BEST CHUTZPAH Minneapolis 2002 - Minnesota Vikings
You've got to hand it to the Vikes. The 2001 season was among the most wretched spectacles in the franchise's storied history. Nothing went right. It began appallingly, with the heat-stroke death of All Pro offensive tackle Korey Stringer during a preseason practice. Then there were the repeated Randy Moss meltdowns. Losses to NFL laughingstocks like the Carolina Panthers and Detroit Lions. And ultimately, the week of the dismal finale in Baltimore, the abrupt resignation of longtime coach Dennis Green. In the ensuing months, the bad news continued unabated, with nary an encouraging sign in sight. A parade of starters--including the Vikes' best defensive player, safety Robert Griffith--assessed their prospects and promptly fled for free agency. By March it had begun to look as if Red McCombs was intent on swiping a page from Carl Pohlad's playbook, applying the dreaded budget-ball business model. And what, in the midst of all these uninspiring, fan-alienating developments were the Vikings' brass up to? They were down at the state capitol, panhandling for a new stadium. That's right: At a time of enormous state deficit, a national recession, and massive international uncertainties--not to mention a far more pressing stadium debate that involves the very fate of Major League Baseball in Minnesota--the Vikes went money-grubbing. That takes more than garden-variety gall. That takes chutzpah.