Rumor Mill: don't hurt Kurt
Like Elle Macpherson or an '82 Rothschild -- Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner truly has gotten better with age. Heading into the Week 15 NFL weekend, the two-time MVP is second in the league in passing yards (4,020), third in touchdowns (25), and first completion percentage (68.7). In regard to the latter category, he ranks second all-time with a completion clip of 65.6.
Warner, at 37, is still great. His QB rating has ascended for four consecutive years, and he's an unrestricted free agent at year's end. In turn, we may not want to hurt him.
The Vikings are only an above-average quarterback away from making the leap to a top-echelon club. We possess the NFL's 6th best rushing game, including of course the league's top rusher in the great Adrian Peterson. Such offensive ground talent and result -- when combined with several individual defensive standouts, albeit an enigmatic overall d-unit -- have the Purple atop the NFC North with three games to play. The Bears' Thursday eve victory has found them keeping pace, but the Vikings own that tie-breaker so we'd essentially have to flop completely on our facemasks to not play in the second-season.
Sunday's showdown in the dessert, however, will be another glaring example of our shortcoming behind center. With Gus Frerotte lost to injury, Tarvaris Jackson will get his third start of the season against a marginal Cardinal defense giving up over 215 pass yards per game. On the opposite side of the ball will be the great Warner, whose quick release and short drops will rekindle contemporary Thanksgiving memories for many as he carves up the like of Cedric Griffin and Benny Sapp.
For those unfamiliar with the life of Kurt Warner, know that his yarn spins not just a great football story, but truly a great American story. The three-time Pro Bowler may polarize some with his overt religious beliefs, but hey, that's his deal. And it's something the guy backs up with ample charitable effort and goodwill.
This is all to say that we would love to have Kurt Warner in Minnesota next season, for both his talent and his character. It's rumored that he's looking for a two or three-year extension to stay in Arizona and continue to start over first-round flop/pretty-boy southpaw Matt Leinart. Warner is making about $8 million this year ($6 million against the cap) which is no doubt a large pile of dollars, although it's still a sum paling to the quarterback cash made this season in the NFL's complex contract structure by, say, Ben Roethlisberger ($ 27,701,920) or the crappy JaMarcus Russell ($ 16,872,400). Of added note and attraction is that, Warner aside, the rest of this year's free agent QB crop appears thin, sporting just Tampa's Jeff Garcia and New England's Matt Cassel among desirable options.
Yet the Purple are a team that isn't afraid to spend hordes of money for talent both exceptional, or marginal (see: Jared Allen, $74 million contact; Madieu Williams, $33 million). We've got the league's third-highest payroll in '08, so Zygi Wilf has proven that the checkbook is open.
The Vikings rank fourth in the league in sacks with 37, so Jared Allen and Kevin Williams (see below) surely won't embrace the thought of going easy on anybody, especially a fella like Warner that is prone to fumble under pressure (his rare shortcoming).
But perhaps dudes like that will take a moment this weekend, while they're on the sideline watching the Vikings offense, and create a parallel in their minds of what they're seeing and whom they're observing at the QB position. Should they do so, their thoughts, like our own, will surely drift toward the future, if even just for a moment, and create the powerful image of Kurt Warner and Adrian Peterson jogging in unison toward the same huddle.
Spicer Special: Williams Wall to play on
It was reported out of Minneapolis late yesterday afternoon that U.S. District Court Paul Magnuson has decided to extend his preliminary injunction against the five players suspended for breaking the NFL's anti-doping policy, a group which includes the Vikings' Kevin Williams and Pat Williams.
"As long as their teams are still playing, these players will be on the field the rest of the season, including the postseason. You can count on that," NFLPA lead attorney Jeff Kessler told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
Judge Magnuson asked the attorneys from both sides to propose a schedule by December 22nd regarding further proceedings.
The case -- which previously mirrored the celerity of Bernard Berrian -- now looks to slow considerably, which should be considered a major victory for Purple fans, as the Williams Wall looks to remain intact for the duration of this season.
To read the full ESPN report, please click here.