In the Twin Cities, Jim Souhan has always been a voice of reason among the sports writers, rarely falling into the trap of optimism about the Minnesota Vikings. His carefully cynical, humourous approach has always set him apart from the herd. Until now…
For decades, when you left the Vikings’ Winter Park facility, you needed a long shower. Maybe even a luffa.
You were constantly confronted with the ugly realities of an ugly business, from ownership and management infighting to angry and sometimes felonious players. Paranoia often ruled, and often for good reason. The Vikings had a lot to hide.
These days, the franchise that brought you such great hits as Denny Green’s Basement Tapes, The Love Boat, the Original Whizzinator and “Straight Cash, Homey,” has become the kind of place you wouldn’t mind bringing your children.
Wednesday, while enjoying 100 percent player attendance at an OTA for the first time in memory, the Vikings played host to a bunch of Special Olympic athletes, kids who are competing in Punt, Pass & Kick. While that’s not exactly a new development — Green pushed players to be active in the community — the atmosphere at Winter Park has changed.
It used to be like “Game of Thrones.” Now it’s more “Cheers,” with Jared Allen as Norm.
Winter Park has become a place of genial professionalism. The organization has achieved remarkable stability among key employees on all levels, and the team’s best players also tend to be their most gracious representatives when dealing with the public and media. Leslie Frazier might be the friendliest coach in football, and Adrian Peterson might be the friendliest superstar in sports.