It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, however, our tale of two cities doesn't take place in London and Paris during the French Revolution nor does it take place in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Our story is really the tale of two franchises that chose to conduct business in distinctly opposite ways last week. The Vikings aggressively acquired Randy Moss via trade with the Patriots while the Packers passively allowed Marshawn Lynch to slide to Seattle with nary an offer.
The argument for the Minnesota acquisition of Moss is obvious. Brett Favre is nearing the end and the team was willing to go all-in in what could/should/may/might possibly, but not unequivocally, be his last season. The Vikings acted in win-now desperation mode and General Manager Brett chose to make the trade in an attempt to fill the vacancy on the outside caused by Sidney Rice's injury.
The case for Lynch stems mainly from the season-ending injury to top tailback Ryan Grant but there are other factors that seem to indicate that the notoriously patient (to a fault?) Ted Thompson should have made the trade.
The Vikings chose to fill a gap on their roster while the Packers neglected the gaping hole on theirs. Moss essentially cost the Vikings a third-round pick while Lynch was had by Seattle for a fourth which meant the cost to the Pack would have likely been a third. Not an exorbitant price for a 24-year-old first-round talent who is signed through 2011 and has already made the Pro Bowl while playing for the inept Bills.
Note: The Packers could also be receiving a third-round gift pick from the league. That is the maximum compensation that a team can get for losing a free agent and due to the sizeable contract and decent production (main components of the unknown formula) of Aaron Kampman the compensatory pick could be in round three.
The Vikings chose to send a message to the team that they will do whatever it takes to win. The Packers did not. The players' randy reaction to the acquisition of Randy in Minnesota indicates the message was received with the resonance of a Viking horn.
In Green Bay, Charles Woodson may have summed-up the lead balloon reception to TT's inactivity when he told Jim Rome, "I thought with the way things shaked out with our team it would be a logical thing for us to do to get another big-time back like Marshawn Lynch. And it didn't pan out. For players, there's nothing you can do but go out there and play football with the guys you've got."
In Minnesota, Moss may be stone that gets the rest of the team rolling and gathering less plant-life.
In Green Bay, the lack of Lynch sends a message to the Packers that the organization is satisfied with the talent they have on the roster. Presumably John Kuhn and Brandon Jackson are believers but does the rest of the GB roster honestly buy into the tailback talent?
The Kuhn/Jackson final 6-plus minutes of the Lions game may have done exactly what we hoped it wouldn't do. It may have blinded the leadership in Green Bay to the fact that they have a problem. Perhaps the final 6-plus minutes of the Skins game (and we don't mean golf) will open some eyes. The ineffectiveness of the GB play-action passing game on Sunday should also be a wake-up call to the brass. The problem is the brass is more likely to sit on its, uh, hands, and continue to believe that Kuhn, Jackson, as well as the recently signed Dimitri Nance and rookie James Starks will be able to morph into something more than average.
With a contract that expires at the end of this season, Moss is a one-year rental. The Vikings could choose to offer him a deal next season but with a handful of players (Ben Leber, Chad Greenway, Ray Edwards, Adrian Peterson) also in line for new deals it doesn't appear to be the most likely scenario.
The team is hoping/praying/wishing/dreaming that the Moss/Favre combo will finally bring the elusive Super Bowl title to the land of many small lakes and as a fringe (French?) benefit, ownership would also like to gain a bit of support for a new stadium. Win now, build later.
In Green Bay, the status quo arrangement is becoming a tad frustrating to fans as well as players. Rodgers (age 26) is in his prime and the running back position has the potential to become a major liability (partly due to Ted's decision to start the season with only two running backs and three fullbacks on the roster). Adding a potential impact performer for a reasonable fee could have given the QB of the present and future another young weapon to team with Greg Jennings (27), Jermichael Finley (23), and Brian Bulaga (21) to form the foundation of the offense for years to come.
Making the trade would not have precluded more action in the future. If the team truly believed that Grant was their man moving forward, they could have traded Lynch before the draft. If they determined that Lynch was the better option they could have moved Grant. If they liked the idea of splitting carries that would have been another option.
Using his build-through-the-draft philosophy Ted has assembled a talented young team in Green Bay. The problem with his method is that when a hole appears during the season (or after the draft) he chooses not the fill it until the following April. By rigidly adhering to this strategy Ted will always have a team with holes since it is inevitable that injuries will happen after the draft, during camp, and during the season.
Ron Wolf used all of the tools to build a championship team in the 1990's. He made sure GB was God's choice in the Reggie White offseason free agent sweepstakes, traded a first round pick for backup QB Favre (what are the chances Ted would have made the trade?), acquired some players during the season (Andre Rison 1996), and procured many others through the draft.
