What a difference a year makes, huh?
It was one year ago today, January 1, 2012, that the Minnesota Vikings were leaving the turf at the Metrodome after suffering their latest loss, a 17-13 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Bears. The loss was the team's 13th of the season, tying the low-water mark for this proud franchise, a mark not seen since the Les Steckel debacle of 1984 when the team outright quit about halfway through the season.
Two days prior to that, running back Adrian Peterson had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee, an injury he had suffered on Christmas Eve at FedEx Field against the Washington Redskins. The face of the franchise was laid up in a hospital bed, and questions about his future with the team ran rampant.
Quarterback Christian Ponder, drafted seven months previous to be the guy that would lead the Vikings in the long-term, finished an up-and-down rookie campaign after starting ten games following the benching of the ineffective Donovan McNabb. He had also gotten injured badly enough to get knocked out of three of the final four regular season contests for the Vikings, and people questioned whether the young Texan (by way of Florida State) was a reach. . .or, quite possibly, even a "bust."
The Minnesota defense, despite the presence of a defensive front that led the National Football League in sacks, finished 31st in the NFL in points allowed and allowed the second-worst passer rating in NFL history. An injury to Antoine Winfield and the off-field transgressions of Chris Cook, among other things, forced the Vikings to play a lot of young players in the secondary, and even to bring guys in (essentially) off the street to fill the roster.
The Vikings' 3-13 mark was a mere 12 games behind the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North division crown, a division that also sent the Detroit Lions to the playoffs at 10-6 and had the aforementioned Bears at 7-9 following an injury to quarterback Jay Cutler. Yes, things were looking quite dark for the Minnesota Vikings as the 2012 off-season loomed. Oh, and there was that minor little detail about the Vikings' lease with the Metrodome expiring after that final game, essentially leaving the team without a home and speculation about a potential move running rampant.
So, how did we get to where we are now? Well, here are some of the stories that detail the formation of the 2012 Minnesota Vikings, as well as their march towards the 2012 NFL playoffs.
-Spielman was a part of the Triangle of Authority or the Rhombus of Reason or whatever shape the Vikings were using by this time to make personnel decisions. Now, the line of power was clear. . .Spielman was at the top, and head coach Leslie Frazier was accountable to him. None of the craziness of the previous era with Brad Childress and company.
-Leslie Frazier and his staff were invited to coach the gathering of the nation's top senior NFL draft prospects in Mobile, Alabama. This may or may not have given them a leg up going into the 2012 NFL Draft. I would like to think that it did.
January 19 - Vikings hire Alan Williams as defensive coordinator
-After interviewing a lot of different people for the position, the Vikings ultimately settle on Indianapolis Colts' defensive backs coach Alan Williams as their new defensive coordinator, having relieved Fred Pagac of that title earlier in the month. Williams and Frazier knew each other from their days in Indianapolis. People weren't terribly jazzed up at the time about this.
-For the third time in four years (along with John Randle and Randall McDaniel), Vikings fans got to celebrate one of their legends being enshrined in Canton, as Chris Doleman made the cut. Receiver Cris Carter was passed over again. Why? At this point, your guess is really as good as mine.
-Yep, this is when the fun started. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, along with members of the Minnesota Legislature and the city of Minneapolis, announced that they had put together an agreement for a new home for the Minnesota Vikings. And there was much rejoicing. . .until the process really got started.
-Disappointing news for the three people that thought there was a chance the Vikings would move up to draft Robert Griffin III.
-Prior to this, he had been running in swimming pools and so forth. No word on whether he was using weights on his legs to prevent him from actually walking on the water.
-The House Commerce Committee passes the Vikings' stadium bill by a "divided voice vote," allowing it to continue moving on through the legislature. Again, the fun was just getting started.
-The House Government Operations and Elections Committee defeats the Vikings' stadium bill by a vote of 9-6. Not long after, Zygi Wilf's private plan is spotted at an airport in Los Angeles. Sales of torches and pitchforks increase by 287% in the state of Minnesota. (I might have made that last one up. Might have.)
April 24 - Vikings stadium bill revived
-After a visit from "The Ginger Hammer" Roger Goodell, in which he basically told everyone that Los Angeles was no longer just a bargaining chip, the Vikings' stadium bill got moving again and reached the House floor.
April 25, 26, 27 - DN gets full coverage of the 2012 NFL Draft, thanks to the team
-Thanks to Vikings' PR guru Jeff Anderson (among others), both Ted and Eric were at Winter Park for the 2012 NFL Draft. Eric was there for all three days of picks, while Ted took off a day early so that he could make a stop at every Cabela's between Minneapolis and St. Louis. Much free pizza was eaten, and much mockery of Sid Hartman was accomplished. (SPOILER for Part 2: The Vikings pretty much killed the 2012 Draft.)
-It had passed the House a couple of days previous, and on May 10 got approval from the Senate. In the interim, hundreds of us sat in front of our computer monitors/laptops and watched a bunch of politicians argue. Cries of "Suck it, Marty" rang out across the land after the final vote. Also, this was the impetus for bringing Arif on board, as his Power Rankings of the politicos involved really caught our eyes.
-Yeah, that happened. Moving on.
-Remember this? The receiver skipped one day of Vikings' team activities, threatening a holdout and reportedly requesting a trade. Rumors swirled that he was unhappy with his role in the offense, unhappy with his contract. . .nobody knew for sure. The "freak out" lasted one day, as he was back at practice the next day as though nothing had happened. A bit weird, to say the least.
So, that takes us through the first half of the 2012 calendar year. If you'd like to review other events from the past year for the Minnesota Vikings, you can check out the full archives right here. Part 2 will be coming along shortly.