I'm not a big basketball fan, but there have been some big moves that have caused fans to burn jerseys lately, like Kevin Durant to Golden State, or Dwayne Wade to Chicago. Or when LeBron James took his talents to South Beach...and then back to Cleveland.
In all these instances, some people commented that these moves were made out of spite, at least on some level. Which if true, is kind of a dumb reason to move teams. I kind of view them through the prism of trying to win a championship, or in Wade's case, he's going home to his hometown team, after he's won multiple championships. Regardless, I find it hard to be mad at a player to maximize their chance at winning a title, maximize their contract, or end their career in their hometown, by playing for the team you loved as a kid. We should all be so lucky.
But...have their been moves made out of pure spite in the past? Well, maybe not pure spite, but was there a revenge factor that played in to it? Yeah, I think so. Let's take a look at a few of these 'spite moves' that have involved the Vikings, shall we?
Brett Favre signs as a free agent in 2009: This might be, arguably, the biggest 'spite' move in sports history, not just the NFL. There was no hiding Favre's disdain for Packers GM Ted Thompson after he drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005, but with Favre going back and forth on retirement, you can't fault Thompson for m aking that move. Once Favre announced he was going to retire, and then announced he wasn't, the situation became untenable, and the Packers traded him to the Jets before the 2008 season started. BUT...with an interesting caveat: if the Jets subsequently traded him to Minnesota, Favre's top choice, they would give up three number one picks to Green Bay.
Favre played one year with the Jets, hurt his shoulder, and threatened retirement again. He asked the Jets to release him, they did...and Favre signed with Minnesota during the 2009 pre-season. In signing with the Vikings, Favre admitted revenge was on his mind:
"I wanted to play for anyone who would play the Packers," Favre said.
Favre eventually picked the Vikings and returned to Lambeau Field wearing the much-hated purple of the Packers' rivals.
"I was so frightened of failing you can't imagine," Favre said. "To say in those two games I really wanted to play well is an understatement."
The move paid off for both, at least that season. 2009 was a storybook year for Favre and the Vikings. Favre had a career year, passing for over 4000 yards and 30 TD's, numbers that were comparable to his MVP run of 1995-97, and took the Vikings to the cusp of the Super Bowl. The Vikings also swept the Packers that season, the first time they had done so since 2005. The magic was gone by 2010, though, as the Vikings fell to 6-10, Brad Childress got fired, Randy Moss was traded for and then released within a month, and Brett Favre was literally killed by the Bears late in the season. 2010 sucked. But 2009 was awesome, so yeah, I'll take it.
Alan Page signs with the Bears in 1978: By 1978, the Purple People Eaters were breaking down, and breaking up. Carl Eller was hurt, and by 1979 would be playing for the expansion Seattle Seahawks. Gary Larsen had been retired for awhile, Paul Krause and Wally Hilgenberg retired, and Page had slimmed down to 220 pounds, causing a rift between him and head coach Bud Grant. And in a stunning move, Grant released Page six weeks into the season, culminating several years of animosity that had been building between the two. When he was released, he signed with the Bears, and played well enough to earn All Pro honors in 1980, his last year. Maybe I'm just remembering this with rose colored glasses, because Page maintained that signing with the Bears wasn't a move made out of spite or revenge, he generally played his best games against his former team.
Thankfully, Page and Grant seemed to bury the hatchet, and Page remains revered in Minnesota. And he is, for many fans, the Greatest Viking of them all, this fan included.
Red McCombs trades Randy Moss: The Vikings 2004 season was a weird one. Daunte Culpepper emerged as one of the NFL's top quarterbacks, the Vikings had talent on both sides of the ball, but my goodness were they a frustrating lot. They could be so good at times, and so mindbogglingly bad at others, and their record reflected it. They had an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot with a win against Washington the final week of the season, but they self destructed and lost, and with just a few seconds left in the game, Randy Moss infamously walked off the field, sparking outrage and controversy. But the Vikings still managed to back into the playoffs at 8-8, and Moss had the game of his life in the Wild Card round against the Packers at Lambeau a week later. After scoring a TD in that upset win, Moss pulled another stunt, the 'Moon Over Lambeau', which in my opinion was
a disgusting act the greatest TD celebration in Vikings history:
Anyway, just as Red McCombs was in the process of finalizing the sale of the Vikings to Mark and Zygi Wilf, the Vikings traded Moss to the Raiders, for a first round draft pick that would eventually become Troy Williamson. As the McCombs ownership era came to an end, it was replete with acrimony between Red and the state over his inability to get funding for a new stadium, and Red and the fans over a lot of cheap moves by McCombs to maximize his profit to the neglect of the franchise. I will go to my grave believing that the trade of Moss to Oakland was good old Red's last middle finger to the state of Minnesota and the fans of the Minnesota Vikings.
