Over a decade ago, I sat in the sweltering heat on the Minnesota State-Mankato campus to watch the Minnesota Vikings practice. It was a typical August day where literally nothing of importance was going on, but people were still oohing and ahh-ing with every rep because there was literally nothing else to do.
Just as I was about to succumb to my boredom and leave early, Jared Allen gave then left tackle Bryant McKinnie an ass kicking for the ages. Swinging by McKinnie, repeatedly, it caused a cool breeze across the practice field in Mankato and prompted one man to voice his opinion.
“Hit him with a pole McKinnie!” The man screamed while referring to a 2008 incident in which he allegedly beat a bouncer with a heavy pole outside a Miami strip club. “I bet you’d slow him down then, you fat piece of shit!”
I was intrigued by this man as he proceeded to heckle McKinnie for the next 15 minutes with things I probably can’t write on this blog. I introduced myself and asked the guy why he was so motivated to let McKinnie have it on a day where 95% of the audience had been lulled to sleep.
“You know, there’s always one guy on your favorite team you just hate,” The man said. “I mean, for the longest time, my kids thought Dontarrious Thomas’ first name was Bitch. You just can’t help it.”
Fast forward to today and I too have the player on the Vikings that I can’t stand. His name is Laquon Treadwell.
Yes, I was one of the many who jumped up and down with joy when the Vikings selected him with the 23rd overall pick, but in hindsight, it was merely groupthink from thousands of mock drafts that made me believe he was better than Michael Thomas who went 24 picks later to the New Orleans Saints. Thomas, of course, has gone on to become an All-Pro weapon for Drew Brees while Treadwell has become a punchline in Vikings circles.
A big reason because for this was the Ole Miss product’s 2018 season. At the beginning of the year, Treadwell had a wide open path to the third receiver role — one that he eventually grabbed because he was literally competing with no viable option on the roster. After he struggled in the first couple of weeks, teams got tired of being destroyed by Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, so they double teamed them.
With opposing defense begging anybody not named Diggs or Thielen to step up, Treadwell should have put the burden on his shoulders and had a solid year. Instead, it was more of the same with a plethora of mental mistakes and dropped passes that weren’t his fault (at least in his mind).
After the Vikings’ train wreck of a season, reporters asked Treadwell about it and the 23-year old beamed at his own accolades which included a career high of 35 catches, 302 yards and one touchdown. By comparison, it took Thomas the first three weeks of the 2018 season to surpass those numbers — the type of thing you would expect from a first-round pick.
As the Vikings returned to TCO Performance Center to talk to the media again, the media somehow gravitated back toward Treadwell, who said that he would love to spend the rest of his career in Minnesota.
At first glance, that goal seems preposterous. Then again, if Treadwell plays as bad as he did last year, no team may even want to bring him in for a camp tryout, so we should give him props for setting the bar low. In the same breath, it brings me to the unfortunate reality that Treadwell will be the third wide receiver this year.
Yes, I can hear the chorus of Viking Twitter warriors calling me a hack for this take, but look at who he has to beat. The Vikings added Jordan Taylor, who has gotten positive reviews from Kirk Cousins during OTAs but is more known for the fact Peyton Manning had to buy him a suit prior to Super Bowl 50. Then there’s Brandon Zylstra, who many confuse to be Adam Thielen, but isn’t Adam Thielen. Chad Beebe could be a factor, but he’ll need to stay healthier than he did in 2018 and even then, he might not be effective playing against an actual starting defense.
Then, there are the two seventh-round picks that everyone was excited about during the draft in Dillon Mitchell and Olabisi Johnson. Their YouTube highlight videos looked great, but the seventh round of the NFL Draft is a lot like 2 a.m. bar close at my alma mater in Mankato. You want to find someone to bring home just to say you did it, but it’s unlikely you’re going to find your wife. That’s pretty much the situation we have here.
So once again, Treadwell has a path that is just begging him to succeed. We’ll probably see some articles about how hard he’s worked over the offseason soon and the camp buzz will be strong once he throws on the shorts and t-shirt. But when the games start to count and the Vikings need to step up, there will be plenty of children who will believe his first name is a curse word.
Wide Left is a Vikings blog written by diehard fan, Blair Anderson. You can find more of Blair's writings here.