Free-Agency, Chaotic and Emotional

The Daily Norseman has some fine, dedicated writers who monitor a variety of news sources to keep you up to date on the latest Minnesota Vikings rumors and signings in this chaotic and severely condensed free-agency. I am not one of them.

All the will-they-resign, who-will-they-sign-with angst makes me crazy and almost as twitchy as mock drafts (still seems pointless, it's not like the Vikings care about my opinion). I don't like the anticipation. I would rather just find out what has happened after the fact and then gape in shocked disbelief. So, yesterday I spent some quality time at the salon and then the bookstore instead of monitoring every news source out there for up-to-the-minute information. We all cope in our own ways.

For me, that was the better choice because if I had read every single missive and rumor about Sidney Rice signing with the Seattle Seahawks I might have done damage to my computer. There are a lot of different opinions about Sidney Rice, my opinion is that he's a good receiver and I'm going to miss seeing him in Viking purple.

Right now there are so many rumors flying around the NFL it bears a striking resemblance to a high school cafeteria a week before prom. "Who's he going with?" "What's he going to wear?" "Did he really say that?" "He's going with them? That's not what I heard." "OMG I didn't even think he liked Darrell Bevell?"

Just yesterday the Vikings signed 14 rookie free agents, re-signed Ryan Longwell, lost Sidney Rice, released Jimmy Kennedy, and reached an agreement to bring Donovan McNabb to Minnesota. Today Madieu Williams, never fully recovered from a 2008 neck injury, was released. Nose tackle Remi Ayodele came to an agreement with the Vikings for 3 years and $9 million. The Vikings agreed to terms with special-teams ace Eric Frampton. Erin Henderson will sign his restricted free-agent tender. Rookie free agents Alexander Robison and Ed Barham were signed, but Derrick Locke failed his physical. As if all that isn't enough to make your head spin, there are still a couple days for the Vikings to finish rounding out their 90-man training camp roster. And once they build up the training camp roster, the coaches get to steadily cut away at the roster until we're back down to the 53-man active roster for the regular season.

NFL free-agency is always weird but this year it's more like weird took a hit of mescaline and then watched Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. While it's hard on teams and players to get deals in place in such a short amount of time, all this roster churn is hard on fans too. Fans have the luxury and hassle of being sentimental.

For us, the NFL isn't a $9 billion business investment or a short, but lucrative, career. No, for fans football is all the stuff that the NFL markets to us in its glossy commercials. It's family tradition, and team loyalty, and bonding across generations, and long-time divisional rivalries. It's grilling brats, drinking beer, and shouting at the television. It's tail-gating, doing the wave, paying through the nose for a replica jersey, observing goofy good-luck rituals, and screaming your lungs out when your defense is on the field. For fans football can be something just shy of religion or mental illness. That's why, when free-agency is upon us and rosters are getting rearranged like it's a game of fruit basket upset (c'mon, tell me I'm not the only one who played that in grade school), it gets a little...well, for lack of a better word, stressful.

Tonight, I'm going to unplug from DN, from the news sites, and from Twitter and take a quiet moment to retire my Sidney Rice Vikings jersey. Is that ridiculous and sentimental? Maybe. But I'm a fan, that's my right. And tomorrow--back to the insanity.

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