Lots and lots here today. Probably enough for two postings. Call it Two for Tuesday!
More thoughts on the local stadium issues. One argument that is constantly heard is, “Come on, when you're a billionaire, why in the world do you need our money?”
Take Seattle sports team owner, Paul Allen. A few years ago, Seattle voted to raise $400 million to build a new stadium alongside new Seattle Mariners' Safeco Field. Those were some apprehensive times for Seattle Sports Fans.
As fans, it splits our thinking right down the middle, doesn't it? At the exact time that we are thinking, "Come on, if you've got a billion dollars, why can't you just kick in the rest?” we are also thinking, "We have to get that stadium built or we lose the team!”
The whine from opponents then continues, “What good is it to read Forbes magazine year in and year out, to find out how rich these guys are if they don't even want to finance their own deals?”
Look at it this way. Paul Allen paid approximately $500 million in capital gains tax last year. You mean to tell me that he and the government couldn't figure out some way to take his taxes, call it a special tax credit and put it with the money he already committed towards a stadium so he can build a stadium that would generate more local, state, and federal taxes?
Surely there is a way that local and federal government can figure out a way for a special tax credit for building a major public facility like a stadium. If the state government can have a "special election" with a "special tax item" on the ballot that goes into a "special account," to build a stadium, definitely the federal government can have a "special tax credit" that it works out with the state and local government for someone building a stadium. Could it be then that a tax credit give to the billionaire would appease those that oppose increasing taxes?
Nah, then they would just whine that the billionaires are receiving special treatment and that the money lost from the capital gains taxes should be going to schools, blah-blah-blah.
Oh well, I can dream.
Arizona: New Logo & New Stadium
Enough is enough when the lowly Arizona Cardinals get a new logo and are about to move into their new state-of-the-art stadium in Glendale for the 2006 NFL Season. It's a damn nice looking stadium also! They even have a live construction cam!
I cannot take anymore!!!! AAAAGGGGHHHHH!
Is anyone in the St. Paul capitol building watching this? Or are they just playing the fiddle while the Vikings payroll burns!!?!?!?!!
In case you missed it, there was a significant faux pas on the web site of former Eagles quarterback and ESPN host Ron Jaworski.
Jaws, obviously, is an NFL guru who spends his time following the league very carefully and breaking down film (or, at least, he voices that every time you see him on the air!).
So since Jaws is, supposedly, one of the leading voices regarding pro football, he surely knows how to get basic facts right regarding, you know, matters regarding the NFL.
In a segment on his personal web site regarding teams that could break out in 2005, Jaworski includes the New York Jets, for the following reasons:
"Hiring Scott Linehan as the new offensive coordinator is significant. In Minnesota, Linehan cultivated a big-play, quick-strike offense. He's got the talent to work with in New York to have that same kind of offense. With Chad Pennington at quarterback, Curtis Martin in the backfield and receivers like Santana Moss and Justin McCareins, the Jets have the tools.
"Now they need the philosophy. Linehan will provide that. The Jets should be an attacking offense, one that is capable of scoring from anywhere on the field."
Great analysis, Jaws. With one minor exception. Linehan isn't the new offensive coordinator. It's Mike Heimerdinger.
Whoa! Who's your editor Jaws? Might want to have a little talky-talk with that person. Quick!
(Note: They may actually realize their mistake and correct the site before you access the link provided above. Nonetheless, it was there!)
Who I Want
Imagine this next year. The 6-0 Vikings go into Lambeau Field to take on the 1-5 Packers. Randy Moss again lights up the Girlfriend backfield....
And lights up the Packers fans with yet another Moss Moon.
Then newly aquired safety Donovin Darius lays a heavy (clean!) hit on Brett Favre resulting in Darius fumble recovery that he takes to the house.
Darius remains the one free agent that I hope the Vikings take a good, hard look at. Peter King thinks so too.
And having over 60,000 Packer fans booing their lungs out kind of warms the cockles of my heart, as well. I don't think Madison can afford to post billboards for TWO Minnesota Vikings players!
But then, I always have my trusting spray paint and Madison isn't that far a drive...
Links and Tidbits
----Rob Brzezinski is among more than a dozen people under consideration for the Seattle Seahawks' open team president job, it was learned Monday.
----Joe Juranitch could have used Ragnar's battle ax when the Vikings lost in Philly. Read how the classless Beagles fans treated the Vikings mascot.
----Look for future Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith to announce today his retirement from the Arizona Cardinals to join Reggie Fowler's investment group that is trying to buy the Vikings. Fowler's group also includes local automobile dealer Denny Hecker.
----Insiders say there are just four major investors, including Glen Taylor, in the Timberwolves owner's group to buy the Vikings, and one of them initially considered becoming general partner of his own group. But at the NFL's suggestion, that investor has joined Taylor. Taylor is considering adding a block of investors to his group for those who want to be part of the package, but for a much lower percentage. An objective view of the Vikings' value would be about $544 million, which would seem a fair price for whomever ends up buying the team. Red McCombs bought the Vikings in 1998 for $210 million plus $36 million in tax considerations. Teams with stadium leases similar to that of the Vikings have risen in value about 12 percent annually. That would make the Vikings' value $543.8 million.
----Why women should not be owners and/or coaches of men's sporting programs.
----Will the dollar be deposed as the world's reserve currency? Scary stuff. My kid could be working in a 2nd rate country!
----We have sports owners (Red McCombs, Carl Pohlad) who can't get the legislature to discuss the subject. But it could be worse, we could be living in New Orleans.
----The land for a possible new Jets new stadium could cost as much as $300 million. Land and infrastructure will be big topics here (as soon as Hell freezes over and the legislature gets off its big fat pork-laden butt). It'll be good to see how other areas get around these issues.
From the Sidelines
Yes, I love the Blues. And the Blues artists all have cool names. So, what's your Blues name? Follow the instructions below to get your genuine Blues name.
Then experience that legendary blues thrill.
1. From the first list, take the name using the first initial of your first name.
2. From the second list, do the same with your middle name.
3. From the third list, take the name using the initial of your last name.
First List - for your first name:
A=Fat; B=Muddy; C=Crippled; D=Old; E=Texas; F=Hollerin';
G=Ugly; H=Brown; I=Happy; J=Boney; K=Curly; L=Pretty;
M=Jailhouse; N=Peg Leg; O=Red; P=Sleepy; Q=Bald; R=Skinny;
S=Blind; T=Big; U=Yella; V=Toothless; W=Screamin'; X=Fat Boy;
Second List - your middle name:
A=Bones; B=Money; C=Harp; D=Legs; E=Eyes; F=Lemon; G=Killer;
H=Hips; I=Lips; J=Fingers; K=Boy; L=Liver; M=Gumbo; N=Foot;
O=Mama; P=Back; Q=Duke; R=Dog; S=Bad Boy; T=Baby; U=Chicken; V=Pickles; W=Sugar; X=Cracker; Y=Tooth; Z=Smoke
Third List - your last name:
A=Jackson; B=McGee; C=Hopkins; D=Dupree; E=Green; F=Brown;
G=Jones; H=Rivers; I=Malone; J=Washington; K=Smith; L=Parker;
M=Lee; N=Thompkins; O=King; P=Bradley; Q=Hawkins; R=Jefferson;
S=Davis; T=Franklin; U=White; V=Jenkins; W=Bailey; X=Johnson;
Me? I'm Muddy Boy Lee. Please address me as such in the future. My son turns out to be Ugly Boy Lee. My wife (Boney Boy Lee) might have something to say about that.
What is yours?
Photos of the Day
A huge mountain of cow manure is seen smoldering at a feedlot near Milford, Neb., Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005. The estimated 2,000-ton pile of burning cow manure spontaneously combusted about two months ago and continues to smolder despite attempts to douse it.
From the Sidelines: King Arthur and the Witch
From The Commish, a tale for men to live by:
Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.
The question?....What do women really want? Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.
He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer.
Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer.
But the price would be high; as the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.
The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first.
The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend!
Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noises, etc. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life.
He refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden, but Lancelot, learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur.
He said nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table.
Hence, a wedding was proclaimed and the witch answered Arthur's question
What a woman really wants, she answered....is to be in charge of her own life.
Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared.
And so it was, the neighboring monarch granted Arthur his freedom and Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding.
The honeymoon hour approached and Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. But, what a sight awaited him. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen, lay before him on the bed. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened.
The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth, be her horrible deformed self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half.
Which would he prefer? Beautiful during the day....or night?
Lancelot pondered the predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch? Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous, intimate moments?
What would YOU do?
What Lancelot chose is below. BUT....make YOUR choice before you scroll down below. OKAY?
Noble Lancelot, knowing the answer the witch gave Arthur to his question, said that he would allow HER to make the choice herself.
Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.
Now....what is the moral to this story?
The moral is.....
If you don't let a woman have her own way....
Things are going to get ugly
Set phasers to Grin and Bear It! Does one laugh manically as if insane or cry like a newly born baby? However one looks at it, the Vikes are again at the top of the chart when it comes to salary cap numbers.
For 2005, estimating the NFL salary cap to be approximately $85 M, the Vikings will be an estimated $30 million under. Think of who the Vikings could sign with that kind of dough.
Inside the NFL North division, the Bears come in at $19.28 million under, the Lions at $15 million under, and the lowly Packers at $3 million OVER.
So, whom could the Vikings target should McCombs (or Fowler or Taylor) decide to actually spend that projected money instead of saving it for a rainy day? The following summaries are players set to become free agents in 2005. Note that this list does not include players who are likely to void a year on their contract and thereby become free agents. I do not break out Restricted Free Agents and which will be Unrestricted. This list only includes players who started in 2004.
Idrees Bashir (Colts)
Gary Baxter (Ravens)
Aaron Beasley (Falcons)
Jay Bellamy (Saints)
Donovin Darius (Jaguars)
Will Demps (Ravens)
Tony Dixon (Cowboys)
Andre Dyson (Titans)
Nicholas Harper (Colts)
Quentin Harris (Cardinals)
Ronnie Heard (49ers)
Anthony Henry (Browns)
Kelly Herndon (Broncos)
Renaldo Hill (Cardinals)
Joseph Jefferson (Colts)
Sammy Knight (Dolphins)
Marlon McCree (Texans)
Dwight Smith (Buccaneers)
Fred Smoot (Redskins)
Travares Tillman (Panthers)
Bracy Walker (Lions)
Adrian Wilson (Cardinals)
Charles Woodson (Raiders)
Jessie Armstead (Panthers)
Akin Ayodele (Jaguars)
Kendrell Bell (Steelers)
Gary Brackett (Colts)
Rocky Calmus (Titans)
Andra Davis (Browns)
Mark Fields (Panthers)
Scott Fujita (Chiefs)
Morlon Greenwood (Dolphins)
Nick Greisen (Giants)
Edgerton Hartwell (Ravens)
Sedrick Hodge (Saints)
Warrick Holdman (Browns)
Orlando Huff (Seahawks)
Rob Morris (Colts)
Ryan Nece (Buccaneers)
Julian Peterson (49ers)
Tommy Polley (Rams)
Matt Stewart (Falcons)
David Thornton (Colts)
Will Witherspoon (Panthers)
John Abraham (Jets)
Raheem Brock (Colts)
Hugh Douglas (Eagles)
Marques Douglas (Ravens)
Jason Ferguson (Jets)
Carlos Hall (Titans)
Reggie Hayward (Broncos)
Darren Howard (Saints)
Aaron Kampman (Packers)
Chike Okeafor (Seahawks)
Seth Payne (Texans)
Corey Simon (Eagles)
Pat Williams (Bills)
Tony Williams (Bengals)
Bennie Anderson (Ravens)
Joe Andruzzi (Patriots)
Rich Braham (Bengals)
Milford Brown (Texans)
Rick DeMulling (Colts)
Ryan Diem (Colts)
Chris Gray (Seahawks)
Ben Hamilton (Broncos)
Justin Hartwig (Titans)
Eric Heitmann (49ers)
Jonas Jennings (Bills)
Kenyatta Jones (Redskins)
Walter Jones (Seahawks)
Kyle Kosier (49ers)
Jermane Mayberry (Eagles)
Stockar McDougle (Lions)
Kareem McKenzie (Jets)
Seth McKinney (Dolphins)
Tom Nutten (Rams)
Matt O'Dwyer (Buccaneers)
Orlando Pace (Rams)
Tupe Peko (Colts)
Dominic Raiola (Lions)
Victor Riley (Saints)
Oliver Ross (Steelers)
Kevin Shaffer (Falcons)
Cameron Spikes (Cardinals)
Robbie Tobeck (Seahawks)
Keydrick Vincent (Steelers)
Matt Willig (Panthers)
Paul Zukauskas (Browns)
Steve Christie (Giants)
Billy Cundiff (Cowboys)
Jay Feely (Falcons)
Todd Peterson (49ers)
Jeff Reed (Steelers)
Adam Vinatieri (Patriots)
Bryan Barker (Packers)
Toby Gowin (Jets)
Tom Rouen (Seahawks)
Kevin Stemke (Rams)
Dave Zastudil (Ravens)
Should be a few names on that list that the Vikes bring in for a look in the coming months. I hope.
More on Ownership
It is now being thought that Red McCombs is waiting for the NFL to conclude contract extensions for the league's Sunday night, Monday night and new eight-game Thursday-Saturday night TV package to rationalize his increased $650 million asking price for the Vikings. Nevertheless, just because McCombs is asking $650 million doesn't mean he'll receive any more visits to his Texas ranch. Without a stadium deal, it's almost a certainty he'll have to resolve for a smaller amount. A little used car haggling!
It could then be time for Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to recommence his effort to buy the Vikings from Red McCombs in two weeks. That's how long Arizonan Reggie Fowler has before his negotiating rights understanding with McCombs ends. Let the countdown begin.
Think Randy Moss didn't have an impact on the psyche of Green Bay fans when he ended their season by ending their pathetic post-season hopes? Go no further than Madison, Wisconsin where a string of billboards specifically target Moss.
The first one says: "Squirting an Official with water bottle $25,000."
The next one: "Ramming a Meter Maid $1,200 and probation."
