Pat Williams (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
The Vikings have had a rough week or so, suffering potential blows on the stadium front, on offense (Brett Favre) and defense (Pat and Kevin Williams). All could eventually turn into good news, but it’s been a rough stretch to start May for Vikings fans.
For the first week in May, it was pretty eventful for the Vikings and, for the most part, a week most fans would prefer to forget than remember. The questions that were in the back of the minds of Vikings fans in late April came front and center during the first week of May, as the Vikings got word that bad news does come in threes.
First came the news that Brett Favre will need to have his ailing ankle surgically repaired if he wants to return for a 20th season. Although initial reports made the surgery sound much more invasive than subsequent reports did, it is the latest in a growing list of stories casting doubt on the Hall of Famer’s future with the Vikings. While this story is an ongoing issue that will have its ups and downs before a final answer is known, it seems like the beginning of déjà vu all over again.
The second story was also an ebb and flow type of emotional roller coaster for fans, as the Minnesota Legislature saw the first true Vikings stadium bill introduced to the floor for discussion – only to have the bill shot down and all but dead for this legislative session. While some saw the quick defeat of the bill in the House as a sign that no stadium bill will ever be approved in Minnesota and that the Vikings are more of a candidate than ever to relocate out of their home of the last 50 years, others view it much differently.
For those lawmakers who have been on the fence when it comes to finding a way to assure the Vikings get a new stadium and stay, this week’s foray into a funding mechanism was brief, but set the tone for next year’s session. Given a year to figure out funding scenarios coupled with the end of the current Metrodome lease, something is going to have to break. It was only after the Twins allowed themselves to be eliminated through contraction that action was taken to save them. The results have been amazing, as the new Target Field has been hailed by all sides as a showcase for baseball long since absent from the three decades the team played in the Homerdome.
Although the 2010 stadium proposal was met with a quick and sudden death blow, the public debate is ongoing and, if the Vikings have a strong 2010 season, the groundswell of support to prevent the Vikings from leaving Minnesota will likely be stronger the next time around – even if the economy doesn’t show the kind of recovery expected.
Third, and perhaps most problematic in the short-term, was the ruling of Hennepin County District Court Judge Gary Larson that sided with the NFL in the StarCaps case against Pat Williams and Kevin Williams. While the decision was viewed as a victory for the NFL, Larson’s ruling chastised the league for its tactics in not informing players, their union or their agents that the league knew that StarCaps contained the banned substance bumetanide. The decision gave the Williamses and their attorneys plenty of ammunition for an appeal and, although the case has already dragged on 19 months, there still seems to be no end in sight.
In the end, the last week or so has produced three big stories for what is typically a slow time for generating news. From Favre to the stadium to the Williams Wall potentially being demolished for four games, all three stories have been of importance for the short-term and long-term future of the franchise. The interesting connection to all three stories is that, from the perspective of Vikings fans, all three could be viewed as negatives. Yet, when all is said and done, all three could turn out to be positives: Favre has his surgery. Stadium proponents have one last chance to get their ducks in a row to finally secure a new stadium. The Williams Wall gets a reprieve and may be available for the start of the 2010 season after all.
It may be a “glass half full” scenario for those who think positively, but, if nothing else, the Vikings continue to dominate the sports pages in Minnesota and nothing would seem to be on the horizon that is going to knock them off that perch any time soon. While the coming weeks likely won’t be able to match the big news punch that we’ve seen over the last week or so, it hammers home the point that there is no off-season when it comes to football news, especially for a Vikings franchise that continues to make its own news on a daily and weekly basis.
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.