October 2005 Archives
October 31, 2005
Scary Movie

halloween 022_small.jpg

Happy Halloween everyone! We had our annual Halloween bash this past Saturday. I just did not know the scary theme would not end until late Sunday afternoon; hours after our guests had left!

I'll admit up front that I'm a bit ashamed. Well, you know, proper Vikings viewing is about watching a game from start to finish. Just like one should view the entire season from start to finish.

Being a fan is about watching a team develop from seed and watching the coaches nurture the players, tending to them like a young plant and feeling justifiably rewarded when they thrive.

But then there are moments in one's life as a sports fan when patience, while not in short supply, is overruled. It occurs when patience will mean that something doesn't look right for the next five years or more.

That's the time when as in our own gardens, we decide to not start with seed and practice patience, but go right for purchasing a full grown plant. A plant that is already a reasonable stature and in scale with its garden surroundings. This often runs into three figures rather than the $1.99 for a pack of seeds.

That's what we expected this season. A defense that was to have been already full grown. A defense already built of veterans not in need of tender nurturing. What we got was a pack of seeds. And I'm not even sure these guys have germinated yet.

I had TiVO'd the game as we were still picking up from our aforementioned party. I began watching about 2:45 PM CST. I started out by just fast forwarding through the commercials. By the middle of the first quarter I was fast forwarding through the commercials and huddles. By the half I was running the game at the slowest fast forward speed. By the end of the third quarter I was running the fast forward at medium. By the middle of the fourth I was running the fast forward at the speed of light.

Total time spent viewing the game? Somewhere around 45-minutes. Ashamed of my actions? No doubt. But I feel more for the team that was suppose to be a full grown, mature plant.

What will new owner Zygi Wilf do after this season? Perhaps the question should be: What should he do? Go after fully developed plants or develop from seed? What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Shoes

Greta Garbo and I have a lot in common. Thanks to a documentary I watched recently, it was she who could not perform happily unless her feet were comfortable. There she stands, in that famous still from Queen Christina, gazing out over the prow of a ship in tailored folds of exquisite velvet, while underneath and out of sight her feet are in carpet slippers.

OK, before you think I've gone off the deep-end I better get to my point. It is the same for me when I attend a Vikings game. I searched high and low for the perfect pair of purple shoes to fit the bill while also keeping my feet comfortable as well as toasty warm during the cold winter trudge from car to Dome during the late season.

For a history of my Vikings game day shoe apparel, view the Viking Underground videocast below:

Tice Approval Poll

Mike Tice did enjoy a bump in his approval rating following the win against the Packers. But it was not nearly the bump he has enjoyed following other wins this season.

Tice's approval rating leapt from 7% the previous week to 54%. But he had not been below 61% following a win all season. Tice now stands at an overall 45% for the season.

What is your thought? Vote your approval to the left.

Dirty Hit?

Every time I view the hit on Daunte Culpepper by Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble I see someone going right for Culpepper's knee. The view I refer to is the one from behind Culpepper in which it appears that Gamble led with his helmet targeting the knee.

Other views seem to lead some credence to the hit being clean, but I see a defensive player going for the knee.

You? A new poll to the left gives you the option to vote 'dirty' or 'clean' hit.

Caption

I've always wanted to do this. What caption best fits this photo? Leave your comment at the end of this blog entry.

pepper.jpg


Posted by maasx003 at 7:47 AM
October 28, 2005
Game Day Podcast

This week's Game Week Podcast is a conversation with my favorite Carolina Panthers fan! Viking Underground Podcast Twenty-Four is a candid conversation with fellow Class of 1999 Visa Hall of Fans member and Carolina Panthers fan "Pantherman".

panther.jpg

Pantherman and I talk about his history; the start of the Carolina franchise; the Panthers offense and defense; and just how the Vikes could beat the Panthers (air it out Daunte!!!) this Sunday.

Give a listen!

Posted by maasx003 at 6:36 AM
October 26, 2005
The Smugness of Mike Tice

It is not too often that I’ll witness a game-winning 56-yard field goal as time runs out to propel the Vikings to a win. The kick was in my end-zone and I’ll probably never forget it since the icing on the cake was the win coming against the Green Bay Packers.

Nevertheless, was it sufficient to revitalize the problematic club from its public relations nightmare?

And a new word came to my ears within hours of the win.

Smugness.

The immediate consequence of Sunday's triumph, a classic feel-good end result, was apparently manifested in the postgame press conference.

Tormented coach Mike Tice twirled a football, smiling all the while. He carried a "don't question me" attitude. He reacted angrily to questions outside of the game itself. He, according to some in attendance, was defiant and came across as, gosh.... “smug”.

Well, boo-hoo.

After all, a win is a win is a win. Especially against the Packers. It probably will only slightly erase those stories of suspected depravity among unnamed players on privately chartered boats. I think Tice had occasion to gloat a wee bit.

Yes, when you pause and replay Tice interviews in your mind the head coach does come across as having a smug, patronizing tone.

I think this is just sour grapes. If the Vikes were 4-2 instead of 2-4, would people be calling Tice “smug”? Or would they instead be complimenting the coach on being “confident and challenging” and “giving the needle to the media”, the media being the bain of everyone’s existence.

As Vikes Geek and I covered in our recent podcast, I think Tice has done a very credible job of showing up for his radio and television shows when other people might have just called in sick. I mean, would you show up for a show in which you were going to be stripped of all dignity in front of thousands of people?

Yeah, Tice can be a little smug. There might be a huge chip on his shoulder at times. But I’d much rather have that then a head coach that hides from the media and public in the bunker of Winter Park as the previous head coach did.

And I think you have to respect that.


Posted by maasx003 at 6:50 AM
October 25, 2005
Still Smiling

einstein.jpg

Yes, you don't need to be Einstein to figure out what everyone already knows, that the Packers do indeed S-U-C-K!

On Day Two of owning Green Bay's butt, we first revisit my excursion into Wisconsin last week.

On the drive back from my undisclosed location from somewhere in the middle of the Great Cheese state, I pulled off the highway in Eau Claire. You see, I had found a great Perkins there that was serving up pumpkin pie at $0.99 a slice. And I just love a little pumpkin pie to go along with my whipped cream.

As I drove through Eau Claire I didn't see one car with a Packer sticker, not one car with a Packer window flag. No Packer anything. But upon turning left at a light to enter the Perkins parking lot I soon knew why. You see, one man in Eau Claire has a monopoly on proudly displaying the Packer colors via his vehicle.

This older gentlemen, was decked all out in his Cheesehead finery. He drove some sort of 4x4 that was also green. And waving proudly from his driver’s side window, affixed to an 8-foot pole, was a 3' x 5' Packer flag. I only wished I could have gotten a photo.

The pole must have been wedged between the door and his legs. And he had a look about him that basically challenged anyone to come up and tell him how stupid he looked.

He must feel awfully stupid today. And I'm still smiling.

Want to hear what it sounded like after the 56-yard field goal? Listen here.

Viking Underground Podcast Twenty-Three

Vikes Geek and I conduct our Score Seven format breaking down the win against the Packers.

Give a listen.

Turkey Necks!

I'm going to break a rule I set here last week...that I would only post Vikings-related news on this site and everything else over at the new blog, the Four Hoarsemen. But, in this case I know many of you will enjoy reading this here.

Not everything and everyone that comes out of Wisconsin is bad. And news came earlier this week on the passing of one of my earliest childhood idols, The Crusher.

crusher.jpg

Reggie "The Crusher" Lisowski passed away Saturday night. I can still remember sitting around the television one evening while visiting relatives in Bismarck, North Dakota to see The Crusher, throw a bag of dog food into the ring in which Mad Dog Vaschon (or was it Baron Von Raschke?) was beating another opponent. Mad Dog fell over the bag of dog food, and was immediatley pinned by the inferior opponent.

Mad Dog then immediately challenged The Crusher to a steel-cage match, which was granted. Of course, The barrel-chested Crusher was bloodied to a pulp with women and children crying but he won. He beat that "turkey neck" Mad Dog Vaschon and immediately spawned a generation of Crusher wannabes.

It was that same summer that my gang of buddies stumbled across an old mattress at the Jamestown city dump. Heck, didn't every boy visit the city dump during summer vacation? And what a gold mine of stuff we usually found.

The mattress was brought home and a ring set up. For a full weekend we played All Star Wrestling with everyone taking turns being The Crusher, Baron Von Raschke, Mad Dog Vaschon, and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and other characters that we saw on television. We had a blast too until one of the moms found out where we had fond the mattress. Kill joy.

Then there was the matchups against the future governor of Minnesota, and may well be the reason why I hate Jesse Venture to this day.

Ventura often took time away from the start of his matches to do a posing routine, which didn't sit too well with the no-frills Crusher. Before one of their matches, The Crusher challenged "Ventura to a posing contest, with the fans deciding who the winner would be.

ventura-jesse03.jpg

Ventura of course agreed, taking Crusher's challenge and his posing very seriously. With his ego and reputation on the line, The Body painstakingly performed a series of bodybuilding poses, but still received a clearly negative reaction from the crowd.

The cigar-chewing Crusher, on the other hand, merely had to raise his two barrel-sized arms into the air and flex, and the crowd exploded with overwhelming cheers. However, when The Crusher was announced as the Pose Down winner, the egotistical Ventura snapped, and attacked Crusher from behind. He grabbed the lit cigar from The Crusher's mouth and proceeded to jam it into the popular veteran's eye.

The dramatic moment appalled wrestling fans, which seemed to please Ventura even more. In the following weeks, Ventura proudly proclaimed himself to be the man who finally ended the legend of The Crusher. However, after taking some time to recuperate, the aging-but-still-dangerous Crusher returned to exact his revenge on Ventura in cities from San Francisco to Chicago and everywhere in between.

And we roared our approval.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:14 AM
October 24, 2005
Media Will Not Let Go of Sex Cruise

The Vikes won Sunday over hated rival Green Bay. One would think the local rags would have column after column speaking to yet another great game in this storied rivalry. So, let's take a gander of how the stories ran:

From the STrib

Kevin Seifert's leading paragraph: "Fifty-three men bounced, laughed, shrieked and stomped in unison Sunday afternoon. They stood not on a boat but on the Metrodome field, their gyrations wholesome and borne of a most appropriate kind of jubilation: professional success."

