Size is what helped Bryant McKinnie become a Pro Bowl offensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings and the recipient of a 2006 contract extension that was close to $50 million. Size is what caused him to get cut by the team on Tuesday.
McKinnie showed up to Vikings training camp weighing nearly 400 pounds, 65 pounds above last season's official playing weight. Judd Zugland of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that McKinnie's girth was the "final straw" with the team. On Monday, the 31-year-old lineman was placed on the non-football injury list. The next day, he was gone.
The Vikings will avoid McKinnie's $5.4 million cap number for 2011 as a result of the release.
There's always a fine line in the NFL between acceptably heavy and too heavy. Guys on the line, like McKinnie, have to be big enough to open gaps for running backs and prevent the pass rush but athletic enough to stay on the field for a three-hour game and make it through training camp. Teams want their linemen bigger and bigger, up to a point. Once that tipping point is reached, they're done with you.
McKinnie's talent kept him in a Vikings uniform even through myriad off-field issues. He was suspended for four games in 2008 after his involvement in a Miami brawl and was instrumental in the team's embarrassing Love Boat incident. Last year, McKinnie was booted from the Pro Bowl team.
He insisted to TMZ that the release was of his own doing, an interesting statement on a number of levels, the biggest of which is that Bryant McKinnie talks to TMZ about his football contract.
McKinnie said he'll be ready for next year with a different team. During his break, he'd be wise to remember that the Vikings just proved the old adage true: Size matters.
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