Centers and Vikings Don't Easily Separate

With Matt Birk entering the final year of his contract and the team making little effort to get an extension done now, it's possible the Vikings could have a new center in 2009. Given the Vikings' history at the position, the next starting center could be around a long time as well.

The prospect of the Vikings not having Matt Birk on the roster following this season has been the subject of some discussion around Winter Park. With no legitimate contract extension being offered and a wedge apparently growing between the two sides, it wouldn't be a shock to see the Vikings and Birk part company after this season.

While players come and go often in the NFL, that isn't true nearly as much when it pertains to centers. In fact, it could be argued that once a Viking has won a starting job as the center, it has been very difficult to get rid of him.

Birk has been the Vikings starting center since 2000. Prior to that, Jeff Christy was the starter from 1994-99. A one-year stint by Adam Schreiber in 1993 was preceded by six years from Kirk Lowdermilk (1987-92). Before that, it was Dennis Swilley from 1979-86. Before that it was Mick Tingelhoff from 1962-78.

While it seems hard to imagine, since the second year of the existence of the franchise – a span of 45 seasons – the Vikings have had just five full-time centers. It has been a position that has been manned by the same player for extended periods of time, and finding a replacement hasn't come easy. Once a player has earned the job, he has latched on to it and made it his own.

Are the Vikings making plans for the post-Birk era? If they are, they had better use a draft pick to select his replacement. If history has taught us anything, it is that the next center is more than likely to hold the job for eight to 10 years.

FRIDAY NOTES

  • Charges were formally filed against Carl Eller Thursday. He was charged with two felonies for physically striking two police officers and, if convicted, could face up to a year at a work farm. It is also being reported that Eller took four Taser shots in the altercation and still kept fighting. He posted $50,000 bond late Thursday afternoon and was released.

  • Former Vikings assistant and Ravens head coach Brian Billick is reported to being close to accepting a job as a game analyst with either FOX or CBS. Considering his familiarity with the AFC, CBS would seem to be the better bet. It will be interesting to see if he would get a Ravens game to cover, since he likely will be on the "G" announce team and the Ravens could be relatively awful this season.

  • On Wednesday, it was reported that the Miami Dolphins had started contract negotiations with offensive tackle Jake Long. On Thursday, it was rumored that they have also begun talks with DE Vernon Gholston to potentially become the No. 1 overall draft pick.


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