We are mere days away from the first preseason game of the year for the NFL. Teams are back at camps and fans are excited to get the season underway.
Many fans take this time of year to gear themselves up for the upcoming season. This means buying apparel of all kinds, but especially our beloved jerseys.
Buying a jersey is tricky business in this day and age. What is the point of buying a jersey of a guy who may only be around for one year? What is the point of buying a jersey for a guy who only plays sparingly?
We all want a little individuality in our jersey purchase, but we also strive for value. For Vikings fans, this can be confusing. There have been a lot of personnel changes over the last few years which have rendered many jerseys out of date. How many people ran out and got a new #84 jersey last year for Moss's one month in Minneapolis?
I took a look at the current roster of the Vikings, "current" being the key word, and compiled a list of the 10 best jerseys for a Vikes fan to buy today. I took into account both current value to team, likability, future prospect, and individuality of purchase to rank these.
Jimmy Kleinsasser is a Viking through and through. The guy has been with the Vikings for what seems like forever, and has shown some real loyalty to the organization.
Kleinsasser will never be a flashy guy on the field. He won't break off any 30 yard runs or catches, but he will be throwing his body into defenders on every single play he is in the ball game, and what else can you really ask from a guy who has played for the Vikings since being drafted by the team in 1999?
The guy you are looking at is gone. Sidney Rice took the money and ran to Seattle. Nobody in Viking land seems too shaken up about it. Rice is a good receiver, no doubt about that, but not for what Seattle is paying him. His departure does, however, leave the Vikings receiving core pretty thin.
Enter Emmanuel Arceneaux. The Vikings signed Arceneaux to a three year deal back in January. Arceneaux was a receiver at Alcorn State before having two very good seasons in the CFL. Arceneaux is not likely to come into the NFL and set the league on fire right out of the gate, but, with the Vikings lack of depth at the receiver position, he may be a dark horse candidate to be a breakout star.
With McNabb under center, the Vikings have a lot of weapons (AP, McNabb, Harvin, Shiancoe) meaning Arceneaux will get his opportunities. Wouldn't it be nice to be the guy on Emmanuel's bandwagon before everybody else jumps on?
After week one of last season, it looked like Visanthe Shianco was poised to become one of the elite tight ends in the NFL. His 2009 season was fantastic and he followed it up with a huge game against the Saints to open up last year. Things never really got back on track for Shiancoe after that game.
It could have been injuries or back quarterback play that derailed his season. Whatever the case, I expect big things from Shiancoe this season.
I think many Vikings fans are relying on #81 to be a legitimate deep threat down the middle as he was two seasons ago. If Shiancoe can get 100% healthy and begin running routes like he did against the Saints last year, he will quickly become one of McNabb's favorite targets.
How could you not become a huge E.J. Henderson fan last year? After his gruesome injury to end his 2009 season, he bounced back last year and, along with Chad Greenway, formed a very solid linebacker tandem.
Henderson played in all 16 games last season, had 105 tackles and three picks.
Henderson is under contract with the Vikings only through this coming season. I for one would love to see the Vikings extend his contract, and would be very proud to wear a #56 jersey.
The jury is still out on the McNabb signing. Vikings fans were split between wanting Ponder to be THE guy starting with the first game, and being happy with McNabb wearing the purple. Many of the so-called experts seem to think he is a perfect fit in Minnesota. Remember when that other veteran QB came to Minnesota after a terrible season in New York, much like McNabb's season in Washington? Those #4 jerseys flew off the shelf.
McNabb got #5 from punter Chris Kluwe this week, and I would expect that those jerseys start flying off the shelves as well. McNabb could be primed or a bounce back year, and if he puts the Vikings in any kind of position to contend, I expect his cult hero status to rival Favre's in his first season in Minnesota.
The thing to remember is this: McNabb jerseys are not going to be a hot item for too long. Like it or not, Christian Ponder will be the starting quarterback, barring any unforeseen circumstances. There are a lot of #4 jerseys out there that are not being worn this year. #5 Could be in the same boat in a year or two.
Who doesn't love Jared Allen? The guy seems like he was made to play for the Vikings. His attitude, his interviews, his wardrobe all scream Vikings.
The #69 jersey has been pretty popular in Minnesota the last couple years. Allen has not only been one of the most exciting players on the field, he also has been the Viking most heard on different talk shows and in public.
Jared Allen didn't have as good of year in 2010 as he did in 2009. This season, he will have to contend with the loss of Ray Edwards and possibly Pat Williams on the defensive line. I don't know if Allen can match his dominance of 2009, but I think he will exceed his so-so output of 2010.
Percy Harvin is the spark plug of the Vikings offense. He does a little bit of everything. He catches, he runs, he returns kicks.
It was evident last season, that when Randy Moss was there, or when Sidney Rice wasn't hurt, Harvin shined. He is a slot receiver that has the ability to be one of, if not the best slot receiver in the NFL. The problem with Harvin is that last year he was often asked to play as a deep threat in place of Rice.
Harvin will have a huge 2011. I am predicting a Pro Bowl year from Percy this season. When he gets into the open field, whether on a catch, reverse or kick return, the fans always come to their feet.
If you wear a #12 jersey, you are almost guaranteed to be treated to some excitement by the guy who is wearing #12 on the field.
You are looking at (hopefully) the future of the Vikings. Christian Ponder will be starting at quarterback someday soon. It may be this year, or next year, but it will be soon.
Ponder has handled himself well in all of his interviews leading up to this season. I am glad the Vikings signed McNabb, but I am also excited to see what the kid can do, and for the Ponder Era to begin in Minnesota.
Jared Allen may be the face of the Vikings defense, but Chad Greenway is the leader. Greenway has led the Vikings in tackles for the last 10 years, or so it seems. He is always around the ball and always moving.
Greenway was resigned this year, but only for this season. He has said he would like to sign a long-term contract to stay in Minnesota, and I think many fans would love to see that too.
Greenway is big-time enough that everybody knows who he is. He is small-time enough that not many people realize how good he is. That makes the #52 jersey that much more awesome.
The under the radar guy who is really good is always a good bet when buying jerseys.
I realize I just said that a Greenway jersey is awesome because he is still under the radar. Adrian Peterson is anything but under the radar, but his jersey is the best jersey to wear to the Metrodome on a Vikings Sunday.
AP is the best running back in the NFL. I don't mean to take anything away from the other top running backs, but they are not AP.
Adrian Peterson made headlines this week with his tweet about losing Sidney Rice. To that I say: Who cares? Rice was his friend and Peterson was sad to see him go. Adrian Peterson has made no complains to the press about his contract situation, and he didn't hold out. AP wants to come back to Minnesota, the Vikings just need to work out a contract with him.
I think I speak for everybody who is a Vikings fan when I say: get it done Vikes. Bring AP back for many years to come so all of our #28 jerseys are not throwbacks