This week Christian Ponder and some of his Vikings teammates, including fellow QBs Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar, have been participating in informal work outs at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. It was reported that more Vikings, including veterans Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Visanthe Shiancoe and Bernard Berrian, would be joining the “microcamp” later in the week.
But a funny thing happened on the way to this inspiring show of team unity amid the uncertainty of the lockout: Most of the big-name veterans changed their minds and decided not to attend.
When contacted about their sudden changes of heart by Ponder himself, the no-shows offered an array of entertaining excuses. Bernard Berrian claimed to miss a flight. Percy Harvin said he lost his phone. Visanthe Shiancoe said something came up at the last minute (keep your dong jokes to yourself please).
As far as we know, Sidney Rice has yet to provide a reason for blowing off the pretend camp. Maybe his hamster was sick?
Okay, so let’s be honest: It’s really not that big a deal that the veterans changed their minds about attending the camp. I suppose it would be nice for them to touch base with their teammates and maybe gain experience with the new playbook, but in the grand scheme of things, what difference was this going to make to their performance? They’re established players. If this were a normal off-season and they missed OTAs and/or minicamp, would people really worry about it?
The value of the camp was symbolic. It was a show of unity. It was a demonstration of commitment. If you buy into these sort of gestures, then yes, you are probably a little bit annoyed that these alleged veteran leaders would ditch like irresponsible high schoolers blowing off algebra to go smoke pot. But let’s face it: Beyond the frankly fraudulent symbolism, there was no reason for them to attend.
All we’ve learned from this experience is that veteran players hate working out in the off-season. And that Christian Ponder is just a rookie who doesn’t have any real pull with his teammates. And that NFL guys sometimes don’t pay much attention to how their actions look. The hell you say.