November 2007 Archives
November 28, 2007
The Annual Vikings Christmas Card

A nice tradition that has continued through the change in ownerships, the annual Vikings Christmas card sent from the team. Think your Xmas card list is massive? Think about how many season ticket holders must get these!?!?

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Posted by maasx003 at 4:24 PM
November 26, 2007
Playoff Rumbling...or Bumbling?

The Boy® was watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade this past Thursday. I was telling him that the Vikings would be in New York on Sunday to play the Giants. The Boy®, usually a mountain of knowledge on anything Vikings was fixated on the Radio City Rockettes, and uttered, “A lot of tall, skinny and pretty women. That’s got to be pretty hard to find, you know what I’m saying??

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Even members of my family had written off the Vikings playoff chances this season.

My early Sunday sermon on this very blog had been to predict (albeit loosely) a Vikings victory over Big Boo Hoo, er Big Blue, and an eventual 9-7 record with a NFC Wild Card appearance. I could hear the laughter all the way from the swamps of New Jersey.

After a stunning 41-17 victory combined with some additional gifts such as the Arizona OT loss to the 49ers, I think the laughter is dying down a bit. Here is my post Week 12 final NFC playoff picture:

1) Dallas
2) Green Bay
3) Seattle
4) Tampa Bay
5) N.Y. Giants
6) Vikings

I still have the Vikings finishing up with a 9-7 record. The road will be tough but even an 8-8 record has a chance to be that 6th team. And there will be plenty of key games for Vikings fans to watch in the coming weeks.

Week 13

Buffalo at Washington: You are a Bills fan for this one
Giants at Chicago: Hope Eli can bounce back in a big way
Cleveland at Arizona: Bring the Dawg Pound to Arizona and cheer for the Browns

Week 14

Chicago at Washington: You cheer against the team that won in Week 13 or hope for a tie
Dallas at Detroit: Here’s to T.O. continuing the Lions slide
Giants at Philly: Two weeks in a row cheering for Eli and the Giants

Week 15

Arizona at New Orleans: You probably will cheer against the Saints in this one
Detroit at San Diego: How many games in a row can the Lions lose?
Philly at Dallas: Root against the Eagles
Washington at Giants: Pretty clear by now we want the Giants to run the table

Week 16

Philly at New Orleans: Too far out to know which team we want. We do know it will be important.
Washington at Minnesota: All the Vikes games will be important. But this is the one to circle.

Week 17

Dallas at Washington: Go Cowboys!
Buffalo at Philly: Go Bills!
New Orleans at Chicago: Go, oh Hell, I don’t know any more.
Detroit at Green Bay: Go…..don’t say it. Just smile to yourself when the Pack wins

Right now I have the Vikes as the 6th seed traveling to Seattle to open up the Wild Card playoffs. A very winnable game. The Vikes can afford to drop one game, maybe two. But this team who has leading run offense and run defense will be on every analyst’s lips as the sixth seed favorite. Bunching up behind the Vikes will be:

8-8 Record

Philadelphia (hold tie-breaker over Vikes)

7-9 Records

Detroit
Washington
New Orleans
Arizona

And don’t forget about the Bears but the Vikes do hold the tie-breaker currently.

So hold on tight. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. As long as the Vikes play to their potential in the coming weeks we’ll get at least one more game this season during the Wild-card round, Jan. 5-6. Even The Boy® was back talking Purple Sunday night….in a sense. He had to let me know that “Thursday was named after Thor, the Greek god in Viking time?. Close enough for me. Let’s hope the coming games aren’t close and we have a few more victories like the one against the Giants.

Did You Know?

Question: Why is there a green sticker on the back of each NFL quarterback's helmet?
Answer: This sticker shows which players have the radio receiver from the sidelines transmitter. Only one radio is allowed on the field.

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Play Survival Football: Last chance for playing Survival football. This game will start this coming weekend (wk 13). Pick one team to win each week. Once you've used a team, you can't use them again! Good Luck! In order to join the group, just go to Survival Football, click the "Sign Up" button and choose to "Join an Existing Group", then "Join a Private Group". Then, when prompted, enter the following information...