David Phelps' leading paragraph: "As the Vikings muddled through the first half of their eventual victory over Green Bay, fan disgust reached the point where free T-shirts flung into the crowd by Vikings employees were thrown back onto the field."

An excerpt from our good friend Top Jimmy's entry: "The Packers embarrassed the Nauti Boys for 30 minutes, taking a 17-0 lead. Owner Zygi Wilf had to be making a mental search for Tice's replacement (what is Les Steckel doing these days?), just as Tice had to be wondering whether it was time to bench The Teflon Daunte."

From the Pioneer Press

An excerpt from Tom Powers' entry: "No word on whether special game balls were awarded to Al and Alma."

From Sean Jensen: "Still under scrutiny for their involvement in a controversial Oct. 6 boat party on Lake Minnetonka, the Vikings were puzzled by the reception from the 64,278 fans at the Metrodome. At times during the first half, Packers fans overwhelmed their Vikings counterparts, who had little to cheer about as their team continued its erratic play. After the Packers took a 14-0 lead late in the second quarter, one Vikings fan ripped off his purple T-shirt and hurled it five rows in front of him."

I'm not saying that the I would have thought the media should have let go of the Love Boat altogether, but maybe 24-hours to allow the fans to bask in the glory of yet another cheese stomping would have been refreshing. Funny enough, the only beat writer to not bring up the scandal in his post-game coverage was Judd Zulgad of the STrib who was assigned the arduous task of actually living in Green Bay last season to provide Packer coverage for the STrib.

Mike Tice was given even less time to gloat, having to field Love Boat questions during the post-game press conference.

And that is what the Vikes will have to deal with the remainder of this season. And it may perhaps serve as no greater lesson for the players: Win, and still the story is about your off-field activities.

Tice Approval Rating

Tice sank to a 7% approval rating for the week following the Bears loss dropping him to a year low 44% approval rating average. What will his approval rise to this week fresh off the Packer victory? You can vote your rating to the left.

From My Seat

The fans were certainly disgruntled during the first half. It started with the lame non-introductions and the boos started to build as the team fell behind 17-0.

But one could feel ol' Momentum build following half-time. The defense brought the crowd back into the game early and the fans stayed with the game the rest of the way. It was a deafening roar that signaled the game winning boot as soon as the football left Paul Edinger's foot. I'll try and post some actual audio later this week.

No paper bags were seen in my section. No purple shirts being tossed onto the field. And the number of Cheeser's in attendance was lower than years past...and certainly much less vocal. Only one "Go Pack Go" chant got going and was quickly drowned out by Vikes fans.

Posted by maasx003 at 8:27 AM
October 20, 2005
Game Day Podcast

Before we get to the podcast information, here is the skinny: I will be going undercover Thursday through Saturday.

I have taken it upon myself to dive deep into enemy territory. I will be crossing the boundary that separates the intelligent human from the cheese-eating neanderthal.

I'm going into Wisconsin.

If you would like to chart my progress, and general sanity, please head over to the VU Moblog section where I will be posting photos as well as some audio of my secret foray into the Badger state.

I'll return in time for the kick-off Sunday where I'll continue posting live game-day photos on the VU Moblog section. Hopefully, I'll return in time to hand over top secret documents from my trip into Wisconsin to Mr. Wilf to ensure a Vikings victory over the hated Packers.

So, vist the VU Moblog site from time-to-time over the next few days, and again on Sunday as I start to post photos and audio from inside the Metrodome.

Wish me well!

Podcast

A Packer-Vikings discussion between the infamous Cheesehead Craig and myself. A fun time for all!

This podcast begins with a little "Dueling Banjos" themed introduction.

Give a listen.

Game Introductions

Much has been made about which side of the ball, defense or offense, has been given the 'honor' of being introduced to the fans of the Vikings at home games.

According to one local columnist, Mike Tice has not, apparently, been given the vaccine for 'boos' and cannot tolerate his team being vocally chastised by the fans during introductions.

Now Tice is using smoke and mirrors. The team is still discussing options for their pregame introductions Sunday. I read that as, "Which side of the ball do we throw to the wolves?"

Tice's company line is that the current introdution fails to excite the Metrodome crowd. Baloney! As I said in a podcast with Ragnar recently (VU Podcast Eighteen), the Vikings introduction is one of the most exciting in football. Ragnar agreed.

Here is the skinny on this move: with the Sex Cruise scandal stemming from Vikings players have 'participated' aboard two ships on local Lake Minnetonka, there is some concern about the response the team will get no matter what type of introductions they use.

So, who should the Vikings introduce? You vote and tell me.





Posted by maasx003 at 6:12 AM
October 19, 2005
And Your Next Coach Is....

So, when the time comes that Mike Tice exits Winter Park with a pink slip in hand, who does Zygi and Mark Wilf bring in to next lead the Vikings? Let’s review the possible candidates in no particular order:

Available Ex-Head Coaches

1. Dan Reeves -- Reeves has won 200 games. He kept the door open after his dismissal in Atlanta for a return to the sidelines. How can you dismiss the sixth-winningest coach in league history?

2. Jim Fassel – With the Wilf’s history to the New York Giants, combined with Fassel's winning record Super Bowl appearance, I would say that alone will get him an interview.

3. Jimmy Johnson – With lack of prime ocean space in Minnesota, I’m not even sure we’d get a sniff.

Offensive Coordinators

1. Brad Childress, Philadelphia Eagles – Childress is head coach Andy Reid's right-hand man on offense. He has some of the same skin-tough qualities as Reid and he understands players. Brings a winning attitude.

2. Al Saunders, Kansas City Chiefs -- Saunders actually has NFL head coaching experience with the San Diego Chargers. He grew a great deal as an offensive coach when exposed to Mike Martz's system, and he also witnessed the Dick Vermeil way of winning.

3. Mike Heimerdinger, New York Jets -- He's been around Jeff Fisher (Titans head coach) and Mike Shanahan. He also took the Titans through a conversion of being a mostly run-oriented team to one that is diverse. QB Steve McNair's career skyrocketed under his tutelage. Now with the Jets.

4. Steve Fairchild, St. Louis Rams -- As the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Mike Martz, his already-good reputation continues to grow. Fairchild will take over play-calling duties during Martz’s absence due to illness.

5. Maurice Carthon , Dallas Cowboys -- Carthon has been exposed to Parcells as a player and assistant, so he has the blueprint for success.

Defensive Coordinators

1. Rod Marinelli, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Officially, he's the assistant head coach/defense. But he coaches the defensive line. Highly regarded and players respond. Years under Dungy and Gruden make him a worthwhile interview. And, I’m sure you remember Week One?

2. Ted Cottrell, Minnesota Vikings – Does he merit an interview? May also be serving as interim coach by the seasons end.

College Coaches

1. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa – Ferentz is familiar to local college sports football followers. He has an NFL background as a highly regarded offensive-line coach under Bill Belichick in Cleveland and Brian Billick in Baltimore. Combined with his success at Iowa, he will be on almost everyone's short list. NFL execs who watch him on the practice field and on the sidelines see a coach with leadership skills, organized, disciplined and communicative. Players respond to him.

2. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma -- He's young, he's a leader, and he wins. His teams are known for defense and won the 2000 BCS championship game finishing with a record of 13-0.

3. Ralph Friedgen, Maryland -- He was the offensive coordinator under Bobby Ross when the Chargers went to the Super Bowl in 1994, and he has had great success in building Maryland into a winner. He's gruff and that scares some NFL types, but he can't be ignored. Normally regarded as a guru of offense, but he has become whole in his approach to the game.

4. Jeff Tedford, Cal -- You better keep track of this guy. He has taken a broken program and quickly turned it into a winner. His reputation had been as a quarterback guru who helped Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Joey Harrington, A.J. Feeley, Akili Smith and Kyle Boller experience success. But he's more than a QB guy. He's organized, he's a leader, he's a teacher, he understands staffing, he's got some charisma and he's a game-planner.

5. Pete Carroll, USC -- Was being considered along with Dennis Green more than a decade ago to coach the Vikings. Will his time come due now?

College Guys "On the Radar"

1. Jim Tressel, Ohio State -- In a league where strong defense and a commitment to the run is a basic formula for success, he has a calling card.

2. Mark Richt, Georgia -- He's among a handful of college candidates who has no NFL experience, but he has a few admirers in the NFL because of his work at Georgia. His teams are physical. His offense is balanced. He has assembled an excellent staff. He's relatively young.

3. Randy Edsall, Connecticut -- Edsall has enjoyed loads of success as a former assistant under Tom Coughlin at the collegiate and pro level. And when you see what he has done at UConn in a relatively short ascension from Division I-AA to Division I, he's a pretty good sleeper candidate.

4. Houston Nutt, Arkansas -- His teams generally overachieve; they are feisty, physical, they know how to run the football and he consistently wins.

5. Karl Dorrell, UCLA -- He's done a solid job at UCLA and he has had NFL exposure under Mike Shanahan in Denver.

6. Dan Hawkins, Boise State University -- Hawkins has brought the Broncos to 44-7 in just four seasons and if he isn't the best college football coach in America, he can't be too considerably down the list. At the very least he is the most distinctively interesting. Boise State hasn't become more than just its blue Smurf turf because of one or two good players. Instead it has grasped success and kept squeezing tighter because it has a coach who doesn't think like most coaches, whose favorite place is outside the box, who believes in the democracy of the team and who considers instilling self-worth in players (which manifests itself in daring play calling) a lot more valuable that demeaning the hell out of them. In an era of screaming task masters, Hawkins prefers to build respectful relationships with his players.

Did I miss anyone? Yes, I did consider Jim Johnson of the Eagles but at his age I just did not think him viable.

Anyone have more information they can share personally? Especially those who know the college coaches I mention I bit better due to living in that area? Leave a comment below.

