If you had been a member of the Minnesota Vikings since 2009, would you be happy?
Percy Harvin quite obviously is not. The wide receiver, who was selected by the Vikings in the first round of the 2009 draft, is entering the fourth year of his five-year rookie deal and is fed up with the Vikings organization, as he told ESPN.com on Tuesday:
I just put it this way: There's a lot of different things that have to be sorted out. Just haven't been really happy lately. We've got a couple of things to work on. I'm here in the classroom. We'll go from there.
Maybe this is about the money (Harvin is due to make $915,000 this season, according to ESPN.com). Maybe it's about the fact that the Vikings are terrible. Maybe it's a combination of the two, but either way, the Vikings don't really seem to care.
ESPN.com reports that general manager Rick Spielman insists the team has "no interest" in trading Harvin and that he is "a key part" of the organization.
Harvin responded to that by skipping Wednesday's practice and, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Kent Youngblood, requesting a trade.
Skipping practice is a bush-league move. It's like throwing a tantrum when you don't get your way, and these are grown men who need to find some way to rise above it. But at the same time, players like Harvin have no leverage in these situations, so the only way to make a point is to skip practice, or hold out, or mouth off to the media.
Imagine being a part of a punching-bag team every year. Imagine going through your best years in the NFL as part of a team that isn't winning. It's easy to see how it can be frustrating.
It's not like this is the Jets or the Patriots or the Packers, and Harvin is just being a brat; this is a team that hasn't been to the playoffs since it reached the conference championship in Harvin's rookie year and has only been to the playoffs four times since 2000.
A better contract may hide the problem for a little longer, but star players don't stop complaining if they're relegated to spending their best years on bad teams. Even if the problem disappears for a little while, it will rear its ugly head again a few years down the line, and the only way to change that is to surround stars with more stars or trade the ones who become too much of a problem.
Spielman talks about his desire to build the team around a player like Harvin, but good luck doing that with a player who doesn't want to be there. That is only a recipe for disaster.
The Vikings, after three seasons, haven't given him an opportunity to win. Money isn't going to change that. If they're not going to surround him with the type of talent that is capable of winning—or at least competing—then you can't blame him for wanting out.
Harvin shouldn't be skipping practice, but the Vikings haven't exactly been holding up their end of the bargain, either.
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