The third billboard says: "Mooning pack fans $10,000."
The final one: "Zero rings for Randy Moss. Priceless."
If for no other reason than to show Packer fans as being overly obsessed with their hatred towards Moss, we cannot allow the team to trade him!
This is golden, golden stuff!
My son and I are home today. "Stay home days", Graham calls them. Graham has pink eye and strep. WKW (Well-Kempt Wife) needs to be at work so WTH (Well-Trained Husband) is at home with sick child.
So, I don't have a lot of time to develop a story for today. Just enough time to pull some things together before I am to turn on the Cartoon Network and sit down with Graham to watch Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, Looney Tunes......hey! That's not such a bad day!
Arizona Gets New Logo
The Arizona Cardinals are now sporting a new, more fierce logo.
After decades of sporting a mildly perturbed cardinal on their helmet, the Chicago/St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals finally have cracked open the wallet of owner Bill Bidwill for a relatively minor makeover.
Owner Bill Bidwill called the new logo "[a] tough bird," which "[h]opefully . . . will be worn by tougher and faster and meaner players."
And I'm still having trouble with the notion that anyone should be afraid of a little red bird.
"As they say, it's not the size of the bird in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the bird," coach Dennis Green said. "The cardinal is a small bird, but it can be a very aggressive bird. That's the idea."
Typical Denny, sounding like a guy who's trying too hard to come up with something good to say.
Added quarterback and apparent world traveler Josh McCown: "The only birds I know about are the duck and the dove and the quail, birds that you shoot,. You're not really supposed to shoot cardinals. I don't know if I'd shoot this bird. It looks pretty mean.
"This bird might pull a gun out and shoot right back at you."
There's a healthy image for the National Football League at a time when Jamal Lewis is getting ready to become someones girlfriend in Cell Block H.
From the Sidelines
Everyone that knows me understands my love of Guinness.
A Guide For The Un-Initated To Buying Guinness In An Irish Pub
1 Choose your pub carefully. A pint of Guinness does not appreciate loud music, loud people or bright flashing lights.
2 Ask politely for a pint of Guinness. Depending on the pub, it is possible to catch the barmans eye and mouth the word "pint", he will translate this accurately.
3 The barman will fill the glass between 70% and 80% capacity. It will then be put to the side for a few moments to allow it "to settle". Once the brownish liquid has almost turned to a solid black the barman will then fill the rest of the glass. NB: do not under any circumstances take the glass before it is filled. Some virgins seem to think that the settling stage is the final stage and walk away with an unfinished pint. At this point we Irish DO understand the predicament, but I assure you it causes endless mirth as well.
4 Once you have received your pint, find a comfortable stool or seat, gaze with awe into the deep blackness, raise the pint to your mouth and take a large mouthful. Be firm.
5 A good pint can distinguished by a number of methods. A smooth, slightly off- white head is one, another is the residue left on the inside of the glass. These, surpise surprise, are known as rings. As long as they are there you know your're okay. A science of rings is developing - the instance that comes to mind is determining a persons nationality by the number of rings (a ring is dependent on a swig of Guinness each swig leaving it's own ring). An Irishman will have in the region of 5-6 rings (they pace themselves), an Englishman will have 8-10 rings, an American will have 17-20 (we sip) and an Australian won't have any at all as they tend to knock it back in one go!
6 As you near the end of your pint, it is the custom to order another one. It is a well known fact that a bird does not fly on one wing.
Need another reason to drink Guinness (or any beer) for that matter? Go no further than this incredible tale:
Y'all have a great weekend. I've already got a start on mine.
Mike Tice doesn't even know if he can even hire new coaches to replace those that he has lost recently.
The front office at Winter Park doesn't know if they will be allowed to add to the Vikings payroll through free agency, let alone sign a #1 draft pick.
But down in Miami, things are just dandy. Let's take a look to see how the other half is living.
Dolphins new head coach Nick Saban has already figured out an important exception to the salary cap.
It doesn't apply to coaches.
As a result, Saban is rounding up an all-star assortment of assistants, throwing salaries of $800,000 a year or more onto the table in an effort to buy their services. (Oh, and Saban's salary is expected to average between $4 million and $5 million a season compared to Tice's $750,000 for the coming season.)
Former Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan went from a salary of $300,000 per year to $850,000 in making the leap from Minny to Miami. Vikings receivers coach Charlie Baggett (who for some reason was making $100,000 a year more than the team's offensive coordinator) saw his own salary double from $400,000 to $800,000 when he accepted the same position in Miami.
Most recently, the Fins added offensive line guru Hudson Houck, paying him $850,000 per year.
''There's a salary cap on players, but there's no salary cap on coaches,'' Saban said, according to the Miami Herald. "You have to understand that getting the best quality people to develop your players is a very good value. It's certainly something I believe in and it's something we believe in organizationally."
Meanwhile Tice can be found scouring the highschool football wite looking for a few new coaches who might actually receive a nominal bump in salary should they be hired by the team.
Oh, and the 'Fins wanna pony up just about their whole team to reunite Randy Moss with Linehan. This one is very interesting. Why? the 'Fins have the #2 overall pick this year. Hmmmmm.
Link of the Day
The Greet Machine has initiated a campaign launch for Tom Ridge to become governor of Minnesota. While governor of Pennsylvania, Ridge figured out how to build 4 new stadiums for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Eagles, and Pitt Panthers. In other words, Tom Ridge is a diplomatic and financial genius.
Now that Tom has resigned as directory of the Department of Homeland Security, Minnesota desperately needs his leadership. To that effect I created an online petition for the purpose of drumming up support for Tom Ridge's candidacy:
Please sign it if you are interested in seeing stadiums finally built in Minnesota!
Quote of the Day
From the Washington Post's Tony Kornheiser, regarding the NFL's inexplicable decision to allow the City-Town of Jacksonville to host a Super Bowl:
"The NFL must see itself as handing out some sort of charity when it awards the Super Bowl to any place other than New Orleans, Miami and Southern California. Because, believe me, nobody wants the game to be anywhere but there. So when the NFL insists on putting it in outposts like Detroit, Houston or Minneapolis, people ask, 'Are you guys nuts?' But when you pick Jacksonville, people are agape and say, 'Who in Jacksonville has a photo of Tagliabue with a goat?'"
Close, personal friend 78-year old Red McCombs probably doesn't believe in the "you can't take it with you when you die" adage. McCombs was born in the West Texas town of Spur in 1927, the mischievous oldest child of four siblings. He began working at age nine, selling peanuts to migrant workers. He was determined to make money. And he has never stopped.
Well, Red isn't selling peanuts any longer. He is trying to sell the beloved Minnesota Vikings. Reports during the 2004-05 season had the asking price hovering around $600 million. And that was too much for anyone to even nibble on Red's fishing pole. So, you would think that the price would drop a bit, right? I mean, if the hosue you are trying to sell has been sitting on the market for over a year you drop the asking price. Not Red.
McCombs has jacked up his asking price for the Minnesota Vikings to $650 million or more, a team source said Tuesday.
What can one say? I've got nothing. So this thread will end abruptly.
One player is paying particularly close attention to the trade rumors involving Randy Moss and the Baltimore Ravens.
Ravens cornerback Deion Sanders seemed to suggest to NFL on FOX's James Brown that he'd be more excited about returning to the Ravens if they landed our #84.
"First of all, that would really encourage me to play, first and foremost," Sanders told Brown while appearing on his Sporting News radio show.
Sanders went on to suggest that he and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis would be able to provide a little guidance for the occasionally wayward Moss, who has been dogged by controversy throughout his career.
"I think we can help him, not only on the field but off the field and let him see the big picture," Sanders said.
"Because football is just a blink of an eye, then you've got to deal with your life in your mid-30s or the early-30s, and we want to prepare him for that. Because football, it's over so quick, and we don't want him to burn so many bridges and destroy relationships that you're left alone when you retire. But I think we could really help him."
Deion Sanders and Ray Lewis are going to give advice to Moss on how to run his life? How about, ruin his life?
Moss is intelligent enough to see through these two clowns. And knowing Moss, the conversation might go a little like this....
Sanders: "Randy, would you come to the Ravens?''
Moss: "Anybody but Green Bay or the Ravens, homey."
Lewis: "But Randy, we need can tell you how to run your life."
Moss: "You're a murderer, the hell with you.''
Sanders: "What about me?. I'm hip, I'm cool, I know the inside dope.''
Moss: "Nope. You're part of the problem, homey.''
From The Sidelines
I've now had a chance to listen to the new 89.3 FM (The Current) station over the last three days. My mind is not yet made up whether I love it (yes!), am luke-warm to it (yes!), or just plain loathe it (yes!). I'll explain in a bit.
For those not in the Twin Cities, The Current is a public radio station under Minnesota Public Radio. Its goal is capturing new music that defines our era - and its musical roots and influences. 89.3 will be streamed live via the Internet, so listeners anywhere in the world can hear the broadcasts, as they happen.
As I said, my feelings have really run the gamut. Let me explain:
The Good: During my drive to work early Tuesday, I heard a song from a group called Two Time Polka. Apparently it is a group that originated in Ireland but plays Cajun music. It was very captivating and I have already ordered the CD. I will be listening to this CD as I sit outside under the garden pergola with my family this coming summer. And I would have never heard of them had it not been for The Current.
The Bad: Also on Tuesday, I was suddenly swept back to 1988 when Siouxsie & The Banshees' Peek-A-Boo roared from my speakers. I loved that song as it was on the tail end of the New Wave music that defined my twenties. The group was one of the Punk/New Wave movement's most revered iconic bands. So, why do I have this under the "bad" category? Because they followed it with a tune from Pinetop Perkins!
Now, many of you probably have never heard of Pinetop Perkins. Perkins is most well known as a member of the great Muddy Waters Band, and has also been inducted into the Blue's Foundation's Blues Hall Of Fame in Memphis. He is something of a legendary status in the blues world. And as I've let you know as of late, I love the blues.
So, here we had two great artists that rank high in my personal music library. Two artists which I would never hesitate to play. I just would never choose to play one after the other. Maybe I'm being picky, but I don't mix foods on my plate and I don't mix genres' when playing my music.
The Ugly: On Monday morning I heard a great Willie Nelson tune from his Stardust album. One of my favorites, indeed. That was followed by Bjork. Bjork is the kind of singer that my grandfather would have said, "Sounds like two cats fighting in a bag". Bjork fans, of course, would say that her music is odd, and ground breaking. I simply say, you don't follow a classic Willie tune with Bjork. Especially when people are driving.
So, the verdict is still out on The Current. But I do think they have a shot. It's early yet and they'll most certainly be playing around with the format. I suggest specialty shows. This is what BBC Wales Radio does and my wife and I often tune in to hear our favorite segments from BBC Wales each day. And I suppose this is what MPR is aspiring to.
Good luck to them. I'll be listening for these changes.
Neal St. Anthony, a business columnist with the Star Tribune, wrote an very interesting piece in the January 25 edition of the STrib. "State dropped the ball on stadium plan" went on to describe how Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration effectively killed a baseball bill last year that was acceptable to Senate leaders and was passed by the Republican-run House tax committee. The bill would have set aside money for a $531 million, retractable-roof baseball stadium without tapping income or property taxes. The plan also met the guidelines of Pawlenty's own 2003 stadium commission. But the powerful House tax committee killed the bill's chances when it voted down a different financing plan supported by Pawlenty that would have tapped into incremental taxes paid by pro athletes.
Why would Gov. Pawlenty toss up a road-block on something that so clearly would have meet his very own requirements? St. Anthony describes through interviews and quotes how Pawlenty is dodging the issue and placing stadium talk on the back burner until after the 2006 gubernatorial election.
So, it would appear that our esteemed governor is talking out of two sides of his yapper. On one side, Pawlenty touts, “Bottom line, I don’t want to lose the Vikings and the Twins on my watch.”
Then, on the flip side it appears Gov. Pawlenty, who repeatedly voted against stadium bills as a member of the Legislature, is saying what he needs to say to appease those who support the stadium measures. But then Pawlenty does not carry through on his promises so that he can point to the lack of movement to appease those groups who oppose new stadiums. All in time to garner votes from both sides in time for the aforementioned 2006 gubernatorial election.
That's a very dangerous game Gov. Some may call it undiluted political chicanery....dating two women at the same time. And you don't need to be playing it. Tom Ridge got it done in Pennsylvania amidst huge opposition.
In 1994, Ridge ran for governor of Pennsylvania, winning the election as a Republican. He was reelected in 1998, serving until his resignation to become Secretary of Homeland Security in 2001. Oh, and Ridge won reelection in 1998 after he garned a new stadium bill and approval.
That's right, Ridge worked a stadium bill during an election year. Are you listening, Tim? Here's a timeline for how Ridge got it done in case anyone at the Governor's Mansion in St. Paul wants to take notes.
March 1998 -- Plan B is officially born, with the details of the $809 million plan laid out in a press conference, including a $228 million baseball park, a $233 million football stadium and an expansion of the convention center estimated at between $267 million and $290 million.
June 1998 -- Negotiations among the city and the county and the two teams lead to an agreement that calls for the Steelers providing $76.5 million toward the cost of their stadium and the Pirates providing $40 million toward theirs.
July 1998 -- The Regional Asset District board, which administers half the funds raised by the county sales tax, approves its share of the Plan B funding.
August 1998 -- At a press conference at the site of the new baseball park along the Allegheny riverfront, PNC Bank announces it will pay $30 million over 20 years, starting in 2001, to put its name on the Pirates' facility, PNC Park.
October 1998 -- The Steelers make their long-awaited announcement on the site of their new stadium, to go just west of Three Rivers Stadium.
November 1998 -- As he wins re-election, Ridge says his top priority is to secure the state's portion of the funding for stadiums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Ridge conceded that voting for stadium financing was difficult for many lawmakers. But the governor, who handily won re-election in 1998, said his own political fortunes hadn't suffered because of his public support for using state revenues to assist these projects.
"As I tried to remind folks, there has only been one public person visibly, vocally and positively supporting the state's giving one-third [of the projected construction costs] to the stadiums over the past two years. That's me," Ridge said. "I would hope they would take some comfort in the fact because, clearly, that has been known statewide for some time."
