Everson Griffen was happy and then he was sad and then came the OMG moment.
That was how the Vikings defensive end described the final moments of Minnesota’s 29-24 win over the Saints in Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
According to ESPN, ego, achievement, credit and more are at the heart of what’s described as a devolving relationship, at least between coach and quarterback, with a 76-year-old team owner left at times to broker peace.
Vibe. It’s a concept Kamara talks often about, something he believes he is acutely attuned to. He says he got that from his mother, Adama, who fled Liberia in 1989 when she was 29 years old, escaping right before the civil war broke out because she sensed it was coming. She often has premonitions based on instinct—once when he was a college student back home in Atlanta for winter break, she called Alvin dozens of times throughout the day, pleading with him to come home; he ignored her, and the night ended with him getting into a car crash. Kamara now believes he is the same way, in touch with himself and the way he feels.
After years of being underappreciated, undervalued and underutilized, Kamara has finally found what he has long been searching for. A home. An ideal fit, both in football and in life. A scheme that accentuates his skills, a coach who maximizes his abilities, a team and a city that allow him to be him—bull nose ring, gold grill, dreadlocks and all. The 22-year-old has put up historic numbers in his rookie season, quickly becoming one of the most exciting players in the league and a paragon of efficiency, more productive per touch (9.0 yards) than any other NFL running back in the last 25 years. He has lifted a team at the very tail-end of a Hall of Fame quarterback’s career back to the playoffs, and back into Super Bowl contention. But it is his connection with New Orleans and its denizens, the way that his vibe flows with theirs, that has made this pairing work so well. It is organic, authentic. It is distinctly Kamara.
The first 20 picks of the 2018 NFL Draft were set before the playoffs. Picks 21-24 were locked in after the wild-card round and picks 25-32 will be decided as the playoffs progress. The Chiefs (10-6), who won the AFC West, do not own a first-round pick after trading it to Buffalo (9-7) to move up to 10th in the 2017 draft to select former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Bills will pick consecutively at 21 and 22.
And if getting kicked out of the playoffs wasn’t bad enough for the Panthers, who felt that questionable officiating kept them from overcoming a 31-26 deficit in the closing minutes, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune newspaper decided to pour a ton of salt into the wound with its front-page headline treatment.