Time to cleanse the palate. And besides, I had this entry in the can prior to the Moss trade so I'm going to run with it.
With their season right around the corner I just have to chime in on my thoughts for the soon-to-be-World-Series Champion Minnesota Twins.
Wait a doggone minute! This is a Vikings site! How dare you right about America's second favorite pastime. Hey, it's my blog. And I feel like hot dogs and Cracker Jack at the moment.
And besides, there are plenty of baseball artifacts interspersed with my Vikings artifacts in my office. Right next to the 1991 World Championship photos in my office is a signed photo of Kirby Puckett holding grocery goods and a Supervalu cap for a spot he had done with the local grocery distributor a few years back. It was given to me by the former Vice President of Frozen Foods with Supervalu. It is a cherished piece of memorabilia in my sports collection.
My wife and I fondly recall the 1991 season. That team had her favorite Twins player of all time. She nicknamed him Dirt Ball. Can you guess who that was? Leave some comments on who you think that might be. If no one gets it, I'll start leaving some clues.
We've only attended a few games at the Metrodome since that time. The issue? We just cannot bring ourselves to go inside on a beautiful summer night to watch baseball being played. Build a new outdoor stadium, and the Maas family would probably buy a ticket package to attend a dozen or more games each season.
So, with that in mind, which stadium should the Blow Hards at the Minnesota State Legislature be concentrating on funding first?
But Is It Sponge Worthy?
I'm going to give this a try. Based on Elaine Benes of the great Seinfeld sitcom, each week or so I will introduce another blog that I have come across and have begun reading on a regular basis. You, my valued reader, will decide if it deserves a permanent link on my site under the category of Sponge Worthy Links.
You recall the Seinfeld episode. Elaine only uses the sponge as her form of birth control. When the sponge is to be discontinued she scavenges the city buying in hordes any sponges she can find. From then on, if a man was not sponge worthy, then he was not worth Elaine's troubles.
The blogs chosen at random, may have nothing to do with football..or even sports. If you have a favorite blog, please pass it along to me by leaving the web address under the Comments section found at the end of each entry.
So, is this site, Stick and Ball Guy, worth our attention? Is this blog truly Sponge Worthy and deserving of a permanent link on the Worlds Number One Vikings blog?
Voting will be open for one week, ending next Friday (3/4) morning.
Oh, Right. This is a Football Blog
I'm sick of talking about with Reggie Fowler has the bling or not. My emotions have just about bottomed out on the Moss trade. So let's talk running backs.
Earlier this week, the running backs that were to be the most coveted by other teams during free agency received the nasty tags instead. Seattle's Shaun Alexander and Indy's Edgerrin James, both were slapped with the franchise tag, meaning that they'll change teams only if picks change hands. It previously was announced that the Bengals would tag running back Rudi Johnson.
That means Bills running back Travis Henry, Broncos running back Reuben Droughns, Chicago's Anthony Thomas, the Chiefs Larry Johnson and maybe the Steelers Jerome Bettis would be front runners and possibly provide their teams with some high draft picks.
What a doggone minute! The Vikes have Michael Bennett, Onterrio Smith, and Mewelde Moore. Maybe the Vikes chances of turning one of their running backs into some picks and/or help on defense just increased.
The Vikings have enjoyed depth at running back, especially considering that veteran Moe Williams also played extensively last season. I think one of the aforementioned can be cut loose.
Last week at this time I had no idea the Vikings would be in play for a WR, and by the looks of things, they had better act quickly if they plan to pick up a veteran with half the grapefruits that Moss had.
The Jags have confirmed that they've talked to agent Peter Schaffer regarding the possibility of signing former Titans WR Derrick Mason.
The Redskins ability to trade WR Laveranues Coles apparently hinges on whether they can restructure the contract of LT Chris Samuels. The 'Skins, based on Joe Gibbs' ill-advised statements from last week, have been secretly in contact with the agents for receiver Muhsin Muhammad and/or Plaxico Burress.
Maybe The Brains at Winter Park are snowed in and can't reach their phones?
Giddy in Oakland
Yesterday I spoke of how Howie, one of the super fans of the Raider Nation was giddy over getting Moss. He was standing in his front lawn with both hands in the air dancing around. Now the media is reporting that the front office at headquarters in Oakland is feeling much the same.
Word is that the Raiders believe that Moss and Jerry Porter will create an "unstoppable" 1-2 punch at wideout, given the arm strength of quarterback Kerry Collins.
They believe there will not be a better tandem of receivers in the league. And with the development of Ronald Curry, the Raiders might conjure memories of the Vikes' "Three Deep" lineup of Moss, Cris Carter, and Jake Reed, which propelled the team to a 15-1 record in 1998 in Moss' first season in Minnesota.
The Raiders believe they "stole" Moss. As one Raiders official said, "The Vikes, I think, have lost their minds."
So have I.
Shortly before noon on Thursday, the legions and legions of readers (cough, cough) that come to this blog daily for provocative insight into the world of Minnesota Vikings football were subjected to a whiteout. There was nothing more than a blank screen staring dumbly back at you. Just like the look on Brett Favre’s face after a six interception playoff football game (Jan. 20, 2002 against the Rams).
The whiteout was due to the fact that the Viking Underground and Greet Machine blogs were getting hit so hard from people searching for Moss news that they brought the University of Minnesota servers to their knees.
(Pause for artistic effect)
OK, the truth is the U of M’s library web servers crashed. One side effect was the crashing of PHP capabilities on the blog server. Any page that uses PHP (.phtml), such as the Viking Underground, no longer came up. But the issue has been resolved and I humbly apologize for any distress this may have caused you.
We now return to your regularly scheduled reading.
I'm very, very sorry but the Sponge Worthy entry that was to appear today has been delayed a few days, maybe even until early next week. You see, one of those life changing events has come up. And for the first time, it has hit home not only personally, but as a father as well.
Last football season, my good friend Mark Gresbach had made his annual pilgrimage from Milwaukee to attend a Vikings game with me. Mark and I go way back to the early days of the Internet when message boards were little more than e-mail distribution lists. During the early 1990's, Mark was the guy in charge of the biggest Vikings message board going at that time.
My first posting was something along the lines of, "The Packers suck and always will." Mark sent me a note saying to the effect of, "you gotta tone that down a bit." This from a guy who has Vikes #1 on his Wisconsin plates. We've been buds ever since.
Anyway, Mark brought a special gift for The Boy® this time around. It was a statue of Randy Moss running down a catch. It has been kept in the section of the room that The Boy® reserves only for the most precious of his things.
When The Boy® arrived home from preschool late Wednesday afternoon; I had to explain to him that Randy Moss had been traded to another team. The Boy® immediately went to his room and got his Moss statue and was quietly sad. I captured this photo of him later that evening, statue still in his hand.
The Boy® and I had greatly enjoyed the 2004 campaign. Now four, The Boy® was beginning to understand the game. He even attended his first game with me. He loved it. And when Moss lead the Vikes over lowly Green Bay in the opening round of this past seasons playoffs, Graham was yelling and dancing with me the entire game. It was a special father-son moment.
There is another person for whom I am concerned for tonight. That's Syd Davy of Winnipeg, Canada. Syd and I also go back a few years. We both sit in row 1 of Section 101 at Vikings home games. I've caught Moss twice when he has leapt into the stands after scoring a touchdown.
Syd? Well, Syd has become somewhat famous for catching Randy. Very famous. Leads off the Monday Night Football television introduction famous. This past season, Syd paid a visit to Moss at Winter Park. Moss signed one of Syd's huge arms. Syd had the signature permanently tattooed for eternity.
One wonders what Syd is thinking tonight as he looks at that autograph and recalls the good times.
Another part of the population to worry about is the '98 Fan Base. Just how deep does their love for the Vikings go? This is the part of the Vikings fan base that came aboard the ship during the infamous 15-1 season. Before then, the words blackout and not a sellout were often heard on Vikings game days. Then Randy Moss was drafted and that was followed by 64 consecutive sellouts, attendance records, and a waiting list for season tickets.
One wonders if the '98 Fan Base will erode if the Vikes get off to a rough start this coming season. Will there be empty seats in the upper deck? To the '98 Fan Base, Moss was the Vikings. Even with 9-7 records, fans could still count on Moss to make any game exciting. Now, with Moss gone will the fans return?
Another segment of the population certain to be affected will be the local children's charities. Yes, there will be the nimrods who say that Moss leaving is a good thing. That he was a bad role model. These are ignorant, sorry ass people that only read the headlines in the morning paper and then sit their fat asses at the local coffee shop and talk about what is wrong with the world today but don't want to do anything about it. Moss was not one of those people. He cared deeply for the local youth.
The only thing I heard out of any of Moss' spokespeople on Wednesday night was that the Randy Moss Invitational Celebrity Bass tournament to raise money for the Smile Network on June 29 on Lake Minnetonka will still be hosted by Moss. Vikings player or not. The Smile Network International is a Minnesota based, non-profit, humanitarian organization that provides life altering, reconstructive surgeries and related healthcare services to impoverished children and young adults in developing countries.
Moss will be missed by the kids most of all. Just ask The Boy®. I had to pry the Moss statue out of his hands only after he fell asleep last night. I'm sure it was the same in other households across the Vikings Nation as well.
So, what does this trade say about Reggie Fowler's bid to become team owner? I think it shows a certain vote of no confidence by Red McCombs. I think that McCombs inked the Moss trade knowing that Fowler is going to be shot down by the NFL Owners. So, it didn't even faze the ol' car salesman to trade the biggest playmaker in the NFL today with a deal on the table.
"What's that sir? You ordered a fully loaded Cadillac? I'm sorry, the order must have been messed up. I'm afraid you are receiving a Geo Prism. Read the fine-print of the contract, please."
And what if Fowler was completely aware of the trade? What if McCombs provided full disclosure to him prior to the hand-shake?
Just last week, Fowler spoke about his plans for the team, and made it clear that his group would have no plans to trade Randy Moss.
"I think we all have to have a set of standards," Fowler said. "I think Mr. Moss is, if not the finest, one of the finest receivers in the league today. And I think he's a winner. A lot of times when you want to win, you get excited.
"So I look forward to working with Randy, and I think he'll do all the things we need him to do. I don't know that you take some of the best players in the league and start trading them. We need those people to help us win, and I think Randy's one of those guys."
Excuse me. I have to go take a shower. Back in twenty.
And We're Back
So, where does this take the team? Let's look at it from several angles.
We'll start off with Napoleon Harris. Oh yeah, he looks like a team player. Has his own web site and everything. Go there now and sign-up to be part of the N-Army.
Uh-huh. I'll get right on that Mr. Harris, sir!
KFAN radio reported yesterday that they had contacted Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune. McDonald is the preeminent NFL guru on the West coast and saw Harris play over the last several years on a weekly basis. Here are some of the more positive things McDonald had to say.
A terrible player.
Fast, but often out of place.
Doesn't understand a complex defense.
Often had to be removed from the game.
Totally lost in space.
And again, that was the good stuff. But more on Harris later.
The Vikings also get the number seven overall pick from the Raiders. This is where the whole trade hinges. Looks like we can write off Harris as nothing more than serviceable. And the late round pick from the Raiders? So we get a Mr. Irrelevant ala Ryan Hoag of Gustavus Adolphus. Whatever.
In two years time the make or break status of the Moss trade will come down the number seven pick. Do you trust the current brain trust at Winter Park to make the correct call? That is if the team once again understands the 15-minute time limit when they are on the clock. They'll screw this one up again. It's inevitable. But then again.....
Looking at Mel Kiper's Big Board, the first five projected picks are all offense.
1. Cedric Benson Sr. RB Texas
2. Braylon Edwards Sr. WR Michigan
3. Ronnie Brown Sr. RB Auburn
4. Alex Smith Jr. QB Utah
5. Aaron Rodgers Jr. QB California
6. Dan Cody Sr. DE Oklahoma
7. Adam Jones Jr. CB W. Va.
8. Mike Williams Jr. WR USC
9. Derrick Johnson Sr. LB Texas
10. Carnell Williams Sr. RB Auburn
That means the Vikings stand to pick up no worse than the second best defensive player on the board. Maybe it is a can't miss opportunity. But then again, there is the whole clock thing.
And then there are some very good free agent wide receivers currently available to assume the number uno receiver position to compliment Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper. (No, Nate Burleson is not there yet.)
The Vikes would do well to go out and grab Laveranues Coles, or Plaxico Burress, or my pick, Derrick Mason. And do it fast.
What the Raider Nation is Saying
I have the great honor of being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton as a member of the inaugural group of fans ever so honored. So I know quite a few of the fans from around the NFL. I've had beer with Barrel Man of the Broncos. And no, he does not wear anything under the barrel. I've attended a Super Bowl with the Browns' Big Dawg. I've sipped wine with Boss Hoggette. And we keep in touch.
So late Wednesday evening I reached out to two Raiders fans. First up was Hardcore. Hardcore knows his football. Finished third in our Pigskin Pick'em group for HOF fans this past season. If you must know, I finished seventh.
Hardcore said, "I think Moss is a good move, the Raider franchise lends itself to people who march to their own drummer, and I cannot fault Moss too much for his actions, he is a player who wants to win but doesn't know how to convey it correctly to the world. If I remember correctly he has been a model citizen the last 2 seasons (well atleast for him anyway), I think that him and [Kerry] Collins will work great, this will be a GREAT receiving tandem now, [Jerry] Porters problem is he is a #2 receiver, but has #1 ego so this will put him in his rightful role again, and the person who will get the most [out] of this is Ronald Curry."
