By Steve Czaban Special to Published Oct 19, 2005 at 5:05 AM

"The Tice-tanic."
"Deep Float."
"Ship of Fools"

Heck, I could go on for hours, but these ship names for the Minnesota Vikings practically write themselves.

"Smooty's Booty."
"Dante's Inporno"
"S.S. Tuna"

(Sorry. I couldn't help myself. They keyboard just started typing uncontrollably.)

OK, so the Vikings wanted to blow off some steam during the bye week. See the fall foliage on Lake Minnetonka. Feel the chill in the air, almost as if you were standing out there naked.

Not that anyone was naked, mind you. At least not that any court has proven.


We think.

So everybody just calm down about the Purple People Eaters and their little three-hour cruise. Put down the karaoke machines that you are banging out comedy versions of the theme to "Gilligan's Island."

"The mates were a bunch of pole dancers
But the waitstaff was too pure ...
The Vikings team set sail that day
For a three hour tour, a three hour tour ...
The action started getting hot
The dancers strutted their stuff ...
If not for the prudes in the fearless crew
There wouldn't have been such a huff ..."

Now knock it off! It's not funny. We're talking women who were objectified in public, and paid handsomely for the pleasure. Allegedly. This is time for serious media moral condemnation. (I just can't italicize that enough to express my outrage and shock. Please note.)

Do I think this story has been overblown? Gut instinct. Yes. And then again, no. And then I think, yeah, sort of. And then I say "hell no, this story is sports radio comedy gold, that needs to be mined for every nugget she'll surrender."

So I'm a bit conflicted, although not as much as home plate ump Doug Eddings.

On the one hand, I'm no prude, and I believe in the libertarian principle of being able to "get your freak on" if you have the means and the money. Especially if you aren't hurting anybody else.

If you are a single guy, making millions, 'ballin', and have a week off, then strippers on a slow boat to nowhere with some teammates is just what the doctor ordered to take the sting off a 1-3 start.

But then again, these aren't just random guys. They are high profile public figures. Role models, whether they like it or not. And more than a few of them ain't single. And it appears they might well have been hurting others, at least psychologically and emotionally.

"Winter Park, we have a problem."

And the problem is simple. Average civilians and football fans in particular, still hold quaint notions of the nature of professional sports and the men who play them. Many fans, still believe that players care almost as much as they do, about the success and failure of their team.

So while fans are hiding their heads in shame over a start so abysmal it pains them to just get the mail while wearing a Culpepper jersey, the real Dante Culpepper apparently wasn't quite so distraught. At least not enough to turn down a boat trip and spend more time looking at film.

Allegedly. Ahem.

Regular citizens also have no earthly idea about the off-the-charts hedonistic lifestyle of the modern player. Yeah, we know they are rich. We know they drive fast cars. Sometimes drunk. We know they like women.
But when we hear a tale of debauchery that could be ripped from the script of Caligula, it pretty much knocks the public back on its heels mentally. Here's the account of the night from the lawyer for the boat company -- a little mom and pop shop that is more accustomed to Minnesota bluehairs taking wine sipping cruises.

"There were lots of people involved in sexual activity," attorney Stephen Doyle said. "The activity took place over both boats. it was not something that was attempted to be hidden from anybody, including this young crew."
Writes (Minnesota Public Radio): "Doyle says the men, believed to be Vikings, were described as being very large. He says some berated crew members when they ran out of the brand of Vodka they liked. Others became beligerent when the crew denied their requests to turn off the boats' lights. And Doyle says some of the men began asking the female crew to join in the party."
"Imagine a 250 pound or 300 pound guy inviting a 90-pound, 100-pound waitress to dance for them as she's just watched him perform various acts with somebody else either on furniture or the floor or whatever. It's just a frightening, frightening experience for them. They were just flabbergasted," he said.

Now, that's what we call "a visual."

To most normal citizens, such a party is a fantastical vision of either heaven or hell, depending upon your demographic.

To most NFL players, they call it "Tuesday."

The world they live in, the people they meet, and the privilege they are granted is simply beyond belief. Every now and then, we get a little hint of it, but only when a near-criminal act pulls back the curtain somehow.

What's so scandalous about this story? That NFL players are either too stupid to know what they did was wrong, or just to arrogant to give a damn. With at least 51 mansions on the Vikings roster (I'm assuming their kicker lives in a more sensible duplex) you could have done all of this and more with near bulletproof deniability at someone's crib.
And you wouldn't even have to wear those orange life vests. Unless that was part of the "sex act."

"The Floating Chum Bucket?"

It's premature right now to say this, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility, so here goes. Someday we might say, "Well, the Los Angeles Vikings used to play in Minnesota, but then one year some clown named Fred Smoot decided to rent out some boats ..."

Yada, yada, yada, next thing you know there's no new stadium and the moving vans are here.

The good citizens of Minnesota have been extremely shy about the concept of a taxpayer playpen for millionaire athletes. Several owners have coaxed and cajoled, but to no avail. This latest pitch by new boss Zygi Wilf might have been their best shot.

No matter how many good reasons there may be to building a new football stadium, all it takes is one really good reason not to that will energize the "NO" faction for years.

Now, those people have it.

Steve Czaban Special to

Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.