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Monday, August 23, 2010
Javon Walker is pure flyer material

By Kevin Seifert

The Minnesota Vikings must truly be concerned about their receiver position, which has been limited by what appeared to be short-term ailments to Sidney Rice (hip) and Percy Harvin (migraines). Otherwise, I can't think of a good reason to go through the trouble of signing washed-up receiver Javon Walker.

But that's exactly what the Vikings plan to do Monday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Walker worked out Friday along with free-agent receiver Brandon Jones, but Jones signed over the weekend with the Seattle Seahawks.

Brett Favre & Javon Walker
Despite a rocky end to their time in Green Bay, Brett Favre and Javon Walker are together again in Minnesota.
Before we get to the long history between Walker and Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, let's just remember that Walker hasn't really been a productive receiver since the 2006 season in Denver. He turned into one of the all-time free-agent busts after signing with the Oakland Raiders in 2008, and hasn't done much of anything since he was robbed and beaten that year in Las Vegas.

There are dozens of younger and faster -- if not less famous -- receivers available if the Vikings were simply looking to maintain their practice numbers. And I hope that they don't think Walker's presence would motivate Rice to rehabilitate his hip any faster. I'm guessing Rice would laugh at that one.

I can only assume the Vikings are taking a flyer on a once-prolific receiver who is trying to resurrect his career at a position in which they certainly have short-term need. And I imagine they have run the decision past Favre.

Because in case you forgot, Favre and Walker had a serious falling out in 2005 when both players were with the Green Bay Packers. Favre publicly and extensively criticized Walker for holding out from a mandatory minicamp during a contract dispute. Walker eventually sought and received a trade in 2006 in part because of Favre's comments.

Below is a sampling of what Favre said at the time. Some of the comments carry rich irony considering the way Favre's offseason habits have changed since then, not to mention his recent raise to $16 million in annual salary:
"If Javon wants to know what he quarterback thinks, and I would think he might, I'd tell him he's going about this the wrong way. When his agent tells him not to worry about what his teammates think and all that stuff, I'd tell him I've been around a long time and that stuff will come back to haunt you."

"I just don't see much good that can come from it. If it gets time for the start of training camp and he's not in, I think it'll start bothering him, and he'll be here. But once again, nothing should surprise you."

"We've got guys who'll give great effort. Stars are made that way. Look at what happened when Sterling [Sharpe] left. Robert Brooks stepped up. We can win without him."

"Nowadays you're seeing more and more guys pulling that stunt. If guys continue to do that and are successful getting away with it, then I'll be gone, but I think the game will be ruined. My reaction to Javon's situation was, 'Here we go again.'"

"Javon has tremendous potential. We got to see some of that last year. The sky's the limit for that guy, and I'd be the first to defend him, but he's going about it the wrong way. What happened to honoring your contract and saying, 'Let's work as a team to see if we can get this done?' Why not go about it that way?"

"Maybe I'm old-school, but I always thought you honor a contract. Sure, sometimes guys pass you up in salary, and maybe it's a lesser player, but it's all based on what a team has as far as value in that person.

"I sure hope the Packers don't give into him."

Let's be clear: Even putting aside the Favre angle, Walker should be a deep long shot to make the team. If the Vikings think otherwise, then they have more concern at the position than we thought.