Everyone knows some professional athletes are party animals. After a long day on the field or court, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to guzzle some alcohol, let loose and have a good time.
Johnny Manziel’s liver is still probably recovering from his college days at Texas A&M University and with the Cleveland Browns. Mickey Mantle started off every day with a mixed drink and claimed to have hooked up with a girl under the Yankee Stadium bleachers. The 1986 New York Mets once trashed an airplane via a booze-filled food fight. And Lamar Odom claims he slept with thousands of women during his playing days.
Some star athletes throw their ragers on boats. Blake Griffin and Chandler Parsons’ Ibiza twerk party, Rob Gronkowski’s party cruise and the infamous New York Giants wide receivers boat party in Miami all immediately come to mind.
But the boat party of all boat parties — the one that made boat parties cool — was the one thrown by members of the 2005 Minnesota Vikings in what will forever be known as the Minnesota Vikings Love Boat Scandal.
First, some background.
Who Was on the Vikings Love Boat?
Cornerback Fred Smoot, who spent two years with the Vikings and seven with the Washington Redskins, was the ringleader of the entire operation. He had one night and $80,000 to throw the rookies a party on the team’s bye week. Usually, this took place at a club. Smoot decided to switch things up, and boy was it unforgettable.
Using his credit card, Smoot rented two large houseboats on Lake Minnetonka on Oct. 6, 2005. He arranged for strippers and prostitutes from around the country — Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, New York and Texas — to fly in. About 100 women in total showed up in limousines, almost motorcade style.
“You would’ve thought the President was moving at this time,” Smoot told Barstool Sports in a 14-minute-long documentary in 2018.
Vikings players to board one of the ships included quarterback Daunte Culpepper, Bryant McKinnie, Nate Burleson, Mewelde Moore, Pat Williams, Ralph Brown, Jermaine Wiggins, Troy Williamson, Travis Taylor, Kevin Williams, Lance Johnstone, Moe Williams and Willie Offord. There were reportedly 17 players in total who participated.
As Smoot remembers, “it got a little X-rated.”
What Happened on the Vikings Love Boat?
The crazy list of allegations, accusations and details are as followed:
- Fred Smoot allegedly held and “manipulated” a double-headed dildo inside two women who were lying on the floor in the lounge area. He claims he only handed them the sex toy.
- Bryant McKinnie and two other players sitting in deck chairs received oral sex from four women.
- McKinnie allegedly picked up a naked woman, placed her on the bar and performed oral sex on her in front of other boat guests and crew members.
- Daunte Culpepper was seen receiving a lap dance and fondling a stripper.
- One woman who lived on the lake called police around 9:20 p.m. to report several Vikings players urinating in her yard after getting off a “big shuttle bus limousine.”
- Witnesses told attorney Stephen Doyle that sex acts reportedly included “masturbation, oral sex, woman on man, woman on woman, toys, middle of the floor, middle of the couches, middle of the room.” The cleaning crew reported finding “used condoms, K-Y Jelly, Handi Wipes” and “wrapper for sex toys.”
By Monday morning, reports of the wild night began to surface in the news. Investigators looked into potential charges regarding the boat sex party, but there was insufficient evidence for most all of them. Three players — Smoot, McKinnie and Williams — all received small fines and pled guilty to misdemeanor disturbing the peace charges.
“We were a group of 20-year-olds with millions of dollars in our pockets. What do you expect guys to do? They’re going to have fun and they’re going to find a little trouble,” Smoot said.
Vikings punter Chris Kluwe was one of the few player to not attend the floating sex-a-palooza. He didn’t even find out about it until the following week.
“My wife and I were at home. We saw that there was this report that the Vikings were in trouble for this boat party. We were like, ‘why didn’t we get invited to this party?'” he told Barstool Sports. “A couple days later some more details came out, and we’re like, ‘hmm, probably a good thing we didn’t get invited to that boat party.'”
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf called a meeting the next week and laid into the players. The party, after all, reflected incredibly poorly on he and his organization. They were 1-3 at the time and instantly became the laughing stock of the NFL. Per ESPN, the owner threatened to cut players from the roster who were involved in planning the party.
“He’s literally almost got tears coming from his eyes, and he rips us a new one,” Smoot told Barstool Sports. “Like, all of us. Like to the point where his lip is shaking.”
After starting the season 1-3, the Vikings won eight of their next 11 games and finished 9-7. They failed to make the playoffs and head coach Mike Tice was let go at the end of the season despite a playoff berth in 2004. Minnesota still hasn’t won a Super Bowl despite playing in the game four times between 1969-1976.
The Vikings Love Boat Scandal will forever be an important part of the franchise’s lore. Depending how you see it, that night was either legendary or embarrassing.
Interestingly enough, anyone can take a ride these days on one of the boats rented out. Butch Parks, an area marina operator on the Iowa Great Lakes, bought one of the vessels and renamed it “Miss Chievious.” Parks is offering charter boat cruises on the 72-foot boat that was fully restored in 2013.
But if you do plan on stepping foot on the ship, you might want to heed some very important advice from Smoot:
“If you ever get on this boat, please don’t turn on the black light. Please.”
Heading for a day on the water love boat style? Grab yourself a black light, if you dare.