The Vikings Apparently Employ the Legendary Harry Styles.

The Vikings Apparently Employ the Legendary Harry Styles.
March 14, 2021; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Harry Styles. © Getty Images for The Recording Academy.

There’s a price to pay for merely being young, and Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell was the butt of a strange-but-fun comparison this week.

The Vikings host the overachieving New York Giants this weekend, one week after executing the largest comeback in NFL history over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15. And the Giants are led defensively by a man named Wink Martindale, who fired up an interesting comparison for Kevin O’Connell on Wednesday.

“It’s unfair. I’m the blue-collar guy going against Harry Styles,” Martindale told reporters about his task in preparing for O’Connell’s purple offense on Saturday.

Of course, Martindale’s comments were made in jest, but let this be known as the first notable occasion that a Vikings head coach has been likened to Styles, a wildly popular British pop singer and member of One Direction.

employ the legendary
Harry Styles. © Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Martindale. 59, is 22 years younger than O’Connell, 37. And O’Connell is nine years younger than Styles, so a lot is going on here. Still, according to Martindale, O’Connell evidently possesses youthful charisma akin to that of a pop star.

The Vikings and Giants have achieved unforeseen success in 2022, despite the old-war-horse coaching style on defense for New York and the One Direction flavor on offense in Minnesota. Back in August, the Vikings were pegged by sportsbooks to win about 8 or 9 games, whereas the Giants were in the seven-win ballpark. Fast forward to late December, and Minnesota has surpassed its hypothesized win total with 11, and New York won its eighth game on Sunday night. Impressive.

The Vikings Apparently Employ the Legendary Harry Styles.

The Giants 8-5-1 record notwithstanding, New York has seen better days on defense. Martindale brought a lofty resume to East Rutherford from Baltimore, his former employer, but his defense, for the most, isn’t very good. Through 15 weeks, the Giants defense ranks 29th in the NFL per defensive DVOA and 29th in defensive EPA/Play. Martindale’s men particularly struggle against the run, allowing 5.4 yards per rush, the worst in the NFL.

thing at stake for
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings offense, on the other hand, is a mixed bag, stuffed to the gills with talent but not necessarily lighting up the NFL world with fireworks. Minnesota ranks tops in the NFL per 4th Quarter points scored, 5th in 1st Downs, and 7th in touchdowns scored — but 20th in overall offensive DVOA, 27th in sacks allowed, 27th in time of possession, and 28th in rushing yards.

But something’s gotta give on Saturday with the Vikings Harry Styles playing against, well, whatever Martindale calls himself. It’s old versus new, old versus young, East meets Midwest, and playoff team against playoff team. In fact, the Vikings and Giants could very likely meet in the Wildcard Round of the postseason in three weeks. If that occurred, the teams would have played twice in the same building in a 21- or 22-day span.

Kevin O'Connell's Hilarious Reaction to QB's TD
Kevin O’Connell

The Vikings haven’t lost a game to the Giants since 2013, toppling various iterations of New York three times since the infamous “Josh Freeman game.”

Wink Martindale is the son of the other Wink Martindale, a prominent disc jockey and game show host who even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Minnesota is favored by four points over New York.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).