He said there had been no voter backlash against a particular party or governor who supported public financing for stadiums.
No voter backlash. New stadiums in Pennsylvania. So, how have the teams done since then?
The Phillies had the 16th-highest payroll two seasons ago, at just under $60 million. That was increased to about $70 million last season.
The Phillies, who moved into their new ballpark in 2004, had been hampered by an unfavorable lease at Veterans Stadium.
The Eagles, who are heading to Super Bowl XXXIX, got there by signing wide receiver Terrell Owens, free agent linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, free agent defensive end Hugh Douglas, free agent linebacker Dhani Jones, and free agent defensive end Jevon Kearse. The Eagles moved into their new stadium in 2003.
Lessee, the Twins are having a hard time signing Cy Young winner Johann Santana. The Vikes are talking about trading away Randy Moss.
Tom Ridge, are you available to run for Governor of Minnesota in 2006?
Links and Tidbits
Ever since the Vikings were upset (yes, Cheesehead Craig, upset!) by the soon-to-be-Super Bowl runner-up Philadelphia Iggles, there has been rampant speculation regarding the potential trade of Mr. Randy Moss. Contained within various sport sites such as ESPN or CNNSI, and even amongst fan message boards, there has been very little in the way of actual credence that one could actually glom onto with any sort of conviction.
Using my vast powers of insider views and contacts, let us now look at some of the solid news that has emerged regarding the possible move. I will then offer my outlook regarding whether a trade should and could happen, and finally review the teams that might ring, amid plenty of picks and/or players, Winter Park as the Vikings attempt more than 15 years after the fact to do to another team the same thing the Cowboys did to them via the infamous Herschel Walker trade.
For starters, owner Red McCombs said on Monday that he has no plans to trade Moss. "I don't see how we would want to give up a player like that," said Red. Don’t you always know that owners who say, “I’ll never do this or that,” that the very next day they do the exact opposite? So don’t give that statement much weight. Especially since ol’ Red might not be the owner of the Vikings for much longer.
Close, personal friend Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press thinks that Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor eventually will step up and buy the team, even though Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler is trying to scrape together enough cash (and interested parties) to make it happen. But I still consider Taylor to be the front-runner and as a new boss he might be more of a mind to send Moss packing.
But the bigger thrust for a trade likely will come from Moss himself. Moss won't appreciate being the subject of "should we or shouldn't we" rumors emanating from the front office, such as Chris Mortensen's current report that an unnamed source pegs the chances for a trade at 60-40. So in lieu of coming off as unwanted, Moss will start making it known that he, not the Vikings, will say when their affiliation ends. And he'll do it by ultimately demanding a trade.
Moss might already be offering an allusion of his coming intentions through longtime friend Sam Singelton. Singleton, who coached Moss in youth football and baseball, said last week, "He's not happy there, and I think he wants to go somewhere else. He knows he's not going to win anything there."
So should the Vikes move Moss? At initial thinking, it might not appear to be a great brainchild. There's a big difference between the solid-but-far-from-great Vikings of 2004 and the 1-15 Cowboys of 1989, who were in significant rebuilding mode under a new coach, new owner, and rookie quarterback when Walker was traded.
Moss, in contrast, is a key contributor, and the team's overall talent level will dip without him. The Vikings looked at times lost when Moss was out with a hamstring injury this past season, although the team nearly pulled off regular season road upsets over Green Bay and Indy while Moss was on the shelf.
The crème’ de le crème at the center of this inquiry is whether the Vikes will get enough help on the other side of the ball to excuse the loss of Moss. I really and truly doubt that any team will send six players, three ones, three twos, and three threes to Minnesota for the talented-but-troubled Pro Bowler. But if the Vikings could swing a solid middle linebacker, a 320-pound run stuffer, and/or a quality cover corner plus a first-round and second-round draft pick, it might be worth making the move. And remember, it was the picks and not the initial players that eventually made Dallas great.
But why even make such a risky move? Because Daunte Culpepper is the bona fide head of the Vikings, and Moss' presence is keeping Culpepper's influence from taking root with the rest of the roster. Culpepper recently said that the only stat he cares about is wins, and he reasoned on the NFL Network recently that he doesn't go Afro for the big games because, to him, every game is a big game. That’s why my son Graham, wears a #11 jersey and not #84.
So it is my esteemed view that the team should use Moss as fuel for pumping up a defense that has been in despondency for much of the past decade. Such improvements could be more than enough to allow Culpepper to push the team to the Super Bowl.
Some will argue that if the Vikes were willing to spend all of their salary cap allocation, they might have been a lot stronger on defense in 2004, with only the addition of another stud defensive player like speed rusher Jevon Kearse. My argument is that a Kearse or other highly sought free agent wouldn’t have wanted to come here anyway…but that’s a topic for another day.
With all that said, who’s alleged to be in the market for Moss? It's in the Vikings' interests to get as many suitors as possible at the table. Regardless of Moss’ many cynic’s, my guess is that more than a few teams won't be able to resist pondering what Moss might mean to their offensive attack.
For now, I’ll put each of the following teams in the pool of prospective suitors: Jets, Dolphins, Ravens, Jaguars, Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Bucs, Cardinals, and 49ers.
Each team might have diverse motivations, but each will at least be suitably interested to talk about the possibility internally. Given the impact that Terrell Owens had in Philly this year, my guess is that, in the end, at least five teams will become won over that Moss can do more good than harm.
And unless ownership (McCombs or otherwise) renews the Vikings commitment to Moss with a contract extension, Moss’ tenor with the Purple could be over. Assuming ownership is likewise willing to spend money on replacing Moss, this could be their best chance to get real value for a guy who might be starting to venture down the back side of his prime years.
Blog Site Additions
You'll notice a few updates to this dog blog off to the left on the navigation bar area. There are a couple of RSS feeds now. RSS is a format for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites, including major news sites like Wired, news-oriented community sites like Slashdot, and personal weblogs. I've added a news feed for Vikings related stories and a link to iTunes giving you the Top 10 Songs in the Blues category for the day. (I have become a Blues junkie!)
I may play with this off-and-on over the next few weeks so check it out every now and then.
From the Sidelines
If you haven't already, check out my Dog Blog to check out the latest happenings with my two mutts.
Darling you gotta let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I’ll be here ’til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
Always tease tease tease
Siempre - coqetiando y enganyando
You’re happy when I’m on my knees
Me arrodilla y estas feliz
One day is fine, next is black
Un dias bien el otro negro
So if you want me off your back
Al rededar en tu espalda
Well come on and let me know
Me tienes que desir
Should I stay or should I go?
Me debo ir o que darme
Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An’ if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know
This indecision’s bugging me
Esta undecision me molesta
If you don’t want me, set me free
Si no me quieres, librame
Exactly who’m I’m supposed to be
Diga me que tengo ser
Don’t you know which clothes even fit me?
¡§saves que robas me querda?
Come on and let me know
Me tienes que desir
Should I cool it or should I blow?
¡§me debo ir o quedarme?
Should I stay or should I go now?
¡§yo me frio o lo sophlo?
If I go there will be trouble
Si me voi - va ver peligro
And if I stay it will be double
Si me quedo es doble
So you gotta let me know
Me tienes que decir
Should I stay or should I go?
¡§yo me frio o lo sophlo?
Ah, The Clash. No finer punk band in the history of Rock 'N Roll. Those boys knew their stuff. And it was a great time for me as well. When the album Combat Rock came out in 1982, I was twenty-one years old. I was a third-year pharmacy student. In the third year of my relationship with my then highschool sweetheart. And like all college kids.....I knew everything. I was rebel exemplified. In short, I was a real pain-in-the-ass.
Oh, right. This is a football related blog. Sorry about my Bloody Mary induced flashback!
As promised a few days ago, there will be topics to discuss this Vikings off-season. Probably more than once or even twice. So let's start off with the hot topic of Randy Moss even being in purple next year.
Lots has been made in the last week about a trade to Washington, or Arizona, or Oakland. We'll hear more. And I'm sure when pressed by the media the Vikings will deny that any such talks are taking place and blah-blah-blah. We all know that everyone has a price. Offer up enough in the way of defensive help and or draft picks and you bet your pierced nipple the team will listen.
Well, let me throw another possibility your way. With receiver David Terrell's Friday arrest likely to push Bears G.M. Jerry Angelo past the breaking point as to the underachieving and erratic 2001 first-round draft pick, inside word from my bud the Bear Man (Photo from 2001), that the Bears are hoping to trade out of the No. 4 overall spot, and select USC receiver Mike Williams with a lower pick.
First, of course, the Bears would need to find a trade partner. And in a year when a clear-cut top five picks might not emerge, it might be difficult for Chicago to find someone who'll make the jump for a guy who isn't head-and-shoulders above the rest, especially since the slotting process will require the team that selects from the four spot to give their pick a commensurate financial package.
The Bears also remain very interested in the Marty Booker situation in Miami. If new coach Nick Saban opts to release Booker, who was sent by the Bears to the Fins as part of the Adewale Ogunleye trade, Angelo will be interested in bringing Booker back.
The challenge, of course, will be to make Marty forgive and forget the abrupt manner in which the team communicated to him the fact that he'd been traded. Booker was very upset with the team at the time, and our guess is that he won't be inclined to return -- especially if the Vikings come calling for his services after the seemingly inevitable trade of Randy Moss.
So, Moss would be traded for some top defensive help and maybe a pick or two. And the Vikes would end up with Nate Burleson and two former Bears (Booker and Marcus Robinson) as the top three WRs. I might be able to live with that actually. Might.....as I really don't want to let Moss go.
Should I stay or should I go, indeed! I think I'll make me a batch of seafood curry using scallops, swordfish, grouper, and shrimp. Sip some imported wine. Bring out the port and select cheese for dessert. Do some pondering. You do the same and get back to me. Leave a comment. I might actually respond. This indecision’s bugging me........
From the Sidelines
If you didn't already know, I am a Licensed Drug Dealer (LDD). Licensed in four states as a matter of fact. Virginia, Texas, North Dakota (don't ask!) and Minnesota. And LDD is my funny way of letting people know that I am a pharmacist. I quit the retail racket of weekends, 12-hour days with no breaks, and working holidays waaayyyyyy back in 1997. In 1997 I became gainfully employed by the evil pharmacy benefit managers. I'm the guy who gleefully restricts the number of Viagra tablets Grandpa can get and raise your copay each January. And relish in it.
Then came THE REMODEL. Added 1200 square feet of cherry cabinets, Sub-Zero refrigerator, hardwoods floors, storage space, plasma TV, and God-knows-what-else to our humble abode. Oh yeah, about this time I decided I need a BMW also. What the hell, I was doing my part to help stimulate America's economy. Then came the bills.
So it was back to occassional relief at one of your finer retail pharmacies. I now work one to two nights a week to make ends meet. Time goes quickly and the money is good. But there are times I recall why I quit retail in the first place. Such as patient etiquette. Here is one man's tongue-in-cheek guide on how to make me feel extra special and love you, the customer, even more:
1) Be sure to stare at the pharmacist while your prescriptions are being filled. Staring at the pharmacist makes him or her work faster.
2) Never remember the name of the medications that you want refilled. By calling it "the little white pill," you are sure to receive the correct medication.
3) When calling in eight prescriptions or more, always arrive at the pharmacy to pick them up within 10 minutes. It is OK to hurry the pharmacists; if they make a mistake, it won't kill you or anything.
4) Feel free to ask the pharmacy staff for the exact price of your prescription before it is filled. The staff should know every co-pay for every insurance plan.
5) Always ask how long it will take to fill a prescription. If you're lucky, you will get it for free if it's not ready in 30 minutes or less. Also, be sure to keep asking if the prescription is ready every five minutes - pharmacists often keep prescriptions to themselves after they are filled just to tick you off.
6) Be sure to complain about the co-pay. The co-pay is set up on the whim of the pharmacist and has nothing to do with the insurance company.
7) It is not necessary to present your insurance card - or even know the name of the company. Pharmacists are psychic and know everyone's insurance.
8) Upon calling in a refill on a maintenance medication without refills, always question why the doctor has to be called when you've taken the same medication for years. It is only a myth that prescription medications have to be ordered by doctors.
9) Always question why the insurance company is so concerned about your getting Prilosec 10 days too soon. After all, you are paying $5.00 for it and that's all it costs.
10) Over-the-counter displays are put there in order to entertain your children. Please encourage them to play with any item and even open one or two.
11) Make sure you save all your old prescription cards. One of pharmacists' favorite games is to guess which one is current.
12) When you call in a prescription, just say, "Can I have my pills filled?" You can be sure the pharmacist will recognize your voice and know which medication you want.
13) Pharmacists are some of the few people whose ears work independently. So when you see a pharmacist on the phone, feel free to just start talking - his free ear will hear everything.
14) The pharmacist is the only person in the store who is really capable of writing down your refill numbers, so when you call, demand to speak to the pharmacist.
15) Try to do all of your pharmacy business on a Monday. The pharmacist will appreciate it.
16) Another pharmacist favorite is to have a patient walk up and ask, "Can I pick up my prescription?" Guessing who you are is another pharmacist game.
17) When there are several people ahead of you near the pickup counter, always stand right at it. The pharmacist will know how important you are and fill your RX first, and, if not, you can listen to juicy patient-pharmacist conversations.
18) If you are not asked for your insurance card, it means that the pharmacist wants to fill your prescription and then, after you are told how much it is, you can shout, "I have insurance!" The pharmacist will be glad to do it all over again.
19) When you need a really old prescription filled, tell the pharmacist that you have a standing order for it. This works especially well if the doctor who wrote it is dead.
20) When you get a new insurance card, make sure that you keep it a secret. The pharmacist would rather phone your old company to find out why your RX is being rejected.
21) When you drop off a refill bottle, tell the pharmacist you'll pick it up either today or tomorrow. This type of clarity helps him plan his workload.
22) When you order your prescriptions and the pharmacist asks which ones, respond by saying, "All of them." The pharmacist will know.
23) When asked for the number of your prescription, respond by saying, "I don't know, you have it there." The pharmacist will know.
