Don’t worry about Josh Freeman’s motivation level when he makes his Vikings debut Monday night against the New York Giants. Josh has numerous reasons to go out and put on an epic display. Number 1, he wants to prove himself to his new organization and teammates, of course. But number 2 – and number 2 is probably bigger than number 1 right now in Josh’s mind truth be told – he wants to stick it to Greg Schiano as hard as he possibly can.
Freeman himself is downplaying the “give Greg Schiano the finger by lighting up the Giants” angle, and is instead pretending to be totally focused on learning the Vikings playbook and helping the 1-4 team get back on track. “Do I have a chip on my shoulder? Sure, I do,” Freeman told the media on Friday. “But I think it’s more deeply rooted than just the past six months, 12 months. It’s just wanting to go out and be great, and even deeper than that, Leslie extended his hand, giving me an opportunity to come in here.”
Josh is understandably staying away from the Schiano issue but make no mistake about it, he wants to send a message to Schiano and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization for the way things went down. It’s hard to blame him for being bitter after the apparent smear campaign the team launched against him. Some pretty tough stuff was said about Josh Freeman, but Freeman isn’t going to respond with words, he means to respond with performance.
Well, and also a few words. Josh won’t rip anyone by name but that doesn’t mean he won’t take subtle Favre-like shots at his old organization, without Rick Spielman needing to whisper anything in his ear either. “Any time you step into a situation where you’re the new guy, there’s always kind of an awkward, getting-to-know you phase,” Freeman said.
“But I think that goes back to the character of this organization, just from top to bottom — a lot of quality people, people that are dedicated to winning first and foremost, but also being a quality human being off the field. It’s been a smooth adjustment. The opportunity to come in here and just focus strictly on football, and this is a storied franchise. … They do things the right way around here.”
I’d say that chip is about the size of the Metrodome right now. Let’s hope Josh can carry both it and the Vikings Monday night, and further on into what has already been a tumultuous season for both the player and the team.