NFL Gives Vikes Early Chance

While everyone else catches up, VU is looking beyond the Vikes' Monday Night Football ban.

Two weeks ago, VU was looking at the Vikings snapping the longest current streak of Monday Night Football games.

While the rest of the local media obsesses about the reality of the Vikings' MNF ban, VU is looking at the schedule for what it's worth -- a chance for the Vikes to make a lot of naysayers shut up early.

If the Vikings can hold serve on Metrodome games, there's no reason to think the team can't get off to a strong start. Their first three home games are vs. Buffalo, Carolina and Detroit -- teams that had a combined 6-42 record and three of the five existing teams that pick before the Vikes in next month's draft.

However, with the good comes the bad. The Vikings will play eight of their 16 games vs. playoff teams from 2001 and will close the season with three of the last four games on the road, playing at Green Bay, New Orleans and Detroit.

For season ticket holders, the schedule will be easy to plan for. Aside from the opening home game of the season (Sept. 15 vs. Buffalo, 3:15 Central time) and the last home game (Saturday, Dec. 21 vs. Miami at 11:30 a.m.) the other six Vikings home games will be at noon Central time.

If nothing else, the NFL is telling the Vikings that they don't see them as anything special. Guess what, NFL? You may be in for a rude awakening.

* What difference does one good season make? The Chicago Bears, a joke in the NFC Central for years, are on three Monday night games this season. Let's hope the Bears can (or can't) warrant such praise.
* Why don't the Vikes expect to make a lot of signings in the next week? Mike Tice and his coaching staff are off for a week's vacation starting today.
* The Vikes are currently $12.5 million under the salary cap and, even if the Bears don't match the offer on WR D'Wayne Bates, the team will still be heading into the draft phase of free agency $11.4 million under the cap room available.
* The folks at the local ABC (a.k.a. ESPN/Disney) affiliate in Minneapolis are bummed by being off the MNF slate. VU has been told that KSPT-TV was expecting at least one MNF game, which would have been a huge ratings winner. Instead, all they can do is simulcast the Vikes two road Sunday night games.
* The Vikings bye week is coming a bit earlier than the team would like -- Oct. 6, or Week 4 of the 2002 season.
* The Vikes are still talking to Miami DE Lorenzo Bromell about a contract, but any signing will likely be on hold for a few days anyway.
* From the "Enough Already" Department comes this: Cincinnati re-signed DE Reinard Wilson, whose agent kept floating out the Vikings as a potential suitor even though the team was quite clear about not having an interest. Good news for the agent in question was that Wilson signed for $4.5 million, so his kids won't go hungry.
* In the soft drink wars, Pepsi outbid Coca Cola to become the always popular "official drink of the NFL" -- to the tune of $165 million. As long as Diet Mountain Dew comes with the deal, VU is satisfied.

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