Holler: A (begrudging) nod to the Pack

The Packers have a roster-building model that has worked for them, and the Vikings are getting closer to it. Both teams are relatively young, built through the draft, and playoff teams with that philosophy.

The Vikings lost to Green Bay last Saturday, so the eastern border envy is legitimate amongst Vikings fans. If you believe in karma evening things out, all that was missing Saturday was Joe Buck describing a two-hop rock-skip pass from Joe Webb as "a disgusting act."

But if there is a reason for envy within the Vikings fan base, it should be how Green Bay has done it. The Vikings would appear to be absorbing the blueprint, but the Packers have a head start.

For a team that issues worthless stock certificates to base-dwellers of a pyramid scheme, while the Packers are printing money (almost literally), they have done it on the cheap that defies description.

Of the players on the Packers 53-man roster – many of whom have a ring to show for it – only one has played more than seven NFL seasons. That player is Donald Driver, who was sent to Exile Island on Saturday – a healthy scratch from the game day roster.

The rest of the roster has far less tangible NFL experience – bad news for teams like (in descending order) the Patriots, Ravens, Steelers and (to a much more predictable extent) the Bears. A roster breakdown of the Packers is likely to reveal a man behind the curtain who is smiling, and a man that other owners – those who actually pay their tab – will be looking to replicate.

Aside from Driver, there is only one player who was on the Green Bay roster in 2005. That was QB Aaron Rodgers, who sat for three years collecting a check when some guy named Favre was in charge of the velvet rope.

What makes the Packers business model so impressive is the level of success the franchise has been able to achieve without breaking the bank on outside free agents. Of the 53 players on their playoff roster, 28 of them (53 percent) were players that the Packers drafted. Of the other 25 players, only three of them – Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett and Jeff Saturday – were unrestricted free agents signed on the open market.

The Vikings appear to be on a similar path as the Packers. They have built their team through the draft and have become less dependent on outside free agents. At a time when teams are being pushed off the fiscal cliff by high-priced free agents, the Packers are proof that developing and retaining one's own players can be the cheapest and most effective way to succeed in the modern day NFL. That philosophy requires astute drafting, something the Vikings appear to be getting better at in recent years.

Vikings fans will never embrace the Packers, but it might be time to give respect for the business model Green Bay has adopted and the success that has followed from it.


  • A rumor on the NFL's official website is that new Chiefs coach Andy Reid may end up being reunited with Brad Childress. Chilly was hired by the Vikings when Zygi Wilf inauspiciously took the pencil from behind Mike Tice's ear at the end of the "Love Boat" season and relieved him of his duties. Childress was brought in from Reid's Philadelphia Eagles. While Reid likely won't name Chilly offensive coordinator, expect him to have a role in the offense. The only current problem is that, while the Cleveland Browns fired head coach Pat Shurmer, they have yet to officially fire the assistant coaches – that is fully expected to be the job of the new coach. The two old friends met Wednesday, but any contract talks can't be initiated until after the Browns finish cleaning house of the remaining coaching staff.

  • The Vikings are the fourth-youngest team in the NFL at an average age of less than 26. Only St. Louis, Philadelphia and Cleveland had a younger roster than the Vikings last year.

  • Mark down baseball pitcher C.C. Sabathia as a pollster that should be followed. In a (highly) unscientific Twitter poll (then again, aren't all Twitter polls unscientific?), Sabathia followers selected Adrian Peterson as league MVP in the NFL. Next time Cy Young chatter is tossed about, Vikings fans owe C.C. one.

  • Given Peterson's quick recovery from his devastating knee injury, one can only hope when Jared Allen has his labrum surgery, he will rehab just as hard. Maybe that will give him another shot at the NFL sack record.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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