Ted is a self-contradiction. During the 2007 draft, coincidentally the same draft TT was reportedly enamored with Lynch coming out of Cal but was pipped by the Bills who snagged the RB with pick 12 as the Pack sat at 16, Thompson was considering a trade with Cleveland. The Browns were willing to give GB their 2008 first round pick (plus much more) for pick 16 so they could take Brady Quinn. Ted stood pat and took Justin Harrell (ouch) and as he reflected on the possibility of the trade he said, "There were a couple of people in our room who were kind of for it. I didn't dismiss it out of hand, but I was never keen to do it. Quite frankly, I'd rather help us now rather than help us a year from now."
Apparently, for Ted, sometimes the sky is yellow while the sun is blue since it is quite clear that Lynch would have been a player to help now rather than a year from now.
As the hilarious Geico commercial reminds us, a bird in the hand is worth at least two in the bush. Getting a player today for simply giving up a potential contributor that won't arrive for a year (or two) is worth something. The return on the investment begins immediately rather than in 12 months. This is especially true when the team has lost their top player at the position in question.
The lines have been drawn and the season just got a lot more interesting in the North. The Vikings have chosen to be more like Wolf while Ted is staunchly being Ted. The dichotomy between the two franchises is quite apparent. Win now in Minnesota and stay the course in Green Bay.
We will never actually know what would have happened if Ted had quit being Ted. Lynch may have a great year in Seattle but that doesn't mean that he would have been a Lynch-pin for the offense in Green Bay. Conversely, he may have no impact on the Seahawks but could have been a real catalyst in Titletown. In any case, the season needs to play to a conclusion.
We do know that when the trades were made the Vikings were 1-2 and the Packers were 3-1. As the remainder of the season plays out it will be interesting to see if the "win now, fill holes" approach turns out to be better than the "love me some draft picks" model. We know in the past that Mr. Wolf would have filled the hole to win now while still managing to love his draft picks and we are very aware that Thompson continues to look toward the future. In fact, with his myopic view he is like a government official who promises to address budget problems at a later date that conveniently never arrives. At some point Ted has to realize that the future of the Packers is now.
WEEK SIX PICKS (5-4 record)
Steelers minus 13 vs. Browns ---- Ben Roethlisberger is back and the Browns have no quarterback so a lopsided affair seems likely.
Broncos plus 3 vs. Jets ---- Playing in the home of the Mile High club makes breathing a difficult task. Especially on a short week.
WEEK SIX NFC NORTH PICKS (9-8 record)
Vikings minus 2.5 vs. Cowboys ---- In what should be a tense test two 1-3 teams with aspirations and lame coaches will do everything they can to avoid the ignominy of going 1-4. Somebody is going to be in a hole and we predict it will be Dallas.
Packers minus 6.5 vs. Dolphins ---- Hard to win with few healthy bodies but somehow the Pack does it.
Giants minus 10 vs. Lions ---- With Calvin Johnson potentially out the attempt to avoid being road kill becomes much harder against a NY team that seems to have found itself.
Bears minus 6.5 vs. Seahawks ---- The Bears should get Jay Cutler back and Seattle is a bad road team.
PEEVE OF THE WEEK
In our September 14 column (After further review) we ranted about misplaced priorities with regard to our government.
On September 29 in Obion County, Tennessee, a man's home was allowed to burn to the ground as firefighters watched because he had not paid a required $75 annual fee to the fire department.
While we don't have all of the facts (point of fact: we never do, but it hasn't stopped us yet) in this situation it sure seems indicative of skewed priorities.
As our government continuously attempts to do more things for more people the primary responsibilities are being pushed aside in favor of entitlements. Citizens are being forced to pay an extra fee (a tax by any other name) for services that should be the foundation of government but have become secondary concerns. The reality is that our government receives more than enough revenue to provide the basics for the populace; it is the superfluous, and often unconstitutional, programs that devour the bulk of the budget. Our leaders are aware of this; however, they also know that it would be nearly impossible to ask people to voluntarily pay extra taxes for superfluous services so instead they compel their constituents to pay extra for such things as fire protection.
Some of the articles detailing the Tennessee event note that it is common practice to charge folks in rural areas an extra fee for fire protection. Just because it is common does not make it proper. "The role of government", as Abe Lincoln said, "is to do for the people what they cannot do better for themselves." Using a garden hose and bucket is clearly not as effective as having a central fire protection service in much the same way that having a concealed weapon (and permit) is not meant to replace law enforcement (unless you happen to be the Death Wish version of Charles Bronson).
Regardless of the fact that the guy who burned down his house may have been an idiot, and notwithstanding our deeply held belief in personal responsibility, certain questions need to be answered.
Since there were three dogs and a cat in the home (all dead), we wonder what would have happened if a human had been inside.
What if the human happened to have been the fire chief's daughter?
Where does it end (apparently in ashes, much like the smoldering document)?
Operator: Hello, 911, you will be billed $10 for this call, what is your emergency?
