The preliminaries are over. The rosters have been trimmed to 53 players, and all indications are that the 2017 Vikings are good but not good enough. The worst running team in football last year has Sam Bradford at quarterback.
Bradford has a career-losing record as a starter. He’s never won a playoff game. You find me a QB with a career-losing record as a starter who won the Super Bowl.
“I think the pressure is on Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur,” said former NFL running back Marshall Faulk. “I look for an offensive team to establish an identity. For 10 years their identity was Adrian Peterson. It’s his show. Shurmur advocated for Bradford. He had him in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and now Minnesota.”
Florida State rookie running back Dalvin Cook will start at running back. He has looked great. Latavius Murray, the Pro-Bowler from Oakland, has not. He has to come through big with his talent and experience. The offensive line is better.
In recent years, history tells us teams with Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks win the big games. Last year Tom Brady was suspended the first four games. No problem — New England still won the Super Bowl for the fifth time, 34-28, with the mother of all rallies after trailing by 25 points.
Mike Zimmer’s defense is loaded. He has five Pro Bowlers! The team invested over $100 million in guaranteed money, a franchise record, in three of the Pro Bowlers. Can you say the heat is on?
Last year the NFL lost 10 percent of its following audience. It was an election year. This year, quarterback Colin Kaepernick was not hired by any NFL team. No job the first week of September, all because he protested cops getting away with killing innocent Black men. The team owners have spoken: We don’t care about talent, we want no part in protest directed at the national anthem on NFL Sundays.
Playing and singing the national anthem at sporting events did not start until 1918, 17 months after the United States was in the war to end all wars. Over 100,000 Americans were killed in action. Chicago Cubs vs. Boston Red Sox were in the World Series. Ball players and others had to fight to defend their country.
France Key’s lyric “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” better known as the national anthem, was written after the bloody attack by the British in the war of 1812. Patriotism and tradition came together to rally Americans in unity hip to hip.
Several players continue to protest today. Marshawn Lynch of Oakland has been protesting for years and nobody noticed. Eric Reid of San Francisco as well. Kaepernick has his supporters. Some will be protesting against the NFL this season, like Spike Lee, several New York police officers, and the great Henry Aaron, who can’t believe the NFL is denying him the opportunity and a job.
Kaepernick made a business decision to leave San Francisco. He bought out his remaining contract, becoming a free agent. Had he not bought out his contract, it’s conceivable he would still be with the 49ers. Once he was not under contract anymore, the politics of the NFL owners have spoken loud and clear.
For what it’s worth, this is my 39th season covering the NFL and the Vikings. Here’s what I think will happen:
1) Green Bay, 2) Vikings, 3) Detroit, 4) Chicago
1) Arizona, 2) Seattle, 3) San Francisco, 4) Los Angeles
1) Atlanta, 2) Tampa Bay, 3) New Orleans, 4) Carolina
1) New York Giants, 2) Dallas, 3) Philadelphia, 4) Washington
1) New England, 2) Miami, 3) Buffalo, 4) New York Jets
1) Houston, 2) Tennessee, 3) Jacksonville, 4) Indianapolis
1) Kansas City, 2) Oakland, 3) Denver, 4) San Diego
1) Pittsburgh, 2) Baltimore, 3) Cincinnati, 4) Cleveland
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.