Monday, November 01, 2010

"As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport."

I can see Football-Zeus and all the rest hanging around at Football-Olympus. Football-Zeus says "So, let's brainstorm. I want to come up with historic ways to jerk Viking fans around. Anything, anything, give me your ideas. We've got plenty of time to work all the good ones in."

How else to explain this?

And when that happens, what else is there to do but laugh and watch it happen? We're being taken for a ride: best hang on, but best try enjoy it.

When you put everything into a "Now or never" year, and the answer is "never," there's really nothing else to do but break it all up and start over. Rebuilding periods are fine as long as it is building toward something. And shitty teams end up with early draft picks and the chance to draft QBs like Matt Ryan or Sam Bradford that you can build around.

There was a period when the Vikings seemed to be building: in '07 and '08, they had a defense that showed flashes of dominance and a RB that showed flashes of being the greatest ever. The problem? They didn't have a QB to build around. This led to various stop-gap measures until the team could fall into a 39/40 year old Hall of Famer for a one-year ride. But it didn't work out, and the team was left in the same lousy QB situation, so that they (and we) got convinced that bringing back that QB at 40/41 was a real chance, instead of recognizing that the franchise butchered the QB position and so devoted a potential Super Bowl contender's window to a one-year shot with an old QB, and that one-year shot failed.

Bust it up. Fire Childress now. Start hoarding draft picks. Try not to waste Adrian Peterson's entire prime. Try to build a team. I actually really, really, really enjoyed the 2007 season. I'm not enjoying this at all.

Doesn't 2010 feel a lot like 2005? We go into the season with really high expectations, start out disastrously on and off the field, go 2-5, and everything is an abominable mess and you don't even know where to start piecing it together. I sort of see the rest of the year playing out the same way that year did: schedule eases up, team wins some games to make it interesting, ultimately comes up short of the playoffs...but this time, the current coach was hired by the current owner, and he might make it through it.

Lingering Questions
Do the people who bought #84 jerseys in the last month get their money back?

If you did a poll among Viking fans asking "Childress or Moss: which one goes?" does Moss get 3% of the vote?

These are rhetorical questions, obviously.

This is not at all surprising. And I get sunk costs (I think): if you think a player is detrimental to the team and that you'd be better off without him, you need to get rid of him, regardless of any past costs you've sunk into him. However, the Vikings acquired Moss knowing he has a reputation as an erratic asshole. That they, in a fit of desperation, still acquired him, toying with the emotional memory of Viking fans, then realized a month later they made a mistake, doesn't excuse them on an "Oh well, sunk costs and all" basis. They still made a move that didn't work out, that turned out to be a waste (and perhaps worse). They still look like a team without a plan for development beyond "win now" that is failing to win now.

Another Update
You know how a politician often gets labeled a particular way, whether or not that label is accurate or fair? And then when the politician does or says something that seems to confirm that perceived label, it can be damaging? I see that happening here. There are coaches that could do what Childress has done. However, given that this action, whether or not it is accurate or fair, feeds into an already existing perception of Childress. In other words, he has confirmed the label.


  1. Anonymous4:31 PM

    Childress had to do something to make it look like he is in charge.
    Moss is a troubled player. The "effort" on the pass interference play says a lot about him.
    Move on, try to win some games. I feel bad for AP. He is a stud and seems like we are wasting him.

  2. Anonymous5:13 PM

    Moss wasn't giving much effort in any of these games, that's for certain--I've been thinking for a couple weeks that he's either washed up or just mentally checked out. But he clearly opened up so much of the field for Harvin and Shiancoe and from time to time even Bernard Berrian seems to be open (what he does with the ball is not always certain). Mostly though I'm just sad that it went down like this--judging from Moss' attitude with the Pats and now with the Vikings he's probably dealing with emotions we can't fathom.

    I still feel like we can turn this around--Favre's come back from these situations before--but I just feel sad about this move.


  3. Plinthy the Middling6:51 PM

    It may be galling, but the team might have to drop Ragnar in favor of Asterix.

    I have to admit to liking Brad in his World War II role, as a competent second banana, maybe as good as any in that position these days. Now we may to add the Childress Corollary to the Peter Principle:

    If exactly nothing your guy says in press conferences is clear, and mostly makes no sense at all; and if the same guy is unable to make an intelligent challenge, and is unable also to resist challenging plays that are merely unusual and because his underlings in the booth up top sound more confident than he feels, your guy is probably unlikely to be someone whose c.v. should be in the top drawer of your desk.

    Time to freeze out Chilly -- way past time.

  4. Anonymous7:06 PM

    Like you guys didn't see this coming. The Vikings sold their soul when they bent over for ol' #4 this year. And you guys SERIOUSLY can't tell me you didn't know what you were getting with Randy Moss. Didn't you get rid of his ass before?

  5. Anonymous11:00 PM

    Excellent entry. I tend to agree it's just time to turn the page on this unlikable three-ring circus: Get a new coach (which seems inevitable at this point), regain some sense of principle/conviction/identity, identify a new (and younger) QB, and reload around the outstanding young skill position players they have. Although I suspect Zygi is a big enabler for the fantasy-football team building approach and the enjoys the being in the headlines; it'll be interesting to see how this unfolds.


  6. Anonymous11:17 PM

    Childress and Favre have sent the franchise from the brink of the Super Bowl into irrelevance.
    Moss and Tavaris could have saved the team.
    The Vikings are moving to LA and it's everyone's fault who bought a #4 jersey.

  7. --It's as realistic to say that Tarvaris Jackson could save an NFL team as it is to blame a team relocating on fans who care enough to like one player on the team.

