The Percy Harvin Story: Or How Do You Please a Sullen Mope?

I never spent a ton of time with the Vikings when I writing, but I covered a fair amount of the team’s 2009 run to the NFC title game, and that was long enough to be lied to by Percy Harvin.

Back then Harvin had a decent reputation among reporters; I don’t know if that’s changed much. I know that when colleague Brian Murphy drove out to his place in Florida recently that Harvin, though declining to talk — and probably in shock to see Murph walking up the street — was polite.

But back in 2009 I was in the Vikings locker room looking for preview stuff when I spied Harvin, who was having a terrific rookie season, alone at his locker. I approached him and asked for a minute and he told me he had something to do real quick in another room but he’d be right back. Great, I said.

He never came back. Forgot. Was busy. The next day, though, I was back at Winter Park and still hoping to get some feedback from Percy Harvin. Fortunately he was at his locker again, so I headed back but was quickly intercepted by a (nice enough) Vikings PR guy who asked me what I wanted.

To talk to Percy for a minute or two, I said. Nothing major. Harvin was physically with us for this conversation but listening like the omniscient narrator. The PR guy told me Percy had something to do in another room but would be back shortly.

I looked at the PR guy, then at Percy, and said, “That’s exactly what he told me yesterday and he never came back.”

I turned back to Harvin, who was looking at me with a contempt generally reserved for horse thieves and bigamists. It was a mix of unmitigated anger and shock that someone would step beyond such a Rubicon. 

A lot of professional athletes don’t like sportswriters; maybe most, even. I once had a player tell me one of his teammates didn’t like me because he didn’t know me, to which I replied, “How you treat people you don’t know says a lot about you.” To me, that little episode said a lot about Percy Harvin.

I never got to talk to young Percy that day. I do remember him, however, fumbling away a scoring chance at the end of the first half of an overtime loss in the NFC title game in New Orleans. I also remember him not playing a lot because of headaches, or hurt feelings, or agent interference. Whatever the case, I could never figure out just what Percy was so perpetually miffed about.

I’m not sure the Vikings could, either. Here’s a kid getting paid millions of dollars to play football ($2.77 in 2013) who pouted like a sullen teenager. How do you please someone like that? Wisely, the Vikings decided it’s impossible.

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