On Harris, Hardcore said, "Nap Harris had a bad season last year, but is not a bad player, he couldn't get accustomed to the new D last year, and it showed every time we played the Chargers and got scorched by their TE. Who knows if this trade might fall through with your new ownership though, weirder things have happened, we'll see when press conferences happen."
Then I was unable to reach Spike. Spike is cool. Spike is the epitome of the Raider Nation. He and his brother stayed with The Wife® and me in 1999 when we were expecting The Boy®. The Vikings opening home game that season was against the Raiders so the boys made a road trip to attend the game with us.
Spike's brother Howie kept trying to lay hands on The Wife's® pregnant tummy in order to turn the contents in favor of the Raider Nation. And I'm happy to say it didn't work!
So, I heard from Howie. Howie summed us his feelings easily enough. "What the f**k were you guys thinking out there?! I'm thrilled to be getting Moss. I'm standing outside on my lawn with my hands up in the air! I'm giddy, dude. Just f**king giddy."
Howie also told me that he had been cheering all the way home after picking up his daughter from daycare and went on to say that Harris is a solid player who will be a good, serviceable (there's the S-word again) middle linebacker for the Vikings.
Howie also thought that Moss will bring "that Barry Bonds thing to the stadium. The fans will simply show up to see what he can do after watching all the highlight reels from the previous years with the Vikings." There's that '98 Fan Base thing again.
I queried Howie why he should be so excited, especially with all the perceived baggage that Moss will be bringing.
"Talk to the Eagles about Owens first and then get back to me," replied Howie.
Well said, Howie. Well said.
Favorite Memories of Moss
It may help to ease your suffering if you leave a favorite memory of Moss using my Comments link at the end of this entry. I'd be interested in hearing about your memories on Moss. So take a few minutes and jot some down!
From the Sidelines
You can read more about The Boy® at The Wife's® blog and read how he is now into his third language. Smart boy, indeed.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press is reporting that Randy Moss has been traded to the Oakland Raiders for starting linebacker Napoleon Harris, the seventh overall pick in the upcoming draft and a 2005 late-round pick. The Star Tribune has also posted a similar story.
I can hear people cutting up their season tickets as we speak. Remember the plexi-glass they had at the Dome for Twins games? They'll now have to install that once again but this time for Vikings home games to keep fans from charging the field looking for the culprits that OK'd this trade. People scream about a referendum to pass a stadium bill. How about a referendum to let the people of Viking land have a say in who goes and who stays?
Even though New England has proven you don't need to have a superstar player in order to be a winning team, Moss was beloved by Vikings fans. If this trade is indeed true, a huge void will be left when #84 laces up in silver and black instead of purple and gold.
Yes, I feel like the Tin Man looking for a heart. As mine has broken. The Vikings Front Office could be compared to the Scarecrow.....still looking for a brain. Let's just hope that Daunte Culpepper and the rest of the players are not cowardly lions and can show a lot of courage this coming season.
Let's hope a lot.
I plan to call up my friend Spike of the Raiders this evening. First order of business will be to have Spike FedEx a Raider's Moss jersey to me as soon as one is available. It's the jersey I will be wearing to Vikings games this coming season.
So, how about you? Are you against the trade or opposed to it? Will you show up in silver and black this coming season to voice your opposition to the trade? Who should the Vikings nab with the Number Seven pick in this year's NFL Draft? If the Vikes keep it, that is. Just leave a Comment below and let's get some dialouge going!
Vote a Player off the Ship
In light of the boring off-season period, for the next 10-weeks we are going to try something fun. Each of the next 10-weeks we will vote to kick one Vikings player off the ship. Someone you think is the weakest link...or maybe just dislike.
Each following week, I'll repost the poll with one less player and the process will start all over again! So we'll start with ten and end up that you will have to make a choice between two players! We'll select the one player you cannot live without. That one player that gives you the most confidence each time you see him in purple. Who will it be!?!?
The result of Week One was that Chris Hovan was voted off the ship with a mandate. 70% of you told poor, misunderstood Chris to shove it.
In Week Two you showed that Vikings fans can hold grudges. For years. With almost 60% of the vote, you gave the finger to Morten Andersen. Who can forget the 1998 NFC Championship game?
Well, we couldn't and it is bye-bye Morten.
Week Three saw the closest voting to date with loquacious Kelly Campbell getting the boot by just a few votes over E. J. Henderson.
Who will be booted in Week Four? Voting will be open until Wednesday morning (3/2). Make your vote count!
Moss Off the Table For One Team
Yesterday I had told you of Moss trade rumors heating up once again. Said source said a deal was to be made this week.
Per the source, the Raiders were poised to send a first-round pick, a seventh-round pick, and linebacker Napoleon Harris to the Vikings in exchange for Moss.
With Raiders receiver Jerry Porter signing a new contract, the Raiders won't be swinging a trade with the Vikings for receiver Randy Moss.
And that's the deal that was in place a day ago, but on which the source couldn't elaborate at the time.
So, that's one bullet avoided in this game of Randy Moss Trade Russian roulette. We just don't know how many bullets are left in the revolver. Is it one? Is it two or more? Only time will tell. Let's hope that the chamber is currently empty and that #84 will be streaking down the sideline for the Vikings next year.
From the Sidelines
Besides celebrating Chinese New Year's last weekend, my son Graham also had his practice for the upcoming 2005 St. Paul Celtic Connection celebration taking place at the O'Shaughnessy Auditorium on March 6.
Four-year old Graham has been taking weekly Irish Dance classes with the St. Paul Irish Dancers for some time now. This will be his first recital and should be very fun to watch.
You know the Maas name is one of those long-lived Irish names. We and the Kennedy's go way back and you'll often find us at clam bakes off Martha's Vineyard in the late summer.....along with Reggie Fowler.
So, if you aren't doing anything March 6, stop by the O'Shaughnessy. I just hope they have pints of Guinness flowing freely!
That blog is great, but is it sponge worthy?
Pro Football Talk published a few stories late Monday that essentially relayed that a deal is for all intents and purposes completed to launch Randy Moss out of Minnesota. Oh, and that the deal would occur this week.
Didn’t we just read recently that prospective new owner Reggie Fowler said publicly that he doesn't plan to trade receiver Randy Moss?
Pro Football Talk went on to pontificate that they “know the team and the terms, but our source on this one has yet to give us the green light to divulge those details.”
After their first posting of the story, they received an e-mail came from Moss' agent, Dante' DiTrapano.
"There are a lot of rumors but no deal even close," DiTrapano told Pro Football Talk. "He will most likely be a Viking next year.
"As you know, the new year in football is March 2nd so anything you may hear is just speculation at best. I would be the person who knows if there were any activity and there is not."
Well, I don’t know what to think of it. So much in the media these days is to be the first to break a BIG story even if it means the source has not been confirmed.
But on the other hand, season ticket invoices went out a few weeks ago. What would you think the team would be saying at this time? That they are shopping Moss and then watch as the season ticket base erodes by tens of thousands of tickets?
We’ll have to watch this story for any future updates.
Reminder for Vikings Survivor
A reminder to vote in the Vikings Survivor series of polls that started a few weeks ago.
In Week Three of the series to vote one Vikings player off the ship one-by-one, we have a real close battle between Kelly Campbell and E. J. Henderson. They are only a few votes apart. If you haven't voted yet, get your vote in today!
Then come back Wednesday as I'll repost the poll with one less player and the process will start all over again! We'll be down to seven survivors. Who will be the fourth player to walk the plank?
The Wife® is turning 40 this March. She has always loved to write and has been published several times. When The Boy® was born life became very hectic and things, such as writing, were put aside. The Boy® is almost five now and can fend for himself. So, with the help of Shane Nackerud at the University of Minnesota, Through the Garden Gate was created to be an outlet for The Wife's® creative prose. Drop in on her blog every so often and check it out. You never know what you might find out about me!
The Maas' have taken the day off to celebrate President's Day so this entry will have a distinctive non-football flair to it. Well, I took the day off. The Wife® actually got to observe the holiday as she is a state employee. She's lucky that way. Get's Columbus Day and other non-significant holiday's off as well.
But President's Day is significant. I have always loved studying the U.S. Presidents. A look at my grade school (Washington Elementary) library card would have shown numerous references to presidential related tomes. Couldn't get enough of it. Going to be playing presidential trivia? I am your ringer. Let's try a couple.
His hands shook with palsy, and most of his teeth had fallen out. He refused to wear dentures, and thus, talked with a lisp. Although he was beset with illnesses, he was the longest-living president.
Know who that was? If you do, leave a comment by using the Comments link at the end of this entry. Here's another:
His health was generally poor. At 24, he suffered a nervous breakdown and spent several weeks in a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Mich., run by the breakfast cereal king, Dr. J.P. Kellogg. He returned there for rest from time to time. He hated confrontation. He was humble to the point of admitting his own limitations.
And one more:
In law school, he was acquired the nickname Gloomy Gus because of his sober demeanor. This president's personality has spawned many books exploring his psychological makeup. He played golf, bowled and swam. He was a sharp poker player.
For more on each President, try this great link at the Detroit Free Press.
Here's an interesting story on the favorite foods of the U.S. presidents. It's a great idea for a cook book and also is amazing to see how past presidential estates were gushing to assist.
Here are some Presidential recipe's you can try for yourself!
And did you know that the U.S. Presidents are some damn fine dancers?
And had really, really good penmanship?
And some of the most interesting historical presidential tidbits often comes from their own presidential campaigns. To wit, here are some actual presidential campaign slogans from past presidents and wanna-be challengers:
1844 Henry Clay: Who is James K. Polk?
Well, Henry he became 11th President of The United States.
1860 Abraham Lincoln: Vote Yourself a Farm.
It was always about the farmers. Even way back then.
1884 Grover Cleveland: Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine.
1884 James Blaine: Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa, Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha.
Wow. And we thought the last few elections were bitter. 1884 sounds like it was a hoot!
1900 William McKinley: A Full Dinner Pail.
He was standing in a receiving line at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition when a deranged anarchist shot him twice. He died eight days later.
1916 Woodrow Wilson: He kept us out of war.
In 1917 he proclaimed American entrance into World War I a crusade to make the world "safe for democracy."
1928 Herbert Hoover: A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.
His election seemed to ensure prosperity. Yet within months the stock market crashed, and the Nation spiraled downward into depression.
1976 Jimmy Carter: Not Just Peanuts.
I'm not going there.
1988 George Bush: Kinder, Gentler Nation.
1992 Bill Clinton: Putting People First.
Especially female interns.
Now then, it's time for you to participate. Who was the greatest president of all time? I've tried to play it even-steven between the Donkeys and the Elephants but if one of these nine doesn't suit your taste, just leave a comment within the poll itself.
Back on February 14th, I had told you about the Vikings needing to look towards Denver to possibly help in adding another dominate defensive lineman to work along side of Pro Bowler Kevin Williams.
At that time I had indicated that the Broncos were shopping former Pro Bowl defensive lineman Trevor Pryce. That has been rekindled as the Broncos are now saying that up to eight teams have articulated genuine interest in Pryce. Those teams include the Vikings, Seahawks, Cowboys, and Raiders.
The Rocky Mountain News also suggests that the Broncos would consent to a third-round pick for Pryce. But with so many teams engrossed with Pryce, look to Denver to up the ante.
Of course, the most captivating opportunity is the Vikings. With a possible change in ownership possibly to occur and with current owner Red McCombs' unwillingness to fork over a bunch of his own money in signing bonuses, Pryce would the perfect offseason asset to bolster the defensive line, since Pryce requires no signing bonus of any kind.
Assuming Pryce stays on the outside, he'd unseat Kenny Mixon. Mixon could still add depth at the position. If, however, the Vikings would move him to the inside, Pryce and Williams could form a potentially assertive interior tandem, the likes of which the Vikings haven't seen since Henry Thomas and Keith Millard were clogging the middle of the line.
Pryce, a once dominant defensive tackle, moved to defensive end in 2002 and remains the best defensive lineman on the Bronco’s roster. He missed most of the 2004 season after undergoing back surgery in September.
The team's willingness to part with Pryce arises from its impending shift from a 4-3 front to the 3-4. The thinking is that the need for a high-priced defensive end is reduced in this new alignment, since the ends primarily are expected to tie up blockers so that the linebackers can make plays.
Pryce, 29, was the 28th player taken in the 1997 draft.
Links and Tidbits
The Keep Moss In Minnesota Petition is now up to 168 signatures. If you haven't signed yet, please take a moment to do so.
Interesting Packer view on the Curse of Max Winter.
And an interesting start to one of my mornings last week. Read about it at my dog blog.
Happy Year of the Rooster to you and yours! This weekend, The Boy® has been invited to participate in Chinese New Year festivities this Saturday with a classmate from his preschool. I’ve done a bit of research on this cultural New Year so that The Wife® and I could converse with The Boy® and use it as a cultural learning experience. Some very interesting facts have come to light that I will share with you today. (Besides, I need a few days away from football news!)
The Wife® has always thought me a snake. I think women typically think that of most men. I truly believe it is something they learn while in Home Economics class in high-school. One day, little girls go into class all happy and giggly towards boys. That dreadful day, the Home Economics teacher closes the door tight and places brown paper over the window in the door so that no one can peer in. Sixty minutes later these young lasses emerge with The Look.
If you are male over the age of four, you have received The Look from a mother, girlfriend, or wife. The Look is nothing more than the expression one gets from a female when one does something incredibly moronic. Women are born with a natural ability to give The Look. I think The Wife® is up to 4002 instances of when she has given me The Look judging by the notches in the headboard of our bed where she keeps track.
