Vike Center Busted While Trying To Play Tooth Fairy

ROSEMOUNT, Minn. - Minnesota Vikings center Mike Morris was trying to play tooth fairy for his young son. He almost ended up in jail.

Steven Morris lost his first baby tooth Feb. 28, the day before his seventh birthday. His father wanted him to find some silver dollars under his pillow.

It was too late to go to the bank, so his wife made a couple of phone calls and learned that the Rainbow Foods store in Apple Valley had silver dollars.

The family's cars were blocked in by a light blue Plymouth Grand Voyager minivan belonging to Morris' mother, who was visiting from Iowa, so he drove off in that.

Where were the groceries?

Morris got five Susan B. Anthony silver dollars from Rainbow, but hoped to find some bigger ones, so he stopped at other stores without success, including the Apple Valley Cub Foods. Then he discovered the bag of groceries he had bought at Rainbow and his mother's cellular telephone both were gone. He thought someone had broken into the van.

About this same time, Keith and Peg Werness were leaving the Cub store. To their surprise, their light blue Grand Voyager was gone.

Apple Valley squad cars with light blazing and sirens blaring soon caught up with Morris, who didn't piece together his mistake until he saw that the van he was driving had Minnesota plates. His mother's van has Iowa plates.

"At this point it hits me: `I have ripped off somebody's van. I am a crook. I am done.' . . . I look behind me and there in a snowbank, are five cops with guns drawn and they are pointing those guns at me."

After he was cuffed, Morris, 36, tried to explain his mistake. Eventually, the officers realized he just might be telling the truth. Sure enough, his mother's key worked in the Werness' van. And they found a van with Iowa plates at Cub. Morris was uncuffed and drove the Werness minivan back to the store, with five squad cars following closely behind.

A familiar voice

At Cub, the Wernesses were told their minivan had been found, but few other details. Keith Werness said he was still livid and was ready to give the thief some choice words.

At first, Werness didn't recognize the 6-foot-5, 275-pound man who got out of his van. But when Morris began to talk, Werness instantly knew the voice from a radio talk show.

Werness got Morris's autograph. And in the morning, an excited Steven Morris found two silver dollars under his pillow.