24) When asking for a refill on a pain medication, make sure you wait until the last one is gone and then try to call late on Friday afternoon. It will be easy to get in touch with the doctor for a new Rx.
Next week, more on the Vikings and who knows what other rant. You'll just never know with me. It's the off-season and I have to fill my time somehow!
I've mentioned my good buddy The Commish before. Good guy...family man....runs our Beer Brotherhood Football Fantasy league.....sits next to me in Row 1, Section 101 on Vikings game days. Just likes Tice a wee bit too much for my taste but then no one is perfect. (He thinks Tice will be the coach to take the Vikes to a Super Bowl title...yeah, and Les Steckel was a great coach!)
Anyway, The Commish didn't waste any tears when Scott Linehan departed the Great White North for Bikini City. Here's his take.
The Commish felt that Linehan was a good coordinator. Linehan had the Vikings offense ranked right up there in yardage every year. But points per game? Not so much.
I agreed with The Commish that the Vikings are built for offense...speed offense. So what was the magic number of points the offense needed to put up on the board for the Vikings to win? If the magic number was not obtained, the oft-knocked Viking defense was too weak to contain the opposition. So this got The Commish intrigued and he sharpened his replica Mike Tice pencil, removed it from behind his ear and got to work. Here is what The Commish found:
In the 2002-03 season, the Vikes were 4-1 when the offense scored greater than 27-points per game. They were 2-9 when scoring less than 27.
In the 2003-04 season, the Vikes were 6-2 when the offense scored greater than 27-points per game. They were 3-5 when scoring less than 27.
In the 2004-05 season, the Vikes were 7-2 when the offense scored greater than 27-points per game. They were 2-6 when scoring less than 27.
Summary for the Tice/Linehan era: 17-4 when the offense went over 27 points in a game. 7-21 when they didn't. Kind of speaks volumes.
Enter Steve Loney. Loney was an offensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota in 1998-99 and at Iowa State from 1995-97 and 2000-01.
Loney returned to Ames for the 2000 season after a two-year stint at Minnesota. Under Loney, the Cyclone offensive line gelled and Iowa State ranked second in the Big 12 in rushing and allowed just seven sacks the entire season. (The Vikings allowed six sacks in two playoff games this past season and forty-six during the entire 2004 regular season!) ISU, a small school, ranked 21st nationally in total offense, averaging 424.5 yards per game. Oh, and Iowa State averaged 27.82 points per game in 2000.
Loney's offensive schemes produced record-breaking results at Iowa State from 1995-97. In Loney's first two seasons at ISU, the Cyclone offense produced the most prolific tailback over two seasons in NCAA history in Troy Davis, who rushed for a two-year NCAA record 4,195 yards. Troy's brother, Darren Davis, rushed for 1,005 yards in just nine games in 1997, giving the Cyclones three straight 1,000-yard rushers under Loney. He also helped develop Tim Kohn, a two-time first-team all-Big 12 selection at offensive tackle, center Pat Augafa, the 1995 Big Eight Conference offensive newcomer of the year and an all-conference choice in 1996, and Oliver Ross, currently with the Dallas Cowboys.
Iowa State increased its offensive production by 20 percent during Loney's tenure in Ames. ISU ranked second in the Big 12 and 37th in the nation in passing offense in 1997 with an average of 231.9 yards per game through the air. The Cyclones ranked fourth in the Big 12 and 13th in the nation in rushing in 1996 with an average of 237.7 yards per game on the ground, which included an impressive average of 5.0 yards per carry. In 1995, Iowa State was third in the Big Eight and 15th in the country with an average of 228.5 yards per game rushing.
What about under the lowly Gophers? Minnesota was second in the Big Ten under Loney's guidance in the 1999 seasonand ranked 11th nationally in rushing, averaging 239.1 yards per game. The Golden Gophers were fourth in the Big Ten and 26th nationally in total offense (415.4). Minnesota finished fourth in the Big Ten and 20th nationally in scoring offense at 31.6 points per game in 1999.
Minnesota broke 19 offensive records in 1999 as the Golden Gophers turned around their program and went to a bowl game. Minnesota produced nearly 5,000 yards of total offense in 1999.
Loney's unit also produced an all-Big Ten first-team rusher in Thomas Hamner (1,362 yds) and a first-team All-America center in Ben Hamilton. Hamner and quarterback Billy Cockerham combined to form the top rushing duo in the country with 2,167 yards for an average of 197.0 yards per game. In addition, Minnesota set team records for points (348), touchdowns (42), total offensive yards (4,569), average yards per play (5.9) and average yards per game (415.4).
So, an established and smash-mouth running game. Pass protection to the tenth degree. This is starting to sound promising.
Who was Scott Linehan again?
From the Sidelines Part One
My son Graham will be turning five this coming April. He can already tool around the computer like a pro, speak Spanish, point out the correct stars and planets in the night sky, is taking Irish Dance (big recital in a month!), can bowl a strike.....and still run around the house naked whilst ignoring pleas to "get your PJs on!"
Graham's new interest is doing mazes. Lots of mazes. Thirty mazes in a day was accomplished just last Saturday. We no longer invest in maze books. My wife and I now spend a portion of our day searching for printable mazes from the 'Net. It's actually a large portion of our day but don't tell our bosses.
Now, think back to win you were four going on five. Could you do a maze like this? Or like this? Or even like this....it even says 'hard' on it! Hell, I was too busy with a finger up my nose or playing with my Tonka trucks to worry about mazes.
Yes, we are proud. And we are bragging. But, this is impressive. So much so that I have taken it upon myself to design and build a kid-size maze in time for Graham's birthday party. He and his buddies will be able to walk through this lifesize maze on their own. Here is hoping for a warm April!
From the Sidelines Part Deux
My guy, George W. Bush, was inaugurated into his second-term Thursday. Watch Bush systematically take apart the soon-to-be extinct Democratic Party over the next four years. He'll do this by forcing the Dems to speak to issues that they really don't want to tackle. (Senator Clinton Urges Use of Faith-Based Initiatives...hah!)
Take apart the party of Roosevelt, Harry S. (a favorite of mine, by the way), and Kennedy? "What you talkin' 'bout Willis!?!?!"
For a spot-on commentary on why the Democratic Party doesn't get IT...read this piece by Brian G. Fortin.
$825,000 or $750,000? One of those figures is former Vikings offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan's 2005 salary with the Miami Dolphins. The other is Vikings head coach Mike Tice's 2004 salary.
As of yesterday, Linehan is officially making more than his former boss. By $75,000. Ouch! Just how valuable did the Dolphins think Linehan was? Consider that the average NFL salary for an NFL offensive coordinator in 2004 was $466,000. Not too shabby Scotty!
Linehan also wanted to take current Vikings offensive line coach Steve Loney with him. Tice slammed the door shut on that deal and is keeping Loney here...for now. Why?
If you'll recall from earlier this season, Tice's contract is set to expire after this season as only the option year was picked up by owner Red McCombs. Do you think Tice and the Vikings can get anyone of value (Norm Chow!!!!) by selling them on a one-year contract with no assurance of employment after 2005?
Therefore, it seems to be even money that Loney will be promoted to offensive coordinator. That's got to have Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss excited.
But back to Linehan's new three-year contract worth $2.55 million. What speaks volumes here? That McCombs is a skin-flint who throws nickels around like manhole covers? While that is true, McCombs is trying to run a business and prep for a sale of the team. He's doing what any other former owner has done. Lower overhead and make the sale palpable while increasing net profit.
So who's to blame for this one? Without a doubt, the Minnesota State Legislature. Without a new stadium to produce the revenue necessary to compete, the Vikings are totally handcuffed.
In 1999 the Vikings fell $11 million below the league average in total revenues. But team operating costs remained above that. Without a new stadium that can provide the same (and additional) revenue sources other teams such as the Dolphins enjoy, that gap has gotten wider every year.
In 2004, the Minnesota franchise ranked 31 out of 32 teams (just ahead of San Diego) in local revenue. The team fell $27 million behind average league revenues and simply can't compete at the dome under current conditions. Soon, the Vikings will no be able to generate the revenues needed to operate the team.
Take a gander at these NFL Rankings for the Vikings (Source: NFL CFO's office):
Net Gate Receipts: 25th
Parking: 31st (duh!)
Club Seats/Stadium Club: 31st
Total Revenue: 30th
So Purple Brothers & Sisters, I'm afraid until the State Legislature gets off their collective fat keisters and stops debating inane subjects such as Cosmetology and barbering regs merger under one examiners board, Methamphetamine manufacturing, and Mourning dove hunting season for example, and begins a stadium debate in earnest, there will be more departures from Winter Park for greener pastures.
There will be no significant free agent signings in 2005 and beyond. There will be no moving up to a Top 10 draft pick on Draft Day. Because there is no money to throw around.
There will be, instead, free agent signings that will be voiced as "significant" when in fact, the free agent is an oft-injured retread that the team wants to take a chance on because the guy signed a low-ball contract.
There will be, instead, the Vikes looking to trade out of their first round selection every year because they simply cannot afford to sign a first round rookie stud.
There will be, instead, unhappy coaches at Winter Park that are so below the league average on terms of salary that they need to pick up a second job.
Oh, and one more to watch. Vice President of Football Operations for the Vikings is Rob Brzezinski. In 2004 the Vikings were more than $19 million below the $80.6 million cap largely due to Brzezinski. The Vikings are projected to have at least $25 million in cap room this coming season. Brzezinski accomplished this by signing players to contracts that evenly distributed the cap hit over the life of the deal. Consider the seven-year, $30.83 million contract center Matt Birk signed prior to the 2001 season. Brzezinski has put the Vikings in position with the current salary cap restraints to have a great run for the foreseeable future.
Oh, and Brzezinski has a contract that expires after the 2005 season. Bye-bye Rob. It's been fun.
Links and Tidbits
If you haven't yet seen this parody of Brett Favre, DO IT!
Yesterday I left you with information pertaining to the growing speculation that a potential sale of the Vikings to Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler could be imminent according to various local media outlets. It looks like everyone is in full reverse mode as of this morning. You know what that means....yeah, a sale is right around the corner. When people start denying things you can be certain that very serious negotiations are underway.
Now, I have nothing against Fowler. Very little is even known about the man. But I would be against the sale if Fowler has to put together a team of investors in order to close the deal. Been there, done that.
From 1991 until 1998, the Vikings were owned by a 10-headed hydra that ran the ship. These people couldn't even agree on meeting times, let alone run the team. The President and Chief Executive Officer was Roger Headrick.
Headrick was a business man. He had spent a 30-year career in business (Exxon and Pillsbury) before coming to the Vikings. His principal expertise was in the area of finance and strategic planning. It was not football.
That's why I sat down on February 7, 1998 to conduct a review on Headrick and rate him in terms of running a business. I thought that if Headrick wanted to be viewed as being the ideal candidate to purchase the Vikings (remember Tom Clancy?) in 1998 based on his strong business acumen, then he should have his feet held to the fire and review his previous years as head Viking Grand Poohbah.
Much to my surprise, within days of posting the Headrick review on the old Viking Underground site, I was called into Winter Park by then marketing director Stew Widdess. What took place during the face-to-face meeting at Winter Park on a cold Saturday morning will remain private. But I posted a retraction shortly afterwards. A retraction that cost me the respect of many Vikings fans across the country.
Jump to present day. Here we are staring at another possible group of investors to again own the beloved Vikings. Do we really want to go down this road again?
To help you decide, I have gone into my vault and retrived the original Headrick review as posted back in 1998. I hope I don't get another call from Winter Park again. Send out the search party if you don't hear from me later this week.
“The Successful Owner’s Handbook”
February 7, 1998
by Brian K. Maas (Mr. Cheer Or Die)
So successful businessman Roger Headrick wants to fight for ownership of the Minnesota Vikings. Fair enough, but let’s look at the keys to successful ownership and see how the Pillsbury Doughboy rates:
1. Establish Plans: Already Roger ranks low here as he could not even plan correctly in the event that his bid for the team was exceeded, in this case by Tom Clancy. Now Roger is just bitter. Good long-range planning, Roger. And besides, if you had the right of first refusal, why didn’t you just put in a bid for $1 since it appears you were just going to raise the bid anyway?
2. Structure and Staff: Let’s see, Roger, your football organization runs on a structure that includes no GM, a public relations director who was fired in October but worked the rest of the season, and a board of ten directors with no clear responsibilities. When staffing, you should have been building a team whose members had complementary strengths. But with a lack of understanding of your organization’s future challenges, you chose instead to mix people with missing skill sets and perspectives. Football minds do not mesh with business minds, a la Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson.
3. Develop Systems and Processes: First was the need to improve efficiency through the use of technology, like actually getting computers into Winter Park. Heck, Roger, through connections with the Southern California Viking Fan Club, state-of-the-art computer systems were sent to you at Winter Park and you, gulp, sent them back unopened! Then there was the need to increase ticket sales by asking yourself, “Does this current system support, block or create obstacles to achieve the mission?” Instead we had blackouts, long ticket lines on game day and a head coach challenging ownership halfway through the year.
4. Manage Expectations: By conveying clear expectations for assignments, a good owner can eliminate time wasted by employees who don’t have clear direction. The staff at Winter Park has worked under the NFL’s thumb the last two years while they waited for you to resolve the 30% ownership issue with the other owners. That has to have been as frustrating for your employees as it was for the fans.
5. Work Efficiently: Maybe a course in time management should be thought about. Again, it really took two years to finally meet the NFL’s demand for 30% ownership? Maybe an adjustment of priorities and schedule to ensure your daily work aligned with this major job responsibility should have taken place.
1. Speak Effectively: By communicating in a succinct and concise manner, the nine other board members would have had a clear understanding of the Viking’s bylaws, and this upcoming nasty battle could have been avoided.
2. Foster Open Communication: By interacting with your fellow owners openly and directly, you could have made sure there would have been no “surprises,” such as Denny’s book, this past year.
3. Listen To Others: Roger, the WCCO poll shows that 98% of Minnesotans prefer Tom Clancy over you as Viking owner. What more clarification do you require?