Anyway, back to Chinese New Years. Said wife was born in 1965. Imagine my glee upon learning that 1965 was the Year of the Snake. Hah! And she thought I was the snake. I now know the truth and she will learn of it as soon as she receives the letter I will mail to inform her of this. Ain’t no way I’m going to tell her this in person. She’s still upset that on The Boy®’s daily animal calendar a skunk appears on her upcoming birthday. And The Boy® made the mistake of pointing this out to the The Wife®. At least The Boy® and I experienced some good father-son bonding time in the garage that evening. We were even allowed a space heater.
Me? I was born in the Year of the Ox. According to the Chinese New Year’s legend, oxen are born leaders, inspiring confidence in everyone they come into contact with. Yep, that’s me. A born leader. However, they can be too demanding. Can’t let The Wife® see that. And I probably shouldn’t have left that list of things on the counter for her to accomplish while home today.
The Boy®? Why, he was born in the Year of the Dragon. Dragons tend to be popular individuals who are always full of life and enthusiasm, with a reputation for being fun-loving. They make good priests, artists and politicians. Hmm, a priest in the family? That might be useful for last rites when The Wife® finds out that in addition to being a skunk, she was born in the Year of the Snake. (If you don’t hear from me by Monday, please send the authorities).
Links and Tidbits
Cheesehead Craig has posted a Packer version of Fowler's fact sheet. Quoting Bugs Bunny, "Of course, he knows that this means war!"
For Twins fans, here is a great take on the stadium issue.
Yokel: Also see rube, hick, yahoo, hayseed, bumpkin, chawbacon. Defined as not very intelligent or interested in culture.
Flyover country: The middle class Midwest that is typically "flown over" by scheduled airlines in their hops between their major hubs. Flyover country is populated by yokels, rubes, hicks, yahoos, hayseeds, bumpkins, and chawbacons.
This has happened once before. On February 5, 1998 Tom Clancy signed an agreement to purchase Minnesota Vikings for slightly more than $200 million, an NFL franchise record at that time. You would have thought that the financial geniuses at Winter Park would have done some homework to see if the check would actually clear the bank. They did not, and Vikings fans were embarrassed nationally when the deal fell apart after Clancy became embroiled in an expensive divorce.
Jump ahead to 2005 and Reggie Fowler has offered Red McCombs somewhere between $625 and $635 million for the Vikings franchise. There are questions about Fowler’s ability to actually write the check. And now this.
Evidently, Fowler's resume needed some fine-tuning in order to eliminate a couple of, well, falsehoods. And I find that to be, frankly, unfortunate. Black, white, purple, green, yellow, or calico, truthfulness should matter. And superfluities, exaggerations, and/or flat-out lies on a resume typically are the easiest way to spot a person of questionable character.
On Wednesday, Fowler said that, contrary to a biography that had been previously distributed, he never played in the NFL or the CFL. He apparently was in camp with both leagues but never made a final roster.
Fowler claims that he never saw the erroneous version of the "Reggie Fowler Fact Sheet," and that a new version was issued by his public relations firm after the Minneapolis Star Tribune discovered that the first version contained numerous inaccuracies.
The new version also omits reference to the fact that Fowler participated in the Little League Word Series. Apart from the question of how in the world such a barefaced untruth made its way onto the fact sheet, I can't even begin to understand why anyone would deem that information relevant more than 30 years after the fact, even if it were true.
The revision likewise clarifies his college degree, which previously had been identified as business, with an emphasis on finance. Now, the fact sheet states that Fowler earned a degree in social work.
Even if Fowler didn't see the first version of the fact sheet containing the various untruths, someone working for him is either a manifest liar or grossly inept. So in my judgment it doesn't say much about Fowler's assessment when it comes to hiring folks to work on his behalf.
As far as Fowler’s team of investors, it seems like some embellishment is also par for the course as well. My close, personal friend Sid Hartman reports today:
Alan Landis, one of the partners of prospective Vikings owner Reggie Fowler, told some people connected with Fowler that he is a big stockholder in the Yankees and the YES Television Network. According to the Yankees, Landis owns about 1 percent of the team and YES. Landis was one of about 15 people connected with Fowler who toured the Metrodome following the Fowler news conference Monday. The word is that Fowler and his developers are going to look into the possibility of remodeling the Metrodome so it could create a lot more income.
So Fowler and Landis apparently missed school the day that truthful resume' writing class was in session.
Since Fowler be doing a lot of hiring when he assumes full ownership of the Vikings, I don't hold out much hope for a rebirth of the franchise under his leadership.
Sorry, for the short entry today but I must work on my resume' so I can submit to Winter Park for any job openings should Fowler get approved. You know, I was NFL Assistant Commissioner from 1994-1997. That's got to be good for Director of Pro Personnel with the team, don't you think?
Reminder: Keep Moss In Minnesota Petition
I decided to try a on-line petition to see how many signatures I can gather from people in favor of keeping Randy Moss in Minnesota. I'll then take it over to Winter Park to deliver to Reggie Fowler if/when he is approved as the new owner of the Minnesota Vikings. Here is the link.
After just one day, there are 94 signatures. Pretty amazing. Not bad. So let's keep it going. Please pass the link along to friends and co-workers and let's try to break 100!
There are some features to point out on the Viking Underground blog. First, on the left navigation bar, you will now notice a custom rolling 30-day calendar. Here, you will find significant NFL and Vikings dates as well as current and past player birthdays. Also included will be key dates in Vikings history. I'll be adding things over the next few days. If you have any suggestions for the calendar, or even birthdays, just pass along to me and I will load it in. The calendar has its own XLM feed so feel free to use on your own blog as well. Under the calendar you will see the Topix Vikings news RSS feed and the local weather.
I've moved all the links, calendars, search functions, archives, etc. to the right navigation bar. Here, if you have a RSS feeder you can even add my site to your feeder by using the Syndicate This Site link at the top right.
Vote a Player off the Ship
In light of the boring off-season period, for the next 10-weeks we are going to try something fun. Each of the next 10-weeks we will vote to kick one Vikings player off the ship. Someone you think is the weakest link...or maybe just dislike.
Each following week, I'll repost the poll with one less player and the process will start all over again! So we'll start with ten and end up that you will have to make a choice between two players! We'll select the one player you cannot live without. That one player that gives you the most confidence each time you see him in purple. Who will it be!?!?
The result of Week One was that Chris Hovan was voted off the ship with a mandate. 70% of you told poor, misunderstood Chris to shove it.
In Week Two you showed that Vikings fans can hold grudges. For years. With almost 60% of the vote, you gave the finger to Morten Andersen. Who can forget the 1998 NFC Championship game?
Well, we couldn't and it is bye-bye Morten.
Who will be booted in Week Three? Voting will be open until Wednesday morning (2/23). Make your vote count!
Keep Moss In Minnesota Petition
I decided to try a on-line petition to see how many signatures I can gather from people in favor of keeping Randy Moss in Minnesota. I'll then take it over to Winter Park to deliver to Reggie Fowler if/when he is approved as the new owner of the Minnesota Vikings. Here is the petition and the link:
Vikings fans and Randy Moss share a common goal. That goal is to bring a Super Bowl championship to Minnesota. That goal will be in danger of not being met if Moss were to be traded from the team.
We must, as fans, not allow for this to happen. We need as many signatures as possible to make a difference. We must not allow Moss to leave the Vikings. Once Reggie Fowler is approved as the new owner of the Vikings, it will be up to him to decide the fate of Moss. After the NFL has approved Mr. Fowler, I will take the signed petition to Winter Park and personally deliver it to him.
Foes of Anoka Stadium Strategize
And speaking of people doing petitions, up in Anoka County Tuesday evening there were fourteen people attending a meeting at the Anoka County Library in Circle Pines who have plans to derail a new Vikings stadium before the first shovelful of dirt is dug.
The citizens group Taxpayers Against an Anoka County Vikings Stadium were meeting to strategize how to block any increase in the county sales tax to fund a stadium.
Under a plan endorsed by the County Board, Anoka County would contribute $240 million toward construction of a proposed $700 million stadium in Blaine, with the team owner and state contributing equal amounts.
"We need to tell [Vikings bidder] Reggie Fowler to assume his adult responsibilities and pay his own bills," said Burt Hanson, a retired trucker from Anoka who attended.
The group has a petition, which has gathered 139 signatures. I think we should be able to get that many to keep Moss in Minnesota, don't you think?
If Reggie Fowler ends up owning the Minnesota Vikings, he will need to look no further than recent Super Bowl history to find a blueprint from which he can draw up a path from which he can hope to hold the Lombardi trophy high over his head.
Look at the participants from the recently played Super Bowl XXXIX in which the New England Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles. Both these teams matched up very closely when it came to measuring their finances. Both teams played in brand-new stadiums, and each team contributed more than $300 million to the stadium cost.
The Pats are one of only three NFL teams that play in privately financed stadiums. The Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins are the others. Patriots owner Robert Kraft financed the entire construction of what is now Gillette Stadium by borrowing $312 million. The Eagles contributed $330 million to the building of their home, Lincoln Financial Field.
So, to follow suit, one should expect Fowler and his minority interest to put up $300 million plus towards a new Vikings stadium. Even that is a small portion of the reported $1.5 billion needed to build a hotel, corporate headquarters, housing, a theme park, and shops surrounding the centerpiece stadium that the Fowler group has been quoted as being interested in building in neighboring Anoka county.
The huge price tag is because we are talking sports complex, not just a stadium. According to the Anoka County web site, there would be a 70,000 seat fixed-roof domed stadium; 20,000 surface parking spaces ideal for tailgating; 100,000 sq. ft. team headquarters and training facilities; 300,000 sq. ft. medical center; two 250 room business-class hotels and conference center; 100,000 sq. ft. of Vikings-themed retail and hall-of-fame. Retail Shops at the Preserve - 650,000 sq. ft. of retail and entertainment with public plazas and pedestrian corridors. Also included in the complex would be a Corporate Center – 1.3 million sq. ft. of corporate headquarters, offices and commercial space; the Residences at the Preserve – 200 units of upscale townhomes; and The Rice Creek Conservancy – 250 acres of preserved wetlands and trails.
Why would Fowler put up $625 million for a team and then drop that much coin for a stadium and other things? Both the Eagles and Patriots stadiums generate a ton of revenue for their teams. The Patriots' home boasts 6,000 club seats costing $5,000 per season on average. The stadium's 80 luxury suites sell for $165,000 on average. The Eagles' 172 luxury suites and 8,200 club seats cost $135,000 and $2,300 per season, respectively.
According to Forbes magazine, both teams earned $38 million per year from their premium seating last year. The Patriots made $26 million last year in sponsorship revenue from pricey deals with companies like Bank of America, Ford Motor and McDonald's. The Eagles made $23 million in marketing revenue, which came from the likes of PepsiCo and Sovereign Bancorp.
Think what the Vikings could do with the likes of corporate heavyweights Target Corp., United Health Group, Best Buy, Super Valu, 3M, US Bancorp, General Mills, Northwest Airlines, Cenex Harvest States, St. Paul Cos., Xcel Energy, Medtronic, Land O'Lakes, and Hormel located within the Minnesota border.
While lucrative stadiums put the Pats and Eagles near the top of the league's financial hierarchy, every NFL team (except the Arizona Cardinals last year) is profitable, thanks to a strict player-salary cap and a lucrative TV deal. Owners paid out 64% of revenue to players last season. Each team received a total of $81 million last season from The Walt Disney Co., Viacom and News Corp. as part of an eight-year TV contract worth $17.6 billion. The salary cap and rich TV deal gave NFL owners a cumulative operating profit of $850 million last season, compared with collective losses for both Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League.
The Pats and Eagles are among the NFL's most valuable franchises. The value of both teams has jumped more than 50% over the past two years.
Pats Franchise Value: $861 million
Pats Value Rank: Fourth
Pats Total Revenue: $191 million
Ad/Sponsor Revenue: $26 million
Premium Seat Revenue: $38 million
Naming Rights (Gillette): $95 million
Eagles Franchise Value: $833 million
Eagles Value Rank: Fifth
Eagles Total Revenue: $198 million
Ad/Sponsor Revenue: $23 million
Premium Seat Revenue: $38 million
Naming Rights (Lincoln Financial): $140 million
If you are looking to build a winner for a future Super Bowl, consider this: Since Forbes started valuing NFL franchises in 1998, the Super Bowl winner has been the more valuable franchise each year. This includes 2002 and 2003, when the winning team was the underdog going into the game.
When picking a Super Bowl winner, it pays to follow the money.
Winner, New England with a franchise value of $756 million
Loser, Carolina Panthers with a franchise value of $642 million
Winner, Tampa Bay with a franchise value of $606 million
Loser, Oaklnad Raiders with a franchise value of $421 million
Winner, New England with a franchise value of $524 million
Loser, St. Louis Rams with a franchise value of $448 million
Winner, Baltimore Ravens with a franchise value of $479 million
Loser, N.Y. Giants with a franchise value of $387 million
Winner, St. Louis Rams with a franchise value of $390 million
Loser, Tennessee Titans with a franchise value of $369 million
Winner, Denver Broncos with a franchise value of $320 million
Loser, Atlanta Falcons with a franchise value of $233 million
So, up front, it would appear that Fowler is crazy. Crazy like a fox.
Note: I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts about Fowler now that 24-hours has passed since the annoucement. Do you think another outside party is the best fit for the Vikings? How does this change the plan for improving the defense via free agency? Does this improve the chances of getting the stadium issue resolved? Leave a comment using the Comment link at the end of today's entry.
Reminder for Vikings Survivor
Reminder to vote in the Vikings Survivor series of polls that started recently.
