The art of deception and lying is one that takes years to master and perfect. Some people never do, and you can tell the second they open their grocery hole they're a terrible liar. Some people are okay at it, and can tell a little white lie, maybe, but not a big one.
And some people are masters at it, creating a web of bullshit so convincing, so complete, that it's almost impossible to separate from the truth. These people usually end up becoming politicians, but some become the general manager of an NFL team.
Vikings GM Rick Spielman is one of these people, because with him you don't know where the truth ends and the bullshit begins. And honestly, when you get to the level of doublespeak (or Rickspeak, as we affectionately call it in this little corner of the Internet), that Rick Spielman is at, you don't care that you're being fed a load of crap so massive you could fertilize all of Minnesota's farmland with it for five years. As a matter of fact, you kind come to enjoy it, in a weird Stockholm Syndrome kind of way.
But still, you want to know the truth, and that's where we come in, the fine folks that write for The Daily Norseman.* We sift through the bullshit, find out what the true meaning of Spielman's words are** and translate it for you into common, every day language.***
*By we I mean me, because no one else would do this. As a matter of fact, Eric pestered me on Twitter to do this, because he knows that if anyone is going to get sued, it isn't going to be him. Eric is smart. I am a dope, so here you go. Enjoy.
**It's true we read it and come up with alternative answers, but I divine no true meaning. I'm literally making up every word. And seriously, we're talking about the off-season plans of a football team, not some Zen-level philosophy on how to live your life. It's just football, Fokker.
***So yeah, this won't be in Aramaic. You're welcome.
Normally we do this by taking Spielman's press conference transcript off the Vikings main web page, but this was more of an informal Q and A session. So we're using parts of the story posted by Vikings beat writer Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press, and parts of a story posted by beat writer Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune.
And by 'parts', I mean Spielman's quotes from the articles will be in block quotes, and our interpretation of their true meaning will be immediately below.*
*This is a nice way of saying the Vikings beat writers work hard to put together legitimate, newsworthy stories, and I'm just making up a bunch of fake stuff. Literally 100% made up. Not even close to quotes Rick Spielman would ever say in a public forum. I can't stress that enough. So yeah, thanks for doing the hard work Brian and Matt, so I can make a bunch of stupid jokes.
Anyway, here we go.
The first questions was about everything that went wrong in 2016:
What Rick Said: There was the injuries, there was the coordinator switch, there was coach (Mike) Zimmer, who may be the toughest human being out there trying to coach with one eye through the season, which is not an excuse either. What matters is that you're 8-8, and 8-8 isn't acceptable around here, and we have to do everything we can this offseason to make sure that gets corrected. I hate failure with a passion. I can't stand it, and every time something doesn't work out we are going to attack why it didn't.
What Rick Meant: 2016 was like a girlfriend you thought was gonna be awesome, and the first month or so was great, about the best relationship you've ever been in. There were some signs that things might not be that great, sure, but dude you didn't care, she seemed perfect. Then she started drinking a lot, started experimenting with nose candy, and two months later you're in a living Hell because she got your bank PIN, cleaned out your account, ruined your credit rating, and wrecked your car after meeting her dealer. Now you're getting sued by the people she hit, the DEA has impounded your car while she waits for her trial, and you're so broke you can't even use your ATM card for a goddamn Big Mac. So you had to move back in with your parents, and every time you look up, your Dad just shakes his head and mutters 'something something disappointment'. Jesus, what a train-wreck 2016 was, man. So glad it's over.
Next up, the offensive line struggles:
What Rick Said: When you end up playing with the amount of offensive linemen we had to play — which is probably, besides the quarterback, one of the most difficult areas to fill — there's a positive and negative. A lot of backups ... you're not going to have $10 million backups in this league. Your backups are going to be economically feasible so you can fit them in the (salary) cap. A lot of times backups are able to get you through three, four or five games without getting exposed, but if you have to play them for 14-16 games exposure, they may not be able to match up every week. I know we can't have $10 million back-ups at every position up front on the offensive line.
