March 18, 2005
PBN Sportsource FLASH
Cowpile Winfrey May Go to Vikes
Despite their recent success, the Vikings have long yearned to fill a large hole in their O-line, but are also in dire need of kicking help after last year’s last-second Super Bowl loss, when the late kicker Sam Undazeto whiffed a 15-yarder that would’ve clinched the Lombardi trophy. For the Vikes, it’s either pick the near “sure thing” 6’ 8” 370lb Winfrey or take the 5’ 3” All-American and Heisman-winning super-kicker Stanislaus O’Bromowitz, who they would bring in to replace the unpopular Undazeto.
Undazeto tragically died during the off-season when a flaming SUV crashed through the front of his house, burning it down along with two adjoining residences. The Twin Cities medical examiner could not determine if Mr. Undazeto’s death was caused by being struck by the SUV, massive burns, or both. Three volunteer firefighters were injured in the incident but have since recovered. Many observers considered the incident, coming less than two weeks after Mr. Undazeto’s missed “chippie” kick cost the Vikings their first ever Super Bowl victory, was intentional.
The SUV’s driver, Pepe Iseksen, was uninjured when he jumped from the burning vehicle as crashed it into Mr. Undazeto’s residence. Mr. Iseksen is free following a hung jury trial for vehicular manslaughter and an unusual “not guilty” judgment read from the bench. Mr. Iseksen claimed the incident was an accident, but admitted that many had a perception of intent since he lives in a purple-painted house and is often seen attending Viking home games wearing a horn helmet and associated “barbarian” regalia. The jury deliberated for ten minutes before alerting the court they could not reach a verdict, after which presiding judge William R. Sundhow abruptly ended the trial with the “not guilty” judgment. Judge Sundhow said the prosecution could not prove the crash was intentional and he did not think they ever could, despite Mr. Iseksen’s high-profile affinity for the Twin Cities football team and his perceived displeasure at Mr. Undazeto’s muffed kick.
Livid prosecutors are hoping they can convince a higher court to void the judgment and let them re-try Mr. Iseksen. Several credible witnesses claim they saw flashes of purple and gold under Judge Sundhow’s judicial robes, and heard snippets of popular sportsradio host Bud Chatling’s afternoon broadcast emanating from Judge Sandhow’s chambers during trial recesses. Mr. Chatling – a self-admitted “Insane Viking Nut” - frequently advocates Pepe Iseksen’s innocence and caustically recalls Mr. Undazeto’s missed field goal. Mr. Chatling issued a statement which read in part, “Pepe Iseksen has been found innocent in a court of law. If my words helped him escape people’s spurious accusations, all the better. Judge Sandhow evidently exhibits the same wise temperament in his courtroom as he does in chambers and I’m honored he listens to the number one sportradio show in the Twin Cities.” Mr. Chalting also encouraged fans to sign a petition asking the Mayor’s office and City Council to erect a statue of Mr. Iseksen in Twin City Square. Those offices declined comment.
Frustrated Twin Cities District Attorney Tom Fastachie sees blind sports allegiance nefariously at work in this case. ”Everyone knows Judge Sundhow decided this case based on the Viking Super Bowl loss, which apparently didn’t turn out the way he might have liked, thanks to that blown gimme field goal that I could’ve made. Incredibly, this trial was in effect decided on the football gridiron and not in the court of law. This cannot stand in the United States , the sports culture cannot trump our laws. I will not let that loyal but misguided Viking fan forget his deed as no good deed should go unpunished.”
Asserting that the team did not want to inflame or influence popular opinion, the Vikings issued a statement before the trial and declined further comment. “The Minnesota Vikings family, along with our loyal disappointed fans, does not wish to dwell on the unfortunate accident, or the play in question, or the player’s off-season passing which was unrelated to the Vikings. The player in question was not under contract following the final play of the last season and he was a non-roster free agent who may have had a bright future in the game. The team has paid out the necessary insurance proceeds and other due monies to his estate and considers the relationship legally closed. The Vikings will remain neutral and reserve comment as criminal justice matters continue in a legal matter in which the organization is not currently involved and does not anticipate becoming involved. Thank you.” The team did not comment on persistent accusations that they had waived Mr. Iseksen’s season ticket fees for life, despite a PBN reporter obtaining a copy of the letter in which the team implied this change to his season subscription status.
Looking ahead to the draft and the possibility of corralling “a really big one” in Cowpile, Viking GM Judy Lezinki is relieved to change the subject from Mr. Undazeto’s grisly death to the giddy specter of Winfrey in Viking purple and gold. “We really love Cowpile Winfrey’s size, you know, she’s the largest draft candidate in the history of the league by far,” she gushes. “They call these drafts, ‘cattle calls’ but if this was a real cattle call, Oprah would be entries one-through-three and break all the 4-H livestock records. With all due respect, we’d also like to move forward from the off-season player accident which has been a distraction from the exciting choice we have to improve the Minnesota Vikings. Vikings fans are the best fans in the world, and we know the history of losses in big games. We think the Super Bowl loss has been resolved with everything that’s happened since.”
Winfrey’s agent Willie Johnson confirmed that Winfrey would not issue a comment, and that he was discussing contract terms with the Vikings. “As people finally put Mr. Undazeto to rest, we can focus on getting Oprah the contract she deserves.” He also confirms Cowpile’s enthusiasm as she awaits her selection and inevitable lifestyle change from dirt-poor overweight teen with self-esteem problems to bulked-up monster football star. “She knows she may go No. 1, and it’s just thrilling her. When I left her, she was just starting in on her twelfth helping of banana pancakes and fried shrimp.” Johnson quipped, “My goal is to get her enough money, she can afford that thirteenth helping!” Asked whether the Vikings should select his client Winfrey or kicker O’Bromowitz, Johnson added, “The Vikings are far better off selecting the sure superstar in Cowpile. If they pick that kicker, they will only be reminding their fans of that heartbreaking Super Bowl. Nothing against Mr. O’Bromowitz, but his selection would prolong failure and cast a pall over the entire Twin Cities. What team, what city, and what fans, wants to relive that makeable gut-wrenching missed field goal?
Told of Johnson’s comment, Viking GM Lezinki laughingly agreed, “You bet if the Minnesota Vikings select Cowpile with our number one pick, she’ll get that thirteenth helping of cakes and shrimp! I hear she drinks four or five malteds a day, and the Twin Cities had the best malteds anywhere! And finally we’ll be able to put that darn missed kick to rest. We need to put that behind us because it’s hurting everything from the city’s spirit to next year’s season-ticket subscriptions. But let Viking fans understand this: with or without Mr. Undazeto, Cowpile Winfrey, or Stan O’Bromowitz, this first female NFL GM and this Minnesota Viking team plans on being in New Orleans (site of next year’s Super Bowl) next January. And next year we’re gonna win it all!”
-- Rich Sheppard
(PBN reporter Robert Folgers, who covered the Iseksen trial, contributed to this report.)