Bizarre Raider Story Helps Ex-Vike

Former Viking Brad Badger expected to be in street clothes Sunday. But, following a bizarre turn of events, he was in uniform in the Raiders' loss to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII.

The saga of Barret Robbins is going to play itself out in the coming days. Sunday night on ESPN Radio, discussions of the AWOL Pro Bowl center ranged from talk that tests were taken and no drugs were found in his system to that he was missing from the team for 24 hours because he was in Tijuana, Mexico.

The truth may well lie somewhere in between, but, when Bill Callahan announced Sunday morning that Robbins had been "sent home" by the team, former Viking Brad Badger was activated for the Super Bowl. Initially, Badger had been one of the players targeted to be de-activated, but, following the bizarre Robbins story, he was pressed into uniformed duty with the team.

While Badger did not play a critical role in the game, speculation will remain how much of a difference not having Robbins in the starting lineup to make critical checkoffs for the offensive line played with the Raiders. Seeing as the top-rated offense in the league sputtered much of the game could be placed more on playing the league's top-rated defense than missing Robbins. But, for Badger, QB Rich Gannon and others, the last-minute lineup shuffle could have more of an impact than Callahan or the rest of the players will let on.

* VU would like to send out congratulations to Brad Johnson and Jeff Christy, as well as their families, for bringing home championship rings. As hard as it may be for Vikings fans to swallow vocal limelight lovers like Warren Sapp and Keyshawn Johnson having Super Bowl rings, Johnson and Christy -- two of the true nice guys in the NFL -- having their jewelry is nice reward for hard-working, tough-nosed players.
* Vikings fans can take heart by one stat. In the last six years, five of the Super Bowl champions have been first-time winners. The only exception was the Denver Broncos, who won back to back titles in 1998 and 1999.
* Rich Gannon set a Super Bowl record with five interceptions. While some may have thought Fran Tarkenton held or shared the previous record, he didn't. Three quarterbacks -- Jim Kelly, Drew Bledsoe and Kerry Collins -- each had four picks in previous Super Bowls.
* The 69 points scored in the game tied for the second-most in Super Bowl history -- tying the total scored by the Cowboys and Bills in Super Bowl XXVII 10 years ago. The record is 75 points scored by the 49ers and Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.
* The Bucs need to be given credit for shoving the game down the Raiders' throats. While the Raiders were known for passing, their rushing game managed just 19 yards on 11 carries.
* While some may argue -- possibly correctly -- that the Bucs got the better of the Jon Gruden deal, many of us at VU would beg to differ. The Raiders got to the Super Bowl without Gruden and still have two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million coming back -- not a bad consolation prize.
* There is a solid belief that neither the Bucs nor Raiders will make it back to the Super Bowl in the near future. Without any solid draft picks coming in the next two years, the Bucs will have to face some serious cap hits from veterans at the end of contracts, while the Raiders need to lop as much as $40 million in salaries by the end of July. The Bucs may be better off, however, since veterans will be more likely to go to Tampa to play for league minimum than Oakland -- another perk of being a defending champion.
* Sunday's Super Bowl was the first time the NFL's No. 1 offense played the No. 1 defense in a Super Bowl and gave those who live by the creed that defense wins championships some ammunition for the fire.

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