Group ID#: 37612
Password: ad296

Posted by maasx003 at 1:51 AM
November 25, 2007
Sunday Sports Talk

Just some Sunday ramblings as I await the Giants-VIkes game. And if they can catch the Giants sleeping today, the Vikes might not lose another game this season. Seriously. I have not been drinking. OK, I had some mojitos the other night but I'm totally sober this fine Sunday morning. A 9-7 record and a wild-card entry is not to be considered pure fantasy for a team leading the league in rushing offense and rushing defense. Just how close are the Vikes and how important is the Lions game next week? Take a look:

PLAYOFF TEAMS
• Cowboys (10-1)
• Packers (10-1)
• Seahawks (6-4)
• Bucs (6-4)
• Giants (7-3)
• Lions (6-5)

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
• Redskins (5-5)
• Cardinals (5-5)
• Eagles (5-5)
• Panthers (4-6)
• Vikings (4-6)
• Saints (4-6)
• Bears (4-6)
• Falcons (3-8)
• Rams (2-8)
• 49ers (2-8)

The current match-ups in the NFC would then be:

Wild-card round, Jan. 5-6

No. 5 Giants (7-3) at No. 4 Buccaneers (6-4, NFC South leaders)


No. 6 Lions (6-5) at No. 3 Seahawks (6-4, NFC West leaders)

Second round, Jan. 12-13

Lower-ranked team at No. 1 Cowboys (10-1, NFC East leaders)

Higher-ranked team at No. 2 Packers (10-1, NFC North leaders)

So it is not so far-fetched for the Vikes to get into the thick of things.

On to my ramblings.

Torii Hunter is packing his bags and heading for a team that can contend on a yearly basis. I can't blame him. Hunter speaks to my close, personal friend, Sid Hartman, and rips the ownership in a single breath that goes against the whole Minnesota mantra of "don't go burning bridges" when you leave a job:

It was like a 24-hour decision. I could not leave Anaheim -- that's a nice place, a nice ballpark, they play the game right, they've got a chance to win every year. Because Arte Moreno is that type of owner, he wants to win.

And I can't blame him. Hunter goes on to voice what many of us have been saying about the new stadium but are too Minnesota Nice to state:

It will be hard for the Twins to attract free agents, Hunter added, because the new stadium lacks a roof.

"People aren't even thinking about this," he said. "I wouldn't play in Minnesota unless my career was at an end and I had to go to Minnesota to play the game. ... People think that's not true -- that's 100 percent accurate. This is coming from a player, so I'm telling you."

And I can't blame him. At least he didn't head East. That would have been too much for this Minnesota fan to take. From a recent Facebook group called Dear Boston, you're welcome for all your good players, Love Minnesota here is a summary of the pain I feel every time I hop a plane heading east and have to talk sports with my limo driver:

Randy Moss- Drafted 21st overall by the Vikings, plays 7 years for the Vikings, traded to Oakland in 2005, and was traded to New Enlgand in 2007 thus making them better than they have ever been.

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David Ortiz- Surfaced with the Twins in 97, his option was not picked up by the Twins after 2002 and was picked up byt the Red Sox where he won a world series in 2004 and has been a perennial all-star.

Kevin Garnett- Drafted 5th overall by the Timberwolves in 95, played 12 years with the wolves, and was traded to Boston in 2007, instantly making them an NBA title contender.

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And lets not forget...

JD Drew- was fromerly a St. Paul Saint, and just hit a grand slam in ALCS for the Red Sox.

Phil Kessel- Played for the Gopher hockey team in 2005 and darted for Beantown after his freshman year.

Manny Fernandez- Wild goalie for multiple years, traded to Boston in 2007.

Laurence Maroney- Stud for the Gophers, now a stud for the Patriots.

Wally Sczerbiak- Who is one of the best looking players in the NBA, was a Timberwolf for 6 years was traded to Boston in 2006. The female wolves fans were left weeping, while the Beantown bitches were wetting there panties.

Bobby Kielty- Was a solid utility OUTfielder for the Twins from 2001-03. After wandering between teams for a few years found his way out east to hit a home run in game 4 of the Red Sox' most recent World Series win.
(Tim Schmidt)

Doug Mientkiewicz- Drafted by the Twins in 1995, won a gold glove in 2001, and stole the heart of hundreds of female Twins fans. In 2004, was traded to the Red Sox during a series with the Red Sox. Then that October our Dougie Baseball caught the last out to end the Red Sox' 86-yr World Series drought.

And this was in the STrib editorial section Sunday morning. Someone in Edina (the stuffy, rich suburb) woke up crabby this week:

THE SIOUX AND UND

Purple mascot is worse

How has Nick Coleman in all of his compassion and support for the Sioux Nation (column, Nov. 18) managed to overlook a far more extreme example of heritage bastardized right here in our own back yards with the Minnesota Vikings? I thumbed through my family history the other night and was unsuccessful in finding photographs or references to any of my ancestors wearing horns, jumping on pogo sticks or riding Harleys.

CHRISTIAN JOHNSON, EDINA

Posted by maasx003 at 9:31 AM
November 17, 2007
Photos From the Nov 18, 2007 Game Against Oakland

One hundred of my best photos from the game. All photos from the game have now been uploaded. Enjoy!

