COIN TOSS: A Matter Of Character

This week here at VT we are bringing back our weekly “Coin Toss” column where Adam and I go head to head on a variety of different topics. This week, we’ll be debating the fate of Vikings new fullback Jerome Felton.

We’ve been talking about it a lot here at Vikings Territory, but in case you missed any of that coverage, let me bring you up to speed: Jerome Felton was arrested a few days ago for driving while intoxicated… at a McDonald’s drive-through. Since then, Felton has publicly apologized for his actions and the trouble he got himself into. The team has really taken no stance on Felton’s future with the team giving the typical “we’re waiting to gather more information” line. The NFL on the other hand is currently reviewing the case to determine if Felton should be suspended as this, apparently, isn’t his first run-in with authorities for getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Brett says:  Jerome Felton should be released from the Minnesota Vikings. This team cannot continue to put up with knucklehead players like this who continue to squander the endless opportunities that have been placed before them.

Let me give you a somewhat disturbing stat I uncovered while doing a little research for this thing: Jerome Felton was the 600th NFL player to be arrested since January 1st, 2000. 39 of those arrests are attributed to Minnesota Vikings players. That is a whopping 7% (approximately). If each NFL team had an equal amount of arrested players, they would have 3%. We’re more than twice that amount.

The Minnesota Vikings have had more players arrested than any other NFL team since 2000. We have more arrests than the Bengals! At what point, as a team, do you have to say “enough is enough” and just immediately start releasing these guys as soon as they screw up?

It’s not even like the Vikings have a whole lot invested in this guy. Didn’t Spielman pick up like 6 fullbacks in the offseason anyway? Now, that’s not to say that if you are a high profile player you should be given different treatment (even though they will be). I’m just saying that the team really has no stock in this guy. They chose to give him an opportunity to spark his career and he messed it up. Adios!

Felton’s apology doesn’t mean a thing. He’s a repeat offender and the team needs to make an example that this type of stuff will simply not be tolerated.

Adam Says:  I am a big believer that when you are recruiting a player or scouting prospects, character is incredibly important. Leadership abilities can’t be undervalued in the NFL, and I believe that players that allow themselves to fail off the field are more likely to let themselves fail on it.

Still, I think releasing Felton at this point would hurt the team more than his DWI did. You are right, Brett, he was a cheap acquisition and therefore would be cheap to cut. So, why not wait until the final cuts roll around and then make this decision?

Felton has been widely viewed as thefavorite to become the #1 fullback on this roster, so it seems like if the team wanted to go in another direction and eventually cut Felton, it would still be beneficial if some of the other fullbacks are “beating the best” on their way to the top of the depth chart.

I say the team is best served by staying patient. Let the legal process run its course. Let the NFL make their decision about the suspension. See how some of the other guys rise to the challenge of beating out Felton for a roster spot.

By putting the decision off the Vikings can make an informed decision about his future.

I, personally, would rather have them making informed decisions rather than uninformed ones. Gather the facts, then make a decision.

Brett Says:  Well, here are the facts:

1. Felton is a repeat offender. This is not the first time he has been caught driving under the influence.

2. The Vikings have a recurring issue with guys like this who can’t seem to stay out of trouble off the field.

3. Felton is not an asset to this team. The guy has zero touchdowns over his four years in the NFL and a measly 135 yards rushing. Granted, the position he plays doesn’t really lend itself to super impressive stats. But still… 135 yards.

I don’t know what “facts” really remain to be gathered. The guy made a bonehead move and there needs to be consequences for his actions.

This is an incredibly young team now. The Vikings need to send a message right now that this type of behavior absolutely will not be tolerated. They’ve been wishy-washy in the past. That has to stop. If the team wants to get serious about fixing it’s character concerns, it has to take a definite stance.

Waiting for the NFL to make the decision isn’t taking a stance.

You bring up a really great point. Players who fail off the field are more likely to fail on the field. This definitely rings true when looking at previous Vikings players who have been arrested. Only a handful have actually managed to have decent careers in the NFL.

