The Woodbury High grad obviously didn't care about his NFL career. So why should you?
The most surprising thing about McKinnie's abrupt departure from the Minnesota Vikings was how many of his teammates agreed with the move.
After going downhill rapidly last season, McKinnie vowed to hire a personal trainer and get into football shape. He left Mankato, Minn., last winter at 360 pounds -- and showed up last week at 400.
“With so much time off, guys do different things. Some guys relax, some guys travel. Some guys like to party,” cornerback Antoine Winfield said. “But you have to be disciplined. All you have to do is go work out, stay in some kind of shape, and perform.”
Coach Leslie Frazier side-stepped questions about McKinnie’s conditioning and extra pounds on Wednesday, but several prominent teammates made it clear that his physical condition played a role in the decision.
“We all understood, everyone as professionals, that all we had to do is come in and come in shape,” Winfield said. “Coaches really had no choice but to do what they did.”
McKinnie had played in every game since he signed his rookie contract midway through the 2002 season, but struggled with his weight last season. Then he showed up to Mankato heavier than he’s ever been, and Frazier promptly placed him on the non-football injury list before cutting him Tuesday afternoon.
He got little sympathy in the huddle.
“My philosophy is this is my job. This is my livelihood,” defensive end Jared Allen said. “You’ve got to assume the lockout is going to be done at some point, so it’s your job to stay in shape. Everybody can find a gym.”
Frazier insisted he wasn’t trying to send a message with the abrupt dismissal, but that’s sure what it looked like. The coach repeatedly declined to cite the specific reasons for McKinnie’s departure, only saying that it had nothing to do with money and that the former Pro Bowler “wasn’t the right fit” for the team any longer.
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THEY HATE GOODELL. The Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be lining up to rip NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. And they're not bashful about it.
Less than three weeks after linebacker James Harrison made inflammatory comments about the NFL commissioner to Men’s Journal magazine, safety Ryan Clark on Wednesday criticized the power Goodell holds, particularly when it comes to disciplining players.
“How often did you hear (former commissioner) Paul Tagliabue’s name throughout the season?” Clark said. “I think (Goodell has) decided to make himself a major part of this game. I don’t know if he had some type of high school dreams or Pop Warner dreams of being an NFL football player, but he’s made himself the NFL. He is the most popular — or infamous — commissioner in sports right now, you know? Maybe that’s what he wanted to be. We know he doesn’t work for us, he doesn’t work with us.”
Clark added that Steelers players likely will not vote to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement unless Goodell’s power is limited when it comes to fines or suspensions.
“We feel like someone else should be on there; there should be … someone who’s not on the NFL payroll,” Clark said. “A big issue, for us, especially, as a team, is Roger Goodell being judge, jury and appeals system.”
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Contact staff writer Don McKee at email@example.com