MANKATO – Percy Harvin showed up at Seahawks training camp with a hip injury. Shocking, right?
It’s always something in Percy’s world.
As the Vikings kicked off training camp Friday with their first practice, news from the Pacific Northwest brought another reminder that the organization made the right decision in parting ways with Harvin, regardless of his immense talent and impact on the offense.
According to reports, Harvin has a hip injury that might require surgery and, if so, could end his first season in Seattle before it begins.
Harvin reportedly will seek a second opinion Tuesday in New York. Hopefully, Harvin receives a favorable diagnosis and can recover without surgery. Hopefully, he can continue to play with the same reckless and fearless style without any physical impediment.
I say hopefully because Harvin’s injury should not cause any gloating among Vikings employees and fans, not even privately. Anyone who takes delight in an athlete’s injury needs to reassess their priorities.
But Harvin’s injury does provide more evidence that life with Percy is rarely smooth sailing and that his off-field drama and injury concerns made his departure an unavoidable outcome, even if unloading a game-changing player in the prime of his career seems illogical and foolish.
Initially, I supported the notion that the Vikings had to do everything in their power to make the relationship work, or at least make it function to the degree that Harvin would not become a distraction or disruptive presence in the locker room.
Harvin is a unique talent and a nightmare for opposing defenses. He does things on the field that few in the NFL can match. And he’s a gamer who gives maximum effort on Sundays.
That’s why he became such a fan favorite here.
But the scale tipped too far the other direction last season, leaving General Manager Rick Spielman little choice but to trade his enigmatic receiver. Harvin became entirely too unpredictable to count on, whether it was his migraine history, his moodiness or concerns over his ability to avoid injuries based on his wrecking-ball style of play.
Plus, Harvin basically walked out on his coaches and teammates last season as they fought for a playoff berth. He also reportedly clashed with Leslie Frazier, who might be the most mild-mannered, player-friendly, even-handed coach in professional sports.
The NFL is littered with complicated personalities, but one must assume that Frazier and Spielman would not have cut ties with a player of Harvin’s ability and stature unless they felt that they had reached the point of no return.
Ultimately, the sense around the team was that Harvin simply didn’t want to be here anymore. He was in line for a massive contract extension and the team’s reluctance to commit to it was justified because the trust factor had deteriorated.
That Spielman received so much in return from Seattle made the trade more palatable. The Vikings parlayed Harvin into veteran receiver Greg Jennings, first-round cornerback Xavier Rhodes and a third-round pick next season.
Jennings is not Harvin in terms of elite talent, but the former Packer brings a proven track record of production. He also will be a valuable resource for rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, who is blessed with size and speed but needs to learn the intricacies of that position. And based on first impressions after one practice, Rhodes looks like a physical cornerback who isn’t afraid to challenge receivers at the line.
Let’s be clear, though: The Vikings will miss Harvin’s contributions on the field, and anyone who suggests otherwise is naïve. Yes, they made their playoff push last season without him, but he carried the offense until Adrian Peterson hit his stride. Harvin gave the Vikings confidence — and Christian Ponder a security blanket — because they knew he could make something of nothing any time he touched the ball.
But Frazier has worked hard to create a culture that emphasizes a team-first mentality while minimizing outside distractions. He describes it as a “buy-in” factor. The Vikings have long been a traveling circus of drama, but Frazier’s low-key approach can be successful, too.