January 2006 Archives
January 31, 2006
VU Fantasy Racing

I'm back to defend my 2005 NASCAR fantasy title. Want to try and bump me off my championship perch? Looking for a fantasy fix now that the NFL season is almost over? Look no further.

You have been officially invited to join my Private Group in Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing.

In order to join the group, just go to the Yahoo game front page and click on the "Sign Up" button to create a team. After completing registration, or if you already have a team, click the "Create or Join Group" button and follow the path to join an existing private group. Then, when prompted, enter the following information...

Group ID#: 18716
Password: purple

Posted by maasx003 at 1:10 AM
January 30, 2006
Sticker Shock

Note: Those of you who are regular readers of the VU may have had some access issues over the last week or so. The University of Minnesota UThink server has been experiencing some memory problems which seem to come and go. It is being dealt with and I hope to be back to normal soon.

Yep, that time of year again when the ol' season ticket renewal notice arrives. It usually arrives about the same time that I'm also dealing with Uncle Sam looking for a handout. This year, the letter was signed by the Wilf brothers and not chintzy Red McCombs who continually rose ticket prices but after 1998 really didn't show me an improved product on the field.

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Now, let me make it crystal clear that despite the history of price hikes that I'm about to give you a history lesson on, I still consider the Vikings ticket to be one of the most economical in town for entertainment bang for the buck. It's just that I'd like the price hikes to slow down a wee bit.

Time for your history lesson.

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Back in the 1993-94 NFL season, I paid $25 a ticket for four season tickets in section 201. My total package price for these four season tickets in the upper bowels of the Metrodome was $1000.

For the 1994-95 NFL season, I was moved up to section 101 in the end-zone. That's where I am today except that then I was in row seven and today I'm in row one. In any event, I had to dish out an extra $4 per seat for those four season tickets. A decision that took me about 15-seconds to decide upon. Total package price sky-rocketed to $1160 for four prime season tickets.

Reflecting back on those prices I realize those days are long gone and never to be seen again. The prices really started to sky-rocket when ol' Red decided to raise prices again and again and again.

Before we discuss the latest rate hike under the Wilf's, let's look at some more history for further perspective on this matter.

When prices started to rise and we had to make some tough financial decisions, I decreased the number of season tickets I was holding from four to two. This was not a decision made lightly and I often regret doing it. But the extra money afforded did allow my wife and I to attend other entertainment venues offered by the Twin Cities such as the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Gotta spread the wealth, ya know. But let's return to the history and the math.

For the 1996-97 NFL season, I paid $33 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $660.

For the 1997-98 NFL season, I paid $37 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $740.

For the 1998-98 NFL season, I paid $37 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $740. That's right. Prices actually held. But that was just before Red McCombs purchased the team. And that's where things really got interesting.

For the 1999-00 NFL season, I paid $45 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $900. An $8 per seat (17.7%) increase over the year before and largest yearly increase during my 12-year tenure as a Vikings season ticket holder. My salary increase that year was 3.8%.

For the 2000-01 NFL season, I paid $48.50 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $970. That one wasn't too bad to swallow but one would have thought that after a hefty $8 per seat increase that perhaps no increase was warranted? But wait, it got even better for Red the Menace.

For the 2001-02 NFL season, I paid $53 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1060. A $4.50 (8.4%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.2%. And keep in mind that just 10-years earlier I was getting four, not two, season tickets for that price. And Red wasn't about to stop there.

For the 2002-03 NFL season, I paid $58 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1160. A $5 (8.6%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.5%.

For the 2003-04 NFL season, I paid $62 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1060. A $4 (6.4%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.2%.

For the 2004-05 NFL season, I paid $64 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1280. A $2 (3.1%) per seat increase. My salary increase last year was 4.0%. Wow! I actually kept pace with ticket inflation!

Now for the latest and, ahem, greatest. Drum roll, please Maestro.

For the 2005-06 NFL season, I will pay $71 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1420. A $7 (9.9%) per seat increase. My salary increase this year will be a meager 4.2%.

Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick.

So, the amount of inflation since first purchasing season tickets in 1993 for $25 a seat per game has risen almost 65%. Using this inflation calculator, what did cost me $25 per seat in 1993 should only have risen to $32.87 per seat in 2005. Recall that I will be at $71 per seat for 2006.

Had my salary grown to 61% during this same period, my wife wouldn't have to work. Heady numbers indeed!

Now, I know the team needs to make money. I know that the ticket prices are not out of line with the rest of the league. But here's the thing. When is enough actually enough? Where will it stop?

Will there ever reach a point in this Pro Football Hall of Fame fans life that I might have to walk away from it? Drop my season tickets because I have to put food on the table and keep a roof over my family? There is one such scenario wherein that could happen. And it has to do with a new stadium. I'll return to that topic later this year as all three stadium issues (Twins, Gophers, and Vikes) come to the esteemed Minnesota legislature once again.

If the Vikings ever do get a new stadium agenda on the table and actually get it approved I envision that Wilf and Co. will implement a PSL (private or personal seat licenses).

A relatively new revenue source for team owners is the PSL. PSLs force fans to pay a fixed fee to obtain the privilege of purchasing season tickets. A ticket to buy a ticket!

In the past, teams typically allowed season ticket holders to automatically renew their tickets each year, and that fan's position was lost only if season tickets were not renewed. Now, in an increasing number of stadiums, season ticket holders must pay the PSL fees, which are typically quite expensive, before being given the privilege to pay for the tickets. PSLs don't even confer extra benefits to their customers beyond that of the endangered general season ticket holder.

This is nothing but another scam that takes advantage of sports fans. One more wedge that drives the diehard fans away from the game in favor of a more affluent audience. Just to fatten the wallets of the owners.

I recall a conversation with Jersey John after the 1998 season. Jersey John was the Pittsburgh Steelers fan inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with me that year. This resident of the New Jersey shore has spent the past 27 years traveling to Steelers home games -- 750 miles roundtrip, Point Pleasant house to Heinz Field parking lot.

Jersey John told me about their new stadium efforts during that conversation. As part of the stadium agreement, approximately $37 million (but not less than $34 million) in net proceeds from the sale of personal seat licenses was to be raised in order to assist in funding the new stadium. John was being asked to fork over nearly $12000 for a PSL to retain the right to keep his four season tickets. That was $3000 a seat. Just to retain the right........

Jersey John wasn't a down-and-out type. He was a very successful business man. But twelve grand? It gave one pause. And it should have.

So if PSLs become part of the new stadium agenda, there could possibly be two more open seats in the front row available for you. If you have the upfront cash for a PSL...and can handle the 5-17% ticket rate hikes...and the $25 parking...and $60 jersey's.....and $5 hot dog.....Whew! That home theater system with the 84" drop down screen might be all I need.

Nah! It's more fun to be at the game. But, I think you can see my point. How about you? How high would you be willing to go for a regular season game?




Shameless Plug

I'm eagerly awaiting the release of a new CD by Edinburgh-born chanteuse/guitarist KT Tunstall. Her debut album Eye To The Telescope will released on February 7, 2006. The first simgle, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, has been getting a lot of air play in the Twin Cities. Give her a listen!

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Another Shameless Plug

This past Saturday the COD family met our friends Hadi Anbar, his wife Soodi and their daughter Jaanon for lunch at Kabobi, the latest in Hadi’s stable of great restaurants. His other restaurants include Mission (the former Aquavit) and Atlas, both in downtown Minneapolis.

Kabobi serves food from their native Persia in a fast food setting but with real silverware and cloth napkins, an elegant touch. The food – kebabs and pita sandwiches – is very flavorful and a great value. It’s even kid-friendly, our biggest litmus test.

If you are ever in the Eden Prairie area, check it out.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:21 AM
January 27, 2006
Friday: Must be Time to Talk PQ the First

The Poutin' Quarterback the First is back making news, this time without even talking to anyone. As I'm home on Friday having fun with The Boy® (for some reason school is not in session!), I just wanted to leave you with some recent quotes from a St. Paul Pioneer Press article and let you, my valued reader, make some comments.

Quote Numero Uno:

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper, the subject of trade speculation, isn't saying much these days. But others close to him are weighing in.

New Vikings coach Brad Childress said Wednesday that he and Culpepper talk on a weekly basis.

"You classify rumors as just that, rumors," Childress said Wednesday on "The Drive on Fox" with Chris Myers and Bryan Cox. "There's nobody that knows what Daunte and I talk about except Daunte and I, and I'd like to keep it that way."

Childress said Culpepper's status as the Vikings' No. 1 quarterback has not changed.

"I said in my opening comments... he's a franchise quarterback, and I don't believe a guy loses his position based on injury," Childress said. "So the first thing is, he doesn't need to be injured anymore. He's got to rehab. He's got control over that. I don't have control over that."

My take to get you rolling with the comments (which you can leave at the end of this entry): First, it is terrific to be aware that PQ the First is at least chatting to the new head coach. I also like that Childress is not commenting on what is being said, although I'd be happier if we knew how the rehab is going which would decrease all the speculation.

Second, I still read into the quotes that Childress is not happy that he doesn't actually control how PQ the First has been rehabbing and would favor some more input and control. We'll see how things pan out over the next 30-days.

Quote Numero Dos:

Meanwhile, former Vikings receiver Randy Moss told Dan Patrick on Patrick's ESPN radio show that he spoke to Culpepper on Monday night.

"Does he want out of Minnesota?" Moss said, repeating Patrick's question. "I really can't get that feel. What Daunte wants is some clarity. Clarity meaning, where is his future going to be? Is it going to be with them, as a franchise quarterback, or does he need to go elsewhere? … Once he gets clarity, then they can go from there."

Earlier, Moss said he and Culpepper reminisced about their days with the Vikings. Moss said he gave Culpepper some insight on the receiver's new NFL home.

"I gave him a little lowdown on Oakland, the city, the team, the players," said Moss, now with the Raiders. "We just talked about a lot of things."

Moss referred to Culpepper as a "brother" and said the two have a positive relationship.

"I just want to let people know that there's nothing between us but love," Moss said. "But by him and me reuniting would be like a Cinderella story."

My take: Soooooo, PQ the First wants clarity?!?!?! This from a man who has fundamentally blown off speaking to anyone since the Carolina game! How's 'bout a little clarity from you, PQ?

And if PQ is gathering some insight on Oakland from The Freak, I would have to imagine he is sending out some feelers to teams around the league. Remember, PQ the First is now representing himself since firing his agent. Very curious, if you ask me. You?

Quote Numero Tres:

In his Fox radio interview, Childress indicated the Vikings might not be inclined to seek a premier running back.

"We've kind of looked at the free agents that are out there. They're kind of journeyman guys. I know there's Edgerrin James out there. He'll come with a big-ticket price. Jamal Lewis. He'll come with a big-ticket price," Childress said. "What we've done in Philadelphia is kind of done it by committee. So if we can't find that guy, that's the lead dog, that can do it 25 or 30 times a game, we'll go ahead and spread it around a little and keep everybody fresh."

My comment: DAMN!

Have a nice weekend everyone! I'm working on some more podcasts for next week...sorry I did not get around to posting at least one this week.

Posted by maasx003 at 3:36 AM
January 26, 2006
Which Stadium Visualization Do You Fancy?

It is the off-season and so the Viking Underground covers a lot of ground. You've recently read a little about my trip to Russia circa 1995 which I enjoyed doing. It is time now to swing the focus back a bit towards things purple. Today, we look at not how a new stadium would be accomplished or where it would be built, but what the damn thing will look like.

I was recently reminded of the Red McComb's version and that of new owner Zygi Wilf when I read the following over at the Greet Machine:

And speaking of the new Vikings stadium, I've been thinking about what Zygi can do to help his efforts when it suddenly dawned on me that I don't like the new design of the stadium. I don't like it at all. Especially not compared to the old design. Especially not compared to the old design:

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New design (click for larger)
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Old design (click for larger)

Do you see what I mean? The new design looks like crap! And what is with the two garish yellow towers jutting out of the front? I don't get it. Whoever drew this thing up could have done a better job. I mean, look at the old design. Sleek lines. And those cool stainless steel rounded beams coming out of the top evoking thoughts of the Viking longboats of old ... man, that was a cool design. I gotta give Red credit for that one. This new stadium needs some more pizazz if it is going to get the attention and excitement of the people of Anoka County. That is what I think anyway.

I think the Greet Machine has a point, don't you? Why not fit the stadium's architecture to that of the Vikings history? Make it look like a longboat. Make it look so bloody breathtaking that people will be duty-bound to pony up some big time dough to make it happen....or allow the thing to be built without a cluster of referendums that will most undoubtedly thwart even a shovelful of dirt to be dug.

So, which design do you prefer?




The Trophy is Home

Yes, the Beer Brotherhood Fantasy Football trophy is back where it belongs, in the hands of the champion. In this case, the two-time B2F2 league champion.