Chris Hovan was voted off the ship in Week One. Morten Andersen appears headed for Davey Jones' locker in Week Two. If you haven't voted yet, get your vote in today!
Then come back Wednesday as I'll repost the poll with one less player and the process will start all over again! We'll be down to eight survivors. Who will be the third player to walk the plank?
Fantasy Racing Reminder
For all you NASCAR buffs out in football land, its your last chance to sign-up and enjoy fantasy NASCAR racing with your football buddies.
In order to join the group, just go to the 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 my existing private group. Then, when prompted, enter the following information...
Group ID#: 24451
Good luck! And let's have some clean racing!
Perhaps the principal football matter related to the pending sale of the Minnesota Vikings is whether Reggie Fowler will choose to keep or to trade receiver Randy Moss. The question would most likely be driven by the possible local reaction to such a move.
It’s common knowledge that Fowler will be trying to get a new stadium for the team from the time he is approved by the NFL and signs his name on the check that he will give to Red McCombs. For any hope of a new stadium, Fowler will need the public on his side. Trade Moss and he'll risk alienating the people who are in best position to rally around new ownership in its inevitable quest for the new venue that McCombs and his car salesman demeanor simply couldn't obtain. If Fowler gets the Vikes, my bold prediction is that Moss stays.
Moss and the Broncos
Word out of Denver is that the Broncos are shopping former Pro Bowl defensive lineman Trevor Pryce.
Pryce, a once dominant defensive tackle, moved to defensive end in 2002 and remains the best defensive lineman on the roster. He missed most of the 2004 season after undergoing back surgery in September.
The team's willingness to part with Pryce arises from its impending shift from a 4-3 front to the 3-4. The thinking is that the need for a high-priced defensive end is reduced in this new alignment, since the ends primarily are expected to tie up blockers so that the linebackers can make plays.
Pryce, 29, was the 28th player taken in the 1997 draft. In 2001, there were rumors of a possible trade of Pryce straight up for Vikings receiver Randy Moss, before Moss signed a long-term extension to stay in Minnesota. If Pryce is healthy, look for those rumors to rekindle.
Links and Tidbits
Taxpayers Against an Anoka County Vikings Stadium.Wow, they even have a petition. Maybe I could start a Taxpayers Against the Taxpayers Against an Anoka County Vikings Stadium?
From the Sidelines
What Social Security Crisis?
Social Security's first beneficiary was Ernest Ackerman of Cleveland, Ohio, who retired one day after the Social Security Act was signed into law 14 August, 1935. A nickel was withheld from Ackerman's final paycheck, but he received his one-time lump-sum Social Security payment, which was 17 cents.
That 12-cent return was the beginning of unforeseen things to come. Soon, congressional amendments added benefits for spouses, minor children and survivors, and by 1950 the program assured virtually universal coverage. 1972 saw the addition of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program (AKA "welfare"), and by 1975 the addition of annual Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) assured the SS juggernaut's exponential growth. In 1977, Medicare became an independent entitlement, spun off from the Social Security system. Today, despite its humble beginnings, the Social Security system confronts our young people with the grim prospect of paying for unfunded promises made to past generations.
Notwithstanding the "welfare reform" acts of the 1990s, when Social Security turned 65, SSI benefits covered 6,688,489 Americans at a cost of $32,165,856,000, while Social Security itself disbursed some $431,949,000,000 to 45,877,506 beneficiaries. However, those staggering numbers are mere chump change compared to what lies ahead.
President George W. Bush's modest proposal to reform Social Security appears to be a good start at diverting this behemoth from its collision course with insolvency. Predictably, though, the latest retort from the Left is, "What insolvency? What crisis?" Indeed, these do-nothing Demos claim the Fed's IOUs in Social Security's so-called "trust fund," combined with minor tweaks to the system, will keep it solvent for generations.
The President's three-year PRA opt-in for SSI taxpayers born after 1950 would allow them to put up to four percent of their wages in their PRAs. At retirement, those invested in PRAs would be guaranteed to receive at least what their payout would be if they only had SSI income. But those beneficiaries whose PRAs have a higher return can share in that return, which reduces the burden on the SSI fund, and the principal balance is fully inheritable.
Quote of the week...
"Personal retirement accounts should be familiar to [members of Congress], because you already have something similar, called the Thrift Savings Plan, which lets [you] deposit a portion of [your] paychecks into any of five different broadly-based investment funds. It's time to extend the same security, and choice, and ownership to young Americans." --President George W. Bush
"My financial adviser Ric Edelman...thinks the time to start educating people about money is when they are children. He's set up a retirement plan called the RIC-E-Trust that can provide retirement security. A $5,000 one-time tax-deferred investment at birth, with an average interest rate of ten percent compounded, means that a child would have $2.4 million when he or she is 65 years old. Who needs Social Security with that kind of nest egg?" --Cal Thomas
This week's "Democrat Jackass" award
"Do I know of a senator who will support privatization of Social Security? The answer is no. No, I don't know of a single Democratic [sic] senator. They all agree that there should be no privatization of Social Security. I agree with them." --Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nial)
This week's "Braying Jackass" award
"Back on September 11, terrorists attacked our metropolitan cores, two of America's great cities. Years later, we are given a budget proposal by our commander in chief, the president of the United States. And, with a budget ax, he is attacking America's cities. He is attacking our metropolitan core." --Baltimore mayor Martin O'Malley, comparing President Bush to Mohamed Atta & Co.
The word leaking out of the Reggie Fowler investor group trying to buy the Vikings is that an announcement that Red McCombs has agreed to sell the NFL team to the Arizona businessman will come Monday.
If true, the NFL's finance committee would have to complete a background check on Fowler and his New Jersey partners to determine whether they, especially Fowler, are adequately capitalized. The NFL owners would then vote whether to approve the sale. The next owners meeting is March 20-23 in Hawaii.
The Pioneer Press reported last week that Fowler's group registered itself this month as Minnesota Vikings Football, a licensed liability company, in Delaware, where many national companies are incorporated.
If a sale to Fowler's group turns out to be legitimate, the price could reach $635 million. McCombs paid $246 million for the Vikings in 1998.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has said he is willing to spend $600 million for the Vikings.
• People close to the situation say the pursuit of the Vikings by Fowler and Taylor could turn ugly before it is decided who ends up with the team.
• Before McCombs purchased the Vikings, an agreement was announced that novelist Tom Clancy of Maryland had bought the team from 10 Minnesota partners. That deal fell apart when it was learned that Clancy, because of divorce proceedings, didn't have the required finances and the NFL wouldn't approve the deal.
Twenty-four of the 32 NFL owners would have to approve a Vikings sale to Fowler or Taylor.
• The Arizona Republic newspaper estimates Fowler's net worth is more than $400 million. It is unclear how much debt he has on his assorted business holdings.
There is skepticism whether a net worth of even $500 million is enough to become a general partner of an NFL team. People in the know say a net worth of $1 billion would be necessary.
Whether the NFL would approve a sale to Fowler is questionable. A general partner, which Fowler would be, would need enough liquidity to withstand capital losses and to be able to use available capital in case some partners eventually wanted out of the deal.
• Some people speculate that Fowler's trio of New Jersey real estate partners are so well-heeled that the group might not need public funding for a new stadium on 700 acres in Blaine and instead would try to develop the area on their own.
However, other NFL owners might frown on such an idea because it could set an awkward precedent for stadium building. Because Taylor would want public approval for a stadium, NFL owners might favor a bid for the Vikings by him, among other reasons because it might be in their best interests.
• If the Vikings franchise, which is considered among the least valuable in the NFL because of its Metrodome lease, were to sell for more than $600 million, the value of some other franchises could approach $1 billion within a few years.
• If Fowler's bid is accepted by McCombs and subsequently rejected, there could be a rebidding process for the team, the same as when Clancy's deal fell through.
Regardless of its true worth, Fowler's bid could become the established price for McCombs. That's obviously McCombs' sale strategy.
Some very, very remarkable information coming out of the Diamond State.
Within the last few days we’ve seen a step up in information pertaining to the sale of the Minnesota Vikings. From Delaware there now comes factual corroboration a sale could be imminent.
The Delaware Secretary of State's web site now has this interesting listing showing that on February 4, 2005, an entity known as Minnesota Vikings Football, LLC was formed. Near the bottom of the page insert Minnesota Vikings into the Enter Entity Name and up pops file number 3917457. Sort of like watching the X-Files all over again, isn’t it?
Why Delaware? Delaware is an exceptionally frequent locality for the establishment of business organizations.
So, someone be it Reggie Fowler or Glen Taylor set this association in place to receive the assets of the Vikings once the sale is finalized. We could be very close folks. If it is Fowler, do recall that the NFL will still have to approve the final sale.
Follow-Up: I received a tip from a co-worker who lives in Rhode Island about this information. It appeared that his e-mail was a cut & paste job so I edited to my taste and immediately posted it while also e-mailing him back to inquire about the source of the information. I now know that Pro Football Talk was his source and deserves full credit for breaking this news.
I had contacted Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune about the Delaware information and heard back early Sunday morning. Here was his e-mail response:
It's Fowler. We saw it here at Strib a few days ago, but didn't get too
excited. Red has the Vikes incorporated in Texas. At first, we thought
he had switched to Delaware, but found out this is where Fowler will be
incorporating if he gets the Vikes. Reusse.
The Vikings are about to be sold again for the second time in eight years. Back in 1998 the rumored potential buyers were Shruti Misra, Carl Pohlad, Roger Headrick, Tom Clancy, Glen Taylor, J. Bruce Llewellyn, and eventual winner Red McCombs.
Back in 1998 I recall being in Phoenix on business. One evening as I flipped through the various channels available at my resort hotel, I came across an all-time movie classic, Patton. Early in the movie, George C. Scott, as the volatile World War II commander, directs his driver to a deserted battlefield, littered with shards and stones from a millennia-old massacre of Carthaginians by Roman legions.
"Two thousand years ago, I was here," muses Patton. In the background, unobtrusively, though hauntingly rendered, is a somber, scintillating ghostly piece of music marked by soft trumpet flourishes and the steady throb of a bass drum. And the musical score put me in deep thought.
Yes, here we are again as in a time before.
Again, we must battle through another ownership bidding war, possibly just as hard on us, the troops, as it was in 1998. Which general will emerge to take the Viking legions to the ultimate victory? Unlike 1998 there are only two leaders emerging to take over the reigns of the Minnesota Vikings Football Club.
Reggie Fowler: Last time I checked, a person still couldn’t make a snowball in Hell, and that’s about the odds of this bid being accepted. Fowler may have a lot of rich friends, but it's become pretty apparent he doesn't have the net worth to qualify as a majority owner, and it doesn't sound like his buddies want the role. Oh, and his buddies are New York and New Jersey investors who could give a rats ass whether the Vikings stay here or not.
And Fowler doesn't have a Minneapolis area code yet. I haven't seen his East Coast buddies start digging on the proposed Anoka sight. What if the stiffs over at the Minnesota State Legislature tune out the stadium talk again and the lure of big money elsewhere drives Fowler's group to LA or elsewhere like McCombs threatened?
We will start to read more and more comments coming from NFL HQ's that states the next owner of the Vikings won’t go to the highest bid, but the one they feel is best for the team and community. This isn’t it.
Glen Taylor: Yes, I have saved the best for last. Does Taylor have the money? Taylor is was reported to be worth over $1.9 billion. Since 1998, Wall Street's love of printing companies, whic h is Taylor's claim to fame, has grown stronger, and Taylor's company has become even more valuable. Using the estimates of DeWese, who consults on printing company deals nationally with Compass Capital Advisors in Radnor, Pa., and a revenue figure of $900 million, Taylor Corp. could be worth $2 billion later this year, after subtracting its relatively modest corporate debt.
That would value Taylor's ownership interest at $1.78 billion, making him the richest Minnesotan. Already a saint in the Twin Cities for saving the Timberwolves franchise from moving to New Orleans, Taylor would most assuredly keep the team in Minnesota. No question about it.
There just is more information that Fowler about how Taylor runs a sports franchise. The Timberwolves are debt free, and only lose money based on how the leagues Collective Bargaining Agreement, and television contract are divided. If the situation warrants where some public funding is needed for a stadium, fellow Minnesotan Taylor is clearly better positioned to get it. Who is going to pay for the roads to and from the new stadium afterall? I also like the idea of both teams getting a better bargining rights with local vendors, radio contracts, and advertising.
And Taylor would be the perfect owner. He just signs the pay checks and hands over the operations to those nearest the game. With the Timberwolves, Taylor hired Duluth native and Boston Celtic great Kevin McHale to run the show. Rest assured that Taylor would bring in a football-minded person, very close to the game, to be the Viking GM.
But back to the all-important stadium issue. In 1998, Taylor talked with, and had the endorsement of, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. Both parties were on friendly terms. Jump ahead to 2005 and we see that Minnesota Majority leaders Steve Sviggum of the House and Dean Johnson of the Senate favor a Taylor-owned Vikings in order to get a new stadium built or the Metrodome renovated.
And you just know that Taylor’s marketing department is ready to move in and sell the Vikings to a community hungry for next season to start.
So what’s my reservation about Taylor? I'd like to know just who are Taylor's partners. Should Taylor, God forbid, meet an untimely death or sell his share of the team, a non-local could feasibly become majority owner by just purchasing the necessary amount to put him or her over the required thirty percent.
Then it would be a matter of time for a rare Vikings losing season to come along and dwindle the ticket base, giving the new owner the impetus to move the team to Los Angeles, for example.
But Taylor receives my endorsement, albeit not a ringing one. And he is certainly capable of being the General Patton we need to go toe-to-toe with the State Legislature and the Minnesota public to get a Vikings stadium resolution completed.
