PRESEASON OPINON PIECE
So much for "Minnesota Nice."
In the Twin Cities, all of the local TV stations have camped out at the state fair -- happily meeting and greeting people some of these same personalities wouldn't give the time of day a month from now. Amid the heart-wrenching stories of 4-Hers with dying calves and "news skits" to prove each station is the funniest, there was a collective moment of clarity when it came to sports coverage.
In a televised version of "Dead Man Walking," each of the Vikings' portion of the sports broadcasts included a mention that A.J. Feeley had signed with the Eagles and not the Vikings. Although the Vikings organization hasn't discussed interest in any player -- or the soup of the day at Winter Park -- the clear sentiment has been that Mike McMahon has to go.
For his part, McMahon has done less to earn a roster spot than Paris Hilton has done for chastity. The bigger question should have been what made the Vikings believe that they were getting a player that could shoulder the load if called upon? The Vikings haven't had a starting quarterback that completed less than 57 percent of his passes since 1990. Brad Johnson hasn't completed less than 50 percent of his passes in a game since 2002, which happened to be the same year he won a Super Bowl. McMahon hasn't completed more than 50 percent of his passes in a season in which he was a starter since high school. He has thrown 515 passes in his NFL career. 286 of them of them have been incomplete. In games he has thrown more than five passes, the best completion percentage he's ever had was 53.6 percent. He did it twice, once against the Vikings when he didn't have a touchdown and once against the Rams when he completed 15 of 28 passes for 97 yards with one TD and three interceptions.
He's done nothing to bolster his case with the Vikings in the preseason. J.T. O'Sullivan was supposed to sit out the Steelers game, but was called into action when McMahon didn't get the job done. Tonight against the Cowboys -- when McMahon could make his case to stay on the roster -- he is scheduled to be shelved.
So it should come as no surprise that the cheese-curd sampling sports heads should babble on about McMahon's demise. But, why Feeley?
The highlight of Feeley's career was when then-Dolphins G.M. Rick Spielman gave up the 35th pick in the draft to get Feeley out of Philly. It goes to show what the value of the quarterback has become on the free agent market, since the Dolphins traded the 51st pick in this year's draft to get Daunte Culpepper. Aside from the decline in re-sale value of quarterbacks, what speaks volumes is that Marty Schottenheimer -- no stranger to the ways of the NFL -- cut Feeley in the first wave of cuts, leaving a starter in Philip Rivers (whose first start this year will be the first of his career) and rookie Charlie Whitehurst as his primary backup. Why would Feeley sign with the Eagles? He's mired behind Donovan McNabb and Jeff Garcia. Why? Money.
The belief is that the Vikings will spend money to get a veteran backup. But why would they want to come? Feeley didn't. There's a reason. The Vikings may have had no interest in adding Feeley, but by delaying or not intending to re-work Brad Johnson's $1.2 million salary to the level of an opening-day starter, the Vikings have sent a message to any available quarterbacks -- take the minimum or keep stepping.
To say Feeley would make Vikings fans any more secure than they would be having McMahon behind center is ludicrous. In the business world, it's called a lateral move. His accepting a contract that guarantees him the spot as a No. 3 quarterback speaks louder than the feel-good story at the milk pavilion at the state fair. Until the Vikings prove they're willing to pony up the cash to their starter, no self-respecting unemployed veteran quarterback is going to risk a better offer in October than what the Vikings are willing to pay now. The Vikings never made mention of Feeley as a possibility. The rumor mill did. When he signed somewhere else, it shot down the rumor...but didn't kill it.
If the Vikings do spend over minimum for a veteran backup, look for Johnson's contract to be re-done. If not, don't put the pennies on McMahon's eyes just yet -- unless Koy Detmer becomes the next TV flavor of the day.
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