Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Reveals Shrewd Thoughts on ‘Tanking’

If you expect the Minnesota Vikings to eventually “be bad on purpose,” you’ll undergo a long wait.

The team’s general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, offered various thoughts at this week’s NFL Combine, including his long-game opinion of Kirk Cousins, contractual commitment to Justin Jefferson for the long haul, and philosophy of intradivision trading.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Reveals Shrewd Thoughts on ‘Tanking’

Perhaps most interesting, though, were his thoughts on “tanking” in sports. Some NFL, NBA, and MLB franchises have embraced the practice of intentionally playing poorly to snag early-round draft picks for team-building. The NBA even implemented a more random draft lottery to combat the tendency.

Reveals Shrewd Thoughts
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

And on his watch, Adofo-Mensah will never willfully construct the Vikings roster to tank. Adofo-Mensah defined his tanking policy this week to reporters at the NFL Combine, “People always talk about, ‘Just tank,’ and in this sport, I think it’s kind of unconscionable to do it for what these players put on the line for our sport.”

In 2019, the Cincinnati Bengals appeared to perform poorly “on purpose,” with sights sets on the following draft and its most-prized possession — Joe Burrow. It worked for the Bengals, and that method then prompted some NFL fans to imply, “see, it worked for them.” Meanwhile, the same crowd doesn’t recognize the dozens of other examples where tanking failed. The New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, or NBA’s Charlotte Hornets can tell you all about it.

Vikings Fans Have a Clear Plan for the First-Round Pick
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo‐Mensah speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Moreover, Adofo-Mensah’s anti-tanking ethos aligns perfectly with the Vikings organization. Minnesota notoriously never rebuilds — even at times when it probably should have — so employing Adofo-Mensah as the top boss ensures no tanking tomfoolery will materialize.

Adofo-Mensah also mentioned his relationship with Vikings ownership, “When I’m listening to [the Wilfs], I get the advice from people who are really successful with what they do in terms of long term planning and vision and investment space. I try to use them as a resource, but our communication is ongoing and I want to make sure we’re always aligned.”

“I think at the end of the day, it’s my job to set their expectations,” he added.

The Vikings Playoff Probability Meter: Week 9
Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings Zygi Wilf is on the field for Jared Allen’s Ring of Fame induction against the Arizona Cardinals in the quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Wilfs purchased the Vikings in 2005, and unsurprisingly, the franchise has never tanked nor approached any method remotely close to it. Therefore, hiring a never-tanker in Adofo-Mensah checks out.

So, what’s the grand implication? Well, the Vikings employ a soon-to-be 35-year-old quarterback in Kirk Cousins. For better or worse, relatively speaking, he’s nearing the end of the road in NFL lifespan. Cousins could play marvelously in 2023 — or slow down like hundreds of 35-year-olds before him. When the Vikings pivot away from the Kirk Cousins era, they’ll have to trade up the draft board to find his successor, draft a quarterback after the Top 10, or “hope” they’re organically poor enough to yield a Top 10 pick.

Because unless Adofo-Mensah is using deceptive speaking tactics, the Vikings will not tank while he’s the team’s frontman.

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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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