The future for hundreds of potential NFL players and all 32 NFL teams is now, starting today in Indianapolis. The NFL Combine will go a long way in determining who gets drafted by whom, and the decisions based on what teams see in Indianapolis will have long term effects, positively or negatively.
And the person who will formulate and make decisions for the Minnesota Vikings is general manager Rick Spielman. Spielman, who is entering his fourth draft as GM and head grand poobah in charge, has had a pretty good track record, all things considered, and looks to further improve the roster with the 2015 draft.
And today, Rick Spielman took to the podium and said nothing, yet said everything. And Rick Spielman has made an art of saying nothing yet everything, and that is where Rickspeak comes in.
You guys know what Rickspeak is...but if you're reading this for the first time* you may not know**, so let's review.
*How the hell can you only be reading this for the first time? Whatever, no judging here
**You probably don't care
Rickspeak is something that's tough to explain. It's verbal judo, and when you've sat through a Rick Spielman press conference, you don't know your brain has been mentallt karate chopped until you sit down to type something.
Enter your humble correspondent. I have taken it upon myself to look deep into the recesses of Rick Spielman's mind*, take the words he said, and translate them into what he actually meant.**
*I have no desire to examine Rick Spielman's mind at all. At. All.
**If by 'translate' you understand I mean 'just make stuff up for a few laughs', then we're all on the same page.
As always, Rick's actual quote will be first, and my interpretations follow.
On wanting Adrian Peterson back:
What Rick said: Adrian Peterson is under contract with us. He's a very unique football player. I'm sure Adrian is doing everything he can do off the field. He made a mistake, he admitted a mistake. I'm sure he's doing everything he can to not only make himself better as a football player but also a better person off the field and that's the type of person Adrian is. He's a suspended player right now and then we'll see where it goes from there. But there's no question, I don't think any - and I've said this before - I don't think any team in the NFL wouldn't want an Adrian Peterson-caliber running back on their football team.
What Rick Meant: Roger Goodell sucks, man. He's given me a toxic waste dump of a situation in the aftermath of this whole deal, and now I'm dealing with the best running back in a league that's devaluing running backs faster than Fanny and Freddy home mortgages got devalued in 2008, who's coming off a year long suspension, with a really bad contract. I'm standing up here telling you all I want him back, because either we really DO want him back, or I'm trying to drive up some sort of trade market. That's like trying to find honor among thieves, I get it, but maybe there's somebody out there that will do some sort of deal. Fifth rounder and a bag of footballs, whatever. SOMEBODY CALL ME AND OFFER ME SOMETHING, ANYTHING.
What more can an NFL team can do to vet a player:
What Rick Said: I know we're looking at that. I know here at the Combine and Jeff Foster are implementing more programs,different types of psychological testing. I'm sure just like our team, every team has their own way to psychological test, but now in the environment that we're in, the players coming out have to realize that they're going to be scrutinized even more because of the environment that we're in right now. There will be some players that are here at the Combine that have had some issues that I know you're going to have to go through that process to feel comfortable with it.
What Rick Meant: Here in Minnesota, we have fun with the psychological process. We'll have guys do really stupid shit, like rub their belly and pat their head while standing on one foot, and we'll turn the heat up to about 95 degrees in the room. Then we'll throw out random questions like WHAT SCHOOL DID FRAN TARKENTON GO TO ROOKIE, or SCOTT STUDWELL--GREAT LINEBACKER OR THE GREATEST LINEBACKER, RUBE, or IS 80 SPLIT SPIDER Y BANANA A PLAY FROM A PLAYBOOK OR SOMETHING A FRATERNITY MAKES YOU DRINK DURING PLEDGE WEEK. And man, we're taking notes furiously, brows furrowed, the whole nine yards...but it's all Your Mama jokes we're passing back and forth, trying to get each other to laugh. Man, Studwell's awesome at your mama jokes, always makes me laugh. Percy Harvin was so freaked out when we finished with him he smoked a joint right in front of us. Allegedly.
On changes with Adrian Peterson's contract:
What Rick Said: We don't talk about our business with any of the players - not Adrian's or anyone's contract. I just know that Adrian Peterson is a pretty unique football player. I know people, and I've talked about this a little earlier, he's a 30-year-old running back. But I also know that people said that when he was coming off his ACL and had maybe one of the best seasons that a running back can have. This is a running back that's very unique from a physical standpoint and you're talking about a guy that didn't take many hits on his body last year and played only one game. I expect that when Adrian Peterson comes back that he's going to come back with a point to prove to everybody.
What Rick Meant: I'M NOT KIDDING, 31 OTHER NFL GM'S. MY PHONE LINE IS OPEN AND I WILL WALK OUT OF THIS PRESSER IF YOU MAKE ME A TRADE OFFER. I'M SUPER CEREAL GUYS.
You have to weigh character even more now with all the NFL problems of late:
What Rick Said: "I'm not going to speak for other teams. Every team has their own philosophy, but I know we've always tried to do the best we can to vet out any potential issues, and then you just have to decide as an rganization, you know what we're going to be dealing with. Can we handle it internally, do we have enough stuff, support staff that are expert in those areas to handle it? If we can't, then you move on. But I think that's up to each individual club how they vet through that process.
What Rick Meant: Cleveland drafted Johnny Manziel. I drafted Teddy Bridgewater.
Mood in Minnesota if you bring (Adrian Peterson) back:
What Rick Said: There's no question. I think our ownership has made statements, I've made statements, our head coach has made statements that we want Adrian Peterson back with the Minnesota Vikings.
What Rick Meant: If I can't trade him...I ain't cutting him, so HE'S COMING BACK YO.
What impressed you about Teddy Bridgewater:
What Rick Said: I'm thankful the media did him a disservice, in my opinion, last year by judging him in on his pro day. But we spent six different occasions with Teddy last year. One thing that we try to do, our process, is that we had our draft meetings before we came down and we put all the player on a board and graded him purely off what seen off tape or what we seen live as football players. All this other stuff that will accumulate here and over the next couple months will start to add into it, but it's not going to be a situation where a guy having a sixth-round (grade) goes all the way up to the first round because he comes out here and he runs fast in his shorts. Or it's not going to be a situation where a guy has a bad pro day where all the sudden we're going to forget the 47 games that he was productive on the tape if you've watched him play the last three or four or years. You've just got to be careful. It's part of the process. All the information to gather that you use to make your decisions, but it has to come back to what he is, not only as a character but what he is as football player.
What Rick Meant: I hope that someday I get to meet the guy that started the skinny knees rumor. I'll kiss that sumbitch on the lips and buy him a beer. Hell, I might even give him a job.