Since August, the Vikings have seen their franchise player suspended for whipping a child, seen their prized free agent shot in a bar, lost the tight end they signed to a long-term contract to injury, been lambasted by national and local media for supporting the admitted child abuser, offended sponsors, held embarrassing press conferences, waived a receiver for continuing behavioral problems, lost one game with an embarrassing fourth-quarter collapse and fallen out of contention in an unimpressive division.
The Vikings have never won a Super Bowl and are trying to develop their first homegrown franchise quarterback since Fran Tarkenton. They have been plagued by more arrests and scandals than any other NFL team in recent history. They are 3-5 this season.
Cheer up, Vikings fans.
Things could be worse.
You could have WARTS.
You could be LOSERS.
Sunday, the Vikings will play host to the NFL team claiming the District of Columbia as its home, and that plays its games in Landover, Md.
I won’t use the slur the team insists on keeping as its nickname, so the team will henceforth be known in this space as WARTS (Washington Area Racially Titled Slackers) or LOSERS (Landover Organization Seen as Egotistical Racists). Or maybe BIGOTs — Badly Imaged Gridiron Organization run by Tyrant — is a better fit.
Let’s give Washington NFL owner Daniel Snyder this much: He has cleverly distracted the populace from his organization’s ineptitude with his enduring commitment to the slur that is his team’s nickname.
In January 1992, Joe Gibbs brought Washington to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl, and his team whipped the Buffalo Bills at the Metrodome. That marked Gibbs’ third Super Bowl victory, each achieved with a different starting quarterback and different featured running back, none of whom made the Hall of Fame.
The team was owned by Jack Kent Cooke, who had a knack for hiring smart people and staying out of their way.
What Minnesotans saw on Jan. 26, 1992, was an intelligently run, brilliantly coached team. The eyesore of a helmet and the slur of a nickname sparked protests, but the team’s unwillingness to change its identity felt like a story parallel to and unconnected with the football operation, which was otherwise run with class.
Today, the classlessness of the team’s nickname is emblematic of the classlessness of the franchise.
Snyder should change the logo and nickname because they are affronts to decency. Since he has rejected that argument, let’s offer another:
Snyder should change the team’s logo and nickname because they are remindful of Snyder’s incompetence.
He’s the kind of guy you try to lure into your fantasy football league. The kind who is far too impressed with big names, who doesn’t do his homework, who spends recklessly to obscure his lack of knowledge.
While spending copiously and operating in a league that insists on parity, Snyder’s teams are 108-149. BIGOTS again hold last place in the NFC East.
In search of a winning coach, Snyder has hired Terry Robiskie, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, redux Gibbs, Jim Zorn, Mike Shanahan and Jay Gruden.
In other words, he’s tried everything — hiring from within, hiring big names, delving into the college ranks, hiring the hot assistant coach — and all of his attempts have failed because Snyder has yet to fire himself.
Snyder has displayed similar stubbornness when asked to change the team nickname. He grew up a fan of the team, he says, grew up loving the symbol, even if it is an insult to American Indians.
Snyder could win millions of fans for his franchise and honor his franchise’s best traditions. He could change the team name to the Hogs. During Gibbs’ heyday, before NFL fans routinely painted their faces and chests, Washington fans wore dresses and costume porcine snouts to celebrate the team’s exceptional offensive line, known by that name.
Snyder could change the team name to anything, and until his does, his team will deserve the karma that is reflected annually in the NFL standings.
LOSERS. BIGOTS. On second thought, WARTS is far too kind a name for this team.