In this week’s Monday Morning Mailbag, a reader named Dares from Burleson, Texas submitted a question asking if the Vikings made a tactical error by winning this past weekend because it eliminated the Vikings from being able to secure the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Given that the Vikings were 2-12 entering last weekend’s game in Washington, Dares was suggesting in his question that it benefited the Vikings more to lose the game and secure better draft positioning than it would to win the game and improve the record.
My response to Dares was blunt, and in hindsight I should’ve replied in more diplomatic fashion. I used the term “despicable” to describe the idea of laying down and not trying to win and I also used the phrase “statement of ignorance” to characterize Dares’ assertion that a win or loss against the Redskins made no difference in the season. While I stand by the opinion that winning the game does more benefit than losing to secure better draft positioning, I regret coming off as rigid as I did.
The question/suggestion raised by Dares was easily the second-most common sentiment to come from fans to this week’s Monday Morning Mailbag, behind the bombardment of emails I received regarding Christian Ponder-versus-Joe Webb discussion. I chose Dares’ email for inclusion in this week’s Mailbag not to single him out personally, but because his email was the most eloquently written of anyone else who submitted a similar comment/question, and because I wanted to speak out against the idea of not going all-out to win the game.
After reading this week’s Monday Morning Mailbag and my response to his question, Dares emailed me again to apologize for any offense I took to his comment/question, to further explain his opinion, and to ensure me that he is not a despicable or ignorant fan. I’ve included his email to me below because he deserves to be heard, especially in light of how unfairly I treated him in my response. As you’ll read, Dares is a great fan, a credit to the Minnesota Vikings, and a person with a sincere interest in seeing the team succeed.
Implying that a fan’s opinion is despicable or ignorant and thus making that fan feel like less a part of this team is not ever my intention. I very much enjoy the interaction I am fortunate enough to have with fans, and in fact the Monday Morning Mailbag is my favorite written content element of vikings.com because it allows fans to direct the content we house on the website. A big reason vikings.com exists is to let the fans have an eye on their favorite team. I embrace the fans’ passion and I know that without them, the NFL would not be as great as it is. That is why it was important for me to clear the air with Dares and offer my apology to him. I hope he accepts it, and I hope his passion for the Vikings never wanes. Again, it is because of fans such as Dares, who stick with their team through thick and thin, that the NFL enjoys the success that it does.
Here is the email Dares sent to me on Monday morning.
I apologize if I offended you with my question/comment about the Vikings losing the #1 pick with their win on Saturday. You slammed on me pretty hard for that. At the least please let me explain away my “ignorant” point of view.
I’ve been a Vikings fan for 40 years. I remember hanging on every play through all four Super Bowl losses and every big game, and season, since. Please know this, I would never ask my beloved Vikings to intentionally ‘throw’ a game.
I do understand, though, that with the installment of so many new people, systems, ideas etc., the Vikings have clearly been affected in a greater way than the rest of the NFL with the lack of an offseason. That should automatically yield some measure of protection to the players/coaches who truly deserve a full chance to work the new system.
With that, the fact we only had two wins on the season, and the #1 pick became available within our grasp, I was suggesting playing the younger, newer guys. Instead of ‘resting the good players for the playoffs’ like the winning teams do, rest them to allow the back-ups to prove their value to the team (see what Toby G has done for us these past few weeks). Your coaches, players, scouts, and everyone else whose jobs are being judged still have to perform to the best of their abilities. It does, however, greatly increase your chances of losing the game at hand which, at this stage of this season, is much less important to me.
I agree with you that the concept of asking your QB to go out and throw an interception, or your RB to go fumble the ball, or your defender to stop tackling is just wrong. It’s just as much cheating as the Patriots filming defensive signals on the opposing sidelines. I’m sorry but intentionally screwing up to throw a game is not an option to me … and I would never suggest it for my team. It’s despicable.
Look, you still may or may not agree with my logic, and that’s ok. I just wanted you to have the whole story.
Please, if you will, at least let the Vikings know that Dares Olson in Burleson, TX is not the ignorant, despicable thinking fan it sounds like I am in your response. I have been a die-hard fan through all the good, bad, AND the ugly for a very, very long time. I’ve endured a lot of criticism for it too because I haven’t been able to live in Minnesota for all of those years (Cowboys fans and Saints fans hate the Vikings, you know).
I have even attached a pic of my son and me from a couple years ago proudly wearing our Purple Pride in front of a Cowboys store at the mall, and one of a letter Coach Jerry Burns sent me (many years ago) thanking me for my support (that was a tough season also). I really am a true and good fan and that’s what I’d like to be associated with my name. Please let them know.
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