Fans Want Answers

Take "Purple Pride" mantras as far as you wish. VU keeps hearing from fans where Red McCombs stands on his ownership of the Vikes. As much as we'd love to tell you -- good or bad -- where it stands, we can't. What we can do is give you the latest -- as far as we know -- about the situation.

From the day Red McCombs bought the Vikings for a now-paltry sum of $260 million -- $400 million offers five years later are being laughed at -- serious Vikings fans had concerns. The main question was why would a Texas billionaire buy a team in Minnesota? The first, and most obvious backlash was that McCombs -- who had sought an NFL franchise in San Antonio -- would move the team there. Now that any hope of that has washed away, the new concern is now Los Angeles.

Will it happen? Not any time soon, if at all. The best thing Vikings fans have going is the same "Purple Pride" motto McCombs introduced to the lexicon. Before McCombs came to Minnesota, the team was ripe for relocation. Home games didn't sell out. Interest was passionate, but minimal. And the league was looking for a struggling franchise to move to L.A.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to giving Mayflower moving vans a call. The team has sold out every game the last five years and still has a waiting list for season tickets -- despite losing 21 games the last two years.

Does McCombs want to move the Vikings? Not necessarily. What does he want? Quite simply, he wants long green. He wants to double his investment in an economy that has seeen other billionaires dropped to mere millionaires. If Glen Taylor steps up with a $500 million offer, he'll take it. McCombs has no vested interest in Minnesota or Minnesotans. He's a businessman -- first, last and always.

Will McCombs risk hundreds of millions on the inevitable state-induced lawsuits if he moves the Vikes? Nah. He likely doesn't have the support of the rich white boys he needs to even contemplate such a move. Al Davis is willing to spend "new money" to fight lawsuits. Red isn't. Bottom line.

Vikes fans are nervous about the future of the franchise. They should be. "Purple Pride" means little. It's a catchphrase. Love of a team means something, and the NFL will listen if McCombs tries to leave. As we see it, Red has two choices -- sell the team to Taylor or live up to his cheerleader theatrics and bring pride back to Vikings fans. He has the chance to spend on a winner and the chance to succeed as an NFL owner and hoist the Lombardi Trophy. You can't get that selling used cars -- even a million of them.

The ball, once again, is in Red's court. Don't pump up the fans with just mantras and catchphrases. If you're being insincere, it will be noticed. It's time for Red to draw a line in the sand -- either it's his team to build into a winner or a company he can sell for a profit. Moving isn't an option. The Vikings are a tradition in the NFL -- a sport trying currently to build on tradition as it quickly replaces baseball as the national sport. It's bad enough that L.A. has a basketball team called "The Lakers" -- as anomolous as the Utah Jazz. L.A. will not get the Vikings. If McCombs doesn't know that by now, he will find it out the hard way when other owners vote down a relocation attempt. If he tries that route, all his Purple Pride will be shot down. But, he'll still sell out the Metrodome. Why? Vikings fans are the best fans in the league -- whether their owner believes that or not.

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