The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    ‘Team leaders’ failing for struggling Vikings, columnist says

    I guess I should have seen it coming. The many struggles of the Minnesota Vikings this year, I mean. We Viking fans entered this season with guarded optimism that the Purple could at least return to the playoffs. I was among those excited about Minnesota’s prospects this season, but I should have seen the team’s struggles coming.

    In last year’s NFC championship game, the Vikings showed up unprepared, got frustrated when its offense didn’t hit on all cylinders like it usually does and quit halfway through. Those factors worked together to lead to a 41-0 embarrassment at the hands of the New York Giants.

    Since that game, the Vikings lost several key players for every reason, from retirement to death, and instead of trying to figure out how to replace those players, the Vikings spent the offseason bickering among themselves about who was to blame for their national television debacle.

    The Vikings entered the preseason as a team in emotional turmoil, and when left tackle Korey Stringer died at the beginning of training camp, the team’s need for an emotional leader became magnified.

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    It appeared at first that the Vikings had two good candidates for that position in wide receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss. These two Pro Bowlers stepped up to the podium the day Stringer died to speak for the team, and I got the impression that they were ready to take on the leadership mantle of this team.

    Carter especially seemed like the logical choice to become the team leader. Some people around the NFL believed that Carter would retire after last season, and that by returning for this year, Carter was saying that he was preparing for one final run toward the Super Bowl.

    It was also assumed that Moss, who signed a massive contract extension in the offseason, would take it upon himself to improve his immature behavior of his early career and use his immense talent to carry the team on his shoulders.

    Through the preseason, it seemed like the Vikings had a couple of bona fide leaders in Carter and Moss. However, once the team began struggling offensively at the start of the season, their leadership went out the window.

    Carter has, on several occasions, been seen on the sideline chewing out his own teammates, including quarterback Daunte Culpepper. Moss hasn’t been as demonstrative on the sideline. He has simply started pouting when he hasn’t had five catches by the end of the first quarter.

    The worst of Carter’s and Moss’s actions have been directed toward Culpepper, though. Culpepper is going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL – in a couple of years. Right now, he’s still learning the intricacies of the position. He is going to make mistakes.

    Unfortunately, when Culpepper does make a bad read, the “team leaders” of Carter and Moss start jumping up and down, screaming at Culpepper to throw them the ball. A young quarterback isn’t going to learn how to make the proper read if he has two receivers pouting when they don’t get the ball thrown to them.

    Carter has established himself in the past as one of the leaders of the Vikings, and Moss signed up for the leadership role when he inked his name onto that contract this summer. Instead of helping the team through their leadership and talent, they have been hurting the team with their continual whining.

    The only thing that Viking fans can do is hope that Carter and Moss grow up before the start of next season.

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    ‘Team leaders’ failing for struggling Vikings, columnist says