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It is an exquisite item. Every fantasy league should have a perpetual trophy to hand from champion to champion. In this case, the B2F2 League trophy has room for about 50-years and can be expanded with another base to keep it going from generation to generation. Even The Boy® dreams about owning this baby some day. He holds a trophy he won at a birthday party last year to show just how big the B2F2 League trophy is.

Here is to next year and another fantasy championship!


Posted by maasx003 at 1:55 AM
January 25, 2006
Tidbits and St. Petersburg


Hey, you! Yes, you! Did you hard-core Vikings fans see this quote from my close, personal friend Patrick Reusse on Tuesday in the STrib?
This conversation took place in the press box at Denver's Invesco Field on Sunday as the Broncos readied for a kickoff: Person A: "Who is that No. 54, running around like a complete idiot and playing to the crowd?" Person B: "This probably will not surprise you. Number 54 is former Vikings great Patrick Chukwurah." Later, Pittsburgh's Tyrone Carter -- another former Viking -- came in during garbage time. He took a shot at a receiver, ignoring the potential for an interception, and then celebrated madly. So, the eternal question was laid out for all to see in the AFC title game: Does acting like a fool lead you to the Purple, or does playing for the Purple turn you into a fool?
I had to laugh.....loudly. I didn't even know that Chukwurah (whom I called 'Wookie') was still in the league. But to slightly quarrel with Reusse, every team has idiots who celebrate every tackle and such as if they've just single-handily won the Super Bowl. To single out our formerly beloved Vikings is just down right malicious (insert heavy dose of mockery here). I guess that is what happens when you are near retirement and become a bitter old man.

LightScribe

I bought an external HP CD/DVD burner this week. I wanted to start playing around with LightScribe and this HP model has that ability. LightScribe is an innovative technology that uses a special disc drive, special media, and label-making software to burn labels directly onto CDs and DVDs. Because the labels are laser-etched—not printed—there's no ink, no smudging, and no peeling. And it looks cool as well. Here is my first go at it using a background image of Powis Castle in Wales:

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It worked great! I was a little disappointed in the burning time which was about 17 minutes, but the results are outstanding and very professional looking. Anyone else have a LightScribe burner? What do you think? Any hints that you can pass along?

To St. Petersburg

Continuing my little personal thread on my 1995 trip to Russia we now turn from Moscow to St. Petersburg. We had left Moscow late in the evening by traveling on the famous Red Arrow.

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We each had a personal berth on the very comfortable train. As well as a bodyguard complete with an Uzi. That made us feel safe and uncomfortable at the same time. One of the retired seniors in our tour group recounted the time he had traveled the same route in the 1950's. At that time, no one was allowed to even look out the windows as the train moved along as the shutters were locked shut during certain parts of the route to St. Petersburg.

We had a comfortable trip, however. And arrived on St. Petersburg the next morning ready to begin looking around Russia's window on Europe. One of the first places we visited was the famed Peterhof palace on the Gulf of Finland. Founded in the very beginning of the eighteenth century by Emperor Peter the Great not far from his new northern capital St Petersburg, Peterhof was intended to become the most splendid official royal summer residence. It has over 170 fountains, the most famous of which is the Great Cascade as pictured here:

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We arrived on a perfect autumn day and were met by a performing band that struck up some American numbers for our entertainment. We then we taken on tour of Peterhof and its numerous gilded statues of ancient gods and heroes, remarkable collections of sculpture, painting and works of the minor arts.

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The inside of the palace was spectacular as well and I spent a lot of time exploring the architecture of the various themed rooms. But as I said earlier, the weather outside was just too nice to spend a great deal of time indoors.

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It was then the The Wife and I discovered the outdoor gardens. We did a study of the gardens and brought back many ideas for our own, such as this overlaying pergola which was one of the reasons we built our pergola.

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What was amazing is on our return from Peterhof we stopped at several WWII memorials placed just a short distance away from the city of St. Petersburg. We learned these were memorials to show how far the German army had advanced in the war. I wrote down the story of one of the memorials as follows:

The Germans reached the outskirts of what was then Leningrad but they weren't able to conquer it beginning a siege that lasted for 900 days, from September 8, 1941 till January 27, 1944. The city (whose population then totaled nearly three million people) was completely cut off from the rest of the country, and it was Hitler’s intention to literally starve the city into submission. Food and fuel stocks were very limited (1-2 months only). All the public transport stopped. By the winter of 1941-42 there was no heating, no water supply, almost no electricity and very little food. In January 1942, in the depths of an unusually cold winter, the lowest food rations in the city were only 125 grams (about 1/4 of a pound) of bread per day. In just two months, January and February, 1942, 200 thousand people died in Leningrad of cold and starvation. But some of the war industry still worked and the city did not surrender.


Harrison Salisbury, in his book 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad, wrote:

This was the greatest and longest siege ever endured by a modern city, a time of trial, suffering and heroism that reached the peaks of tragedy and bravery almost beyond our power to comprehend...Hitler’s attempt to wipe Leningrad off the map resulted in an almost unequaled example of courage, strength and determination from the city’s populace. In the midst of this misery, Dmitri Shostakovich was composing the Seventh "Leningrad" Symphony, a work of music that bore the stamp of genius, from a man who himself had suffered Stalin’s scorn. When he finally finished the symphony, there were only 16 members still alive of the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra, which had previously numbered over 100. And the symphony was scored for a large orchestra. Signs were put up all over Leningrad, asking any musicians who were still alive and could play an instrument, and could get to the symphony hall to assemble. Word got around and musicians came from all over the city and from combat units, and assembled to rehearse this Seventh Symphony. For an entire week this ragged group of tired, sick, emancipated but incredibly dedicated musicians rehearsed the symphony. On the day of the performance, the commander-in-chief of the city’s armed forces ordered his heavy artillery to knock out as many German guns as possible so that there would be no interruptions in the performance. As the bombardment subsided the first note of the symphony sounded. The performance was not only the most emotion-laden presentation of the work imaginable, but was surely one of the most electrifying concerts ever given. Whatever the technical shortcomings the performance might have had counted for nothing; the impact on the audience was truly extraordinary. In January 1943 the Siege was broken and a year later, on January 27, 1944 it was fully lifted. At least 641 thousand people had died in Leningrad during the Siege (some estimates put this figure at 800 thousand). Leningrad still remains a symbol of Nazi brutality and aggression on the Eastern Front.


That stuff kind of sticks with a chap for some time. It still resonates with me.

Back in St. Petersburg, we also visited the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood. This marvelous Russian-style church was built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 by a group of revolutionaries, who threw a bomb at his royal carriage. The decision was taken to build a church on the spot where the Emperor was mortally wounded. And as you could see by the linked photo above, it is an architectural magnificent building.

I could go on talking about the magnificence of the Hermitage. I could talk about the beauty of St Isaac's Cathedral (as seen here at dawn) which was right outside our hotel window. But you can look up all that yourself as those places are famous and well known.

One palace that I also fell in love with was Tsarskoe, also known as Catherine the Great's Palace. I bring this up because it was Catherine the Great who transformed St. Petersburg into a truly European city of Imperial pretension. The arts, music and education where patronized by her and Catherine pumped millions of rubles into the creation of the Hermitage collection. No other Russian monarch appreciated beauty as much as Catherine; she set the stage for the emergence of a national Russian culture that would emerge as something unique and wonderful in the 19th century.

The facade and interior of Catherine the Great's Place is very European. The architecture and landscaping is typical of what I expect in Vienna or at Versailles. The only addition is the gilded domes.

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Again, the weather on the day that we visited was exceptional. We strolled in the outdoor gardens and visited every room inside the palace itself. Want to see a magnificent Grand Ballroom? This grand ballroom was itself a piece of art!

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Posted by maasx003 at 1:29 AM
January 24, 2006
The Skinny on Free Agents

One of my VU buddies forwarded me this list of 2006 free agents. I don't know where it came from, but it looks to be the real deal. Vikings players are underlined and people I'd like the Vikes to consider are bolded:

QB’s

UFA’s

1)Drew Brees SD
2)David Carr Hou
3)Josh McCown Ari
4)Jon Kitna Cin
5)Kurt Warner Ari
6)Jeff Garcia Det
7)Chris Weinke Car
8)Vinny Testaverde NYJ
9)Doug Flutie NE
10)Tim Hasselbeck NYG
11)Craig Nall GB
12)Anthony Wright Bal
13)Sage Rosenfels Mia
14)Rohan Davey FA
15)Charlie Batch Pit
16)Todd Collins KC
17)Jamie Martin Stl
18)Ty Detmer Atl
19)Shane Matthews Buf
20)Damon Huard KC
21)Jeff Blake Chi

RFA’s

1)Chris Simms TB
2)Seneca Wallace Sea
3)Quinn Gray Jax
4)David Ragone Hou
5)Shaun Hill Min

RB’s

1)Edgerrin James Ind
2)Jamal Lewis Bal
3)Brian Westbrook Phi
4)Shaun Alexander Sea
5)Ahman Green GB
6)DeShaun Foster Car
7)Chester Taylor Bal
8)Travis Minor Mia
9)Michael Bennett Min
10)Marshall Faulk Stl
11)James Mungro Ind
12)Shawn Bryson Det
13)Ron Dayne Den
14)Najeh Davenport GB
15)Sammy Morris Mia
16)Maurice Morris Sea
17)Johnathan Wells Hou
18)Lamar Gordan Mia
19)Tony Fisher GB
20)Verron Hayes Pit
21)Moe Williams Minn
22)Anthony Thomas Dal
23)LaBrandon Toefield Jax
24)Chad Morton NYG
25)Antowain Smith NO
26)James Jackson Ari
27)Avieon Cason Dal
28)Rock Cartwright Was
29)Arlen Harris Stl
30)Fred McAfee NO
31)Amos Zereoue Ne

RFA’s

1)Artose Pinner Det
2)Earnest Graham TB
3)Shaud Williams Buf
4)Reno Mahe Phi

FB’s

UFA’s

1)Tony Richardson KC
2)Lorenzo Neal SD
3)Fred Beasley SF
4)William Henderson GB
5)Mack Strong Sea
6)Jeremi Johnson Cin
7)Fred McCary Atl
8)Jameel Cook TB
9)Paul Smith Det
10)Chris Hetherington SF
11)Nick Luchey Cin
12)Heath Evans Sea

WR’s

UFA’s

1)David Givens NE
2)Reggie Wayne Ind
3)Josh Reed Buf
4)Randy Hymes Bal
5)Antonio Bryant Cle
6)Antwaan Randle El Pit
7)Eric Moulds Buf
8)Joe Jurevicius Sea
9)Peter Warrick Sea
10)Jabar Gaffney Hou
11)Rod Gardner Car
12)Corey Bradford Hou
13)Kevin Johnson Det
14)Peerless Price Dal
15)Dez White Atl
16)Koren Robinson Min
17)Quincy Morgan Pit
18)Az-Zhair Hakim NO
19)Tim Carter NYG
20)David Boston Mia
21)Ike Hillard TB
22)Troy Brown NE
23)Tim Dwight NE
24)Jerome Pathon Atl
25)Charles Lee Ari
26)Marc Boerighter KC
27)Reggie Swinton Ari
28)Troy Walters Ind
29)Patrick Johnson Bal

RFA’s

1)Brandon Lloyd SF
2)Patrick Crayton Dal
3)Nate Burleson Min
4)Eddie Drummond Det-KR
5)Kevin Walter Cin
6)Shaun McDonald Stl
7)Willie Ponder NYG
8)Kevin Curtis Stl
9)Kelley Washington Cin
10)David Tyree NYG
11)Derick Armstrong Hou
12)Kaseem Osgood SD
13)Arnaz Battle SF
14)Chris Horn KC
15)Bryan Gilmore Mia

TE’s

UFA's

1)Chris Baker NYJ
2)Brandon Manumaleuna Stl
3)Matt Schobel Cin
4)Justin Peelle SD
5)Stephen Alexander Den
6)Dan Campbell Dal
7)Aaron Shea Cle
8)Jermane Tuman Pit
9)Robert Royal Was
10)Christian Fauria NE
11)Darnell Dinkins Bal
12)Terry Jones Jr Bal
13)Teyo Johnson Ari
14)Tony Stewart Cin
15)Billy Miller Cle
16)Keith Henrich Car
17)Lamont Hall NO
18)Brian Kozlowski Was
19)Dave Moore TB
20)Cam Cleeland Stl
21)Marcellus Rivers Hou
22)Steve Bush SF
23)John Gilmore Chi
24)Mike Seidman Car
25)Zeron Flemister Oak

