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Free Agency Flashback: The Antoine Winfield signing

Back to the good ol’ days

Minnesota Vikings defensive back Antoine Winfield intercepts Photo by Charles Cherney/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Free agency is always an exciting time for the NFL, including for fans of the Minnesota Vikings. . .well, most of the time, anyway. But there aren’t a lot of free agent signings that end up being truly memorable.

Well, back in 2004, there was one such instance of a memorable free agent signing for the purple. . .and, to a lesser extent, for the New York Jets.

If you follow the “Official JaguarGator9” account on YouTube, you know that they put together some really nicely done videos that do deep dives into different situations in the National Football League. Just yesterday, they put one up about the sequence of events that led cornerback Antoine Winfield to sign with the Vikings in 2004.

Now, 2004 was in the days before the sports blogosphere had really taken hold. . .hell, it was two years before this site came into existence as part of SB Nation. That meant a lot of surfing around to various message boards and wearing out the F5 key on your keyboard in the hopes that somebody had some breaking news. Shortly after the start of free agency, the news came out that Winfield was going to sign with the Jets, which was incredibly disappointing to Vikings fans. The Jets had even gone so far as to schedule Winfield’s introductory press conference.

And then, all of a sudden, Winfield was on a private jet to the Twin Cities and, shortly thereafter, was having a press conference introducing himself as the newest member of the Minnesota Vikings. You’ve probably heard a lot of bits and pieces of the story, but this video really does a nice job of filling in all the gaps, starting with the situations that the Vikings and Jets were in going into free agency and the sequence of events that led to Winfield ultimately spurning the Jets offer to come to Minnesota.

I’m sure there are a lot of “message board veterans” like myself out there that remember watching the Antoine Winfield saga in real time. Or, honestly, in as close to “real time” as refreshing your browser every 30 seconds could provide in the days before constantly streaming video and the 24-hour news cycle. Hopefully, if you’re not completely familiar with everything that happened, you’ll learn all about it from this video.