This was almost a "floating heads" sort of piece, but that's Ted's baby and I didn't want to mess around with that too much, so I'm just going to do it this way.
As the Minnesota Vikings were going into the fourth quarter and the overtime period of their game against the Chicago Bears this past Sunday, a number of people were damn near apoplectic that the purple and gold not only had the audacity to not just simply roll over and play dead when the Bears had a 20-10 lead going into the fourth quarter, but had the nerve to keep it together after Blair Walsh's field goal miss in overtime and finally get the job done to. . .gasp. . .win the football game. At this point, I'm not sure whether I find this behavior sad or hilarious. . .probably a bit of both.
People want to jump up and down about how this could keep the Vikings from drafting the fabled "franchise quarterback." Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. . .who knows? Nobody knows yet. . .after all, we don't know who's declaring for the 2014 NFL Draft yet or what the final draft positions will be.
The most important thing that came out of Sunday's game is that, if nothing else, it provided the perfect illustration of why the concept of "tanking," while possibly feasible in practice, simply doesn't work. The Vikings could have folded up the tents and just conceded the victory to the Bears and continued circling the drain as the 2013 season comes to an end.
But they didn't.
They didn't because they're professionals, the concept of which seems to be lost on a lot of folks. They have spent their entire life working and training to excel at their chosen profession, and the instinct to do that overrides anything else. My guess. . .and it's a pretty solid one. . .is that there was nobody on the Minnesota Vikings' sideline on Sunday that was talking about draft position or anything else. They were talking about what adjustments they needed to make to score points and slow down the Chicago offense.
Why? Because their job is to win. And they felt that Sunday's game was still winnable, despite the fact that it was going poorly for a good portion of the second half. As it turns out, it was winnable, much to the chagrin of a minority of folks. And let's not fool ourselves. . .it is a minority.
Here's a fun project for someone to try. . .take a minute to get out from wherever it is that you are, and make your way to Winter Park. Tell whoever greets you at the facility that you'd like to speak to Adrian Peterson. If you're given an audience with Purple Jesus himself, go ahead, look him in the eye, and tell him that it's really in his best interest to give less than maximum effort when he's on the field because, really, there's draft position to consider. Throw in something about how he only wants to win because he's selfish, too.
Let us know how that goes. I'm sure he'll be very receptive and open to the idea. And by that, I mean he'll probably laugh his butt off and ask for security to escort you out. Because, if you missed Sunday's game, it doesn't matter if the Vikings are ahead by 40, losing by 40, or anywhere in between. . .that man is going to continue doing everything he can to try to push his team to victory. Guy's running with a groin injury that clearly has him at less than 100% for a team that's going to finish below .500, and he's still putting up 200+ yards and looking to blow people up on every run. If that alone doesn't show you that this team isn't going to be tanking, you probably can't be convinced. This team isn't going to be tanking because Adrian Peterson damn sure isn't going to allow them to.
Look, if you want the Minnesota Vikings to lose out the rest of the way, that's fine. . .there are lots of people that are happy when the Minnesota Vikings lose. Of course, we generally call them "Packers fans" or "Bears fans" or "Lions fans," but they are out there.
But please, for crying out loud, stop suggesting that the Vikings are "tanking." Or that they should consider "tanking." Because it's not happening. The players and the coaches aren't going to do it, because they as professionals have the integrity to give maximum effort for the cause of victory. Suggesting otherwise is not only insulting to the fans who have the nerve. . .the sheer, unmitigated gall. . .to cheer this team on every Sunday, it's insulting to the players that one would actually think would stoop to doing that sort of thing.
The Minnesota Vikings may very well lose their final four games of the year. . .they may win their final four games of the year. . .or they may split them in some combination. But regardless of how the chips fall, it's not going to be because they're going to go out there and attempt to lose on purpose. If they lose, it's going to be because they were outplayed. They've been outplayed plenty of times this year. Getting outplayed is far more acceptable, and about 1000% more likely, than a team "tanking" at any point during a season.