Ignorance is bliss, as they say. Just two weeks ago, Minnesota Vikings fans were in a state of nirvana. It seemed Aaron Rodgers was going to demand a trade. The Vikings were fully healthy, and young players looking at a starting role weren’t sidelined at practice. Kirk Cousins was only criticized for his play on the field and his love of Pizza Ranch. Oh, how wrong we were.
Besides the mistake of actually falling for the hype of the Vikings, fans were right to be excited about the upcoming season. Even after the vaccination debacle, The Athletic ($) ranked the Vikings’ defense to be the best in the NFL this year. That and Justin Jefferson has looked unstoppable in camp.
Then the dominos started to fall.
It started a day before the first practice that was open to the public. The lucky ticket holders going to see their favorite team were unknowingly making the drive to Eagan, the home of the Vikings’ practice facility, to see, um, Jake Browning at quarterback. The reason? The three QBs ahead of him were quarantined for either having COVID-19 or being exposed to it.
Here’s an insightful quote from Cousins in the early days of the pandemic: “if I die, I die.” And no, that’s not a joke. If it sounds familiar, it’s because Ivan Drago from Rocky IV said something like that first. ESPN reported that Cousins later added that he isn’t afraid of contracting the virus and will be respectful and considerate of others.
KFAN’s Paul Allen later reported that even more players weren’t willing to get the vaccine. “I know of at least three [Vikings] players who will quit before they will vaccinate,” he said. “End of story. There are three players, I know, who will quit before they get the [COVID-19] vaccine.”
The team has a worse vaccination percentage than a football team without a name. In Minnesota, no less, one of the most vaccinated states that have an NFL team. Minnesota was the second state to hit 70% of vaccinated adults (18-plus) in the country. However, the Vikings didn’t get the memo.
The woes don’t end there, though. Obviously, Rodgers has returned to the Green Bay Packers after quite a lot of (entertaining) tribulation in the state next door. It was fun while it lasted, and I even started to believe the reports of Rodgers leaving the team.
The good news for the Vikings is the relationship between Rodgers and the Packers’ front office may be too far gone to go on after this season. It’s being reported that, due to a lack of an extension, both Rodgers and Davante Adams may leave in 2022. But that doesn’t help Minnesota this year.
One more thing: Remember those promising rookies to propel the Vikings’ offensive line from worst to at least mediocre? While it’s still possible, Christian Darrisaw’s start has been slowed by injuries, and Wyatt Davis is not yet on the first team. That’s two of the most exciting draft picks from this past offseason.
The line might be the most important position group on this year’s team, so it’s disappointing that there isn’t clear improvement yet. One thing to note, though, is Oli Udoh’s emergence in camp. It’s a potential bright spot on the young offensive line that still has Dakota Dozier on the first team.
In summary, the hopes that Rodgers would be gone, the team would be vaccinated, and the rookies would at least be contributing in camp have not come to fruition. But that’s okay because as quickly as the drama transferred from the Packers to the Vikings, it could just as easily go on to the next team if a few key issues are resolved. It sucks now, but barring forfeited games this season is looking to be like every other now rather than the stars aligning for the Vikings.