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Vikings unveil 77-page player code of conduct

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings unveiled their
new code of conduct and employee handbook to the entire
organization during mandatory meetings on Saturday.

The 77-page binders were presented and distributed during two
separate gatherings -- one for staff and one for the players. Work
began on the guidelines the day after Zygi Wilf's purchase of the
team closed in June, according to Kevin Warren, the team's vice
president of operations and legal counsel.

The document was not produced in response to any specific
off-the-field embarrassments, of which the Vikings have had many
over the years -- especially lately.

In early October, allegations of sexual misconduct involving
several players on a boat party were brought forth by crew members
on the charter cruise. An investigation has continued since then
without any charges being filed.

The code is a definition of the character the Wilf family
strives to instill in the organization, Warren said.

In a letter to players, coaches and staff, Zygi Wilf and his
brother, team president Mark Wilf, described the document as the
"written expression of the class, dignity and integrity that we
strive to maintain in our business dealings, and the class, dignity
and integrity we expect from our players, coaches and staff."

Still, it very clearly warns against extracurricular
misbehavior.

"If you go out and do something that you would not want to do
in front of your spouses or your parents or your kids and it
becomes public," Warren said, "there is going to be some
ramification."

The Vikings vetted the code with a local law firm and the league
to make sure it was in accordance with the collective bargaining
agreement with the players' union. Wilf's group approved it during
a meeting last week in New York.

According to the code, violations "may result in discipline up
to and including fines, suspension and/or termination of
employment."

But it's not meant to be threatening, Warren said.

"I think what the employees here are starting to understand is
that the ownership group are special people and that they really
are trying to do this the right way," Warren said. "This is not a
punitive document. This is not written to say, 'We're hiding back
in the corner. We're going to look to see who does what.' This is to
say, 'Look, guys, for us to be able to hold you to a certain
standard, we have to tell you what our expectations are. Here are
our expectations.' "

The personal behavior guidelines are highly specific, including
a section on smoking. The Vikings vow to pay 50 percent of the cost
of a hospital-sponsored program designed to help people quit,
should an employee wish to pursue that.

There was a handbook when Red McCombs owned the team, but it
hadn't been updated in some time. The exhaustive revision was a
collaborative effort.

The players, according to Warren, were receptive.

"Basically everything was, 'Be smart,"' said veteran receiver
Marcus Robinson. "Just be smart about everything you do, on and
off the field."