If the Vikings Really Were "Friends"

Photo credit: Minnesota Vikings Twitter account

The Vikings social media team recently had some fun with one of their OTA photos. Capitalizing on the popularity of a recent reunion they used the iconic “Friends” logo draped across their picture. It’s good old fashion social media fun. But it got me thinking. What if the Vikings really were “Friends?”

While the TV show Friends never had a glamorous storyline or mystical set design, its success came from the depth of the characters — especially their exuberant personalities and relationships. Within the show, each character was identifiable due to his or her qualities. But if Friends characters were to transition across the universe to the Minnesota Vikings’ locker room, who would be their counterparts?

Let’s start with Ross Geller: the intellectual, caring, know-it-all who can often be clumsy, over-sensitive, and socially awkward. This was an easy one; there’s no better match for Ross Geller than Kirk Cousins. The Vikings quarterback’s singing videos from his school days occasionally surface on Twitter. And the way he grills meat is just on brand.

The parallels are confounding. How Cousins and his wife, Julie, move into his in-laws’ basement every offseason to save money. How he hangs photos of reporters inside his locker so he can remember their names. How he loves trivia. And how he reads piles of books, underlining passages and typing out his favorite takeaways, then emailing his reviews to family members.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Cousins adopted an exotic animal sometime in his life as Ross did with Marcel. Plus, both are wonderful fathers and pretty good at their jobs. Cousins ‘ unique personality fully defines who Ross Geller is, from the ‘you like that’ game to his comments on the coronavirus.

Harrison Smith has the most in common with Ross’s sister, Monica Geller. Sure, Smith’s personality isn’t as feisty as Monica’s, but her knack for perfection and cleanliness — both literally and figuratively — compares well to Smith’s role as the eraser on the Vikings’ defense.

Smith makes the players around him better. For example, Andrew Sendejo and Anthony Harris have had career-defining years with the Vikings playing alongside Smith. He is one of the main reasons that Xavier Woods signed with the Vikings this offseason. “I was watching Harrison (Smith),” Woods said. “That was one of the main reasons why I wanted to be here, to be able to learn from him, be able to play (with him).”

This reminds me of Monica making the people she is around better, especially her husband, Chandler. Clueless in the matter of relationships, Chandler takes his cues from Monica and from his defective instincts about how men and women relate to each other. It is a very egalitarian relationship, but Monica meshes well with him.

Meanwhile, Stephen Weatherly is the Chandler Bing of the Vikings. From ‘Game Show Host’ to ‘The Weatherly Report,’ he espouses the role of Bing as he explores different, quirky jobs outside of football.

Both are quick-witted, loyal, and can always come up with a sarcastic joke on the fly to lighten the mood. From calling the police when he saw an unconscious woman on the street last week to purchasing ‘inflated’ two dollars a cup lemonade, Weatherly, like Bing, cares about others.

Chandler Bing’s roommate for most of the show is Joey Tribbiani. He is probably the most extroverted and high-spirited person on Friends, and Justin Jefferson exhibits those traits more than any other player in the Vikings locker room.

Amid a season where everything went wrong at one point or another last year, the Vikings struggled to find their identity until all the players embraced The Griddy, a dance created by naive Louisiana man ‘Lah Griddy.’ Jefferson, like Joey, is always seen having simple, genuine fun. Joey Tribbiani and Justin Jefferson are two of the most-liked people within their worlds.

Phoebe Buffay reminds me most of Dalvin Cook. Both have dealt with issues in the past, Buffay with homelessness and Cook with off-field problems at FSU, but both matured into supportive and selfless mediators.

Cook often gives life to the Vikings’ offense on the field, but it’s more than that. He runs the “Vikings Table Food Truck,” which assists in providing meals to those within the community who can’t afford them. Like Cook, Buffay is frequently generous. In Season 1, she gives a homeless lady $1,000 because she didn’t want it.

Rachel Green is the final main character on Friends. She is confident in herself even when she is venturing into something new. When she left Barry at the altar and started a new life for herself, disconnected from her father’s money, she experienced a world she’d never seen before.

She took her new life by storm, going from a coffee barista at ‘Central Perk’ to a high-ranking fashion executive at Ralph Lauren, something few expected her to accomplish. Kris Boyd is the Rachel Green of the Vikings. The feisty defensive back had the opportunity to start last season, and while he initially struggled, he became a more integral member of the team.

As a former seventh-round pick, Boyd isn’t certain to be part of Minnesota’s future. But over his years here, he has become one of the most supportive players and continually gets better every day due to his confidence.

I had to dig into the archives a bit for this comparison, but one of the biggest side characters on Friends, Emily Waltham, is a lot like Stefon Diggs. Hear me out: Emily seems friendly and charming on the outside, but her true capability is mysterious and cunning.

When Ross tells her he loves her at the airport, all she replies with is “Thank you,” then reveals that she has been dating someone else. This is too similar to Diggs, who skipped practice with a cold after feeling like he had been lied to.

Both are your best friends until something they don’t like happens. Then, it’s like you never knew them, and all your memories seem like a lie.

One of the smallest but most important roles on Friends was Gunther, the coffee barista. His aloof personality added a dimension to the show that I didn’t know I needed until it was there. Gunther most closely resembles Mike Zimmer. His blunt personality and loyalty to those he cares about make Zimmer a great coach.

The last side character that was comparable to the Vikings is Mike Hannigan, Phoebe’s husband. Mike and Anthony Barr share some personality traits. Phoebe and Mike broke up during the show, leaving viewers to think that chapter was over, but Mike’s loyalty showed as he came back to Phoebe and said that there was no way they couldn’t be together.

Barr tested free agency in 2018. After verbally agreeing with the New York Jets, he backed out to sign a lesser deal with Minnesota.

The invaluable traits of both of these groups may be hard to analyze as direct comparisons. But hey, that’s what makes it so fascinating to watch in the first place.

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