Note: Various sources were used to compile this entry.

Posted by maasx003 at 8:08 AM
October 18, 2005
Don't Let Me Die Without 'Great Joy'

For those new to this blog or my history with the team, I've been a fan ever since I can remember. That puts me roughly at 40+ years of thinking this will be the year we get a Super Bowl win.

The rest you can put together yourself.

Now that I've turned north of 40-years young and start creeping towards the age in which I can start getting a senior discount at Perkins, I'm starting to wonder if I will live long enough to actually witness the blessed event of a Vikings player holding the Lombardi trophy over his head as champagne is poured over him.

Well, here is a person for whom the Vikings did not get there quite soon enough. Out of respect, I removed the persons last name, as this is an actual obituary piece from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. And she seems to have been dearly loved, led a great life, and had humor until the end. The key line has been bolded for emphasis:

Sioux Falls - Hazel, age 80, of Sioux Falls, died Sunday, October 9, 2005, at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls. A memorial service will be held at Calvary Episcopal Cathedral, 500 S. Main Ave., Sioux Falls, SD, on Thursday, October 13, 2005, at 11:00 a.m. Miller Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Hazel was born in Grand Forks, ND on April 4, 1925 to Charles and Hilda and moved to Sioux Falls as a small child. She graduated from Washington High School in 1943 and attended Augustana College, supporting herself as a radio copy writer and announcer.

On October 25, 1947, she married Charles in Hartford, Connecticut and returned to Sioux Falls when he graduated from Trinity College. Thereafter, she devoted her life to her great loves: her family, church, friends, art, books, sharp-witted conversation and the Minnesota Vikings. All but one brought her great joy.

Hazel is survived by three sons, Steven (Kathy) of Sioux Falls, David (Jan) of Madison, SD, and Michael of Madison; and three grandchildren, Kristin, John and Ann. She was preceded in death by her husband, a son, Phillip, and a granddaughter, Sara.

Memorials may be directed to the Calvary Episcopal Church Foundation or the Augustana College Library. Hazel loved flowers but, ever the practical person, knew that flowers last only a few days, while memorial gifts last many lifetimes.

All but one brought her great joy. But she still loved her team.

God Bless Hazel. I wish I could have met you. We could have exchanged our purple-laden sorrows and shared a laugh or two as well. I'm sure you could have helped all of us laugh through this last, miserable week.

Worst Coach Excuse Ever?

Who uttered this quote recently?

“...really—throw out the touchdown after the turnover on downs—this was a 21-3 game, not a 28-3 game.”

Was it, A) Papa Bear Halas; B) Vince Lombardi; C) George Allen; D) Mike Tice?

Need a clue? It is the guy who is still alive. But his brain is on life support. I mean what the hell kind of lame-brain excuse is that? Only Ol' Pencil Ear could try and offer up that the game was closer than the score showed.

Taking abuse at the office water cooler? No reason to take it man!

"Coach Tice said we were only beat by 18 since the last TD the Bears scored was garbage, man!"

(Cue to puff out chest).

"AND, had Edinger made both those field goals now we're looking at 21-9."

(Cue to point to puffed out chest).

"ANNNNNNDDDDD, had the moon been in alignment with Jupiter and a wasp flown up Steve Loney's rear-end then the score would have been closer to 21-12."

(Cue to stick out chin ala Bill Cowher)

Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick. My head hurts.

Score Seven Podcast

Vikes Geek and I bring you Viking Underground Podcast Twenty-One. We discuss seven topics foremost on our minds from the loss to the Bears.

Give a listen!

Bad Dreams

I forget which morning it was but I must have mumbled something about "wake me from this bad dream" while perusing the local rag over breakfast.

The Boy® responded with, “I had a bad dream last night. A meteor landed on earth and it was filled with dinosaurs. They came into our house and wanted to sleep in our beds. George Washington came and he was really mad at them. All of a sudden, the dinosaurs did something that made them go back into the meteor, and they returned to the asteroid belt. What did you dream about last night?”

Top that one, Dads.

Shameless Plug

I'll be promoting the newly formed blog, The Four Hoarse Men, for a few weeks now to ensure that those who want to check it out and bookmark the blog can do so. Then I'll stop.....promise.

The topic over that the FH this week is starting off with music. Check out the conversation and feel free to add to it by leaving a Comment.

Speaking of Comments, this little ol' blog is approaching 1000 comments left since it started up a little over one-year ago. I wonder who will leave my 1000th comment?????

Posted by maasx003 at 6:10 AM
October 16, 2005
Someone Wake Me Up

"Where'd all the good people go?"

Jack Johnson

What a nightmare week. First, we had the sex cruise reports. Thursday I was picking up extra hours at my part-time pharmacy job and opted to get a flu shot....and subsequently got sicker than a dog on Friday into Saturday.

Saturday morning Governor T-Paw announced there will be no special Minnesota legislative session essentially killing any stadium hopes for the Vikings, Twins and Gophers.....for more than two years since 2006 is an election year and we all know politicians, don't we? Even those legislatures who favor new stadiums will be avoiding that hot potato in order to ensure re-election.

I thought things might be looking up as with 30-seconds left in the game between interstate rivals, the Gophers were leading the Badgers.....and found a way to lose. I could hear Cheesehead Craig cackling and only hoped he wasn't laughing so hard that he was choking on cheese curds.

Then the Vikings, who scored often on Lake Minnetonka, could not score a TD against the Chicago Bears and fell to 1-4. The Bears are considered a weak NFC team. The Vikings have to now prepare for a Green Bay team that put up 52-points against a lowly New Orleans Saints team...and will be coming off a bye-week.

It could get uglier next weekend at the Metrodome.

No doubt the sex scandal story will only grow in intensity as further information from the investigation is made available. It could even be that we see the first player benching as a result, but it has not been made clear if ownership/management will actually carry out the their previously stated threats of doing so since there are NFL labor laws to deal with.

And I've pretty much said all that I can on the subject for now and clearly stated my complete embarrassment over the incident.

New owner Zygi Wilf is the only reason that thousands of Vikings fans have not started burning their season tickets...although the fall-out will still occur and the real damage not assessed until season ticket renewal time starting in late January of 2006.

In a 90-minute meeting with Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Sunday, Wilf said that he will set aside his other business interests for now, and he will begin to beef up the football operation. We all know that Wilf was handed an incomplete deck of cards from which to run a professional sports club.

Tagliabue said as much when he acknowledged that Wilf "inherited a staff that lacked structure, discipline and accountability."

No sh*t Sherlock.

So, I'm still in for the long haul as long as the Wilf brothers are calling the shots. And you should be too.

Tice Approval Rating

Head coach Mike Tice carried a Viking Underground 11% Approval Rating into the game against the bears. That was down from 61% the week before. He is now carrying a season average 49% approval rating.

Vote your approval....or otherwise....to the left.

Next Podcast

The VU Podcast should be up Monday night or Tuesday morning and will be a Score Seven format with Vikes Geek.

More Blogs Than You Can Shake a Stick At

For those who love to read blogs, I have posted more thoughts over at the newly formed Four Hoarse Men blog. There are four of us writing for the blog so there should be something new to read almost every day. With the lone exception of anything written by Cheesehead Craig, of course.


Posted by maasx003 at 4:13 PM
October 13, 2005
Game Day Podcast

sylvesterjunior001.gif

A VU Web Cam Moment:
:: Podcast Announcement :: CoD talks about this weeks podcast in the vein of Sylvester Jr.
bag.jpg
Click photo or HERE to view the video

This week's Game Week Podcast is a conversation with my favorite Chicago Bears fan! Viking Underground Podcast Twenty is a candid conversation with fellow Class of 1999 Visa Hall of Fans member and Chicago Bears fan "Bearman".

pict0000.jpg

Bearman talks about his history; the recent upgrade at Soldier Field; the Bears offense and defense; and just how the Vikes could beat the Bears this Sunday. Bearman also tells us that Thomas Jones is very unlikely to play this Sunday. Hmmmmm.

The second part of the podcast was to have been a return visit by KSTP's sports director, Rod Simon, who hosts two shows weekly with Mike Tice. But Rod has been working triple overtime on the debacle on Lake Minnetonka plus filming Vikings Gameday with Mike Tice and just ran out of time....and energy.

rod.jpg

But Rod promises he'll hook up with me next week and will make it a "special podcast" for all you listeners.

Give a listen!

Weekend Rest

I leave you with the following information from the Pioneer Press as more information is sought in regards to The Story:

"[Boat] workers told Hennepin County sheriff's deputies they had to step over and around players and naked women engaged in sex acts on the floor, said their attorney, Stephen Doyle of Wayzata.

Meanwhile a Vikings player, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Pioneer Press he was on the lower level of one of the two charter boats. The player said there were strippers dancing and players shooting dice on the lower level. On the upper level, the player said, was "apparently" where more lascivious conduct occurred."

I follow with this quote from the STrib about Al and Alma Quist, who run the charter boat business involved:

"[John] Lambin, of Queen of Excelsior charters, said he knows that many members of Al & Alma's staff were excited and even honored that the Vikings chose them for their event.

Lambin recalls similar feelings when Bud Grant was coach of the Vikings and the team held a fundraiser on his boat.

"They were first-class and wonderful," Lambin said. "It's a different world now."

It's time for me to to monitor the reports as the investigation continues. But things just don't look good right now. Plus, there are now reports detectives are investigating accounts that photographs were taken of sex acts and those photos are being sought.

Paper bag anyone?

Posted by maasx003 at 12:03 PM
The Fallout Begins

There were those fans who pooh-poohed my notion of community and fan-based backlash over the pinnacle of Vikings bad behavior. Those who refused to believe that the alleged 'Sex Romp' on Minnetonka would affect sponsorships, season ticket sales, or the stadium. Even before both sides of the story have been heard and anything proven or verified, the damage may already have been done and will take years to repair. So let's go straight to the quotes:

From the STrib

sack.jpg

"Is this an aberration based on bad judgment? Does it happen in the NFL? Probably. In the NBA? Probably. In [major league] baseball? Probably. In the NHL? I hope not."

