Why the Atlanta Falcons Must Avoid Percy Harvin at All Costs

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Why the Atlanta Falcons Must Avoid Percy Harvin at All Costs
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Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin is unhappy. What else is new?

Harvin wants a long-term deal with the Vikings, and to get it he’s ready to stay away from all offseason workout programs and training camp to force Minnesota’s hand, according to NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk.

Instead of giving him the kind of contract he’s expecting (an ESPN source believes Harvin may ask for a contract comparable to Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald), Minnesota may trade the wide receiver and be done with the headache.

And it’s been a headache.

Last year Harvin, on 1500 ESPN Radio, said he wasn’t happy in Minnesota and later asked to be traded. He’s also been plagued with an injury history that includes a shoulder problem and chronic migraine issues.

But what Harvin can do on the field would seemingly make a team like the Atlanta Falcons look past some of this. If tight end Tony Gonzalez does indeed retire, Atlanta will be in desperate need of a third target for quarterback Matt Ryan.

Harvin would be a shining star in Atlanta in the slot. Roddy White and Julio Jones could continue working their magic on the outside and Harvin would seamlessly fit on the inside. Harvin could even help in the return game, an issue that the Falcons don’t have a sure-fire answer for.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

While adding Harvin to the Falcons’ roster looks like a fantastic idea on paper, in reality it’s the furthest thing from what Atlanta needs.

General manager Thomas Dimitroff, working with team owner Arthur Blank and head coach Mike Smith has worked diligently to overhaul the Falcons’ locker room and turn it into a place for high-character, top-notch athletes. To make it inside the Flowery Branch facility, you have to excel on the field and off.

Harvin's had a shaky history in his short time with the Vikings, and he also created and lived through multiple issues earlier in his football career.

At Landstown High School, Harvin won five gold medals in track and field at the state level and was a multi-sport star. But his temper got his in big trouble, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Not only was Harvin suspended from school for striking a teacher/wrestling coach in the cafeteria, he also was given a one-game suspension for antics on the field that should never happen.

A report filed by officials said Harvin struck a ref and called him a homosexual slur. That earned him a one-game suspension, which Landstown Principal Brian Baxter doubled.

Harvin would later be banned by the Virginia High School League from any further high school sports competitions.

A Sporting News report cited multiple sources regarding Harvin missing the season opener in 2008 with the Florida Gators because of failed drug test, not an injury as reported by the school. According to the article, Harvin was in head coach Urban Meyer’s “Circle of Trust” and often dictated how the team trained.

It was Harvin, more than anyone, who epitomized the climate Meyer created. While former players say Harvin always was treated differently as a member of Meyer’s Circle of Trust, it was the beginning of his sophomore season—after he helped lead the Gators to the 2006 national title—that it became blatant. That's also when it began to contribute negatively toward team chemistry.

During offseason conditioning before the 2007 season, the team was running stadium steps and at one point, Harvin, according to sources, sat down and refused to run. When confronted by strength and conditioning coaches, Harvin—who failed to return calls and texts to his cell phone to comment on this story—said, “This (expletive) ends now.”

“The next day,” a former player said, “we were playing basketball as conditioning.”

After college and before taking his first NFL snap, Harvin failed a drug test at the NFL combine, according to Fox Sports.

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Harvin has been a problem for every football team he’s played on from high school to college and into the NFL. Why should the Falcons take on this burden now? His great numbers and huge upside aren’t enough for the Falcons—who inherently under Dimitroff don’t allow problems like this into the building—to risk upsetting the balance in the locker room.

In essence, Atlanta would be losing a high-character guy in Gonzalez (the assumption here is Gonzalez will retire, but that has not been announced as of now) and adding a potential atom-bomb of entitlement and nasty temperament in Harvin.

I truly believe that Atlanta must find a replacement for Gonzalez—either at tight end or a slot receiver—and it’s likely going to need to be done through free agency because the team needs the help immediately.

But the Falcons must stay away from Harvin at all costs.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and statements were obtained firsthand.

Knox Bardeen is the NFC South lead writer for Bleacher Report and the author of “100 Things Falcons Fans Should Know & Do Before they Die.” Be sure to follow Knox on Twitter.

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