1. Build Relationships: An owner should relate to his fans in an open, friendly and accepting manner while showing sincere interest. Tom Clancy has done that in 48 hours. You tried by hiring Jonathan Winters to do some ticket sales promos two years ago.
2. Display Organizational Savvy: One skill necessary in this category is to recognize which battles are worth fighting and when it is time to compromise. “The right message at the wrong time is the wrong message.” Now you tell Viking fans that you were going to place a competitive team on the field when it appears you will be losing the team. Um, Roger, why weren’t you doing that before?
3. Leverage Networks: Yeah, right. Let’s see, you lost the ownership vote 9-0. You must have been working overtime on this skill!
4. Manage Disagreements: This past season we had a head coach take on the ownership committee, the owners splintered and assistant coaches who quit to come back later in frustration. Way to minimize that conflict, Roger!
1. Provide Direction: This fosters the development of a common vision. Instead, under your direction, we had owners wanting Green fired while others wanted to retain him, owners wanting to sell, some owners wanting to spend money on free agents and others wanting to remain at status quo. There has been no direction at Winter Park since you took over, and it has shown on the field and off.
2. Lead Courageously: An owner should step forward to address difficult issues and put himself on the line to deal with important problems. A quote from Clancy, “ If things go wrong, there will be only one person to answer to, me.”
3. Influence Others: This skill helps to mobilize people to take action. Your skillful leadership over the last several years has mobilized thousands of Viking cyber-fans to complain via fax and e-mail to the NFL Commissioner’s office, local media and web sites.
4. Foster Teamwork: If the organization was a “team,” would Brian Billick have resigned in disgust with your leadership?
5. Motivate Others: A desire to excel comes from the leader. Instead we have owners and coaches who want out faster than they can open the door.
1. Know the Business: Instead of hiring a GM with a strong football background, you chose, instead, to appear at a scouting event with sun visor, stopwatch and clipboard. Next time, maybe bring a starter pistol for those 40-yard dash timings.
2. Use Technical/Functional Expertise: Your plan to renovate the Metrodome by lowering the field and adding 6,000 new seats was meet with laughs by Minneapolis engineers. The punch line? Seems a river runs under the Dome. Your response? “We can always divert the river.” Uh-huh.
3. Manage Profitability: Well, everyone can excel in at least one area. By not spending big-time money on those exceptional free agents the last several years, you have saved Viking fans from having to deal with lengthy playoff runs and having to dip into our pocket books for those playoff tickets. Thank you, sir.
4. Focus On Fan Needs: An owner should ask his fans what their needs are. You make lists which detail the needs you believe the fans have. Note the difference.
1. Act With Integrity: "What appears to have happened is that Mr. Headrick low-balled his opening bid, not knowing that somebody wanted to pay what the team was really worth," said Clancy. "And now he's going to his partners and saying 'OK, well . . . I tried to shaft you before, but this time I'm trying to do something better.' I guess the board wasn't overly pleased with that approach, and in any case it doesn't matter, 'cause I've already been approved." ‘Nuff said.
2. Demonstrate Adaptability: Adaptability is a skill in which an owner shows resilience in the face of constraints, frustrations or adversity. "The issue we have to deal with is, 'What do you do now with a guy that has turned adversarial like this?' " co-owner Jaye Dyer said. "To me this is just as dumb as [coach] Dennis Green's book deal.’
3. Develop Oneself: Learn from experience. Even in the heat of a bitter takeover battle at Pillsbury Co. in 1989, you reportedly remained cool and professional. The reputation that preceded your 1991 appointment as president and chief executive officer of the Vikings was that of a level-headed, intelligent, buttoned-down numbers cruncher who didn't meddle in sales, marketing, personnel matters, communications or corporate goal-setting. Again, Roger, learn from experience.
Overall Grade: F
To summarize, competitive pressure and fundamental changes will remain the hallmark of the NFL environment. The organizations have found that they are successful only when their staff, coaches, and players have the skills necessary to meet both current and future needs.
To ensure that the Viking organization keeps pace with the competition and continues to evolve and grow, we need a leader who will place a high priority on developing people and pleasing his fans.
And by reviewing the aforementioned skills, Roger, that’s not going to be you.
Got your own suggestion for ownership? Just leave a comment by using the Comments link at the end of this entry.
Lots and lots of stadium stories out there today. The STrib even provides a possible timeline to get all three (Gophers, Twins, Vikings) stadiums built. I'll return back to this topic later this month as things become more crystallized but you can always keep up-to-date with the latest and greatest stadium news by visiting the Greet Machine blog.
According to the STrib, Mike Tice wants to decide on one running back to feature next season. "Whether that's Mewelde Moore, Onterrio Smith or Michael Bennett, I think that has to [be decided] by the time we leave Mankato, if not sooner," Tice said.
That's good news for fantasy football owners, like myself. Also good news for Vikings fans who haven't seen a featured back since Robert Smith hung up his cleats. As you'll recall, Smith stunned Minnesota when he walked away from the game at age 28 after the 2000 season.
From what I saw of the current stable this year, no one totally enthralls me. And I want that big, break-way, top-5 NFL numbers kind of back that Smith was. That's why I'd personally love to see a trade for Jamal Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens. But, that's just me.
I'd be happy with any of the current four as well. I'd like to see what they could do given the chance to carry the load for the majority of the season. Each excelled this season, when give the chance prior to injury setting in. And with Jim Kleinsasser back next year to clear a wider path, you never know. The Vikes may just have a NFL Leading Rusher candidate in their very midst.
Who would you like?
Rumors of a pending sale are flying fast and furious this week. One can hardly keep up with them.
Former Vikings punter and current Vikings Game Day sideline reporter Greg Coleman is friends with Arizona entrepreneur Reggie Fowler who has been off and on news in regards to purchasing the Vikings from Red McCombs. Well, Fowler is back on again. Coleman spoke at length with Fowler recently and gets the feeling that a sale is near. No price mentioned, and Coleman is not sure if Taylor would be involved. Fowler wants a family like atmosphere and has zero intention of moving the team. Coleman also said today on KFAN Radio that Fowler wants to move his entire business to Minnesota as well as his family.
This same news was reported this afternoon on WCCO radio which broadcasts from Minneapolis. Stay tuned!
From the Sidelines
It's the off-season now. So I can't provide Vikings views 24-7 without repeating myself a thousand times or boring you half to death. So, I'm just going to post some non-football related things under the From the Sidelines heading now and then. You might find these things interesting. You might not. But you'll probably come to know me a little bit better than.
I've been taking seafood classes at Coastal Seafoods. What a great place. Knowledgeable staff, great seafood, and the classes have been wonderful to date.
I took my second class, Shellfish, last Thursday (1/13/2005). We learned a few traditional recipes for steamed mussels and clams. It was the mussels that really interested me in this particular class as my wife and I love the mussels served at the Atlas Grill in downtown Minneapolis.
We also sampled raw oysters on the ½ shell. I had done this quite a bit when I lived in Texas. I had found a bar that served up my favorite Belgian ales and also served up raw oysters every Friday. I recall in Texas, though, we laid on the horse-radish sauce pretty heavily. At Coastal it was straight oyster.
But sampling the oyster without sauce brought my attention to the differences between the East coast, West coast, and Japanese oyster. I ended up prefering the East coast (Northpoint) oyster.
But the highlight of the class was learning to prepare Oysters Rockefeller. I prepared this dish after the Vikings lost to the Eagles. It went flawlessly and it erased any memory of the bitter defeat of the Purple.
So, need a way to bury your sorrows after the season? Try a cooking class! It is great fun.
The Vikes were upset by the Eagles today when the Vikings made too many mental errors during the game and could simply not overcome them. I won't even blame the coaching stafff on this loss as it seemed to this fan that the players were put into the correct position and the correct plays were being called. The players simply did not make the plays.
Poor passes by Daunte Culpepper. Dropped passes by Randy Moss. Players not knowing the play called such as when an extra offensive lineman reported onto the field during the fake FG attempt that almost certainly would have resulted in a touchdown to Moss.
It was also very obvious that the Vikings missed pass-blocking specialist Moe Williams today. Not to mention Jimmy Kleinsasser.
In any event, it should be a heck of a Super Bowl watching Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons. What a complete team and what a complete game put on by the Falcons Saturday night when they destroyed the St. Louis Rams.
So, what will be the lingering questions as the Vikings head into this off-season? I'll try and tackle each of these over the next few months as more information comes out and as we look back on the campaign the was.
In no certain order:
1) Ownership: Will it be Red McCombs or will we finally see a sale to Glen Taylor?
2) Randy Moss Traded: We're going to read about it. We might as well discuss it.
3) Status of Mike Tice: Of course, this is very dependant on ownership.
4) Progress of a New Stadium Bill: We can always look to the Greet Machine to give us updates on that topic.
5) Defense: Can enough progress be made on defense next year to take the team farther into the playoffs?
6) The Draft: Trade up or trade down? Go defense or offensive?
7) Rising Ticket Prices: Will the fans be back next year? Will the season-ticket base start to erode? How high can ticket prices go?
Links and Tidbits
This guy wants to understand why intelligent people watch football.
Duh....I dunno? Why do we watch this stuff? Anyone? Maybe we can all show up at their next Mensa meeting dressed in our Cro-Magnon outfits, beat our drums around the campfire and reach a mutual understanding?
We'll Always Have These Memories
As the 2004 campaign comes to a close, at least we'll have these fine memories from the most eventfull game of the year (sorry Craig...give us one more time to crow!)
As for me? I'm now going to be able to work a little more with that new puppy of mine. Do more more bowling with my son. Start to plan out our new garden projects with my lovely wife. Maybe even find some time to do some more things for myself. Now where did I place that telescope last fall.....
Time seems to be slowing down the closer it gets to the appointed time of the playoff game against the Eagles. Creeping slower the more I anticipate the kick-off. Very slowly.
On Friday, a European spacecraft plunged through the murky atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan on Friday and successfully came to rest on a bizarre landscape of mystery never before explored.
My son and I love astronomy and the study of the solar system. So we've listened to the sounds from Titan. We've looked at the photos showing the orange surface. We've been awed by the whole scale of the project. And that things move slowly on Titan.
A raindrop forms ninety kilometers above the surface of Titan. It starts with an infinitesimal speck of tholin, adrift in the cold nitrogen atmosphere. Dianoacetylene condenses on the seed nucleus, molecule by molecule, until it is one shard of ice in a cloud of billions.
On Titan it takes almost a year for the shard of ice to precipitate downward twenty-five kilometers, where the temperature drops low enough that ethane begins to condense on it. It starts to drift.
At forty kilometers, the drop gets caught up in a ethane cloud. There it continues to grow. It occasionally collides with another droplet and doubles in size. Finally it is too large to be held effortlessly aloft by the gentle stratosphere winds.
Falling, the drop sweeps up methane and grows large enough to acheive a terminal velocity of almost two meters per second.
At twenty-seven kilometers, it passes through a dense layer of methane clouds, aquiring more methane, and continues its downward flight.
The air thickens, the velocity slows and the drop begins to lose some of its substance to evaporation. At two and a half kilometers, when it emerges from the last patchy clouds, the drop is at a lazy terminal velocity of one meter per second and hits the surface.
So, which is faster? The rain on Titan or waiting for the start of the playoff game? Today, time feels like the slow rain of Titan. Very slow indeed.
Much has, and will, be made of the tremendous height advantage that Randy "Moon Man" Moss will have over the diminuative cornerbacks of the Beagles this coming Sunday.
Moss stands 6-4 and leaps like a graceful gazelle. The Dwarfs of the Eagles each go 5-10. According to my 1979 Texas Instrument calculator, that is a 6" advantage...or 1/2 foot. Man versus boy. We've all seen what Moss has done when given that type of height advantage before. "Daunte fires high! Moss goes up and gets it! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown!"
Gets kind of boring after a while, doesn't it?
But I want to take you back to the key Vikings player for this game and the remainder of the playoffs. That would be Mr. Culpepper.
At 6-4 and 264 lbs., Culpepper outweighs each member of the starting
defensive secondary, each member of the starting linebackers, and two of the four starting defensive linemen for the Beagles. Culpepper is so big that often you can hear the voices of the defense echo off the huge frame as they bark out commands at the line.
"Watch out for the draw-aw-aw-aw!"
Culpepper can snatch and lift a mere 370 lbs. in the weight room. More than most linemen in the NFL.
One would expect to hear, "Did anyone get the license plate of that truck?", coming from the mouths of many a Beagles defensive player this Sunday.
This coming Sunday, Culpepper will be the most important player on the field for the Vikings. And I say he will stick out his tongue to the world. The world who did not believe.
It will be so.
Links and Tidbits
Check out the numerous Packer spoof photos that Spiking Viking has posted on his site. And be sure and save 'em for those times next year when your obnoxious Cheesehead co-worker needs a little reminder!
Reason 741 that we all hope the Vikings get to Super Bowl XXXIX? Randy Moss and Media Day!
Well, the fine we were all expecting finally was levied. $10,000 was the amount. Apparently a NFL spokesman said the fine was higher because Moss had previously been fined for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Anyone else think that the league went too far hitting Moss with a $10,000 for his pretend mooning of the fans in the end zone seats after scoring his second touchdown on Sunday?
Let's see, flipping off the fans (Jake Plummer) gets a $5,000 fine. Hitting a QB in the helmet late (Eric Barton) gets a $7,500 fine. Punching a guy in the crotch (Steve Gleason) gets a $5,000 fine. Pretending to moon the crowd gets a $10,000 fine?
The action by the league demonstrates that the rules and guidelines for imposing fines are meaningless. Unless there's language in the book that permits a guy who has been fined for unrelated behavior to be slapped with something more than $5,000 for a violation of the league's prohibition on vulgar acts.
Sure, $10,000 is a drop in the ocean for Moss, who earned $5.75 million this season. The difference between those two numbers prompted Moss to suggest that, in Philly, he might shake his, um, philly cheese steak. In which case, I'll pay the fine just to watch the obnoxious Philly fans choke (much like their team does every playoff season).
