February 20, 2013

Is Percy Harvin a Home Run Hero, or Just a Headache Waiting to Happen?

At what point does Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin stop being considered a dynamic playmaking threat, and start being looked at as an uncontrollable headache?

It’s a fair question to ask, especially considering all of the off-field problems that Harvin has caused since being drafted in 2009.

Ironically, I am not referring to the migraines that Harvin has battled for years, but rather the numerous altercations and scuffles with coaches.

The first such confrontation came back in 2010, when Harvin reportedly had to be separated from then head coach Brad Childress during a practice.

ESPN’s Ed Werder reported on the incident as follows:

According to sources, Childress questioned Harvin‘s effort during the practice. When Harvin took exception, Childress suggested Harvin submit to further testing on the ankle. The debate escalated and “was as close to physical as you can get,” according to the source.

Whether or not Harvin was right or wrong on that occasion is unknown, but the fact that his issues did not end there is certainly troubling.

In April of 2012 reports surfaced that Harvin missed time at the University of Florida not because he was injured, but because he had failed marijuana tests. Also while at Florida, Harvin reportedly grabbed his receivers coach by the neck and threw him to the ground.

In December, Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com reported (h/t Pro Football Talk) that Harvin and head coach Leslie Frazier got into a “heated exchange” for the second time during the season.

Does this all seem overwhelming?

Imagine how the Vikings organization feels, and that is not even counting his trade demands from an offseason ago or his current situation.

And where exactly does Harvin sit now?

Well, since being placed on season ending injured reserve after a Week 9 ankle injury, Harvin has largely avoided the media and only mentioned that he was “disappointed” to have been placed on injured reserve in the first place.

And yet, it is easy to understand why Minnesota has put up with so much of Harvin‘s shenanigans.

He has scored 29 touchdowns in just 54 career games. Harvin is a versatile playmaker that is just as dangerous as a slot receiver as he is as a kick returner.

He’s averaged 11.8 yards per reception in his career, gained 3,183 yards on 114 kick returns and also happens to have 107 career rushing attempts.

There is no proper way to game-plan for Minnesota’s weapon because he has the vertical speed to beat defenders deep, but is also a great route-runner that will make tough catches over the middle.

Still, do these statistics offset all of the problems that Harvin continues to cause?

There is a reason Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder had the following to say on the matter, via SportsRadioInterviews.com:

“He’s a tremendous player and he’s a Viking. And those are tough shoes to fill, and we don’t want to fill them. He’s a heck of a player and a heck of a part of this offense and this team in general. Of course we want him back.”

There is also a reason that other teams would seem to have so much interest in acquiring Harvin‘s services.

The reality is that as long as Harvin can produce, his transgressions off the field can be largely overlooked. Yes, the list of issues is growing longer and there are problems with Harvin‘s contract, but the fact remains that Minnesota has few alternatives.

Fellow receivers Jarius Byrd, Jerome Simpson, Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins are not exactly striking fear into the hearts of opponents.

Minnesota has to try and compete in a difficult NFC North division and having Harvin on the roster gives the team its best chance of doing so.

GM Rick Spielman has insisted the Vikings have no plans to trade Harvin, and it actually makes sense to believe him.

Harvin‘s abilities as a home run hero still outweigh his problems…for now.

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