Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jared Allen a safe bet; Vikes not so much

I just flew in from Las Vegas, and boy are my arms (and the rest of me, considering I took a 1 a.m. red-eye) tired...

I've already spoken at length about what I think of Jared Allen. As for the deal he got and what the Vikings gave up to get him, I approve. He's at least as good as any player we would have received with our first-round pick, and the team's last nine third-round picks have been likes of Marcus McCauley, Dustin Fox, Darrion Scott, Nate Burleson, Willie Offord, Eric Kelly, Doug Chapman, Ramos McDonald, and Stalin Colinet. You have to go back to Moe Williams in 1996 to find anything even remotely resembling a regular contributor, and he was hardly irreplaceable. As for the money -- $31 million guaranteed and up to $74 million including incentives -- I have faith in cap guru Rob Brzezinski, who's always engineered the system to keep the Vikings well under the cap and in great shape each off-season. It might be that the Vikings don't go after anyone significant in 2009, but with Allen, Madieu Williams, and Bernard Berrian coming on in 2008, I think I could live with a quiet year.

But enough of the serious talk. Now, here's the story of the serendipitous moment when I learned of the Allen trade and what I did about it.

As mentioned, I was in Las Vegas the last two days, attending the GAMA Trade Show. It's a show about games, but don't worry, it's very, very boring. Around when the day was wrapping up, I wandered, footsore, to the sports book at the Paris casino to rest for a bit before seeking dinner. A few baseball games were on the big screens, and I had a mini-TV at my seat where I put on Pardon the Interruption, without sound.

As the show wrapped, Tony and Mike did their "Happies," and in this case the scroll along the bottom said "Happy Trails to Jared Allen." I couldn't hear what they were saying, but I thought it could mean only one thing. My eyes darted from baseball game to baseball game, looking for some sort of sports news scroll along the bottom and, sure enough, about a minute later, I saw the official announcement of the Allen-to-the-Vikings deal.

The previous night, I'd checked out the futures bets for the Super Bowl Championship. New England, I believe, topped the odds list at 9-5, with Indy and Dallas next at 3-1 and 4-1 respectively. The Vikings were given 10-1 odds, a bit high, I thought (and the same odds as Cleveland, of all teams). Among the rest of the NFC North, the Packers and Bears each rated 15-1 odds -- way higher than I'd ever rank the Bears -- and Detroit was at 60-1 odds, better only than three other teams.

So, as I learned of the Allen deal, I glanced back at the big screen with the NFL futures odds. Minnesota hadn't changed; still 10-1. I could have seen it going up a point or two, maybe up to 8-1, once the Allen deal was better known, and hey, when you learn of your favorite team making a major trade while sitting in the sports book of a casino in Las Vegas -- well, that's a call to action if I ever saw one.

So I put $10 down on the Vikings. It'll pay $110 if they win the Super Bowl. A friend of mine, a Steelers fan, says he has a rule: He never bets on the Steelers. Hard to argue with the Steelers' track record, so maybe he's on to something. Then again, I've never bet on the Vikings and they've won exactly zero championships. So maybe I'm on to something, too; maybe the Vikings will only win if I bet on them! At the very least, they've never won when I didn't bet on them, so the opposite might be true, right? (I know there's some high-school level logic that points out the fallacy in that reason, but I don't want to hear it.) Here's hoping.

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