Bernard Berrian (Jamie Squire/Getty)
Bernard Berrian wanted to blame past quarterbacks for not getting him the ball, but a week after his release he remains unemployed. It seems clear who he should be blaming now.
When the Vikings made the decision to release WR Bernard Berrian a week ago today, it was clear that the team had grown weary of his lack of production and seeming lack of commitment to the game.
He was sometimes aloof, sometimes combative with the media and quick to throw players like Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb – one a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the other a borderline Hall of Fame QB – under the bus. It wasn’t his fault that he never produced a 1,000-yard receiving season. It was his Hall of Fame quarterbacks’ fault. What? Even at the time he was making his statement, it was hard to take him seriously.
If you believed Berrian, he was consistently open but there was a conspiracy against him. Brett didn’t like him and intentionally wouldn’t target him. Donovan doesn’t look his way enough. Rational people know both of those statements were ludicrous on face value. To steal a line from some hack named Bill Shakespeare, “The fault, dear Bernard, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
Head coach Leslie Frazier and McNabb spent much of their podium time in Mankato during training camp to praising Berrian, not killing him. Both publicly stated that Berrian would be as important as any player to the Vikings offense. The reality was much different. Berrian restructured his contract prior to the season to avoid being cut because, at $3.9 million a year, he was almost literally stealing money from the team. It was hoped the change at both head coach and quarterback would make a difference. Clearly it didn’t.
What may speak louder than any words spoken by Berrian or contradictory words written here are the actions of the 31 other teams in the league. Given the pass-happy nature of the NFL, it would seem as though teams would be lining up to get a veteran speed receiver that wouldn’t cost them a future draft pick and one that could be signed to a team-friendly, short-term contract to gauge if he has a future with the team.
To date, not only has Berrian not been signed by another team, but it’s hard to find anyone that has even sent out a feeler of interest. Berrian remains unemployed a week after being informed by the Vikings that he no longer fit in their plans. The fact that the Vikings are 1-0 without him may just be
a happy coincidence, but the lack of Berrian’s phone ringing with offers of a job or, at a minimum, a chance to visit a team for a workout, may say it all.
There isn’t a conspiracy against Berrian. There is a conspiracy of one and it’s the man in the mirror. Some players find a way to get on the field by
playing themselves into a lineup. It would appear Berrian has played his way out of the league.
So how are the Vikings spending their bye week? Christian Ponder and teammates Chad Greenway, John Sullivan and Cullen Loeffler aren’t heading to Florida or Texas, they’re off to South Dakota for a hunting/fishing vacation. Perhaps those commercials advertising South Dakota tourism are reaching their target audience.
One of the topics being discussed behind closed doors is what to do about CB Chris Cook, who faces felony domestic abuse charges. Since the Wilf family bought the Vikings, personal accountability has been a hallmark. Cook is currently under unpaid suspension. In the coming days, the team is likely to make a decision, weighing whether Cook’s talent will outweigh his off-field actions. While it could be dicey to make a rush to judgment on what happened the night Cook was arrested, the evidence in the court filing is rather damning and may end up costing Cook his roster spot less than two years after being touted as the next big thing in the Vikings secondary.
While the numbers got a little less heinous over the past couple of games, the Vikings remain a team that is the tale of two halves. Through eight games, the Vikings have outscored their opponents 123-72 in the first half, but have been outscored 127-49 after halftime.
Word out of Carolina was that Olindo Mare remained in the locker room for more than an hour after Sunday’s loss, when he shanked a 31-yard field goal that would have sent the game to overtime. While head coach Ron Rivera attempted to console his kicker, there are rumblings in Carolina that the team may use its bye week to audition other kickers – another sign of the fickle state of job security among kickers in the NFL.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.