As you probably know by now, former Minnesota Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie has re-entered the NFL and signed with the Baltimore Ravens. His departure took place more than a month ago, but I think it's worth reviewing his first interview since then and applying it to the still-gaping hole the Vikings still have at the position.
Speaking on ESPN Radio's "The Brian Kenny Show," McKinnie said he was released after refusing to restructure a contract that called for him to earn $5.4 million in 2011. He admitted he came in "heavier than I normally have" and alluded to a high cholesterol level but said he was never given an opportunity to test his conditioning.
On leaving Minnesota:
Bryant McKinnie: "Minnesota, it was honestly more of a numbers game about having their salary cap in a certain point by that Thursday, which really wasn't mentioned too much. But that's what it really was about, restructuring my contract and me and my agent didn't really agree with it. That wasn't mentioned too much. That's what it really was about. So we chose for me to be released."
On if he reported to camp in shape:
BM: Honestly, we never took any conditioning tests and the two days I was there, we had two walk-through [practices]. So I wasn't able to do anything. I never participated in anything. We didn't have a conditioning test, and [then] just a walk-through. So there was nothing to determine where my conditioning really was. I did come in heavier than I normally have. But I was still training ... Another thing that came up, but I've already had this issue, was high cholesterol. That's something I take medicine for anyway."
On if he is in shape now
BM: "I've felt like I've been in shape the whole time...."
McKinnie's departure left the Vikings with a utility-type player starting at left tackle in Charlie Johnson. It's still not clear if Johnson will be able to hold down the position all season. So I'm highly skeptical that the Vikings would release McKinnie, leaving themselves exposed at one of the game's most difficult positions, solely to create salary-cap space.
The truth is McKinnie was not just a few pounds overweight. He was nearly 400 pounds, about 35 more than where he was at the end of the 2010 season. And from what I've been told, his cholesterol number was astronomic and indicative of potential long-term health problems. I'll stand by what I wrote last month: At the start of a new coaching regime, the Vikings weren't prepared to coddle McKinnie any longer. They might take some short-term hits but they'll make it to the other side having established a new level of personal expectations for their players.