BOB NAEGELE Chairman of the Wild

"Frankly, it's upsetting. You expect the athletes to conduct themselves with the proper values, urge them to remember who they are and where they are. ... I can't remember how many times the last words I said in a meeting were, 'Take care of yourself.' "

LOU NANNE Former North Stars player, coach and executive

"You see guys giving community service, volunteering time and all that is great. I applaud that. But they're hurting their message by not being consistent."

TANI KINGSTON Vikings fan

"People say that Minnesota is not only the state with 20,000 lakes, but with 20,000 treatment centers. We were ahead of the curve in regards to alcohol and drug problems and doing something about that. I think the fans in Minnesota were well-educated about that problem, and understood the action that we took."

Mike Lynn Former Vikings executive

"These things happen - they come and go, we'll get by them."

DAN ERHART Anoka County commissioner

"If taxpayers pay for stadiums, team owners can pay the players more and more money, and that makes things more out whack and leads to irresponsible behavior. After a while, when you're treated like gods, you think you can do no wrong, and these ever-increasing salaries lead to that."

RON HOLCH Organizer, Taxpayers Against an Anoka County Vikings Stadium

"There were certain things that we shrugged our shoulders at. That will happen in every walk of life, in and out of football. But something like this? ... This is a serious blow to the aura and the perception of what their Vikings are. To the point where you could suggest that this ticket, which used to be the ticket in town, took a hit."

MIKE MORRIS Former Vikings player, radio talk-show host

"The poor guy [new owner Zygi Wilf] just came on board, but it's his team - he's got the reins in his hands. He's got to send a strong message to the coaches, the players and the community. Whether that's a suspension, whether that's booting someone off the team, he has to take decisive action. It's an absolute, rock-bottom, moral and ethical kind of thing. When it happens on your watch, you've got to deal with it."

DENNIS MCGRATH President, McGrath-Buckley Communications PR firm

"If all this were true, I think a lot of marketing partners would be hesitant to associate with the Vikings. Most professional sports - most businesses - survive these kinds of things if it's an individual involved. But if it is substantiated that the behavior is widespread, the concern will be directed not only at individuals, but at the entity, as well. If that were to happen, I think the Vikings would be very vulnerable in keeping sponsors and advertisers and marketing partners on board."

HOWARD LISZT Former CEO, Campbell Mithun, Twin Cities' largest ad agency

Coming Podcast

Later tonight or Friday morning, I'll be posting a double-header podcast. It will be with with KSTP's sports director, Rod Simon, who hosts two shows weekly with Mike Tice. We should learn, firsthand, what the mindset of Tice is at the moment...not to mention the team!

And also, I'll be speaking to fellow Class of 1999 Visa Hall of Fans member and Chicago Bears fan Don "Bearman" Wachter.

Prized Possession

Earlier this week I gave you a tour of my office that contains some of my Vikings memorabilia gathered over the years. Some of you asked for my favorite piece of memorabilia, and why. I give you the answer in the short videocast below.

Clueless Souhan

Jim Souhan, who still owes an apology to Zygi Wilf, again doesn't get it. He is so out of touch with the pulse of Vikings fandom that it has become an embarrassment to just read him. Stick and Ball Guy has referred to Souhan as Top Jimmy and has brought him to task on several occasions.

This is the man demanded that the Vikings get rid of Randy Moss. Souhan thought that once Moss was gone, all would be well. Team togetherness and everyone giving 110%. "Refreshing", as SBG wrote recently, was Jimmy's word.

This week the highly insightful Top Jimmy wrote this: "Last week, we missed only Randy Moss' talent. Today, we miss him as a role model. Oh, for the days when our biggest problems were end zone end-wiggling."

Today, Top Jimmy writes:

"Yes, the Vikings have spent the past 20 years orchestrating what appears to be a highly organized campaign to ruin their image and disgust their fans.

And it is in those 20 years that their popularity has grown exponentially.

The public ignored these crimes and misbehaviors, reacting to all things Viking with a fanaticism that has made the franchise the most-talked-about entity in Minnesota, that has turned purple-clad football players into local icons and national celebrities.

Today's Vikings fans paint their faces . . . adorn their cars with team flags. They eagerly pay high prices. They guarantee sellouts no matter how incompetent the Vikings have been, no matter how badly they have behaved.

I don't get it."

Yes, that's right Top Jimmy. You are totally clueless. The team did not have sellouts until the 15-1 '98 season. Before then, barely 35K showed up for preseason games. Before that season and Randy Moss, General Mills had to buy the remaining seats just so the local television blackout would be lifted. Before then, a fan could show up sixty minutes before kick-off and find plenty of parking options available in the tailgate lot on Washington Avenue.

On all the Vikings message boards and comments left on blogs I read disgust with this latest episode. The majority of fans, while awaiting the whole story, are not satisfied with just letting bad behavior go without punishment.

So do not take your broad brush and paint all Vikings fans as uncaring, unlawful, miscreants.

Now then Top Jimmy, I'm still awaiting your public apology to Mr. Wilf for your story on Wednesday.



Posted by maasx003 at 6:31 AM
October 12, 2005
Shameful

A day after I wrote a entry talking about role models over at the newly created Four Hoarse Men blog comes the latest shameful report pertaining to athletes....this time very close to home.

And don't start on me with "boys will be boys". I'm not buying it. What we all do in the privacy of our own homes is our business. How we conduct ourselves in public while representing our organization is the public's business.

There will be changes coming. Or else there will be a significant drop in season ticket renewals at the end of this season.

There will be changes coming or else there will be no new Vikings stadium....along with no new Twins stadium (you can learn about that over on the Greet Machine).

As always, I will let the dust settle and hear further reports and listen to the official team statements as they come out. Fred Smoot has stated the allegations are exaggerated. And some players on the boat were clearly embarrassed by the actions of their teammates. But here is what we know now.

According to The Associated Press, a group of at least 20 Vikings players were part of a group that went out on a pair of charter cruises on Thursday night. Smoot reportedly paid for one of the boats, which featured sexual acts happening "all over the boat." The local police are investigating the situation for possible prostitution, drug use, and illegal sex acts.

The point that sticks in my gut is that the Vikings essentially engaged in their misbehavior in public. Lets' review:

- Urinating on the lawn of a private residence even as the home owner, a female, confronted the player
- nude women performing lap dances on the boats
- boat workers, some as young as 18, terrified for their lives
- condoms laying on the floors of the boat
- oral sex acts being performed in the open

Makes a fan feel all warm and toasty inside, doesn't it? Makes Mark "Hot Tub" Chmura look like a first class citizen.

Of course, the local rags are having a field day. At least the Pioneer Press is reporting only the facts while the worsening Star Tribune has decided to bellow opinion...and poor ones at that.

Jim Souhan is a columnist trying so hard to be funny he doesn't realize he just offends and often just inflames bad situations even more. Today, Souhan writes, "..you would assume that 'Zygmunt' is an old Yiddish word meaning 'Are you kidding me'. He then tries to tie our owners name to the German name 'Sigmund' and carries that to a diatribe on libido.

Oh, I'm sure Zygi Wilf will have no issues with that, will he? Souhan owes an apology to our owner.

And then there is the Star Tribune's troll, Gollum. Also known as Nick Coleman. Coleman is a hateful person and is only happy if he is, well, unhappy. If you missed it earlier, the Greet Machine painted a picture perfect portrait (literally!) of this self-proclaimed intellectual earlier this week.

Gollum would like us to believe that based on this single action, Wilf and company should completely shut down the Vikings operation, forget about the new stadium, and just do away with the NFL altogether. He refer's to Mr. Wilf's statements as "self-serving blather."

Apparently self-serving Gollum doesn't read any of his own blather. He has been called out for his own mistakes and embarrassingly bad reporting and opinion so many times that by his own account and policy, he should have been "shut down" many, many years ago.

Yes, you do address the bad apples. You do set examples and make sure players and personnel within the organization see the door with pink slip in hand. That is what would occur in the private sector. And it should be no different here.

But you don't shut down a whole organization.

The Vikings have to rebuild from the foundation up. Wilf has said and done the right things and I can tell you, first hand, that he is instilling a family atmosphere at Winter Park. He and his brother Mark will not tolerate this type of behavior.

Otherwise, they'll have season ticket renewals to add to a worrying list of other issues. The stadium. The coach. The record.

Videocast

A quick video tour of my office containing some of my Vikings memorabilia. This use to be proudly displayed at home in my living room. Then I got married and, um, after much debate was moved to the basement...followed a short time later to boxes in the garage. Sound familiar?

Where is your Vikings stuff displayed? Do you guys (and gals!) also have "spousal issues" where your purple items can be displayed?

Posted by maasx003 at 8:12 AM
What Else Are We Not Being Told?

With Falcons coach Jim Mora alerady taking heat over the whole Vick issue from last weekend that still has fantasy football coaches steaming, we now learn of another undisclosed injury issue. This time within the ranks of Winter Park.

Are NFL Coaches catching some sort of "mind-game" virus?

In this case, it is now being reported that Nate Burleson might miss Sunday's game with a previously undisclosed shoulder injury.

Where the hell did that come from? I mean, the man hasn't practiced in a couple of weeks now. Did he slip in the shower? Couldn't have come from shoveling snow since we've yet to see a flake yet in the Twin Cities.

So, let's review the list of other undisclosed dirt laundry only now making light of day after a 1-3 start. Perhaps because fans have been saying to Tice and company, "you've got some 'splaining to do", as Desi Arnaz use to say to Lucy.

Only, we are not fools and we know injuries are only the tip of the bad team iceberg.

Poutin' Daunte Culpepper (listen to Podcast Nineteen for further comment) only just informed everyone of his sprained medial collateral ligament and bursitis in his right knee after tossing up a league leading ten interceptions and abysmal 67.2 QB rating. My sources say he isn't even making it through an entire practice currently.

