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Boats and NFL Players Don’t Mix; Remember that Minnesota Vikings Sex Party? [Read the Details]

Two NFL players, DE Corey Smith of the Detroit Lions and LB Marquis Cooper of the Oakland Raiders, are among four people on a fishing boat missing off the Gulf Coast of Florida, according to broadcast and print reports in the Tampa area.

The reports, citing Coast Guard officials, say that the four people left the Clearwater, Fla., area on a 21-foot fishing boat around 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

The boat is believed to be in distress, according to the reports. The waters there reportedly are extremely choppy and Coast Guard crews are searching a 750-square-mile area for the boat.

Search efforts began about a half-hour after the boat was reported missing at 1:30 a.m. yesterday, the Tampa Tribune reported.

Smith and Cooper began their NFL careers with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Ron Del Duca, Smith’s agent, told the Associated Press that Smith owns the boat and had been on fishing trips previously with Cooper, a former teammate.

“They’ve assured me that they’re deploying all available resources to look for these guys and get them back,” Del Duca told the Associated Press.

Smith, 29, is a Richmond native who played at North Carolina State.

The Minnesota Vikings Sex party back story:An alleged sex party occurred on October 6, 2005 on Lake Minnetonka with seventeen key members of the Minnesota Vikings football team, including quarterback Daunte Culpepper, Fred Smoot, Mewelde Moore, Pat Williams, Bryant McKinnie, Nate Burleson, Ralph Brown, Troy Williamson, Travis Taylor, Kevin Williams, Jermaine Wiggins, Lance Johnstone, Moe Williams, Ken Irvin, and Willie Offord. Two boats were rented and some, but not all of the players performed sexual acts in front of crew members. Prostitutes from Atlanta and Florida were flown in for the party, in order to perform the sex acts. There were apparently ninety people on the two boats. An anonymous former player of the Minnesota Vikings claimed that this is not the first time that such an incident had happened. The scandal has sometimes been referred to as the Love Boat scandal or as the Smoot Boat Scandal in the news, after the television program.

Allegedly, photographs were taken at the party showing people engaging in sexual intercourse. As of December 2005, four of the players have been charged with misdemeanors related to the events.

A woman called police around 9:20 p.m. on October 6 to report that approximately “seven black men” had urinated in her yard after exiting a “big shuttle bus limousine”, according to the transcript.

The woman later mentioned that the men were “sitting at Al and Alma’s”, the name of the charter cruise company that the Vikings players were later alleged to have used for the party.

Stephen Doyle, attorney for the charter company, said some of the sex acts alleged by witnesses to have taken place during the party included, “Masturbation, oral sex

The cleaning crew reported finding “used condoms, K-Y Jelly,wrappers for sex toys” and said “it was just incredible how it was left. Never in the history of this group of people have they ever had anything like this.'”

According to Doyle, there were no drugs and no minors on the two boats and that not every Vikings player aboard acted inappropriately.

Smoot was the alleged ringleader of the entire operation. He is said to have been the one who hired the boats for the cruise on Lake Minnetonka. Smoot’s agent has dismissed these claims. Smoot, however has not denied that he was on the boat that night.

Merritt Geyen who worked at the docks told a sheriff’s detective that three men planned the charter boat cruises. The day before the party, Geyen told the detective, Vikings cornerback Fred Smoot showed up with another man she did not recognize.

Merritt Geyen a dock employee, told the detective that crew members showed Johnstone, Smoot and an unidentified player around the boats, went over menus and talked about specialty liquors. Smoot then signed a contract for the event and gave his address and phone number so she could bill him for it. Johnstone put his credit card down for the $1,000 deposit and said the rest of the bill could be added to his card later.

Moore admitted being on the boat, but he claimed that “nothing happened.” Asked if he saw strippers or sex on his boat, Moore immediately replied: “Oh no, none of that. Sex? What are you talking about? That’s crazy. Look man, I’m engaged. That would put me in trouble.”

Sharper said “I know I didn’t do anything wrong. So I don’t worry about it at all.” He also claimed he was not “on the boat in question.”

Robinson said he was not on either boat and was upset the Minneapolis Star Tribune associated him with this incident, given his effort to rebuild his life after struggling with substance abuse.

Robinson says “I wasn’t there, as far as the whole situation, I just know I wasn’t on the boat, and I don’t want to get involved. I don’t want my name brought up because of what I just went through and what I’m still going through. So for my name to be brought up like that is just crazy and upsetting, because I don’t want anyone looking at me because I had nothing to do with it.”

When asked, McKinnie said, “I’m upset my name is on the list, but I’m going to let my lawyer handle that.”

“Lack of discipline will no longer be tolerated at any level. The events of the past week are unacceptable.” “If there was any sense that we would look the other way regarding this type of behavior, I want to make it extremely clear that this behavior will never be tolerated again.” Once the investigation is completed, Wilf said he will punish the players with fines and/or suspensions, although he did not say whether termination was an option. He added that there will be “no exceptions” for players involved.

On October 19, 2005 Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf, in a reportedly profanity-laced tirade, threatened to remove players from the roster who were involved in the planning of the party, according to Sports Illustrated.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Tice echoed the calls of Wilf, but wouldn’t go as far as endorsing Wilf’s view on punishment. He instead said that if any players were found in the police investigation to have acted inappropriately or criminally he would definitely take action.[9]

The Vikings created a 77 page Code of Conduct and distributed it to all the players. They also hired a former FBI agent and NFL investigator as head of security (a position that had been eliminated for several years) to help keep the players out of trouble, and contracted the help of a private security firm.

On December 15, 2005, Culpepper, McKinnie, Smoot and Moe Williams were charged with indecent conduct, disorderly conduct and lewd or lascivious conduct. If convicted, each player faces a maximum of 90 days in jail on each count. All players pleaded not guilty on January 6, 2006.

Charges against Culpepper were dropped in April 2006. Williams was found guilty on a count of disorderly conduct but was cleared on charges of indecent conduct, and lewd or lascivious behavior.[10]

On May 26, 2006, Fred Smoot and Bryant McKinnie pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The two will pay a $1,000 fine and perform 48 hours of community service, they also had 30-day jail sentences stayed for a year. Smoot and McKinnie also pleaded guilty to being a public nuisance on a watercraft, but that will be permanently removed from their records if they remain law abiding for the next year.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said the two players, in addition to their required community service, would participate in numerous service events over the next season. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said fines are likely, declining to say for how much or how long the process will take. He said the players won’t be suspended. Because Smoot and McKinnie are being disciplined by the league, the Vikings are precluded by the NFL’s labor agreement from imposing their own discipline.

In September 2006, the NFL imposed a one game fine check for both Smoot and McKinnie. Game checks represent 1/17th of a player’s base salary, so Smoot’s fine was $82,352 and McKinnie’s was $41,176. They did not receive a suspension. A day after the fine was levied, McKinnie was given a raise and a seven year extension of his contract worth $48 million. Coach Brad Childress said of their 2002 draft 7th overall pick, “when you have a good tackle like that, particularly a left tackle, you have to try to keep those guys around. They just don’t grow on trees, and he’s one of the better ones in this league.”

Another area sports team took a jab at the incident as well. On May 27, 2006, the St. Paul Saints, an independent minor league baseball team noted for its over-the-top promotions, gave away rubber boats to fans, ostensibly to honor the 30th anniversary of the TV series The Love Boat. However, details of the boats made it obvious that the Saints intended to parody the incident. Each boat was yellow with purple trim (the Vikings team colors); the bridge was designed to evoke the stereotypical Viking helmet; and the boats bore the name Minnetonka Queen, a reference to the lake.


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