The back nine of the month of May signals the peak of the NFL offseason. Free agency is two months in the rearview mirror. The 2018 NFL Draft is already three weeks old. Rookie minicamps are already completed and OTAs are on the horizon. Essentially, what remains is the eternal two-month wait until the Minnesota Vikings’ inaugural training camp at the new facilities in Eagan.
This time period allowed me to reflect on my life and the things I enjoy about it. I realized that two of my most pertinent interests, pizza and the Minnesota Vikings, do not have to be separated.
Pizza chains have their own personalities and their own brands, just as Vikings players do. So, I thought I would try to match the most popular pizza chains in the United States to some marquee Vikings players. Myself, along with the Vikings Territory staff, came up with the following matches.
Feel free to add your own in the comments or the message board.
Stefon Diggs — California Pizza Kitchen
Stefon Diggs has always had a knack for cameras and bright lights. If there is a camera anywhere, he’ll find his way to the front of it. His multiple trips to a mirror each day have been documented several times on Brian Robison’s 96 Questions video show produced by the team. This man knows he looks good on camera and it seems as if that boosts his confidence more than the average human being.
California Pizza Kitchen, meanwhile, prides itself on appearance and uniqueness, just like Diggs. CPK offers ingredients and sauces rarely found at other chains and loves to show, whether explicitly or implicitly, that it is better than other options.
This comparison is not just about the appearance, though. CPK offers a cool, smooth experience that will leave customers satisfied every time. Diggs offers cool, smooth route-running that repeatedly satisfies his quarterback every time.
With both Diggs and CPK, you get a flashy, brashly confident experience that generally produces smooth, consistent results.
David Morgan — Pizza Ranch
David Morgan is the most recent Vikings version of Jim Kleinsasser or Rhett Ellison. He’s not the fastest player on the field, but he can fulfill a variety of roles to help the team win. Among other things, Morgan will run block, pass block, catch passes, serve as a long snapper and play the role of Tarzan should the Vikings decide to produce a Broadway play.
Pizza Ranch is a jack-of-all-trades buffet experience. You want a choice from like 15 different pizzas? Pizza Ranch has them all out on the buffet. You’re in the mood for some fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy? No problem. Or maybe you want to take it easy with a salad. Perhaps you’re only in the mood for dessert.
Pizza Ranch can serve any of those needs, just as Morgan can serve any needs his coaching staff may need.
Linval Joseph — Domino’s
Linval Joseph performs a role that doesn’t receive a ton of credit. His job is not necessarily to rack up high stat totals such as tackles or sacks that are worshipped by the average NFL fan. Instead, Joseph is relied upon to open opportunities for teammates to achieve those benchmarks. Joseph has performed his rather unattractive role as consistently and reliably as any Viking over the past few seasons.
Domino’s is similar in that it is not generally viewed as the sexiest pizza chain available, but its consistency is unmatched. For instance, let’s say you are inviting some new friends over for the first time and you really need to make a good first impression. The friends suggest ordering pizza. You could risk brand new friendships and pay more money for a fancier chain that does not specialize in delivery. Or, you could go with ol’ reliable and know that a solid pizza will arrive and your new friends will not leave you for someone else.
Adrian Peterson — Papa John’s
This fabulous comparison is brought to you by Kyle Slaby (@TheBigHerman) on Twitter.
Former player: (aging)Adrian Peterson=Papa John's, doesn't realize it's not as good as it thinks, public comments/actions caused fan backlash, no longer part of the NFL
— Kyle P. Slaby (@TheBigHerman) May 18, 2018
Papa John’s was once the best national pizza chain available, just as Peterson was once the best running back in the NFL. In each scenario, though, controversy and overconfidence quickly faded away the status as the best.
Adam Thielen — Little Caesars
Adam Thielen signed a four-year extension prior to the 2017 season worth just under $20 million. After a breakout season that resulted in both Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors, that contract looks like a freaking steal for the Vikings. Receivers around the NFL of Thielen’s caliber are literally being paid double what he is, proof that Thielen is much, much cheaper than he should be.
