Dear Danielle: An Open Letter to the NFC North’s Best Player
Greetings from the winter wasteland that is Canada.
I send you this open letter with the collective angst of a weary fanbase on my shoulders. You see, us Vikings fans have been through a lot. Depending on when one started following this heartbreaking, yet oddly lovable franchise, the Vikings fan has witnessed up to four Super Bowl losses, several NFC Championship no-shows and narrow defeats, as well as a true smorgasbord of indignities too lengthy to count (the first ever Hail Mary, the Love Boat, Metrodome Collapse, the Walsh miss, Kamara’s record-setting Christmas, etc.). Indeed, Vikings fandom often feels like a buffet of disappointment; many of us are sitting at our tables feeling like we’ve filled (and emptied) our plate far too many times.
Every so often, though, Vikings fandom gets the sweet relief that comes from hope. In an experience not altogether unlike the relief of Pepto-Bismol after a night of culinary indulgence, we see a truly marvelous player lift our Vikings out of the doldrums of mediocrity. You are that player, Danielle.
When you first arrived in Minnesota, there were reports about Mike Zimmer threatening you with violence. It struck us fans as odd that a relatively elderly coach – one who, as far as I can tell, does not have the history with jiu jitsu or karate necessary to defend himself against such a formidable foe – would threaten such a physically imposing player. Oddness aside, many us interpreted that over-the-top guidance from Zim as a sign of just how much potential you had.
In a few short seasons, the potential was unlocked, and you were wreaking havoc on opposing offensive tackles. Like a Packers executive tossing aside chances to maximize a quarterback’s potential, you tossed around men who have committed themselves to becoming immovable objects. In what felt like the blink of an eye, you ascended into one of the game’s truly elite edge rushers. Some still say that that wiener Aaron Rodgers is the division’s best player, but we all know you’re the real King of the North.
You’re underpaid. No one can look at the situation and come to any other conclusion. The issue, of course, is ol’Rick has very nearly spent every nickel and dime that those wealthy Wilfs have provided. What can we say, Danielle? Those guys in the front office pushed all their chips to the middle of the table; the issue, of course, is that Covid has changed the landscape of NFL poker. If it will help, I’ll do my best to contact Rick about locking in more guaranteed money. If we are to have any hope of snagging that Lombardi, we need you in a purple uniform.
True, we have yet to get to the peak of Mount Champion. Perhaps this reality should deter us, pushing us toward the Twins or maybe even the Wild (T-Wolves just isn’t going to happen). For some reason, we remain loyal to our team. Despite our big-game failures, we’ve had several sources of pride, parts of the game that we can hang our collective Viking helmet on. One of our great sources of pride rested in the formidable defensive line, of which you were yet another addition to an exemplary tradition.
I’m sure I don’t need to lecture you about the myriad of great Vikings d-linemen who have preceded you. Instead, I reference this proud tradition to illustrate the unique opportunity that currently presents itself. Many d-linemen have done excellently, but you have the capacity to surpass them all.
I send this letter posthaste in the hopes that it may nudge you down the purple path. Should you lead us to a Super Bowl, I’ll very gladly spend my money to fly to Minnesota so I can start mixing the cement for your statue outside of U.S. Bank Stadium.
If you feel you need more convincing, please don’t be shy about reaching out. May your arms grow ever more chiseled.