Sunday slant: More than a short bridge?

Donovan McNabb is the starter for Leslie Frazier as he tries to avoid the "rebuilding" tag. As long as McNabb is playing well, all will be well, but eventually …

This ought to be about as unpredictable as a Spergon Wynn pass.

If you thought the Vikings were in a for a smooth, no-hassles season now that Brett Favre was gone, you might need to readjust your football meter. In this case, the hype, attention and publicity could be a good thing or bad thing, but we're convinced it won't be boring just because ol' Brett Favre is staying south.

When Favre finally did strap up his ankle brace and unsnap his dusty old baseball caps, you knew one thing for sure – he was the unquestioned starting quarterback as long he wanted to be and as long as the Vikings would have him. He doesn't want to be anymore and the Vikings don't want to have him, which works out well for everybody, especially Donovan McNabb.

For all the self-inflicted drama Favre caused during his two-year tenure in Minnesota, the Vikings certainly didn't go the quite route in picking his predecessor. McNabb is no stranger to controversy and publicity, even without a sidekick like Terrell Owens, and the intrigue is just getting started.

On Friday, McNabb for the first time this year talked with Minnesota media and left little doubt that he wants to be more than just a "bridge the gap" quarterback while rookie Christian Ponder learns in the shadows. He sought assurances that he would be the starter at the outset before agreeing to the trade between the Redskins and Vikings.

"That's part of negotiations. That's part of trades. When you trade for a guy who's been a starter for 12 years, you're not bringing him in here to be a backup. You're bringing him in here to win now," McNabb said.

On many levels, the move made sense. Head coach Leslie Frazier wants to build for the future, but not at the expense of his first year as a head coach after waiting for this opportunity for so long, and not at the expense of veterans like Steve Hutchinson, Kevin Williams and Antoine Winfield, or risking a rebuilding year that could threaten the willingness of star running back Adrian Peterson to sign a contract extension.

Frazier has maintained since the day he took the job full-time that this is not a rebuilding effort, a stance he reiterated whenever he was asked about it during the offseason.

"Back in the spring, I was asked if we were in a rebuilding mode and I never have ever saw it that way," Frazier said. "We're still a team that's one year removed from playing in the NFC Championship game. So we've got some pieces in place on this football team to fight for an NFC North championship again. So Donovan is a guy who should help our team improve in the 2011 season."

McNabb made it clear he wants to win now, but what happens if he doesn't win early and doesn't show that his 2010 season with Washington – his only season with more interceptions than touchdowns – wasn't a one-year fluke? Things get sticky at that point and the drama could easily ratchet up.
"If Donovan McNabb is playing great and our team is having success, I think that's good for everybody," Frazier said. "I sat down with Donovan, I sat down with Christian, I sat down with Joe [Webb] and explained my thought process on this whole move, and I think they all understand the goal is to bring a championship to Minnesota and this is a step toward getting that done. I'm hoping and believing that it's not going to impeded Christian's progress, nor Joe's. [With] both those guys we have a lot of high hope."

Still, McNabb says he wants to end his career in Minnesota, before it has even begun. It's clear his intention is to revive his career and his football reputation beyond 2011, but a first-round draft pick is waiting in the wings.

McNabb has been in this position before, when the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb with the intention that he would succeed McNabb. Instead, it was Michael Vick who eventually seized the starting role after the Eagles traded McNabb to the Redskins, just one more pound of proof that you never can predict life in the NFL.

In Minnesota, the only accurate purple prediction the last few years – or should that be decades? – is that things will be mighty interesting.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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McNabb is no stranger to controversy and publicity, even without a sidekick like Terrell Owens, and the intrigue is just getting started. On Friday, McNabb for the first time this year talked with Minnesota media and left little doubt that he wants to be more than just a \"bridge the gap\" quarterback while rookie Christian Ponder learns in the shadows. He sought assurances that he would be the starter at the outset before agreeing to the trade between the Redskins and Vikings. \"That's part of negotiations. That's part of trades. When you trade for a guy who's been a starter for 12 years, you're not bringing him in here to be a backup. You're bringing him in here to win now,\" McNabb said. On many levels, the move made sense. Head coach Leslie Frazier wants to build for the future, but not at the expense of his first year as a head coach after waiting for this opportunity for so long, and not at the expense of veterans like Steve Hutchinson, Kevin Williams and Antoine Winfield, or risking a rebuilding year that could threaten the willingness of star running back Adrian Peterson to sign a contract extension. Frazier has maintained since the day he took the job full-time that this is not a rebuilding effort, a stance he reiterated whenever he was asked about it during the offseason. \"Back in the spring, I was asked if we were in a rebuilding mode and I never have ever saw it that way,\" Frazier said. \"We're still a team that's one year removed from playing in the NFC Championship game. So we've got some pieces in place on this football team to fight for an NFC North championship again. So Donovan is a guy who should help our team improve in the 2011 season.\" McNabb made it clear he wants to win now, but what happens if he doesn't win early and doesn't show that his 2010 season with Washington – his only season with more interceptions than touchdowns – wasn't a one-year fluke? Things get sticky at that point and the drama could easily ratchet up. \"If Donovan McNabb is playing great and our team is having success, I think that's good for everybody,\" Frazier said. \"I sat down with Donovan, I sat down with Christian, I sat down with Joe [Webb] and explained my thought process on this whole move, and I think they all understand the goal is to bring a championship to Minnesota and this is a step toward getting that done. I'm hoping and believing that it's not going to impeded Christian's progress, nor Joe's. [With] both those guys we have a lot of high hope.\" Still, McNabb says he wants to end his career in Minnesota, before it has even begun. It's clear his intention is to revive his career and his football reputation beyond 2011, but a first-round draft pick is waiting in the wings. McNabb has been in this position before, when the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb with the intention that he would succeed McNabb. Instead, it was Michael Vick who eventually seized the starting role after the Eagles traded McNabb to the Redskins, just one more pound of proof that you never can predict life in the NFL. In Minnesota, the only accurate purple prediction the last few years – or should that be decades? – is that things will be mighty interesting. 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