Monday, September 16, 2019
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Wilf says code of conduct coming for Vikings

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Vikings owner Zygi Wilf says he's calling NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and several community leaders to apologize on behalf of the organization. (MPR Photo/Brandt Williams)
Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf has reacted strongly to allegations that as many as 17 Vikings players may have engaged in lewd and possibly illegal behavior on a cruise held on Lake Minnetonka last week. Wilf apologized to the fans, the people of Minnesota and members of the organization in meetings with media on Friday. He says he was "disgusted" by the charges made by eyewitnesses on the boats. And Wilf says that once the investigation by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department is complete, some players may be fined or suspended.

Eden Prairie, Minn. — Zygi Wilf bought the Vikings four months ago for more than $600 million, and it's been a rough start. The team has started with a 1-3 record. It's lost several key players to injury, and now the scandal. Wilf made his first public statements about the allegations at the team's headquarters in Eden Prairie.

"I pride myself to be a family man and quite honestly, I'm disgusted at what I've seen, what I've heard," he said.

According to an attorney representing the charter company that supplied the boats for the cruise, men, believed to be Vikings players, engaged in sexual acts with nude women in front of other passengers and crew members. The attorney also says some of the players tried to get some of the female crewmembers to join in as well.

"All I can do is promise you that as the new owner, that a new start begins now in terms of discipline," Wilf said.

Wilf says the organization has instituted a strict code of conduct effective immediately. He wasn't specific about what those rules were, but he says players might be fined or suspended. "Regardless of what is found in the investigations, we will take the appropriate measures for those who were involved."

The Vikings have a checkered past when it comes to player behavior. Last year three players were arrested for beating up a man outside a downtown Minneapolis nightclub. This year running back Onterrio Smith was suspended by the NFL for the season after he was caught with a device designed to help beat drug tests. And several other players have been recently arrested for misdemeanor offenses.

The incident on Lake Minnetonka comes at a time when the Vikings' new owners are trying to persuade legislators to convene a special session and approve a stadium bill. Wilf says his main concern isn't how this incident may hurt the team's chances of getting action on the stadium. However he says he has talked with the legislators.

"I spoke to the governor. I spoke to legislative leaders; not to discuss stadium issues, but to express my remorse on behalf of the organization for the actions that took place last week. And I told them that I would do my upmost to ensure that it we will never have those incidents happen again on my watch," he said.

The Vikings face the Chicago Bears on Sunday in Chicago. Wilf says he will wait until the investigation is done before taking any disciplinary action. The investigation is expected to take several weeks to complete.