What Rick Meant: There was nothing positive about the offensive line play in 2016. I would rather buy a NASCAR team and equip them with a Prius or a Cooper Mini as opposed to trotting out that shitshow of a line again. Come free agency, I'm gonna be like a sailor wearing a suit made of Benjamins walking into a Thai offensive line whorehouse. We're scoring, we're scoring big, and we're scoring often, baby.
Next, he was asked about the timetable for Chad Greenway announcing his retirement:
What Rick Said: I think that Chad Greenway and his future will be … it’ll all be decided before we start free agency (March 9)
What Rick Meant: Chad Greenway will retire. Or Chad Greenway sleeps with the fishes.
The next question was about Shariff Floyd being with the Vikings next year:
What Rick Said: I just saw him continuing to rehab, so he is under contract for the Minnesota Vikings next year. When he is healthy, he's a pretty good player. Our defense played well last year, but we did miss Sharrif, because when he is healthy he's a significant part of our defense and can make a difference in games when he's in there.
What Rick Meant: Unlike Amy Winehouse, when we ask Shariff to go to rehab he says yes, yes, yes. And I'm pretty thrilled about paying him almost $7 million dollars in 2017, because we think Shariff will be phenomenal on that HGTV show Rehab Addict, and will bring us a lot of exposure to an entire group of folks that wouldn't normally be football fans. What? It's about home renovations? Godamnit.
When asked about Matt Kalil:
What Rick Said: He was having, before he got injured, the best off-season and probably the best training camp before his hip started bothering him. We were very excited about the direction that Matt was going, and unfortunately, when he did hurt his hip it did affect his play when he tried to play through it. So I think Matt, there's no question about the ability part being there, it's just can he become more consistent.
What Rick Meant: I'm pleased to announce that Matt Kalil will be the starting left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings in 2017, on a very team friendly deal. I was just bullshitting about signing a bunch of linemen in free agency.
Next up, thoughts on WR Laquon Treadwell:
What Rick Said: Laquon came in, and he had some durability issues through OTAs, and had some things on and off during camp. I know that he is maybe the hardest-working kid I've ever seen. He is so determined to be a good player, and he has the skill set to do it. But we were never able to get him on track. He is going to be a good player with us. I do believe that in my heart.
What Rick Meant: Dear Eight Pound, Six Ounce, Newborn Baby Jesus, in your golden, fleece diapers, with your curled-up, fat, balled-up little fists pawin' at the air, please don't let Treadwell be a bust because I really don't want to lose my job. Amen.
He describes the Vikings QB situation as one that is 'in flux', and discussed each QB separately. First up, Sam Bradford:
What Rick Said: I can tell you looking back on that trade with all the other options, I would do that over in a millisecond to get Sam Bradford on our football team with the circumstances we were dealing with. I think he's just right now in the prime of his career.
What Rick Meant: I will never admit giving up a first round pick for Sam Bradford was stupid, for two reasons. One, it wasn't stupid, because Sam was so much better than 72 year old Shaun Hill or a one legged Taylor Heinicke would have been. Secondly, when I get a first round pick for him about a year from now you people are going to be kissing the ring again.
Then, Teddy Bridgewater and his continuing rehab and timetable for return, which he did not give:
What Rick Said: He's in the process of working through his motion. I know he's doing specific things in rehab to get him back to being functional. When he's going to be ready for football, dropping back and things like that — I think that's still to be determined.
What Rick Meant: Teddy Bridgewater is rehabbing like a man possessed, and when he starts week one you people will be crying tears of joy. It will be my gift to you. You're welcome.
Finally, the status of future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson:
What Rick Said: Until I talk to Adrian and talk to his agent, I'm not going to announce anything," Spielman said. "But that will get addressed here before free agency starts. If we don't exercise that option, we always will keep the door open on all of our players," Spielman said. "But in my mind, regardless of whether Adrian is here or not here next year because of whatever happens, he will always be a Minnesota Viking.
What Rick Meant: $18 million? Bye, Felicia.