    --Let's say Moss has been a total dilfer for the last month. First, I don't think you can underestimate the sadness and anger of Viking fans who, right or wrong, have an emotional connection to Moss, were offered joy and hope, and then had it ripped away (my wife basically gave up on football today). Second, I get the Sunk Cost fallacy, but in this case you can still condemn the decision makers who invested the cost in the first place. They obviously lack a plan or direction.

  8. Anonymous8:59 AM

    According to the Trib the Childress made the decision to cut Moss without informing owner Zygi Wilf. Hopefully this will get him fired. Please Zygi do it !

  9. Anonymous11:19 AM

    PV, if your wife only liked football because of Moss, try showing her his "effort" on that pass interference play and maybe she'll start to realize why this happened. I said yesterday that he should be fined for that...instead he was waived. Either way, I'm happy.

    I hate to be an "I told you so" person, but this was a stupid trade from day one. Why did everybody think the Patriots were so willing to trade him at midseason, because he's still a great player who's a joy to be around? No, because he's not an impact player anymore and he's dogging it worse than ever. The Patriots are a Super Bowl contender, and they were more than willing to deal their top receiver; that should have spoken the world to people.

    I'm as big of a critic of Childress as anybody, but I actually give the guy credit here; he made a huge mistake taking Moss on, and he rectified it before the season was completely over. The 3rd round pick was gone no matter what, so we may as well make the best of what's remaining. Moss was a complete asshole, jogged through half of his routes, and only once in 4 games did he make an impact play (TD against Jets). Basically, he made this team thoroughly unlikeable. At least now if the Vikings lose, they can lose with dignity rather than his petulant sulking.

    Any fans siding with Moss here need to open their eyes. During his first go-round, I defended to him to the death, mainly because SO MANY people disliked him and it was an us-versus-the-world mentality. But he was an awful example of a professional this time around, and I couldn't stand it anymore. Yesterday when I heard he was waived, I felt a burden had been lifted. Finally I can kinda-sorta go back to feeling good about this team.

    I can tolerate a lot of things on the football field. Missed blocks, missed throws, dropped passes, missed tackles, blown coverages, missed kicks. But I cannot tolerate a receiver who refuses to go all-out to catch a potential TD. That was the last straw for me. We all know Moss doesn't give great effort, but that was taking it to another level.

    PV, here's an idea for a story; is Moss truly a Hall of Famer? Remember, a lot of really good receivers are having trouble getting in, like Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed. The bar is set very high for receivers. Now consider that there will probably be some voters who will hold this stuff against Moss, his lack of effort, petulant attitude, and in essence being fired by four different employers now. So how easily will he be getting into the Hall of Fame, if he gets in at all? My guess is not as easily as you think.

  10. Anon, I mostly agree with you: this is on Moss, and our disappointment should be as much or more in Moss than the Vikings/Childress. However, that it is Moss's fault does not diminish the disappointment for some fans who joyously welcomed back a remembered icon, only to see it all fall apart.

    As to whether Moss's effort and attitude can or should keep him from the Hall, I addressed this in a post many years ago (I've been blogging too long). My basic feeling is this: Bobby Layne allegedly cost his team a game because he gambled on it, and late in the game waved off a game-winning field goal attempt in order to try for a spread-beating touchdown (and failed). Layne is in the HOF. Is effort and integrity of the game now, suddenly, a standard?

  11. Anonymous2:07 PM

    If Childress is all about rectifying his mistakes, then Brett Favre's butt should be on the waiver wire too. Everyone knows he is decisive to Childress' reputation in the locker room and he isn't "producing" either. He is giving effort (something Moss could be questioned on), but if we are all about rectifying mistakes then can Brett too....wait he can't? Why not? Oh, that is right it is because he wanted Favre back and although he signed off on the Moss trade, I don't believe he wanted him in the first place.

    This fact cannot be denied: Moss (whether he dogged it or not) opened up the offense for the Vikings. They scored almost a TD more a game with him on the team (even if he wasn't scoring the TDs), now we go back to constant 8 in the box, AP getting beat up more an more and more wear and tear on his body which hurts us in the long run too.

    Personally, it is a stupid move in the short term and long term (because of the effects it has on the locker room, field, and other players).

  12. Anonymous8:00 PM

    Good posts, all. If what's coming out is true, I applaud Childress for taking a stand. It's the first time in the past three years anyone in the organization's said "no" to the circus atmosphere.

    On the other hand, Childress did partake in the move in the first place. Whether they were naive about Moss, or reckless for not doing their due dilegence; whether they should have done more to keep him in line, or whether they failed to make a comprehensive evaluation of how it might work (e.g, Moss + Chilly never seemed like a great fit), the team now has egg on its face (and one less draft pick). It's also proof that maybe there's more wrong with the poor performances than the lack of a big receiver.


  13. Superfreak188481843:52 PM

    The stupidity of the move doesn't even need to be explained, either you are able to see it is senseless or you belong on ESPN making up "unique" opinions that create discussion. By using Childress "logic" they should have cut Cris Carter in 1997. The real question is how Zygi bestowed complete power over the 53 man roster to Childress. He had already cut a player without notifying the owner years ago and it pissed the oranization off. To rip Childress is to do what South Park does, make fun of the easiest thing to make fun of (not saying some of it isn't funny). The real shock is the widespread stupidity of an organization that would allow an event like this to even be remotely possible. I have loved the Vikings for 22 years and in my highly emotional state "Have a nice trip to LA" keeps going through my mind. It may pass, but all I know is a part of me that has previously always been there is gone. No matter the time of year I was always mindful of what the fate of the Minnesota Vikings was going to be, week to week, season to season, from now to eternity, put simply I was invested. Well, I'm pulling out.

  14. I think that it is a clever way to call that Football-Zeus and Football-Olympus because there is actually parallelism between the two