RFA’s

1)Casey Fitzsimmions Det
2)George Wrightster Jax
3)Zach Hilton NO

C’s

UFA’s

1)LeCharles Bentley NO
2)Justin Hartwig Tenn
3)Seth McKinney Hou
4)Jeff Mitchell Car
5)Trey Teague
6)Mike Flanagan GB
7)Andy McCollum Stl
8)Roberto Garza
9)Melvin Fowler NO
10)Brock Gutierrez
11)Bob Hallen

OG’s

UFA’s

1)Steve Hutchinson Sea
2)Stephen Neal NE
3)Tutan Reyes Car
4)Montrae Holland NO
5)John St Clair Chi
6)Fred Weary
7)Grey Ruegamer GB
8)Tom Nutten Stl
9)Ray Brown Was
10)Steve Edwards Chi

RFA’s

1)Alonzo Ephraim
2)Vincent Manuwai
3)Ryan Lilja
4)Adam Goldberg Minn

OT’s

UFA’s

1)Jeff Backus Det
2)Tom Ashworth NE
3)Jon Runyan Phi
4)Victor Riley Hou
5)Kyle Kosier Det
6)L.J. Shelton
7)Ephraim Salaam Jax
7)Kevin Shaffner Atl
8)Kevin Barry GB
9)Stockar McDougle Mia
10)Matt Willig Stl
11)Anthony Clement SF
12)Barry Stokes Atl
13)Bob Whitfield NE
14)Todd Steussie TB
15)Todd Fordham Chi
16)Scott Gragg
17)Barrett Brooks Pit
18)Rex Tucker

RFA’s

1)Jason Peters Buf
2)Torrin Tucker Dal
3)Jordan Black
4)Sean Bubin Min
5)Anthony Davis
6)Sean Locklear
7)Blaine Saipaia
8)Chad Slaughter

DT’s

UFA’s

1)Larry Tripplet Ind
2)Maa’ke Kemeatu Bal
3)Ron Edwards Atl
4)Grady Jackson GB
5)Ryan Pickett Stl
6)Damione Lewis Stl
7)Lional Dalton KC
8)Chris Hovan TB
9)Willie Whitehead NO
10)Monsanto Pope Den
11)Edward Jasper Oak
12)Justin Bannan Buf
13)Kendrick Clancy NYG
14)Rob Meier Jax
15)Langston Moore Cin
16)Cedric Killings
17)Rocky Bernard
18)Travis Hall Sf

RFA’s

1)Jordan Cartsens Car
2)Kindal Moorehead Car
3)Terdell Sands Oak

DE’s

UFA’s

1)John Abraham NYJ
2)Darren Howard NO
3)Kimo von Oelhoffen Pit
4)Anthony Weaver Bal
5)Orpheus Roye Cle
6)Aaron Kampman GB
7)Raheem Brock Ind
8)Kyle Vanden Bosch Tenn
9)Carlos Hall KC
10)Kalimba Edwards Det
11)Jared Devries Det
12)Carl Powell Cin
13)Ryan Denney Buf
14)Lance Johnstone Min
15)Brett Keisel Pit
16)Rodney Bailey Sea
17)Tyoka Jackson Stl
18)Marcellus Wiley Jax
19)Marco Coleman Den

RFA’s

1)Robert Mathis Ind
2)Jarret Johnson Bal
3)Cory Redding Det
4)Brandon Green Stl
5)Kenny Peterson GB

MLB

UFA’s

1)Andra Davis Cle
2)Derek Smith SF
3)Angelo Crowell Buf
4)Gary Brackett Ind
5)Earl Holmes Det
6)Sam Cowart Min
7)Brad Kassell Tenn
8)Clint Kriewaldt Pit
9)DeShon Polk Hou
10)Ben Taylor Cle
11)Orlando Ruff Cle
12)Rob Morris Ind
13)Jason Glenn Hou
14)Wali Rainer Det
15)Ronald McKinnon NO
16)Tim Johnson Oak
17)Trav Faulk Stl

OLB’s

UFA’s

1)Julian Peterson SF
2)Akin Ayodele Jax
3)David Thornton Ind
4)Will Witherspoon Car
5)Sedrick Hodge NO
6)Keith Adams Phi
7)Nick Greisen NYG
8)Rocky Boiman Tenn
9)Tommy Polley Atl
10)Keith Newman Minn
11)Grant Irons Oak
12)Warrick Holdman Was
13)Bart Scott Bal
14)Paris Lenon GB
15)Scott Fujita Dal
16)Patrick Chukwurah Den
17)Lester Towns Ari
18)Hannibal Navies Cin
19)Marcus Wilkins Cin
20)Rocky Calmus Tenn
21)Keith Burns Den
22)Matt Chatham NE
23)T.J. Slaughter NO
24)DeLawrence Grant Oak
25)Don Davis NE

RFA’s

1)Cato June Ind
2)James Harrison Pit
3)D.D. Lewis Sea
4)Hunter Hillenmeyer Chi
5)Shantee Orr Hou
6)Saleem Rasheed SF

CB’s

UFA’s

1)Nate Clements Buf
2)Charles Woodson Oak
3)Deshea Townsend Pit
4)Lenny Walls Den
5)Kenny Wright Jax
6)Jerry Azumah Chi
7)Andre Goodman Det
8)R.W. McQuarters Det
9)Brian Williams Min
9)Willie Middlebrooks SF
10)Chad Scott NE
11)Jamar Fletcher SD
12)Dale Carter Bal
13)Deion Sanders Bal
14)Tony Beckham Tenn
15)Juran Bolden TB
16)Fakhir Brown NO
17)Will Allen NYG
18)Terry Cousin
19)Ray Mickens Clev
20)Rashad Bauman Cin
21)Ralph Brown Min
22)Jimmy Williams Sea
23)Terry Fair Stl
24)Corey Ivy Stl
25)Jason Bell Hou
26)DeWayne Washington KC

RFA’s

1)Terrence McGee Buf-KR
2)Roderick Hood Phi
3)Ike Taylor Pit
4)Ricky Manning Jr Car
5)Leigh Bodden Clev
6)Jabari Greer Buf
7)Chris Johnson Stl
8)Raymond Walls
9)Dante Wesley
10)Jacques Reeves
11)DeJuan Groce

S’s

UFA’s

1)Adam Archuleta Stl
2)Chris Hope Pit
3)Tank Willliams Tenn
4)Will Demps Bal
5)Corey Chavous Min
6)Dexter Jackson TB
7)Sam Brandon Den
8)Marlon McCree Hou
9)Keion Carpenter Atl
10)Deke Cooper Jax
11)Idrees Bashir Car
12)Anthony Mitchell Cijn
13)Ifeanyi Ohalete Cin
14)Lance Schulters Mia
15)Bracy Walker Det
16)Earl Little GB
17)Kevin McCadam Atl
18)Ronnie Heard Atl
19)Keith Davis Dal
20)Ken Irvin Min
21)John Howell
22)Marquand Manuel
23)Ryan Clark NYG
24)Omar Stoutmare NYG
25)Ramon Walker Hou

RFA’s

1)Terrence Holt Det
2)Guss Scott NE
3)Scott Connot KC
4)Mike Adams
5)Clinton Hart
6)Mel Mitchell NO
7)Jarrod Cooper
8)Yeremiah Bell Mia
9)Reggie Myles Cin
10)Willie Pile Dal

K’s

UFA’s

1)Adam Vinateri NE
2)Jeff Wilkins Stl
3)Mike Vanderjaght Ind
4)Ryan Longwell GB
5)Neil Rackers Cinn
6)Josh Brown Sea
7)Todd Peterson Atl
8)Matt Bryant TB
9)Joe Nedney SF

P’s

UFA’s

1)Jason Baker
2)Dave Zastudill Bal
3)Kyle Richardson
4)Tom Rouen Sea

RFA’s

1)Filip Filpovic
2)Matt McBriar Dal
3)Kyle Larson
4)Ben Graham

More on Russia

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On Monday I had written about visiting the local Museum of Russian Art. It had reminded me of a visit to Russia The Wife® and I had embarked on back in 1995. We spent time in Moscow as well as St. Petersburg.

The art we viewed at the Museum of Russian Art had brought back memories of purchasing art from street artists…which was actually very good.

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I recall walking the streets of Moscow looking at the work of various street artists. And of course, we had to pet every dog since we missed our dogs back in Minnesota.

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In the evenings we were entertained by folk dancers, or ballet, or attending the Moscow Circus.

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The Moscow Circus with its live animal acts and tremendous talent, such as this little girl, were a highlight.

Another was getting inside the walls of the Kremlin. Guards were stationed all around.

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But inside the walls was a rich history of the Russian people. Not to mention their military history as well.

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The day we spent inside the Kremlin walls was picture postcard perfect with a deep blue sky. The sun glistened off the onion shaped domes of the various buildings and churches.

I also recall our last day in Moscow. I had found out earlier that morning that the Vikes had thrashed the Pittsburgh Steelers 44-24. During breakfast I was busy telling this to all the people on the trip with us. A waiter had sensed that we had something to celebrate and informed us that he would be back with something "very special" to help us continue our merriment.

We wondered if we would receive some fabulous caviar or perhaps some vintage champagne. The waiter returned a short time later with a covered silver tray. With a proud look in his eye he removed the cover and we found ourselves looking at.....hot dogs. "Oscar Meyer for your victory," announced the waiter. "Very difficult to obtain."

There was some minor snickering from the group which I quickly pooh-poohed and went on to explain to the waiter the joys of football tailgating and how much this meal meant to me, having missed out on a Vikings football game while being in a foreign country.

Tomorrow, St. Petersburg.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:41 AM
January 23, 2006
Без перевода

Weekend Outing: Recommendations for the Locals

This past weekend, the COD family just threw all those compulsory weekend chores aside and had some enjoyable family time. On Saturday, we started out by heading to Minneapolis to have breakfast at a new diner that I had read about in the STrib. Of course because of the great review this meant that we had to wait 30-minutes to be seated but it was worth it. Hot Plate is a diner in the style of my youth. Affable staff, magnificent food, and very affordable prices. I associate it more to the diners I have frequented whenever I visit in New York, but with a Minnesota flare. The Wife® had pumpkin-buckwheat waffles and I opted for the lower carb breakfast burrito. We both ended up skipping lunch that day to be sure! For the locals, I highly endorse that you make a point to try out Hot Plate in the near future.

I suppose you are wondering about the title of this entry. It is Russian for "good morning" and I introduce it because after breakfast, we went to the Museum of Russian Art. We were all very impressed. Even The Boy® found many interesting things to search for in the paintings. And I was jubilant because many of my favorite Russian painters had pieces on display.

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Stunning in its design, the museum offers many styles of 20th Century Russian painting, including classical realism, Russian impressionism, socialist realism, the severe style and modernism, among others. As I said, some of my favorites were on display such as Aleksandr Mikhailovich Gerasimov. Gerasimov was one of leading Realist artists from 1925-1932. As the first president of the USSR Academy of Arts, he presided from 1947-57, until compelled to resign by Nikita Khrushchev. Gerasimov was awarded Stalin Prizes in 1941, 1943, 1945 and 1948. He is the artist most closely associated with the Party line in Soviet art of the Stalin period. In 1958 he received a Gold Medal at the World Exhibition in Brussels. His works hang in many Russian museums, and he exhibited in Paris, Tokyo, Cologne, Pittsburgh, Damascus, Moscow and at the World Exhibition in New York in 1947. Two of his paintings are on display, one of which is Trees In Bloom which is shown below:

MB-0004.jpg


The other is Still Life with Flowers from 1935. You'll have to visit the museum and see that one for yourself. If you are looking for 90-minutes to spend admiring art in the Twin Cities, head to the Museum of Russian Art.

My appreciation for Russian Art started in 1995 when The Wife® and I traveled to Moscow and St. Petersburg for a glorious ten days. The Wife® was employed by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts at that time and she was leading a tour for senior citizens. I was not about to miss out on the trip and signed on as an additional “sheep herder?. And let me just say how fantastic a group those sixty-six senior citizens were. Fantastic story tellers and full of life, I heard many a story about World War II and life in America while under the Cold War. Hearing the stories while walking Red Square one evening was something I’ll never forget.

I was influenced by Lenin’s van Dyke beard on the trip and decided to grow one for myself. Not that I was making a political statement! I just saw the beard on so many faces and in so many museums that I had to try it. I wore that style of beard for about eight years.

beard.jpg

I’ll probably post a few more photos from that Russian trip during this week. We visited a ton of places and got behind the sealed doors of the Kremlin. A trip of a lifetime, indeed. And I hope to get back again some day.

Oh Yeah, Football

Recently I wrote about the upcoming 2006 NFL draft and that the Purple should be scouring the country for the best LB available. But there are some very good 2006 free agents that may become Vikings as well. Let's take a look.

Julian Peterson, OLB, San Francisco [83 tkls, 3 sacks]

Peterson is unmistakably the best of this year's linebacking crop, even with ongoing reservations about his resilience. Over the years, he has played OLB, ILB, DE, SS and CB. But combine niggling injuries with the Niners having copious problems elsewhere, they are sure to be timid to tie up so much money in an oft-injured player.