I can certainly understand the need for NFL coaches to not let the opposition know the extent of a players injury the week before a game. But to not even acknowledge an injury, or list it on a report...as was the case with Culpepper..smacks of concealment. Expect the NFL to keep Tice on the radar for possible fines. Tice, along with Mora and the King of NFL Concealment, Denver's Mike Shanahan, will need to be more open about injury disclosure in the coming weeks.

Fantasy Football & Pick 'Em

I lost to the numero uno team in the league, but I made a game of it. In fact, my score would have won three of the other four games. I now stand at 2-3, but have scored the second most points in the ten team league. My bad luck has been my oppenents have been riding lucky streaks wherein one player has a career week!

I was also hurt by several players being on bye and missed Tiki Barber for sure. But it was a good showing nonetheless and I'm still confident I can have a great run. Here's how last week panned out for me:

QB Carson Palmer 14
RB Shaun Alexander 16
RB Ronnie Brown 3
WR Torry Holt 12
TE Ernie Conwell 2
PK Neil Rackers 8
Def Bengals, Team Defense 0

In the VU Pick 'Em League, Cuyahoga Riverdawgs (Coworker Jim of Ohio) is continues to dominate the league. He is having a great fantasy year, as he's the number one team currently in the aforementioned fantasy league. The standings afer Week Five:

1 cuyahoga riverdawgs
2 The Wizzinator
3 Straight Cash Homies
4 C.J.'s pix
5 MC²
6 SDunn
7 Bubbling Farts
8 Purple Haze
9 Ron Burgundy
10 SBG's Fightin' Eelpout
11 Ragnar
12 hawgdawg
12 paviking
12 Big Dogs
12 Pogo
16 Mr. Cheer Or Die
17 Gopher2
18 Wisconsin Vikes?
19 Phillyvike
20 Smooth Jimmy Apollo
21 FITZ
22 Oracle of Cheese
23 Sheldon Shakers
24 Krayzie's Kings
25 VikingGuyKY
26 Goose's Glory
27 PurplePeopleEaters
28 Bemidjigal

Coming Podcasts

Coming yet this week will be podcasts with KSTP's sports director, Rod Simon, who hosts two shows weekly with Mike Tice. We should learn, firsthand, what the mindset of Tice is at the moment...not to mention the team!

And also, I'll be speaking to fellow Class of 1999 Visa Hall of Fans member and Chicago Bears fan Don "Bearman" Wachter.


Posted by maasx003 at 6:34 AM
October 10, 2005
A Birth Announcement

Yes, I'm the proud parent of yet another blog. The Four Hoarse Men blog has now started in earnest. There are four proud parents of the blog, meaning there are multiple authors posting their insight and thoughts for you now to consider for your light reading material.

Stick and Ball Guy (Twins & T'wolves), Shane of the Greet Machine (Stadiums and local sports), and Cheesehead Craig of the Oracle of Cheese (Wisconsin sports) have been bemoaning about having other topics that interest us that we wish to write about. And we use our current "themed" blogs as mediums to express those thoughts. I like to throw in politics, music, movies, etc into the mix now and then and that invariably pisses some one off because my blog is suppose to be Vikings all the time.

In listening to your valuable, cough, feedback I have decided to keep y'all happy.

So, the Viking Underground will become expressly Vikings. If you want to read what I'm pondering outside of the Purple World, head over to the Four Hoarse Men.

My first posting is now available over at the Four Hoarse Men in which I rant about the world of sports and role models. Light up a cigar and go check it out.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:55 PM
October 9, 2005
Podcast Monday

Geoff Larson (Vikes Geek) and I return to bring you the third edition of "Score Seven" as we break down seven bye-week topics. Give a listen!

Note: if you need any assistance syncing up your iTunes or iPod to listen to my podcasts, just drop me a line and I'll be happy to help you out. And, if you like the podcasts and want to help contribute to the costs, feel free to use PayPal to donate. Anything from $0.10 to $1.00 will go a great way to defray the costs of carrying that much bandwith. Thanks!

During the podcast, Geoff reminded me of an interview I had conducted with Foge Fazio. Fazio has been brought back by the team serving in the role of defensive consultant. I thought it might be nice to revisit that interview:

From July 1995: Foge Fazio Interview with the Viking Underground

“When you come into the presence of a leader of men, you know that you have come into the presence of fire, that it is best not uncautiously to touch that man, that there is something that makes it dangerous to cross him.” Woodrow Wilson

You are the defensive coordinator in charge of some of the biggest, meanest, fastest, baddest defensive players in all of professional football. You are responsible for walking up to the likes of 280-lb John Randle to inform him that his missed tackle during a scrimmage cannot be tolerated when the real season begins, August 31, against the Buffalo Bills. Question for you, my readers, is could you do that with out shaking like a leaf as your voice crackles in fear? Answer? Thank the Viking Gods above for Foge Fazio who has the respect and admiration of the entire Viking defense. Foge speaks and the players respond. I met with Coach Fazio earlier this week in his office at Winter Park where he was preparing for the opening of training camp, July 15, in Mankato, Minnesota. The Viking Underground and the Minnesota Vikings are happy to present another in-depth interview to its most loyal fans world-wide:

VU: Ed McDaniel is back. Can you sleep a little better at night this summer because of that?

FF: Well, you know, Eddie did cause us a lot of sleepless nights when he got hurt on the third day of practice at training camp [last year]. Seeing him out there at mini-camp and other practices we’ve had so far, it’s a good feeling to have him back.

VU: Will there be any significant changes to defensive alignments or schemes this coming season that you can share with the readers?

FF: Well, we have basically the same starters that we were planning on going into last year with, the same guys if Eddie comes back. Our backups are going to be awfully young and inexperienced. We did lose a lot of backup players. But because we have a core of people that have been together for at least a year now under our system and two or three years under a system that was basically the same, we’re going to have a few little wrinkles. Maybe a little different blitz here, a little different coverages there, but basically it’s going to be about the same.

VU: I was able to spend a little time with Jeff Friday, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, a few weeks back. While watching Jason Fisk work out, I observed that the players just go through one rep at each station. For the benefit of the readers, could you briefly discuss the Viking regimen and philosophy in the weight room?

FF: Well, number one, you mentioned Jason Fisk. Here’s a guy that’s self-made. He came in here as a seventh round pick. And he has really worked himself into the position that he might be the starter come this season. He will be starting nose tackle right off the bat. Now somebody [may] come and beat him out, but he made the team simply because he spent many, many months in the weight room in the off-season, many hours of training.

What we try to do in the weight room for the defensive guys, naturally, we’re looking for strength, especially in the defensive lineman, a little bit of bulk. Our defense is predicated on speed and agility, so we don’t try to lose the agility part of it, the flexibility part of it and also the quickness part. That is also very important. And a lot of the reps that they do are the explosive type.

If you watched them, they really try to be very explosive in coming off the ball. So that’s basically [how] we try to build our defense in the weight room and the techniques they use in there are pretty close to what we’re looking for.

VU: After the Dallas playoff loss last season, many fans pointed blame at a perceived weakness at linebacker and a lack of depth at linebacker. What, if any, adjustments will you make or have already made at the linebacker positions based on that playoff loss?

FF: Well, I think that when that happens when they run the ball, it’s not only the linebackers. It’s the safety support, it’s the nose tackle, and maybe the defensive end going too wide. There’s a lot of reasons, missed tackles. We’re going to work, naturally, on our tackling and to be in the right positions. Those things that are very correctable.

As far as the linebacking’s concerned, Jeff Brady had to play almost every snap. Dixon Edwards had gotten hurt, missed a lot of games and the back-ups had to play. This year Dwayne Rudd, who is a legitimate number one draft choice, will come on and spell some people and be able to back up people.

So we’ve addressed that issue and with Eddie McDaniel being there, now our linebacking core is getting a better and better look, you know, as we go along. We also signed Ron George, who started last year for the Atlanta Falcons. [He’ll] give us some speed and quickness, and he also fits into our mold. So where last year we had three starters, and when Eddie went down, we really had to scramble around and move people.

Our back-ups were kind of young and inexperienced but now Pete Bercich has been with us. He’ll be a pretty good back-up player, and Ron George will be an excellent back-up player and also Dwayne Rudd, so [we] have five, six guys now that are legitimate NFL linebackers.

VU: As a coach, do you get more satisfaction from developing an unknown player like John Randle into a star or developing a high draft pick such as Fernando Smith into the star player everyone expected him to be?

FF: Well, uh, we always look at it when you’re coaching a young guy that he kind of reflects what you’re trying to do. Sometimes we get credit for developing a player when we shouldn’t [get credit]. Of course, we get blamed whenever they don’t develop.

I don’t care if he’s a number one draft choice or a free agent. You get a lot of satisfaction when you see the guys execute the techniques of the game, which is very important. When they execute the techniques of the game, when they follow the defensive patterns and are in the right spots and doing the right things, executing the game plan, it’s a rewarding satisfaction that coaches get no matter, again as I said, whether he’s a first round pick or a free agent. It means a lot to you.

VU: Can Tony Williams be that next John Randle? (Tony Williams has been nicknamed “Little John” because of his Randle-like intensity)

FF: (laughs) I don’t know. I have been coaching for a while and there’s not too many John Randles. It’s hard to project that. He does have a high motor. They both came, you know John came from a small program, although Tony came from Memphis State which is a Division One team. They both have high motors. John’s a little big bigger than Tony but Tony has the same quickness and motor. It’s just a thing we’ve got to wait and see.

VU: Will Tony stand cocked-stanced at nose with his perceived inability to be that two-gap nose tackle?

FF: Our nose tackles aren’t really two-gap guys. We have cocked them because we felt that they can get in a lane and be able to run and chase the ball and get into their lanes and keep their gap. We’re a gap control team and sometimes being cocked like that, you can get into a gap a little bit better. Sometimes it’s hurt us but, again, we’ve got Jason Fisk who was coming on pretty good last year at the end. We’ve got big James Manley, and, hopefully, he might be able to develop also.

VU: How will you get around John Randle being doubled- and tripled- team again this year?

FF: My first year here, watching it, we had Eddie and usually Eddie is on the same side of Randle. We shot Eddie in the gap a lot of times in-between a center and a guard. And what they’d do with John, they’d have a center and a guard on that side double-team him. The center was looking for him all the time if John got past the guard.

