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Thursday's Notebook: In the 2000s, Where Should the Vikings Rank?

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Decade-Long Power Rankings

This is something that's generally gone under the radar, but we are, needless to say, entering the final NFL season of the decade -- and with that brings the inevitable lists of best teams of the decade, best plays of the decade, etc.  Don Banks has a "power rankings of the 2000s" over at Sports Illustrated, with the Pats as his pick for the top team of the decade and the Vikings down the list at #18.  Here's what Banks wrote about the Vikings:

There was a time in Vikings history when they made the playoffs every year (eight out of nine seasons from 1992 to 2000), then disappointed their loyal fans. But this decade, Minnesota probably pined for the always-eventful Denny Green coaching era, after missing the postseason six out of seven years from 2001 to 2007. Last year's division title at least ended the misery for now.

Is that a fair ranking for the Vikings?  I think the lack of postseason consistency undoubtedly acts against the Vikes, as their playoff appearances have been so scattered this decade -- they topped the Saints in the 2000 playoffs but followed that up with 41-donut, Tice led the Vikes to a huge win over Green Bay in the 2004 playoffs but they stumbled against the Eagles in the next round, and they obviously capped last season off with an underwhelming showing in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.  With postseason appearances so spread out -- the 2000 season, the 2004 season and the 2008 season -- they simply haven't displayed the consistency required of upper-echelon teams.

No question about it, folks: "roller coaster" doesn't even begin to describe this decade of Vikings football, but to their credit,  this team has been in the process of turning the corner for the last two seasons.  Peterson's the kind of guy who can carry an offense for a decade, Berrian still has several good seasons left in him, and Percy Harvin just turned 21 a couple weeks ago.  Sure, the defense is aging a bit, but their starting safeties are 27 and 24, their starting linebackers are 26, 28 and 30, Cedric Griffin's turning 27 this November, and Kevin Williams, Ray Edwards and Jared Allen are all under 30.  This isn't a team built to win only in 2009 -- it's a team built to win beyond this year.

Some alarmists have been pushing an acquisition of Favre because this team's window of opportunity to win a Super Bowl is supposedly closing.  I just don't see that.  Even if they failed to do absolutely anything to replenish the roster through the draft, I'd still give them a window of two or three years to turn this existing roster into a championship.

Heading back to the rankings, it's hard to justify an above-average ranking for a team that's only made one NFC Championship appearance this decade and lost in humiliating fashion -- in other words, a team that has barely sniffed Super Bowl contention.  And hey, I have no idea why Banks suggested that this decade was somehow different from the "always-eventful" Denny Green years.  From the recent quarterback controversy to the Love Boat to the Moss trade to the meltdown between the team and Culpepper to the pair of coaching changes, I'd say this has been quite a tumultuous decade for the Vikings.  Another reason, I think, why an average ranking is just about right.

Purple Jesus Almost Tricked Into Gaining Weight

So, you know the talk that's been going on about Adrian Peterson wanting to gain some weight?  Just to catch everyone up, Peterson said this to the media at the Pro Bowl and in May about his idea to put on some pounds:

I don't think too many guys would be excited to see me at 230 two times a year.

Well, turns out that the tricky veteran defensive players who gave him that advice at the Pro Bowl were trying to pull a fast one on Purple Jesus.  They told him that if he wanted to take his game to the next level, he should add 10-12 pounds for training camp -- sounds fishy, doesn't it?  Thankfully, Adrian's father intervened:

"Adrian was at the Pro Bowl, sitting around talking to (Baltimore Ravens linebacker) Ray Lewis and some other fellows, and one defensive fellow — I don't want to give away his name — said, 'If you can go at 230, no defender wants to see you coming downhill at 230,' " Nelson Peterson says. "That's where having an old-school dad comes in handy. I told Adrian, 'Those veterans are trying to set you up. … There's a lot of guys getting up there in age on defense, and they want you to add weight so you can slow down a bit and they can have an easier time catching you.'

Bingo.  Let's be honest, folks: Adrian was sold on this ruse.  Not that I necessarily see that as a bad thing -- it displays how serious he is about doing whatever it takes to get better -- but when you step back and think about it, adding 10 pounds would have been certifiably insane for someone who already terrifies defenses at his present weight.  Kudos to Nelson Peterson.  I look forward to seeing his son at 217 pounds for training camp this summer.

So now we can laugh about this story -- a proper conclusion for such an absurd trick.

And Finally...

In addition to Banks' rankings, SI listed 21 NFL moments that defined the 2000s...Frank Deford says Michael Vick is a different sort of role model, one who reminds us how easily young athletes can fall from grace...Vikings-Packers is the fifth-hottest current NFL rivalry, according to Fox Sports...Would you care if the Vikings sold ad space on their jerseys?...The NFL is now allowing teams to sell ad patches on their practice jerseys, so you've gotta wonder if this will lead to soccer-type advertisments on the regular season jerseys...