Vikings writer blasts Rybak for being honest

Ah, what the hell, were in the midst of sports craziness, so I might as well start a virtual bar fight …

Journalist Michael Kinsley famously defined a gaffe as “when a politician tells the truth.” According to Star Tribune football writer Mark Craig, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak went overboard when he criticized ex-Vikings receiver Randy Moss on MSNBC yesterday. I’ll let Mark set the scene:

For the most part, Rybak did the cute little dueling mayor thing that’s become so cliche it makes most of us want to puke.

If you can’t stomach the first 3 1/2 minutes, fast forward to about the 3:45 mark of the interview. That’s where Rybak should be flagged for unsportsmanlike mayoring when he launches into a 22-second unprovoked attack on former Viking Randy Moss.

In trying to describe as how sometimes players just don’t fit the teams they play for, Rybak said:

“I think there are some times when a fit just doesn’t work with the team anymore. Like Randy Moss may be the greatest receiver anywhere around, but I don’t want that guy to ever come back into the city of Minneapolis again. He was a jerk when he was here, and, uh, Brett wasn’t a jerk when he was over there. There’s a different deal, but sometimes fits don’t work in football. So, hey, he fits beautifully here and we are happy to take him.”

It’s one thing for the drunk at the end of the bar to say this. It’s another for the mayor to go on TV and say it.

While I agree with Craig about the cutesy mayor thing, he apparently forgot that among other misdeeds, Moss hit a city employee with his car in Rybak’s first year in office. Craig excuses an athlete in the oldest, most tired way — he played really well and sold a lot of tickets! — to wipe away Rybak’s reasonable rip.

The mayor didn’t say, as Craig asserts, that Moss was “Public Enemy No. 1” — that’s going overboard. Rybak said what many sportswriters, even at Craig’s own paper, have said over the years: Moss was a sketchy character and a questionable teammate.

I agree with editorial writer Lori Sturdevant that Rybak should cut the crap and announce his gubernatorial bid, but I’m not going to ding him for being blunt on — horror of horrors! — cable TV.

Put away the pom-poms, Mark. We need more straight talk — hopefully on more substantive issues next time.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Alicia DeMatteo on 10/06/2009 - 10:45 am.

    Maybe someday, in a political paradise, we won’t view truth telling as a “gaffe.”

    Is it really that shocking that a mayor wouldn’t want someone sticking around who hits his employees with their car? No, but we’re just shocked he said it and didn’t give some sugar-coated “I love you, you love me” answer.

  2. Submitted by tom moore on 10/06/2009 - 12:16 pm.

    the problem was, for me, that rybak wasn’t asked about moss – it was just him trying to get in a cutesy line. but it was at a person’s expense. he wouldn’t call a resident of minneapolis who did the same things Moss did (with the traffic cop, or anything else) a “jerk”, would he? this many years later? as in, “john jackson of south minneapolis is a jerk.” i hope not, at least. i like rybak, and i also think this was a little bit classless.

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/07/2009 - 07:43 am.

    Politicians are often accused of being evasive. Here Rybak is being criticized for telling us at least a little bit about what he thinks.

    Does Craig really prefer it when politicians maintain a stonewall of silence, giving him nothing to report? Is that good for ha business, which really isn’t such good shape?

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/07/2009 - 09:31 am.

    I’ll see your poke of the hornets nest and raise you three. Rybak is discovering the Don Imus phenomena, you can degrade, insult, and disparage anyone you want for years. But turn your vitriol on an athlete and you’re messing with the primal forces of nature. We take our sports very seriously.

  5. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 10/07/2009 - 11:45 am.

    Sportswriters tend to be very protective of their turf. Rybak isn’t taking much of a risk in knocking Randy Moss.

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