He was sometimes aloof, sometimes combative with the media and quick to throw players like Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb – one a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the other a borderline Hall of Fame QB – under the bus. It wasn't his fault that he never produced a 1,000-yard receiving season. It was his Hall of Fame quarterbacks' fault. What? Even at the time he was making his statement, it was hard to take him seriously.
If you believed Berrian, he was consistently open but there was a conspiracy against him. Brett didn't like him and intentionally wouldn't target him. Donovan doesn't look his way enough. Rational people know both of those statements were ludicrous on face value. To steal a line from some hack named Bill Shakespeare, "The fault, dear Bernard, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."
Head coach Leslie Frazier and McNabb spent much of their podium time in Mankato during training camp to praising Berrian, not killing him. Both publicly stated that Berrian would be as important as any player to the Vikings offense. The reality was much different. Berrian restructured his contract prior to the season to avoid being cut because, at $3.9 million a year, he was almost literally stealing money from the team. It was hoped the change at both head coach and quarterback would make a difference. Clearly it didn't.
What may speak louder than any words spoken by Berrian or contradictory words written here are the actions of the 31 other teams in the league. Given the pass-happy nature of the NFL, it would seem as though teams would be lining up to get a veteran speed receiver that wouldn't cost them a future draft pick and one that could be signed to a team-friendly, short-term contract to gauge if he has a future with the team.
To date, not only has Berrian not been signed by another team, but it's hard to find anyone that has even sent out a feeler of interest. Berrian remains unemployed a week after being informed by the Vikings that he no longer fit in their plans. The fact that the Vikings are 1-0 without him may just be a happy coincidence, but the lack of Berrian's phone ringing with offers of a job or, at a minimum, a chance to visit a team for a workout, may say it all.
There isn't a conspiracy against Berrian. There is a conspiracy of one and it's the man in the mirror. Some players find a way to get on the field by playing themselves into a lineup. It would appear Berrian has played his way out of the league.
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.