You really want to hold on to this guy just so other fullbacks have some competition during the rest of the offseason? Seems to me that not letting him go has more costly consequences than retaining him for the sake of a competitive position battle.

Adam Says:  First, perhaps we should find out that Felton is actually guilty of a crime by, you know, being found guilty. Then, and only then, will he actually be a “repeat offender.” That label may be the determining factor as to whether or not Felton receives a suspension from the NFL. While those facts are being determined, yes, it might be useful to find out if he is indeed the best fullback on this roster or not.

Felton doesn’t have, and never will have, stats that will knock anyone’s socks off. He does, however, have a reputation as a tenacious blocker which might just help Adrian Peterson get back into the game, Christian Ponder stand strong in the pocket, and this offensive line look better than it has. Refusing to admit that a strong blocking fullback is an asset to this offense is a mistake that I would expect from someone like Brad Childress, but not you, Brett!

Especially after I have heard you gush over Jared Allen performances… how many DWI’s has he had? I’ve heard you make the case that the Vikings should have been interested in Janoris Jenkins prior to the Draft. You certainly didn’t seem too upset when you reported on the Vikings signing Jerome Simpson.

Is it a personal grudge against Felton or something? I mean, it must be, otherwise some might think you have been a little, umm, hypocritical on the subject.

Brett Says:  Ouch!

First of all, Jared Allen’s latest grievance was two years before he was with the Vikings. Secondly, I was a fan of Janoris Jenkins… in the second round. I felt his talent was too much to pass up at that point in the draft. It was a low-risk move. If it didn’t work out, simply cut him.

Jerome Simpson is another guy who had a run-in with the law before he was in Minnesota (for which he’s already paid his time).

I am all about giving guys an opportunity to change their lives around and make things better for themselves. It is when they’ve been given that opportunity (by the Vikings) and squander it by doing stupid things off the field. If Jenkins or Simpson were to pull a similar move, I would expect the Vikings to handle it the same way as I’m proposing they do with Felton.

Now, obviously, with Allen it would be a little bit stickier considering millions and millions have been invested into him by the team. Still, though, I would expect the team to make some sort of statement that they were not going to allow this type of behavior to take place.

Also, I understand that a “strong blocking fullback” could be important to this offense hence the, “Granted, the position he plays doesn’t really lend itself to super impressive stats.” But, to be completely honest with you, I don’t even know how good Felton is… Has he proven himself to be an incredible blocker with the Lions? If so, how did we get him so cheap?

And do you think the drop off from him to one of the other ten fullbacks Spielman signed is that large?

Finally, this isn’t exactly a homicide case, Adam. What further detail could we possibly need? The guy is guilty, let’s not kid ourselves here. He’s already publicly apologized for it.

I don’t have a personal grudge against Felton. I don’t think he’s a bad person. I think he is a guy who just made a mistake. If he is playing for the Vikes come September, I will cheer him on just like any other player. Unfortunately for him, he made a mistake while playing for a team that has a big history of players making mistakes. And at some point, the Vikings need to step in and make it clear that this stuff just isn’t acceptable.

Adam Says: So, let me get this straight. Under your system, a player should be booted from the team if he becomes a character/suspension risk while being under contract in Minnesota. But you are okay with bringing in guys that have already proven to be character/suspension risks while with other teams.

Okay, that makes sense.

Felton is responsible for one arrest while with the Minnesota Vikings. By lumping him in as a statistic dating back to the year 2000 (when he was 12 years old) you make a case that disregards the fact that human beings are individuals and that each case has its own unique circumstances to take under consideration. You and me, as bloggers, can detach ourselves and make these decisions based solely off of career statistics and the police blotter, but the front office and the coaching staff (whose jobs actually depend on decisions like this) have to factor in a lot more variables than that.

I still just can’t see the point of cutting a potential starter, regardless of positional value, before knowing if he will receive a suspension and how much better, if at all, he is than the other guys competing for the job.

Besides, what player is available right now to replace him that wouldn’t induce little more than a yawn? Ochocinco?

Child, please.