Vikings continue having controversyPublished 8:58am Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Column: Notes from Nashville, by Andrew Dyrdal
There’s never a dull moment when it comes to the Vikings.
Whether it’s a quarterback change, legal issues, roof collapse or fight for a new stadium, the team’s headquarters in Eden Prairie is often buzzing with controversy.
The Viking’s short offseason has been no different.
The team fired their head coach, Leslie Frazier, on Dec. 30 after three seasons, and three days later starting middle linebacker Erin Henderson was arrested for his second DWI in six weeks. Later that day, former kicker Chris Kluwe made national news when he posted a lengthy article on Deadspin.com calling Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman cowards and special teams coach Mike Priefer a bigot. All that in just a few days.
The Vikings have a lot of work to do to clean up the mess that Kluwe exposed, which claims he was fired because of his activism for same-sex marriage rights by the allegedly homophobic Priefer, and Frazier and Spielman, who wouldn’t stand up against the special teams coach. Whether or not Kluwe’s allegations are true, it again brings unwanted attention to a team continuously dealing with personnel issues.
The Vikings have an opportunity in this spring’s NFL Draft to select their next young leader and star. There will be plenty of options with the eighth pick to draft a player who will be both strong in the locker room and on the field.
The Vikings are often mired in controversy, but I think they should select the most controversial player in the draft.
Minnesota has thrown the white flag at the quarterback position, benching Christian Ponder, giving Josh Freeman only one start and going with the steady-but-no-star Matt Cassel down the stretch. The Vikings haven’t had a leader or winner at quarterback since Brett Favre retired in 2010, so they need to draft the player who carries both those traits: Johnny Manizel.
Manziel isn’t the highest rated quarterback entering the draft. That title goes to Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater. He isn’t the second highest, either, with Central Florida’s Blake Bortles expected to go in the top five. Manziel is, though, the quarterback with the most upside, swagger and confidence — something the Vikings desperately need.
I criticized Manziel for his immaturity at the beginning of the season both on and off the field. His emotions tend to get the best of him — whether he’s at a party or playing at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. Emotion, though, is something the Vikings have lacked at quarterback for some time.
Minnesota won’t be able to secure Manziel with the eighth pick. The Texans, Raiders, Jaguars and Browns are all in need of quarterbacks and pick before the Vikings. Minnesota will need to trade up in order to draft Johnny Football.
The Vikings need defensive help, too, and could get one of the top two defensive players in the draft if they stay put at No. 8 and will be able to select a potentially dependable quarterback in the second round. Christian Ponder was predicted to be dependable, too, and he’s likely on his way out of the Twin Cities after just three seasons.
The Vikings need Manziel — the most exciting quarterback in the draft — in order to make a move toward the top of the NFC North. Minnesota must do whatever it takes — outside of trading Adrian Peterson or Cordarelle Patterson — to land him.
Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears in the Tribune each Tuesday.