Mystery growing with Percy Harvin

MANKATO, Minn. -- Here are the facts as we know them:

  1. The grandmother of Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin died two weekends ago.

  2. Harvin has missed a total of 14 practices over the ensuing eight days, most recently Monday morning at Minnesota State, Mankato.

  3. When I asked coach Brad Childress when Harvin was expected to return, he said: "I thought he was going to be back today. I'm not sure. It's on its own time."

  4. Speaking at about the same time, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told reporters that Harvin is dealing with "some personal issues."

I think it's fair to say that Harvin's status has turned into a bit of a mystery, one for which we can all come up with our own conspiracy theories. In the NFL working environment, at least, eight days is a long time to be gone following a death in the family.

But here's a bit of context to keep in mind: Three years ago, the Vikings drew unwanted national attention when they docked receiver Troy Williamson his weekly game check while he tended to the funeral and final arrangements for his grandmother. If you recall, a group of veteran players implored Childress to reverse course, and eventually the team paid Williamson his full check. That experience is without a doubt hovering over Harvin’s absence.

I have no doubt the team expected him to return long before now. But how could the Vikings possibly raise a stink about it, either publicly or privately? From a player relations standpoint, they're hamstrung by the scar tissue of the Williamson debacle. As Childress said, this situation is "on its own time." For the immediate future, the Vikings seem to be at Harvin's mercy.

It's an odd situation for an NFL team to find itself in, and it's especially noticeable when tailback Adrian Peterson and receiver Sidney Rice, both 2009 Pro Bowlers, have also missed significant camp time with what are believed to be minor injuries.

Like the Vikings, I surely don't want to seem insensitive. I'm not questioning Harvin's extended absence, other than to note it's longer than NFL players typically take in this situation.