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Morning Briefing

Hide the women and children

October 11, 2006|Mike Penner | Times Staff Writer

A wicked wind blows through the Twin Cities, sweeping out over the chimneys and the pine trees, all the way to Lake Minnetonka.

Policemen anxiously check their watches. Bartenders nervously pace the floor. Cruise-boat charter operators grimace and shudder.

It is bye week for the Minnesota Vikings.

The last time the NFL schedule read, "Minnesota, idle," the Vikings were anything but, using that downtime to launch their infamous "love boat" party of 2005, kicking off a series of off-the-field incidents that suggested the Vikings were taking their pillage-and-plunder heritage way too literally.

As Coach Brad Childress turned his players loose Monday, he gave them a simple four-word command: "Don't be the guy."

As in: Don't be the guy who next winds up in a local jail cell and/or embarrassing national headlines.

"Don't worry about it," defensive tackle Pat Williams told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "We've come a long way. Guys have gotten smarter around here. Everybody is smarter. Nobody is going to be 'the Guy' this week."

In the meantime, various members of the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Diego Chargers have picked up the slack, continuing to audition for the vacant starring role of "the Guy."

Trivia time

What is the Vikings' record since the infamous boat party of 2005?

Football prank, England style

Eleven years after the fact, the truth has been told about the strange case of Manchester United and the cases of Evian purchased during a 1995 trip to Russia to play a UEFA Cup match against Rotor Volograd.

According to the English newspaper the Sun, Manchester United players David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Gary and Phil Neville were fooled into bathing in Evian water during the trip because they were told Russian tap water would turn them bald.

Brian Kidd, then the club's assistant manager, told the young players that the water had been contaminated after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and washing in it would make their hair fall out.

Ian Dunwoody, who organizes Manchester United's international trips, recently revealed the prank.

"We took our own food and bottled water," Dunwoody told the Sun. "When I asked about the amount of water being used, they said it wasn't for drinking but for washing. It cost thousands of pounds in water."

Football pranks, New England style

New England Patriots quarterbacks Tom Brady and Matt Cassel spent much of last week trying to one-up each other with practical jokes.

A friendly feud began when Brady spilled Cassel's protein milkshake and Cassel retaliated by spitting some milkshake on Brady.

Brady's counterattack was more elaborate. First, he had the tires removed from Cassel's car and the car put on cinderblocks. Three of the tires were left at Cassel's locker stall. Cassel had to find the fourth tire on his own.

Cassel responded by filling Brady's car with plastic foam packing peanuts.

"Matt and I fight like teenage girls," Brady told the Boston Globe.

Or at least did until Coach Bill Belichick ordered a cease-fire. For the time being, anyway.

"[Cassel] knows now that I am willing to go to any depths to make him pay," Brady said. "These young guys should learn not to mess with guys that have more money than them."

Trivia answer

The Vikings began the 2005 season 1-3, then devoted their off-week to besmirching the good name of Lake Minnetonka. Since the incident, the Vikings are 11-6, including this season's 3-2 start.

And finally

During the interview session after Slovakia's 5-2 victory over Wales in a Euro 2008 qualifying soccer match, Wales Coach John Toshack was hurriedly asked, "One question for Slovakia TV -- we have a plane to catch."

Toshack quickly shot back, "I'll come with you!"

*

mike.penner@latimes.com

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