It’s been quite the interesting three year period for the Minnesota Vikings. In a relatively short period of time, the Vikings have stolen headlines from the bigger markets for both positive and negative reasons largely changing both the makeup and the direction of the franchise.
Surrounding the team you have beautiful billion dollar stadium that has worked through the kinks of one year in play now. There’s a new team headquarters under construction across town that will open a bunch of new doors into the future.
On the field, as always there’s been quite a bit of turnover that is where much of the attention will be placed going forward. Within that three year time span you have a new head coach who will seemingly be leading a team devoid of a franchise player. The mix of moving away from the former face of the franchise, Adrian Peterson, had left the door open for Teddy Bridgewater to step in and fill that role. But a devastating injury popped up for Teddy putting not only his role as the face of the franchise but his entire NFL career in jeopardy going forward. Mix that in with a handful of rather nondescript draft classes and the Vikings are facing an identity crisis of sorts.
That said, it’s an interesting identity crisis.
Look around the league and you’ll see most every team hitching their wagons to one particular player either willingly or forcibly dubbing them the “face” of the franchise for that team. As the franchise face, they accept a role of leadership, public involvement and (hopefully) on field success. Understandably, with those roles in the mix, there is some pressure on the Vikings to replace Bridgewater who replaced Peterson as the face of the franchise for the Minnesota Vikings. But who could it be?
Common sense would bring us to guys like Harrison Smith, Sam Bradford or potentially Stefon Diggs to be the next to step up to the plate and represent the Minnesota Vikings. Still, each of them come with their own varied level of questions surrounding their fit as the face of the franchise. Has Diggs proven himself enough? Was Bradford a flash in the pan? Does Harrison want the added attention that comes with the imaginary yet important role? I mean there is good and bad that comes with the mantra of being a silent assassin on the football field.
All of those guys could be requisite options that behind the scenes the team is likely exploring, but I’ve got a couple other options that might fit their unique situation a little better.
How about following the head coach into battle as the face of the franchise?
It’s kind of part of the assumed role when you accept the job as head coach in the NFL. On top of managing the Xs of Os of daily work, you’re a public face for the franchise whether it be in the community or at the podium after both good and bad practices. You have to face the media, you have to represent the team and in the style that Mike Zimmer does both of those tasks fans wouldn’t be above buying into what the coach is selling. But in a world that speaks more so in dollars and cents that consonants and vowels, a coach isn’t going to score touchdowns, go to the Pro Bowl and is surely not going to sell jerseys. That all factors in as well.
Which brings me to suggestion number two. Maybe the Minnesota Vikings don’t need to dub a new face of the franchise?
If you’re not ready for that attention, not willing to take on the extra responsibility, forcing an unwanted or unearned role onto someone can end just as poorly as it started. So why bother? There’s something to be said about honing in on the team mentality, the whole “we are family” bit. Lean your crutch on the head coach, who has proven he can handle it, and run as a group of 52 rather than focusing any more attention on any one in particular. There will still be media guides, calendars and team spreads that focus on the more notable names but continuing to spread it thin will repeatedly push the team mentality out to the public.
It doesn’t have to be a permanent plan either. If someone steps up in 2017, the whole team identity could be scrapped after a year. I’m just saying, don’t force feed the unwilling as it’s not entirely a necessity in today’s day and age.
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