The spirit of this letter is not to kick you while you’re down. That’s what many of you would do, gleefully, in times like these, if the current state of our teams was reversed.
OK, admittedly, maybe some Packer fans are kind of reveling in things right now.
No, this letter is to implore you to recognize why your favorite team is in the state it is in. It’s not because your QB is not as good as the Pack’s QB. It’s not because the Packers got a 40-year head start in the NFL. It’s not because your team plays in a concrete mausoleum with a balloon for a roof, compared to the shrine that is Lambeau Field.
It’s really simple. The most important person in an NFL organization is the ultimate talent evaluator. The man charged with building the team, from the head coach, to his staff, to all 53 players. Over the past two-plus decades, the Packers have had Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson serve as the team’s general manager.
The Vikings? Their first GM was a former Rams PR guy named Bert Rose. They realized the error of their ways and when they brought in a knowledgeable football guy named Jim Finks, multiple Super Bowls followed. Since then, things have gone steadily downhill. Mike Lynn will always be remembered for trading half the team for Herschel Walker. Denny Green, in his dual role, had his moments but was a better coach than he was a GM.
Next came the “Triangle of Authority,” or “Three Heads are Better Than One.” That was a disaster. Now Rick Spielman carries the title, but in name only. It is still a triangle or trapezoid or something. Spielman drafts Ponder and head coach Leslie Frazier demands that McNabb be brought in. The team has squandered valuable draft picks in trades and the picks they’ve made have, for the most part, not measured up. The last four drafts have provided a paucity of starters and the roster is in need of an overhaul.
The Vikings fans have their fun in the spring when the Wilfs go on their annual free agent shopping spree, hoping to make up for their weak drafts by supplementing the roster with over-priced veterans whose previous teams were happy to cut loose.
As the Eagles are showing us this season, chemistry and consistency in the locker room go a long way in building consistently good teams. Yet for the past five or six years, Vikings fans taunt us Packer fans as they load up in free agency, while Ted Thompson usually sits on his hands and prepares for the draft.
And so now the Packers sit atop the football world, on a mission to repeat as Super Bowl champs, with a roster that entered the season as the fourth youngest in the league. With a QB still in his 20s (one the Vikings had two opportunities to draft in 2005), and young playmakers on each level of the defense, this team has been built to contend for years.
So Vikings fans, your frustrations should begin with your organization’s lack of understanding about what it takes to build a champion. One voice. One decision-maker. A fully empowered general manager. Until they bring in a true general manager with complete authority in all aspects of the football operations, they will remain mediocre: lacking direction, leadership and trophies.