MINNEAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 7: Wide receiver Percy Harvin #12 of the Minnesota Vikings gets ready for the game with the Arizona Cardinals at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on November 7 2010 in Minneapolis Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Considering that nobody has once mentioned the current kerfuffle with Percival Harvin yet, I figured I'd do a piece on the subject. What's that, guy who has a habit of interrupting me? Pretty much everyone has weighed in on it? Well, it's been about 13 years since I've written a story (and about 18 since I've written a good story), so we're doing this anyways. Also, I wanted to discuss a different portion of this topic. FYI, if you want some of my actual direct thoughts on all of this what with the latest developments and all, I left a big ol' comment on Chris' "Harvin's Not Going Anywhere" piece, so I'm just going to leave that at that.
Anyhoo, we're all sitting around here talking about this with what is in fact, technically, the ASSUMPTION that this is a contract related dispute. The truth is, Harvin has said that it's a variety of factors. He has also said that he's not going to discuss those factors or even what they actually are with the media, using the cliché phrase "in house". Granted, that's a mix of irony and hypocrisy, since this actually all started with Harvin venting to the media with a hold-out threat, something that apparently caught the FO and coaching staff off guard. That said, attempts to get out of Harvin what the root sources of all this are have failed- whenever the media and he speak, he either refuses to take any non-football practice related questions, or he refuses to speak period.
Since I would agree with the assumption that the biggest beef would be the contract, I wanted to take a look into some possibilities of what these other factors could potentially be, since everything we've heard out of Harvin himself (as well as the FO) indicates that there is more than one issue at stake here. I also wanted to briefly discuss the merits as well as potential issues that exist with Harvin's decision to not actually directly state what these issues are to the media/ public.
LEAP OF FAITH!
First off, let's go over the wisdom and foolishness of keeping issues ‘in house'. First off, I might be more gentle and lenient in the foolishness department had Harvin actually done so, rather than start all this again with a media outburst. To me, if you're going to tell fans that you might hold out of training camp, at least tell us why. Hey, if it's because you're not happy with your contract, cool. Happens all the time. Some fans will gripe, but they're going to gripe regardless the moment you use the words "hold" and "out" consecutively and in that order. Things get especially interesting when you say issues in the plural.
The good of not clarifying said issues? Well, for starters, it can be something that is seen as respectful by your team. Rather than try and create a big commotion and threaten a fan revolt by airing your dirty laundry to the public, you want to speak your peace with those who actually are the decision makers and to settle it like men. Of course, again, that loses some weight when you already vented to the fans... but hey, it still carries some water as we don't know what the issues are, so we can't fully bitch about it. Furthermore, if your issues are... well, dumb (seriously guys, Gerhart gave me a wedgie the other day!!! I wanna traaaaaade!), then fans won't think you're dumb by association. So there's that. Keeping fan discussion of your issues out of the issue-handling process may benefit you in the long run.
Conversely however, by not clarifying the issues, you create speculation, and speculation creates rumors. And rumors often take a life of their own, and even after being debunked can exist in various shapes and forms for eternity. Depending on how long this drags out, how far it goes, and how heated it gets, the likelihood that speculation will get way off base and at times absurd increases. I mean, just look at now- it's been about, what, 24 hours or so, and you're reading a piece based around me speculating. And then many of you are going to speculate some more below. Things could get crazy already.
Ok, that said, let's speculate. Again, I would have to agree that the key issue here has to be his contract. I mean, it just HAS to be!!! And since we have covered that ad nauseum, we're not going to delve into that more. So, what could these other issues be?
Dislike of Bill Musgrave's offense. There were complaints early off season that the offense failed to use Harvin enough, particularly in red zone situations (which is about as dumb a move you can make). While this situation seemed to rectify itself later on in the season, perhaps Harvin's seen things in the classroom sessions he's been attending that make him feel that this is going to happen again. Harvin's a ball player, this much we know- if he feels he's going to be drastically underutilized in an offense that badly needs him, he may become frustrated and want to go somewhere where he feels his skills and work ethic is more appreciated.
