Congratulations! You've been named the general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, your favorite NFL team. On your first day, the owner comes into your office and demands that you get him a quarterback. He doesn't care how, but he's coveted a great quarterback to help lead his team to the Super Bowl since he's been the owner, and he's made that job one for you. So after he leaves his office, you have two choices:
Ignore him and focus on the defense, which is a hot, holy mess. And defense wins championships, amirite?
Decide to focus on the quarterback position.
You chose to ignore him and focus on the defense: In the draft, you chose defensive players in every pick, completely ignoring the explicit directions of the owner. When you come to work Monday morning, the name placard for your parking spot now says ‘TBD', your office contents are in a box sitting outside the front door, and when you knock on the windows to get the secretaries attention, she comes over and closes the shades on you. YOU'RE FIRED. Instead of going home, you stop by a bar and decide to get really drunk. 14 beers in, a meth hooker approaches you, and man, does she look hot, just ignore the teeth, the haggard look, and the ‘I haven't taken a shower in six days' smell. She takes you out the back door where her pimp is waiting. He beats you senseless, takes your credit cards, and runs up $42,000 in online porn charges before you can get your credit card turned off. The credit card company doesn't believe your story and decides to prosecute, and you go to jail for 18 months on credit card fraud. Your spouse/significant other leaves you, you become a prison playtoy for the MS-13 gang, and when you decide to finally fight back, you get shanked on the basketball court and bleed out, because the EMT's and medical staff have been taken hostage in the ensuing prison riot that follows. Your dying thought is wondering what would've happened if you had returned Brett Favre's call.
You decide to focus on the quarterback position. Good choice! Looking at the roster, you have three potential quarterbacks on your roster: Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, and Josh Freeman. You can go with any one of those three, or decide to ‘go in another direction'. What do you do?
Choose Christian Ponder as your starter.
Choose Matt Cassel as your starter.
Choose Josh Freeman as your starter.
Go in another direction.
Choose Christian Ponder. Not a good choice. You doggedly stick with Ponder, ignoring the fact that his 30 game resume is about as impressive a toddler's Crayola drawing. One agonizing loss after another piles up, but in week 17 Ponder plays juuuuust good enough for the Vikings to avoid the #1 pick in the draft, so you choose Jadaveon Clowney at #2 overall. In his introductory press conference, Clowney announces that he's lost his passion for the game, and is enrolling in trapeze artist school, because being in the circus is what he's always wanted to do. You're fired on live TV by an irate owner, and on your way home, you're kidnapped by angry fans on their way home from the draft party. You're knocked out, and when you wake up, you discover you've been sold to a Japanese whaling ship, in the middle of the Pacific, and your job is to ‘milk' the testicles of the dead whales, as whale sperm is sold throughout Asia as an aphrodisiac. On the brink of insanity, you jump the railing one night, intending to swim for Australia. But as soon as you hit the water, you realize three things-you have no idea what direction or how far Australia is, you can't swim, and you quickly learn that whale sperm is like barbeque sauce for a shark. You're never seen again.
Choose Matt Cassel. Not a good choice, although initially it seems like a stroke of genius. Cassel walks, talks, and plays like a bona fide NFL QB for about a month and a half. The Vikings dig out of a 1-3 hole, and by the end of November are 7-5 and in the thick of the playoff hunt. You're the toast of the town, everybody loves you, and Pat Reusse writes a column that for once doesn't drip with sarcasm and condescension, and you become close, personal friends with Sid Hartman. Except Matt Cassel remembers he's Matt Cassel, and as November turns to December, Mighty Matt turns into Miserable Matt, the Vikings lose their last four games, and end up with a draft pick juuuuust far enough down in the first round that all the good quarterbacks are gone. While you're on the clock, the Jets prank call you and offer Mark Sanchez for Adrian Peterson and your first round pick. In a panic you agree, yet a lot of the fans are strangely okay with acquiring another terrible quarterback. But their patience runs out at the end of 2014, as Sanchez guides a Peterson-less Vikings to an 0-16 record.
Unknown to you, the head of the Mexican Drug Cartel was a lurker on Daily Norseman, and when he read all the positive reviews that community members made about Sanchez after the draft and their glowing predictions for ZOMG SUPER BOWL WOOOOOO, he bet $12,000,000 on the Vikings to win it all. On the Tuesday after the season ends, your car is run off the road on the way to the grocery store, and you're kidnapped at gun point. You're drugged, and when you awaken, the Mexican Drug Cartel Kingpin tells you you're going to be a cocaine mule for him taking drugs across the border until you pay off your debt, or he'll kill your family. He makes you insert 4 bags of 100% pure cocaine into an area where 100% pure cocaine has no business going, and two miles into your initial journey as a mule, one of the bags burst inside you, releasing a pound of cocaine into your body, stopping your heart instantly and killing you. Your body is eaten by buzzards in the Mexican desert.
