Souhan: Rationale of some Vikings decisions can be questioned

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 28, 2013 - 11:14 AM

Sure, managing dollars is in play. But so is managing personalities.

hide

Percy Harvin

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

After winning a combined nine games in 2010 and 2011 with an old team, the Vikings again have built an impressive roster.

I like where they are. I hate how they got here.

Perhaps only in the NFL can one praise the results of a team’s decisions while questioning the rationale behind them.

This winter, the Vikings traded Percy Harvin, a remarkable talent, and cut Antoine Winfield, one of the great professionals of his generation. Saturday, they drafted a punter to challenge Chris Kluwe, who last year averaged a career-best net yards per punt.

In any other sport, those are the kinds of decisions that hamper franchises. In the NFL, the Vikings have built-in rationales often repeated around the league.

Trading away a franchise player in his prime like Harvin? That’s hard to defend, unless you believe, as the Vikings have strongly hinted, that Harvin had become impossible to work with. The Vikings used the first-round pick they received from Seattle in the deal to take Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and they signed former Packer Greg Jennings to become their top receiver. If Jennings helps Christian Ponder become a better downfield passer and Rhodes becomes a starter, the Vikings will have fared reasonably well despite the obvious risk of trading Harvin.

Cutting Winfield from a team that is always looking for cornerback quality and depth? That’s unwise, unless you believe Bill Belichick’s philosophy of ditching veterans before they fall apart, not after. Winfield played very well in a lesser role last season, but he will be 36 next season. He’s the kind of player I’d take a chance on, but the Vikings aren’t the only well-run NFL team that fears paying older players.

Drafting a punter who presumably will take Kluwe’s job? The Vikings spent a fifth-round draft pick to replace a player who does his job very well. Last year, Kluwe averaged 45 yards per punt (his third-best average during his nine NFL seasons) and a career-best 39.7 net yards per punt.

Kluwe is right when he says he’s the best punter in team history, but it became clear during last season that the Vikings had tired of Kluwe’s activism and social media activity.

This is one of the many problems with the NFL mentality regarding player behavior. When prized cornerback Chris Cook was accused of beating up his girlfriend, the Vikings waited patiently for the legal process to culminate and welcomed him back. Jared Allen’s three DUIs did not dissuade the Vikings from trading a fortune for him.

Kluwe’s crimes against mankind include lobbying for Ray Guy to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, promoting his rock band, advocating for same-sex marriage and tweeting constantly about gaming.

For nine years, Kluwe has done his job exceptionally well. I’ve never heard anyone accuse him of being a bad teammate. Ryan Longwell raved about him. Blair Walsh seems to like him. I’m sure he annoyed some people in the building. I’ve also been told many times that Fran Tarkenton drove people in that building crazy.

Because the NFL combines short careers, a salary cap, and the necessity of employing violent people, the league has the strangest sliding scale in our society. The ideal employee is 1) young, 2) healthy, 3) cheap, 4) one-dimensional and 5) capable of staying out of jail, even if only because of expert counsel.

Kluwe is in danger of violating Nos. 1 and 3, which meant that violating No. 4 has become the NFL equivalent of sitting in an ejector seat.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman disagreed Saturday, saying drafting a punter “has nothing to do with anything Chris Kluwe has done off the field. … This is just a football decision.’’

Given the track records of Spielman and special teams coach Mike Priefer, who last year recommended Walsh, I’d assume they have found another good punter.

I just hope the Vikings are looking to replace Kluwe for football reasons, not as a way of practicing censorship in a league where so many transgressions are ignored.

 

