With Donovan McNabb at the helm, Vikings are the 2011 NFL Team of Destiny


The addition of Donovan McNabb and subtraction of Brett Favre and Brad Childress make the Minnesota Vikings the 2011 NFL Team of Destiny. (Hannah Foslien/GETTY IMAGES)
September 4, 2011

In the NFC North, the Packers are the defending Super Bowl champs, the Bears are the defending division champs and the Lions are supposedly the young team on the rise. The Vikings — 6-10 a year ago — are destined for 6-10 again, according to the experts.

Let me speak bluntly and candidly here:

Fiddlesticks.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me present your 2011 NFL Team of Destiny — the post-Brett Favre, post-Brad Childress, post-Metrodome roof collapse Minnesota Vikings.

Last year I bet on the team that dumped Donovan McNabb. This year I’ll bet on the team that acquired Donovan McNabb.

Ah, the symmetry and poetry of it all.

The Team of Destiny program remains the most uncannily accurate — and, I must say, cherished — football prognostication mechanism of its generation. Launched in 1996, when I correctly forecast the astonishing, near-Super Bowl run of the second-year expansion Carolina Panthers, the Team of Destiny almost annually lifts a sub-.500 franchise into postseason contention.

Then, saddled by a series of inexplicable setbacks a few years ago, I retooled the Team of Destiny design and hit pay dirt again, first with the Arizona Cardinals’ improbable Super Bowl run in 2008 and then with the Philadelphia Eagles’ post-McNabb playoff rise in 2010.

How do I do it? Others watch endless game film, analyze depth charts and crunch numbers. My approach is two parts instinct and one part PBR. I see things — despite failed Lasik surgery — with remarkable clarity. And, when in doubt, I simply go against the consensus of the pundits; pundits are wrong more often than not, particularly on autumn weekends.

(Pundits told God he could not create the world in less than two years. So what did my man do? He created the world in just six days — and brought it in under cost — then spent the seventh day crowing about it on the Sunday morning talk shows.)

When the Eagles traded McNabb in 2010, they were written off; Couch Slouch knew better. Now, after a miserable season saddled by the Curse of Daniel Snyder and the Sheer Pigheadedness of the Shanahan Clan, McNabb has been written off; Couch Slouch knows better.

America — particularly Sports Nation — has a What-Have-You-Done-For-Me-Lately mentality. You guys on Wall Street know what I’m talking about: You’re only as good as your last insider trading scam. Of course, in the NFL these days, you’re only as good as your last HGH test.

McNabb led the Eagles to five NFC championship games in 11 seasons; no quarterback in that span went to more conference title contests. Then he was traded to the Redskins, and like many who come to Washington with high expectations, the system got the better of him.

Anyhow, America — particularly Sports Nation — is also about redemption. We love tales of people picking themselves up, even if we were the ones knocking them down, and scaling the heights again.

(Personally, I’m waiting for Charlie Sheen to get to Broadway in the role of King Lear.)

Even when McNabb was winning 65 percent of his starts in Philadelphia, he was constantly vilified. He could thrive on a month’s worth of Sundays, but if he then put two straight passes into the ground in front of open receivers, the mobs would bay that he should be benched.

I don’t appreciate the NFL’s passer rating — and I certainly have no chance comprehending ESPN’s new Total Quarterback Rating, which appears dependent on Euclidean geometry, Keynesian economics, Martha Stewart Living and Ron Jaworski’s DVR — but I do understand winning. I can’t tell you how many times I saw McNabb bumble around like Inspector Clouseau in cleats for three quarters or more, then find a way to drive his team to glory in the waning minutes.

So I’ll take my chances on McNabb and Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin. I’ll take my chances on new Coach Leslie Frazier, figuring he’s more Don Shula than David Shula. I’ll take my chances on the Vikings bringing joy to Minneapolis-St. Paul and Couch Slouch, USA.

Besides, after Jay Cutler — under nominal pressure — tripped on his way to the altar in the offseason, what, you wanted me to take the Bears as my Team of Destiny?

Ask The Slouch

Q. In light of the five-game suspension handed down by Roger Goodell to Terrelle Pryor, for how long can we expect Pete Carroll to be disciplined? (D.J. Malecha; West Bend, Wis.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Do you suppose that Tony La Russa does a “double switch” every time he changes underwear? (Todd Iverson; Chippewa Falls, Wis.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. If the Red Sox and the Yankees played in the U.S. Open golf tournament, would it still be going on? (Guy Kirby; Beltsville)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Who dribbles more, Novak Djokovic or Dwyane Wade? (David Goodman; Silver Spring)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

(After a month-long vacation, we have extra money to hand out this week.)

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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