Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from www.purplePTSD writer and editor of purplePTSD and VikingsTerritory, Joe Oberle.
The news hit on Monday (May 14) that Brian Robison is back with the team. It is not major news since the Robison is 35 and the Vikings picked up some new defensive linemen in the offseason. But it is good news since Robison, like his elder 39-year old Terence Newman, is a good leader in the clubhouse, and head coach Mike Zimmer knows the value of those team leaders.
For his part, Robison took a pay cut to come back—which makes sense as his playing time will surely be reduced (as it was last season—as he played in 15 games but started just one). It’s a team-friendly deal and a good deal for B-Rob, who still wants (at least) one more shot at that championship ring apple, just like Newman.
“We renegotiated, we restructured my contract,” Robison told KFAN radio. “I ended up taking a pay cut, but it was just one of those deals where it was the right decision for me and my family.”
The defensive line is getting crowded, even without Robison. The Vikings signed former Seattle free agent defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (although they did lose Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephens to the Seahawks, ironically) and drafted tackle Jalyn Holmes and defensive end Ade Aruna (not to mention signing undrafted rookie Hercules Mata’afa, who is officially listed as a defensive end). The bottom line is that Robison’s reps are going to start out reduced and likely diminish as the season goes on and the younger players get up to speed.
But I believe Robison was retained as much for his lockerroom leadership as he was for quarterback fish-wrangling production on the field. B-Rob has 4.0 sacks last season (which is below his career average of 5.45, but not by much). Zimmer re-signed Newman for his leadership, and it appears he wants to get one more year of Robison as a sensei to the younger defensive linemen. He is likely hoping that Robison will show them how to be a professional and induct them into the Vikings (Zimmer) way of playing defense.
In recent years, defensive Everson Griffen has been emerging as leader on the defensive side of the ball, both in production and emotionally on the sideline. But Griffen has long credited Robison for teaching him the ropes in the NFL and in Minnesota in particular, so Robison certainly has value left in that side of the equation for the newer Vikings.
The fact that Robison restructured the last year of his two-year deal signed before the 2017 season is a sign that Robison is all about the team. And the fact that he is playing this season is a sign the fire is still burning.
“I’m about 90 percent sure this is going to be it,” he said.
Last season, the Vikings came close to making it to the Super Bowl with aging veterans such as Robison and Newman. Perhaps that experience can help both players (and the younger ones who went through it) in understanding what it takes to get to the promised land. It will certainly take more than a Minneapolis Miracle.