Jim Souhan can been heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10-noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 14 2nd Qtr 11:34
Miami 0
Baltimore 0 2nd Qtr 12:06
Houston 6
Detroit 7 2nd Qtr 10:30
Chicago 0
Cleveland 3 2nd Qtr 13:00
Carolina 3
Atlanta 3 2nd Qtr
New Orleans 7
Green Bay 7 2nd Qtr 14:24
Tampa Bay 0
Kansas City 3 2nd Qtr 9:52
Pittsburgh 3
New England 7 2nd Qtr 11:26
NY Jets 0
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 2:30 PM
Toronto
Memphis 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Boston 5:00 PM
Miami
Detroit 5:00 PM
Brooklyn
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Orlando
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Washington
Indiana 6:00 PM
Minnesota
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 5:00 PM
Detroit
Dallas 5:00 PM
Edmonton
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Boston
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 20 1st Half 3:20
Army 27
Ferris State 33 1st Half 1:19
Bowling Green 32
San Francisco 30 1st Half 0:26
Cleveland State 26
Oregon State 26 2nd Half
Quinnipiac 32
Coastal Carolina 7 1st Half 12:46
Central Arkansas 8
Holy Cross 1:00 PM
Canisius
Southern Miss 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Western Carolina 1:00 PM
UNC-Asheville
Creighton 1:00 PM
North Texas
Maryland 1:00 PM
Oklahoma State
Cornell 1:00 PM
Radford
Vermont 1:00 PM
Saint Louis
Loyola-Maryland 1:00 PM
Stony Brook
Reinhardt 1:00 PM
Winthrop
Ark-Little Rock 1:00 PM
Green Bay
TX-Pan American 1:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Alabama State 1:05 PM
Evansville
FIU 1:30 PM
Hartford
Goshen 1:35 PM
Valparaiso
Bryant 2:00 PM
Denver
Austin Peay 2:00 PM
Lipscomb
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
South Dakota 2:00 PM
Montana
ULM 2:00 PM
Samford
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
Hampton
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Bradley
Troy 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Georgia
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
Alabama
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Cal-Irvine 55 2nd Half 1:30
Denver 60
St Marys-CA 51 2nd Half 1:48
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 2nd Half 0:36
Nicholls 55
Portland State 64 2nd Half 1:14
Columbia 62
SMU 36 2nd Half 4:28
Auburn 49
Quinnipiac 67 2nd Half 1:04
Hartford 58
Hofstra 61 2nd Half 6:27
Boston College 50
Liberty 20 1st Half 0:03
(1) South Carolina 44
Fairleigh Dickinson 35 2nd Half
Brown 31
Buffalo 30 2nd Half
Long Island 31
Bucknell 32 2nd Half
Mount St Marys 26
Stony Brook 31 1st Half 0:37
Wagner 30
FIU 36 2nd Half
Wofford 27
Duquesne 19 1st Half 0:54
Providence 25
Maine 28 2nd Half
William & Mary 23
Alabama State 28 1st Half 1:31
Samford 29
TX-Pan American 24 2nd Half
VA Commonwealth 29
South Dakota St 40 2nd Half
Marist 34
Saint Josephs 27 2nd Half
(5) Notre Dame 39
Radford 27 2nd Half
Virginia Tech 28
(3) Texas 10 1st Half 15:15
(4) Texas A&M 6
Rhode Island 9 1st Half 14:21
Bryant 2
South Florida 1:00 PM
Penn State
Sam Houston St 1:00 PM
TCU
Evansville 1:00 PM
IUPUI
(14) Maryland 1:00 PM
Coppin State
Mercer 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
NC A&T 1:00 PM
Chattanooga
Princeton 1:00 PM
Monmouth
Eastern Illinois 1:00 PM
Lehigh
Rider 1:00 PM
Binghamton
SC State 1:00 PM
Clemson
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Iowa State
Richmond 1:00 PM
Eastern Kentucky
Cleveland State 1:00 PM
Morehead St
Kent State 1:00 PM
Colgate
South Alabama 1:00 PM
UAB
Saint Peters 1:00 PM
Navy
Youngstown St 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
NJIT 1:00 PM
Lafayette
Davidson 1:00 PM
Charlotte
Indiana State 1:30 PM
St Johns
Southern U 1:30 PM
Florida
Wright State 1:30 PM
Purdue
(19) Oklahoma St 2:00 PM
USC
Houston 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
Ark-Little Rock 2:00 PM
Tulsa
Dayton 2:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Northern Ariz 2:00 PM
New Mexico
UNC-Asheville 2:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Dakota 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Western Ill 2:00 PM
Marquette
Elon 2:00 PM
(6) North Carolina
Ball State 2:00 PM
Western Ky
(8) Kentucky 2:00 PM
(13) Duke
New Orleans 2:00 PM
Alabama
Chicago State 2:00 PM
Milwaukee
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
Bradley
Ill-Springfield 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Northern Ill 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
(23) Iowa 2:05 PM
Drake
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Colorado
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Arkansas
Idaho State 3:00 PM
Seattle
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
Oregon
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Virginia
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Sunday against Miami?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close