Father of ex-Vikings TE Rhett Ellison: ‘Toxic leadership’ reason players leaving Minnesota

Rhett Ellison was a member of the Minnesota Vikings the past five years until this offseason when he signed with the New York Giants in free agency.

Ellison’s father, Riki Ellison, has some interesting thoughts about why his son and others are leaving the franchise, and it’s not strictly because of finances. On Saturday night, the elder Ellison, who played football at USC like his son and won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers, tweeted out a message stating the “exodus of their new draft picks out of the Minnesota Vikings in free agency – with a new stadium, new facility – statement on toxic leadership.”

Then on top of that, Ellison took to Facebook, lamenting that the “mentality of physical practices” in Minnesota contributed to “hurt players on the offensive line and burn out the desire of the defense to play hard,” per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Tomasson reached out to Ellison to perhaps gain some further clarity about what he was referring to.

“Do (free agents) think this program is going in the right direction and a Super Bowl contender or are they in a position to be another start-up, starting up from scratch?’’ said Riki Ellison, chairman and founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance outside Washington. “That’s why you see your veterans are leaving because they have to look at the future. They should be able to retain anybody they want.

“There is something going on, from my perspective. Why would people be leaving a brand-new facility (U.S. Bank Stadium)? They got the best facility in the world. … That’s just not a normal thing to happen.’’

Additionally, Ellison said that “of course” his son left to join the Giants because he believes he has a better chance to win in New York than Minnesota.

It’s worth pointing out that both Matt Kalil and Captain Munnerlyn, two of the top free agents who left Minnesota this year, had ties to Carolina previously. Kalil joins his brother, Ryan, and Munnerlyn previously played for the Panthers.

However, given Ellison’s insight as a former player and father of a player who just left, perhaps there is something going on behind the curtain that is causing players to leave.