Father of former Viking suggests toxicity in Minnesota

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As the Vikings collapsed from 5-0 to 8-8 last year, vague whiffs of dysfunction emerged among the more tangible problems like injury after injury after injury. The father of a Vikings player who recently left the team believes that it was more than vague, and that it was more than a whiff.

Via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Riki Ellison provided via since-deleted tweet, Facebook, and phone information suggesting that problems exist within the organization.

“Exodus of their draft picks out of the Minnesota Vikings in free agency — with a new stadium, new facility — statement on toxic leadership,” Riki Ellison said via Twitter after his son, tight end Rhett Ellison, signed with the Giants.

“Do [free agents] think this program is going in the right direction and a Super Bowl contender or are they in a position to be another start-up, starting up from scratch?’’ Riki Ellison told Tomasson. “That’s why you see your veterans are leaving because they have to look at the future. They should be able to retain anybody they want.

“There is something going on, from my perspective. Why would people be leaving a brand-new facility? They got the best facility in the world. . . . That’s just not a normal thing to happen.’’

Of course, this assumes that the Vikings wanted to keep the players who left. Did they really want to keep left tackle Matt Kalil? Receiver Charles Johnson, a bright spot a few year ago, hadn’t done much since then, and he wasn’t even tendered as a restricted free agent. The others who have left include cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, linebacker Audie Cole, and punter Jeff Locke.

Regardless, Riki Ellison insists that there’s something about the team that is causing players to choose to play elsewhere.

‘That bye week was tipping point,’’ Riki Ellison wrote on Facebook, via Tomasson. “The head coach and [General Manager Rick Spielman] didn’t understand what they had and broke it, [leading to] the departure of Norv Turner, which was the red-flag indicator and the franchise has yet to recover, and the damage [is] still taking its toll. . . . There is no core offensive line, no leadership on the offense from the front seven, no running back, no No. 1 receiver and a tremendous void of lack of self-drafted developed players that were part of the best run in five years to set and lead the culture. Added to this was mentality of physical practices that continued to hurt players on the offensive line and burn out the desire of the defense to play hard when it counted most.’’

While unresolved issues definitely remain regarding the abrupt decision of Norv Turner to leave, the absence of any public or private grousing from players about the situation suggests the Riki Ellison’s comments may be influenced in large part by the team’s decision not to keep his son on the team. If/when current players begin to suggest that there are problems, then it will be time to take these issues very seriously.

97 responses to “Father of former Viking suggests toxicity in Minnesota

  1. I think the dysfunction in Minnesota is pretty obvious, and has been for awhile. He is just pointing out the latest symptom.

  2. Why would he not come out right after the season and say such things? Make it very clear to the Vikes that his son, regardless of an offer, was not going to play there again.

    Now he just looks like the jilted lover. Breakups can get ugly and Mr. Ellison had his feelings, and ego, hurt.

  3. The only players that left that the Vikings possibly wanted to hang on to were Munnerlyn and Ellison… Locke, Kalil, and Cole are complete garbage and all fans have to be glad to see them go. Ellison got WAY overpaid and Munnerlyn went back home.

    Why do players parents even speak up on these topics? If I’m Rhett, I am beyond embarrassed every time this man opens his mouth.

  4. Just because a player signs with another team doesn’t suggest toxicity. That logic would suggest toxicity in all 32 teams. Wondering why a player left a team after a new stadium is built makes no sense. Why would a player leave a team after they won the superbowl???Toxicity???

  5. and if you’re not from the area, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press only reports on speculative drama like this. If you listen to Zimmers press conferences, the reporters voice that you hear ONLY asking about injuries, drama and timelines is Chris Tomasson. Zimmer gets pretty annoyed with him.

  6. Yeah ok.. lets act like Ellison chose to leave for reasons other than money now that the ink is dry. He got way overpaid and he wasnt gonna get anything close to that if he stayed.

  7. Sounds like sour grapes. I rooted for his son and am happy to see him get paid, but there was no way the Vikings were going to break the bank for a TE/FB guy. Riki should be happy his boy got paid.

    Johnson and Cole were bubble players. Kalil was given a grossly inflated contract. So far, that leaves the punter and Munnerlyn, only one of whom is a real loss.

  8. I was going to bring up exactly what Florio did….did we really even want these guys back? If we did we’d have tendered Johnson and exercised the 5th year option on Kalil. Locke got overpaid for a punter. Ellison got overpaid for a backup TE. Not sure what Cole got but he was a backup LB, easily replaced by a cheap draftee. Munnerlyn was solid, but we drafter Alexander to replace him so we already had an exit strategy in place. So I don’t think Ellison the senior is correct, at least by pointing out who left. ALL weren’t really part of the future in MN for their cost.