Peterson has that extraordinary first step that gets him off the line straight away, and makes him a top notch pass rusher. With his swiftness, Peterson can chase down any ball carrier, and can even stretch out into coverage on passing downs that is a prerequisite of the Tampa Two defense. If he can stay healthy, he will be well worth the money he will command, and could take a contender to the next level.

Cato June, ILB, Indianapolis [102 tackles, 5 int, 2 TD]

Under Tony Dungy, Cato June went from unheard of to the makings of a budding Defensive Player of the Year. In his third year out of Michigan, June showed the wide-ranging skills any defensive coordinator would be happy to rely on. Clearly, June solved his tribulations with coverage, as evidenced by his 5 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. A very good athlete, June's foremost criticism has always been an inability to get proper depth in zone coverage. While he did manage 102 tackles, he continues to have problems shedding larger blockers in pursuit. June excels in the proper scheme, and would likely have difficulty being the focal point of a younger, less talented defense such as the Vikings

Everyone wants to know where the Colts are going to spend their money. With Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, and three linebackers (David Thornton, Rob Morris, and Rocky Calmus) about to hit the free agent market, someone has to go. Could it be June?

Akin Ayodele, OLB, Jacksonville [72 tackles, 4 FF]

Here is a very respectable athlete with immense size at the OLB spot. Ayodele has slowly been coming on the past few years, and is finally showing the ability that was promised. At 6'2, 251 lbs, Ayodele is the sort of player who loves to clobber people. He shows intense eruption out of his stance, and he levels tight ends off the line. His chief hitch has been a lack of wind, and coupled with average pass coverage, he is restricted to being a two-down player. Slightly limited in his hip movement, he can be beat by quick runners around the outside. However, given the opportunity to line up a ball carrier, he is Big Bang quantified.

Will Witherspoon, OLB, Carolina [80 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 int]

The secret to Witherspoon is that he is playing at an extraordinary intensity, while being young enough to continue to improve. Very keen from the outside, Witherspoon can move through blockers to get to the ball carrier, arriving often at full speed. He is a ball hawk, looking for the turnover when he meets the football. He has very good sideline-to-sideline speed, and time and again makes the play in the open field. Witherspoon would fit very well on a young Vikings defense that focuses on speedy linebackers who look to force turnovers.

Others of Note

Nate Webster, OLB, Cincinnati: After losing his job to rookie Odell Thurman, Webster now looks to be dispensable for the Bengals. Still young and athletic enough to start, Webster could garner a look-see from the Vikes.

Ronald McKinnon, ILB, New Orleans: McKinnon is an accomplished pro. A great pass defender, McKinnon has also been a tackling machine over the years. Trapped in a dreadful circumstance in New Orleans, McKinnon was called upon to be the focal point of the defense. McKinnon's skill set would be ideal for the Vikes new scheme.

Have some of your own LBs that the Vikes should look at in free agency? Leave a comment below.


Posted by maasx003 at 1:10 AM
January 21, 2006
The Picks
VU Playoff Picks: The Genuis Selections
(updated Saturday morning)
COD
The Commish
Milwaukee Mark
Greet Machine
The Insider
Coworker Jim
Pittsburgh at Denver
Steelers
Steelers
Broncos
Steelers
Steelers
Broncos
Carolina at Seattle
Panthers
Panthers
Seahawks
Seahawks
Panthers
Seahawks
Last Week
2-2
2-2
1-3
2-2
2-2
2-2
Playoff MVP To Date
Steve Smith
Steve Smith
Steve Smith
Matt Hasselbeck
Steve Smith
Dick LeBeau
Posted by maasx003 at 2:45 AM
January 20, 2006
Weekend Update

I'm sorry but I could not find the time to put together a Playoff Podcast for this weekend. I know I'll have something for Super Bowl weekend, however. To that regard, I'm going to take a long weekend. I will not have anything substantial up until Monday.....Tuesday at the latest. The Genius Picks will be posted on Saturday morning.

But in going back to my blog entry from Thursday in which I alerted you that the Vikes are rumored to be shopping the services of The Poutin' Quarterback (PQ the First) comes another twist. And an acidic twist at that.

Sean Jensen of The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that agent Mason Ashe plans to reopen talks aimed at finagling more money for PQ the First:

"I am poised and ready to begin the scheduled restructuring of his long-term contract with the Vikings, as we discussed last summer with [owner Zygi] Wilf, so Daunte can assume the position on the NFL pay scale that he so deserves," Ashe said on Wednesday.

I bounced this off my game-day buddy, The Commish, who correctly assessed the situation thusly:

If all this media talk is true, Pep & his agent are pulling out all the tricks to get him traded.

Talk about the straw that broke the camel's proverbial back. If Brad "I Shot Down T.O." Childress wasn't going to put up with the best WR receiver in the game; he sure as hell is NOT going to put up with a QB who ain't proved one damn thing.

And after sleeping on it, I have implemented the pope-esque smoke signal used when a new pope is chosen. I have adapted it to PQ the First which you can now see in the upper left of this blog. Now when you pop in each day you will be able to instantaneously reveal if PQ the First is still with the team or has been traded. White smoke signals "we are keeping him" and black for "PQ the First has been traded.

Influence Kiper?

If you have been checking out ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. this off-season you already know that Helmet Hair predicts the Vikings will draft Southern California running back LenDale White in the first round of the draft. He also says Indianapolis will take Gophers running back Laurence Maroney with the 30th pick in the first round.

I found this interesting because earlier this week I had responded to a draft inquiry from one of this blog's loyal readers who had written:

In the cover-two you need fast LB's. When I did some reviews of LB's yesterday Howard jumped out at me with his speed. If he is a play-maker and we do not move up, I expect him to be the pick or Maroney, who could be an excellent WCO RB. Although, I think Maroney is gone by then.

Philly-Vike

Posted by Rob Blake at January 16, 2006 09:19 AM

I responded with:

ACK! No Rob, Maroney is not that good. I do not want the Vikes near him! The other RB at the U of M (Gary Russell) is the better of the two backs and is more built for the NFL. Just like LenDale White is better suited for the NFL than Reggie Bush. The Vikes need a bruising RB, not another Michael Bennett speedster.

Add Kiper as one of the millions that read this blog on a daily basis.

Bad Boys Bad Boys.....

One of the cool things about this blog is the people I meet. Earlier in the 2005 season Jay from NYC contacted me about getting him some cups from the Metrodome with the Vikes logo on them.

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So over the last few games of the year I was able to collect some more for Jay's growing collection and shipped them off. I got a cool shirt in return from Jay who works for the NYPD in the Computer Crimes section. I wear this shirt to work now and walk around peering over people's shoulder while they work on their computers.

nycshirt.jpg

Thanks again Jay!!!!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:00 AM
January 19, 2006
Here We Go Again

bidder.jpg

I received an e-mail on Wednesday. It caught my breath for a tic or two. I mean, it wasn't something that I hadn't already surmised but still....just seeing it out in the open was certainly cause for angst. It was from The Insider who broke the Moss trade to me last year before it occurred. The e-mail simply said:

I'm hearing SERIOUS rumbles that Pepper will be traded to the highest bidder...

So, there you go. Much like last year when we had restlessness before, during and after the playoffs this season will not be any dissimilar. What happened to just a nice, serene off-season of NFL Draft talk and such?!?!?

So, let us run with the assertion that The Poutin' Quarterback the First will be traded and sporting a new uniform next season. What should the Vikings expect in return?

Not much. As Vikes Geek wrote this week:

[Culpepper will] have virtually no trade value even among potential suitors. For despite the fact that many around the league fervently believe that, once recovered, Culpepper will return to 2004 form, those same admirers and potential suitors understand that Culpepper’s recent behavior seriously has maligned the Vikings’ ability to get any meaningful value should they trade him. While the Vikings probably could have dealt Culpepper two weeks ago for a number one pick in the 2006 NFL draft and a solid veteran player, the asking price likely has now plummeted to that of a third-round pick—if not less.

You see, The Poutin' Quarterback the First has now officially become an immature whiner of the first degree. So, not only do the Vikes have to try and see damaged goods on a physical level, they have to do so on a maturity level as well. Frankly, I'd be surprised at anything higher than a 4th round selection in the 2006 NFL draft. And for that reason, I hope the Vikes press not for draft selections but rather players...with NFL experience under their helmets.

The teams mentioned in recent days to be sniffing around Winter Park for the services of The Poutin' Quarterback the First are: Arizona, Oakland, Miami (if offensive coordinator Scott Linehan stays), and St. Louis (if Linehan becomes the next head coach of the Rams).

Names that I'd be interested in from Arizona (and remember, in a trade it matters not about FA or under contract) would be: Anquan Boldin (WR), Karlos Danbsy (OLB), Leonard Davis (OT), and Josh McCown (QB).

From Oakland I'd be looking at: Doug Gabriel (WR), LaMont Jordan (RB), and Jerry Porter (WR).

If we were to deal with St. Louis, the names I'd like to see tossed about would be: Alex Barron (OT), Marc Bulger (QB), Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB), Jamie Martin (QB), Orlando Pace (OT), and Pisa Tinoisamoa (OLB).

Finally, if the trade were to occur with Miami, some names could be: Chris Chambers (WR), Jason Taylor (DE), and Zack Thomas (MLB).

Of course, that is all in good fun. There is no telling who (and how many) a team would be willing to give up for The Poutin' Quarterback the First. No telling at all. It may just be a package deal of middle to late round draft choices bundled with a middle-of-the-road talent (Napo Harris anyone?). At least we got a first rounder for Randy Moss....and landed Troy Williamson who at least has the good fortune of "hope" tagged on him and not "lost cause".

How about you? If PQ the First were to be traded what would you like in return?

Note: PQ the First; I might have to start a smoke signal much like when a new pope is chosen. Each day perhaps I should post a photo with smoke emanating from a small chimney white for "we are keeping him"

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or black for "PQ the First has been traded.

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I'll sleep on it.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:32 AM
January 18, 2006
The Tandem Poutin' QBs/Musical Podcast: Ring of Fire

Last week in VU Podcast Thirty-Nine I dug into the archives and let you listen to a portion of a radio show I did with Ragnar from December 5, 1998. In that podcast we interviewed Big Bad Brad (BBB) Johnson's mother, Ellen. We learned a lot about Brad such as his desired foods and that he used to emulate Superman as a small toddler. No where in there was any suggestion that BB was ever a pouting toddler.

As many ardent readers of this little blog know, I have not been reserved about ripping Daunte Culpepper, the original Poutin' Quarterback, ever since he went hermit on the media, fans, teammates, and coaches...former and current. But as one reader pointed out this week, using the Comments section found at the end of every blog entry, I should be applying the same rules to BBB. And I agree. Here is the comment:

Which poutin' quarterback are we talking about. It looks like BBB doesn't want to honor his contract if he can't have his way.

Never mind that he signed for 3 years to be a back-up. He must have been reading some of his hype on this site.

If there's a sucker out there that thinks he can beat a quality team, let's trade him. May be we can get something in return.

I like Brad a lot. But he is not the answer.

Posted by pa viking at January 16, 2006 03:34 PM

So, for those who are not up to date, why are we now saying that the team has two Poutin' QBs? Simply, that BBB has stated he wants to start....somewhere. Anywhere. As reported by the Star Tribune and ESPN:

Speaking publicly for the first time since the regular season ended, Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson told ESPN that he wants to start --for someone -- in 2006.

He confirmed the essence of a Star Tribune report that he prefers not to return to the Vikings as a backup to presumptive starter Daunte Culpepper. Johnson, who completed 62.6 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2005, said on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" he believes he can start for another three or four more years.

Johnson has three years remaining on a contract he signed last March.

Culpepper is recovering from major surgery to his right knee, and it is not known whether he will be healthy enough to open the season as starter. Perhaps acknowledging that fact, Johnson told ESPN, "These things have a way of working themselves out."

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Now, I'm looking at a couple of things here. One, I firmly believe that Poutin' QB the First will not be ready to start the season. Therefore, we need to have Poutin' QB the Second. Otherwise the team is truly behind the eight ball before the season's opening kickoff. But more on Poutin' QB the First in a bit.

Second, I think Poutin' QB the Second is better suited to run a West Coast offense. How can one argue with that? Poutin' QB the First has never run that scheme while Poutin' QB the Second has run it much of his career. Factor in that Poutin' QB the First may not be available to learn it whilst at May mini-camp and summer training camp. So, even if Poutin' QB the First is ready to start the season physically, he may not be ready to run the offense as newly hired head coach Brad Childress desires it to be run. Thus, Poutin' QB the Second may very well be required to start the season by default.

