By Michael Rand
Stu checks in with one of his finest Hunt Down efforts. Please note that if you still have some commenting to do on the previous post, don’t let us stop you. We’re going to be away from the computer for a few hours and wanted to give this post its due. Stu?
Name: Dimitrius Underwood
Claim to Fame, Minnesota: I think Denny Green, for all his well-documented faults, gets a bad rap from Vikings fans. He was the second-best coach in Vikings history, consistently got his teams into the playoffs, and played drums on KARE’s The Dennis Green Show, which just seems even more surreal now than it did at the time. Imagine Andy Reid doing that. Imagine ANY NFL coach doing that.
However, the haters aren’t without their reasons. This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of Dimitrius Underwood’s first and only practice with the Minnesota Vikings. Underwood, as you may remember, was the second of the Vikings’ two first-round picks in 1999, one that Green, in his capacity as personnel director, lobbied for and one that was considered a reach by many. Underwood showed up for the first day of camp in fatigues, ready to go to war and make us all forget that the Falcons drafted future Pro Bowler Patrick Kerney with the next pick. The inclusion of the second half of the preceding sentence indicates that this did not happen.
The rest of the strange, sad story: Underwood went AWOL after all of one practice, hitchiked to the airport, and disappeared. He was tracked down days later by the Strib’s Paul McEnroe in a Philadelphia hotel lobby, with $8 in his pocket and tormented about his future. That future would not include the Vikings, who released the 29th-overall pick in that year’s draft soon thereafter. This episode, along with the Korey Stringer tragedy, the Koren Robinson incident, and the case of Keith Millard v. Drive-Thru, serves as confirmation that nothing good can ever come out of going to Mankato.
Claim to Fame, Everywhere Else: seekers of redeeming personal narratives, look elsewhere. After his release, Underwood was picked up by the Dolphins, injured in a preseason game, attempted suicide, released by the Dolphins, picked up by the Cowboys, played 19 games for them, attempted suicide again, released by the Cowboys, charged with robbing a man in a wheelchair, found incompetent to stand trial, and unsuccessfully attempted a comeback in the CFL in 2005. If you hadn’t already guessed, Dimitrius Underwood suffers from bipolar disorder.
Wildly Inappropriate Metaphor About a Suicidal Player: in this July 2000 Peter King article, a Cowboys staffer is asked about the Underwood’s chances to make the team. The quote: “Gun to my head, I think he’ll make the team.”
Where He Is Now: more than a few internet sources that I’ve never heard of prior to writing this say that as of 2007, Underwood is in “the unit for the mentally disturbed” at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center. Take that with the requisite grain of salt.
Glorious Randomness: you can download the music of Dennis Green and the Sunset Music Band at his website. But you probably knew that already.
Talk Amongst Yourselves: was Underwood a bigger bust than Troy Williamson? Do either of them compare to Tony Mandarich or Ki-Jana Carter? Where are the worst speed traps on 169? And why would you ever go to Mankato?