System sends all but Sheriff to Tampa

We are closing in on the end of the ninth NFL season in which Purple Pride fans have been subjected to Dennis Green and his vaunted “System.”
The System has been repeatedly salvaged and vindicated over the course of nine regular seasons, and features a gaudy 92-52 (.639) record in those seasons.
The System has not been as user-friendly in January, where a coach’s mark of greatness is either inscribed or erased. Various quirks in The January System now leave The Sheriff with a 4-8 (.333) post-season showing.
The latest of these quirks occurred last Sunday afternoon in a historic 41-0 embarassment at the hands of the New York Giants.
A man for pulling out new tricks, Green’s System found a way to grab hold of the worst playoff performance in Vikings history, in Green’s history and in NFC championship history.
Once again, the path to the Super Bowl had been cleared of the two major obstacles (St. Louis and Tampa). And, like a broken record, the Vikings took a knee to The January System.
Luckily, The System spread goodwill to all corners of professional football even before Green’s eighth choke in nine seasons, helping to bring forth System graduates Rich Gannon in Oakland, Tony Dungy in Tampa, Brian Billick in Baltimore.
Billick, the offensive guru under Green during the ’98 season, made the calls that set a record for points scored. Initially, Billick went as far as to defy The January System against Atlanta in the NFC championship game, racing the Vikings to a 24-7 halftime lead in the Metrodome.
Then, at halftime, The Sheriff’s January System sprang back to life.
You know the rest.
Sunday’s AFC championship game matched up Gannon vs. Billick, System vs. System. Billick, relegated to Trent Dilfer as his quarterback, is now in the Super Bowl. This feat occured by solely possessing the best defense to play football in 15 years.
Defense has not been a part of Denny’s System since Dungy left for Tampa in January 1996. The Purple finished 28th in total defense this season, up one spot from 29th a year ago.
Coincidentally, both the Super Bowl-bound Giants and Ravens were in the top eight in total defense this season.
Ironically, Billick and the Ravens made it to Tampa with a defense sold separately of The System. Most notably, a good one.
But The System does possess Daunte Culpepper, Green’s eighth quarterback in nine seasons and second-biggest triumph to date. No. 1 would be Randy Moss.
Having torched opposing defenses for three seasons, The System will face the chore of having to prevent The Freak from leaving. To prevent football from becoming baseball, the NFL boasts a salary cap. This cap has been a thorn in the side of Vikings’ defensive coordinators since the mid-90’s, having been largely ignored by The Sherrif for several years.
Next year’s System employees are already $20 million dollars over next year’s cap, with Robert Smith needing a large contract extension (among others) and the necessity of locking up Moss, whose contract expires after next season.
Several players, most notably the aging John Randle and Robert Griffith will be approached about restructuring contracts. If this is successfull, the Vikings will have a little extra money to give Smith and maybe Moss in two years.
About that contract extension …
“When it’s all said and done, I’m going to win a Super Bowl ring,” Moss said following the game. “I doubt it will be in Minnesota. I can’t really say if I’m going to be a Minnesota Viking in a couple years. Hopefully, I’d like to win one for coach Green, but I can’t really tell the future.”
Moss is well aware of his current team’s inept defense and salary constraints towards landing quality upgrades needed at several defensive positions.
In three years under the roof of The System, Moss still possesses a few flaws from being one of the best ever. But he is the most dangerous threat in football.
” … It’s going to be hard for us to win a Super Bowl in Minnesota,” Moss said. “I don’t want to say Minnesota will never win a Super Bowl, but it’s going to be hard.”
Get ready for a ninth round of The Offseason System.

Mark Heller is the assistant sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]