SBD/Issue 152/Franchises

Vikings Draft WR Percy Harvin Despite Recent Off-Field Issues

Recent Report Says Harvin Tested
Positive For Marijuana At Combine
The Vikings have "made it clear they value character in their players, but they also put a premium on playmaking ability," and by selecting WR Percy Harvin with the No. 22 pick in Saturday's NFL Draft, they "took the calculated risk that [he] will be able to deliver in the latter area, while putting any questions about the former behind him," according to Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Several NFL teams reportedly decided not to draft Harvin "because of issues surrounding his character," including a recent report that he tested positive for marijuana at the February NFL combine. But Vikings coach Brad Childress last week visited Harvin and "apparently came away satisfied with what he learned after spending time with Harvin and his family." Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf said that the team has conducted the "due diligence necessary to answer any questions they had about Harvin." Wilf: "We've got the players that have made our team a team of character, and I think he'll be a great addition" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/26). NFL Network's Mike Mayock reported the team had to get “permission” to select him because the owner has to “buy off on the character concerns" (NFL Network, 4/25). ESPN's Michael Smith noted the Vikings discussed Harvin with Wilf until Saturday morning "to make sure he signed off on it" (ESPN, 4/26).

BUYER BEWARE: In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan wrote under the header, "Harvin Just Latest In List Of Gambles By Vikings." Harvin "is a risk," and fans can "worry about his history with drugs, injuries and temper tantrums." But "virtually every draft pick is a risk," and the Vikings "were right to gamble" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/26). ESPN’s Smith said, “Since Brad Childress got their in ’06, his main job -- more than winning football games -- has been cleaning up the image of that organization. … You have to give them the benefit of the doubt that they did their homework on this guy” (ESPN, 4/26). ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Childress in his meeting with Harvin asked him about "all the issues that they have heard about this guy and then (came) away with some type of peace that they can take him." Mortensen: "They obviously did their homework, still buyer beware here" (ESPN, 4/25). Childress admitted that he "might not have been willing to take on a player with Harvin's baggage during the early part of his tenure in Minnesota" (ESPN.com, 4/26). NFL Net's Mayock said of the selection, "That is a bold, bold move" (NFL Network, 4/25). In St. Paul, Tom Powers wrote of Harvin, "With your future on the line, who chances toking up like that before the combine? That's not real smart." But a college student smoking pot is "no big deal" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 4/26).

Tate Says Testing Positive For Marijuana
At Combine "A Mistake"
BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER? The Patriots yesterday selected WR Brandon Tate in the third round after Tate also tested positive for marijuana at the combine. Tate: "I know I had made a mistake, and all that is behind me" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/27). ESPN's Mortensen: "What’s interesting ... is we know (the Patriots) don’t generally take what we would call ‘dumb players’ so they’ve done their homework on him, I assume" (ESPN, 4/26). SI.com's Andrew Perloff wrote it seems that "'character issues' are another opportunity for the wise teams to get more value out of a pick," and the Patriots are "better at choosing personnel than anyone, and they seem to add character risk every year now." If a team has "strong enough leadership, adding character issue players is clearly not a problem" (FANNATION.com, 4/26).

BENGALS NOT WORRIED: The Bengals Saturday drafted OT Andre Smith and LB Rey Maualuga, both who have dealt with off-field issues, and YAHOO SPORTS' Matthew Darnell wrote with the "character problems that have plagued" the Bengals, they "might occasionally want to think about that during the NFL Draft" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/26). But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said of selecting Smith, "We didn’t have any hesitation. We discussed this very thoroughly" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 4/26).

WHAT A CHARACTER: In California, Loren Nelson examines Chargers first-round pick LB Larry English under the header, "Character Quality Key Component of Chargers' Top Pick." It is "not often that a top draft pick and instant multimillionaire travels halfway across the country for a one-day meet-and-greet with his new employers and brings his parents, younger sister, grandfather, aunt and uncle along for the ride." But English's visit was a "touching scene" and "came off as genuine." Chargers coach Norv Turner said English is "as good a person as you are going to want to have on your football team" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 4/27). Meanwhile, in K.C., Kent Babb examined Chiefs first-round pick DE Tyson Jackson under the header, "Chiefs Go For Solid Citizen In Jackson With Top Pick" (K.C. STAR, 4/26).

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