Note: Click on each photo for a larger image.

Today's Ref (Oh, I wish it was this way!):


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Cheerleaders:



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Pregame:


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The Big Opening Play:


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Chester's First Score, Extra Point and Celebration:


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Other First-Half Photos:


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Curry's Insane Catch:


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Zygi Wilf:


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Second Half Photos:


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That's all folks!

Jottings: Use Facebook? Join the Vikings group on Facebook by using the link provided on the top right navigation bar.....Do you run and use your iPod? Get the Nike sensor and start joining the various challenges that can be found at Nike.com. I'm currently participating in two NFL-related challenges. Starting December 1, is a new challenge for Vikings fans with each runner selecting the team of their fav Vikes RB. Join up!....Two new columns appear below if you have yet to read them. My wirtings and such will be sporadic but I will try and post something now and then.

Play Survival Football: Last chance for playing Survival football. This game will start next weekend (wk 13). Pick one team to win each week. Once you've used a team, you can't use them again! Good Luck! In order to join the group, just go to Survival Football, click the "Sign Up" button and choose to "Join an Existing Group", then "Join a Private Group". Then, when prompted, enter the following information...

Group ID#: 37612
Password: ad296

Posted by maasx003 at 5:25 PM
The Hit

The original ragin’ Cajun’, Roy Winston graduated from Louisiana State University, where he starred as an offensive guard. He played 15 seasons in the National Football League, all with the Minnesota Vikings. That was a long time for hard-hitting linebackers. Think about it. Fifteen years of delivering bone crushing hits. Using doggy math (a year for a dog is comparable to seven for humans) I estimate that a year for a linebacker is worth three years for a normal human. So Winston would have aged forty-five years during his NFL career….or at least felt like it.

In 1962, Winston was drafted in the fourth round by the Vikings, for whom he played until he retired after the 1976 season. During that time, he was one of the few players to play in all four of the Vikings Super Bowl appearances (Super Bowl IV, Super Bowl VIII, Super Bowl IX, Super Bowl XI). Yeah, don’t go there. But how many players can say they played in four Super Bowls during their career? Randy Moss has yet to get there, although he seems to be on his way this year with the New England Patriots.

The reason I wanted to write about Winston is that it is the 35th anniversary of one of the greatest football hits of all-time. And Winston was the linebacker to bring Hell with him.

Winston delivered one of the most destructive tackles ever filmed. In a close game against the Miami Dolphins in the 'Fins perfect season of 1972, fullback Larry Csonka circled out into the flat to catch a pass. Just as he caught the pass, Winston hit him from behind with such force that the 240-pound Csonka was nearly cut in half.

Of note: The tackle was so monstrous it was shown on the Johnny Carson Show.

Csonka dropped the ball and rolled on the field in anguish. He screamed that he was paralyzed. He thought his back was broken and literally crawled off the field.

But Csonka was just as tough as Winston. Once on the sideline, Csonka "walked it off" and in a few minutes was back in the game. Csonka's return to the game was crucial, as the winning touchdown pass to tight end Jim Mandich was set up by a fake to Csonka.

Not that I would want to make friends in this manner, but after their own retirements from the NFL, Winston and Csonka remained close friends. Csonka even invited Winston to be his guest when Csonka was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Winston, Lonnie Warwick, and Wally Hilgenberg were some tough S.O.B. linebackers for the Vikes back then. Unlike Csonka, not many lived to tell about it. At least, that's how this old time fan remembers it.

Jottings: Use Facebook? Join the Vikings group on Facebook by using the link provided on the top right navigation bar.....Do you run and use your iPod? Get the Nike sensor and start joining the various challenges that can be found at Nike.com. I'm currently participating in two NFL-related challenges. Starting December 1, is a new challenge for Vikings fans with each runner selecting the team of their fav Vikes RB. Join up!

Posted by maasx003 at 2:41 PM
November 13, 2007
Lukewarm Tea

For Derek and Shane.

I live in Minnesota, where coffee shops are almost as plentiful as flannel shirts and Lund fishing boats. We like our coffee. When I’m in the mood for a hearty breakfast however, I always head over to a place called Cap’s. It’s not that the food there is significantly better than what you’d find at other coffee shops. Nor is it particularly convenient as I live in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis and Cap’s is located off Hiawatha on the way to the Big Mall.

So why do I still number Cap’s among my regular haunts?

Mostly, it’s a waitress named Gemma. She remembers that I drink decaf and like my water without ice. Gemma always brings me extra napkins. She always has a smile. And she likes to talk Vikings.

