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Positively T-Jack

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Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com has written an article that's. . .get this. . .highly complimentary of Tarvaris Jackson.

No word on whether or not Pasquarelli has been fired by ESPN since the article went to print.  The article clearly violates several ESPN.com policies. . .chief among them being a) acknowledging that the Minnesota Vikings exist, b) saying something positive about the Minnesota Vikings and/or any of their players, and c) writing a Vikings-related article without mentioning the words "Love" and "Boat" in sequence at least 17 times.

Some of my favorite parts of the article:

Where he should be this week, though, wouldn't have been too bad, either. And that's where the disappointment comes in.

In recognition of his status as the Vikings' presumed starter for 2007, Jackson was invited to compete in the DirecTV NFL Quarterback Challenge, which will be taped Saturday in the Cayman Islands. For a kid from Montgomery, Ala., who never experienced a big-time vacation and who's rarely been outside the South much less beyond United States borders, the prospect of logging some time in the sun was a pretty exciting one.

So on Tuesday, when he was dodging the throwing session with his tight ends, Jackson was supposed to have been home, packing for the free trip.

Except there was a hang-up with his passport.

The upshot of the bureaucratic snafu: So long, Cayman Islands beaches. Hello, Eden Prairie, Minn., practice fields.

D'oh!  I was looking forward to seeing T-Jack in the QB Challenge.  Ah, well, lots of people (including myself) have had the same thing happen.  I'm sure he'll have it straightened around by next year.

Beyond the couple of weeks he spent at home in Montgomery following the end of his rookie campaign, Jackson has been in the Twin Cities virtually the entire offseason, putting in time at the Vikings' complex, working on his on-field skills and on the important relationships that a quarterback must forge to be acknowledged as a leader.

Jackson has been a regular not only at the spring workouts but also at the weekly Wednesday night bowling outings held by some of the team's skill-position players. Teammates have begun to gravitate to Jackson's apartment to watch the NBA playoffs, and last weekend he hosted a barbecue.

"He wants guys to like him, but even more, he understands how important it is that he earns people's respect," said wide receiver Bobby Wade, one of the Vikings' key additions in free agency this spring. "He's getting that. You can see his confidence [increasing]. He knows he can't be just the small-school guy anymore. There's more expected of him and he wants to step up to those [expectations]."

Another reason I'd take Jackson over Rex Grossman.  Jackson is working his butt off trying to get better.  Grossman's probably marking his calendar to see when Paris Hilton is getting out of the joint so he can give her a call.

"That last month or so, when teams started doing the individual workouts, it kind of created a little buzz around him," said former Alabama State head coach Charles Coe, who recently joined the Oakland Raiders' staff. "People saw first-hand he wasn't just some small-time talent, a guy whose numbers were inflated by the level where he played. But the Vikings, they did a good job of not letting on just how interested they were. And they got themselves a good football player and a really good person."

Jackson began his college career at Arkansas but, with Matt Jones ahead of him on the depth chart and after suffering a shoulder injury that set him back as a freshman, he transferred to Alabama State after two years. The move got him the playing time he sought, and in three seasons and three dozen starts for the Hornets, he completed 537 of 985 attempts for 7,838 yards, with 67 touchdown passes and 27 interceptions.

Those numbers earned him a spot in the annual East-West Shrine Game, and his practices at that heavily scouted all-star contest garnered Jackson attention from league bird-dogs. Now he's gaining notice, it seems, among the Minnesota veterans.

Jackson has a good, live arm, and his accuracy is improving. His size is more than adequate. And he has proven correct Coe's much-repeated assessment to the NFL scouts that he is a fast learner.

I think this can pretty much dismiss the whole "Tarvaris was a reach" assessment that seems to be so popular among people that have watched Mr. Jackson play anywhere between 4 and 8 quarters of football at the NFL level.

Quite frankly, I'm excited as hell that this kid's going to be our quarterback.  If you're a Viking fan, you should be, too.  Anything will be an upgrade from watching Methuselah Johnson lining up behind center again.