2020 has many built-in excuses and scapegoats. It was a challenge indeed, and for the Minnesota Vikings, it was another lost season. Because of COVID-19 and NFL protocols, it was a battle for all 32 NFL teams.
General Manager Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer both were rewarded with three-year contract extensions. Then the first thing they did was trade star Stefon Diggs to Buffalo. Have you heard of the Minneapolis Miracle?
Then they extended quarterback Kirk Cousins for two years and $66 million. In three years, the man with the $84 million guaranteed contract, an NFL first, is 8-8, 10-7 and 7-9. And they extended running back Dalvin Cook with over 1,900 yards and 16 TDS. The Vikings had the sixth-best offense in the NFL.
Football, yes, is a team game, and one player can’t do it all by himself. Yet the decision-makers with the Vikings tried to replace six starters on a 2019 playoff team. They changed defensive coordinators with Andre Patterson and Adam Zimmer. Yes, the coach’s son.
Can you say nepotism? And after having one of the worse defenses (475 points allowed) in the 60-year history of Vikings football, they blamed the salary cap.
Injuries are a part of the game. They are like free throws in basketball. The Vikings were 3-5 at U.S. Bank Stadium and were 1-6 vs. the 14 2021 NFL playoff teams. The Vikings were 4-2 vs. Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago, but dropped to third in the NFC North.
The Vikings won’t admit it, but they are not as good now as they were before trading Diggs. All Diggs did was lead the NFL in receptions with 127 for 1,500 yards and help Buffalo (13-3) win the AFC East for the first time since 1995.
The last Viking to lead the NFL in receptions was HOF Cris Carter. The Vikings want their fans to think that Justin Jefferson, the rookie sensation from LSU who broke Randy Moss’s rookie record for catches (88) and 1,400 yards with seven touchdowns, replaced Diggs. He was brilliant; Moss, however, had 17 touchdowns on Dennis Green’s 16-2 1998 team.
Replacing Diggs with Jefferson was much bigger than a lateral move and a draft choice. It was a failure of the organization to admit they agreed with Cousins. Politically he’s a Trumper, a good teammate but he helped divide the locker room.
Digg’s found freedom in Buffalo and became the best that he could be. Politics in 2020 divided many sports teams. The sports world forced us to face a racist truth.
The Diggs trade was bigger than fans are capable of understanding. Teams create their own environments and working conditions. The reason linebacker Eric Kendricks is the Vikings Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year is because the murder of George Floyd on 38th Street in Minneapolis changed him and brought him to a new reality.
The hope is that the Vikings as an organization will work harder at moving closer to the middle. For 60 years, being on the right has led them to zero for 60: no championships in 60 years.