By Joy Powell and Chip Scoggins Star Tribune
MINNEAPOLIS — Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson was arrested early Saturday after a state trooper responded to a stalled car blocking lanes on Interstate 394 out of downtown Minneapolis at 4:03 a.m., a patrol spokesman said.
Simpson, who leads the team in receiving yards this year, was taken to the Hennepin County jail, where he refused a breath test, according to Lt. Eric Roeske. Simpson was booked into the Hennepin County jail at 5:39 a.m. Saturday, jail records show.
He was released just before 1 p.m. after a judge reviewed the arrest report and set bail. Simpson posted $12,000 bond, pending a formal charging decision by prosecutors.
Simpson, 27, was arrested after he exited his Dodge Charger when a trooper arrived at the stalled car. He showed signs of intoxication, according to Roeske.
Simpson had slurred speech and watery eyes and flunked a field sobriety test, so the trooper arrested him, Roeske said.
Simpson denied he was drinking and said he was coming from the Pourhouse, which is in the Lumber Exchange Building on S. 5th Street in downtown Minneapolis.
A jail officer said his booking had gone quickly, indicating he was cooperative with officers.
“The Vikings are aware of the matter involving Jerome Simpson,” the team said in a statement. “We are continuing to gather information and will have further comment at the appropriate time.”
When Simpson signed with the Vikings in 2012, he was dealing with the repercussions of a three-game suspension by the NFL stemming from a drug arrest and was in the first year of three years’ probation, ordered by a Kentucky judge. It’s not known how a drunken driving charge might affect his probation. An NFL spokesman said the league will review Simpson’s case.
In April 2012, Simpson was sentenced in Kentucky to 15 days in jail and put on probation for three years, along with 200 hours of community service. He originally was charged there on March 1, 2012, with felony charges after marijuana was shipped to his home in Kentucky. In a plea agreement, authorities agreed that Simpson apparently wanted the pot for his own use, and that of his friends.
Simpson’s punishment stemmed from a September 2011 crime in which authorities intercepted a package containing 2.5 pounds of marijuana on its way to his house. Police later searched Simpson’s home in northern Kentucky and found six more pounds of marijuana plus drug paraphernalia.
Though the former Bengals receiver originally had been indicted on the felony drug-trafficking charge, Simpson later entered a guilty plea to a lesser felony charge of “being involved in a prohibited act relating to controlled substances.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier gave his players three days off following Thursday’s 34-27 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Simpson is the fourth Viking to be arrested for drinking and driving in recent years, joining fullback Jerome Felton, quarterback Rhett Bomar and safety Tyrell Johnson.
Like other NFL organizations, the Vikings take steps to educate their players on the dangers of drinking and driving. The team offers a program that allows players to call members of Vikings security to get rides home whenever needed.
The Vikings re-signed Simpson to another one-year contract this past offseason after a disappointing debut with the team in 2012. In addition to leading the team with 491 receiving yards, he is second in catches with 33.