  9. Is Riki just sour graping or is that sour grousing? For one thing, Kalil, Locke, Cole, Munnerlyn (age) weren’t on the list to resign anyway. I would have chipped in for tickets to have Kalil fly down to Carolina. Keeping Locke? Ha.

  10. Sounds like a disgruntled father dissing his son’s former team. For Riki’s information, the only free agent who has left so far that the Vikings may end up missing is Jeff Locke (MacKensie Alexander was drafted to replace Munnerlyn).

    As for Rhett Ellison, he as a decent player, but coming off an injury, and David Morgan has more than proven capable of replacing whatever role Ellison had with the team. Instead of ranting against the Vikings, Riki ought to be happy that the Giants saw fit to give his son a contract that far exceeds anything deserving of Ellison’s play.

    I can’t wait to see Riki’s reaction when, after two seasons, the Giants give his son an option to either take a pay-cut, or be released. Rhett Ellison is a good role-player, but he’s not worth the complete value of the contract the Giants signed him to.

  11. Munnerlyn is the only one that stings a little but we do have Alexander waiting in the wings. Cheaper player with a broader skill set so I see why it went that way.

  12. Captain left because he got a deal he could not turn down, his parting post did not speak of toxicity, he was pretty positive of his time here. Jeff Locke was the same. As far as Kalil I am guessing he needed to leave regardless. Rhett’s daddy spoke out last year too until the Vikes offered up that one year deal to his son. Seems to be his M.O., Rhett was in no way a dynamic TE. He had one or two good catches, no big loss there. David Morgan played better imo. If he was truly that good he would have beat out Rudolph.

  13. Riki said more not quoted here… He complained how hard and physical practices were… If rhett complained about that, then he’s SOFT, and his dad doubly so!

  14. That team quit last year. The O-line quit first and when Zimmer called them out in the press, the rest of the offense quit. Even the offensive coordinator quit.

    Shortly thereafter, the “vaunted Zimmer defense” systematically quit. It started up front and spread to the back end, especially when they openly defied Zimmer.

    Either they had 53 bums on the roster or they have 1 bad head coach. This math isn’t hard to do. Move over Tice, Frazier and Childress; there’s another “best coach in the NFL” about to join you on the ever-growing Minnesota scrap heap.

  15. Look at the guys that left? Not sure Riki has a point there. The Vikings have treated Rhett very well and in the full story he says this. But the local press didn’t print the full story. They enjoy trolling the local team as much as packer fans do.

  16. Look at the players that left he is talking about. Hardly guys you make an all out effort to sign. Riki doesn’t have a point here. In the full story Riki does say the Vikings treated his son very well throughout his injury. But the local press didn’t print that.

  17. well he is right about one thing. Something happened during that bye week. They came back a different team. It would be nice if someone could explain that. they went in undefeated and looked like a bunch of stumble bums when they came out. I agree something is wrong, but no one really is talking. I hope it is corrected. They proved they had the talent to play with anybody and then they couldn’t?

  18. MN trolls have been all over our stories talking about rats deserting a sinking ship….which makes this article quite ironic. I’d love to gleefully make fun of this but in reality it does just seem like sour grapes.

  19. Guys leave to get paid. Malcolm Butler just won a ring and he wants to leave NE.

    Do you honestly believe Micah Hyde thinks he has a better shot at a ring in Buffalo vs Green Bay?

    It’s the $$$.

  20. 56 seasons of bombing and heading for No. 57.

    From the top down, the queens are a clown show.

    Their owner has a 46 million dollar judgement against him for fraud.

    They proudly own the worst player arrest record.

    The fans for the previous 3 years steadfastly adored a felony convicted child abuser.

    This team is a criminal organization that’s being allowed to operate under the shadow of the N
    FL shield. It’s time it stops!

  21. I blame Turner. He wanted things his way, saw himself as a co-head coach, and left the team high and dry in the middle of the season when things didn’t go the way he wanted. He caused division on the team and what is happening now is the people he influenced are leaving. The offensive coaches have been almost completely turned over and some of the pro Turner players are leaving. This is all on Turner and I’m glad he left. I expect a much better season this year.

  22. I blame Turner. He wanted his own way, saw himself as a co head coach, and when things didn’t go the way he wanted, he left the team high and dry, causing division on the way out. What we are seeing now is the pro Turner players and staff are leaving and we will have a much more cohesive team again next year. Turner’s ego caused all this.

  23. Shortly thereafter, the “vaunted Zimmer defense” systematically quit….

    ————————————
    lol.. Didn’t they finish 3rd in the league in total defense? And that was with an offense that couldn’t stay on the field?

