The Minnesota Vikings' 2018-19 season was a rough one, but often looked salvageable.
Alas, a last-week loss to the resurgent Chicago Bears kept Minnesota out of the playoffs, just one year removed from a surprise run to the NFC Championship Game. It's disappointing, and worthy of criticism.
Does it deserve ridicule? Depends how you're doing it, and to whom, and about what. Kirk Cousins doing this little wiggly dance after a win is fun and corny, and should be labeled as such.
The habits of general manager Rick Spielman, however, are... what's the right word? Whatever that thing is where someone's desire for control in a chaotic world actually lead them to do the thing that makes the least sense, is foolish, even downright... dangerous.
Spielman's morning routine is detailed in a massive Sports Illustrated piece covering the Vikings' rough season, unpeeling how you can lose games with studs at your offensive skill positions and an elite, well-rounded defense. Much of what the general manager does seems fine, the sort of "same thing, same time, everyday" thing many adult humans use to limit the number of decisions or complicating factors in their day.
That's okay, Rick. Whatever gets you through the day.
However, another element of Spielman's morning check-off list had Deadspin's David Roth horrified. And David's right. Every morning, Rick Spielman is taking the sort of step that should, if you hear a friend or coworker admitting to it -- bragging about it, even -- inspire you to ask them if they're feeling alright lately. And have they considered therapy or medication?
Here goes (emphasis ours, downright odd habit Rick Spielman's):
He puts his shoes and socks on before his pants, leaves his house at the same time so he can arrive at the stadium at eight, follows the same route, stops at the same gas station, uses the same pump and makes sure always to end his purchase on a zero.
How does reversing the well-established order of how and when to put on items of lower-body clothing save Rick Spielman any time, or effort, or spare his mind a single thought? What sort of feet does Rick Spielman have that covering them in shoes makes it... easier to put pants on? Did whoever hired (or determines the continued employment of) Rick Spielman know this detail about his pants routine?
And if so, can we fire that person, too?
As Roth writes, there is "no real reason" to go socks > shoes > pants, and doing so (telling a reporter at a national magazine!) is "worrying behavior."
As is often the case with Deadspin, some of the best commentary shows up in the comments section. Among the choicest:
"You were so obsessed with the shoes you missed that, at no point is underwear mentioned. I’m not saying Spielman is freeballing on game day, but I’m also not not saying that."
"This explains why the Vikings can’t win in the playoffs. A common motivating tactic among coaches, especially when one feels overmatched, is to remind their players that their opponent put on their pants the exact same way they do. Sadly for the Vikings, they know from the beginning that this isn’t true and the game is lost before they even kickoff."
"I immediately thought 'dick first' not even wondering how this would be possible."
"You think maybe he puts the shoes on, then takes them back off before he puts on his pants? Like a test run to make sure he can do it before it’s time for the real thing?"
There's plenty more fine-grain salt and spice being poured into the wound over at Deadspin. We'd encourage you to go check it out, then do some thinking about 1) if you trust a man with this routine, 2) if Spielman and co. made the right decision in breaking the piggy bank for Kirk Cousins, 3) what pieces a team with a top-ranked receiver, safety, linebacker, and defensive lineman are missing.
One thing you needn't think about: how to put pants on. That part's obvious, at least to most of us.