What we did, we shot Eddie in there a couple of times and that made the center a little bit conscious of ‘Hey, I got to be careful, he’s coming.’ That gave John a chance to go one-on-one. We feel if John goes one-on-one against somebody and the quarterback holds the ball a split second, John’s going to be in the guy’s face. That’s what we’re hoping.

VU: How is Orlando Thomas and when will he be back to full strength?

FF: His rehab is going very well. Of course, you don’t know until you get out there. The same with Eddie. We were planning on, maybe in the early pre-season games, playing Eddie maybe a few snaps just to get warm and let Dwayne Rudd take the rest of them. Then maybe towards the end [of pre-season] let Eddie play a quarter or so. With O.T. we’ll probably just keep him out of the first couple pre-season games, and in scrimmage, of course, he’ll just be an observer. Maybe if we get into that fourth or fifth pre-season game, next to the last or last game, [we’ll] try to get him a few shots. We want him to start that first game of the year.

VU: I attended the first mini-camp back in May, and I came away very impressed with one individual, Stalin Colinet, the defensive end out of Boston College. Could you comment on Colinet and where you see him fitting in this season?

FF: Yeah, we liked Stalin. He is a big, rugged guy who has good practice habits, good motor, He’s a type of guy you could play inside if you had to. We have him as a defensive end right now, but he did play inside and maybe could back up John Randle even if we had to because he has the kind of the body and temperament of being there.

I expect him to play from what I’ve seen in mini-camp. Of course you put the pads on and have a little competition and see what happens, but right now based on what we can go on, we like him a lot.

VU: Is one of the reasons you picked up Torian Gray in this year’s draft that he can play equally well at both free and strong safety, given the injuries in defensive backfield at present?

FF: Yeah, I think if we have a weakness, we don’t have an experienced, I should say, guy who’s played in the NFL as a back-up corner or as a safety. We have O.T. who’s an excellent free safety and Robert Griffith who started every game last year for us at strong safety, got hurt and missed a couple games. But you know we don’t have Harlon Barnett who was a bonafide starter in the league as a back-up or Alfred Jackson who backed up as a corner. We don’t have those guys or Vanhorse who played in the league as a corner.

All of our backups are unproven guys so Torian Gray who’s a high round draft choice, second round same as O.T. was, hopefully he can come in here and provide us some back-up positions. And we’re going to play the safeties a little bit different this year. We’re going to let them both be free and strong, so it shouldn’t be much of a problem there.

VU: You have a lot of young defensive talent on the team this year. Sometimes, even on the practice squad, there’s just not enough game time to go around. Will you be sending anybody to the World League next year to help development as the Vikings have done with offensive players Brad Johnson and Everett Lindsay?

FF: I have no idea about that. That’s so far off, it’s pretty hard for me to comment on that. But I could see if a James Manley doesn’t get enough time this year that he could be a candidate, just off the top of my head. But it would be something that we would have to look and see.

But right now, I think that if we do carry eight or nine defensive lineman, they’re going to get a lot of playing time in the pre-season, I promise you that. James Manley, Tony Williams and Stalin Colinet, Duane Clemons, those guys will be out there a lot in the five pre-season games and will get a lot of practice time.

VU: How close is Duane Clemons to actually starting?

FF: Well, he’s done a lot of things in the off-season that have looked pretty good. He’s put some weight on; he’s up to the 280’s now. He’s been here a lot working out, [but] he still needs a lot of work on his strength. He’s quick and he’s smooth and he’s got pretty good speed; he has good lateral movement. But he has to continue to work on his strength, to take a beating in there every day. If he can hold that 280 weight like he is right now, I think he’ll be a guy who will, you know, play a lot. We lost Marty Harrison who played over 55% of the snaps last year. He shared them basically with Derrick Alexander, and Derrick’s the type of guy who can’t go every snap. He takes a beating, he’s a high motor guy so we expect Clemons to be one of the guys in there.

VU: A few years back we saw Buddy Ryan , then defensive coordinator of the Houston Oilers, go after the Oiler offensive coordinator and blows were exchanged. How well do you get along with Brian Billick, the Viking offensive coordinator, and do you have a good working relationship on game day?

FF: Brian’s a true professional. He studies the game; he’s really into it 24 hours a day, twelve months out of the year. You can’t say enough about Brian as far as his preparation, his competitiveness to win, and we’re all in this together.

I have no ego problem. I don’t think Brian has an ego problem. Sometimes when you have ego problems like what you mentioned happened in Houston, those things can happen. As long as Denny Green is the head coach here, I don't think anybody is going to have a problem as far as the team is concerned. Denny really lets the coaches coach. He’s well prepared, you know where you’re at with Denny, the players know where they are.

The coaches sit together in that staff room, and we discuss what the game plans are going to be. We know going in what’s going to happen. I’m sure if Brian looks and he sees a guy wide open and they run it for a touchdown, he’s going to put his chin strap on and say ‘Let’s go offense, we’re going to drive down the field and score.’ If the offense turns the ball over, we say ‘That’s what the defense gets paid for, and let’s go out and stop them.’ We have that kind of attitude.

So we have never had any problem like that. I don’t even foresee it. I don’t think it would ever happen. Plus he’s too doggone tall to swing at. [laughs]

VU: What would be a bigger victory for you: a playoff win where the defense gives up a lot of points or a regular season victory over the Packers where the Viking defense holds them scoreless?

FF: I would rather win a game any way you could win it. I was head coach in high school and in college, and there’s nothing more exciting than winning a playoff game or a bowl game. I don’t care what the score is.

If Green Bay scores 20 and we score 21 or somebody scores 40 and we score 44, I’m happy. It doesn’t make any difference. This game is a long season and when you’re in it as long as we’ve been in it, you’ll see everything happen. We’ve seen 3-0 games, 3-2 games, the game at Detroit two year ago on Thanksgiving Day that was like a 44-40 game [44-38]. Of course we lost that one. Nobody was happy.

VU: Well, the refs helped in that one.

FF: Yeah, nobody was happy after that one. I’m sure Brian and the offensive guys feel the same way. You go in the locker room and you lose 44-40, nobody’s hooting and hollering. They’re all down. Whether you’re Cris Carter and you catch twelve balls or you’re Robert Smith and you gain 180 yards, you’re still going to be down. Or if we go in and we lose a game 7-6 or we lose the game 3-0 on an intercepted pass or we have five interceptions and they don’t gain any yards you’re still down, no one’s hooting.

It’s a team game and that’s what I like about football. I think that that’s important. In basketball maybe a guy score 45 points and he might be happy, or in baseball a guy hits three home runs and he might be happy. But football is not that way.

VU: Orlando Thomas and Corey Fuller are, should we say, very chatty players on the field. How have you adjusted your coaching over the years to handle players who have a lot of fire in the belly?

FF: Well, I kind of get fired up and I might say a few things during the course of a game or the course of practice. We always have a saying ‘as long as its not a distraction to the individual or to his teammates.’ Being that all the guys on the team know how O.T. and Corey are and knowing how I am, sometimes in practice there’s a few words and shouting going on or even in the course of the game. As long as its not a problem with the intensity or the distractions that come along with it, Corey knows that and so does O.T. and the other players [as well]. They know to button it up if we have to. But right now it hasn’t been a distraction.

VU: When you were a kid playing football in the backyard, which defensive player did you emulate and why?

FF: Oh man, [laughs] it’s been so doggone long ago. Some of the guys, naturally as I grew up in Pittsburgh, in those days the pro players, a lot of them were going both ways and I was a big Pittsburgh Steeler fan. I played center and linebacker and they [Steelers] had a guy named Chuck Terengelo (sp?) who played, not too many people remember, and watching the other teams come in and seeing Chuck Bednarik. [Click here to read how Chuck Bednarik flattened Frank Gifford in 1960.]

You know, he was like the last of the two-way players in pro football. When I was getting a little bit older and going in to junior high and high school, he was like the last of the two-way players. Actually he didn’t play for the Steelers [Eagles] but there were a lot of the players that the Steelers had in those days. Even when they played the Cleveland Browns, I used to know a lot of their players by name too. It was a big rivalry. And watching those guys, of course I didn’t know if I was going to be a defensive player or a offensive player back in those days.

I liked Otto Graham. He played for the Browns. He was a quarterback and I liked to be the quarterback. Jimmy Finks, believe it or not, he played for the Steelers. I liked him a lot too and the way he played the game. He was the quarterback way back in those golden days of football.

VU: How has Dennis Green helped you in your career to date and what attributes of Dennis’ would you take with you if a head coaching position becomes available to you?

FF: Well, uh, one thing when I was at the Jets and we [coaching staff] got let go, we all had time on our contract. Denny called me and I never even thought, you know. We were all looking for what jobs were going to be open. I didn’t even know there was going to be an opening here. And he had called me and said to meet him down at the Senior Bowl which was the next day, and I walked in and he offered me the job and I accepted. And some of the other guys said, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of other jobs open.’ I said ‘Hey, the man called me, and I didn’t even have to ask him.’

So that was reassuring and then when Tony Dungy left, he made me the defensive coordinator which was I thought a good thing on his part to keep the continuity. He expressed complete belief in what I was doing and doesn’t interfere. He’s very knowledgeable both on offense and on defense, and I think that’s very important. He’s very well-prepared throughout his organization, in training camp and the mini-camps, and off-season. He’s very highly organized. And I’m going to keep all that stuff just in case [laughs] I ever get a shot.

I think Denny creates an atmosphere, a very positive atmosphere on the practice field, in the class-room where the player knows, ‘Hey, every opportunity is given to us to be successful.’ And Denny provides that, he’s the leader. Again, he’s very knowledgeable in the special teams, defense, offense. Gets very emotional before the games. But right to the button, you know, no B.S. The players know where he’s coming from. He’s consistent in handling them, which I think is very, very important. And he has tremendous credibility with the players because of his background and his knowledge. I think that if you can establish the credibility with the players that he has, I think you’re going to be O.K. They respect him and they like him.