But resolution may be made for both Poutin' QBs before May mini-camp anyway. Many of you have brushed off my comments that The Poutin' QB the First will not return to the Vikings and that he could very well become trade bait. I'm just telling it like it is...whether you want to hear it or not. But here is another story......from Pro Football Talk:

At a time when many of our readers are asking whether quarterback Daunte Culpepper wants out of Minnesota, we're hearing that the Vikings could be the ones making the decision for him.

The thinking is that new Vikings coach Brad Childress doesn't believe that Culpepper will be able to run the West Coast offense, since Culpepper hasn't shown a consistent ability to change plays based on the looks he is getting from the defense. Indeed, his only pre-snap aptitude that we've ever detected was his propensity to spot single coverage on receiver Randy Moss -- and then to chuck the ball to him deep.

The separate, and more significant, issue is Culpepper's knee, which was blown apart on October 30 at Carolina. Even if he is able to start the first regular season game, he'll need every snap in the off-season, training camp, and the preseason to enable him to get ready to run a new offense.

So it could be that, a year after the Vikings shipped Moss out of town for a relatively light package of picks and a player who didn't really contribute in 2005, the Vikes might send packing the guy who supposedly wanted Randy's bad influence out of the way so that he could lead the team without being undermined.

The objective evidence points to problems. Culpepper and Childress have yet to meet in person, and Daunte has been dissing members of the organization ever since he became a forgotten man during the team's improbable six-game winning streak. Pending criminal charges for something he claims he didn't do doesn't help matters, either.

An industry source tells us that Daunte is merely laying low as he considers the various changes to the organization, but we've got a feeling that, even if there's nothing more to it right now, it's heading in the direction of a divorce.

If Daunte is going to get moved, possible destinations are Arizona, Oakland, Miami (if offensive coordinator Scott Linehan stays), and St. Louis (if Linehan becomes the next head coach of the Rams). The Vikings have the cap room to make the move, and Culpepper's value isn't going to get any higher if he struggles for a year or two learning the new attack.

So keep an eye on this one. Barring a public smooch-fest in the near future, our guess is that the new direction in Minny won't include the quarterback whom many thought would lead the team into the next decade.

Ideally, I want both BBB and Pepper back for next season. However, it looks less and less like that will happen. One of these Poutin' QBs will be gone this year. And I sure hope it isn't both. Why? The last time something this cataclysmic occurred at the QB position was 1967. Fran Tarkenton was traded to the NY Giants. Do you recall who started at QB in the opener that season?

Anyone?

Hello?

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So, the name Ron VanderKelen doesn't really stick in the ol' memory bank? Yeah, I didn't think so.

VU Podcast Forty-Two

In the latest musical podcast I pit Johnny Cash against Social Distortion in their respective versions of "Ring of Fire". Listen in to VU Podcast Forty-Two then return and vote for the version you like best.




Meanwhile

The Vikings have announced that they have enlised the assistance of a public relations firm to help win approval for a new stadium in Anoka County . The Greet Machine, a blog which follows all the stadium news for the Twin Cities closely, writes about it.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:00 AM
January 17, 2006
The Ass

In watching the Indy Colts lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, I came away feeling very sorry for Colts head coach Tony Dungy who I admire greatly and have the utmost respect for. Especially given the death of Dungy’s son late in the season.

I also felt for the Colts fans who saw their 15-1 season go down in flames much as it did for the Vikings 15-1 season back in 1998-99. At least our team reached the NFC Championship game. The Colts didn’t even win one lousy playoff game....at home…against the #6 seed!

I actually relived that sinking feeling of despair as I watched the final seconds tick away in a very exciting playoff game. That moment when I turned to my wife in the Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons and whispered, “The air has left the balloon.?

It was a horrible feeling. One that left me thinking no matter what the Vikings did that day the team was simply destined to lose. But all the Vikings players played that day as a team and I still believe that it was coaching that lost that game for us, not the team. Such was not the case in Indy.

I have always detested Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. The Commish and I have had several debates over this since one of the things I dislike about Manning is the way he adds about 2-hours to any game by having to audible on each…..and every….play. Enough already! But I wander off topic.

The only thing I really have admired about Manning is the commercial where he follows grocery workers around begging for autographs and their work smocks. Classic! And that is where it stops for me. Oh sure, Manning says and does all the correct things when he is suppose to. Nevertheless it does not disqualify my estimation that Peyton….much like his younger brother Eli…is a spoiled little horror who thinks he's superior to everyone else and thinks his bust should be exalted on Mt. Olympus for all to pay reverence to.

Ever watch a Colts game? How many times have you seen Manning chastise an offensive lineman like a father taking a switch to the bottom of a five-year old? Then Manning saunters over to the bench to sit next to buddy Dallas Clark (who couldn’t carry Jermaine Wiggins’ jockstrap) and sits down with a smirk on his face that you’d just love to see Colts center Jeff Saturday knock off with a Jeff Christy to the face of Todd Steussie like slobber knocker. Point being, for Manning it’s all about him. He is an ass. Hell, he even loves showing his ass to others. Again, I digress.

Those are my observations over the years of watching Manning lose time and time again in a playoff game….which I attribute to his teammates not being willing to rally around a man who would just as soon sell you down the river. And at long last, Manning has shown all NFL fans his true colors.

I take you back to late in the third quarter of Sunday's failure to the Steelers. Facing fourth and two from their own 36 and trailing 21-3, head coach Tony Dungy sent in the punt team. And The Ass sent them back.

Point one: The Ass showed an unreserved disdain for the head coach, Tony Dungy. Dungy is one of the most respected head coaches in the game and The Ass thought himself more knowledgeable than his coach and his teammates. The Ass showed that he regards himself as superior to the coach. I could hear a deep chasm opening between The Ass and his teammates.

Then there was the press conference sound bite that the boys at FOX openly ripped The Ass for later in the day. During the post-game press conference The Ass tried to justify his failure to get the passing game going by passing the buck to his offensive linemen: "I'm trying to be a good teammate here. Let's just say we had some problems with protection."

As Terry Bradshaw alluded to, that comment was not only a slam on the offensive linemen but the coaching staff as well. And The Ass would have been better served by speaking with his mouth and not his rectum.

Final Score: I have absolutely no respect left for The Ass, little that I had. Fortunately for The Ass, he works for a man who has the biggest heart in the business. And The Ass should find a way to apologize.

And should Manning not change his colors next season, Saturday should find a way to land that previously mentioned blow to The Ass’ chin. The sooner, the better.

Posted by maasx003 at 2:47 AM
January 16, 2006
Bevell Schmevell

At least one person hates the choice of former Wisconsin Badgers QB Darrell Bevell as offensive coordinator of our beloved Vikings. Milwaukee Mark, who knows a thing or two about Bevell express his disdain on Viking Underground Podcast Forty-One. Listen in!

Return of the Poutin' QB

A minute ago I was about to bestow The Poutin’ Quarterback with a flyer, simply a week off from my bashing of his kindergartenesque conduct since THEE injury. You’ve read all that before so I won’t rehash the assortment of examples yet again.

I won’t because The Poutin’ Quarterback keeps sending out vibes that he no longer wants to play for the Vikings and he pulled another head scratcher late last week. Earlier in the week it was reported that The Poutin’ Quarterback was headed to Winter Park to meet mano-a-mano with new head coach Brad Childress.

Instead, Childress had to phone The Poutin’ Quarterback. Had to friggin' drop a dime on him....and The Poutin’ Quarterback was actually in the Twin Cities!!!! Oh yeah, that would certainly go over big with my boss.......riiigggghhhhhhtttttt.

Childress did draw a line in the sand. And this will be The Poutin’ Quarterback's last trial to see if he really wants to play next season wearing a purple uniform. The new boss told The Poutin’ Quarterback to get his derriere here to partake in the Vikings' offseason conditioning program instead of in Orlando where he has been. If The Poutin’ Quarterback fails to show, that will for all intent and purposes clinch his doom.

Where do you think he should be working out? Should The Poutin' Quarterback be at Winter Park per the request of his head coach. Or is it OK to be home in Orlando. Vote in the new poll off to the left.

Worthy of Note

Did you see the USA TODAY article last Friday where they laid out the best coaching candidates available to fill all the openings? I found it fascinating because of the name that was not on the list......Ol' Pencil Ear. Hell, even Mike Sherman got on the list. Scott Linehan, who coached under Tice was on the list. I think that speaks volumes for the respect Tice never received, and apparently will not receive. Besides, Tice seems to be gainfully employed at the moment anyway.

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Shameless Plug

I was pleased as a first-time father to see my home theater installation service deem one of my projects worthy of display on their web site. Mine is the first series of photos under the first photo with the caption:

Stewart motorized screen with cabinets for speakers and equipment by Hand Made Homes. Berkline home theater system seating with Sony VPL-HS51 Projector on Chief ceiling mount.

Halsten also installed my other projects in my home and they do great work. I highly recommend their services for those living in the Twin Cities area. For those that missed my original story on my various Home Theater projects, just see my blog entry from May 27, 2005.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:19 AM
January 14, 2006
The Picks
VU Playoff Picks: The Genuis Selections
(updated Saturday morning)
COD
The Commish
Milwaukee Mark
Greet Machine
The Insider
Coworker Jim
Washington at Seattle
Seahawks
Seahawks
Seahawks
Seahawks
Redskins
Seahawks
New England at Denver
Patriots
Patriots
Patriots
Patriots
Broncos
Patriots
Pittsburgh at Indianapolis
Colts
Colts
Colts
Colts
Colts
Colts
Carolina at Chicago
Panthers
Panthers
Bears
Panthers
Panthers
Panthers
Posted by maasx003 at 1:00 AM
January 13, 2006
Playoff Podcast: Divisional Playoffs

Welcome to a special edition of the Viking Underground Podcast. In VU Podcast Forty I phoned up fellow 1999 Visa Hall of Fans inductee Tim McKernan, otherwise known as the Barrel Man, and we talk about the playoffs and maybe getting the Vikings a new running back via the running back factory in Denver!

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Barrel Man and I met for the first time at the induction ceremonies for the inaugural class of fan inductees at the Hall of Fame in Canton following the 1998 season. And Tim is one funny guy, full of one-liners as you will hear on the podcast. And how many fans do you know that have their own bobble head doll for sale?

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Moose's Place Closes

Back on January 6th, I told you about Carl Eller's restaurant, the Purple People Eatery. I have now been informed that it has closed but that Eller expects it to reopen in the future.

Coming Monday

Via a VU Podcast, we'll talk to someone who is less than enthusiastic about first-time head coach Brad Childress hiring 36-year-old Darrell Bevel as his offensive coordinator. I might even have it up by Sunday night.

Posted by maasx003 at 3:58 AM
January 12, 2006
Draft Me a Linebacker!

Yes, this a little soon to be talking draft. I'm not like Mel Kiper Jr. who eats, breaths, and poops it out every day. I really don't get excited until the first week of April. Still, with all the talk of Tampa Two and the need to improve at linebacker in order to institute the new defensive scheme we best take a look at who might be out there for the Purple to select.

A.J. HAWK: OLB; Thee Ohio St.: OK, the Vikes currently pick at seventeen. I stress, currently. Remember that Zygi Wilf promises to open up the checkbook and do what it takes to reach the and win the Super Bowl. So, it would not surprise me if the Vikes moved up to whatever position they needed to (probably 4th or 5th) in order to select Hawk. And I would love it.

Hawk is as productive and instinctive of a linebacker as you will ever find and is seemingly always around the action, so bringing him in to be part of this improving defense would be an excellent move by the Vikings. Hawk is exactly what this team needs from both a talent and attitude perspective so he is my top pick currently.

CHAD GREENWAY: OLB; Iowa: Here is a linebacker that could actually be around at #17 or would only require the Vikings to move up 2 to 4 spots to get him. A potential Top 5 overall pick coming into his senior year, Greenway had a nice season but it was obvious all the losses the Hawkeyes endured up front affected him. His loss is the Vikings gain though as it allows them to get excellent value for the pick while addressing a need at the same time.

DEMECO RYANS: OLB; Alabama: Ryans would most certainly be available at number seventeen. He is an excellent player who will fit in with what the Vikes will try to do both in terms of talent and intangibles. DeMeco Ryans isn't the biggest or fastest linebacker out there but he is simply a playmaker with outstanding instincts who is very productive and seemingly always around the action.

THOMAS HOWARD: OLB; U.T.E.P.: A real wild card simply because of the new Tampa Two setup. And Howard really intrigues me because of that. The Tampa Two style that newly hired defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin will try to implement requires speed on defense and when it comes to that you would have a hard time finding a faster, more athletic linebacker than Thomas Howard. A former safety who walked on with the Miners early in his career, Thomas has been timed as fast as 4.45 in the forty and would provide the type of playmaking ability that is ideal for the new defensive scheme.

