The Vikings' players have their final team obligations until the OTAs kick in during April today. It's known as getaway day, where players have final meetings and take year-end physicals before departing to heal up in the offseason. As we learned last year, some of the goodbyes among players turn out to be permanent.
Today is getaway day for the Vikings. After some team meetings and year-end physicals, it will be up and out for the Vikings players. For many of them, it will prove to be their last time together.
A look at last year’s getaway day saw the media surrounding several veteran players. While Brad Childress made a point to single out Marcus Robinson, who was cut with one game to play in the 2006 season, several veterans were also on the wrong end of the direction of the franchise. As players disembarked from Winter Park last year, players like Brad Johnson, Fred Smoot, Mike Rosenthal, Travis Taylor, Jermaine Wiggins and Napoleon Harris – all full-time starters – said their goodbyes and never came back.
While the Vikings have almost all of their key players from 2007 under contract, anything is possible. With Childress having bought himself another year with a surge late in the season to get the Vikings back into playoff contention, most of the Vikings players who say goodbye to their teammates will be back for the 2008 season. But many won’t, so it will be a chance for players to let their teammates know how they feel about them because, while it’s getaway day for all of them, it will be “go away day” for some.
* A Twin Cities TV station is reporting that Brad Childress has created a policy with the Minneapolis Police Department to serve not just as dean of boys for Vikings players, but also as their dad with an “in” with the cops. According to the report, Childress has given the police his phone numbers and asked them to call if there are any problems with Vikings players. Apparently he was one of the first people called when Dwight Smith was busted for pot possession in December, although Childress claims he wouldn’t act on Smith’s case until he got “more information.” Seeing as he was one of the first people notified, it would seem he would have a pretty strong case file before the rest of us even knew there was a problem.
* We’ve gotten to what they like to call “firing season” in the NFL, where those teams that didn’t live up to expectations get the axe. Former Vikings assistant Brian Billick, who won a championship ring with the Ravens, was fired this week to the delight of his numerous detractors. Billick, it has been said, believes he’s the smartest man in any room he enters. So for Ravens fans, his departure is being viewed as a good thing. Another coach with a volatile but generally solid relationship with the media, Herm Edwards of the Chiefs, will apparently keep his job, but he spent Tuesday gutting almost the entire offensive staff – from offensive coordinator Mike Solari on down. The last act of a desperate head coach is to fire his underlings to save his own job. Heads must roll when teams don’t live up to expectations and, while Edwards was able to be saved from the coaching guillotine by offering up his staff as a sacrifice, Billick, who some will recall announced he would be back in 2008 without any official confirmation from the team, wasn’t so lucky.
* An interesting scenario is playing itself out in Dallas, where the Cowboys had the best record in the NFC, but are in danger of losing their offensive coordinator Jason Garrett – who has already been requested for interviews by the Falcons and Ravens. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones may have to find a way to fire Wade Phillips to ascend Garrett or he will be almost sure to lose him to another team, much like the Vikings lost defensive coordinators Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin over the past decade (and Billick).
* This weekend’s playoff game between the Giants and Bucs has yet to sell out.
* So much for home-field advantage. The Jaguars are a 1½-point favorite on the road against the Steelers this weekend.