VU: One of your teammates at Pitt was Mike Ditka. With Ditka coming back to the league this year as head coach at New Orleans, do you have any special advice for him?

FF: No, [laughs] you know Mike’s been away for maybe four years but he’s been in that booth. I know that when Mike became head coach of the Bears, I became the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh. He called me and he said ‘Only in America, that a Slovak from the steel mills of Aliquippa [Pennsylvania] and a Italian kid from the steel mills of Coraopolis [Pennsylvania], their sons can become head coaches of their alma maters,’ He wrote that in his book in fact. [Click here for actual Ditka quote.]

Mike was such a hard competitor. I remember in high school, we didn’t play them in football because they were a lot bigger high school, but we did play them in baseball. And boy, he’d be playing shortstop and I remember his brother in center field made an error one time. Mike turned around and almost chased him right out of the ball park [laughs].

You didn’t want to tangle with Mike Ditka. This guy was a tough competitor and a great student of the game. And it’s no nonsense with him. Tough guys are going to be the guys that make the team. If you’re not tough, if you’re a B.S.er, if you shy away, you ain’t going to be there very long. He will get the most out of his talent. He had good talent with the Bears, no doubt about it. But he developed those guys and they played his style of football.

VU: Speaking for John Randle, which quarterback in the league would he most like to sack?

FF: Knowing John Randle, I think he doesn’t care who it is. In fact, in practice if he was allowed to sack our guy, he would. And I know that watching him in the drills, you know we have dummies up out there and we go through drills where they avoid the blockers and get up and sack, he even enjoys sacking that doggone dummy out there too.

VU: Will there ever be another defensive NFL MVP or is there just too much focus on offense and scoring?

FF: I don’t know. It’s pretty hard nowadays for a defensive player to be dominant. You know, if any one had a chance at it, I guess maybe L.T. [Lawrence Taylor] in his hey-day. But then of course, they adjust the blocking schemes. You can always, you know, take one guy out of the game.

Ronnie Lott was tremendous. I know we had him in the twilight of his career [Jets], but he was still a great ball player. And, um, it’s pretty tough, like I said. You know, you can double-team Randle. Reggie White, you can double-team him, stay away from him, you know. I guess that whenever Alan [Page] won it, I guess he still had the other Purple People Eaters out there. Maybe they couldn’t concentrate too much [on Page] then Jim Marshall would have got them or somebody else might have pumped up and got them.

But I think it’s just too hard for one guy, even a great cornerback. You know how many balls are thrown Deion’s [Sanders] way. He’s an outstanding cornerback. Even when Ronnie Lott was playing free safety, how many shots do you get, you know? The game’s close and they’re running the ball a lot. You make a lot of tackles, but he had a tremendous amount of interceptions. I think it’s kind of hard. I think the focus is on the offense.

VU: A tough schedule awaits this year with three of the first four games on the road. Will those first four decide the fate of the remaining 12 games?

FF: I don’t know. We had the same thing last year. We came out 5-1 but we lost four in a row. I think the schedule is such that you got to go with the old cliché ‘one at a time.’

VU: Monday night, December 1, Green Bay comes to town. How can the fans help the team during that game, and just how badly do you expect to destroy the Team Formerly Known As The Super Bowl Champions?

FF: Well, any time you play on Monday night home or away, it’s kind of like an extra juice. The players, they know it. They know it’s the only time their counterparts, their colleagues, the other NFL players, [have] a chance to watch. Everyone’s watching and they know that. Not only their parents and stuff like, that but they know that the epitome of NFL football is to play that night.

And being that it’s home and being that it’s Green Bay, it’s going to be a wild, woolly affair like it always is. Like I’ve seen it the last two years here and hopefully that our guys will win the game somehow, some way. We expect to win it and hope we can pull it out again.

VU: Do you hope to get the crowd more behind you this year?

FF: Well, I think the crowd here is just like any where else. I mean, I remember when the Steelers won four Super Bowls, and I was coaching at Pitt. This is in late ‘79 or ‘80 and opening game was against Houston. We [Pitt] had played on a Saturday and had an open day, and so I went to the game. I sat in the stands and they were playing the Houston Oilers, their dreaded rivalry.

The Steelers jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but at half-time they were losing 17-10. You would have thought [laughs] they were playing away. The fans had turned on them in one half, and that was the opening game after they had won the Super Bowl the year before.

So it’s like anything else, I think. If you play hard and you show you’re trying and you’re out there playing hard and you’ve got some victories under your belt and you’re very competitive, I think the fans see that. I think what the fans don’t like is if you’re not competitive and you lose some games you should have won, those always happen. There’s always games that somehow the other team steals. We’ve stole a few games ourselves.

It’s a situation now because there’s so much importance placed on a team to win the Super Bowl, that if you don’t win it, if you’re not there, then everyone’s disgusted about it. Being that Green Bay won it and that their fans are rubbing in our fans’ noses that they won a Super Bowl and that they want to get back in it, I think our players realize that and they [will] play hard. They’re going to play hard even if nobody’s at the game.

But they love football. Out of fifty-three guys, I would say that ninety-nine percent of them are really out there to win the game. Because they love football.

Coming Soon

The bye week got me thinking, I want to write about non-football items every now and then. So, I've teamed up with Stick and Ball Guy, Shane of the Greet Machine, and Cheeseheade Craig from the Oracle of Cheese to form a multi-author blog called the Four Hoarsemen. We'll probably start posting in earnest by mid-October. For now, bookmark the site and I'll let you know when I have things to read at that blog.

Also coming this very week will be a videocast tour of my office....where all the magic happens! Look for it!

Posted by maasx003 at 8:04 AM
October 6, 2005
Podcast with Ragnar

ragnar.jpg

Hi everyone! For your bye-week entertainment, what better way to pass the time than listen to a podcast with the world's most famous mascot, Ragnar! We talk about the team, fans, role models, and a number of great topics.

Give a listen!

And be sure to visit Ragnar's web site for more information on the team's mascot. And during the podcast Ragnar mentions Lucky's Garage who made his newest custom bike. See it being built from start to finish at their web site.

Ragnar also speaks of Fishing with Ragnar through Red Indian Lodge. Check out that site for the 2006 trip!

Posted by maasx003 at 3:58 PM
Cheerleader Survivor

Hey everyone! Still in the throes of dealing with a heavy workload at the job that actually pays the bills. But, I do have something fun to share with y'all per Gene Ramsay and the gang over at PurplePride.org.

They are running a Minnesota Viking cheerleader survivor contest that you can be involved in. To read the set-up and rules go straight to the Cheerleader Survivor page.

Have fun!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:13 PM
October 4, 2005
Oh Boy Part Two

I'm starting to tire of Matt "Holier than Thou" Birk. Anyone else? Or is it that I'm so disgusted by the season thus far that I'm crotchety with everyone?

The two local rags report that center Matt Birk took issue with leaks from three unnamed players regarding Tice's Monday statements to the team.

"First of all, that meeting was supposed to be confidential," Birk said. "That [ticks] me off. The last thing said in the meeting was, 'Let's keep this between us.'

"At no time did Mike Tice say he was quitting. The whole point of the meeting was he was not quitting. And by having that meeting, it was for the benefit of the team, to try and figure out how we can turn this thing around."

So Harvard Matt is mad about using the media? What a short memory Harvard Matt must have. Birk used the media last year to criticize Randy Moss. Birk used the media this year to plea for a "guarantee me a check and I'll not opt for season-ending surgery."

Pot calling the kettle black? Or just little ol' me bristling at the slightest comment from Winter Park?

And speaking of Winter Park, the team will be bringing in Foge Fazio and Jerry Rhome as consultants. Fazio was the team's defensive coordinator during its Dennis Green era, and Rhome is an esteemed veteran offensive coach.

And Zygi Wilf continues to say and do the right things. Wilf says that he'll impart the cash required to help the team progress.

"There's going to be more constructive improvement going forward than there was in the previous ownership," Wilf said. "We think we can do more. We hope that can translate to a better team. I'll pay for it. If [Tice] wants it, I'll pay for it."

Nothing like a slap back at the Red Menace from Texas, eh?

KSTP Video

Local KSTP sports director, Rod Simon discusses the loss to Atlanta with Rich Gannon.

Video One:
:: Gannon: 'This is a bad team right now' ::
Courtesy KSTP
rod.jpg
Click photo or HERE to view video

Fantasy Football & Pick 'Em

I won for the second week in a row in the Beer Brotherhood Fantasy Football League and I now stand at 2-2, seeded number four in a ten team league. My only mistake was not starting Troy Williamson for the second week in a row. Given the weak Atlanta secondary I should have expected at least one TD from the rookie. But then, can you blame me for not starting him? I guess I'm as gun shy at starting a Vikings wide receiver as Culpepper is throwing to one. But it was a good showing nonetheless:

QB Carson Palmer 10 pts
RB Shaun Alexander 9 pts
RB Tiki Barber 11 pts
WR Torry Holt 10 pts
WR Jerry Porter 2 pts
TE Dallas Clark 4 pts
PK Lawrence Tynes 7 pts
Def Bengals, Team Defense 9 pts

This week, I'm having to deal with a number of of byes and I'm playing the number one team in the league, the Cuyahoga Riverdawgs. Sound familar? Yeah, it is the same guy who is leading the Viking Underground Pick 'Em League.