Citizen: Help! Our house is on fire! Hurry!
Operator: What is the address?
Citizen: 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
Operator: We're sorry Herman it appears that you haven't paid your fee so we can't help you. Click.
Next week: We fix potholes for an additional $50, plow snow at $20 per storm, and welcome a visit from law enforcement at a deeply-discounted rate of $200, as our government expands their Mafia-like tendencies to charge for "protection" and basic services.
With Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, and Aaron Rodgers manning some skill positions and Mark Tauscher holding down the right end of the line the Packer offense has the potential to be prolific. When you include the depth provided by Donald Lee, Quinn Johnson, and rookie RB James Starks a deep playoff run is a distinct possibility.
On the defensive side of the ball Clay Matthews, Ryan Pickett, Nick Barnett, Morgan Burnett, Al Harris form a nucleus that can compete against most teams and with Justin Harrell, Derrick Martin, Sam Shields, Brandon Chillar, and Atari Bigby adding depth championship dreams could become a reality.
Oops. The aforementioned 17 Packer players all have injuries ranging from season-ending tragedies to the day to day variety.
Matthews had 1.5 sacks against the Skins, before leaving in the third quarter, running his season total to 8.5. We still can't believe that the Bears offensive sieve was the only unit to shut him out.
The formerly winless Lions pasted the Rams and posted their largest margin of victory since the pre-Millen years.
The Bears got the worst performance by a winning quarterback (6-16 passing for 32 yards and 4 interceptions from former Wolverine Todd Collins) that we can remember. What does that say about the Panthers?
Only three winless teams remain and the Niners are favored by seven to get their first win of the year against the Raiders while the Panthers and Bills will remain winless for at least another week due to their byes.
The undefeated teams have vanished quickly and the 1972 Dolphins popped the cork earlier than any time since their historic season.
We received a verbal comment from someone suggesting that wealth redistribution is actually a good thing. We, gasp, agree, however, allowing 536 people to decide how to redistribute is an awful idea fraught with obvious conflicts and pitfalls.
Especially when you consider that there is already an extremely efficient mechanism in place for redistribution; it is called the (somewhat) free market. Removing the obvious governmental influences on the market which make it less free (taxes, tariffs, subsidies, nonsensical regulation etc.) we would much rather have 300 million people (or more if you consider the world to be the true market, which we do) voluntarily exchange items of value (goods, services, cash etc.) with one another based on the concepts of need and desire rather than a few overlords doing it based on their illogical and unconstitutional opinion of "fairness".
Government redistribution is extremely inefficient (what percent of money makes it to the desired end?) and is a drain on national wealth creation.
We almost got our wish with regard to an umpire gaffe ruining the Yankees hopes, and thus forcing the adoption of replay, when Mariano Riviera seemingly closed out game one (vs. Twins) on a fly to right that was caught but incorrectly ruled a trap. If Jim Thome has smacked a HR, instead of feebly making the final out, the stuff found in sewers would have been hitting the fan at MLB HQ.
Then on Thursday during the Giants/Braves game there was a blown call on a stolen base. The runner, Buster Posey, was ruled safe (he was out) and he scored the only run of the game moments later.
After the game Posey was asked if he was safe and replied, looking like cat/canary, "I guess it's a good thing we don't have instant replay right now."
And we continue to wonder why the powers choose to have the final result not be an accurate representation of what actually happens on the field.
Despite the fact that MSU QB Kirk Cousins rushed for negative 24 yards State somehow mustered 249 yards on the ground (plus 287 via air) and defeated the Wolverines. Sparty employed the novel concept of having the quarterback throw the ball, and the running backs run the ball, on their way to victory. Hey, perhaps this crazy offensive gimmick could work in the NFL.
We doubt it would work in high school; however, Rich Rodriguez has now vaulted to the top of our ballot for HS Coach of the Year for bringing his "innovative" offense up from the lower ranks to the Big11Ten.
For now, and for three years running for the first time since 1967, the Michigan state champs (and we don't mean high school) reside in East Lansing.
State will attempt to keep their dreams (and not the pipe version when you consider the remainder of their schedule) of an undefeated season alive at home against an Illinois team that battled the Buckeyes to the end and took down Penn State in Pennsylvania. Upset alert.
Michigan faces Iowa in Ann Arbor (3:30 ABC) where another home loss will certainly conjure up memories of the disastrous 2009 season. With five tough games coming after the post-Iowa bye it could become deja vu all over again.
Wisconsin defeated Minnesota for the seventh straight time (also won 14 of last 16) and kept the Paul Bunyan Axe in Madison meaning nearly two generations (collegiate football generation= four years) of Gopher players haven't had a chance to touch the axe.
The Badgers might want to temper their enthusiasm because any hopes they have of winning the conference could be axed this weekend when the Buckeyes roll into town.
