Call it ‘Rumble on the Riverwalk’
offers to ‘duke it out’
By Mark Craig
McClatchy News Services
MINNEAPOLIS — The NFL took on a certain WWE flavor in two cities Wednesday as Jaguars receiver Troy Williamson expressed hard feelings for Vikings coach Brad Childress and suggested they meet at the 50-yard line to "duke it out."
The two teams meet Sunday in Jacksonville. As for the two men, Williamson vs. Childress sure sounds like an undercard in the making.
Call it "Rumble on the Riverwalk."
Williamson, a former Vikings first-round draft pick, hasn’t forgiven Childress for the way he treated him following the death of his grandmother last fall. Childress originally docked Williamson a game check of about $25,000 when he didn’t show up for the Nov. 4 game against San Diego.
Childress later returned the money following a national backlash of criticism and a meeting with a select group of Vikings veterans.
Speaking to reporters in Jacksonville about the significance of playing the Vikings this week, Williamson mentioned three times how he and Childress should meet at midfield and go at it. He also asked reporters to mention that to Childress during their conference call later in the day.
Childress played along when a reporter said, "Humor me for a minute, coach," and proceeded to ask about a potential bout at the 50-yard line.
Childress said there couldn’t be a fight at midfield because league rules mandate a "buffer zone" between teams, "and I don’t need any fines."
Asked what his weight was, presumably for a tale-of-the-tape chart, Childress joked that he was "190 pounds of twisted steel and rompin’, stompin’ dynamite." Childress also asked the reporter, "Do you want my reach, too?"
At 6-1 and 200 pounds, Williamson has the height and weight advantage. But, for the record, Williamson did offer to fight with both hands tied behind his back.
It was quite the buildup for a player who has four catches in five games this season and has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game because of a groin injury.
In a conference call with Minnesota reporters earlier in the day, Williamson wasn’t joking when asked if he wanted out of Minnesota following the situation involving his grandmother’s death.
"You can truly say that," Williamson said. "After that, I had no more respect for Childress. That’s gone out the window, and I don’t see that coming back ever. That bridge is burned."
Asked to respond, Childress said, "I’m not going to get into old news. He’s entitled to his opinion."
Williamson left the team for nine days last fall when his grandmother, Celestine Williamson, died.
He also spent time with his older brother, Carlton, who was in a coma in a Georgia hospital following a serious car crash the month before. Carlton is in a wheelchair and isn’t likely to walk again.
Childress cited team policy and "business principle" when he docked Williamson the check for $25,588.24.
"I know that whole situation affected Troy personally," Vikings receiver Bobby Wade said. "I know the guys in the locker room, the money situation, we felt that was out of line. But it got taken care of. After it was taken care of, we moved forward."
Williamson donated the check to charity in memory of his grandmother. But he obviously didn’t move forward.
Drafted in 2005 with the seventh overall pick that was obtained in the Randy Moss trade, Williamson entered the NFL with the burden of being Moss’ heir apparent. He never came close.
He caught only 79 passes in three seasons and is more remembered for his numerous dropped passes. The Vikings likely would have released him if Jacksonville hadn’t offered a sixth-round draft pick.
The Jaguars viewed Williamson as the deep threat they were seeking. But his longest catch this season is 10 yards, and the Jaguars are one of only two NFL teams without a reception of 40 yards or longer.
Williamson will be on the sideline for the sixth time in 11 games on Sunday. There probably won’t be a WWE moment at midfield, and, for the record, there’s absolutely no chance of Williamson giving Childress a hug.
"Nah," Williamson said. "You ain’t going to see that. No."