Vikings to give back Williamson game check
MINNEAPOLIS -- Grieving Troy Williamson will get his last game check back.
Vikings coach Brad Childress called reporters Saturday to share the news, citing a need to change course that "came ringing back" to him following a weekly meeting with the veteran players on his leadership committee.
More on Williamson situation
Mike and Mike debate the Troy Williamson situation, along with other NFL topics, on ESPN Radio. Listen
The Vikings say it's just business. But ESPN.com's Mark Kreidler thinks it's also heartless, classless and cheap to dock Troy Williamson a game check for a family crisis. Story
Last week, Williamson left the team to be with his family in South Carolina after the death of his grandmother, Celestine, to whom he was very close. An older brother of Williamson's, Carlton, has also been in and out of a coma following a September car crash.
In a statement issued by his agent, David Canter, Williamson thanked those who spoke up for him and offered support to his family during a trying time. He said he'll donate the returned check to charity in honor of his grandmother.
"My wish is that the issue is over, and that I can now go about being a football player and putting this matter behind me," Williamson said.
Williamson, the seventh overall selection in the 2005 draft who has produced little for Minnesota in 2½ seasons, chose to stay at home the entire week and not return for last Sunday's game.
The Vikings wanted the wide receiver back sooner, though, and docked him one paycheck for his absence -- which amounted to more than $25,000 of his $435,000 base salary. Players on the active roster are paid 17 times each season, for 16 games plus the bye week.
"I think the whole approach and intent, as with any organization, is to have guidelines so you have some continuity and don't do it haphazardly," Childress said.
In explaining the decision earlier this week, the coach pointed to other players who returned a day or two after deaths in the family.
On Saturday, Childress acknowledged he should have been more flexible and indicated owner Zygi Wilf was behind the revisitation of the issue.
"I think the important thing is everybody grieves differently. That's the thing that I learned, or we learned, in this," Childress said. "In the end, it's not important to be right, but to get it right."
He said Williamson would play Sunday against Green Bay "in all likelihood."
With sagging ticket sales and an unfulfilled drive for a new stadium, the Vikings (3-5) have been more proactive about public relations. Over the last several seasons, they've drawn criticism for a number of actions, words, or lack of words, that have come across as rigid or cold.
Most memorably, they cut Marcus Robinson last Christmas Eve after the wide receiver had had fallen out of favor with Childress.
NFL coaches don't often admit mistakes, but Childress has done that more than once in his second year on the job. After rookie running back Adrian Peterson carried the ball only twice in the second half of a loss to the Packers, Childress acknowledged two weeks later -- after the team's bye -- that the coaches weren't keeping close enough track of Peterson's touches.
The team will have to shell out another extra check this week, actually, after releasing quarterback Koy Detmer before the trip to Green Bay.
This came four days after he was signed as insurance in light of head injuries to Tarvaris Jackson and Kelly Holcomb. Holcomb's neck apparently improved enough in recent days for Minnesota to make the move.
Jackson is still a game-time decision, Childress said, following last week's concussion that knocked him out of the game against San Diego. Brooks Bollinger, who played well in relief, is the favorite to start Sunday.
Cornerback Ronyell Whitaker, who plays primarily on special teams, was re-signed to the roster after being cut to make room for Detmer.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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