Oct 25, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin (12) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Metrodome. The Buccaneers defeated the Vikings 36-17. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Percy Harvin Got Battered in the Media, and This Was Good for the Vikings

Percy Harvin has been traded to Seattle for three picks, ending a long and convoluted – and painful – saga. It’s worth noting that this trade comes after several weeks of glaringly negative Harvin reports in the media. Just an example: Jason Cole’s unflattering report telling how last year an aggravated Harvin threatened to walk out on the Vikings in a tiff after learning that his former college teammate Aaron Hernandez had received a new contract from New England despite having only two years under his belt. Harvin wanted similar treatment from the Vikings but they were unwilling to accommodate him, and he responded in a fashion that has become familiar to Percy-watchers.

There were more stories than just this of course. Lots more. As the trade drama played out, the picture of Harvin as a gigantic insufferable malcontent got more and more stark. And naturally the trade buzz grew louder as that continued to emerge, ending in Monday’s trade report. My question is simply this. Why did so much stuff come out about Harvin leading up to the deal? Who has been feeding this stuff to the media? And what might their motive have been?

This is just conjecture on my part, but I think this stuff came straight from the top. I think Rick Spielman leaked this stuff to the media as part of a deliberate campaign to paint Percy Harvin as a malcontent who had to be traded for the good of the team.

The Percy picture painted by these reports stood in stark contrast to the portrayal offered by Spielman and others in the Vikings organization via their official media statements. Ask Spielman to his face and he would tell you Percy was a great football player. He would say there was no problem with Percy. He would say there was no “intent” to trade Percy.

But of course executives and coaches never tell the full truth in their public statements. This is the game they play. They always tell you everything is fine. Because what sort of fool rips their own players in public? That would serve no purpose. It would only alienate fans and make other players wary of signing with the team.

It was tricky with a player like Harvin who was such a fan favorite. Spielman certainly knew how much irritation there was in the fanbase over the Harvin talk. People didn’t want Harvin to go. They love what Harvin brings to the field. They love his talent and his physicality and his willingness to put his body on the line. Why shouldn’t they love him? He is a great player.

Simply put, Spielman knew that if he traded the popular Harvin there was going to be fan backlash. Fans were going to be angry at him and the organization for giving away a great player in the prime of his career. So how do you make this bitter pill a little easier for fans to swallow? How do you set things up so you can deflect the backlash?

Easy. You convince everyone the guy is a headache and you need to get rid of him. But you have to do this without directly saying it. So how do you let everyone know what kind of jerk the guy is without calling him a jerk? You leak it through the media. You have your underlings tell Sid Hartman and Jason Cole and Tom Pelissero all this bad stuff about Percy. You get it all out there. You paint the player as a serious head case. Then when you trade him you can say you had no choice.

Even if the team did not leak this stuff deliberately to smear Harvin as I suspect, it still served their purpose to have all this negative reporting getting into the media. Each time a new bad Percy story emerged, more fans got on-board with trading him. There will still be angry fans now that the trade has gone down, but the backlash will be less severe if enough people believe the trade had to be made for the good of the team.

The other question that gets raised of course is about Harvin’s trade value. You could argue it made no sense for the team to leak the bad stories about Harvin because it hurts his value, but the fact is, other teams were already going to know these things. Guys talk to each other behind the scenes. Teams have their own sources of information about each other’s players. Spielman wasn’t really fooling anyone with his public happy talk about Percy but he did it anyway because it was good form and because he didn’t want to be perceived later as having hurt Harvin’s trade value by being impolitic in front of cameras. It’s how that game is played. And Spielman knows how to play it.

So despite what some might argue, it did make sense for the Vikings to leak bad stuff about Harvin. It was a pure PR move on their part. It was about softening the blow when the trade finally happened. And like it or not, the trade had to happen. Talented or not, Harvin had to go. This guy is a massive, massive turd sandwich. He makes Bryant McKinnie look like Nelson Mandela. Now it’s over and we can move on with our lives. With three extra picks over the next two years. And Jarius Wright as the best receiver currently on the roster.

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Tags: Minnesota Vikings

  • 41-0

    Really great now rice and harvin can both laugh at the vikings next feb after they win Super Bowl

  • rgbgo

    vikes stocking up on young, positive, sanguine players – me likes it; as birk has alluded to football is all about character in the end and questions about harvin’s character are still left unanswered; go vikes skol

  • 41-0

    Don’t know even AP dont like this one WOW better grab a free agent tell you one thing if AP goes down now we are S.O.L WOW as of right now we have wright and burton WOW

  • http://www.facebook.com/Ekolu33333 Ekolu Osorio

    All these stories were old news, it was just the media reiterating the past. I’m tired of all the greed and selfishness and that’s why Harvin is gone the Vikings never wanted to trade away a player that was as dynamic as Harvin, it all about a change in culture. No room for habitual offenders and that’s what Harvin was. The Vikings were the 22nd team in the draft and so 21 teams passed on him because they were afraid to take a chance on him and this is how he shows his appreciation, God bless you Percy and grow up.

  • mike

    I think you got it backwards. I believe that all the buzz was by other teams trying to label Harvin as a “problem child”…. they must have all had interest…

  • mike

    Spielman was clever enough to recognize this, and first deflect, “we
    don’t trade superstar players, end of story” keep Harvin on the team for
    another year, really showcase his value, continue the “we aren’t
    interested in trading him” publicly while privately leading the GMs to
    believe that he only said that because he has a non disclosure
    agreement. As the reports came out, Spielman used it against the other
    teams trying to talk down his value “The reason you hear all these
    reports are because we have several teams interested in talking his
    value down because they are interested, now if you want him, a 2nd is
    not enough, you’re smarter than the media stories, you know these
    reports don’t just happen left and right unless people want him for
    less”. After awhile, he struck gold as he drew in two division rivals.
    he brought them in on a conference call and the Seahawks and 49ers went
    at it. Meanwhile, he called or had an assistant call the Ravens on
    Boldin, and thought he could keep lowballing the Ravens for him…

    said the 49ers have offered a 6th. He assumed that to be a bluff, or
    that he could get the Ravens to panic since he had the 49ers currently
    discussing Harvin, and they wouldn’t have the money to pay for both.

    almost pulled off the lowball of a 7th rounder for Boldin, but the
    Ravens GM must have had another line open or an assistant talking with
    the 49ers or 49ers assistent and so when the Seahawks moved up their
    offer, the 49ers backed down. Makes me wonder if the Vikings would have
    offered a 6th rounder, if it would have been enough to convince the
    49ers to come in with an even higher offer.
    Other GMs tried to figure out who was interested in trading for Harvin to figure out what
    team was behind it, if at all to determine their leverage. But as more
    people sought out to determine Harvin’s value, more became convinced
    that many more GMs were part of the deal.

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