  24. Ellison sounds like a guy who when he plays Madden he creates a custom player as his son and maxes out the characters attributes to make him a super star.

  25. pkrlvr says:
    Mar 13, 2017 10:24 AM
    MN trolls have been all over our stories talking about rats deserting a sinking ship….which makes this article quite ironic. I’d love to gleefully make fun of this but in reality it does just seem like sour grapes.

    ***

    Don’t quote, and then lump ariani in with the rest of us.

  26. Actually, disgruntled father or not, this sounds legit…..Spielman is a turd who has done nothing for the Vikings or any other team but make them worse.

    And…while I like Zimmer and his tough way of coaching, I can see it not flying with today’s pampered players who get envious about players on other teams having it easy with patty cake practices. Could easily lead to dysfunction & griping in the locker room….I believe the story.

  27. All I know is that they freely admit to ritualistically disemboweling dozens of innocent stuffed animals.

    Does that sound like a healthy workplace environment to you?

  28. His son had nine catches for 57 yards. I don’t know who the moron is in New York they gave him 18 million dollars, but I hope he knows that he gave 18 million dollars to a guy that’s only going to block and not to catch balls. I’m pretty sure the Vikings can find any bum off the street that can give them nine catches for 57 yards

  29. Classic case of shooting the messenger and huge hypocrisy by many of the posters here. PFT whines about anonymous sources or bashes journalists for “making things up” when anything negative is said about their team or favorite player. Yet when someone actually does put their name out, the person is discredited by the same posters as being: fringe, disgruntled, “soft”, sour grapes, etc.

    Riki Ellison is a former NFL player and Super Bowl winner, and the father of an NFL player. He has MUCH more credibility than sensitive snowflake fans who can’t stand that anyone would dare to say anything bad about their team.

  30. Audie Cole leaving was a surprise to me, but not really seeing as he couldn’t get any playing time on defense here. Locke leaving was also surprising, but he probably got a better offer from the Colts.

    Munnerlyn – wanted too much $ and left for his old team.

    Kalil didn’t want to be here from day 1. He played like he hates football in general.

  31. Clearly something is going on there, how many times do we see a 5-0 team have its OC up and quit during bye week and its not because of illness? dude just up and retired and no one knows why, he’s not just some bum OC he was a very respected coach in the league….The reason why the father didn’t speak up before his son signed elsewhere was to not damage his sons chances of finding another team, disgruntle former players are usually labeled cancers….what went on that the OC decided he couldn’t deal with it until the end of the season before leaving…..my guess it has to do with ownership, it wouldn’t surprise me if these guys are calling the shots from the owner box on game day.

  32. You gonna eat ur words if Vikings go to win super bowl this year, Rikki? Otherwise shut up, just bc Vikings didn’t need ur soft, baby son ur going to try to bring up something.

  33. Other than Munnerlyn, the rest were replaceable scrubs. Still po’d about letting Sullivan go last year for nothing considering their current options – that had Spielman all over it.

  34. bocadiver1 says:
    Mar 13, 2017 10:04 AM

    Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Oops, I meant Minnesota.

    =======

    Denmark? Try Mogadishu.

  35. When your secondary ignores call from your DC and HC you just might have a problem. That is the biggest red flag of them all. Zimmer is a blowhard and that organization and fanbase is clueless if they really think their QB situation is solved with broken little teddy and Sam I can throw the hitch and nothing else Bradford. Alshon Jeffery turned down security with a multi year deal to not sign with this joke of an organization. Another indication of their dysfunction and inept situation at QB.

  36. This is coming from a reliable resource who didn’t see his son play football until 2010 because he was doing hard time for running a cocaine operation at walmart.

    I’ll wait for someone else’s comment before giving it weight.

  37. Mindless rambling from a butt-hurt parent. Name one person that left this year that the Vikings wanted to re-sign (for what they got elsewhere or more). Oooops…there’s not one person.

  38. “I blame Turner. This is all on Turner and I’m glad he left. I expect a much better season this year.”

    Yeah, that makes sense when you compare their record last year while he was there compared to the record after he left.

  39. Apparently playing for the Vikings (or formerly playing for the Vikings) obligates one’s parents to speak on the player’s behalf. Papa Ellison may be speaking truth but it’s still not a good look.

  40. Zimmer and Spielman have made some mistakes here and there but that’s true of any franchise except maybe the Patriots. I think injuries were the biggest contributor to last year’s collapse. You’re only going to win so many games with TJ Clemmings at left tackle.

  41. It wasn’t Norv’s fault.

    If it was as you say – they would have started the year like they ended and ended like they started once he was gone.

    Norv was apparently the one holding the team together.

