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Javon Walker: A(nother) comeback story we can get behind

Published 9:42pm Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The start to the start of the upcoming Vikings season has been a little rough, especially from a physical standpoint: Favre’s ankle, Harvin’s migraines and scary camp collapse and the worst of all, Sidney Rice’s hip surgery, coming at a time right after some people’s fantasy football drafts… (cough, sob). But what we may have after this slew of injuries is the potential for a sports redemption story with a beginning, middle and end.

Act 1: Javon Walker was a nightmare at wideout for the Packers in the early 2000s. He was a great leaper, he was sneaky fast, excellent hands and had a great rapport with his quarterback in Green Bay, Brett Favre. He peaked in 2004, catching 89 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Act 2: After a Pro Bowl season in 04, Walker got bit by that pesky compensation bug. He threatened to hold out in 2005, became at odds with Favre, and then decided to forgo a holdout only to tear his ACL in the first game of that season (an injury that would zap some of his effectiveness as a downfield threat). Green Bay traded him to Denver in April of 2006, where only more tumult was to follow. He had a productive inaugural season as more of a possession receiver, catching 69 balls, but was clearly going to be left out of the budding Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall era that really got going at the end of that season. But then the true tragedy occurred when while in a car with teammate Darrent Williams, Williams was shot to death and died in Walker’s lap, which Walker said stemmed from an incident at a nightclub involving a couple of thugs and teammate Marshall. Walker (understandably) had a down 2007 and was released by the Broncos in 2008. Walker signed an inexplicably huge contract with the Oakland Raiders, and with it came expectations that proved to be too much to bear. Walker put up middling numbers with inconsistent quarterback play and was injured for the rest of the season in November. He was released in March of 2008, and hasn’t played a down since.

Act 3: This part begins with his signing with the Vikings and is mostly unwritten. But there is potential for a happy ending: he has a team that needs him and a quarterback that helped him to the best seasons of his life. The pieces are there. Even if he simply contributes to a good Vikings team, it will be some of the redemption that Walker deserves. We could have a sports story with true redemption, perseverance and all of the pain and hope that come with the human experience. For once, the Vikings could have a comeback story the rest of the country won’t get completely tired of.