The good news is that it's looking more like there will be a full 2011 NFL season. The bad news is that, about the same time that the NFL has apparently resolved its internal civil war, the Vikings are civilian casualties in another.
After sitting on their collective hands for months, the State Legislature and a weakened Gov. Mark Dayton announced a resolution to the shutdown that has closed state offices since July 1. Watching Dayton meekly step back from the podium and break into facial spasms as the legislative leaders spoke about specifics of the agreement was frightening for those seeing Dayton as the white knight to save the Vikings. All the bluster and bravado from late November became a faint whimper in mid-July. Like unwatered plants, Dayton wilted under the heat.
Much to the delight of the Minneapolis linen-napkin crowd, the Vikings stadium deal with Ramsey County is likely dead for this year. A special session (or, as Minnesotans know it, a pretty ordinary session) of the Legislature will be called next week. As it currently stands, no discussion of the stadium proposal will be part of the session. Those who made campaign promises in front of constituents in lawn chairs and in coffee shops will get their way. Those in power in the City of Minneapolis – both seen and unseen – will get their way. Those who called in markers from deals past to promote governmental cowardice will win.
Those annoying optimistic types will say the Vikings are still under lease through this season and, in the months that follow, a deal can be brokered that everyone can live with. I'm glad I'm not Zygi Wilf, because, if I was, I'd be heading out to L.A. post-haste and say, "Let's talk turkey." You can bet the numbers being thrown out in Los Angeles are going to be a lot bigger than those being siphoned off in Minnesota.
On the same day in which it became readily apparent that the Vikings stadium deal looks to be remaining in the deep freeze with the illegal venison kill from December, the Vikings will continue to entertain the constituents of the feckless legislators that have found yet another way to pass the buck on to someone else. They have become the Wimpy (the mooch from the "Popeye" cartoons) who would gladly pay you (next) Tuesday for a hamburger today. They have passed the stadium discussion as if they were exposed to radiation.
But, while the stadium deal as it stands is on life support, there is encouraging news for football fans. After some significant movement, the ball appears to be rolling in the direction of a resolution to the lockout that has been in place since early March.
On Friday, the story "from sources" claims the NFL has come off the potential deal-breaking stand of wanting to be able to have first-refusal rights for up to three free agents. Not only will fourth-year players be exempt from matching-offer claims, teams in the future will be limited to one franchise designation only. It was viewed as the last potential deal-buster that the players were clinging strong to. As a result, after the lawyers get done going over the fine print, a deal appears to finally be ready to go.
The anticipation was that owners could vote on the new CBA next Thursday when they meet in Atlanta. It would mean the negotiations are in the closing stages and, as the rope gets tight, a deal will get struck.
Friday's mixed news means the Vikings fans have their team back. But for how long?
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.