Vikings Add McNabb; Turning Into the AMC of the NFL

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When you think of the Minnesota Vikings in the last two years, one name comes to mind, Brett Favre. As the story goes, the Vikings added the 40-year old Favre and ended the 2009 season with an overtime loss in the NFC Championship game to the New Orleans Saints.

Today, the Vikings are set to announce the framework of a deal with the Washington  Redskins to acquire quarterback Donovan McNabb.

The 34-year old McNabb is six years younger than Favre when they acquired him, but the Vikings organization will look for the same success in rejuvenating the career of an aging veteran.

This similar path to success has been seen on the silver screen as well over the past couple of years. AMC has taken seemingly washed up actors and made them the lead in their respective hit shows.

In 2008 with the New York Jets, Favre led them to a mediocre 9-7 record. His numbers were just as below average: 65.7% passing rating (solid), 3,472 yards, 22 TD’s, with 22 INT’s. His QB rating was 81.0. Very sub-Favre numbers.

Add in a summer of off-season drama, a season back in the midwest, and Favre put together quite a 2009 campaign. 68.4% passing rating, 4,202 yards, 33 TD’s, with only 7 INT’s, while putting together a 107.2 passer rating. Not to mention leading the Vikings to the aforementioned NFC Championship game.

If only for a year, coming to the Vikings put a charge into the seemingly fading career of Brett Favre.

In 2007, two months before Favre’s final season in Green Bay, a new show was taking off on rarely watched AMC. (Well except for the Rocky marathons on every holiday. Not knocking it, I love the idea.)

Mad Men first aired on July 19, 2007. Its lead man, Don Draper, was played by Jon Hamm.

In 2011 Hamm has became a silver screen superstar. But it wasn’t until his casting on the hit AMC show that he rose to stardom.

(Note: I say “silver screen superstar” because if you saw him in The Town, it was apparent that he brought that movie down more than Oliver on season one of The OC.)

Before Mad Men, Hamm made guest appearances on only a handful of TV shows. The Hughleys, Gilmore Girls, CSI: Miami, Point Pleasant, Charmed, Numb3rs, and The Sarah Silverman Program were all blessed with the presence of pre-Draper Hamm.

Before AMC rejuvenated a lack luster acting career, Hamm was most known for his role as “Young Pilot Number 2” in the 2000 film Space Cowboys.

Four Emmy nominations for “Lead Actor in a Drama series”, and three Emmy wins for Mad Men in “Best Drama” has made Hamm a star (for the first time).

While at the same time the Vikings rejuvenated Favre’s career to a more familiar level of stardom that had been perceived to be long gone.

Next for AMC came the drama Breaking Bad. Premiering in January 2008–you know, that same 2008 in which the writer’s strike happened– the show was only able to film seven episodes due to the said strike. But in those seven episodes, a familiar face starred as the leading man as chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-connoisseur, Walter White. That actor, former  Malcom in the Middle father Bryan Cranston.

Cranston had a solid run. Appearing in all 151 episodes of FOX’s Malcom in the Middle during its run from 2000-2006. But from the time the show premiered to the time Breaking Bad premiered, Cranston had minimal notable efforts.

A two episode run on CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, along with a small role in the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine. The rest of his IMDB page is bleak from 2006-2008.

Three Emmy wins later for “Best Actor in a Drama Series” and it becomes apparent that once again AMC was able to revitalize a seemingly diminishing career.

In April’s NFL draft, the Vikings selected Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder with the 12th overall selection. At the time, many “experts” deemed this selection a reach. But the one glaring positive was Ponder’s ability to play right away. Thus giving him more value to a team that has a remotely solid framework in place, aside from the quarterback position.

As the NFL lockout drew into its fourth month, many critical facets to rookie growth got wiped off the schedule. OTA’s, mini-camp, and a chunk of training camp have all been cancelled due to the lockout.

Even a NFL ready quarterback like Ponder would struggle through a season with no off-season structure.

Insert former Eagles and Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb. A quarterback who’s career seems to be winding down. Similar to that of the careers of Favre, Hamm, and Cranston before their respective rejuvenation by the Vikings or AMC.

While time will tell if McNabb’s career will rejuvenate as exceptionally in Minnesota as Favre’s did. The Vikings can only hope that McNabb will Break from the Bad that was his performance as Redskins’ quarterback a year ago.

And yes, I did just parallel hit AMC dramas with the Vikings need for a seemingly washed up veteran quarterback every two years.

-Brett Cloutier

Brett is a contributor to The Sports Bank by covering all things Minnesota sports, but mainly the Minnesota Timberwolves. You can follow him on Twitter @brettcloutier.

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