Still, the NFL needs to learn a thing or two about consistency in the imposition of fines. Especially if the league genuinely is concerned about getting nailed at some point with a race discrimination suit for its hiring practices. The fact that white guys Plummer and Gleason drew only $5,000 fines for a finger in the air and a fist to the groin, respectively, could end up being further proof of racial bias in the league office, when compared to the $10,000 fine levied against Moss for, in my view, far less offensive conduct.
In any event, the fine has not bothered Randy in the least...and it shouldn't. To wit, KARE-TV of Minneapolis recorded the exchange between Moss and reporters outside the Vikings' practice facility after the fine was announced:
Reporter: "Write the check yet, Randy?"
Moss: "When you're rich you don't write checks."
Reporter: "If you don't write checks, how do you pay these guys?"
Moss: "Straight cash, homey."
Reporter: "Randy, are you upset about the fine?"
Moss: "No, cause it ain't [expletive]. Ain't nothing but 10 grand. What's 10 grand to me? Ain't [expletive] … Next time I might shake my [expletive]."
You go Randy!
I've had enought to say about this topic. But, here is another great article but a self-admitted Moss hater who takes issue with Joe Buck and the media.
Yawn....Time to Talk Philly
Why Beagles fans have not been sleeping well.
Seems that the Beagles fans are starting to get nervous and scared. Come Sunday, the Beagles fans will be in need of an underwear change three or four times during the game (first you say it, then you do it).
You see, they Fear the 'Fro. The City of Brotherly Love is in danger of becoming the City of Brotherly Angst.
And things just get better and better for the Vikes. Moe Williams, once listed as "out" for Sunday is now slated to play. Williams will provide protection for Daunte Culpepper in passing situations.
Ah, yes. The tsunami of the NFC is coming Philly. Are you ready?
With T.O. out of the Philadelphia Eagles lineup the Eagles have to turn to their other receivers (very loose term). The problem for the Eagles is, however, that none of the receivers they have are going to scare anyone on the Vikings defense. The Eagles have got only two bonafide playmakers now in Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. The Vikings cannot let those two beat them. If Mike Tice and company can develop a game plan to play the Eagles smart, the Vikings will be off to the NFC Championship game.
So what is the best way to play, and conquer, the Owens-deprived Eagles? Let me walk you through my game plan (and hope that Tice is reading!):
1) Force McNabb to toss from the pocket: McNabb made strides this season in terms of developing a comfort zone. I should know as I had him on my fantasy football team! But McNabb minus Owens is a quarterback who will revert to previous seasons, when he was prone to stretches of imprecision and vacillation. McNabb hasn't run very much, or very productively in 2004, but he is still capable of breaking down a defense with the impromptu scramble. By jamming the wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, McNabb will be forced to hold the ball and, in such instances, he can become impatient and try to force some throws. Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ted Cottrell should continue the pressure he brought on Brett Favre and bring some inside heat, since the Eagles guards, banged up much of the season, are suspect. McNabb, by the way, has just one touchdown pass in three NFC Championship Games, but has thrown five interceptions and been sacked eight times.
2) Tackle Westbrook: The sense is that the Eagles' running game, not really much of a force anyway in 2004, will find fewer creases because of Owens' absence. So the key is to limit the number of big plays that Westbrook makes in the passing game. No back in the league had more receptions this season, and the elusive Westbrook, who coach Andy Reid may play more in the slot since he is essentially the Eagles' most dangerous receiver now, leads the NFL in yards after catch. The tailback might actually command some sort of "bracket" coverage from the Vikings. Perhaps he matches up with Antoine Winfield in those situations as Winfield is the Vikings best tackler.
3) Run the football: Since the Eagles staff inserted Jeremiah Trotter into the starting lineup at middle linebacker, Philadelphia's defense against the run has been markedly better than early in the season. But the Eagles might be suspect to the run and Tice should not abandon the rushing game if the Vikes don't have early success. I won’t say that the Vikes will be likely to impose their will against the Eagles' front seven as the Steelers did back in October, but the Philadelphia design has always surrendered yards in its bend-don't-break approach. Plus, being in workable third-down situations keeps Eagles coordinator Jim Johnson from blitzing as much.
4) Control tempo and keep the crowd out of the game: The denizens of The Linc can be among the loudest in the NFL, but are also among the quickest to turn on their homeboys when things aren't going well. The longer the Vikings hang in the game at Philadelphia, the more palpable becomes the sense of impending doom among the Eagles fans.
And the #1 Defense Is....
After one game, the much maligned Vikings' defense ranks No. 1 overall and against the pass in the NFL's postseason rankings. That's right, we're #1, we're #1, we're #1!
After ending up regular season ranked 28th in total defense and 26th in points allowed, the Vikings defense awoke Monday morning to find themselves ranked first in yards allowed (306), takeaways (four) and are tied for first in points allowed (17). And they earned those rankings at Lambeau Field on a sub-freezing January afternoon.
It should be no different this coming Monday morning.
Links and Tidbits
You may have noticed this morning but I wanted to point out that the blog has been updated so that the links are now in yellow and easier to see. Let me know if you have any other suggestions. And...thanks Shane!
Poll for Today
Back to ESPN. Perhaps one of the strangest television debates of all time occurred recently when Mike Ditka and Michael Irvin debated over the morality of Randy Moss' Moon Dance at Lambutt Field this past Sunday night.
I already exposed Irvin. Let's move onto Ditka who should look up the old saying, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones".
Nice finger Coach.
On ESPN, Ditka said he wouldn't want Moss on his team. This is the same guy who drafted Rickey Williams, put him in a wedding dress and then stood for a portrait. But Iron Mike doesn't want Moss on his team.
I would have thought the conversation with Irvin might have gone more like...
Irvin: OK Coach, I gat one...Ditka verse Gad in a game a' checkers. Who wins dat one? I gatta go wit Ditka.
Ditka: Now, Michael, let me ask you this: What if Da Bears were all 14 inches tall, you know, about so high? I think I go Bears 18, Giants 14 and it would FINALLY be a good game.
Irvin: Okay, Ditka, back to Moss: Next week, all the Vikings don't make it to Philly, the plane is delayed or something.. and the only players who show up are Moss & Culpepper. Moss & 'Pepper vs. Da Eagles. Okay, score, Mike.
Ditka: Alright, after da Moss Moon Part Deuce, I gotta say Vikings 17, Eagles 14.
C'mon Media! You are making complete asses of yourselves right now! Move on!
Telling Stat of the Day
Quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who threw four touchdowns against the Packers, had 343 passing yards against the Eagles in Week 2. He was the only quarterback to throw for 300 yards against the Eagles this season.
Vikings are Cash Cow for Fox Sports
Poor, poor Joe Buck was disgusted by Randy Moss this past Sunday. But you know what? The Vikes-Pack tilt pulled in the highest rating of the NFL's Wildcard Weekend. The game received a 21.3 share. That was up 6% for Fox from last year's Seahawks-Packers game that started at 1 p.m.
The three other games had rating of:
Broncos-Colts AFC wild-card playoff game had a 17.6 share. The Jets-Chargers AFC wild-card playoff game had a 17.0 share. The Rams-Seahawks NFC wild-card playoff game had a 16.0 share.
Locally, the Vikes win over the Packers was the highest-rated game in Twin Cities history with a, get this, 75 share. That means 75 percent of all the televisions turned on Sunday afternoon locally were watching the game.
Did controversial Randy Moss and the Vikings help vault Fox to a ratings victory in prime time? Without a doubt. So when metrosexual Joe Buck goes shopping for more hair gel he can thank Moss when he can purchase the 55-gallon drum instead of the 4-ounce tube.
Last Word on Favre
Four interceptions (a fifth one dropped!) and a devastating loss to the Vikings is not how Brett Favre planned to go out this season. And now the question of retirement once again has arisen.
The way that both Favre and Cheeseheads showed an utter lack of class in the playoff game...who wants 'em back?
On Monday, I talked about how the so-called future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback could throw two punches on the field and not get called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty and get tossed from the game.
Now comes the report that eight Packers fans were arrested and twenty-one ejected from Sundays game. Of the fans arrested, four were taken into custody for unlawful conduct at a public event and four were arrested for drug-related offenses. Police found fans entering the stadium with marijuana. Police found one fan with cocaine after he was involved in a disturbance.
Sneaking in alcoholic drinks and urinating in the wrong place contributed to some of the twenty-one ejections. Three women had to leave the stadium because they used the men's restroom. Fourteen were ejected for "unruly behavior" in the seats, according to the police report.
Urinating in the sink at sacred Lambutt Field?
Memo to ESPN's Chris "I Will Never Refuse a Donut" Berman. Which disgraced Lambutt Field more? Moss? Favre? Or the "classy" fans? Hmmmm.
Eagle Joke of the Day
Poll of the Day
With Philadelphia Eagles fans and the East-coast biased media already looking past the soon-to-be-Super-Bowl-Champion Minnesota Vikings, I thought I'd entertain my loyal Vikings readers with a history of choking in Philadelphia.
First stop, the 1981 Philadelphia Sixers. The Sixers held a 3-1 lead in the Conference finals vs. the Boston Celtics. The Celtics won the next three in a row to take the series.
In 1977 the Sixers were ahead 2-0 against the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA finals, then lost four straight.
In 1964 the Philadelphia Phillies happened to blow a 5 1/2 game lead with 1 week to play.
In 1993, Phillies Mitch Williams deserved a nod for worst player choke when he single-handedly gave the Toronto Blue Jays the 1993 World Series. In Game 6 of the Series with one out in the bottom of the ninth and the Phillies leading 6-5, the Blue Jays got two men on base, bringing Joe Carter up to face Williams. Carter blasted a 2-2 pitch over the left-field fence, and the Blue Jays were World Series Champions for the second year in a row.
The last two years the Eagles held home field for the NFC championship games but lost both. Their loss two years ago was the first time the Tampa Bay Bucs had ever won a game in temps below 40 F.
One year ago it was Carolina Panthers third-round draft pick Ricky Manning Jr., who picked off three passes as Carolina sent the Philadelphia Eagles to their third-straight NFC Championship loss, 14-3.
Three years ago, the Eagles traveled to St. Louis for the NFC Championship game and lost 29-24. Can't really call that a choke, though. They just were out-gunned.
So, onto the 2004-05 NFL Playoffs. The Eagles have already lost the heart of their team in one Terrell Owens. In Week 16 they went into St. Louis with one thing on their collective minds - stay healthy. They did stay healthy but also walked away with a 20-7 loss. Philadelphia gained a mere 155 yards against a defense ranked 24th in the NFL.
In Week 17 the Eagles' backups were thoroughly dominated in a 38-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. So why is that important? Only the 1967 Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl after losing the final two regular-season games.
The motivational talk has already started while the fans whisper doubts in the dark. Take, for instance, Dave Spadaro from Philadelphiaeagles.com who refers to the season-ending two game losing streak in which key starters were sat:
"Playing scared? No. I call it playing smart. As for "flipping the switch" and having their playoff "edge," I don't think there will be a problem. Losing three straight NFC title games is the ultimate motivation. The Eagles have worked all year to get to this point in the season."
Spadaro then continues:
"It's all about the playoffs now, isn't it? The Eagles are still practicing hard, conditioning well, paying attention to the details. So they want to play it smart and keep McNabb healthy and let his body heal a bit. So they want to get Westbrook all kinds of fresh and springy. So Kearse has a chance to rest his aching body."
Sounds to me like they doubt their ability. Sounds to me like they have to speechify their way to a certain level of confidence. It also sounds to me like they aren't counting on their offense and will rely on their defense to beat the Vikings Sunday and advance to their fourth straight NFC Championship game. Here is what Philadelphia linebacker Ike Reese said to the Philadelphia Inquirer this week:
"I think we're a much better defense than we were then. We're playing pretty good ball right now, and we have everybody healthy. It's going to be strength against strength. Their strength is their offense, and I think our strength right now is our defense."
So the pundits are worried about the Eagles playing scared. The Eagles defensive players have no confidence in their offense getting the job done.
I don't get the impression that anyone in Philadelphia is sleeping well these days. Do you?
Bradshaw Also Needs to Look Inward
I borrowed this from Who-Hate-Me Guy over at the KFAN Rube Chat board. I found it so telling that I had to bring it over here.
After his NFL career ended, Bradshaw disclosed that he had frequently experienced anxiety attacks after games. The problem worsened in the late 1990s, after his third divorce, when, he said, he “could not bounce back” as he had after the previous divorces or after a bad game. In addition to anxiety attacks, his symptoms included weight loss, frequent crying, and sleeplessness. He was diagnosed with clinical depression. Since then he has taken Paxil regularly. He chose to speak out about his depression to overcome the stigma associated with it and to urge others to seek help.
OK, personal anguish is nothing to make light of. Certainly when it comes to family and depression. But seriously, if Bradshaw is going to cry foul every damn time Moss opens his mouth and speaks his mind, much in the same manner that Bradshaw does each and every Sunday from his pulpit, then isn't Bradshaw just as guilty of throwing gasoline on a fire that no one outside the media cares about?
Take a look at these numbers from The Sporting News:
59 percent: "Funny"
54 percent: No fine.
69 percent: Want Moss on their team
74 percent: think media should let Moss and TO antics "go"
68 percent say Moss is good for the NFL.
OK Media types, what is up with the disconnect between fans and media on this?
Eagles Joke of the Day
Q: What do you call 53 people sitting around a TV watching the Super Bowl?
A: The Philadelphia Eagles.
Poll for Today
Way back when, Michael Irvin and the "White House" Cowboys celebrated Irvin's 30th birthday with former Cowboy Alfredo Roberts. According to the Texas Monthly, "Party favors included 10.3 grams of cocaine and more than an ounce of marijuana, assorted drug paraphernalia and sex toys." The "White House" was a private pleasure palace near the team's training facility, where he and many teammates enjoyed their R&R, which apparently included just about any wanton activity you could imagine.
The 'Boys got plenty of heat for their bacchanalian ways. William Bennett, author of "The Book of Virtues," condemned Irvine and Co. for "hurting this country's morale." Lineman Nate Newton demurred. "We've got a little place over here where we're running some whores in and out, trying to be responsible, and we're criticized for that, too." Cut to Sunday night after Randy Moss scorched the Packers for two TDs and a "moonlight serenade".
