Monday, March 11, 2013


Vikings fans know several things with absolute certainty: We know that most Packer fans are more obnoxious than Notre Dame fans, we know Drew Pearson pushed off in 1975, and we know Randy Moss was the greatest wide receiver of all time. Don't argue with us about any of those things unless you're willing to get in a fight.

That Randy Moss mention is intentional today, of course, on the day that the Vikings traded away Percy Harvin. Harvin was the closest thing the Vikings have had to Randy Moss since Moss left the first time. On the field, they looked completely different - the tall, lanky Moss looked like he glided rather than ran down field, while Harvin darts and dashes between defenders. But they both such a skill that made it impossible to turn away from the television. They were electric.

They had more in common than that. Both Moss and Harvin were the picture-perfect definition of divas, and both were lucky they were incredibly talented, as that was the only reason the Vikings put up with them for so long. Moss' problems were well documented: The traffic cop incident, walking off the field with five seconds left in a one-possession playoff game, "What's 10 grand to me?", "I play when I wanna play," and so on.[1]

Harvin's problems weren't as well documented. Sure, there was the pot problem in college, and the potentially related migraine issue later, but that seemed to be it. But some news started to trickle out this year. News about how Harvin befriended Moss during Moss' second stint with the Vikings and was furious when Moss was released. How Harvin got in to a screaming match with Leslie Frazier during a mid-week practice this year. How Harvin once got into an argument with Brad Childress that was so heated that he threw a weight at Childress [2]. And so on.

It became clear something was going on. When Harvin had a much-publicized argument with the Vikings this summer, the writing seemed to be on the wall. When his ankle injury this year somehow became a season-ender and he high-tailed it for Florida, it was obvious: he was gone. That the Vikings got three draft picks - including a first-rounder - for him is amazing, really, considering it was an open secret the Vikings had to trade him and the team trading for Harvin would then have to pay him big money. I mean, when the Vikings traded Moss, all they could get from him was a mediocre linebacker and a seventh-round draft pick. Considering that, they got a bounty for Harvin.

So Vikings fans should be happy for what they got for Harvin, but should they be happy he's gone? It was always obvious how good Harvin was. He made jaws drops around the NFL on a nearly weekly basis. Just his kick-returning ability alone was enough to make him worth the money, but then consider how good he was with the ball on offense, and the Vikings seem crazy for letting him go, no matter what the price.

But then you think about the Vikings used him, or rather, misused him. Despite having Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin on the roster at the same time the last four years, but never seemed able to figure out how to use them. I don't know how many times I screamed for the Vikings to put Harvin in motion towards Peterson in the backfield, then either give to AP up the middle or give to Harvin on the end-around [3]. I can recall maybe one instance that they did this. Instead, they seemed to put them on the field at different times, or they seemed to run plays designed only for Harvin or only for Peterson. It often got infuriating.

And then, there's the raw numbers. Only once in four seasons did Harvin play all 16 games. Despite his ability to gain yards after the catch, he never finished in the top 40 in yards per catch in the NFL. His true value lay in kickoff returns - he's had at least one kickoff return for a touchdown every year of his career and he's twice led the league in average return length. But kickoff returns are being made less relevant every year, with at least a hint of them being removed completely soon.

So what should Vikings fans think? For me, I'm annoyed it had to come to this, that the player-team relationship had soured so much that they simply couldn't go on together. But it's possible that, even with a perfect working relationship, he would have been gone anyway after this year, cashing in on a big-money contract that the Vikings just weren't willing to match. As far as trading him, the Vikings got everything they could hope for and more - I don't think anybody expected a first-round pick to change hands, much less a first plus two other picks.

In general, I'm in favor of the trade, which is difficult for me to admit since I own a Harvin jersey. However, if the Vikings don't use those two first-round picks and extra salary-cap space to get a legitimate recieveing threat - or two - then my opinion might change. AP was superhuman last year, and we can't expect a repeat of that. I hope the Vikings know what they're doing.

[1] - No, Moss wasn't on the Love Boat. And no, the Lambeau Moon does not count as a controversial or problematic incident. That should be placed in the "awesome" category.
[2] - To be fair, there were times where I wanted to throw a weight at Brad Childress, too. And I know I wasn't alone. Harvin was just doing us a favor.
[3] - Yes, I am that specific with what I yell at the Vikings on Sundays.

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