's most notable effect is the mollification of the angry soul, so one can only assume Hoard hadn't consumed the drug. Charges were dropped following a delay in lab results. Hoard said the pills were painkillers, but police claimed they were emblazoned with a marijuana logo.

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