After ESPN played its interview Sunday morning with receiver Moss, Irvin said: "In order to be a leader, you have to care about someone other than yourself. Randy only cares about himself. He's not a good guy to have on your football team.''
Fellow analysts Steve Young and Tom Jackson also ripped Moss before Irvin worked in another swipe.
"Randy, you make great plays. You're not a great player,'' Irvin said.
Must be the cocaine that has caused Irvin to have these memory lapses in which he can speak so eloquently on someone's character.
So could someone explain to me the brouhaha that has erupted over Moss' faux mooning of the folks in the end zone seats at the place which should be known from this day forward as Lambutt Field?
And what about Joe Buck's holier-than-thou reaction to the move? I find it ironic that Buck would have anything negative to say about Moss' antics after coming off as a flaming metrosexual -- at best -- in those Budweiser ads with the fictional football character "Leon".
What about ABC which featured a naked Nicollette Sheridan jumping into the arms of Terrell Owens? Denver quarterback Jake Plummer giving the crowd the one finger salute? Janet Jackson's "Nipple-gate"?
C'mon people, the moon move was no big deal. Given that Moss was hounded relentlessly by the Lambutt faithful prior to and during the game for Moss' ill-advised early exit from FedEx Field one week prior, his reaction was relatively mild, especially in comparison to some of the slurs and obscenities that surely were hurled his way.
Still, the NFL likely will slap Moss with a five-figure fine, fueled by the fact that the media (starting with Mr. Buck) has been crying incessantly about the routine. And, actually, that might be a good thing for Moss and the Vikings, since Randy needs to have that oversized chip on his shoulder in order to coax from himself the highest levels of performance.
Yes, Randy will have the last laugh on the media before the season is over. Just keep piling on him, please!
Favre Was Classless, Not Moss:
Can someone also explain to me how the so-called future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback can throw two punches on the field and not get called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty and get tossed from the game?
So was Favre properly criticized for this bone-headed, pussy-footed move? Hell, no. Did the guys on Fox point it out to anyone as they would have had it been Daunte Culpepper throwing punches?
They didn't and they won't. If this is the kind of crap that the great and powerful Favre is going to pull in a playoff game against the Vikings, then it is time for Brett to call it a career. Go home to Mississippi and sit on the porch swing and talk about the good ol' days. Your time has come and gone. And take your media sycophants with you.
When I first started blogging back in October of last year, little did I realize how much I would enjoy it. It's been a blast! I've meet new people and gained new skills and I've thoroughly enjoyed the experience thus far. Today's entry marks the 100th blog entry into Mr. Cheer Or Die's Viking Underground. Next stop, 1000!
Thanks to Shane for all he has done to bring this site along. And thanks to everyone who has visited and kept coming back. As always, I enjoy reading all your comments. And please feel free to pass the site along to friend (and foe!) alike.
Who’s Your Daddy?
I no longer give a hootin' nanny how the Vikings got into the playoffs. I don’t give a rip that they lost four of their last five games to end the season. I don't want to listen about their road record or record on grass.
It no longer bothers me that Corey Chavous is out, and Randy Moss is being portrayed as a detriment to the team. I don’t care that before this weekend, no 8-8 playoff team has ever won a playoff game.
Last week I told you that the Vikings were going to 1) win against the lowly Packers; 2) that Moss would have a huge game, and 3) to bet the farm. Even my 4-year your old predicted a Vikings win.
I just didn't know it would look so easy!
And I'll stick by my prediction that they will beat the Eagles this coming Sunday and then defeat the Rams in the NFC Championship.
Let's break that down a bit more. When the Vikings beat their longtime nemisis on Sunday at Lambeau Field, several big gorilla's were shed. Including:
1) Can’t win a big game
2) Can’t win on the road
3) Can’t beat a team with a winning record.
The NFC race is wide open. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is saying so. And the victory over the Packers will give the Vikings all the momentum they need to complete the NFC trifecta. Wild-card win, divisional playoff win, and NFC Championship win.
The key winning at Lambeau Field Sunday? Twofold.
The Vikes finally eliminated mistakes and costly penalties when in the red-zone and on defense. Give credit where credit is due. It took 3 years for Mike Tice to finally have his team ready for a game. And the timing couldn't have been sweeter!
Secondly, Moss had the monster game I predicted. Maybe the stats weren't quite there but hey, two TDs on a gimpy ankle ain't chomped liver. Let's face it. Moss was fired up and angry. That spelled the death for the Packers. As Moss has, and will continue to, OWN the Packers.
I'll write more later as I continue to breakdown the win. But I gotta catch some ZZZzzzzs.
But before I go, I ask you Cheeseheads ONE more time WHO'S YOUR DADDY!?!
Need a Jersey?
The Vikings have Vikings Game Worn Jerseys for sale at their site. For a mere $3500 you can have a game jersey worn by Daunte Culpepper or Randy Moss. For those watching their checkbook a little more closely you can aquire Keith Newman's jersey for $400. I think you might see a sale on Chris Hovan's any day now....currently at $1300.
Back in the 1993-94 NFL season, I paid $25 a ticket for four season tickets in section 201. My total package price for these four season tickets in the upper bowels of the Metrodome was $1000.
For the 1994-95 NFL season, I was moved up to section 101 in the end-zone. That's where I am today except that then I was in row seven and today I'm in row one. In any event, I had to dish out an extra $4 per seat for those four season tickets. A decision that took me about 15-seconds to decide upon. Total package price sky-rocketed to $1160 for four prime season tickets.
Reflecting back on those prices I realize those days are long gone and never to be seen again. This stems from reading in the STrib this week that ol' Red has decided to raise prices once again.
Before we discuss the latest rate hike, let's look at some more history for further perspective on this matter.
When prices started to rise and we had to make some tough financial decisions, I decreased the number of season tickets I was holding from four to two. This was not a decision made lightly and I often regret doing it. But the extra money afforded did allow my wife and I to attend other entertainment venues offered by the Twin Cities such as the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Gotta spread the wealth, ya know. But let's return to the history and the math.
For the 1996-97 NFL season, I paid $33 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $660.
For the 1997-98 NFL season, I paid $37 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $740.
For the 1998-98 NFL season, I paid $37 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $740. That's right. Prices actually held. But that was just before Red McCombs purchased the team. And that's where things really get interesting.
For the 1999-00 NFL season, I paid $45 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $900. An $8 per seat (17.7%) increase over the year before and largest yearly increase during my 12-year tenure as a Vikings season ticket holder. My salary increase that year was 3.8%.
For the 2000-01 NFL season, I paid $48.50 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $970. That one wasn't too bad to swallow but one would have thought that after a hefty $8 per seat increase that perhaps no increase was warranted? But wait, it gets even better.
For the 2001-02 NFL season, I paid $53 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1060. A $4.50 (8.4%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.2%. And keep in mind that just 10-years earlier I was getting four, not two, season tickets for that price. And Red wasn't about to stop there.
For the 2002-03 NFL season, I paid $58 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1160. A $5 (8.6%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.5%.
For the 2003-04 NFL season, I paid $62 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1060. A $4 (6.4%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.2%.
For the 2004-05 NFL season, I paid $64 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1280. A $2 (3.1%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.0%. Wow!
So, the amount of inflation since first purchasing season tickets has risen almost 61%. Using this inflation calculator, what did cost me $25 per seat in 1993 should only have risen to $31.29 per seat in 2003. Recall that I was at $62 per seat for 2003.
Had my salary grown to 61% during this same period, my wife wouldn't have to work. Heady numbers indeed!
Now, I know the team needs to make money. I know that the ticket prices are not out of line with the rest of the league. But here's the thing. When is enough actually enough? Where will it stop?
Will there ever reach a point in this Pro Football Hall of Fame fans life that I might have to walk away from it? Drop my season tickets because I have to put food on the table and keep a roof over my family? There is one such scenario wherein that could happen. And it has to do with a new stadium. And as an aside, the STrib does a nice job to promote various stadium bills and I'll return to that later next week.
If the Vikings ever do get a new stadium agenda on the table and actually get it approved I envision that whomever is owner of the Vikings at the time will implement a PSL (private or personal seat licenses).
A relatively new revenue source for team owners is the PSL. PSLs force fans to pay a fixed fee to obtain the privilege of purchasing season tickets. A ticket to buy a ticket!
In the past, teams typically allowed season ticket holders to automatically renew their tickets each year, and that fan's position was lost only if season tickets were not renewed. Now, in an increasing number of stadiums, season ticket holders must pay the PSL fees, which are typically quite expensive, before being given the privilege to pay for the tickets. PSLs don't even confer extra benefits to their customers beyond that of the endangered general season ticket holder.
This is nothing but another scam that takes advantage of sports fans. One more wedge that drives the diehard fans away from the game in favor of a more affluent audience. Just to fatten the wallets of the owners.
I recall a conversation with Jersey John after the 1998 season. Jersey John was the Pittsburh Steelers fan inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with me that year. This resident of the New Jersey shore has spent the past 27 years traveling to Steelers home games -- 750 miles roundtrip, Point Pleasant house to Heinz Field parking lot .
Jersey John told me about their new stadium efforts during that conversation. As part of the stadium agreement, approximately $37 million (but not less than $34 million) in net proceeds from the sale of personal seat licenses was to be raised in order to assist in funding the new stadium. John was being asked to fork over nearly $12000 for a PSL to retain the right to keep his four season tickets. That was $3000 a seat. Just to retain the right........
Jersey John wasn't a down-and-out type. He was a very successful business man. But twelve grand? It gave one pause. And it should have.
So if PSLs become part of the new stadium agenda, there could possibly be two more open seats in the front row available for you. If you have the upfront cash for a PSL...and can handle the 5-17% ticket rate hikes...and the $25 parking...and $60 jersey's.....and $5 hot dog.....Whew!
And Your Packer Joke of the Day
A guy arrived at a car dealership to pick up his 2003 Mercedes. Upon starting it for the first time, he reached over and turned on the radio. Nothing happened. Furious, he looked at the salesman and said, "When I buy a $50,000 car, I expect the radio to work."
The salesman explained that the radio was voice-controlled. All he had to do was say what he wanted to hear and the radio would respond with the correct music. "Wow! Pretty neat stuff." he said. He thanked the salesman and drove off. When he hit the interstate, he decided that he wanted to hear some tunes. "Country music." he said, and Willie Nelson started singing. "Rock and Roll", he exclaimed. Led Zeppelin blasted through the speakers. "Easy listening", he continued. It sounded like he was in an elevator.
As he listened to the smooth sounds, a beat up old truck nearly ran him off the road, then pulled away weaving and lurching all over the centerline. "Stupid, redneck drunks!" he screamed. "The Packer Fight Song" began playing.
Nope, I'm not crazy. Just following my M.O. as of late to bash everyone wearing purple for the first part of the week but then slowly come to the realization that this team has a decent chance for a 1987 type run in the playoffs.
The defense is starting to come together under Kevin Williams who was just named to the Associated Press all-pro team....first team no less. Williams is starting to dominate much in the same vein as Hall of Famer Alan Page.
The running game is starting to gel with Michael Bennett back to full speed. Bennett could provide the type of break-away "he...could....go....all....the...way" excitement that will only help the vertical game as well.
And there is a remorseful Randy Moss. Remember Merrill Hoge back in 2000? Hoge, an analyst on ESPN's NFL's Matchup, said he would take 20 receivers over the Vikings' Randy Moss. He said this because he thoguht Moss didn't play hard 110% of the time. The following week, Moss went out and roasted the Lions for seven catches, three touchdowns and 168 yards.
This past week, Moss has been widely criticized by national analysts and observers for leaving the field during Sunday's game in Washington with two seconds remaining. It would have been more typical of Moss to not respond to any media inquiries or have any comment. That was not the case this week.
That's why I know that Moss understands what he did was wrong. He is remorseful and wants to prove to his teammates that he can carry this team in the playoffs much like Anthony Carter did in the 1987 postseason. Why else do you explain that Moss privately addressed the situation with several players, among them Pro Bowl center Matt Birk.
"It's only lingering outside of here (Winter Park)," Birk said. "Inside, it's been put to bed."
Why else do you explain that Moss granted an interview to ESPN on Wednesday and Fox on Thursday? He also called Vikings coach Mike Tice's radio show on KFAN-AM on Thursday evening.
Moss' teammates expect a big game from him Sunday in Green Bay. I do too....even if Moss is running on only four-of-five cylinders. Quietly in Green Bay they are starting to realize that a monster is stirring. A monster who will be bringing his A-game and will be posting monster numbers.
Get ready for the Quake at Lambeau!
Graham Predicts A Vikings Win
Back on December 14th, I had posted a piece about Graham the All Knowing. My soon-to-be 5-year old Graham had analyzed the Vikings that week and came up with this:
"The Vikings aren't bad guys. They just play bad."
Who could argue?
Yesterday, Graham The All Knowing came home and promptly addressed me. He had received a secret message from space aliens. Yes, space aliens.
Now before you rush to judgement about our parenting skills or assume that Graham needs to be safely locked away inside the Looney Bin, let me explain.
Perhaps Graham does watch a little too many Looney Tunes but he is in no way crazy. He is currently in a Alien Phase of his life. You know how boys (and men!) are. Well, in this current phase, Graham has developed his own alien language and often recites alien phrases to us. He also shows us how aliens walk. His fellow buds at day-care join in this new found enthusiasm and often converse in alien code.
Back to the point about the secret message. Graham The All Knowing had received this secret message. He relayed to me that the message stated, "The Vikings will score six times and beat the Packers".
So I got to thinking. That is pretty reasonable to fathom. Vikes get four TDs and 2 FGs and win 34-31 over the Packers. I gave Graham a confident high-five and promptly called my bookie to bet the farm on the Vikes. You should too.
And today, I can assure you that at a certain daycare in southwest St. Paul there is a young lad proudly wearing a Daunte Culpepper jersey and speaking in alien. That's my boy.
