If the writing on the wall is correct, Sunday’s game at US Bank Stadium will be Mike Zimmer’s last game as head coach of the Vikings. If a coaching move is made on Black Monday, as CBS’s Jason LaConfora reports, Zimmer’s exit and subsequent coaching search will dominate the conversation in the weeks to come.
There will be a lot less talk about whether Anthony Barr will likely play his last game as a Viking.
Barr’s contract ends after this year and it’s unrealistic to think that a new regime will seek to invest space in a 30-year-old linebacker with lingering knee problems.
The Zimmer-era’s first draft pick leaving along with Zimmer is apropos, but there doesn’t seem to be much nostalgia or thinking about Barr. It’s not quite don’t let the door knock on you, but it’s also not thanks for the memories.
In some ways, Barr’s lack of fanfare for swan song is emblematic of how sports fans have changed.
If we went back 20 or 30 years and there was a player entering their alleged last game with a franchise after making four Pro Bowls and playing every snap on a team that went to the No.1-ranking NFC Championship game? in the NFL in yards and points, there would be a celebration of his tenure. They were showing the guy on the video board and he was getting an endless standing ovation. But the perception of Barr’s Minnesota career has been overshadowed by numbers and money. His box score stats, his PFF rating and his hat trick, in particular.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, we relied on coaches, broadcasters, teammates and Pro Bowl voters to tell us who the right players were. Over the years, these groups have become enthusiastic about Barr’s performance. Fans these days, however, have a way to check if the experts are right.
Over the years, Barr hasn’t posted traditional big numbers. He’s logged 15.5 sacks and has never been less than 100 tackles. He played three full seasons without an interception from 2016 to 2018 and forced a grand total of four fumbles from 2016 to 2021.
Outside of 2015, his PFF scores were poor. Barr has always ranked well rushing the passer, but failed to land the top 10 beyond his solid 2015.
Barr has quietly had a strong season in numbers this year, ranking 16th among full-time linebackers according to PFF ratings. He scored as the 12th best passing runner in his position and 14th in coverage, just behind Demario Davis and Micah Parsons. While the defense struggled as much as it did, its game didn’t garner much attention. As usual, it wasn’t flashy, except for a formidable overtime interception against the Ravens. But the Vikings lost that game and it has been largely forgotten.
If we had just had access to his box scoring stats, it might have been more believable that there had been some secretive impact on his game that only the Football Men could see, but that’s exactly what the PFF ratings are supposed to do – check consensus opinions.
So by the time the Vikings signed a $ 67 million contract with Barr in 2019, the general feeling was that he was overdone. When he signed the massive contract he became overrated and overpaid in the eyes of many.
Again, 20 or 30 years ago, it would have been heartwarming to fans that Barr had returned rather than signing with the Jets. Instead, it was worrying. On OverTheCap.com, anyone could look at the Vikings salary cap situation and see that another expensive contract added to Kirk Cousins âârecord deal was going to make it difficult to take over other areas like offensive line. The general public is also now aware that only a few linebackers are true difference makers and paying them top dollar is risky.
Public education – which is exciting when you think about how much our knowledge of the game has grown in recent years – has left many Vikings fans hardened to things that were true about Barr: he is extremely intelligent. Its size / speed combination is rare. He calls the defense and puts everyone in a row. He has a calming influence when the going gets tough. He can plow the ball carriers on a blitz. He can throw lanes that other linebackers can’t.
“His only presence [makes an impact], just having him on the court knowing he understands defense, understands how it should be executed, different checks, things like that, âfuture Hall of Fame member Patrick Peterson said of Barr.
Barr also gave his heart to Minnesota.
When he fought off the Jets in 2019, he gave an emotional press conference in which he explained that he found it hard to imagine himself playing anywhere other than Minnesota. This year, Barr was nominated by the team for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award and winner of the Ed Block Courage Award.
âAnthony is a great person,â Zimmer said Monday. âYou know, it was killing him at the start of the year. We never expected he would be away this long. But he spent every waking moment in the training room, trying to prepare. He did things beyond the call most people would. He loves this organization, he loves his teammates, loves to play football. I have had many conversations with him about what he means to me and to this team and how much he enjoys being here.
Barr barely made it to training camp due to a knee problem and it looked like his season was in jeopardy. He returned to the roster a few weeks after the start of the season and spoke with genuine glee about his return to the pitch.
âDude, so happy,â Barr said. âI had never worked so hard in my life to get this far. I got a lot of help along the way, but I fought for it. Just for the chance to play again, man, I couldn’t be more grateful. I just have to keep pushing.
It’s understandable that fans care more about the production than a player’s love for the game or what he’s been up to off the pitch, but that shouldn’t be ignored just because his PFF rank and his salary cap do not match.
Barr won the WPMOY nomination for his Raise the Barr Foundation, which provides scholarships to children living in single-parent homes like the one Anthony grew up in.
âCommunity work has been a part of my life for a long time and Raise the Barr is kind of built on the story of my mother and myself,â Barr said. “She is a huge inspiration to be in my life and we seek to pass on to future and future generations.”
These things matter.
The past eight years have put everyone through many ups and downs, from Zimmer to the fans. Barr has been there throughout it all with you and Zimmer. And like the team, some times were better than others.
We can recognize the facts and statistics while realizing that there will always be things that go beyond them. Barr is a reminder of that.
âI’ve had a bad day, but luckily I have a great support system with my family and friends,â Barr said. âI think realizing that there is a lot more to life than football. It’s been my life since I was 9, so not participating was difficult. I promise you no one wants to gamble more than me. That’s all I want to do.
So, as he leaves US Bank Stadium, possibly for the last time, Barr should not be seen as yet another ceiling number and hole to fill in defense, but rather as a player who has long been important to him. the organization.