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Updated: April 21st, 2013 12:42pm
Reusse's Reality: Here's why Manti Te'o will be a Viking

Reusse's Reality: Here's why Manti Te'o will be a Viking

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by Patrick Reusse

There are numerous stories appearing in the local media as to the likelihood the Vikings will wind up with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o in Thursday's first round of the NFL Draft.

It is a 100 percent certainty that the Vikings will wind up with Te'o.

Minnesota's need for a middle linebacker and General Manager Rick Spielman's obvious fondness for Golden Domers are minute factors as to why I can assure Vikings fans that this will happen.

The encompassing reason for this is as follows:

The No. 1 story when NFL training camps open in July will be Manti Te'o and the strange antics surrounding his phantom girlfriend.

Never mind the story has been rehashed so much that it's deader than that girlfriend. It will be rehashed again when Te'o takes the field for training camp. To do so, the national media will be required to be in Mankato.

Why? Because we all know by now that the Vikings absolutely cannot avoid being the source of hot-button news when training camp hits.

This is based on a track record going back more than two decades. This is by no means a complete list of training camp events (both in Mankato and at Winter Park) that have created headlines and controversy in the run-ups to Viking seasons. This is merely the best I could do to prove my theory on Te'o.

1991: Roger Headrick, a man with no football background, has taken over as CEO and decision-maker for Mike Lynn. He's making himself visible in Mankato. And so is Herschel Walker, evermore a sad presence as a reminder of Lynn's disastrous trade with Dallas.

1992: Headrick forced Jerry Burns' resignation and hired Dennis Green. We're so excited about the "New Sheriff'' being in Mankato, no one seems to notice a growing level of animus between Green and three veterans on the offensive line - Hall of Famer-to-be Gary Zimmerman, Kirk Lowdermilk and Brian Habib.

1993: Here's a headline for you: "Vikings bring in Jim McMahon as starting quarterback.''

1994: Here's another headline for you: "Vikings bring in Warren Moon as starting quarterback.''

1995: The 1994 season ends with a horrible playoff loss in the Metrodome to Chicago and backup quarterback Steve Walsh. Within weeks, the Star Tribune runs a story on Green, an assistant and accusations of sexual harassment. The hostility between Green and much of the media when training camp opens is palpable.

1996: Moon beats a spousal abuse rap during the offseason. That remains a mark against his good-guy image; plus, he's now 40 and the public wants Brad Johnson, so we have everyone's favorite aspect of training camp: Quarterback Controversy.

1997: Moon's gone and Randall Cunningham, a former MVP, is brought in Johnson's "backup.'' And there it is again: Quarterback Controversy.

1998: Red McCombs buys the team and takes over the state with his bellows of "Purple Pride.'' And as he's bellowing and glad-handing fans in Mankato, rookie Randy Moss captivates those fans with his speed and pass-catching talent from the first passing drill.

1999: Six months after the second worst loss in Vikings' history in the 1998 NFC title game (second only to Super Bowl IV), the Vikings assemble in Mankato. Following the first practice, first-round draft choice Dimitrius Underwood leaves camp and hitchhikes back to the Twin Cities. Also: Jeff George is in camp, as Cunningham's "backup,'' while No. 11 overall selection Daunte Culpepper learns his trade.

2000: Cunningham and George are both gone; Green takes offseason runs at other veterans, including Dan Marino. By the time the Vikings get to Mankato, the coach has decided to go with Culpepper, putting all eyes on the large young man from Central Florida.

2001: Korey Stringer dies from heat stroke in Mankato. The pallor never leaves the team and Green is fired with one game left in the season.

2002: There's a new coach in Mike Tice, a "Randy Ratio'' for Moss and a holdout by first-rounder Bryant McKinnie to stir up training camp.

2003: Culpepper signs a $102 million contract (which proved to be short on guaranteed money) and he's the central figure on the team when camp opens.

2004: McCombs is trying to sell the Vikings ... more interested in green than Purple Pride.

2005: Tice was outed during offseason for scalping Super Bowl tickets. Moss has been traded. Culpepper has a brief holdout before Vikings come up with $8 million in new money. Red's failed sale to Reggie Fowler turns into a sale to Zygi Wilf. Welcome to Mankato.

2006: Tice has been replaced by Brad Childress. The new coach immediately gets crossways with Culpepper and Daunte's gone. Koren Robinson is busted driving 110 miles per hour trying to get to Mankato before curfew. He winds up in jail in St. Peter.

2007: Adrian Peterson falls to the Vikings in the draft. We're excited.

2008: Tarvaris Jackson vs. Gus Frerotte. Yes, we got it - Quarterback Controversy.

2009: Percy Harvin falls to the Vikings in the draft. We're excited. And then when the Vikings get back to Winter Park, Childress picks up the new quarterback, Brett Favre, at the St. Paul airport, and we're hyperventilating.

2010: Training camp opens without Favre, with Sidney Rice limping (and then deciding to have surgery) and, soon, with Harvin leaving for his grandmother's funeral and not returning for nearly two weeks. Favre shows up again at Winter Park, but there's a bad vibe all around and it becomes a season from hell that gets Childress fired.

2011: New coach in Les Frazier. Donovan McNabb is the "new'' old quarterback, but there's only gloom over his presence among the Favre-loving fans.

2012: Will Frazier survive the season? Can Christian Ponder improve on his 10 starts in 2011? Can Adrian Peterson come back full speed from his knee reconstruction? Those are the questions in Mankato. Answers turn out to be: Yes, meh and YES!

2013: Manti Te'o. It's all going to be about Manti Te'o. Guaranteed.

Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He co-hosts SportsTalk from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and hosts The Ride with Reusse from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. He also co-hosts "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Patrick | @1500ESPN_reusse | The Ride with Reusse