Writers have already waxed lyrically to death about the collapse of the Minnesota Vikings and the fall from grace of their quarterback Brett Farve. Since everyone has probably gotten tired of it I won’t say much more about it other than there is a little bit of poetic justice that it was the Packers who ultimately hammered in the last nail in the coffin of Farve’s career.
More importantly I think this is a turning point for the Minnesota Vikings, and the implications of this game are far more reaching than a just a loss or the culmination of failures for the season. The lynch pin for this is, of course, Brett Farve and Brad Childress, with Brett Farve being the one to push over the first domino.
The firing of Brad Childress was the first domino to fall. Obviously everyone saw this coming after the drubbing that his team endured in a 31-3 loss to the Packers, their most hated rivals.
During the game, the team was visibly angry, mostly at themselves; DE Ray Edwards attempt to talk to the secondary and ended up in a shouting match with rookie CB Chris Cook, CB Asher Allen threw his helmet into the bench and Darrell Bevell said something to Brett Farve that caused a spat after Farve threw an interception. Add in the fact that the fans were vocally shouting “fire Childress” during the game while owner Zigi Wilf was livid after the game and dodged reporters, and it was rather apparent that Childress was going to be the first head on the chopping block.
Personally, I don’t think the entire fault lies with Childress, football is a team sport and winning takes a team effort. Conversely losing the way they did to the Packers is also a team effort but they can’t fire the entire team.
The second domino to fall was Leslie Frasier’s promotion to interim head coach. In his first press conference Frasier adamantly stated that Brett Farve will remain as the starting QB. While pundits across the country will claim its Farve’s streak of consecutive starts that is the main reason behind this, my feeling is that both Childress and Frasier are telling the truth: Farve still remains the team’s best option for winning.
Frasier is essentially on a 6 game audition for a permanent head coaching position, whether it be with the Vikings or another team and he can’t wait for a quarterback to develop, he needs one to win for him now. It is essential for him to show marked improvement with the team that Brad Childress left him and so the logical move is to keep the stability at the position and keep Brett Farve as the starting QB.
This again has huge implications, namely in regard to backup quarterback and current heir apparent Tarvaris Jackson, who is the third domino. For one, it’s a complete vote of no confidence in Jackson. He’s been with the Vikings for 4 years now and can be considered “developed.”
The Vikings must know already what they have with Jackson and its disappointing at best. He’s no better than Favre, a player with a 69.8 QB rating (currently 32 out of 33 qualifying QBs), 10 touchdowns to 17 interceptions (leads the league), and 6 fumbles. Considering that this is most likely Favre’s final year, it would seem like the Vikings have to start Jackson just to get him some more experience for the upcoming seasons. But with that being said, there are no indications that he is going to get that chance this year.
Finally, Jackson’s biggest supporter (Brad Childress) was just fired, so it becomes very unlikely that either the Vikings decide to keep him or he resigns with the Vikings as a free agent.
The fourth domino is the rest of the players. The Vikings were built with a win now mentality; they were the second oldest team on starting day and many of their players are highly paid veterans and Pro Bowlers. As Mike Sherman can attest to, money becomes very tight with so many highly paid veteran players.
In 2011 alone, the Vikings will have big names like Sidney Rice, Ray Edwards, Pat Williams, Chad Greenway and Ben Leber to sign (you can factor in Brett Favre’s pay raise and the money they spent for a month of service from Randy Moss as well). It’s highly unlikely that they will have the money to bring everyone back and pockets will be even tighter this year if you to factor in a likely high draft pick contract. Of course this is all predicated on there being football next year, but it’s likely that free agency will remain mostly unchanged and there may or may not be a rookie wage scale implemented.
The final domino is the biggest free agent of them all, owner Zigi Wilf. The Vikings lease on the Metrodome expires next year and the organization has been pushing for a new stadium to replace the 20 year old “old stereo” as head coach Mike McCarthy puts it. While it’s unlikely that they are shooting for a stadium like the one Dallas or New York just built, even a more realistic modern stadium is likely to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, a portion of which is probably going to have to be paid by the state as a tax on its citizens.
Are the people of Minnesota going to want to subsidize the Vikings? With the economy as poor as it is and an increasing unemployment rate, states and its citizens are all trying to spend less money and giving money to the Vikings for a new stadium might not be a popular move.
The culmination of all these dominoes falling is pretty substantial; the Vikings as a team are going into 2011 with a new head coach (most likely it will be Frasier due to the potential lockout), a high draft pick (mostly likely to be used on a quarterback), lots of free agent departures and a roster that is in dire need of a youth movement.
Add on top of that that the Vikings as an organization are none too happy that they haven’t gotten a new stadium deal worked out and their current lease is expiring soon on the Metrodome and it can be said that in every aspect of the Vikings are in rebuilding mode.
While this is purely conjecture, if you were owner Zigi Wilf, doesn’t Los Angeles start to sound attractive? It’s long been known that the NFL desperately wants to have a franchise in LA, one of the biggest markets in the country. Recently Majestic Realty has been proposing a LA stadium fit for a NFL team with the two rumored teams interested in moving being the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Minnesota Vikings.
While neither team may actually make the move, now seems like a perfect time to get out of Minnesota. The population of Minneapolis has a population around 3.5 million, contrast that to the greater Los Angeles area which boasts 16.7 million residents (second only to the greater New York area), and you have a huge potential for increased profit as there are 5 times the potential fans and 5 times the potential viewership in the area alone.
Perhaps the biggest downfall of moving a team is the public and economic backlash that the organization is likely to experience after moving; for one old fans are likely to hate the team as they were “deserted” and new fans are not likely to warm up to the new team for a couple years.
Considering that the team is going to be a lame duck for a couple years, why not rebuild while you are at it? The Vikings aren’t likely to be competitive while rebuilding anyways, so it makes sense to compound the two problems together and hope that in a couple years the team can be competitive again and you can start making huge profits.
The ironic thing about this all is that if the Vikings (or whatever team they end up becoming), end up moving out of Minnesota, does that mean that post-Vikings fans will start to root for Green Bay? Weirder things have happened.
Thomas Hobbes is a Packers writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.