It doesn’t seem like such a big deal, really. We all have a favorite restaurant or tavern or coffee shop for pretty much the same reason. The people there know us. They actually take time to talk to you as a person and not as just another number. And because they do, we have become loyal customers whose business they can count on through good times and bad.

And for Vikings fans in 2007, it has been bad.

My conversation with Gemma this week was focused on the blurb that appeared in the column of my close, personal friend Sid Hartman. Hartman had stated that Randy Moss would still be on the Vikings had the trade not occurred prior to the sale of the team from Red “Purple Pride? McCombs to Zygi Wilf and his stable of brothers.

Wilf maintains that he would not have traded Moss under his ownership. So I postulated to Gemma that perhaps Wilf is actually a pretty good guy who was just taken to the cleaners by yet another Texan. Minnesotans know all about business deals with Texans. Just Google “Walker-Lynn? to understand that.

That’s when Gemma opened my eyes with this statement. “I think if Mr. Wilf really wanted Moss so bad, he would have made a play this past off-season before the Patriots did.?

Gemma then sauntered away to pour another cup of mud for another patron, leaving me speechless.

Wilf is a successful businessman. He should have realized that Randy Moss returning to the Vikings would have eliminated the weekly threats of a blackout. Moss returning would have sold out the season for nothing more than a 4th round selection. Could it be that the Brothers Wilf were spending too much time thinking about “brand? and “identity? and not enough time thinking about their fan base?

As a sixteen-year season ticket holder, I think the Brothers Wilf ought to be organizing more around their fan base wishes and worrying less about the Vikings image. The fans would have relished a season with both Moss and rookie phenom Adrian Peterson on offense.

If the Wilfs hope to succeed in getting funding for a new stadium, then they need to work on building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. They need to show that they are fully committed to putting a product on the field first and worrying about a new stadium second. And that means taking chances on some stray sheep now and then.

For all I know, the Wilf ownership did want to pursue Moss and were subsequently overruled by the high and mighty head coach, Brad Childress, he of the “kick-ass offense?.

Chilly does not like players who challenge him through the media and behind his back. Nor does he want blue chippers who “play when they want to play?. But Chilly also needs to understand Vikings fans do not like lukewarm tea.

Lukewarm tea, you ask? Bear with me a minute.

What’s really important is taking a look at how the population of Vikings fans is different. How it has changed since that 1998 season when Dennis Green and McCombs took a flyer on a bad kid out of Marshall.

The current ownership at Winter Park needs to take a fresh look at the heterogeneity of the current Vikings fan base. It’s akin to the old idea that if you have iced tea and hot tea and average it, you get lukewarm tea. And you think that’s the optimum tea. Well, it’s not. Half the people like their tea hot and the other half like it iced.

The Vikings have done well in the past to discuss their fan base preferences. I should know as I’ve been involved in those studies, often finding myself sitting in the board room with the likes of Bill Brown and other former players. That’s how we got tailgating going back in the mid-1990’s, through one of those focus groups.

The Vikes have used every channel at their disposal, be it surveys, focus groups, Internet chat rooms, and feedback from front line employees. I’m just not sure they are studying those results as closely as in the past or taking the feedback to heart. They seem to be focusing their marketing efforts on the narrowest niches that are the most economically feasible. Not necessarily placing the best product on the field because it will upset the “iced tea? customer base while making the “hot tea? base ecstatic. Instead, the Brothers Wilf has been serving us lukewarm tea.

That is why it is essential for the Wilf Brothers to get over the mindset that they are selling their product to an “average? consumer. That animal simply does not exist in the world of professional football.

There is no need to try and make the entire fan base happy. They’ll all respond when the organization shows it is fully committed to putting the best team on the field, whether that necessitates upsetting the “iced tea? crowd by bringing back a bad apple, such as Randy Moss. Or upsetting the “hot tea? crowd by retaining a veteran backup quarterback who can actually hit the open receiver, such as Brad Johnson.

Gemma assures me that lukewarm tea is not on the menu at Cap’s. And as long as waitresses like Gemma remain attentive to their customers’ desires, the tea will be served hot or cold, with a smile and plenty of napkins on the side.

If the Vikings will only stop serving lukewarm tea, there is every reason to believe that there will be many regular customers for the Wilf brothers for many years to come.

Jottings: No, this does not mean the VU is back and up. This was written for a couple of Vikings friends who wanted me to write something....anything....on the state of the current season. Lukewarm Tea is exactly what I feel about this season. I hope you enjoyed it. I may occasionally write other things when the opportunity presents itself. That's why this blog has never totally gone away. Just too much history here to throw away.

Posted by maasx003 at 7:32 AM