Meet Glen "The Tank" Taylor, new majority owner of the Minnesota Vikings.
Links and Tidbits
Patrick Reusse, of the Star Tribune has posted a story on Taylor's hope to eventually own the team.
Reusse also has another post about the current stadium hierarchy in Minnesota.
A Future Father - Son Talk at the Maas'
A young man was about to finish his first year of college. Like so many others his age he considered himself to be a very liberal Democrat and was for
distribution of all wealth. He felt deeply ashamed that his father was a rather staunch Republican which he expressed openly.
One day he was challenging his father on his beliefs and his opposition to higher taxes on the rich & more welfare programs. In the middle of his heart felt
diatribe based upon the lectures he had heard from his far left professors at his school, his father stopped him and asked him point blank, how he was doing in school.
He answered rather haughtily that he had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain. That he had to study all the time, never had time to go
out and party like other people he knew. He didn't even have time for a girlfriend and didn't really have many college friends because of spending all his time studying. That he was taking a more difficult curriculum.
His father listened and then asked, "How is your friend John?"
The son replied, "John is barely getting by", he continued, "all he has is barely a 2.0 GPA", adding "and all he takes are easy classes and he never studies." But to explain further he continued emotionally, "John is so very popular on campus, college for him is a blast, he goes to all the parties all the time and very often doesn't even show up for classes because he is too hung over."
His father then asked his son, "Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct a 1.0 off your 4.0 GPA and give it to your friend who only had a
2.0?" He continued, "That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair equal distribution of GPA."
The son visibly shocked by the fathers suggestion angrily fired back, "That wouldn't be fair! I worked really hard for mine, I did without and John has done
little or nothing, he played while I worked real hard!"
The father slowly smiled and said, "Welcome to the Republican Party."
Welsh Fan in Balls Up
Feb 8, 2005
The Welsh national flag flies right below Old Glory on the Maas flag pole. Suffice to say we fell in love with the country many years ago and keep tabs on friendships struck while visiting. We also track stories coming out of Wales. This one caught our eye.
A Welsh rugby fan cut off his own testicles to celebrate Wales beating England at rugby, according to British newspaper reports.
Geoff Huish, 26, was so convinced England would win Sunday's match he told fellow drinkers at a social club, "If Wales win I'll cut my balls off", the paper said.
Friends at the club in Caerphilly, south Wales, thought he was joking. But after the game Huish went home, severed his testicles with a knife, and walked 200 metres back to the bar with the testicles to show the shocked drinkers what he had done.
Huish was taken to hospital where he remained in a seriously ill condition, the Daily Mirror paper said. Police told the paper he had a history of mental problems.
Wales's 11-9 victory over England at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was their first home win in 12 years.
Wow! And we think we're tough! Funny thing is, I've been to Caerphilly. Great little town. Fantastic castle. If I ever go back, I may elect to stay out of the pubs!
If we lose to the Packers next year I'm going to cut off my.....
Another Find Courtesy 89.3 FM
The group is called Two Time Polka. No, I haven't gone bonkers and started listening to polka music. This is a Cajun band. Think John Fogerty and you have a rough idea. It is truly good stuff.
Now 89.3 has come through again introducing me to great Jazz singer. Madeleine Peyroux's voice carries a unique blend of jazz and pop. Some people think she sounds like a postmodern heir to the smoky-voiced Billie Holiday. I also hear a little Ella Fitzgerald, a little Rosemary Clooney, and a dash of the Squirrel Nut Zippers.
This is great music to have on at dinner time or relaxing with a cocktail or glass of wine. I suggest you give it a go for Valentine's Day. You won't be disappointed.
It's Friday so time to clean stuff off my desk that has been building up as of late.
I've slowly made some additional changes to the site over the last few weeks. Sometimes I keep them for a few days and then decide I really don't like that change and delete it. Others have stayed.
Along the left sidebar you can now see:
Under Movies: A little video of me from the 1997 season that appeared on ESPN. Recall the game?
Under Links: I have added the Dogs of Our Lives (a blog dedicated to my past and current dogs); the Spiking Viking personal web site; and the Astronomy Photo of the Day. Also added under the "Keep thy enemies close at hand" category is the Oracle of Cheese which is the personal blog of none other than frequent commentator to this blog, Cheesehead Craig. And at the top is the George Washington of Blogs at the University of Minnesota, the Greet Machine whose author is responsible for the look of the Viking Underground.
Under Shameless Plugs: This is a entirely new category and seems to be a popular thing for bloggers to do. Here is where you can find what I am reading, watching, and listening to, with links to each for more information.
Under RSS Feeds: I have decided to stick with the Topix Vikings feed. This will update automatically whenever new Vikings news stories hit. Also under this category, is a live weather update so you non-Minnesotans can check out our misery factor anytime during the winter.
Along the right sidebar you can now see:
A PayPal donation button: This is a service by PayPal wherein you can send a on-line donation directly to me. You need to have a PayPal account in order to do so. Any funds raised will go back into the blog. What costs? For instance, I might attend a minicamp and post all my photos for everyone to see. That can cost a handsome sum. For an example of past stuff here are two links:
Anyone else think that the New England Patriots are the greatest team of all time? I'm willing to bet all you arm-chair quarterbacks that with two weeks to prepare, head coach Bill Belichick could come up with a way to beat the '85 Bears, the '72 Fins, the '75 Steelers, the '66 Packers, and any other team that you want to offer up as the Greatest Team Ever.
Belichick has carefully hand-picked and nurtured each player to ensure that each is willing to do whatever is necessary to beat you. I really enjoyed watching the Patriots this year. Anyone who can beat the conceited Peyton Manning and also dash the hopes of the worst fans in the league (Eagles) is A-OK in my book.
Anyone else agree? Anyone not? If so, why?
In an interview that will air in its entirety Thursday night on KFAN, Randy Moss wil address recent trade rumors for the first time publicly, saying the speculation hasn’t bothered him and expressing desire to remain a Viking.
“I don’t really get caught up in trade rumors, ‘cause this is a business,” Moss said. “…If I get traded from here…I’m gonna probably be a little sore, a little mad, but not at the organization – probably just because I’m leaving here, and (losing) the love that I’ve developed here of growing to love the game and Minnesota.”
The interview, conducted with Vikings play-by-play voice Paul Allen, was recorded as a promotion for Moss’ celebrity bass fishing tournament, which will take place on Lake Minnetonka in late June. Half the proceeds from the tournament will benefit the SMILE Foundation.
The interview will air in its entirety during KFAN’s Outdoors program Thursday night. FAN Outdoors airs from 7-9 p.m. Those out of the Twin Cities should be able to hear the broadcast via live streaming.
And it looks like Daunte Culpepper is wondering if Moss will be back with the team. He even appears ready to move on. He believes Minnesota should keep together as much of that offense as possible, reserving its biggest changes for the defense.
"There are a lot of things we can do to improve on defense, and some of that you might be able to do with a trade,'' Culpepper said. ``We've also got a lot of guys who can get the job done if we just play together. That's the most important thing: all of us playing together as a team.''
Could We Steal Some Bucks, er, I Mean Bucs?
If the Vikings were to lose backup QB Gus Frerotte, could it be that we would see Opie back in purple? Who the hell is Opie, you ask? If you don't know who Opie is, then consider yourself a '98 season bandwagon jumper. You know who you are. Didn't know squat about the Vikings until the infamous 15-1 season. Wouldn't know Carl Eller if he passed you in the street. Thought Fran Tarkenton was in the Ring of Honor because he once hosted Monday Night Football. All us die-hards from the 60's turn up our noses at your kind.
OK, enough smack. Opie is none other than Brad Johnson. From Black Mountain, North Carolina with a face that resembled Opie (Ron Howard) from the Andy Griffith show (don't start with me you youngin's!). So, during his 7-year stint with the Vikings, his teammates called him Opie. Uh-huh.
I once interviewed Brad's mother, Ellen during the 1998 season when I co-hosted a weekly radio show with Ragnar. Ellen Johnson, an assistant principal at Safety Harbor Middle School in Black Mountain, was as genuine as they came. And a hoot to interview. I should pull out those old show tapes sometime and see if I can upload them.
Anyway, here's the Dilly-O. A report posted at PewterReport.com compiles a list of Buccaneers who could be walking the plank unless they go through a contract restructuring, and those who likely will be gone regardless of their willingness to take a pay cut. And plenty of recognizable names could soon be on their way out. Here are some the Vikings should at least take a look at.
Quarterback Brad Johnson is even money to be let go by the Bucs. And with prospects of a trade of the 37-year-old veteran looking slim, especially in light of his current contract, which pays him like the starter that he no longer is. But he has what Daunte Culpepper needs if Frerotte should go elsewhere. A mentor, a friend, a coach, and a shoulder to cry on when the chips are down. All things Frerotte has done to assist in elevating Culpepper to being a Pro-Bowl quarterback.
New Miami Dolphis coach Nick Saban wants a veteran QB to serve as a backup. Frerotte has a leg up in that he knows newly hired offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's offense as he played in it for two years with success as Culpepper's back up. So, unless something changes, Frerotte will most likely be gone and Culpepper will need a backup. That's why I'm putting forth a plug for Opie to come home....and then hope he never sees the field!
Others who likely will be released from the Bucs include fullback Mike Alstott and cornerback Mario Edwards. If James Kleinsasser comes back full strength, we have no need for Alstott. If Kleinsasser is slow getting up to speed by the time of the May mini-camp, it would mean Alstott's name could be uttered deep in the bowels of Winter Park.
Edwards would just provide much needed depth in the defensive backfield but I doubt he gets a look.
Those other Bucs who face a restructuring (or trade, perhaps) could include cornerback Ronde Barber, linebacker Derrick Brooks, linebacker Ian Gold, receiver Joe Jurevicius, and defensive end Simeon Rice.
Hold the fort!
Close your eyes and think of the 2005-06 campaign wherein the defensive for the Vikings has names such as Barber, Brooks, Gold, and Rice to go along with Williams and Winfield. Kinda of makes you all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it?
Of course, we have about as much chance as that happening as me buying the Vikings from Red McCombs. But even if we could get one of those defensive gems.....
Any of these Bucs names do anything for you? Or should the Vikings pass on them?
From the Sidelines
Something for parents on how the trend of increasing the responsibilities of the public schools has accelerated in the last several decades. Goes back to my stance that parents, not schools, should be primarily raising our children while schools should be primarily educating our children.
I'll never forget when doing some relief work at a local pharmacy one of the highschool cashiers told me how he was taking a class that taught kids how to wash clothes. I was incredulous, but it was true. I feel that is something that's a learning experience which should be taught at home, not at school. Anyone else have some examples?
Where will it end?
Links and Tidbits
Check out this billboard on the west end of the Sunset Strip. Yeah, baby! Thanks to the Greet Machine for giving me a heads-up on this one.
For all my Brit readers....Scottish men can now marry their ex-mothers-in-law following legal changes by the Scottish Executive. Explain that one to me!
More stuff for my fellow pub lovers....A Dutchman sick of noise from the Irish pub next door nailed the doors shut, drilled a hole in the wall and flooded the crowded bar with his hosepipe. Don't you just hate the Dutch!?!?
And for my female Brit readers (and my wife!)....Tom Jones has asked women who come to his concerts to in future remove the price tag before they throw knickers onstage.
I wish someone had video-taped this...Mugger picks on wrong pensioner.
Vote a Player off the Ship
In light of the boring off-season period, for the next 10-weeks we are going to try something fun. Each of the next 10-weeks we will vote to kick one Vikings player off the ship. Someone you think is the weakest link...or maybe just dislike.
Each following week, I'll repost the poll with one less player and the process will start all over again! So we'll start with ten and end up that you will have to make a choice between two players! We'll select the one player you cannot live without. That one player that gives you the most confidence each time you see him in purple. Who will it be!?!?
The result of Week One was that Chris Hovan was voted off the ship with a mandate. 70% of you told poor, misunderstood Chris to shove it.
Now comes Week Two. Who will be booted this week? Voting will be open until Wednesday morning (2/16).
As reported by KFAN reporter Tom Pelissero and summarized as follows:
*Vikings defensive end Kenechi Udeze will be sidelined two-to-three months following arthroscopic surgery last week on his problematic right shoulder.
*Right tackle Mike Rosenthal, who underwent surgery in September to repair a fractured foot, remains on track to return to the field in May.
*Tight end Jim Kleinsasser (knee) and cornerback/safety Ken Irvin (Achilles’) remain on schedule in their recoveries. Center Matt Birk (abdomen) will be reexamined after he participates in the Pro Bowl this weekend, but isn’t expected to miss any offseason workouts.
Links and Tidbits
Stellablue of the KFAN Rube chat site posted that he had the honor of speaking with ESPN's John Clayton on Tuesday night on KJR (Seattle Sports Radio Station). He called in and asked Clayton about Moss's status with the Vikings.
Clayton reported that he talked with one of the Vikes VP's for 45 Minutes on Sunday night and that he is convinced that Moss will be wearing Viking purple next year. Clayton went on to say that the Vikes would entertain offers but the Vikings will be asking an arm-and-a-leg in a trade and no NFL squad would pay what the Vikes are asking.
But then this from Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press:
By trading controversial wide receiver Randy Moss before selling the Vikings to Glen Taylor, Red McCombs could save the Timberwolves owner the dirty work. Still, the best bet for a Moss trade is to Oakland for the Raiders' No. 7 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft and cornerback Philip Buchanon.
