The last two years, the Vikings might not have deserved to get much respect from the national media. Their 5-11 and 6-10 records might make it easy to keep dismissing the team.
But those who take a deeper look see the difference those additions have made in camps and chemistry, and one of the bigger additions was the signing of cornerback Denard Walker ...
… but you wouldn't know that by looking at some of the national media reports.
"Aside from signing quarterback Daunte Culpepper to a new long-term contract, the big offseason headlines weren't positive for Minnesota," reads the opening line in ESPN's overview of the Vikings released earlier this week.
Really? We thought adding linebacker Chris Claiborne, cornerbacks Walker and Ken Irvin, defensive lineman Billy Lyon and offensive tackle Mike Rosental were all positive offseason headlines. Not to mention a draft that for once leaves fans wondering which was the bigger steal, E.J. Henderson in the second round or Onterrio Smith in the fourth round.
But back to Walker. Despite being one of the top three cornerbacks in free agency and signing a four-year, $13 million deal that added 93 NFL games played, 87 starts, 379 tackles and 11 interceptions to the Vikings defense, Walker is brushed over as an impact player in ESPN's report.
So how about NFL.com? Walker isn't even mentioned as one of the more than 150 NFC signings in the site's free agency section.
Maybe Walker just fits the national view on the Vikings. In one power ranking, despite all the aforementioned additions, the 19th-ranked Vikings were tagged with this line: "Defense still doesn't look like a playoff-caliber unit."
Guess that leave Walker -- and his teammates -- with something to prove in 2003.
* The Vikings offered a few different options to wide receiver Oronde Gadsden early in free agency, but he decided to play poker with Mike Tice and lost. Tired of waiting for Gadsden to make up his mind, the Vikings eventually withdrew their offers and Gadsden continued to shop his services around the league. He is expected to sign a one-year deal with his old team, the Miami Dolphins, next week -- for the veteran minimum. His expensive game of poker cost him about $500,000 this year and possibly a chance to start.
* The Vikings hired speed consultant Joe Gentry earlier this year, and he has been working intermittently with the team during camps and in his home state of Colorado. This weekend, however, Gentry, who has coached a number of high-profile Olympic medalists and has three rings to show for it, is officiating the USA Outdoor Championships in Palo Alto Calif. The championships will be broadcast on CBS. Gentry is also the chief of officials for men's track and field and a referee for the juniors and has 32 years of youth coaching.
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