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.

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

"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

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

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

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