Looks like everyone has an opinion right now and one has to wonder if people are just tossing out guesses to see if anything sticks. Just like with all the rumors being tossed about in regards to the possible change in ownership.
Oh, wait! An actual story with quotes and substance! Glen Taylor appears ready to charge in on his white steed to purchase the Vikings afterall! And legislators saying the best chance for a new stadium lies with a Taylor ownership. Whoa, Nelly! Stay tuned.
From the Sidelines
From my 7-part series on how to be married and stay alive, I bring you the Romance Quiz. Something you can do with your wife. See how you score!
In the world of romance, one single rule applies: Make the woman happy. Do something she likes, and you get points. Do something she dislikes and points are subtracted. You don't get any points for doing something she expects. Sorry, that's the way the game is played. Remember, we men didn't establish this system, but we gotta live by it
Here is a guide to the points system:
You make the bed ....................+1
You make the bed, but forget to add the decorative pillows.........0
You throw the bedspread over rumpled sheets..........-1
You leave the toilet seat up.............-5
You replace the toilet paper roll when it is empty............0
When the toilet paper roll is barren, you resort to Kleenex...........-1
When the Kleenex runs out you use the next bathroom...........-2
You go out to buy her extra-light panty liners with wings..........+5
in the snow...............+8
but return with beer..........-5
and no liners....................-25
You check out a suspicious noise at night....... 0
You check out a suspicious noise and it is nothing............0
You check out a suspicious noise and it is something..........+5
You pummel it with a six iron...........+10
It's the dog.........................-40
AT A PARTY
You stay by her side the entire party.........0
You stay by her side for a while, then leave to chat with a College drinking buddy.........-2
Tiffany is a dancer...........-6
With breast implants..............-18
You take her out to dinner................ 0
You take her out to dinner and it's not a sports bar.........+1
Okay, it is a sports bar..........-2
And it's all-you-can-eat night.........-3
It's a sports bar, it's all-you-can-eat night, and your face is painted the colors of your favorite team.........-10
NIGHT OUT WITH THE BOYS
Go with a pal.........................+5
The pal is happily married............+4
Or frighteningly single...............-7
And he drives a Ferrari...............-10
With a personalized license plate (GR8NBED)........-15
A NIGHT OUT WITH HER
You take her to a movie...............+2
You take her to a movie she likes (chick flick).........+4
You take her to a movie you hate............+6
You take her to a movie you like...........-2
It features Cops and shooting ...............-3
Which features Aliens or Cyborgs that eat humans.........-9
You lied and said it was a foreign film about orphans.........-15
You develop a noticeable pot belly.............-15
You develop a noticeable pot belly & exercise to get rid of it......+10
You develop a noticeable pot belly and resort to loose jeans and baggy Hawaiian shirts............-30
You say, "It doesn't matter, you have one too."........-800
THE BIG QUESTION
She asks, "Do I look fat?".
You hesitate in responding (even .5 second hesitation is too much)........-10
You reply, "Where?"............-35
Any other response.............-20
When she wants to talk about a problem:
You listen, displaying a concerned look........... 0
You listen, for over 30 minutes...................+5
You listen for more than 30 minutes without looking at the TV...........+100
She realizes this is because you have fallen asleep........-20
How did you do?
It's a freakin' soap opera over at Winter Park these days. And it is the off-season! It's suppose to be quiet. The place is suppose to be boarded up with signs that say Headed south, back in May hanging on the front door.
We're suppose to be watching basketball (the Gophers...not the 'Wolves!) and there was also that other game called h-o-c-k-e-y or some such. Instead, we are hearing that Randy Moss is going to be traded one minute and the next we get a flat-out denial. What in the name of Valhalla is going on over there?
One would think that the idea for the Super Bowl Careerbuilder.com ad must have come after a visit to Winter Park. You know the ad, monkeys Xeroxing their butts then later, a group of monkeys set up someone for a whoopee cushion gag and laugh uncontrollably at the person after they sit on it. That's the stuff of Super Bowl ad legend. Not what should be going on at a NFL team headquarters. Certainly not at Winter Park.
So the BIG question is, why are there mixed signals regarding the question of whether the Vikings are ready to trade Moss? On Sunday, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Vikings owner Red McCombs has given management the green light to initiate negotiations. OK, Mort has been wrong before but somehow I think the story had legs. Remember way back in December 2001? Mort reported that McCombs was arranging to sack then-coach Dennis Green. Everyone dismissed that story as hogwash as well. But within a matter of days, McCombs was watching Green make his exit with a hefty severance package. Green decided to take the high-road and get out before he received a pink slip on his desk.
Back to Mort’s story on Moss. Monday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that no such authorization to trade Moss has been given.
"I don't know why this thing keeps being brought up," V.P. of football operations Rob Brzezinski said. "It hasn't even been discussed at all."
Well, I'm no Sid Hartman (thank God!) but here's why it keeps coming up. One of those butt-Xeroxing-whoopee-cushion-tricksters within the Vikings organization wants to see Moss go. Said person is leaking spurious information to guys like Mortensen in the hopes that Moss ultimately will get his 'fro out of joint and request to be traded.
So if the Vikes aren't earnest about dealing Moss, I hope that someone like Mike Tice is in persistent contact with Moss and his agent Dante DiTrapano regarding their intentions. Otherwise, Number 84 will in due course say or do something in reaction to a report regarding a potential trade. And knowing Moss, he would do so in a way that would make it impossible for his relationship with the Vikings to continue.
As reports (and denials) disseminate regarding the question of whether the Vikings will field trade offers for receiver Randy Moss, my Raiders guy (Spike) tells me that the Raiders tried to pry Moss away from Minnesota during the season when he was limping around with a bad wheel.
Per Spike, the Raiders offered cornerback Philip Buchanon straight up for Moss. The Vikings declined. Spike was the Raiders HOF fan inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with me in 1999. He has contact with the front office. Take it for what it's worth. Look for the Raiders to try again, especially since Buchanon has made clear his desire to get out of Oakland.
But it could be tough to trade Moss due to his current contract. Moss is listed to earn $7.25 million for 2005, $8.25 million in 2006, $9.75 million in 2007 and $11.25 million for 2008. So any team to whom the Vikings might trade him would have to be willing to take on a contract that, as a practical matter, will require a renegotiation (and likely a signing bonus of $20 million or more) by the end of the 2006 season.
Equally, any team interested in Moss will be smart enough to realize that the Vikings are getting to the point where they need to decide whether Moss merits such a huge piece of cap pie in 2006 and beyond. Clearing him off of the books would set up cap room that could be committed to other positions, specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Duh.
So, perhaps the most that the Vikes could hope for is an established starter with a cap-friendly contract and a first-round draft pick. For any team that truly wants Moss, putting together that kind of a package should be a no brainer. I can think of many teams that would be willing to structure such a deal.
In the end, the Vikes will not likely see anything vaguely close to the package of three ones, three twos, a three, and a six plus five players whom the Vikes sent to Dallas for an aging tailback with plenty of miles on his tires, plus two third-round draft picks and a ten. That resulted in three Super Bowl wins in four years for the Cowboys shortly thereafter. No, I really don’t think we can see that. Leave a comment if you disagree with me.
That is, unless some other team also has some monkeys running around the front office....
Reminder for Vikings Survivor
Reminder to vote in the Vikings Survivor series of polls that started last week.
Looks like Chris Hovan (currently leading with 68% of the vote) will be booted off the ship. If you haven't voted yet, get your vote in today!
Then come back Wednesday as I'll repost the poll with one less player and the process will start all over again! We'll be down to nine survivors and Hovan won't be among them. Who will be the second player booted?
Best Super Bowl Quote
"In this situation, other people like Brett Favre, they would have been called a warrior. For me, they said I was selfish. If I'm selfish, I'm selfish because I want to help my team win."
Terrell Owens in reference to playing despite surgery to repair a fractured right fibula and torn ligaments in the ankle.
Links and Tidbits
Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome says that he has had no discussions with the Vikings about a possible trade for WR Randy Moss.
Two friends of Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper were busted for marijuana possession while driving the Pro Bowler's SUV.
Kevin Higgins (who?) and Rich Olson (I said, who?) are the finalists for the quarterbacks coaching job in Minnesota.
Trade bait for Moss from the Redskins? Progress of LB LaVar Arrington in rehabbing a knee injury is going well.
I just started tracking the hits to my blog on Sunday. Imagine my surprise to see some hits from The Republic of Korea. I let my wife know that we should be on our toes because it looks like some Commies are watching us. Then I thought, perhaps it is some of our great local service men and women stationed overseas. Nothing better than being a Vikings fan and protect our country at the same time. At any rate, I'm glad to see that someone in Korea is reading this slop.
From the Sidelines
From my 7-part series on how to be married and stay alive, I bring you Male Language Patterns. Provide these to your wife so she can understand you.
"I can't find it," REALLY MEANS:
"It didn't fall into my outstretched hands, so I'm completely clueless."
"That's women's work," REALLY MEANS:
"It's dirty, difficult and thankless."
"Will you marry me?" REALLY MEANS:
"Both my roommates have moved out, I can't find the washer, and there is no more peanut butter."
"It's a guy thing," REALLY MEANS:
"There is no rational thought pattern connected with it, and you have no chance at all of making it logical."
"Can I help with dinner?" REALLY MEANS:
"Why isn't it already on the table?"
"It would take too long to explain, "REALLY MEANS:
"I have no idea how it works."
"I'm getting more exercise lately," REALLY MEANS:
"The batteries in the remote are dead."
*"We're going to be late," REALLY MEANS:
"Now I have a legitimate excuse to drive like a maniac."
"Take a break, honey, you're working too hard, "REALLY MEANS:
"I can't hear the game over the vacuum cleaner."
"That's interesting, dear," REALLY MEANS:
"Are you still talking?"
"Honey, we don't need material things to prove our love, REALLY MEANS:
"I forgot our anniversary again."
"You expect too much of me," REALLY MEANS:
"You want me to stay awake."
"It's really a good movie," REALLY MEANS:
"It's got guns, knives, fast cars, and good looking women."
"You know how bad my memory is," REALLY MEANS:
"I remember the words to the theme song of "F Troop", the address of the first girl I kissed, the Vehicle Identification Number of every car I've ever owned, but I forgot your birthday."
More on Michael Irvin missing out on being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (like yours truly) in his first year of eligibility. And why Cris Carter won’t be inducted in 3-years time either.
As I wrote on Saturday, Irvin's failure to qualify on the first try was not that unusual for a wide-receiver. If Irvin had actually received enough votes this year, he would have joined Raymond Berry and Steve Largent as the only receivers to get in on the first try. But Berry and Largent, unlike Irvin, retired with most of the career receiving records on their resume’. They also weren’t jerks….not that that has stopped anyone getting in before (see Lawrence Taylor).
Irvin might have thought that his blend of solid career numbers plus three Super Bowl rings would be enough to facilitate him to make it. If so, he failed to take into account another guy who could make the same argument. And this former player is still waiting. That player being former Washington Redskins great Art Monk. Let me explain.
Monk has more catches than Irvin.
Monk has more yards than Irvin.
Monk has more touchdowns than Irvin.
Monk also has three rings.
So while Irvin got his three rings as a member of the so-called triplets, with Troy Aikman throwing the passes and Emmitt Smith moving the chains, Monk earned his trio of trophies with Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien throwing the passes, and John Riggins, Timmy Smith, and Earnest Byner/Gerald Riggs moving the chains.
And as Irvin was left on the outside looking in on his first year of eligibility, Monk retired nearly a full decade ago.
Could it be that Monk's delay likely has been fueled by the fact that he kept a low profile, during his career and after it? Monk wasn't showy or flashy (or coked up or pimped up). Today, Monk isn't on the television screen wearing $5,000 suits, flashing a million-dollar smile, and using two-bit verbiage.
So Monk waits. And if Monk ends up waiting longer than Irvin, the irony will be that Monk's demise was his resolution to live his life in a manner that upholds the morals that any Hall of Famer is supposed to sanction.
What's the message that this sends to all the impressionable youngsters out there? Be loud and controversial. Sin big. Be remorseful only after the fact. Because while guys like Joe Buck always will rant about wideouts being “disgusting”, the sad reality might be that, if a receiver doesn't bring attention to himself, no one else is going to do it for him.
Cris Carter’s numbers are also amazing. Number two all-time with 1101 receptions. Number four all-time with 13,899 receiving yards. Number three all-time with 11-seaons of 50 or More Pass Receptions in a season. Carter once held the record for most pass receptions in a season with 122…and it did it twice (1994 and 1995)! He had 8-seasons of 1,000 or More Yards, Pass Receiving. And Carter is number two all-time with 130 career reception touchdowns.
Carter isn’t as flashy as Irvin. He isn’t as loud or controversial. But he didn’t even reach the Big Show and that, in the end, may prevent him from being a first-year eligible inductee. And that will be a shame.
It's Not Football.....
...but it's still fantasy! I've played the NASCAR Auto Racing fantasy game on Yahoo for a couple of years now. Always fun and always competitive. Now, this year you can compete with me.
In order to join the group, just go to the 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 my existing private group. Then, when prompted, enter the following information...
Group ID#: 24451
Good luck! And let's have some clean racing!
Links and Tidbits
Chad Pennington throwing deep to Randy Moss again?
If Red McCombs sells the Vikings, it's expected to take three months before the sale is official. Gateway computer founder Ted Waitt, who has been interested in acquiring the Vikings, reportedly plans to sell $97 million worth of Gateway stock. Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor's handful of primary limited partners in his attempt to buy the Vikings are expected to invest at least $50 million apiece.
The Vikings issue another round of exasperated denials of another national report regarding the future of receiver Randy Moss.