My Playoff Predictions
St. Louis 37; Seattle 28
San Diego 27; N.Y. Jets 17
Indianapolis 42; Denver 27
Vikings 34; Green Bay 31
Games Jan. 15
Pittsburgh 24; San Diego 17
St. Louis 31; Atlanta 30
Games Jan. 16
Vikings 23; Philadelphia 22
New England 27; Indianapolis 26
Games Jan. 23
Vikings 37; St. Louis 34
Pittsburgh 26; New England 17
Feb. 6/Jacksonville, Fla.
Vikings 28; Pittsburgh 27
Vikings Boost Prices for 2005 Tickets
I'll more to say on this Saturday. Suffice for now that I am disappointed in this decision.
And Your Packer Joke of the Day
Packers Head-Coach Mike Sherman was talking to his wife about repainting their homes interior. In the first room she said she would like a pale blue. Mike wrote this down and went to the window, opened it, and yelled out "GREEN SIDE UP!"
In the second room she told Mike she would like it painted in a soft yellow. He wrote this on his pad, walked to the window, opened it, and yelled "GREEN SIDE UP!"
Mike's wife was somewhat curious but she said nothing. In the third room she said she would like it painted a warm rose color. Mike wrote this down, walked to the window, opened it and yelled "GREEN SIDE UP!"
Mike's wife then asked him, "Why do you keep yelling 'green side up'?"
"I'm sorry," came the reply. "But I have some of the players laying sod across the street.
And since it is Friday two, count 'em, two new polls....
Because I could not resist to stir up trouble.....
40. Oh I just couldn't. I mean really, she's only sixteen.
39. I'll take Shakespeare for 1000, Alex.
38. Duct tape won't fix that.
37. Honey, I think we should sell the pickup and buy a family sedan.
36. Come to think of it, I'll have a Heineken.
35. We don't keep firearms in this house.
34. Has anybody seen the sideburns trimmer?
33. You can't feed that to the dog.
32. I thought Graceland was tacky.
31. No kids in the back of the pickup, it's just not safe.
30. Wrestling's fake.
29. Honey, did you mail that donation to Greenpeace?
28. We're vegetarians.
27. Do you think my gut is too big?
26. I'll have grapefruit and grapes instead of biscuits and gravy.
25. Honey, we don't need another dog.
24. Who gives a crap about Wisconsin Dells.
23. Give me the small bag of pork rinds.
22. Too many deer heads detract from the decor.
21. Spittin' is such a nasty habit.
20. I just couldn't find a thing at Wal-Mart today.
19. Trim the fat off that steak.
18. Cappuccino tastes better than Espresso.
17. The tires on that truck are too big.
16. I'll have the Arugula and Radicchio salad.
15. I've got it all on the C drive.
14. Unsweetened tea tastes better.
13. Would you like your fish poached or broiled?
12. My fiancée, Bobbie Joe, is registered at Tiffany's.
11. I've got two cases of Zima for the Super Bowl.
10. Little Debbie snack cakes have too many fat grams.
8. She's too young to be wearing a bikini.
7. Does the salad bar have bean sprouts?
6. Hey, here's an episode of "Hee Haw" that we haven't seen.
5. I believe a Merlot goes best with string cheese.
4. Be sure to bring my salad dressing on the side.
3. I hate Spam and Velveeta sandwiches.
2. Those shorts ought to be a little longer, Darlin' .
And the #1 thing that you would never hear a Packer say.......
1. Nope, no more for me. I'm drivin' tonight
Favre Left Game Early?
A discussed on KFAN Rube Chat today, on November 17, 2002 the Packers came to town with the league's best record. The Packers also had a chance to become the earliest team to clinch a division title in a 16-game season.
The Vikings intercepted Brett Favre three times in a 31-21 victory. Oh, and Favre left the game with :32 tics left on the game clock. If memory serves right, Favre more slinked off the field unable to bear yet another loss at the Dome.
So Moss is a bad guy yet Favre continues to have every media outlet in the nation plant their lips on his lily-white behind? Just more incentive for the Purple to show everyone nationally that Favre is past his prime and it is time for him to return home to Mississippi to watch reruns of Hee-Haw and swat flies on the porch swing.
Today, I'm just clearing the desk of stuff I've found the last few days that I've found interesting.
Jermaine Wiggins made the USA Today All-Joe Team as the "Well-traveled vet made key catches."
The All-Joe team takes its name from Joe Phillips, a defensive tackle for 14 years for San Diego, Kansas City and Minnesota before retiring in 1999. The NFL's stars would not succeed without the All-Joes around them. They would never make the Pro Bowl without the guys who handle the grubbier assignments. Hence, the All-Joe motto: If you work hard, good things will happen. To someone else. And Wiggins certainly made Daunte Culpepper and Scott Linehan look good by picking up the tough underneath yards this season. Congrats Jermaine!
Red-Zone TD Performance
Very interesting piece available only in the print edition of USA Today so I'm not able to link to it. The paper charted red-zone touchdown performance to show how NFL teams fared in the red-zone during Weeks 13-16. Both offense and defense were evaluated. The Vikings as a team ranked as Poor Overall Performance. Not surprising, eh?
The offense was in the red-zone a mere eleven times during that period and scored a TD on just five possessions while the defense allowed the opponent into the red-zone twenty times and allowed fourteen TDs. For both units, this is a 17% drop in performance from Weeks 9-12.
I thought the team was suppose to improve as the season rolled on? I'll continue my Tice-has-to-go mantra a tad bit longer thank-you-very-much!
Sean Jensen at the St. Paul Pioneer Press posted these odds earlier this week:
• No NFL team with a record of .500 or below ever has won a playoff game.
• The Packers won both games against the Vikings this season, and 10 of the past 15 teams that have swept an opponent have won the postseason matchup as well.
• Since the current playoff format began in 1990, home teams are 41-15 (.732) in wild-card games.
• The Vikings have won just two of their past 22 games outdoors.
• And Packers quarterback Brett Favre is 7-1 in playoff games at Lambeau Field.
Well, what does one say to that? Hmmm, the Pack is 4-4 at home this year? That the Vikes have never lost a game at Lambeau while I watch the game in my Sponge Bob Squarepants underwear while standing on my head singing the Welsh National Anthem?
Odds are fun to read but have little meaning come game day. Otherwise, they wouldn't play the game!
More and more is being discussed about the potential sale of the Vikings to suitor Glen Taylor. I came across this today during a review of Chris Mortensen's chat with fans. A Vikes fans asked the question about the potential sale and Mortensen responded:
Chris Mortensen: (11:32 AM ET ) I can't confirm that but there are more and more rumblings (suspicions?) that McCombs is close to a sale. Again, no confirmation.
Now, my good buddy The Commish reported to me that when the Wolves played the Knicks recently, Taylor was there. And Taylor doesn’t go to a lot of road games. A reporter asked him why he went to that game and his exact quote was, “Let’s just say I was here to watch the Wolves game.”
Fingers crossed. Toes crossed. Salt over left shoulder. Lucky rabbits foot. Knock on wood. Stay tuned.
Giants Again In 2005?!?!
Well, there will be at least one loss on the 2005 Vikings season. The vaunted New York Giants. Which means the Vikes will be rolling high at 5-1 or 6-1 and will play the Giants and go into a severe funk the rest of the season. Possibly backing into the playoffs or losing out in the final week of the season. We're in some sort of Groundhogs Day loop here!
Wait a minute! I thought a certain head-coach said we wouldn't have to face the Giants in 2005! I think the exact quote from Coach Flaggy was "Thank God we don't play the Giants next year". This, of course, was after the shellacking given this season.
Maybe it was that Coach Flaggy was saying that HE will not have to worry about the Giants next year because he will be collecting welfare?
Kiss of Death? Or do these pundits know something? (Scroll to bottom of link) Theismann, Salisbury, Hoge, Jaworski, and Schlereth all pick the Vikes to win!
Perhaps receiver Randy Moss had the right idea when he strutted toward the tunnel on Sunday against the Redskins, with the Vikings poised for an onside kick with two seconds left and trailing 21-18.
Why bother to stick around for the inevitable?
Perhaps the entire NFL is wondering why the Vikings are bothering to make the march to Lambeau next Sunday for their first postseason date ever with the Green Bay Packers.
Pundits may be saying, “So what if the Pack only beat the Vikings on two late-game field goals in their head-to-head meetings this season? We smell a blowout and we think the overall psyche of the Purple would be far better served if they don't show up for the game. They’ll fold up and leave the field like Moss did last Sunday.”
Mentally, the Vikings haven't shown up for several games this year, starting with a Week Eight loss at home to the Giants. So why should they subject themselves to yet another nationally televised embarrassment as the whipping boys for their biggest rivals?
What Moss did Sunday by leaving the field before time expired was uncalled for. It sent the wrong message to his coaches, teammates and fans alike. It made this life-long Vikings fan reach for the nearest antacid bottle and empty it.
So I got to thinking. What would Harry P. (Bud) Grant have done had he still be coaching the 2004 team?
My younger friends (born after 1970), along with fans who came aboard the Vikings bandwagon in 1998, always roll their eyes when I revert back to the Grant Era. And I’ve been doing a lot of retracing this year. Because Grant would have control of this team. Grant would have eliminated costly penalties. Grant would have the special teams excelling. And Bud would never have allowed a player to leave the field with time on the clock, no matter how improbable a late game comeback would have been.
I watched a special on the Purple People Eaters on Fox Sport Net the other night. It was a fantastic retrospective on the linemen that dominated the field of play for many years during the Grant Era: Jim Marshall, Alan Page, Carl Eller and Gary Larsen. Ah, those were the days.
Here’s a little known fact for you. At the 1969 NFL Pro Bowl the announcer said, “Representing the starting NFC Defensive Line are the Purple People Eaters.” That’s right; Eller, Marshall, Page and Larsen started the Pro Bowl that year. Yes, the Vikes used to have a defense.
During this program it was pointed out that Grant and Marshall had the utmost respect for each other. If Grant was having trouble getting a message across to a rookie, he gave Marshall a nod and the problem was solved. If players were out of position on the field, Grant gave Marshall a nod and the problem was solved. If a player was penalized while inside the opposing 20-yard line, Grant gave Marshall a nod and the problem was solved.
Marshall once was hospitalized for pneumonia for a week. He checked himself out of the hospital, played the game, then checked himself back in. Marshall once showed up with a temperature of 103. Grant asked ol’ Fred Zamberletti (the Vikings trainer) what Marshall’s temperature was because he looked so horrible. “103,” said Zamberletti. Grant replied, “Good. He’ll play a helluva game, 103 and all.”
Which takes us back to Moss. What do you think Grant and Marshall would have done with Moss as he attempted to leave the field early?
Once scenario has Grant quietly nodding to Marshall and then motioning his head towards Moss. Marshall would have grabbed Carl “Moose” Eller, sauntered over to Moss, stood in front of him with arms crossed and glared him back to the bench.
Another scenario, my favorite, would have Grant nodding towards Zamberletti. Zamberletti would have reached into a long duffle bag and handed Grant his duck hunting shotgun. Grant would have set his sights on Moss’ rear-end and let loose with a full barrel of buckshot. Then there would have been a fight amongst the players as to who would be the last player to leave the field after each game. For the next twenty years. As Mick Tingelhoff once said of Grant after a duck hunting trip, “Bud doesn’t waste any gunshot.”
Ah, yes. The Bud Grant Era. There’s nothing finer in Vikings history and it’s all I have right now. Precious memories of a time when players played for the love of the game and for each other.
That seems so long ago now. So very long ago.
A Few Are Fired Up
Yes, Pro Bowlers Daunte Culpepper, Kevin Williams, and Matt Birk are always ready to give their best during any given game. All 60 friggin' minutes, too! And now comes another of my close personal friends, Dave Dixon.
According to the STrib, Right guard David Dixon, the longest-tenured Viking, is normally a quiet presence in the locker room. He became talkative and fiery Sunday, once he found out the Vikings would be playing rival Green Bay in the first round of the playoffs.
He aimed a profane aspersion toward the Packers in general, then directed his real anger at nose tackle Grady Jackson.
"Who's that fat guy ... yeah, Jackson, running his mouth, saying we knew we couldn't beat the Packers," Dixon said.
A Grady-specific profanity followed and then he said, "If he can say that about us, we can talk about the Packers? You know what they say -- it's tough to beat a team three times.
"We'll try to make that hold true for the Packers."
Now that's what I'm talking about! Um, Dave. Get in Moss' face, OK?
Do these faces reflect confidence heading into the playoffs?
After losing the last game of the year, and four of the last five games, the Vikings still found themselves in the playoffs when the Saints beat the Panthers. In the post game press conference Head-Coach Mike Tice (Coach Flaggy) said something along the lines of "with our great start we put ourselves in this position to back into the playoffs." Well, with all due respect to Steve Martin.....EXCUSE ME ! That attitude is what makes Tice an awful coach. It is an attitude carried over to the team. When Randy Moss walked right off the field with time remaining on the clock it showed that Tice has no control over the team. If he ever did.
It is just unbelievable, I'm at a loss for words. Anyone else feel the same?
But I do look at the upcoming barn burner this coming Sunday in terms of the ol' Win-Win situation. Beat the Packers, and the Vikes knock their most hated rival out of the playoffs at storied Lambeau Field. Lose, and Tice is almost assured of being fired despite the fact that Red McCombs picked up the option year of Tice's contract.
Next Year's Schedule Trouble?
Here are the Opponents for the Vikings in 2005:
Green Bay (X2)
and the Winner of tonight’s Dallas / NY Giants game.
I see five, maybe six sure wins at this point. Ugh! That's a touch schedule!
And in case Cheesehead Craig is wondering, here are the Packers opponents:
Late Injury Report
Vikings strong safety Corey Chavous' status for the playoffs is in doubt after he broke his left elbow on a running play.
I just signed up for my own team in Football Playoff Challenge 2004, and I'm inviting you to start a team and play against me!
I've set up a private "buddies" page to track our team's performance against each other, and against the rest of my "buddies" group.
To join my group, please click here. Football Playoff Challenge 2004 is really easy to play, and you can invite a bunch of people to play too!