And speaking of the VU Pick 'Em League, Cuyahoga Riverdawgs (Coworker Jim of Ohio) is continues to dominate the league. He is having a great fantasy year. The standings afer Week Four:

1 cuyahoga riverdawgs
2 The Wizzinator
3 Straight Cash Homies
4 SDunn
5 Purple Haze
6 C.J.'s pix
6 Bubbling Farts
8 MC²
9 Ron Burgundy
10 Pogo
11 SBG's Fightin' Eelpout
12 Ragnar
13 paviking
14 Gopher2
14 Phillyvike
16 Mr. Cheer Or Die: Up one spot!
17 Big Dogs
18 hawgdawg
19 Smooth Jimmy Apollo
19 Goose's Glory
19 FITZ
22 Wisconsin Vikes?
23 Bemidjigal
24 Oracle of Cheese
25 VikingGuyKY
26 Krayzie's Kings
27 Sheldon Shakers
28 PurplePeopleEaters
29 Nick's Picks

Posted by maasx003 at 7:19 PM
Oh Boy

Fear not Vikings fans. The consultants are coming. But before we get to that, it actually gets worse. Much worse. I fear an all out mutiny coming soon to a stadium near you.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote that soon-to-be-in-the-soup-line Mike Tice actually pondered abandoning his post and taking the back door out of Winter Park after the embarrassment in the Georgia Dome

Three unnamed players told beat writer Sean Jensen that Tice told them he was thinking about packing it in, causing one starter to conclude, "I lost all respect for him."

That’s huge. If the players have truly lost respect for the head coach, what chance do you think that said players will actually put out on the field of battle?

Ol’ Pencil Ear slept on it and yesterday he decided to tough it out. Tice met with the team and told them of a lesson he'd learned from his late father, who urged him never to quit.

Add to that complete mess current talk that offensive coordinator Steve Loney will shuffle from the booth to the sidelines and that running backs coach Dean Dalton will relocate to the booth.

And Tice’s other answer? Tice plans to bring in one or two part-time consultants to provide an independent evaluation of the team this week.

Huh? This simply is the old Tice modus operandi: imprudent despondency and an absolute lack of poise.

Valhalla to Zygi? Tice was named head coach of the proud Vikings franchise on Jan. 10, 2002. That means we have been held hostage for 3 years, 8 months come next Monday. End this, and end it now.

Where's The Podcast?

It appears that Audioblog, my podcast server, is having some minor uploading issues. Expect the next podcast to appear this weekend with another Score Seven format with Vikes Geek.

NetFlix Shameless Plug

cranberries.jpg

Under the heading I Never Met an Irish Band I Didn't Like we viewed The Cranberries: Beneath the Skin: Live in Paris Monday evening on the big screen. I've said this before, there is nothing quite like watching a concert film on a 80" inch screen. One almost wants to get up and start a mosh pit.

Lead singer Dolores O'Riordan is at her best vocally. O'Riordan's voice is an instrument all by itself. I am simply awe struck by her vocals. But someone needs to tell her to stop dancing. If you thought Elaine Benis dancing in Seinfeld was bad...

At any rate, if you like the Cranberries, give this one a viewing. We enjoyed it.

Posted by maasx003 at 7:37 AM
October 3, 2005
Eternity

The game against the Atlanta Falcons lasted a little over three hours or one eternity, however you chose to look at it. The Vikings flew into Georgia with some confidence riding a one-game winning streak and ended up fighting a squall barreling from the Georgia Dome, and the Vikes flying directly into it.

If the Vikings could be compared to a plane, I'm sure that lightning fried the black box and sent them careening down into sea. Luckily for me, I had dined some hours previous, so there was nothing to come up except, of course, my stomach itself.

I tried to take all the pounding and thrashing the Falcons put out stoically. Still, I heaved a sigh of relief when at last the game ended. Now comes the real fun. Reading the national media rip apart the team, and head coach Mike Tice. It has come to that, be entertained not by the team, but by the media's impression of this team. Here are some adjectives already being used to describe the Vikings following the spanking by the Falcons:

Hapless: 274-yard rushing performance on the ground for the Falcons. Oh, they had with 205 yards at halftime. Check.

Wretched: Daunte Culpepper was sacked nine times, intercepted twice and lost a fumble. Check.

Miserable: Culpepper did not complete a pass to a wide receiver until the third quarter. Check.

Disastrous: The best play of the game for the Vikings was when punter Chris Kluwe punted the ball which went out at the Falcons one-yard line. The best play of the game came from the punter. Check.

Regrettable: New owner Zygi Wilf probably had a better time watching his beloved N.Y. Giants put up 44-points and 456-yards of offense, than watching the team he owns put up a 10-spot and 261-yards.

So, can it get any more ugly? Yes. Will it? Quite probably so. Who will Tice decide to introduce at the next home game on October 23? Not the offense, we already know that. Not the defense, nope, nope, nope. So get ready ladies and germs to hear Chris Kluwe and Paul Edinger get introduced to the warm, receptive home crowd.

For they are the only ones assured of receiving applause at this point in this laughable season.

I leave you with these two questions:

1) Will the entire coaching staff be relegated to the coaches box for the next game?
2) What is the over/under on the number of brown-bag wearing fans appearing at the next home game?

unknown_comic.jpg

Leave a comment below. Blow off some steam. You'll feel better for it. Hell, you can even yell at me if you want to. That's what I'm here for.

Tice Approval Rating

Head coach Mike Tice carried a Viking Underground 61% Approval Rating into the game against the Falcons. That was up from 7% the week before. He is now carrying a season average 54% approval rating.

Vote your approval....or otherwise....to the left.

Club T-Shirts

I received a nice package this past Friday (thanks Dan!) from the Derby City Norsemen of Louisville, Kentucky. And they are great looking shirts. And enough to clothe my entire family! Take a gander at these great shirts.

jerseys 001.jpg

jerseys 002.jpg

So, if you are ever in Louisville just look up this great Vikings club! You'll be warmly received.

Zygi Goes to the People

In Sunday's Star Tribune, there was an open letter written by Zygi Wilf and Margaret Langfeld, who is the chair of the Anoka County Board of Commissioners. I thought it a bold move by Zygi to write the liberal paper who will no doubt relish in printing anti-stadium rebuttal letters-to-the-editor in the coming days.

I thought this line particularly poignant, "when it comes to stadium proposals, vision isn't the challenge; it's paying for them that's difficult." That should take some air out of the sails of the anti-stadium crowd. But it may fuel the fire for those who believe the owners should foot the entire cost of a new stadium rather than only a portion.

Another great part was, "Some argue that there should be a local referendum on the sales tax. We disagree. If we relied on local referendums for building statewide assets, we might not have a Guthrie Theater, Mall of America or Xcel Energy Center. Local referendums were not used to approve those projects and one is not needed to approve this proposal."

Bah on referendums! The anti-stadium crowd, two-faced as they are, will demand a referendum for any of the proposed three new stadiums but will say no referendum is required for a new theatre, new shopping arena, new library, or new schools. In short, the anti-stadium crowd feels it is more intelligent than you and that you should just let them do the thinking for you.

At any rate, I will post all the anti-stadium rants as they come into the STrib this week, ridiculous as they will be. And it will be very interesting to see what the STrib actually does print, as the paper has been curiously in favor of new stadiums in recent months.

Here is the full text of the letter as it appeared. Have a comment? Leave it at the end of this entry!

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said he'll call a special session if legislators limit the issues to be considered. New stadiums for the Twins and University of Minnesota are expected to be on the list. The Anoka County-Minnesota Vikings stadium project should be on that approved list, too.

Some say three stadiums at once is too much and that the Vikings should wait their turn, behind the Gophers and Twins. We, along with thousands of supporters, disagree.

We have a fair and balanced plan that works for the state, county and team, and it deserves prompt consideration.

This is the best opportunity lawmakers will have to solve all the state's long-standing stadium issues. This is the right time and right plan, and we urge the Legislature to act on our historic partnership.

No one disputes this is an exciting vision. However, Minnesotans know all too well that, when it comes to stadium proposals, vision isn't the challenge; it's paying for them that's difficult. We believe we have a responsible and viable approach.

The publicly owned, retractable-roof stadium and on-site infrastructure will cost $675 million. Anoka County and the team each will pay $280 million; the state would bond for the remaining $115 million.

Revenue generated by the project pays the state's portion of the cost, without tapping Minnesota's general fund.

Our proposal creates a stadium-development taxing district capturing the state taxes within the district to cover the cost of the bonds for the state portion. In other words, the project pays for itself. The idea of using project-generated revenues was endorsed by Pawlenty's 2004 Stadium Task Force and ensures that only those who use or benefit from the development end up paying the state's share.

The state's contribution covers on-site infrastructure, such as roads and utilities, and a portion of the stadium's retractable roof.

The roof will make this a year-round facility and help Minnesota compete for prestigious events such as Super Bowls, NCAA basketball tournaments, large conferences and other events that generate millions of dollars for the state's economy.

The Vikings $280 million private-capital contribution -- by far the largest by any team in state history -- includes an NFL loan that will be repaid by stadium revenues. In return, the Vikings will receive the stadium revenue and pay rent to the county. This world-class facility, which will be managed by a public sports commission, will help keep the Vikings competitive, preserve the team's legacy for generations to come and return tailgating to Minnesota.

Anoka County's contribution would be covered by a 0.75 percent countywide sales tax, the same as other local-option sales taxes widely used throughout the state for development projects with statewide significance.

For Anoka County, this development will produce thousands of jobs, generate millions of dollars in economic activity, improve infrastructure and help ease the local property tax burden.

It's estimated that the two affected school districts each will see their property tax base strengthened by $5.4 million, and the city and county will see their property tax base grow by $10.8 million. This gives the schools, city and county greater flexibility in providing needed services for residents.

Make no mistake: Anoka County and its residents will get back much more than they will put into the project.

Some argue that there should be a local referendum on the sales tax. We disagree.

If we relied on local referendums for building statewide assets, we might not have a Guthrie Theater, Mall of America or Xcel Energy Center. Local referendums were not used to approve those projects and one is not needed to approve this proposal.

In addition, our proposal recommends $115 million in accelerated off-site road improvements in the north metro, one of the fastest-growing areas of Minnesota. The cost also would be covered by revenue generated within the stadium taxing district.

These projects, such as widening Interstate Hwy. 35W and improving exit and entrance ramps, are needed today but aren't set to be built for 20 years. Our plan benefits everyone who drives on Minnesota roads because it provides separate funding for these accelerated road projects, freeing up transportation dollars for other needed projects throughout the state.

Our plan works.

There will never be a better opportunity to get all three stadium projects built.

Local elected officials have stepped up and made difficult decisions. Now we need the governor and the Legislature to do the same.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:45 AM