Super Bowl Ads Test Limits of Credulity.
From the Sidelines
From my 7-part series on how to be married and stay alive, I bring you a review of Key Female Words. Study these and you'll live to be 80:
This is the word women use at the end of any argument when they feel they are right but can't stand to hear you argue any longer. It means that you should shut up. (NEVER use "fine" to describe how she looks. This will cause you to have one of those arguments.)
2. "Five minutes"
This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so women feel that it's an even trade.
"Nothing" means something and you should be on your toes. "Nothing" is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. "Nothing" usually signifies an argument that will last "Five Minutes" and end with the word "Fine."
4. "Go Ahead" (with raised eyebrows)
This is NOT permission; it's a dare! If you mistake it for permission, the result will be the woman will get upset over "Nothing" and you'll have a "five-minute" discussion that will end with the word "Fine."
5. "Go Ahead" (normal eyebrows)
This is NOT permission, either. It means "I give up" or "do what you want because I don't care." You will get a raised eyebrow "Go Ahead" in just a few minutes, followed by "Nothing" and "Fine" and she will talk to you in about "Five
Minutes" when she cools off.
6. "Loud Sigh"
This is not actually a word, but is still often a verbal statement. Very frequently misunderstood by men. A "Loud Sigh" means she thinks you are a complete idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over "Nothing!."
7. "Soft Sigh"
Again, not a word, but a verbal statement. "Soft Sighs" are one of the few things that some men actually understand. It means she is momentarily content. Your best bet is to not move or breathe in the hope that the moment will last a bit longer.
This word -- followed by any statement -- is trouble. Example; "Oh, let me get that". Or, "Oh, I talked to him about what you were doing last night." If she says "Oh" before a statement, run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. She will tell you that she is "Fine" when she is done tossing your clothes out the window, but do not expect her to talk to you for at least two days. "Oh", as the lead to a sentence usually signifies that you are caught in a lie. Do not try to lie more to get out of it, or you will get a raised eyebrows "Go ahead," sometimes followed by acts so unspeakable that I can't bring myself to write about them.
9. "That's Okay"
This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can say to a man. "That's Okay" means that she wants to think long and hard before deciding what the penalty will be for whatever you have done. "That's Okay" is often used with the word "Fine" and in conjunction with a raised eyebrow "Go Ahead." Once she has had time to plan it out, you are in for some mighty big trouble.
10. "Please Do"
This is not a statement, it is an offer. The woman is giving you the chance to come up with an excuse for what you have done. In other words, a chance to get yourself into even more trouble. If you handle this correctly, you shouldn't get a "That's Okay."
The woman is thanking you. Don't faint and don't look for hidden meaning. Just say "you're welcome."
12. "Thanks A Lot"
"Thanks A Lot" is dramatically different from "Thanks." A woman will say "Thanks A Lot" when she is really ticked off at you. It is usually followed by the "Loud Sigh." This signifies that you have hurt her in some callous way. Be careful not to ask what is wrong after the "Loud Sigh," as she will only tell you "Nothing."
We’ve all heard the rumors. Red McCombs backs up the moving vans to Winter Park and moves the team to the number two television market in the United States. That’s Los Angeles for you fly-over-country bumpkins.
On Friday down in Jacksonville, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue implied that the league might fill the void by expanding.
Tagliabue explained that, if the league determines by May the arrangements for the building and use of a stadium, "[T]hen we'll move on to the question of what team do we send there. Is it an expansion team? Is it a relocated team?"
But why expand beyond thirty-two teams? Particularly since the addition of four teams since 1995 has given the NFL the structure that former Commissioner Pete Rozelle once envisioned.
So in the name of Bud Grant is going on? I think that the NFL has figured out that in order to give both the New Orleans Saints and the Vikings (and possibly the Colts, whose stadium situation might not be as resolved as believed) the most possible leverage in landing a new stadium in their current locales, the league needs to create the impression that if both the Saints and the Vikings get new venues, the league will simply plug the hole in L.A. with a 33rd franchise.
Here is another way to look at it. Call it my Black Helicopter theory. The NFL is concerned that the folks in Minnesota and the folks in New Orleans are watching each other's situations very closely. If, eventually, it looks like the Saints won't get a new stadium and likely will move, the folks in Minnesota suddenly won't feel the same pressure to get the process finalized or risk losing their team to the same city that almost stole the Timberwolves.
That's the only problem with using the vacant L.A. market to squeeze a variety of new, publicly-funded stadiums. Eventually, it will be down to two -- and when one of that duo realizes the other will be moving, the nuclear scenario disappears. And with it goes the, "If you build it, they will stay" mantra that has resulted in plenty of taxpayer dollars going to projects aimed at squeezing even more money out of our pockets.
So let’s say I’m not mixing my vitamins and wine incorrectly and am right about this. The most reprehensible aspect of the NFL's plan is that there remains a possibility that both Minneapolis and New Orleans will spend a lot of time and money working out plans for a new stadium, but that one of them will move anyway if, in the end, the NFL decides that it's not quite ready to begin stretching the rubber band beyond 32 teams.
Here's more from comments from The Commish from Friday:
He's personally aware of details regarding the possible sale of the Vikings to Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler.
A regular season game could be played outside the U.S. by 2005.
He doesn't favor expanding the so-called "Rooney Rule" to front-office positions.
He defends the choice of Jacksonville for the Super Bowl because, in his words, "Some of us have become a little too high-fallutin'."
There's "a long way to go" in negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Players Association on an extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The NFL might assist in the launch of a new sports network to televise games -- which might be a shot across the bow at the ESPN monopoly, and could lead to an eventual partnership with Fox.
Irvin Misses Out, Will C.C. Also in His 1st Year?
The biggest non-surprise for me from Saturday's announcement of inductees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame was that former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, one of six finalists, did not get the necessary votes in his first try.
Of the six finalists, Irvin and former Giants linebacker Harry Carson failed to garner the 80-percent "yes" vote necessary to secure induction.
The other four finalists, Dan Marino, Steve Young, Bennie Friedman, and Fritz Pollard, all made it.
The reality is that only two receivers, Raymond Berry and Steve Largent, ever have made it in the first year of eligibility, following the mandatory five-year wait.
Though winning championships has helped guys who might never have made it (such as Lynn Swann and John Stallworth), those three Super Bowls weren't enough to make up for the fact that, when he retired, Irvin wasn't among the all-time leaders statistically, like Berry and Largent.
And that raises an interesting question for Cris Carter who comes up as eligible in three years. Even though he's currently second to Jerry Rice in catches and touchdowns, my guess is he will be left behind in his first year as well. If Irvin can’t make it in with his Super Bowl rings, neither will Carter in his first year and who has no Super Bowl appearances, let alone rings.
In fact, the only guy who's currently a lock to make it in his first year of eligibility is Rice. Tim Brown has a chance, and time will tell whether Marvin Harrison or Randy Moss get to that level.
Links and Tidbits
Remember last week when I said I'd like the Vikings to bring in Patrick Surtain for a workout? Don't bother calling! Surtain says the only teams for whom he won't play are the Packers and the Vikings. Wow! A shot to both me and Cheesehead Craig at the same time. Won't see that everyday.
From the Sidelines
My wife's 40th is coming up in March. She is traumatized by this somehow. As if she will awaken that morning, look in the mirror, and see the old hag from Snow White staring back at her. When I hit 40 a few years back, I figured that meant I could now sit around in my underwear watching sports more often and just feign Alzheimer’s (which hasn't worked yet, by the way).
Why is it that women become very vain as they age and men just roll with it? I mean look at the pressures women put us through! Demands after demands such as the list my wife presented me with the moment I placed the wedding ring on her finger:
"What I Want In A Man!"
What I Want in a Man, Original List
3. Financially successful
4. A caring listener
6. In good shape
7. Dresses with style
8. Appreciates finer things
9. Full of thoughtful surprises
10. An imaginative, romantic lover
What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 32)
1. Nice looking (prefer hair on his head)
2. Opens car doors, holds chairs
3. Has enough money for a nice dinner
4. Listens more than talks
5. Laughs at my jokes
6. Carries bags of groceries with ease
7. Owns at least one tie
8. Appreciates a good home-cooked meal
9. Remembers birthdays and anniversaries
10. Seeks romance at least once a week
What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 42)
1. Not too ugly (bald head OK)
2. Doesn't drive off until I'm in the car
3. Works steady - splurges on dinner out occasionally
4. Nods head when I'm talking
5. Usually remembers punch lines of jokes
6. Is in good enough shape to rearrange the furniture
7. Wears a shirt that covers his stomach.
8. Knows not to buy champagne with screw-top lids
9. Remembers to put the toilet seat down
10. Shaves most weekends
What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 52)
1. Keeps hair in nose and ears trimmed
2. Doesn't belch or scratch in public
3. Doesn't borrow money too often
4. Doesn't nod off to sleep when I'm venting
5. Doesn't retell the same joke too many times
6. Is in good enough shape to get off couch on weekends
7. Usually wears matching socks and fresh underwear
8. Appreciates a good TV dinner
9. Remembers your name on occasion
10. Shaves some weekends
What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 62)
1. Doesn't scare small children
2. Remembers where bathroom is
3. Doesn't require much money for upkeep
4. Only snores lightly when asleep
5. Remembers why he's laughing
6. Is in good enough shape to stand up by himself
7. Usually wears some clothes
8. Likes soft foods
9. Remembers where he left his teeth
10. Remembers that it's the weekend
What I Want in a Man, Revised List (age 72)
2. Doesn't miss the toilet
So far, I'm right on target. But oh, the pressure!
Links and Tidbits
Use of the franchise tag for quarterbacks this year requires a one-year tender offer of $8.078 million (or a 20 percent raise over their 2004 cap number, whichever is higher).
For running backs, it's $6.323 million (or a 20 percent raise over their 2004 cap number, whichever is higher).
Kevin Seifert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune offers another perspective on Daunte Culpepper's recent "loan" of his "ice" to a disabled fan.
The Redskins won't be hanging the franchise tag on CB Fred Smoot, since the one-year tender for corners is a whopping $8.816 million; "He'd sign that in a minute," said Redskins exec Vinny Cerrato.
Former Vikings WR Chris Walsh, a hard-nosed throwback who played hurt and hit big, will be joining the coaching staff in some capacity.
Players voted the last two remaining green cement fields -- in St. Louis and Indy -- as the two worst playing surfaces in the NFL.
Community ownership of the Twins? Could the Vikes also do this?
I spoke of the rise in season ticket prices on Thursday. I neglected to note within my renewal packet that there was a letter from Vikings Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Steve LaCroix who explained why it was necessary to raise prices yet again.
And while I can be against the price increase, I can agree with the reasoning behind it. From the letter it states, "Unfortunately, the price increase is necessary to help offset financial challenges presented by the lack of adequate revenue opportunities in the Metrodome, as well as rising team expenses."
I think the Twins could have used this same letter when they sent out their season ticket renewals earlier.
But good news from the Minnesota Legislature as they have added a new author to House bill HF18. You know, the bill introduced requiring cell phone use in motor vehicles to be hands-free except in case of emergency.
Uh, I have an emergency! There is a moving van pulling up to the back of Winter Park! Help!!!! Anyone? Please, help. With sugar on top.
Looks Like Hovan Will Get Booted?
Reminder to vote in the Vikings Survivor series of polls that just started this week.
Leading vote getter so far is Hovan. So unless there is a sudden flurry over the next few days, come next Thursday we'll be down to nine survivors and Hovan won't be among them.
From the Sidelines I
Not all that long ago, the Democrats gave Billy Clinton a standing ovation during one of his State of the Union speeches for suggesting private Social Security accounts. Jump ahead to 2005 and these same Democrats are jeering President George Bush for saying the same thing. Typical.
After Bush's SOTU speech this week, I saw that the evil CNN presented some video of a previous State of the Union speech by Clinton. I didn't catch the year of but it had to be '98 because '98 was Clinton's year of save Social Security first.
On the tape, Clinton suggested private accounts for Social Security. He was talking about the surplus that they had, a $5 billion surplus that was projected for the next ten years and he wanted to take 60% of that and put it into Social Security to save Social Security first.
Recall that when a Democrat was in the White House back in '98 there was a crisis in Social Security? All the Democrats gave him a standing O when he mentioned this private account business.
So, you know, fast forward seven years and you find out that the same Democrats who were applauding the concept of private accounts are now doing everything they can to defeat them today.
Clinton also talked about a lot of things that needed to get done, terrorism for one, but didn't do diddly-squat on any of them. Enter Bush, and he arrives on the scene and starts tackling these things, with the express purpose of getting it done. But the Democrats just put up those obstructionist roadblocks, and it's doing nothing but harming themselves.
The State of the Union speech by Bush spoke of ambitious goals and on every one of them the Democrats are in opposition. They're in opposition to success of the war on terror, they're opposed to what we're doing in Iraq, they are opposed to Social Security reform. They are opposed to Bush's judges. They're going to be opposed to the president's budget. They're opposed to everything.
And at some point in the near future, their opposition is going to be obvious to one and all. The positions the president is taking are a win-win, because the Democrats are never going to be able to say "we helped" when these solutions come to pass and when they work. And if the Democrats on some of these issues succeed in blocking the president's agenda, the failure to fix these problems will someday show up and they will be known as the ones who stood in the way of the solution. So they've once again politically maneuvered themselves into a no-win situation with whatever position, any position that they are taking.
Fine by me. I want to be responsible for a portion of my Social Security. I manage both my wife's and my retirement accounts. I'm in there daily. I have grown it beyond our wildest dreams. I want to have my own Social Security account (you don't have your own account now....that's a misconception....it's all in a big pot people!). I want to manage it myself.