Concerns surrounding the PR/KR situation. Now, this one could be either way. The Vikings have, understandably, been searching for Harvin's replacement in the return department since after his rookie season, where said skills earned him a Pro Bowl selection. And it's understandable from the Vikings' standpoint: Harvin's not Devin Hester, who's great at returns but so-so at actual receiving. Harvin's threats as a slot receiver and occasional runner add such dimension to an otherwise so-so offense mean that the team wants to save both his energy (look, the guys not going to essentially sprint 80+ yards and then be fully gassed for the next play) as well as injury potential for the regular offense. Depending on what the situation there is, Harvin might not be pleased. Perhaps he enjoys being a returner; again, after all, that's how he landed a Pro Bowl spot his rookie year, no small feat for an NFLer. Maybe the fact that the team is perpetually trying to take that job away from him bugs him. Conversely, perhaps Harvin is pleased that those responsibilities will be lifted from his shoulders, thus partially saving him from potential injury. And perhaps the Vikings haven't felt they've found someone they truly want to go with and have informed Harvin that at least the KR job will remain his and he doesn't like it.
Issues with the quarterback situation. This has been mentioned in the comments sections a few times. Perhaps Harvin has a preference in the Webb/ Ponder situation and isn't pleased with where it's going (which basically would translate into Harvin wants Webb to be the QB and isn't comfortable with Ponder getting the nod without a real fight). Or, worse, perhaps there is a possibility that Harvin isn't happy with either Webb or Ponder. He might feel that Ponder is not our QBOTF, and, since most teams stick with a first round drafted rookie for about 3 years before pulling the plug (and many times even longer), Harvin does the math and realizes he stands to potentially be on the decline of his career by the time a new signal caller comes into town... and then will have to wait for him to develop to even begin sniffing a Super Bowl appearance. Harvin spent his rookie season getting one field goal away from playing in the big game, and it's possible the hunger hasn't left him. Considering some of the injury concerns that he may or may not have, this problem could be exacerbated. Rather than sit on a team that will never go to the big game during his career, he may want to jump ship now to a team that will take him there and get him a ring before all is said and done.
Disapproval of some of the Vikings' draft picks. Some have felt that the Jarius Wright pick was a bit of a "Harvin Light" move. Considering some of the reports coming out that the Vikings have been shy about giving Harvin an extension due to concerns about his ability to stay on the field, is it possible that that's exactly who Wright was drafted to be? Perhaps Harvin has felt that Wright is here to learn from Harvin during his last two contract years before replacing him when the Vikings let him go. Considering he's only 24, I can understand that Harvin's not ready to play mentor for the guy who's going to take his job just yet. He could see this as a sign of disrespect from a team that he thus far has given his all to, and wants out because of it.
Harvin doesn't think Leslie Frazier is the man. It appears by all accounts that there's no bad blood between Frazier and Harvin like there was with Childress. Frazier once gave Harvin a game ball based off of his blocking efforts in the game alone, using it as a chance to highlight the importance of sacrifice and team work. So it would seem the two probably get along. But then again, as much as Harvin might like the guy, he may not feel he's the man who will coach us to the big time. I'm willing to relegate this one to the "probably not" category, but then again, I think the possibility is strong enough to warrant mentioning.
General locker room issues. Like the above, this is a "probably not", but since the possibility always exists, it's still worth bringing up. Harvin appears to be on general good terms with the team at large, which might be best highlighted by his friendly races with AP and his good natured attitude about losing most of them. Harvin also appears, at least what we the fans can see, to be a laid back guy who probably isn't to terribly difficult to get along with. But maybe, just maybe, he and Michael Jenkins have butted heads, or him and Jerome Simpson... or any player, combination of players, and he just don't plain get along, and he wants something done about it. Would that be the ultimately ‘bitchy' move? Yeah. And again I don't think it's a strong possibility. But it sure MIGHT be.
So what say you, fellow Viking fandom? What, aside from general contract stuff, has gotten up Harvin's craw so bad that he wants to jump longship, or least wants to threaten jumping longship? I mean hey, unless someone in the know is willing to spell it out, speculation's all we got!