So, any other linebackers catch your eye this college season that the Vikes should be looking at? Leave a comment at the end of this blog entry.




Coming Friday

A Playoff Podcast with Denver's Barrel Man.


Posted by maasx003 at 3:26 AM
January 11, 2006
Wednesday Fun!

Sorry about this but I have a very full day ahead of me. To keep you entertained.....

Math Game

This is strange...can you figure it out? Are you the 2% or 98% of the population? Just follow these instructions and answer the questions one at a time as quick as you can! Don't advance until you've answered the question. NO PEEKING.

Let's begin:

Think of a number from 1 to 10
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Multiply that number by 9.
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If the number is a 2-digit number, add the digits together.
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Now subtract 5
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Determine which letter in the alphabet corresponds to the number you ended up with. (example: 1=a, 2=b, 3=c,etc.)
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Think of a country that starts with that letter.
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Remember the last letter of the name of that country.
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Think of the name of an animal that starts with that letter.
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Remember the last letter in the name of that animal.
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Think of the name of a fruit that starts with that letter.
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Are you thinking of a Kangaroo in Denmark eating an Orange?

If not, you're among the 2% of the population whose minds are different enough to think of something else. 98% of people will answer with kangaroos in Denmark when given this exercise. Try it out on someone else and see if they can figure it out.

VU Videocast Eleven

If you haven't heard, Daunte is flying up to meet with new coach Brad Childress. I talk about this and a few other things in VU Videocast Eleven.

Posted by maasx003 at 3:22 AM
January 10, 2006
Flash! Comments Back!

Please note: Comments and trackbacks are again working properly within the UThink environment of the University of Minnesota Library system. Feel free to start leaving Comments once again and thanks for your patience. I know many of you wanted to respond to the Sour Souhan blog entry. Have at it!

And just so we don't waste an entry, I received a photo showing former head coach Mike Tice at his job serving as Ball Pit Monitor at a local day care. How far the mighty have fallen.

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Photo rendition by Shane Nackerud.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:06 PM
Podcast (and Videocast!) Tuesday

Please note: Comments and trackbacks are not working properly right now within the UThink environment of the University of Minnesota Library system. Not sure at this point when it will be resolved. I certainly hope this week!!

VU Podcast Thirty-Nine

Wow! Two podcasts in two days! I must be in a generous mood! A special treat from December 5, 1998. Back during the 1998 season, I was a "sidekick" on Ragnar's radio show. With VU Podcast Thirty-Nine you listen in as Ragnar delivers the news that the NFL has banned me, Mr. Cheer Or Die, from appearing on the Metrodome Jumbotron. And we conduct an interview with Brad Johnson's mother, Ellen Johnson. If you have never heard Brad's mother before, take an opportunity to listen in. She is something else!! A very special lady indeed.

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Head over to the VU Podcast page and give a listen! Then let me know if you enjoyed this trip down memory lane and I'll work on getting some more up.

VU Videocast Ten

In this videocast I simply talk about some Vikings headwear laying around the house.

Other Stuff

Not much time to write today, sorry about that. But I invite you to check out two blogs of note. First, over at Vikes Geek, Geoff writes a very nice analysis of the Cottrell firing. We'll have to get Geoff back on for a podcast in the near future.

Over at the Greet Machine, Shane's stadium Voters Guide has been getting a lot of interest from the local politicians. Keep checking out the Greet Machine all week as Shane provides some updates on the local stadium issues.

Posted by maasx003 at 4:14 AM
January 9, 2006
Wilf Is a Great Planner

Please note: Comments and trackbacks are not working properly right now within the UThink environment of the University of Minnesota Library system. They hope to have the problem fixed on Monday.

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On January 2nd, Sour Souhan, the embittered pickled puss of the Star Tribune penned the following:

If Wilf had fired Tice at their scheduled meeting this morning, Tice would have been able to break the news to players and coaches himself. He would have handled it with class, would have said all the right things, and an observer would have been able to describe the proceedings as dignified.

On January 3rd, Sour Souhan told us in his own sanctimonious way:

Choosing a new NFL head coach is often a process no more complicated than a knee-jerk reaction.

Sour Souhan can't be blamed for this quote but I imagine he burped this into the ear of a fellow STrib reporter a day later:

We're two days into the Vikings' coaching search, and Team Wilf is already looking like Team Whiff.

On January 6th, after the announcement of Brad Childress as the next head coach of the Minnesota Vikings Football Club, Sour Souhan came completely unhinged:

Owners got a coach - but what's the hurry?

Lessee, Sour Souhan has inferred that our guy Zygi is classless, without a clue, and a moron inside of one week. Think Sour Souhan won't be a bitter old man in his retirement years? Let me set some facts straight for you and show you how moronic this STrib columnist is.

What's the hurry? Let me educate you Sour Souhan.

The first part of the 2005 season saw the Vikings get off to a horrible start. There were the off-season issues as well and then the serious season-ending injury to the Poutin’ quarterback. Make no doubt about it, former head coach Mike Tice's standing was in grave doubt. Hell, I even posted a listing of possible replacements back on October 19, 2005. (Yes, Childress was on the list).

And let me make this crystal clear: even then there was widespread gossip that Winter Park was looking at making a play for the Philadelphia Eagles V.P. of player personnel Tom Heckert and offensive coordinator Brad Childress.

Jump ahead to the end of the season with the Vikings finishing 9-7 with the final win coming against the pine-riding players of the Chicago Bears. Wilf shattered the time record by letting Tice know he was canned within an hour after the game against the Bears ended.

Wilf’s first plan of action was to work at Heckert and sign him. However, Wilf was tossed a deadly curve ball when the Eagles gave Heckert a big raise and a elevation to G.M. But Childress remained available, and Wilf made instant arrangements to get him into Winter Park. And here is where Sour Souhan really shows his immaturity as a sports columnist: in not seeing the big picture by waiting for the game to end.

The difference between canning Tice on Sunday night and Monday morning could have been the difference in getting Childress. The Packers, who openly campaigned for Childress, waited until Monday morning to fire Mike Sherman.

But Childress never arrived in Cheese Country. Zygi Wilf influenced Childress to stay put while Wilf interviewed other people. So it really wasn’t a “knee-jerk reaction? that Sour Souhan bitched about. By playing his hand early, Wilf made sure he got to Childress first, interviewed three other candidates, and made his choice. Childress didn't interview with the Packers, canceling the interview as a matter if fact. The upshot was that fewer than four days after the last game was played, Childress was the named as head coach.

Had Wilf hemmed and hawed, like Sour Souhan wanted, the Vikes could have easily lost their top choice on the coaching wish list to another team. To me that screams planning and strategic vision. Now poor Sour Souhan has to work to write some columns in the next few weeks instead of having the Vikings right them for him.

And let me tell you something about the new coach. I’ve been doing my usual diligent research. I have come across a quote uttered by our new coach that will have you downright giddy with delight. During his testimony in the Terrell Owens arbitration hearing in November, our new guy simply said.

The Eagles don't have a lot of patience for assholes.


Childress already has the blessing of Bud Grant, the coach who also did not put up with assholes. I simply can’t wait for the next few seasons of football in Minnesota. The Childress-led Vikings won't be bothering with assholes period exclamation point. Combine this with the obvious talent on the roster, the cap room available, the money in Wilf's pocket, and his pledge to spending it, and who knows? By the time that new stadium is built, there could already be three of four championship banners ready to hang.

So, should we have a sour outlook? Not from me!!! I'll simply be screaming, "How sweet it is!"

VU Polls

Just a reminder about the new Zygi Wilf approval poll that you can see in the left frame. The Tice Approval Poll is now completely wiped from the face of the Viking Underground. If you haven't voted in the Wilf Approval Poll, please take a moment to do so now.

Just below Zygi's poll is a new weekly poll. This one asks if new head coach Brad Childress should have retained Ted Cottrell as defensive coordinator of the Vikings. So, place your vote!

VU Podcast Thirty-Eight

This one is a musical podcast. If you will recall, I thought it would be fun to play different artists versions of the same song and let you decide which one is best. Last weeks song was Little Wing and you voted Stevie Ray Vaughan's version the best (66%) over The Corrs (22%) and Sting (11%).

This weeks song is Dreams. The first version you will hear is the orginal by Fleetwood Mac from their "Rumours" CD which is followed by a version performed by The Corrs. Which is better? Head over to the VU Podcast page and give a listen then come back to vote.





Posted by maasx003 at 1:16 AM
January 6, 2006
Playoff Podcast: Wild Card Weekend

Welcome to a special edition of the Viking Underground Podcast. In VU Podcast Thirty-Seven I phoned up fellow 1999 Visa Hall of Fans inductee Michael Torbert, otherwise known as Boss Hogette, and we talk about the playoffs and losing out on making Gregg Williams the Vikings new head coach.

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Mikey T. and I met for the first time at the induction ceremonies for the inaugural class of fan inductees at the Hall of Fame in Canton following the 1998 season. In the photo above, Mike is on the left and we are joined by Hogette Howiette. I saw Mike again at the Visa pregame ceremony before Super Bowl XXXIV. Since he was not in costume, I at first wondered who this guy was!

You can read more on the history of the Hogettes at their web site. It is a great read.

Other Stuff

Over at Vikes Geek, the blog discusses some coaching prospects that probably won't be hired.

And for locals, Carl Eller's new Purple People Eatery in Woodbury got mixed reviews by the Star Tribune. I haven't been there yet, but intend to. Have you been there? If so, leave a comment and let us know how it was.

Late Coaching Update

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By all accounts late Thursday night, the Vikings intend to make Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress their new head coach, with an official introduction possibly coming as early as Friday morning. Childress was scheduled to leave for a visit to the Packers but the team kept him from leaving and tried to talk him into taking the job. A popular candidate right out of the gate, Childress was sought by no fewer than four teams seeking to fill vacancies. Childress arrived in Minneapolis on Monday evening, after the Vikings were granted permission Sunday night to speak with him. He met on Tuesday and Wednesday with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and other club officials.

The goal is to announce the move at an 11:00 a.m. press conference on Friday. The hiring will be made official if a deal can be reached with Childress. As of 8:30 p.m. EST on Thursday night, an agreement has not been reached. In fact, I'm told that numbers have not yet even been discussed. All this must be kept in mind until an official announcement is made.

Childress has the endorsement of a former Vikings coach....the best in history. Bud Grant, who was involved in the interviewing of Childress, said he was impressed with his football knowledge. Grant was quoted as saying:

I had never met the man before, but my impression was that he had the background and experience that the Vikings need," Grant said. "He has been around in the NFL for some time. I believe he is prepared to lead a playoff contender like the Vikings. He is prepared to take the next step after being an assistant.

Now, the ass who is Jim Souhan would have you believe the Vikings moved to fast. This is the same man who wrote about Zygi Wilf not having a plan just a few short days ago. Now Sour Souhan says that our man Zygi moved too fast. Here is one line that particulary irked me:

Where's the proverbial fire, and why aren't the other teams rushing to the same hydrant?

Let me explain this to you Sour Souhan: because the Vikings shut out the other four teams trying to interview him. I've actualy stopped reading his trash months ago but just had to read it today. But let's move on and not make this a Souhan bash.

Just as I discussed with Boss Hogette in the latest VU Podcast, the most important thing a head coach can do to have a successful team is hire a great coaching staff. Childress has started to inform members of the current Vikings staff that he will be the new coach and is starting to discuss changes. I can't wait to see who he will bring in...or retain for that matter.

So what do you think about the hiring? Leave a comment and let us know. And also, vote your feelings below. Have a great weekend everyone!




Late Afternoon Coaching Update

Official Statement from the Vikes

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The Minnesota Vikings have named Brad Childress the seventh head coach in franchise history. Childress comes to the Vikings following seven seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, including the past four seasons as offensive coordinator.

“Coach Childress has the combination of integrity, experience and competitive spirit that were important in our search for a new Vikings coach,? said Vikings owner Zygi Wilf. “Being a key part of the winning program in Philadelphia and his respect throughout the NFL made Brad the best choice to lead the franchise into the future.?

Childress has eight seasons of NFL coaching experience (1985-Indianapolis, 1999-2005 Philadelphia) and 28 seasons of pro and college coaching under his belt. His first stint on the sidelines came in 1978 at the University of Illinois.

During Childress’ four seasons as Eagles offensive coordinator the team represented the NFC in Super Bowl XXXIX, amassed an NFC-leading 43-21 regular season record and won the 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 NFC East titles. During his Eagles tenure the team had seven offensive players earn 14 berths in the Pro Bowl and QB Donovan McNabb was runner-up for the Associated Press NFL MVP award in 2000.

Childress, born 6/27/56, is a native of Aurora, IL where he attended Marmion Military High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University. Childress and his wife, Dru-Ann, have four children- Cara, Kyle, Andrew and Christopher.