Choose Josh Freeman. Not a terrible choice, but not a great one, either. You urge Leslie Frazier to play him as soon as possible, and after sitting for two weeks he finally is named the starter. He does okay, guiding the Vikings to an 8-8 record overall, and after the atrocious start, there's some reason for hope moving forward. But Josh Freeman has used the Vikings to rehabilitate his image, and now that people have forgotten what a circus the end of his time was in Tampa, Freeman decides to not sign a contract extension and opts for free agency. Angered by this, you slap the franchise tag on Freeman, which has been calculated at $71,000,000 in a stunning accounting error that the NFL office doesn't catch. With Freeman taking up over 70% of the 2014 salary cap, the Vikings can only field a team of 14 players and 11 Vikings cheerleaders. Season ticket sales plummet, the Vikings cannot meet their revenue projections for the new stadium, so the deal falls apart and the new stadium is cancelled. You're fired and manage to get a job as a security guard at the Mall of America. Sadly, you're killed three days before Christmas by a drunk and irate soccer mom who will leave Nickelodeon Universe when she's ‘goddamn good and ready to'. As you grab her arm to escort her out, she executes a perfect roundhouse kick to your throat, and your dying image is the Harmon Killebrew seat way up on the wall, off in the distance, as you slowly fade to black, gasping for air that won't travel through a crushed trachea.
Go in another direction. Great choice! You've decided that none of the quarterbacks currently on the roster are a long term solution, so you need to decide to either go after a free agent, or pursue a quarterback through the draft. What path will you choose?
Pursue a quarterback through free agency
Pursue a quarterback in the draft
You chose to go after a free agent. Not a good choice. You watch the Vikings play out the string, and quickly realize that the trio of Ponder, Cassel, and Freeman won't be a long term answer. But you're not sold on the incoming draft picks either, so when free agency opens, you look for a veteran that has post season experience, a cannon for an arm, and familiarity with the NFC North. That's right, you land former Bear...Rex Grossman (admit it, you thought I was going to say Cutler, didn't you?). The Sex Cannon oozes confidence in his introductory press conference, he's hailed as a savior, you're hailed as a mad genius, and the Vikings are installed as favorites to win the division. But Sexy Rexy leaves a trail of destruction and pregnant women throughout the state of Minnesota, and in 2014 he unleashes the dragon, both on and off the field. Grossman sets an NFL record 84 interceptions while fathering 62 children out of wedlock, and even Antonio Cromartie urges him to use protection. You're fired during the bye week, your wife informs you that she's carrying one of the 62, and she leaves you for the Cannon, swearing he's changed. You decide to go on an ice fishing trip to Mille Lacs in December, but because of global warming the ice isn't as thick as it should be. You trudge out onto the lake, ignoring the warnings of the locals. About 20 feet on to the frozen lake, you break through and are eaten by the largest Muskie in recorded history.
Because you forgot to change your life insurance policy, your ex-wife, who is now married to the Sex Cannon, inherits your money...which means Rex Grossman inherits your money. Rex takes the life insurance money and blows it in a wild weekend in Vegas that involves hookers, blow, meth, and midget jugglers, yet Rex knows you would strangely approve, because that whoring ex-wife of yours never really saw a dime of that money. But a lot of hookers and drug dealers did, that bitch is now homeless, and she had to sell her Rex Grossman love child to a shady adoption attorney. But that shady adoption attorney was really an undercover FBI agent, she got busted in the largest illegal adoption FBI sting operation in history, and now she's now doing 25 years in a federal prison for human trafficking. The moral of the story? Rex Grossman will destroy your football team, your marriage, and Las Vegas. Sadly, you learned that lesson one ice fishing trip too late.
You chose to pursue a quarterback in the draft. This is an excellent choice! After reviewing hours and hours of film on the three current quarterbacks, you decide that starting from scratch and getting a Quarterback Of The Future. But as you start looking at film of all the college prospects, and you see them at their pro days and the combine, you realize what a crapshoot the draft is. On a whim, you resign two weeks before the draft to pursue a career in television. You peddle your incredibly thin resume to ESPN, where they hire you as an ‘expert'. Even though it's obvious to everyone watching you don't know the first thing about football, ESPN loves you and thinks you're the smartest person ever. You get your own show, it's wildly popular, and you're the highest paid sports commentator in the country. But you grow bored, and you use your amassed wealth to become a nature photojournalist and bankroll your own nature program. Sadly, you're killed three days into your filming by a spooked herd of Wildebeest's, and as your two collapsed lungs and 16 broken ribs struggle to gasp for your last breath on the Serengeti plain, you realize you know as much about as filming wild animals as you do about the quarterback position in the NFL.
Legal Disclaimer: 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books were originally published by Bantam books in the early 1980's, and I loved them when I was a kid. When Bantam chose to no longer continue the series, the rights were purchased by Chooseco books, who now owns the trademark. If you have young teenagers, and you're trying to get them to love books and reading, get them to try a CYOA book. Just not this one. Because as you've probably figured out, there's nothing but tragedy with the Vikings quarterback position.