Childress: Vikes will wait out legal system before disciplining McKinnie
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress said the team will wait out the legal system and the NFL before determining whether Bryant McKinnie needs to be disciplined following a fight outside a Miami night club.
"The legal system is obviously what's in play here for starters," Childress told reporters Tuesday at team headquarters. "It's difficult to talk about. The legal system is what it is. Time kind of seems like it goes through an hourglass. It grinds. It doesn't usually fast track."
Childress was careful not to pass judgment on McKinnie, and he spoke cautiously about the situation.
McKinnie has pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces including aggravated battery, which is a felony, and three misdemeanors after a street brawl outside Club Space in February.
Since taking over two years ago, Childress has demanded accountability from his players, both on the field and off.
Owner Zygi Wilf made it clear after coach Mike Tice was fired that he would not tolerate embarrassing behavior like the infamous "Love Boat" scandal, and Childress hasn't hesitated to punish players for misbehaving.
McKinnie's next court date is April 11. Regardless of the outcome with authorities, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could still decide to levy some sort of disciplinary action, as could the Vikings.
"I'd just say we've been consistent, the Wilfs have been consistent, with the way we want the Vikings to be represented," Childress said. "I know what Zygi's values are and I know what my values are and I know what our collective Vikings values are.
"I'm looking for the right words here. It's difficult," he said.
When asked if McKinnie, who signed a seven-year, $48.5 million contract extension in 2006, is still considered one of the building blocks of his team, Childress hesitated.
"I know you don't want to hear 'Until I get all the facts,'" he said. "But we could face some difficult decisions down the road. Some are tougher than others."
McKinnie's trouble is just one of the problems facing the Vikings this offseason.
Defensive end Kenechi Udeze has been diagnosed with leukemia and his status -- for next season and the rest of his football career -- is still in question.
Childress said Udeze visited team headquarters briefly on Tuesday with a smile on his face to see some teammates and coaches.
"He's still moving through the process," Childress said of Udeze's condition. "He has been unbelievably positive."
The coach said he still doesn't know if Udeze will return this season, or ever. The same can be said for fellow first-round draft pick and defensive end Erasmus James, who had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his knee for the second straight season.
After this surgery, Childress said James reported having better range of motion and less pain than after the initial injury two years ago. But "do I suppose he's going to be as good as new? I don't know," Childress said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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