For NFL fans, the off-season can feel like a vast, bleak wasteland, a barren desert in which there is nothing but the NFL Draft to look forward to, with August’s pre-season fixtures a long way off.
Still, at least NFL fans have business, work or college distractions to keep them busy. Vikings players, without the focus of their next game to concentrate on, have months of nothing but gym work and media appearances stretching out before them. To make it worse, some of the pastimes available to NFL fans are off-limits to the players. When your every social move is likely to be recorded and scrutinized, relaxing in the off-season can be trickier than you’d think. NFL players can’t even get involved in the growing sports betting market, for example, so when you’re studying the odds for next season’s NFL or spinning the reels with a Golden Nugget online casino deposit bonus, now that online betting is now legal, spare a thought for the “poor” Vikings players who have to have been told the story of Pete Rose at the rookie symposium.
Or maybe not. It’s true that after the intensity of an NFL season, the prolonged inactivity of the off-season can be a chore for players, but the (up to) seven-figure salary does help to alleviate the off-season boredom somewhat, and there are no shortage of luxury vacations, sports cars and homes to spend those Vikings-funded salaries on while you’re waiting for pre-season training to start.
Not every player on the roster can spend their time indulging themselves. Those carrying injuries will be given personalized schedules for their rehabilitation, and while for some players the off-season is a chance to catch up on their favorite pastimes, for others it’s a chance to catch up on that surgery they kept putting off during the regular season. Then there’s the whole complicated mess of contract talks (Cough noise, Thielen, Cough noise), and for those Vikings players who might be traded (or who the fans seemingly want traded, Cough noise again, Rhodes, Cough noise again), the off-season is an opportunity to check out real estate and schooling in Cleveland, San Francisco or Tampa Bay while looking out the window to see nothing but snow, icicles and people running from their home to their car, and vice versa.
But to be fair to the Vikings players, many of them make the most of the off-season to do something other than pump iron and buy watches or hit f5 on sites like ours waiting to hear about a potential trade or contract extension. Take Mackensie Alexander. The Vikings cornerback, who was drafted from Clemson in 2016 and made six starts last season, and who has taken the time to up his positive karma exponentially this off-season. Earlier this month, he returned to Collier County, Florida, to pay off his parents’ mortgage on the home where he and his twin brother grew up (and that was built by Habitat for Humanity).
Alexander’s generosity is a reminder, by the way, that for every high-profile NFL bad boy, there are many more who spend their off-season and their downtime constructively, using their money and their time to make the world a slightly better place. Since he was drafted, Alexander has spent time working with youth groups in Collier County, hosting events at children’s clubs in both Immokalee and Naples, giving away sports equipment and trying to inspire the next generation of athletes.
Alternatively, you could spend the off-season getting into trouble on social media. Take Kirk Cousins (although if you do take Kirk Cousins, he’ll cost you around $84m). The (one-time) highest-paid player in NFL history has made a concerted effort to engage with fans on Twitter at the beginning of this off-season. Unfortunately for Kirk, his social media interactions have gone about as well as the 2018 season.
First, he announced that he was doing something for the fans: giving away free Vikings gear. What could possibly go wrong? Cue a string of uncomplimentary suggestions about what he could give away, including his enormous contract. Undaunted, Kirk tried a little social media humor, making a light-hearted remark comparing the meteorological conditions that he was experiencing on holiday in Florida (hot) with those that are typical in Minnesota in February (not so hot). Whoops.
That didn’t go well either. We have a sense of humor, Kirk, but the one thing you can never criticize is our weather especially THAT way (when basically implying that you’d pull a Lebron if you could). Among the stream of angry Twitter responses, some Vikings fans questioned whether it was the cold that was to blame for Minnesota missing out on the playoffs a year after they reached the NFC Championship with a quarterback who wasn’t paid anywhere near what Cousins was this season.
Another helpful Twitter user suggested that Cousins could stay down in Florida as the Dolphins were in need of a quarterback. It’s enough to make a player want to delete his account or at least run his future tweets by someone who is better at reading the terrain. In Cousins’ defense, though, it seems like he can do no right on social media as people in Minnesota are like their Scandinavian ancestors in that they’re not flashy. There’s a story that Minnesota was the top state for the now defunct Oldsmobile as the people here felt that Buicks were too “flashy”. So when you have someone coming in with what was the biggest contract in NFL history, anything short of a 16 – 0 season and a Super Bowl MVP was going to rub some people the wrong way.
Cousins shouldn’t be slammed left and right on social media, though, as even though that’s part of the gig these days, he’s still a human being who did prepare for every game like Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Aviator’ asking for cookies from his film room. As we saw in 2018, though, Cousins isn’t the best at feeling/seeing big hits/the aforementioned slamming coming and because of that until the Vikings invest in a decent offensive line, perhaps he should refrain from social media as a whole or at least the type of tweets that imply that he does anything other than love living and working in Minnesota. Or he could pay off his parent’s mortgage and get some positive press?
Anything to keep us busy until September comes and the real business kicks off!