In his recent column on Zygi Wilf, Pat Reusse builds a narrative. Wilf was a free-spending owner, but because his other businesses may be struggling through recession, because the Vikings still struggle to sell out the Metrodome, and because the Vikes have made little progress in getting state funding for a new stadium, Wilf has tired of spending money. Thus in the 2009 offseason, the Vikings have spent little money acquiring new (expensive) talent.
There's only one problem: the flaw in Reusse's narrative is exposed early in his column:
"The Vikings were basically non-participants in 2007 free agency, bringing in receiver Bobby Wade, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and linebacker Vinny Ciurciu. The offseason became a success when running back Adrian Peterson fell in their laps at No. 7 in the draft."
The "This owner was spending loads of money to try win before but now something has changed and he's not" narrative only works if you lump '06-'08 together, and then view '09 as a dramatic shift in strategy. But the '09 off-season bears similarity to the '07 off-season, when the Vikings were, as Reusse says, "basically non-participants." Unless Reusse is trying to emphasize that after '07 "Zygi told his personnel department to go nuts," in which case Reusse is trying to make one wild-spending off-season into the norm, and one little-spending off-season a break from that norm.
Either way, the narrative doesn't quite work. In '06 and '08 the Vikings acquired expensive, attention-getting veterans. In '07 and '09, the Vikings acquired lesser, cheaper veterans. Reusse structures his column with words like "You are entitled to embrace," "You can cite," "You can embrace," "You are allowed to accept," "You are entitled to accept," and "Go ahead and embrace these things," citing theories Reusse clearly doesn't embrace or accept. I would respond that Reusse is entitled to conjecture on the meaning of a low-spending '09 off-season, and to create an artificial narrative to explain what it means. I even think Reusse might on to something--the near-blackouts (likely blackouts in '09, if the Childress-Jackson experience continues or even if the Childress-Rosenfels experience begins) and difficulty getting public money for a stadium may be influencing how the team spends money. But I don't see it in the narrative Reusse has constructed.