The NFL is a machine that runs during the fall and the winter, and spends the spring and summer months refueling.

Now that the offseason has arrived for some teams like the Vikings, the process of refueling the fan base with optimism has begun, and nearly everyone has volunteered for the pit crew.  The owners, the general managers, the coaches, the players, and even the media all jump at the chance to renew hope in their organization and convince fans that the price of a ticket will be well worth it… next year.

Take Fran Tarkenton for example.  He is apparently now the Pioneer Press’s slightly less delusional (but slightly more outspoken) answer to Sid Hartman.  He recently published an article titled “Vikings have hope, thanks to leadership and talent.”

In the article, Tarkenton goes through a laundry list of things we have to be thankful for as Vikings fans.  Some of the items he listed are factual, some are opinion, and some are just downright goofy like this gem:  “Adrian Peterson will be back.”  That instills about as much hope into my purple heart as saying, “Adrian Peterson is not dead.”

Tarkenton does bring up some good points, including the fact that five of this year’s playoff teams had 10 or more losses last season, so teams can reverse course in a hurry.  One of the teams on that list, of course, are the Lions and he neglects to remind us exactly how many years it took for them to turn things around.  You know how long it has been since they have won a playoff game on the road?  Look it up, you will be amazed.

The Texans, another team on that list, will play their first playoff game since they came into existence one whole decade ago.

My point isn’t that cheerleaders, the kind with pompoms and the kind with pens, don’t have a valuable place in sports.  My point is that many of the ones with pens mistakenly think it is helping matters by getting our hopes up and raising our expectations for the next season.

The truth, of course, is that it is very, very, very hard to win in the NFL and the Vikings appear to be a long ways away from filling all the needs on their roster to do it on a consistent basis.  Rick Spielman could “hit” on all eight of his Draft picks in April, and I still wouldn’t be convinced the Vikings would be good enough to win the NFC North.

After a 3-13 season, it would appear the Vikings have nowhere to go but up, but appearances can be deceiving and I would recommend to any of my readers that they keep their hopes in check.

After one week, a few responsibilities have changed in Winter Park along with a few job titles, which is not enough to get me to believe this team is ready to make a playoff appearance next year.