Rather than wait for columnists to bait readers into blind Internet anger, we at SB Nation believe in setting the curve ourselves and doing so honestly. On Troll Tuesdays, we attempt to construct the most obnoxious sports column on earth. Today: Let's talk about Percy Harvin and the disease of self-interest.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Percy Harvin got what he wanted on Monday, the Minnesota Vikings got nothing, and America got another reminder that it's better to stick your hand out than stick around and try to build something special. Welcome to the future, folks.
Turns out, it's the Vikings who get pillaged in 2013.
It happened for a lot of reasons. According to a report from Yahoo! Sports this week, Harvin's displeasure in Minnesota wasn't just about money. Apparently he was upset about Christian Ponder's performance at quarterback and the offense's struggles, and that was the "final straw" for Harvin in purple and gold. Good luck turning the other cheek after that, Christian.
What's a team left with when a superstar leaves them in the dust?
Ponder that, Minnesota.
And it's not just the Vikings getting torn apart. Baseball has August, but football's dog days are in March. Look at the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.
What's the reward for winning the Super Bowl these days? An expensive ring for the owner to buy and a bunch of stars for the owner to pay. It started with Joe Flacco, the runt of the quarterback litter who wanted big dog money after leading the Ravens to the top.
So, the Ravens threw him a bone. Now Flacco's making $120 million dollars over the next few years, and suddenly the rest of the roster's on a short leash. Even a Super Bowl isn't big enough to keep everyone happy at dinner time. The Ravens' star receiver, Anquan Boldin, wouldn't take a $1 million pay cut, and he's headed out west to play fetch with Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco.
"Didn't he just play San Francisco in the Super Bowl?"
Don't answer that.
If you're looking for sanity in the NFL offseason, you're barking up the wrong tree.
Reality bites, folks.
There's no loyalty here. Just a whole bunch of teams rolling over and stars running away from home. When it comes to free agency in 2013, man's best friend is cynicism.
Remember when the Eagles signed Michael Vick to a $100 million deal?
Look at him now, dogging it every week.
When I think of Vick, I can't help but think of Harvin the past few years, because he personifies the bigger problems in all this. The way he refused to work it out with his quarterback and demanded a trade instead. There's no accountability left. No loyalty. After all the games where the Vikings star sat out with migraines, it turns out Harvin was the biggest headache of all. How could they get him the ball? How could they keep him happy? How could they find a way to pay him? With all those questions running fly patterns through their head, how did Vikings management sleep at night?
Well they can rest easy now. Percy Harvin and Percy Harvin's Ego are Seattle's problem now. Instead of spending every week wondering whether their x-factor will play, the brain trust in Minneapolis can get back to x's and o's. Call it addition by subtraction.
It's happening all over the National Football League. All over sports, really. Players can sabotage entire seasons with their selfishness.
"The disease of more," Pat Riley once called it.
While pro sports teams shell out record salaries and try to turn a profit somehow, the athletes just keep asking for more. More, more, more. Give a mouse a cookie and he'll ask for another. Give a pro athlete a cookie and he'll send his agent back with a full grocery list.
There's one exception to the new normal, though. One reason to be hopeful. You probably didn't hear about it, but Tom Brady signed a new contract a few weeks ago. "I don’t want to talk about this on the radio or anywhere else for that matter,” Brady said afterward.
“Athletes are always talking about money at a time when everyone else is struggling so badly to make it. We all make way more than our fair share. And I just think it reflects poorly on myself and my teammates. I really do just want to win, and that has and will continue to be the reason that motivates me and is the biggest factor in my decision-making process.”
Imagine that. A famous pro athlete who doesn't want attention. An athlete who cares more about winning than money. You don't always have to open the window to get a breath of fresh air, just read the Boston sports page.
Brady's not the only one, either. There's a star receiver out there who's been underpaid the past few years, and all he does is put his head down and go to work. Wes Welker demand a trade? You'd have better luck seeing Vince Wilfork win a beauty contest. Welker understands that the fastest way to paydirt is performance.
Just hard work and winning.
And ... Would you look at that?
Brady took less money to stay with the Patriots, leaving the team just enough money to pay Welker what he's earned. This is how Champions stay Champions. While the rest of league gets locker room cancer every other year, it seems like the Patriots found the only cure that works.
Team chemistry's not rocket science, folks.
Everyone's on the same page in New England. “I love Wes Welker," said the Patriots owner this week. "I hope he remains a Patriot for life. Just like Tom Brady."
At a time when it seems like entitlement and handouts are a problem in a lot more than just sports, you can't help but wonder if The Patriot Way could work elsewhere. If the employees take a little less and work a little more, the business gets bigger, the owner rewards the employees, and everyone wins. Wouldn't we all be better off if more people in America started acting like Patriots?
Maybe not, who knows. I'm just a sports columnist.
The only certainty is this: Free agency doesn't look so free when you see all these franchises getting held hostage by the disease of self-interest and greed. But with Percy Harvin in Seattle and Joe Flacco sitting on a pile of money, that's where we are these days.
The dog days.
It's ruff out there, huh?
Everyone can run and jump, but winning with today's athletes is no walk in the park.