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Love Boat? For a change, no distractions

So far everythingis running calm and smooth

Associated Press

MANKATO, Minn. -- Jermaine Wiggins patiently answered questions shortly after reporting for Minnesota Vikings training camp.

With his son clinging to his leg, he was asked about his role in the offense, the team's expectations on the field and new coach Brad Childress. It was a refreshing change.

For once, all the questions were about football.

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As the Vikings prepared to open training camp, they weren't being asked about coaches on the hot seat, players on the trade block, rookies holding out or that seedy Love Boat scandal.

"You don't want to have those distractions," Wiggins said Sunday. "We had a great offseason. We've done away with a lot of the nonsense. Coming into camp, everyone's focused on football and that's the most important thing. The questions should be how we feel about the team, what are the things we're trying to get better at, instead of off-the-field problems."

It's new territory for this franchise, which has been a magnet for drama for years.

Last year alone, the team grabbed headlines for allegedly lewd behavior aboard a Lake Minnetonka charter cruise, former coach Mike Tice scalping Super Bowl tickets and former quarterback Daunte Culpepper's knee injury and contract status.

After the team finished 9-7, owner Zyga Wilf fired Tice and hired the no-nonsense Childress away from Philadelphia. Childress has immediately instilled a sense of order into an organization that was anything but organized under Tice and former owner Red McCombs.

Veteran quarterback Brad Johnson squelched what could have been a controversy over his contract by quickly dismissing the issue on Sunday. His $1.2 million salary is by far the lowest in the league for a starting quarterback, leading to talk that he might be unhappy with the deal.

"That talk really wasn't through me," Johnson said. "Pretty much I really don't want to talk about any contract really for the rest of the time. That's kind of where I'm at."

The Vikings shipped the disgruntled Culpepper to Miami, got all of their draft picks to camp on time and have virtually zero outside distractions.

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"It's what you like to do," Childress said. "You talk about it all of the time, you try to put your business to rest. ... At best, it's hard to play football at the NFL level. It's almost impossible if you're distracted. Those guys are showing up on time and we'll see how distracted they are, but all of those other issues are out of the way right now."

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