In just under three weeks, the Minnesota Vikings will begin their second training camp in Eagan, MN. Although where they conduct training camp is still new, what they do at training camp is no different than when they spent over 50 years in Mankato. They will practice, assemble the 53 best players possible, and then
compete to try and win the Super Bowl in February break our hearts in December or January.
During training camp, though, we want to know how our beloved Purple and Gold are doing, and whether or not they’re improving. Along with the offensive, defensive, and special teams drills and practice updates, the Vikings players and coaches will tell you how things are coming along using tried and true clichés. Some clichés have very specific meanings, while others can mean a wide variety of things, or apply to many players.
Obviously, players can’t say what they REALLY mean, especially if someone’s performance is substandard, or their coach is an idiot. So these tried and true clichés help us get to the real meaning of what is being said.
Now, the Vikings are not alone in their use of clichés; they will be out in force as all 32 NFL teams convene to begin their quest to win the Super Bowl. So I’ve taken some of the better used clichés, and translated them into what they really mean, so when you watch a player interview or listen to a press conference, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes.
What happened last year doesn’t matter: It very much matters, especially if you were 2-14. Or 8-7-1. Or lost in the playoffs.
I/He am/is in the best shape of my/his career: This is used by a player that is clearly on the downside of their career, and is in serious danger of getting cut. This is usually used by either the player or his agent, or maybe a close friend on the team, to help aging player find a different team once the Turk comes calling.
He added 15 pounds of muscle: This describes an aging free agent desperately trying to make the roster for one last ride. Normally used in conjunction with ‘he’s in the best shape of his career.’
Example: ‘Player X has added 15 pounds of muscle in the off season and is in the best shape of his career.’
Player X is really turning heads: This is used to describe a late round draft pick or undrafted player that virtually no one knew about three months ago. This player has made a minimum of three good plays in four days of practice, and the punditry is now doing feature stories on him. There is no guarantee of a roster spot, but he is now the clubhouse leader for Mr. Mankato. Anyone on Draft Twitter who even mentioned his name is now madly tweeting ‘LOOK AT MY BOIIIIIII I TOLD YOU SO!!’
Every team is 0-0/tied for first place: This is used by the players and staff of the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, and Buffalo Bills to convince their fans that they can somehow sneak in to the playoffs as a wildcard with a 9-7 record. This will not happen, as these teams will be a combined 6- 14 in October. They are terrible.
He’s just a blue collar guy: This is used to describe the player that has little to no physical ability compared to other guys at his position, but outworks everyone. This player will generally be beloved, as he is the ‘scrappy underdog’ story that captivates training camp. If he is a ‘player that’s turning heads’ guy, he is on the fast track to the Hall of Fame after week one of camp. After this player has been on the team two years, every training camp hot take will begin with ‘this year finally being the year player X gets cut.’ Player X will not get cut.
Who is this year’s Jim Kleinsasser? This is asked every year by Viking punditry to desperately find a guy to love as much as we loved Jim Kleinsasser, the ultimate blue collar player. This player does not exist, as there is only one People’s Champion.
First guy in the building, last to leave/You have to drag Player X off the practice field: This is generally used to describe a quarterback who can’t hit water when jumping out of a boat when throwing a football. At least he works hard at missing targets.
Getting our timing down: This player or position group is miles behind everyone else at this point in camp, and it’s noticeable to the point of dread within the fanbase.
(Player X) fits this system better: This player had a terrible year, and because his salary cap and dead money hit would be too great, everyone blamed the old staff and fired the head coach, offensive coordinator, and/or defensive coordinator. This is probably false hope, and as soon as the cap hit won’t cripple the team’s ability to make roster moves, this player will be cut. In truth, this player fits any system like a $90 off the rack suit.
With a full off season and training camp, expect (Player X) to improve: This player could have five years in the same system with the same coaches and will not improve. They are hopeless.
He plays faster than his 40 time: This is one of the slowest players on the team.
Tweet that: Mike Zimmer would like you to all kiss his ass, thank you very much.
We’re just taking it one day at a time: The way I/we practiced today was so bad that had been this been a game, the opponent would have put up a 50 burger on us. I would have been cut immediately following the game.
I’m working to get better every day: I was terrible today. If I keep this up, I will get cut.
I will play wherever the coaches tell me to play: I hate this new system, I’m not a fan of this coach, and everyone involved in this decision can eat a dick. When I become a free agent, I’m out of here.
Everyone has to earn their spot out here: This is said by the top 20 players on every team, knowing their job is secure.
The offense is ahead of the defense right now: The defense sucks. Dark clouds are on the horizon.
The defense is ahead of the offense right now: The offense sucks. Dark clouds are on the horizon.
This is the first time since my rookie year that I’ve been truly healthy: This is used by former high round picks as an excuse for essentially being a bust. They are either not healthy, or just not good, and there will be no improvement in their play. They are terrible.
No: Mike Zimmer when asked if he will provide an injury update on a player.