  42. And I get those players leaving and such not being an indicator of the situation of the team but Alshon J. declining a long term deal to go somewhere else with a less established QB is a pretty good indicator of what players think of MN

  43. I think this was clear when the entire defensive backfield decided they were smarter than the coaches and executed their own game plan and Jordy torched them for about 200 yards and two TD’s.

  44. If you think players openly defying the coaches and not following the installed game plan on game day is just a “whiff of dysfunction”, then you may be a Viking fan.

    Zimmer won’t make it through the season. I recall him making a proclamation at 5-3 that “now we are going to do things my way.” Turns out “his way” isn’t very good.

  45. BLOWN out in 2 of the last 3 playoffs ……… small market, BIG MOUTH packer fans NEVER CHANGE …..!!!!
    Go start a bonfire with you stock ….!

  46. The Vikings have not lost one player of any real substance even if Peterson leaves, which I hope he does. The OC leaving was necessary as he wasn’t effective at creating a viable offense with the tools he had on the team. Ellison’s father’s comments sound like sour grapes without the acknowledgement his son was not more than 2nd string in a very replaceable position. What the Vikings have to do is evaluate offensive players in FA and the draft much better and develop rookies so they actually contribute as rookies. Problem solved.

  47. MOSSistheGOAT says:
    Mar 13, 2017 10:00 AM
    The only players that left that the Vikings possibly wanted to hang on to were Munnerlyn and Ellison… Locke, Kalil, and Cole are complete garbage and all fans have to be glad to see them go. Ellison got WAY overpaid and Munnerlyn went back home.

    Why do players parents even speak up on these topics? If I’m Rhett, I am beyond embarrassed every time this man opens his mouth.
    ——–

    4 years, $18 million is “WAY overpaid”?

    How Sway?

    And besides, that doesn’t negate the point. They’ll have a couple more guys leave next offseason who will want out and have no interest in returning.

  48. I did find it curious at the time that Norv didn’t mention Spielman at all, yet went out of his way several times to thank Zimmer and the Wilfs. Zimmer himself even said he was shocked and tried to persuade him to stay…

    Remember the Antoine Winfield cut?

    Players say all the time they love coach Zimmer, and Zygi and Mark Wilf are very hands off owners, so… Hmm…. Spielman?

  49. lenthevikesfan says:
    Mar 13, 2017 10:55 AM
    Shortly thereafter, the “vaunted Zimmer defense” systematically quit….

    ————————————
    lol.. Didn’t they finish 3rd in the league in total defense? And that was with an offense that couldn’t stay on the field?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Thank you for further illustrating my point. They went from completely dominant, to completely Minnesota, over the last 6 weeks of the season, dropping them to third overall.

    They quit. Period.

  50. BLOWN out in 2 of the last 3 playoffs ……… small market, BIG MOUTH packer fans NEVER CHANGE …..!!!!
    Go start a bonfire with you stock ….!
    ——–
    Are they making you angry? Check out a packer’s story to see why. And fyi, we were not blown out in 2 out of the last 3 playoff seasons. 2014 we lost to Seattle in OT. 2015 we lost to cardinals in OT. That’s not blown out. 2016 was a bad one, but still better than 2 playoff wins since 2001.

  51. I think it’s out of line, too, but at least the guy doing the talking played 10 years in the NFL and won 3 Super Bowls. So it’s not exactly like the other guys living vicariously and living off their kids.

  52. riggz91 says:
    Mar 13, 2017 3:54 PM
    Side note from the story, it could have been mentioned that Riki also played in the NFL.
    ————————————

    They save that for the followup articles for some reason. I admit I looked through the comments trying to find anyone saying that the dad is a bad parent who doesn’t know anything about winning or the NFL.

  53. tritz32 says:
    Mar 13, 2017 11:54 AM

    I think this was clear when the entire defensive backfield decided they were smarter than the coaches and executed their own game plan and Jordy torched them for about 200 yards and two TD’s
    ))))))))))))))))))

    More alt facts from packer fans. Jordy had 154 yards. It was Adam Theilen that had over 200 yards and 2 TD’s. There I fixed it for you.

  54. The Almighty Cabbage says:

    lol.. Didn’t they finish 3rd in the league in total defense? And that was with an offense that couldn’t stay on the field?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Thank you for further illustrating my point. They went from completely dominant, to completely Minnesota, over the last 6 weeks of the season, dropping them to third overall.

    They quit. Period.

    —————————–

    It was worse than that. They weren’t 3rd in the league, they were 6th. And they still went 3-8 over the last 11 games.

    They will probably start the 2017 season the same way, go 3-8 but finish 6-9 as they figure out they have two RTs, no LTs, no number one WR and a coach who ran them out of gas and lost the locker room.

  55. Its all true. Man speaks out; truth of spoken work directly proportional to resistance and denial.

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