Additionally, at least until this past season, Thielen has always been an underappreciated member of the Vikings. He mainly fulfilled special teams roles during his first two seasons as a regular member of the roster and earned spot snaps in the receiver rotation. He was phenomenal in each role and hindsight will suggest that it took too long for Thielen to be appreciated the way he is now.
Little Caesars has branded itself as the cheapest pizza chain without giving up taste or convenience. A large pizza for $5? Or $6 for a large pizza with an extra half-pound of cheese and pepperoni? That’s another example of a freaking steal.
Both Thielen and Little Caesars exceed their monetary value with each experience and we’ll all be lucky as long as their price tags stay the same.
Kirk Cousins — Pizza Luce
This is another pizza-player match I found in my Twitter mentions from Daily Norseman writer Eric Thompson. It sums up how many Vikings fans feel about the new contract handed out to new quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Oooh that's a good one. But I'd compare Cousins to Pizza Luce–he looks great, but you aren't sure he's worth the price until you try him.
— Eric Thompson (@eric_j_thompson) May 18, 2018
Cousins was the most expensive free agent quarterback on the market this offseason, though some doubt if he has really earned that status. His career as a Washington Redskin offered some elite spells sprinkled with games that destabilize his reputation as an average starter.
The consensus on Cousins is that he should get better playing on a better team — but we don’t really know that, do we? We won’t know anything — except that he’s very expensive — until we see him in action this season, just as many feel when trying Pizza Luce for the first time.
Dalvin Cook — Papa Murphy’s
This one was easy. Dalvin Cook’s ACL injury during Week 4 of last season forced everyone to be a little patient for his development. What he showed during those first four weeks only brought high hopes for Vikings fans, coaches and players for when he is ready to suit up again.
Papa Murphy’s forces the customer to wait and bake in the oven at home. However, the patience always pays off when the pizza is pulled out of the oven. The result for each should be fantastic and the wait should be worth it.
Anthony Harris — Giordano’s Deep Dish
Pun is certainly intended on this one. Anthony Harris has proven himself as one of the most reliable bench players on the Vikings since he joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He’ll play either safety position and keep the Vikings moving on defense if either Harrison Smith or Andrew Sendejo goes down. He’s truly a valuable depth piece.
Speaking of valuable depth pieces, Giordano’s deep dish pizza is one heck of a valuable depth piece of pizza.
Other Pizza-Player Matches
Kleinsasser is Little Ceasers. Cheap and always got the job done.
Thielen is Pizza Ranch. The buffet is plenty as his catches.
Diggs is Blaze Pizza. Always a great call and flashy.
Cousins is Pizza Hut because its overpaid.
Treadwell is a totino's. Need I say more.
— Thomas Minske (@TomMinske) May 18, 2018
Thielen is like Rosie’s pizza here where I live. A local favorite that doesn’t get near the love that it deserves from non locals.
— Anthony Munoz (@LuvDeHustle) May 18, 2018
Latavius Murray – Dominos – Not fast but not slow, not flashy, or special but gets the job done reasonably
Waynes – Jacks frozen – it's more or less reliable but not a ton of substance so occasionally you get burned
— AdamWest (@aweste1) May 18, 2018
Kyle Rudolph is the Cinnamon Streusel Dessert Pizza from Cici's – All the other pizza gets used up between the 20's and he finishes the deal at the end of the buffet (Red Zone).
— ᴀᴅᴀᴍ ᴡᴇᴀʀᴛ (@adamweart) May 18, 2018
Harrison Smith is like Tombstone. Both for the fact Tombstone is always slightly underrated like Harry the hitman and for the name itself… when he hits you you may as well get your tombstone ready! Lol
— Robert (@roblo87) May 18, 2018
Actually Heggies might be more like Sherels. Made in MN, locals like, will never be a big name brand, but plays a solid role as special teamer/frozen pizza😁
— Zeke (@00agent21) May 18, 2018
Be sure to leave your pizza-player comparisons in the comments or on the message board!