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Holler: Will Harvin have a lasting impact?
It can't be underestimated how fan loyalty to a specific player can be instrumental to a fan base itself. If you are heading to Mankato for training camp, where many fans of (don't hold this against me) Vikings Nation conduct summer "stay-cations" and bring the family to get as up close as personal as they will with their football heroes, they come wearing their purple. Their jerseys reflect the player that has meant the most to them.
Those with natural body sag wear Tarkenton, Page, Eller, and the rare but always appreciated homage to Milt Sunde.
One has a feeling that fans are going to pull out of mothballs the numerous Cris Carter jerseys that remain among the fan base thanks to his Hall of Fame induction.
Ironically, if you are scoring at Blakeslee Field, there will be an inordinate number of Brett Favre No. 4 jerseys – a constant visual dig to any Packers fan that he beat his old team twice in 2009 and all was good in Vikings Country.
As far as outdated apparel goes, Randy Moss still wears the crown. I defy any Vikings fan who attends camp to not find at least a handful of fans on any given day still wearing No. 84 Moss jerseys. They may be threadbare and faded to more of a violet or lavender shade after going through the wash hundreds of times, but they are revered, much like a shredded 13-star flag gets a nod of appreciation.
As far as fashion relevancy goes, Adrian Peterson is the jersey king. You don't see Phil Loadholt onesies on infants. You see babies blinged up in U.A.D. No. 28's (Up All Day). But what will Harvin's lasting impact be as the Vikings head to Mankato?
This will be the first Vikings training camp since 2009 without Harvin giving the "Wow! Factor" to those in attendance. He is no longer in Minnesota. The reasons were business-related, not performance-related. Getting a first-round pick in return for a player who was "disgruntled" may sound familiar to Vikings fans. That's what the Vikings gave up to get Jared Allen (along with a pair of third-round picks) and nobody is complaining about that deal – especially given that the Vikings history of developing third-rounders was sketchy at best. Harvin is the first Viking since Randy Moss got traded to Oakland that the Vikings shipped off as a mega-talent in exchange for a potential star.
Although the Seattle Seahawks have been in existence for almost 40 years, the contract given Harvin (six years, $67 million) was the most lucrative in franchise history. If you look at it from a business perspective, that is what the Vikings would have had to pay to keep a player that reportedly wasn't happy being a Viking. Some believe that Harvin's biggest beef was that he wasn't being used enough. The Vikings accommodated him and, prior to his midseason injury, it wasn't Peterson's name being bantered about as MVP. It was Harvin.
The Vikings did their best to replace Harvin by signing free agent Greg Jennings and selecting Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round of April's draft. They potentially upgraded – two players that will have contracts similar to what Seattle paid Harvin. The ledger sheet shows a positive.
But fans are fans. They fall collectively in love with players. Harvin was one of those players. He changed games – a rare and sought quality. He's gone. His chapter in the history of the Vikings is over. Mankato will be the first litmus test of how gone Harvin is in terms of the fan base.
Gone but not forgotten is the early betting line.
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.
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