VU Videocast

COD dicusses the Childress press conference at the Videocast page under VU Videocast Nine.

Please note: Comments and trackbacks are not working properly right now within the UThink environment of the University of Minnesota Library system. They hope to have the problem fixed by Monday.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:00 AM
January 5, 2006
Fantasy House Cleaning
VU Pick 'Em League

The winner of the 2005-06 Viking Underground Pick 'Em League was our very own Coworker Jim with his mighty Cuyahoga Riverdawgs team. Congratulations James! May you wear your crown with dignity and grace. A quote by the champion, Coworker Jim:
"As Mr. COD previously raised the spectre of Ohio teams being unable to finish seasons successfully, I take great satisfaction in winning the VU Pick' Em League having led from Week 2 to the finish line. Putting that in terms that Mr. COD can understand, I avoided the fate of the 1998 Vikings who won 16 of 17 weeks before laying a large and rather painful egg in front of their home fans in the NFC Championship game! Yes, victory is sweet and having the last word is priceless!"

The Top Ten:
1 cuyahoga riverdawgs
2 Bubbling Farts
3 Pogo
4 C.J.'s pix
5 FITZ
6 Ron Burgundy
7 The Wizzinator
8 Wisconsin Vikes?
9 paviking
10 Big Dogs

Super Bowl Playoff Challenge
Our man in enemy territory, Milwaukee Mark, has set up a Super Bowl Playoff Challenge and invited the readers of the VU to join in. Now, I have a problem with the group name he has chosen (Vikes Suck!) but I know that to be nothing more than his bitter disappointment at the way the Vikings season ended and is his way of 'healing'. To join his group, please go to SuperBowl.com Playoff Challenge to sign up under the private group Vikes Suck!

Beer Brotherhood Fantasy Football Champion
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Yes! The B2F2 championship trophy is back in my hands....where it rightfully belongs! I'd like to thank Shaun Alexander and Tiki Barber for bringing the Cash Cow ($330) home to daddy. The championship run summary:

B2F2L Bowl


Week 14 - Round 1
69 The Viking Underground
43 Peggy
55 Tripleplay
72 TEAM SWILLER
45 Derek
41 Eric
73 PrimeTime
44 Cuyahoga Riverdawgs
Week 15 - Round 2
88 The Viking Underground
75 TEAM SWILLER
42 Derek
68 PrimeTime
Week 16 - Finals
77 The Viking Underground  
 The Viking Underground
 The Viking Underground
44 PrimeTime  
Posted by maasx003 at 5:17 AM
January 4, 2006
Hiking Viking Update: A Special Report by Guest Author Daren Bloomquist

I hope all the readers of the Viking Underground had a Happy New Year. This should be the final installment from me for a while. The Friday before Christmas I hit two peaks in one day with my eldest daughter. From our starting point of 4400, we followed a ridgeline and had to cross over Pyramid Peak (5261’) on our way to Bishop’s Cap (5419’).

With all the ups and downs along the ridgeline the total elevation gain was about 1600’ and 4 miles in length. I couldn’t tell you what the purpose is for the tower on the top of Bishop’s Cap...other than 30/30 target practice. I can tell you, however, that within the rocks of Bishop’s Cap lie the fossilized remains of ancient crustaceans from when an inland sea covered much of southern New Mexico. We had hoped that making two peaks would deliver Packer and Viking victories that weekend. No such luck.

This past Friday, just before News Year’s Eve, I took my youngest daughter to Aden Crater which lies about 30 miles west of my house. It looks very much like a moonscape. There was very little elevation gain to speak of. With all the climbing up to and within the crater we probably had a total elevation gain of about 500’. My daughter and I raised the flag on the deepest floor of the crater,.......

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....and later our group walked the rim above the crater.

The crater is about 1 mile in circumference. Within the crater, and not far from the crater floor, is a 110 foot deep volcanic vent. The mummified remains of a giant sloth were found at the bottom and are now on display at the Smithsonian. Aden Crater is a shield volcano that produced lava flow some 10,000 years ago.

Well that’s all for now folks. Stay tuned for more updates if COD finds them worthy. I will continue hiking and raising the flag on every hike I undertake. A hike of note this coming spring will be the Bataan Memorial Death March hike here in Southern New Mexico. It is a 26.2 mile hike that I completed (and regretted) a few years ago. I’m in better shape now and want to do it without physically empathizing with those who endured that dreadful event over 60 years ago. So long for now…your friendly Hiking Viking in Las Cruces, NM.

Coming Thursday

Fantasy recap and a new VU fantasy playoff game!

Coming Friday

A podcast with the head Washington Redskin Hoggette. We'll find out just what we missed out on with regard to Gregg Wiliams. We'll talk about owners in the NFL. And we'll talk some playoff football.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:26 AM
January 3, 2006
Williams Off the Table

Well, you can officially remove the name of Gregg Williams from the hot list of possible head coach candidates that Zygi Wilf can choose from.

The Washington Redskins have signed, assistant head coach/defense, to a new three-year contract, the team announced today. Too bad as I was warming to the idea of Williams, one of the brightest defensive minds in professional football, working with the improved Purple People Eaters.

And we could be losing another Williams. How many of you caught this little nugget from the STrib today?

Cornerback Brian Williams was one of three players who removed the nametags from their lockers Monday, an indication they don't plan on using them next year. Safety Corey Chavous and running back Michael Bennett were the others.

I'd hate to lose Brian Williams after the year he had!

Posted by maasx003 at 12:52 PM
January 2, 2006
Zygi's & Tice's Press Conference

Listen to Zygi Wilf

Wilf: As you know, last night my brother (Mark Wilf) and I met with Coach (Mike) Tice and informed him that we will not renew his contract beyond the 2005 season. This morning I also spoke with the players, coaches and our staff. After significant evaluation we feel that now is the time to make a coaching change. For a big picture perspective for the club we think it is time to go in a new direction. We have accelerated our search for a seasoned football executive and immediately initiated process to select the very best head coach to secure a strong future for Vikings football. We will do this within the NFL guidelines. On behalf of the Vikings organization and our fans, I want to thank Mike Tice for his 13 years of service and commitment to the club as a player, assistant coach and a head coach. I have gotten to know Mike Tice since becoming owner in the past six months and I have gotten to know him very well. I have gotten to appreciate the heart and soul he has put into his work. He is a great teacher of young men. Under Mike's leadership the Vikings have led the league in player appearances in the community and this is something that will continue into the future. As I stated, I got to know him well. As a new owner I was in constant communication with him. I got to know him as a fine person, a fine coach and I have gotten to know him as a good friend. I appreciate all he has taught me and his work will build to make our team a better team in the future. We wish Mike well for his future endeavors and know he will be successful wherever he goes. There have been questions and comments about how and when we decided to inform Mike of our decision. Let me address that issue briefly. First, there is no easy way or good time to let someone know that their contract will not be renewed. We have great respect for Mike and once a final decision was made we did not want him to twist in the wind another night. The bottom line is it was a tough decision and a difficult thing to do and we informed Mike as soon as we could which is also something he requested. In closing, I would like to say again that the Wilf family and our entire ownership group are committed to doing whatever it takes to bring championships to Minnesota. We are focused on building a winning program, finishing on top of our division, getting a new stadium built and bringing Minnesota its first Super Bowl title. That is our focus, it always will be our focus. We wish to continue to build on a winning tradition and that is our goals.

Q: Why did you make this decision on Mike Tice?
A: I have been in contact with the ownership group over the last couple of weeks and it came toward the last couple of weeks. As I stated to everybody before I would wait until the end of the season and we waited until the end of the season to make our decision.

Q: Was that two weeks ago or yesterday?
A: A couple of weeks ago.

Q: Was your decision made while you were in the playoff race?
A: No.

Q: So it was made after Baltimore then?
A: We were in the playoff hunt and we were focusing on that and the decision was not made at that time.

Q: How long is your list?
A: We are diligently pursuing, getting like I stated, what we feel would be the best head coach and we are also pursuing to get the best football personnel director on board.

Q: Specifically, who is helping you make these decisions?
A: It is myself, my brother and the few executives we have on board that we are in touch with. Of course Rob Brzezinski who we've just renewed a three-year contract with him and we are moving forward towards evaluating all possible candidates for the various positions we are seeking.

Q: So those are the only three people?
A: And members of the ownership group.

Q: Will you have a GM?
A: There will be a person who will be making the final decisions on football personnel acting as a general manager.

Q: Would you hire him before a head coach and would that person make the decision?
A: That is a very strong possibility. Yes.

Q: Do you have a timetable?
A: The timetable is doing it as quickly as possible.

Q: Have you contacted the Eagles about Tom Heckert?
A: I have no comment on that.

Q: You said a lot of good things about Mike Tice, why fire him?
A: I had very good things to say about Mike Tice and I got to know him as a friend. He taught me a lot about coaching. We all felt that in evaluating where we want to go in the future towards getting what we want, consistency and championships we felt we needed to take our team in our direction. We felt we needed to make a change.

Q: What are you looking for in a head coach?
A: We are looking for the best potential candidate that can get us to what we want.

Q: What was the league office reaction when you told them you were going to be making a coaching change?
A: I don't know what the reaction was. It has been over January 1st. I think their offices are closed.

Q: What was their reaction earlier in the week when you talked with them?
A: I did not speak to the league office earlier in the week.

Q: Are you considering any in-house candidates such as Ted Cottrell?
A: Yes, yes we are. I will not comment on individual candidates, but yes we are considering individuals in our organization and as well as individuals outside the organization.

Q: Is the coach going to report to you or the personnel director?
A: We are in the process of formulating that, but we want to make sure when it comes to both positions we have a working relationship amongst ourselves. One of the things I have learned and it is a very important element, in the future of this ball club will be the necessity of having communication from the top all the way down. I think we have to put the best team on the field. We have to put the best coaching staff behind them and we hope to get the best ownership behind them and we have to communicate amongst each other. I think through that we will become the best team around.

Q: How far away is a decision on a coach?
A: We hope to do that quickly.

Q: What is very quickly?
A: Hopefully certainly before the end of the month.

Q: Was viewed Mike Tice a detriment to your pursuit of a new stadium?
A: Not at all.

Q: Did the off-the-field troubles have anything to do with this decision?
A: Nothing at all.

Q: Is the list of candidates short or is it a list that you still have to narrow down?
A: Well, I can't comment on that. All I can tell you that you see from what is happening around the NFL. It has become a very competitive field for the pursuit of coaches and we want to be up there making sure that the person we want, we get. That is the reason why we are trying to act as quickly as we can.

Q: Some of the players have said there is a need for a strong disciplinarian, do you see a need for a disciplinarian?
A: There are many aspects of coaching that I don't claim to be an expert on, but certainly discipline is one of those criteria.

Q: You are 25 Million dollars under the cap right now. The previous owner wasn't willing to spend the money. Are you willing to do that?
A: I think everyone here who has gotten to know me knows that my goal is to get a championship here. I will do whatever it takes within the guidelines. Money will not be an object to get myself a championship.

Q: Given the timetable you are on, are you eliminating coaches that are with their team in the playoffs from your list?
A: I can't say. There are certain rules and protocols that I can't get into, but as you know in the NFL while teams are in the pursuit of their goals right now I think there are certain rules that prohibit interviewing or anything like that.

Wilf: Like I said we are in the process to make this change as quickly as possible. We have an ownership group that is committed to certain goals. We worked hard at it in the first six months. We have gotten to know the operations quite well and I just want to again thank Coach (Mike) Tice for all he has done for the Minnesota Vikings organization. I spoke to the players and I was very proud of how the players responded to Mike. It showed me the respect the players gave to our coach at a time when everyone was pointing fingers at us and when we were down literally in the dumps. I just have to say I thank Coach for bringing me and our ownership group, in our first season, a winning record that we all can be proud of and to build on. Being in the first year of ownership, I will always be proud that Mike and everyone who has been associated with my first year of ownership will be remembered very dearly to me as the foundation for many years of winning tradition that we look forward to.

Former Head Coach Mike Tice

Listen to Mike Tice

Tice: Thank you everybody for coming out today. I see a lot of familiar faces, a lot of good friends. I was sitting with Diane last night, saying God, we've been here since 1992, and it's such a long time that we have been a part of this organization. It's been such a long time that I've tried to do the best I can whether it was as a second-string tight end or a position coach or a head coach. I tried to do the best job that I could to bring a championship to the region because this region deserves a championship. They will get one. Everybody that is going to be fortunate enough to be a part of this organization moving forward is going to find that they are blessed because the Wilfs are going to be great owners. They are going to do things the right way and they want to win. They have a passion to win. They've got some things to learn, but we all have things to learn. I remember my first year as the head coach, boy, did I have some stuff to learn.

