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McKinnie Suspended 4 Games

Mr. Offseason

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The Vikings offensive line suffered a major, but not surprising, blow Friday when the NFL suspended left tackle Bryant McKinnie for the first four games of the season for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

The suspension has been rumored since McKinnie was arrested on four charges, including one felony, stemming from a brawl outside a Miami nightclub in February.

The suspension begins today and will last until Sept. 29.

McKinnie will be eligible to play his first game Oct. 6 at New Orleans.

McKinnie met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this spring to discuss his off-the-field actions, and a league spokesman said in an e-mail Friday that an appeal by McKinnie had been heard.

McKinnie will forfeit $764,706 of his base salary of $3.25 million. He received a seven-year contract extension worth about $48.5 million in 2006. The deal included $18 million in guaranteed money.

A Vikings spokesman said the team would have no further comment Friday, and McKinnie's agent, Ben Dogra, did not respond to a message.

The suspension will end McKinnie's streak of 89 consecutive games started in the regular season and playoffs. He will not be allowed to practice or attend team meetings while suspended.

Vikings coach Brad Childress has said on several occasions that if McKinnie was suspended, he would be replaced by reserve lineman Artis Hicks. Hicks, a seven-year veteran, will face a potentially daunting task if he ends up starting all four games.

Hicks could be going against a group of defensive ends that includes the Packers' Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, the Colts' Dwight Freeney, the Panthers' Julius Peppers and the Titans' Kyle Vanden Bosch. Those four have a total of 225 career sacks.

Goodell's decision comes before McKinnie's scheduled court date Sept. 24 in Miami-Dade (Fla.) County Court. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and his attorney asked the state to allow McKinnie to enter a pretrial diversion program that could lead to the charges being dismissed.

The NFL, however, strengthened its personal conduct policy last year to intensify discipline against repeat offenders. Thus, Goodell has the right to punish such players before the legal system adjudicates their cases.

McKinnie has had four run-ins with the law since the Vikings drafted him in the first round in 2002.

He was charged with obstructing a police officer in 2003 in Miami, but prosecutors did not pursue the case. In 2005, he was arrested for an overnight disturbance at a downtown Minneapolis convenience store, but misdemeanor charges were dropped.

McKinnie did plead guilty in 2006 to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in connection with the 2005 Love Boat incident on Lake Minnetonka. He paid $2,000 in fines, performed 48 hours of community service and was fined one game check ($41,176) by the NFL.

McKinnie said on several occasions in training camp that he was not worried about his latest legal case.

"I actually have been focused on football," he said earlier this month. "I feel like some of the stuff that happened in the offseason has been my motivation to play well this season. I've been pretty focused."

Hicks was the logical in-house candidate to replace McKinnie because he has experience at left tackle. The Vikings gave Hicks reps at left tackle throughout training camp as a contingency plan. He started Thursday's preseason finale against Dallas at that position.

Childress, who was the offensive coordinator with Philadelphia when Hicks played for the Eagles, has pointed out on several occasions that Hicks was forced to play left tackle in a Monday night game late in the 2003 season when Tra Thomas could not play because of a back injury. Hicks gave up a lone sack that night to then-Dolphins standout Jason Taylor.

Hicks also played limited time for the Eagles at left tackle in 2004 and '05 before Childress acquired him when he took over as the Vikings coach. Hicks was the starting right guard for most of 2006 but lost that job four games into last season when he was replaced by Anthony Herrera.

"Artis has always been a natural left-side guy," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said earlier this week. "We tried to stick him on the right side, but [left side] is where he's a natural. He's done a great job stepping in there at tackle, and we haven't had to worry about him."

theres the article, its a long one (or it felt like it having to change pages 2x to copy and paste it all).

anyways, i told you guys the vikes would have some issues, this is just one of them.

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