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Vikings' Williamson punched in the face at charity function

MINNEAPOLIS - Vikings receiver Troy Williamson took part in practice Wednesday, two days after he was punched in the face near the end of a charity event at Myth nightclub in Maplewood, Minn., and apparently suffered a black eye.

Coach Brad Childress indicated Williamson will face no disciplinary action and said the Vikings have "allayed fears" that he suffered any injuries. Nonetheless, Williamson was wearing a protective plastic visor on his mask at Wednesday's practice.

While Williamson avoided the locker room during the media access period, safety Darren Sharper, who sponsored the concert that was headlined by hip-hop artist Ludacris, said he had spoken to his teammate.

"I wasn't around when it happened," Sharper said. "I just heard (about) it. Like anyone that might go to an event, some times those things happen, and he got in a little incident. But nothing big. He might have a shiner today."

Darren DeWalt, Sharper's marketing agent and one of the concert's planners, said Williamson was hit without provocation by a Myth security guard. Mark Naylon, head of security at the Myth, said video cameras failed to capture any such exchange and that a man, presumed to be Williamson, complained of being hit but would not identify his assailant or press charges. Naylon also said a group of people had refused to leave at the 2 a.m. closing time.

Sharper said Williamson told him, "I just wish it didn't happen."

Although Sharper did not have an exact count, several of his teammates turned out for the Sunday night concert, which benefited the United Way, the Minnesota AIDS project as well as Sharper's foundation. Sharper called the event "a good time" but is aware that such gatherings also can mean trouble for high-profile athletes.

"It happens," he said. "You can say jealousy plays a part in that. A lot of things play a part in that. You know it's the nature of being a professional athlete. You just have to be leery of people in places like that. You have to kind of just watch yourself. I think overall people are smart, our guys are smart about that."

Sharper, 31, began holding an annual party each November during his time with the Green Bay Packers as a way to celebrate his birthday on Nov. 3. But after having it in downtown Minneapolis last year, he decided to move it to the Myth and make it more of a charity event.

Despite what happened, Sharper is confident this incident won't be a distraction. "I don't think so," he said. "Guys on the team aren't thinking about it too much, and this team especially. We have been so prone and so used to dealing with distractions from last year and other incidents, guys don't let that bother them when they come to play on Sunday. It was a one-time incident and it's a bad incident that it happened, but it's a one-time incident and could happen to anyone, not just a Viking."

Staff Writer Kevin Seifert contributed to this report.

By Judd Zulgad

McClatchy Newspapers

(MCT)

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