I don't want to forget to thank Red McCombs for giving me that opportunity in 2002 to take a chance on an old blocking tight end and a line coach and giving him a chance to be the leader of this great organization. I have enjoyed coming to work every day, sometimes a little more difficult than other days, but I have enjoyed coming to work every day. I have enjoyed and been blessed to have so many wonderful people supporting me from the Dennis Ryans to the Chuck Bartas to the Bobby Hagans. Gosh, when I came here in 1992, Bobby Hagan was an intern. Scott Studwell, all of the members of the press that have been here for me, Bobbe Daggett upstairs that has been here since day one. There are just so many people. My wonderful assistant, Kirsten Lindberg, who I think very dearly of. She is taking it hard. She is not her usual bubbly self today. I nicknamed her "Bubbles" because she is always so bubbly. If you had a chance to work with her, then you know that. Working with Danny Barreiro has been an experience. Some people have a misconception, we actually like each other. He doesn't want me to tell you that, but I'm going to actually tell you that we do like each other. We have a great working relationship. I enjoyed doing that show every Wednesday, although sometimes it might come off that I don't. If you guys only knew what we do during commercials. We have a great time together and it's been a good four-year run. Pretty good ratings too, huh, Dan? I have enjoyed working with Channel 5 on Sunday nights. There are just so many things that have been just a pleasure to be a part of it.

Again, I really appreciate the players and coaches this year for sticking together. It was so easy at 2-5 for the coaches whose contracts were up, for the coaches to blatantly get on the phone and start shopping for jobs and players to give up. The players stuck together and grew together as a family, which is what I wanted them to do, and the coaches hung in there. They hung in there and they hung in there, and they worked their butts off to put a good plan together each and every week. I appreciate that. That is the best tribute that I could have been paid by the players and the coaches, is for them to stick together when we were 2-5. To get ourselves to the brink of the playoffs, quite frankly if we could have ran the table we would have been in the playoffs, but we weren't able to. We had a couple of bumps in the road there. I'm still proud of the fact that we finished with a winning record at 9-7. I'm still very proud of the fact that in the last three years there have only been two teams in the NFC that have had .500 records or better (each season), one being the Seattle Seahawks and one being the Minnesota Vikings. When you look deeper into that, you find there is only six teams in the entire National Football League that have done that. I think that is something to be proud of. That is something to be proud of. The expectations of the football team and the goals have not always met up with the support, but that's okay too. You still have to battle through injuries, you still have to battle through facilities, and all of a sudden at the end of the day facilities don't win games. Players win games. I'm very grateful for the chance, and I want to thank everybody for treating me with so much respect and hopefully I did the same with you. I'm going to leave this building with a tremendous amount of friends, people that will be a part of my life forever. I want to thank them again for being there for me. I don't have anything else really to say.

I think this year that I proved that I worked hard for four years to earn my stripes and hopefully there will be other organizations around the league that will see it that way. I love to teach. I love to teach. My son, Nathan, will graduate from Edina High School, which is a very important part of what Diane and I want to accomplish. He's been in the school system since the 2nd grade, so all of the decisions that I make on my future will evolve around Nathan being able to graduate from Edina High School. I'm not going to open up for any questions. I don't think I feel like doing that right now. Again, I want to thank everybody for coming out. I appreciate it. I appreciate all of your support. Happy New Year and God bless everybody.

Posted by maasx003 at 3:55 PM
Screw the Media

All the local rag pundits are in an uproar over the way Zygi Wilf handled the dismissal of former head coach Mike Tice. And I say former with a lilt in my voice and extra bounce in my step.

Let me tell you exactly why the boys who get paid for writing are all collectively spanking Wilf: because Tice’s mouth was gold for writing stories. Nothing more, nothing less. Stories wrote themselves after a Tice press conference. Need a story on short deadline? The first phone number dialed from a reporter’s phone would be Tice. Don’t let these egomaniacs try and paint a canvas with “think of Tice’s poor family? or “all the players who loved Tice found out via the media? and pass it off as nothing more than a bald-faced lie. These people will miss Tice because their jobs just got more difficult…..now they actually have to come up with a Vikings story on their own.

Wilf did in fact move like greased lightning after a conquest of the NFC North champion Chicago Bears that may well have fashioned local opinion to give Ol’ Pencil Ear another chance.

It was a dazzling action from a proprietor who is unswerving in his endeavor to institute a superlative program that will return the Vikings organization to the top of the pile. Tice was hired by Red the Menace who did everything on the bargain basement priced philosophy of running a professional football team. Wilf, who genuinely liked Tice, had no ties to the former head-coach and had nothing to lose in dismissing him.

So, why allow any hopefulness to be generated over the next 15 hours by talk radio and a public that only recalls the last game….and in this case a win over a bunch of second and third string players which felt more like a preseason game than an season-ending one? Why allow the chance that Tice could return to snowball in such a way that Wilf would have to retain him?

By his actions, Wilf has shown that he wants to take our proud Minnesota Vikings to the next level. He can only do it with someone superior to Tice.

It really is that simple. I believe that Wilf has the Vikings ready for something more than Tice could marshal. So, don’t buy into the local media hype about the story. Oh, they’ll do their friggin’ best to make the timing THE STORY. Your response should be, “I DON’T FRIGGIN’ CARE YOU OVERPAID MEDIA MORONS?!

The timing of the decision should be regarded as a unmistakable message from Wilf to Vikings fans that things will indeed change. And that change starts right friggin' now.

So, what is next? Nothing will happen on the coaching front until the hunt on for a new G.M.-level exec is filled. Don’t you think that new person will have his own list of candidates for the coaching job? Let’s say the Eagles’ Tom Heckert is hired. I’m sure the first person on Heckert’s list would be Brad Childress, the offensive guru with Philadelphia. Although, now that the Cheese has fired Mike Sherman, look for Green Bay to make a play for talent from the Eagles as well.

In any event, this will all play itself out in the coming weeks. Last year I thought, “What the hell will I write about until training camp?? As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry at all. Looks like another off-season repeat with intrigue at head-coach, free agents, and the April draft.

Whoo-hooo!

Dismissal Poll

As you've read, I had no issues with the way Tice was fired. How about you?




Zygi Approval Rating

Now that Tice is gone, we don't need to worry about his approval rating. I'll leave it up for one week and then I'll wipe it from the face of this blog. But I have now started a Zyfi Approval Rating. I'll run one month at a time. Take a moment and vote to the left.


Posted by maasx003 at 10:41 AM
And Your Next Coach Is....

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Back on October 19, I wrote a blog entry on possible head coach candidates. I reprint that story, with my permission, for your reading pleasure.

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.

Ale to Consider

I make it no secret that I am a Guinness man. That famous Irish stout with the consistency of motor oil. Good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Over my holiday period, I found I rather liked another ale. Oh no, it will not replace the coveted space I have reserved for my special Guinness, but it will certainly find a spot in the ol' beer fridge.

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Posted by maasx003 at 7:56 AM
The Day After

The was the first year that I missed a Vikings home game due to illness when the Vikes beat the St. Louis Rams on December 11. I was knocked out cold due to a nasty stomach virus. The following week I went to the Steelers game despite battling a nasty head cold. What the hell!

This past Sunday, I once again was hit by a virus and had to miss the final game of the season. No more flu shots for me. I haven't been healthy ever since getting once back in November. I mean, it can't be that I am getting old. Growing older is not something that any of us wants to admit to. Gaining experience is one thing. Gaining wrinkles, aches and pains is another.

But enough of the perils of age. What are the bonuses? Learning to pace yourself for a start, which always reminds me of that story of the two bulls in a field? "Let's jump over the fence, gallop across that field and have one of those cows," suggested the young bull. The old bull shook his head. "No," he said. "Let's open the gate, walk across the field, and have all of them."

I like to think that I now have the wisdom of age (if not the stamina). And in that regard, I have to think that I am improving. Maturing like a fine wine, rather than like a cheese and just going bad and getting up people's noses. And let's face it; while there is still room for improvement I must still be young!

One secret of staying young is to offer yourself new challenges. That is one reason I started this blog over a year ago. A new challenge to see if I could succeed at. I think I did alright. According to StatCounter, I averaged 355 hits a day. My high day was on April 30th when the blog was hit 4,635 times during the midst of my annual Mini-Camp reports. And I receive the occasional nice comment like this one:

As a Viking fan living in southern Wisconsin (Janesville), it's tough to follow the team except through national media outlets and the twin cities papers. I just wanted to thank you and let you know that Viking Underground has been an unbelievable asset to our family, who bleed Viking Purple. Thanks for all of your hard work- It's very fulfilling to have such a great resource from a fan's point of view. If you ever need a piece from a guest writer about the unique perspective of being a Viking fan from a part of the country where Cheeseland and Bear Country intersect, please do not hesitate to ask.

Happy New Year!

Tyler, Kendra and Shayla Young

And there is always next year, isn't there? And that hopeful thinking probably accounts for the innate happiness that we should all be feeling today. That the new year will be better than the last one, the weather will be kinder, you'll master some new hobby, and the Vikes will look better than ever.

We have to believe that. It is what keeps us going. What keeps us fresh. What keeps us youthful. And as everyone knows, old Vikings fans never die, they just keep believing.

Tice Approval Poll

Well, it is time for the final Mike Tice approval poll of the season....and perhaps his career. Cast your vote for or against Tice to the left.

And speaking of Ol' Pencil Ear, according to Sid Hartman, Tice will lose his job Monday morning. What does Hartman pin his source on? Nothing. Ol’ Sid, who should have been put out to pasture over a decade ago, is trying to fashion a story and hope he guesses correctly. He has no source, no facts…just a “feeling? and one quote from a Vikings Assistant Coach who said, “It doesn’t look good? which might have been a reference to Hartman’s sport coat instead of Tice’s job.

I did hear Patrick Reusse discuss this on his Saturday morning sports show on local 1500 AM (KSTP). Reusse ridiculed the Hartman story. Reusse went on to say the only item of note that he could pass along was that Zygi Wilf was seen talking with Jim Fassel before the Baltimore Ravens game on Xmas Day. Fassel currently serves as offensive coordinator of the Ravens. He and Wild have a history stemming from the days of Fassel’s stint as head coach of the New York Giants….Wilf’s favorite NFL team up to the point when he purchased the Vikings from the NFL’s version of Scrooge. Reusse alluded that the conversation between these two gentlemen could have been nothing more that two old guys catching up as well as an early job interview…also known as tampering under NFL rules.

To add more to the entertainment value being perpetrated by Hartman, who clearly needs to up his dose of schizophrenia medication, was that Sir Sidney believes the Vikes will hire Fassel (possible) and then Tice becomes offensive coordinator for the Ravens (absurd).

One hopes that Tice keeps his job Monday, if for no other reason to watch Hartman go down in flames and be forced out at the STrib and WCCO. On the other hand, it might be a lot of fun listening to Hartman talk about what a “poor choice it was for Wild to hire Jim ‘Fazzle’ and not keep Tice.? (See Hartman affront Martina Navratilova.)

In any event, whatever happens Monday, I just hope it happens quickly and the Vikings can begin their off-season regimen knowing Tice is still coach or who the new coach will be. There are a lot of free agents to be dealt with. A draft to prepare for. And an easy NFL 2006 NFL schedule to prepare for.

The 2006 Season: A Look Ahead

Home Games: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, St. Louis, New England, the New York Jets Arizona Cardinals, and either Tampa Bay or Carolina.
Away Games: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, San Francisco, Seattle, Buffalo and Miami. They also will play the second-place team in the NFC East, most likely the Washington Redskins.

I count ten sure wins. You?

Indigestible Quote

Love him or hate him, Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune can put up some great fodder for the water cooler. Take this quote that had me reaching for the bottle of antacid:

This will be the 29th consecutive year, by the way, that a ticket is the only way for a Viking to get to the Super Bowl.

That puts the Vikings 12th among the NFC's teams in length of Super Bowl drought -- ahead of only Arizona, Detroit, New Orleans and Seattle, the teams that haven't been there.

One season shy of three decades.

Why, oh why, has it been almost thirty years since the Vikings last played in a Super Bowl? Lord help us!

Little Wing

Those who were reading this blog during the off-season last year know that I won't be talking football 24/7 from, oh, now until the time of the April draft. Yes, the blog will still be primarily all that is Vikings football but that gets slightly boring when the time is not playing.

The same will hold true with my podcasts. To that end, I thought it may be cool to post three versions of the same song and let you decide which version is the best. The first such song I give for you to listen and decide is "Little Wing". The first version you will hear during VU Podcast Thirty-Six is by The Corrs from their Talk on Corners CD. That is followed by Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble doing their take from the "The Sky is Crying" CD. Finally, Sting provides his version from the "Nothing Like the Sun" CD. Which version do you think is best? Give a listen and then vote below:




Have some other songs with multiple versions that you'd like me to put up for a vote? Just leave a comment below or send me an e-mail.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:01 AM