At some point on Thursday a phone meeting will be held between Minnesota governor Mark Dayton, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Steelers president and league stadium committee chairman Art Rooney II. The purpose of this meeting is not to set up a camping trip to Lake of the Woods. The purpose is to further impress upon Dayton the importance of hammering out a Vikings stadium bill before the end of the current legislative session. OR ELSE.
Today’s meeting will be a follow-up to a Wednesday phone call in which Mr. Goodell told Mr. Dayton that the Minnesota legislature’s failure to get a stadium bill rolling this year would bring about “serious consequences.” Serious consequences? Whatever could that mean? NFL hatchet man Eric Grubman won’t say precisely. “I don’t know if that means a sale. I don’t know if that means a move. You have a very dejected ownership,” was all Grubman would tell the media.
And where is Zygi Wilf in all this? The same place he has been during much of the stadium process: standing on the sidelines letting other people do his tough talking for him. First it was the L.A. stadium people with their endless insinuations about a potential move, which the Vikings tellingly never outright refuted. Then it was stadium front man Lester Bagley and his vague threats. Now it’s Goodell and Rooney.
Goodell’s promise of “serious consequences” was the most overt threat so far. But will this kind of stuff actually work with the legislature? Bluster from the commish doesn’t change the realities of the situation on the ground. The stadium bill failed to get through committee, as I understand it, because not enough members of said committee felt they had the political cover necessary to vote yes.
Politicians as we know are the most supremely gutless form of life on planet earth. They won’t do anything until they feel the risk to themselves is sufficiently minimized. Someone with a keener political mind than mine will have to explain how any words from Goodell or Rooney or Grubman or even Wilf can effect sufficient change to the current Minnesota political topography to give these weasel legislators the cover they think they need. Would outright bribery help?
This muscle-flexing is fun and it makes for good blogging but in the end, what will it accomplish? All this does is lay the groundwork for the Vikings to move if they feel they have to. This effort allows Zygi Wilf to say “We did everything we could in Minnesota but it didn’t work out.” They’re maneuvering the politicians into position to get the blame when/if the trigger has to be pulled on a move. In other words, they’re playing the politicians’ game.
There’s too much labyrinthine political crap going on here for me to even bother getting my head around. My position is the same as it’s been all along: hammer out a deal any way you have to, then get back to me. Riding the roller coaster of hope and disappointment is ultimately as pointless as Goodell’s telephonic strong-arming. The deal will get done or not get done due to the same on-the-ground machinations that always determine these things. Deals being cut. Concessions being made. Favors being called in. Arms being twisted. If you’re a fan, why sweat it day in and day out?
The surface stuff is all show for the media and voters anyway. These political games are 1% about getting things done and 99% about people putting themselves in position to either take credit or avoid blame. Goodell could ride to Minneapolis on a horse like Clint Eastwood and threaten to put a bullet through Mark Dayton’s heart and it wouldn’t matter a lick. If the stadium happens, it will be because somebody goes to somebody in a smoky room someplace and says the right numbers.
Maybe one day we’ll hear the real story about what happened, in somebody’s memoir perhaps. That might make for a good story. This current stuff is just filler.