There was controversy in the Badger/Gopher rodent-like mammal battle when Wisky coach Bret Bielema made the somewhat dubious decision to try a two-point conversion while leading 41-16 with 6:39 remaining in the game.
Then Minnesota coach Tim Brewster made two curiously reactive and emotional decisions. He called timeout with 1:27 left while UW was running out the clock with an 18-point lead and then chose to chastise Bielema over a post-game hand grab. Punky Brewster said of the 2-point decision, "He'll have to live with it. It was wrong. Everybody in here knows it and everybody in college football knows it."
The "everybody in college football knows it" portion got the attention of the crack staff and sure enough we found a voice of dissent in Stanford coach, and former Wolverine (who should be current UM head man in our opinion) Jim Harbaugh. Last year the Cardinal were leading the Trojans 48-21 with 6:47 remaining and Jim had team go for two in a blatant attempt to post 50 points on his state rival.
Brewster simply chose to be a whiner since he wasn't a winner. He was probably allowing the frustration of a season that featured an opening seven-point win over Middle Tennessee followed by five losses including humbling lack-of-efforts against South Dakota and Northern Illinois. When the season is only six weeks old and you have to run the table to become bowl eligible pressure mounts. In fact, there is reasonable doubt whether Brewster will get another chance to exact revenge on Bielema and the Badgers since he days may be numbered.
Regarding the Ohio State visit to the Camp, it appears they will have company, as the ESPN GameDay crew will be on location. Last weekend GameDay was in Columbia attending the Gamecock tea party upset for (O) Bama. Could they witness number one play like number two (as in pooh) two weeks in a row?
The majority of the Musings staff certainly hopes so.
Those who don't will be fired immediately.
By the way, OSU has beaten Bucky three straight times and Badger RB John Clay and OSU QB Terrelle Pryor were named co-Big Ten players of the week.
The fraud that is the national title certainly became more interesting with the sweet moans coming from Alabama. We are firmly in the camp rooting for the most unfair controversial appalling end to the season. In our reactive society it will take a catastrophe (as with replay in baseball) for the powers to acquiesce and do what is so obviously correct.
And for those folks who contend that a lack of playoff makes the regular season more important we say poppycock in honor of the Gamecocks toss of the wrench into the works. In the world of these folks, the Tide's season has likely gone out for good, in our (8-team playoff) world they would still have a chance to be in the tournament.
For the folks who advocate a "plus-one" (adding one additional game after the bowls) we would advise them that they are essentially in favor of a four-team playoff with the winners of the two games playing for it all. Basically, they are one step away from an eight-team playoff.
We generally don't like the polls (someone telling us who the best teams are borders on figure skating judgment); however, one poll we'd like to see is a poll of college football fans to determine what percent favor a playoff.
John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) has introduced his Enumerated Powers Act in every session of Congress for over a decade. Since the enumerated powers of Congress are clearly spelled out in the Constitution (mostly in Article I Section 8), and have been ignored by Congress for years, an act which would require our faux leaders to cite the part of the Constitution that gives them the authority to act seems like legislation with no downside.
We can think of many reasons why our leaders choose not to vote for this legislation but none that are actually beneficial to anyone other than the faux folks.
Can you think of any reason why this bill should not pass? If so, send us a comment. Also ask your elected officials if they support the bill. If they don't, then question their motivation for openly flouting their contempt for our founding, governing (law of the land), document.
The Deadspin (we recommend a visit to one of our favorite sites, however, if you are easily offended stay in your comfort zone) report regarding Brett and the babes first appeared nearly two months ago but has since gained a following as more "information" has been leaked.
The New York Post and Daily News had it covered from all angles last weekend and HLN had their snooty "talent" chiming in with typically nonsensical comments.
Now it is our turn for snooty nonsense.
It would be sort of sad if the ironman streak was eventually stopped due to suspension by the commish because of Punx exposing himself (uh-hum) to potential lawsuits.
If Brett is suspended the Vikings will have some big shoes, and small socks, to fill.
The Vikings' all-in, desperation, Super Bowl or bust, season may go bust over lust for a bust.
It is ironic that the league is wearing pink this month in their efforts to save second base... (complete this joke yourself).
Perhaps Brett just wanted his 15 minutes of fame like so many of social media's self-exploiters.
From the "we wish we'd thought of that" department: Deadspin was commenting on the absence of coverage (uh-hum) on the Favre story from the family of networks and other "respected" media outlets and observed that they, "have refused to touch it with a 4-inch pole."
Ya'll know that we're fans of a good party, however, we doubt we missed much frivolity and delight at the birthday shindig for Brett (he turned 41 on Sunday).
All of you locals should get out and enjoy the rally this weekend while the rest of you should continue to envy those of us who live in paradise North.
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Gotta go, it's time to buy the cats some new trench coats.