Jared Allen signs with the Bears: The NFL is a business, I think most rational fans understand that. Jared Allen had a Hall of Fame level career with the Vikings, but as 2013 drew to a close, it was apparent that Allen had lost a step off the line, and had become, for the most part, a one trick pass rush specialist. He played out his contract, and said that he was probably going to sign elsewhere, with a team that had a chance to win it all. I don't think there was any Vikings fan that held a grudge towards him over that; the Vikings seemed like they were miles from contending, and Allen was nearing the end of his career. I think we all wished him well, and I know I hoped he latched on with a team that could get him to the Super Bowl.
So imagine our surprise when he signed a deal with the Bears, one of Minnesota's biggest rivals. Now, that in and of itself isn't terrible, but the Bears were actually worse than the Vikings in 2014, so the 'going to a team that can win it all' seemed to be an odd comment, at least in retrospect. The Bears were terrible, Allen had a career worst season in sacks, and Chicago finished last in the NFC North. But it all ended well for Allen, as he got traded to Carolina last year and finally got to the Super Bowl.
Still, I can't help but think that there was a little bit of spite that came in to play in Allen's curious decision to sign with Chicago.
Steve Hutchinson's Poison Pill Contract: Steve Hutchinson was an All Pro left guard for the Seahawks, and his contract was up. For some weird reason, Seattle decided to use the transition tag on Hutch, as opposed to the franchise tag. It gave Seattle the opportunity to match any contract offer, as opposed to forcing him to play for them, and the thought was that they would just let the market set the price, match any contract offer he got, and things would be good.
Enter Brad Childress, Rob Brzezinski, and the Vikings. Chilly was using free agency to rebuild the talent pool in Minnesota, and this was a golden opportunity to upgrade the offensive line. The Vikings offered Hutch a $49 million contract, but with this infamous 'poison pill' clause:
Minnesota's front office included a clause in their offer sheet to Hutchinson stating if, at any time, Hutchinson was not the highest-paid offensive lineman on the roster, his entire $49 million contract would immediately become fully guaranteed. This, then, was a problem for Seattle.
The Seahawks had just signed future Hall of Fame tackle Walter Jones to a huge contract extension -- one larger than the one that the Vikings had offered Hutchinson. Hence, had the Seahawks matched Minnesota's offer to Hutchinson, he would have been the second-highest paid offensive lineman on the Seattle roster and would have had his entire contract guaranteed immediately.
Needless to say, the Seahawks had no way to match the offer, and Hutchinson wound up in Minnesota. Because Seattle had tagged Hutchinson as a "transition" player rather than a "franchise" player, the Seahawks were not entitled to any compensation from the Vikings as a result. The difference between the tender offer for a "transition" player that season as opposed to a "franchise" player was about half of a million dollars.
This set off a minor war that left bitter feelings in Seattle, and was the low point in relations between two teams that have made a lot of moves with each other over the years. Seattle pulled their own poison pill on the Vikings when WR Nate Burleson hit free agency a couple seasons later, and when the CBA was re-done a couple seasons later, the poison pill clause was forbidden to be used anymore.
But that acrimonious past hasn't stopped the Vikings and Seahawks from still wheeling and dealing. The last two trades with Seattle have arguably turned out even better than the Hutchinson saga did, and Hutch was a great player for the Vikings for seven seasons. In 2013, Minnesota traded Percy Harvin out west for a first round pick in the 2013 draft and a third round pick in the 2014 draft. Those players turned out to be Xavier Rhodes and Jerick McKinnon. In 2014, they traded their second round pick, #40 overall, to Seattle for their first round pick, #32...and that turned out to be Teddy Bridgewater.