Consider the Vikings' Sunday opponent – the New England Patriots. The teams will meet four years and one day from their last meeting, a Monday night blowout by the Patriots by a count of 31-7. It was Brad Childress' first year as Vikings head coach. It was only four years ago, but his Vikings of 2010 that are heading into Foxboro for a late-afternoon Halloween party bear almost no resemblance to the Vikings that faced Bill Belichick's Patriots on Oct. 30, 2006.
The question at quarterback this week is whether Tarvaris Jackson will play. In that game, Jackson was sidelined after being injured in practice. Brad Johnson got the start, and when he threw three interceptions trivia answer Brooks Bollinger came into the game in relief.
The Vikings were still a year away from getting Adrian Peterson. Chester Taylor was the starter, getting relief help from Mewelde Moore and Artose Pinner. Taylor and Moore are third-down backs elsewhere, but they weren't for the Vikings in 2006.
Randy Moss wasn't even with the Patriots at that time – he was still in exile in Oakland – and the Vikings didn't have anything resembling the receiver corps as do now that they head to New England. In the last meeting, the Vikings completed passes to nine different players, including Moore, Troy Williamson, Travis Taylor, Chester Taylor, Jermaine Wiggins, Bethel Johnson, Billy McMullen, Tony Richardson and Richard Owens. None of them are still with the team and most of them have been gone for a while.
E.J. Henderson led the Vikings defense in tackles that game, but he was followed by Darren Sharper, Dwight Smith, Fred Smoot, Jayme Mitchell and Kenechi Udeze on the stat sheet. E.J. is the only member of that group left.
Perhaps not ironically, if you look at the Patriots roster from that game, aside from Brady, there are very few links to that team still with the Pats. It illustrates how fragile life in the NFL can be. It's hard to get a comment from players about the last time they played one another because, in the NFL, life expectancies are such that there are precious few who still remain.
Vikings fans hope that the core of the current team will still be together four years from now but, the reality may be different. A lot of the players that were on the Vikings in 2006 are still in the NFL, just not in Minnesota. You may not be that much different now than you were four years ago, but then you're not an NFL player, which, from the looks of things, may not be so bad.
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.