The Vikings are the only team in the NFC North without an established quarterback while the other three teams all appear to have their starting star in place for years to come.
Of the problems the Vikings face in the most recent post-Packer championship, the worst of them will be in the area of comparison. As the defending champs, Packers fans are going likely going to be as obnoxious as ever, feeling vindicated from the stain on their collective heart over the defection of Brett Favre
to the purple and gold. They have new championship gear to buy. Throughout Wisconsin, wives and girlfriends are celebrating the chance to throw away their moth-eaten Super Bowl gear from 15 years ago.
It's not as cool for the loved ones of Bears fans, whose Jim McMahon jerseys are being held together with hand washing and prayer – yet the Adidas headbands still look good as new (if they ever looked good to begin with). But, as division champs, the Bears have gear their fans can proudly display. While their QB is about as tough as gravy skin, they have a team that earned a playoff bye week only to lose in the NFC title game. Vikings fans can't fault them for that.
The Lions? Well, they're the Lions. But now that the offseason has officially begun, as all four teams in the NFC North look at team needs, the Vikings have one that the others don't and no immediate way of addressing it.
With the retirement of Brett Favre – I'm finally buying it after steadfastly refusing the last six offseasons – the Vikings are the only team in the division in need of a quarterback … and it couldn't come at a worse time. "Insider" talk about the collective bargaining agreement has it that a line is being drawn in the sand. Free agency as we have come to know it won't exist until there is some sort of side-peace treaty reached to allow the business of football to continue. That is an extremely unlikely scenario, leaving the Vikings without Favre and with a lot of questions.
Unlike the Vikings, the rest of the division is in fine shape. Rodgers is already talking about a four- or five-year window for the Packers to stockpile hardware (always a mistake to talk like that). Whether you like him or hate him – which is a surprisingly split among fans and analysts – Jay Cutler
is a franchise quarterback that will be the Bears' main man for next few years at a minimum. In Detroit, Matthew Stafford
hasn't flourished yet, but his problems have been injury-related. Given the investment as the No. 1 overall pick and not playing horribly when he was playing, the Lions have their man set heading forward.
The Vikings, for better or worse, find themselves moving forward with Joe Webb
and Rhett Bomar
as the only quarterbacks under contract in 2011. They have a window to sign Tarvaris Jackson
, but does the new-look Vikings offense have an interest in keeping him? If he isn't re-upped before the window shuts, that may speak volumes, and even Jackson talks as if he's likely gone.
No matter how you cut it, there is reason for optimism in Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit. The Vikings have reason for hope – they have the core to rebound in a hurry. But they find themselves much in the same boat they did in the days before Favre arrived – loaded with talent, but with serious quarterback question marks. Two years later, same dilemma. How will it end? That's the nail-biting part of the equation, because the decision-makers with the Vikings don't know for certain.
Sunday's game became the most-watched television show in history, marking the fourth time in the last four years that the Super Bowl has placed in the top three shows all time. Feb. 3, 2008, the Super Bowl was the third-highest rated show ever with an average of 97.45 million viewers – breaking the Super Bowl record of 94.08 million held by Super Bowl XXX in which the Bears won the title. That record was broken in 2009, when NBC garnered 98.73 million viewers. The all-time record set by "M*A*S*H" in 1983 (105.97 million) was broken last February when the Saints beat the Colts, pulling in an average of 106.48 million. Sunday's Super Bowl drew almost five million more than the existing record, giving the Super Bowl four of the top five shows in TV history.
However, not to diminish the power of "M*A*S*H," in terms of ratings points, by which ad dollars are generated, nobody will ever touch the series finale of the gang at the 4077th. Sunday's Super Bowl was viewed in 53.3 million households, a 46.0 share of the TV audience watching programs, meaning more people were watching something else. The "M*A*S*H" finale drew a 60.2 rating (millions of households) and a whopping 77 share – more than three-fourths of the TVs being watched were tuned into that program.
One of our prop bets we ran prior to the game was which home Nielsen market – Pittsburgh or Milwaukee – would draw a higher rating? Turns out the Steeltown won that battle. Pittsburgh drew a rating of 59.7, with a share of the TV viewing audience of 87 percent. Milwaukee also had a rating of 59.7, but had a share of the audience at 85 percent. The other Nielsen markets in the top five were Columbus, Ohio (56.2/74), Nashville (54.2/74) and Norfolk/Portsmouth/Newport News, Va. (54.2/76).
In a radio interview on "The Dan Patrick Show," actor Josh Duhamel, the husband of Black Eyed Peas frontwoman Fergie, was asked to critique her performance as well as the Super Bowl experience. When asked who he was cheering for, he said the Packers because he has been a lifelong Vikings fan and cheered for the NFC. Duhamel, one of the stars of the Transformers movie franchise, grew up a Vikings fan in Minot, N.D., and played quarterback at Minot State University before getting into acting for a living.
Packers fans can thank Brett Favre for more of their success than just the emergence of Aaron Rodgers. When he was traded to the Jets in 2008, it was for a conditional pick that turned out to be a third-round pick in the 2009 draft. The Packers put together that pick with their own picks in the second and third rounds to swing a deal with New England to get the 26th pick in the draft, which they used to take linebacker Clay Matthews. Without the pick received for Favre, they didn't have enough draft ammunition to make the trade with the Patriots. With the desperate trading of Favre, it not only opened the door for Rodgers to become an offensive star, but enabled the Packers to add a young defensive star as well.
Jimmy Kimmel may not be Jimmy the Greek, but Vikings fans can take hope in a joke he told on his talk show Monday. He showed video of distraught Steelers fans who were among hundreds of people who paid $800 for Super Bowl tickets (that was their face value and they may have actually paid much more) only to learn their seats didn't exist. They were given triple the face value of the ticket as a compromise and tickets to Super Bowl XLVI, which Kimmel quipped that the distraught Steelers fans "will love watching Minnesota play Baltimore in 2012." At least somebody believes.
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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