Get it done George. And if you have to leave Democrat road-kill to get there, so be it.
From the Sidelines II
Ever watch those poorly dubbed movies from the Far East? Their lips stop moving but the words keep pouring out. Funny stuff. Well, the shoe fits on the other foot as well. The following are actual English subtitles that have appeared in Hong Kong films:
• I am darn unsatisfied to be killed in this way.
• Fatty, you with your thick face have hurt my instep.
• A normal person wouldn't steal pituitaries.
• Darn, I'll burn you into a BBQ chicken
• Take my advice, or I'll spank you a lot.
• Who gave you the nerve to get killed here?
• This will be of fine service for you, you bag of the scum.
• I am sure you will not mind that I remove your toenails and leave them out on the desert floor for ants to eat.
• Quiet or I'll blow your throat up.
• I'll fire aimlessly if you don't come out! I will surround their house by myself.
• You daring lousy guy.
• Beat him out of recognizable shape!
• Yah-hah, evil spider woman! I have captured you by the short rabbits and can
now deliver you violently to your doctor for a thorough extermination.
• I have been scared silly too much lately.
• I got knife scars more than the number of your leg's hair!
• The bullets inside are very hot. Why do I feel so cold?
• How can you use my intestines as a gift?
• Greetings, large black person. Let us not forget to form a team up together and go into the country to inflict the pain of our karate feets on some of the giant lizard persons.
• Your western eyes will be fingered from your face.
• This hot sword will pierce your family dynasty.
• The Americans will not save you for Christmas.
• Both of you will die when the sun hits the bell.
• Feeling sexual we will invade into your women.
• You always use violence. I should've ordered glutinous rice.
With no contract extension expected, Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Surtain has consent to work out a deal with another team according to the Miami Herald.
Surtain was granted permission to seek a trade after his agent and the team failed to work out a contract extension the team needed in order to get salary cap relief.
Surtain, 28, will cost the Dolphins more than $8.3 million against the cap for the 2005 season, the final season of his contract. The Dolphins have until March 2 to trim more than $17 million off the cap. The team can save a little more than $6.1 million by trading Surtain.
A litle Google research indicates that Surtain has played like one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL during the past five years, during which he has a league-high 25 interceptions. Among a group including Champ Bailey, Ty Law, Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle, Charles Woodson and fellow Dolphins cornerback Sam Madison, Surtain has six more picks than the next best on the list (Rolle with 19).
In addition, Surtain has 4 ½ sacks, which is second among that group and is considered an excellent run-support corner.
So, what would it take to get Surtain up here wearing purple next season? Maybe one of our running backs? Recall that the Dolphins lost Ricky Williams to a sudden retirement last season. The Vikings can afford to unload one of the Big 3 (Bennett, Moore, or Smith) and probably some cash to get Surtain. But they better hurry up.
The Dolphins are also trying to work out a trade for Bills running back Henry, and team officials have spoken with Henry's agent Hadley Engelhard, a club source told the Miami Herald last Friday.
Uberstine declined to speculate on what Surtain might be worth in terms of a trade or a new contract. In all likelihood, the Dolphins will seek a deal involving a draft pick after Saban said two weeks ago that he felt the Dolphins would need to rebuild through the draft.
However, getting a the Vikings to not only give up trade value, but also give Surtain a contract he likes could be difficult. But recall that the Vikes have a little bit (OK, a ton!) of salary cap room to get this done. It would be a great disservice to the fans if Surtain was not brought in for a visit.
Vote a Player off the Ship
Here is Week 1. I selected the players at whim and fancy. This should be fun!
Links and Tidbits
Hey Vikes marketing people, don't even think of trying this! The Redskins have dropped their policy requiring season ticket holders to purchase their seats with a Redskins Extra Points Master Card only a week after announcing it.
And speaking of season tickets, my bill came today. $1364 for two season tickets. That's $68 per seat per game. A $4 dollar increase over last year. I am not happy. I recently did a whole piece on the price increases that Red McCombs has implemented. There will be a breaking point in the future. I'm just not sure what the price will eventually break my back. I may never reach that breaking point, but I know it hurts just a bit more each year that I write the check.
From the Sidelines
Almost that time of year again. Personal Performance review at my real job. Before I started going in for prostate exams, I thought nothing could be worse than to have your nuts splayed open in hopes of getting that coveted 3 or 4 percent bump in pay.
A few years ago, I ran across actual supervisor quotes taken from employee performance evaluations. I have long since lost the link. But here are the quotes. Which ones represent people you have had the thrill to work with over the years?
1. "Since my last report, this employee has reached rock bottom and has started to dig."
2. "I would not allow this employee to breed."
3. "This employee is really not much of a has-been, but more of a definite won't be."
4. "Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap."
5. "When she opens her mouth, it seems it is only to change feet."
6. "He would be out of his depth in a parking lot puddle."
7. "This young lady has delusions of adequacy."
8. "He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them."
9. "This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot."
10. "This employee should go far, and the sooner he starts, the better."
11. "Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thing to hold it all together."
12. "A gross ignoramus --- 144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus."
13. "He doesn't have ulcers, but he's a carrier."
14. "I would like to go hunting with him sometime."
15. "He's been working with glue too much."
16. "He would argue with a signpost."
17. "He brings a lot of joy whenever he leaves the room."
18. "When his IQ reaches 50, he should sell."
19. "If you see two people talking and one looks bored, he's the other one."
20. "A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on."
21. "A prime candidate for natural DE-selection."
22. "Donated his brain to science before he was done using it."
23. "Gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming."
24. "He's got two brains, one is lost and the other is out looking for it"
25. "If he were any more stupid, he'd have to be watered twice a week."
26. "If you gave him a penny for his thoughts, you'd get change."
27. "If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the ocean."
28. "It's hard to believe he beat out 1,000,000 other sperm."
29. "One neuron short of a synapse."
30. "Some drink from the fountain of knowledge; he only gargled."
31. "Takes him 2 hours to watch 60 minutes.
32. "The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead."
Happy Groundhogs Day! I see six more years with no Vikings stadium!
Our fine Minnesota legislators are hard at it folks. Yep, the sleeves are rolled up high on the arms and the sweat is dripping from their high foreheads. Our finest minds figuring out a way to keep the Twins and Vikings in Minnesota and solve the stadium solution just like their counterparts did in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Colorado, Washington, New York, Indiana, Texas, and Washington D.C.
Let us take a quick look at the number of bills currently being presented in either the House or the Senate.
Vikings, oops! Not a single bill. Only football bill I can find is 2005 Senate Resolution 24 which is to congratulate the Minnetonka High School football team for winning the state championship.
Twins, hmmm. That must be a mistake. Nothing? Oh, wait. There is House Bill 130 which is about keeping Twins and Triplets in the Same Classroom.
But wait! There are five bills for getting a University of Minnesota football stadium built! Hooray, hooray!
Only, I thought the U of M football team was pretty much locked into staying in Minnesota. Or was there a recent outcry to build the Gophers a new stadium or "we'll lose 'em to Los Angeles!"
I must have missed that one.
Must be then that if we don't build the Gophers a new stadium that the NCAA will fold the franchise. One less team in the Big Ten to deal with. Yeah, that must be it. I was probably out of town the week that one was discussed.
Yeah, ya betcha my fellow Lutefisk eating, ice-fishing, mosquito slapping, snow loving Minnesotans. Can't you just imagine all the extra time we'll have to enjoy our native Minnesota once the Vikings and Twins are gone! Whhhhoooo-hooo! Honey, where is our travel map to St. Cloud? I hear they have a fine Space Aliens restaurant there!
Sad Day for Cheesehead Craig Ahead?
Looks like ol' #4 for Green Bay is about to cash it in. Unfortunately, many Packer fans think Brett Favre retired against the Vikes in January.
Packers receiver Donald Driver predicted on Tuesday morning that he believes quarterback Brett Favre will retire in lieu of returning for a 15th NFL season. It also looks like current Packer head-goat, er, I mean coach Mike Sherman is forcing Farve's decision.
If Sherman really does force Favre's hand, Sherman could end up incurring the wrath of the Green Bay faithful. And with only one more year on his own contract -- and with his G.M. title recently stripped -- Mike might decide that it's time to move on after 2005.
If, as Driver suggests, Sherman wanted an answer from Favre by March 2, one guess is that the Pack will be making a play for Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who grew up in the Packers' system before being traded to Seattle. Hasselbeck will be a free agent next month, and it's unlikely that the team will use the franchise tag to restrict his movement, especially since the one-year tender for franchised quarterbacks is in the neighborhood of $9 million.
Finally, if Favre does retire, look for new G.M. Ted Thompson to "blow it up" (as they say in the bidness) and rebuild the roster. The time for an overhaul could, in the end, be now.
Go back to the start of the 2004-05 season. You are told to select the which side the of the ball, offense or defense, from which a single Vikings player will be selected to The Sporting News' All-Pro team. I'm willing to bet that not a single Vikings fan would have selected defense. Well, that is what happened.
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams was the only Vikings player selected to The Sporting News' All-Pro team. The team was determined by the voting of 23 NFL pro personnel directors. Here is the entire team:
• WR: Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis; Terrell Owens, Philadelphia.
• TE: Antonio Gates, San Diego.
• OT: Walter Jones, Seattle; Orlando Pace, St. Louis.
• OG: Alan Faneca, Pittsburgh; Brian Waters, Kansas City.
• C: Jeff Hartings, Pittsburgh.
• QB: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis.
• RB: Edgerrin James, Indianapolis; Curtis Martin, N.Y. Jets.
• DE: Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis; Julius Peppers, Carolina.
• DT: Richard Seymour, New England; Kevin Williams, Vikings.
• LB: James Farrior, Pittsburgh; Ray Lewis, Baltimore; Takeo Spikes, Buffalo.
• CB: Champ Bailey, Denver; Chris McAlister, Baltimore.
• S: Brian Dawkins, Philadelphia; Ed Reed, Baltimore.
• K: Adam Vinatieri, New England.
• P: Shane Lechler, Oakland.
• KR: Terrence McGee, Buffalo.
• PR: Eddie Drummond, Detroit.
Links and Tidbits
Friday will mark seven years to the day that best-selling novelist Tom Clancy's then-NFL record bid of $206 million was accepted by the Vikings' board of directors for Clancy to become majority owner of the team. Read Charley Walters' recent interview with Clancy.
Imagine yourself on an elevator with Emmitt Smith. How would you handle it?
From The Sidelines
Yeah, I'm going to be all over the map today....so sue me. I said that now and then I would break out of the football mode and bring some other things on my plate direct to your house and force feed it to you. So, blah! If you don't want to read a political piece, just turn back now.
In response to a new Star Tribune Minnesota poll that shows Senator Marshall Fields' (Mark Dayton) approval rating dropping by 15%, the non-partisan "Hotline" national political briefing ran the following headline, "That Dayton Approval Rating Ain't Great, Particularly For A Star-Trib Poll."
NSS (No Sh*t Sherlock)!
By highlighting the liberal bias of the Star Tribune poll, "Hotline" is raising the point that in reality Dayton's approval rating is probably worse than the Star Tribune poll indicates.
As the MNGOP has pointed out in the past, the Star Tribune poll has been historically inaccurate because it tends to include more Democrats than Republicans in its samples.
Dayton's low approval is clearly a reflection and result of the rash and bizarre behavior that has come to define his tenure as a United States Senator. It is also a result of the fact that Dayton has allied himself with the Ted Kennedy wing of his party. Just last week, Dayton told Minnesota Public Radio that he would stand with Kennedy "anytime."
"But, the other twelve-eleven Democrats, and one Independent who voted the same way that I did [against Secretary of State Rice]; very solid, long-standing senators -- Senator Kerry, Senator Kennedy, others -- I'll stand with them anytime." (Minnesota Public Radio's "Midday With Gary Eichten," January 28, 2005)
Hmm, Senator Dayton....would that be the same Senator Kennedy who just one day before called American troops "Part Of The Problem" in Iraq? Let's review.
On January 27, 2005, Senator Ted Kennedy called the United States Military "Part Of The Problem" in Iraq. "'The U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution," Kennedy said in a speech to Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies." (Lolita C. Baldor, "Kennedy Calls For Troop Withdrawal, Says Military Is Fueling Insurgents," The Associated Press, January 27, 2005)
Senator Kennedy recently said the Bush Administration "wants" to have a crisis in Iraq, the Federal Judiciary, Social Security and "everywhere" and give the benefits to Wall Street.
"[W]hat this administration wants to do is to have a crisis in Iraq, a crisis in the federal judiciary, a crisis in Social Security, and they want a crisis everywhere so they can give the benefits of the Social Security for a third of all the Social Security funds to Wall Street." (Senator Ted Kennedy, Speech at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., January 12, 2005)
Senator Kennedy also labeled Iraq "George Bush's Vietnam." "This [Iraq] is a disaster because it's a result of blunder after blunder after blunder. And it is George Bush's Vietnam." (CBS News' "Face The Nation," January 16, 2005)
Going to be population two in the ol' Dayton-Kennedy camp my boys. Have fun standing together. Reminder to Dayton to stand clear of Kennedy once he starts in on the sauce.
Also according to Dayton, Condoleezza Rice lied about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Oh really, Senator? Who else do you suppose "lied" about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction?
In September 2002, your guy Teddy Kennedy gave a speech at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in which he said that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and that it was imperative that he be disarmed.
Sen. John Kerry spent two years telling the networks about how dangerous Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction were. Hans Blix, Jacques Chirac, Al Gore, Sens. Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton all have been quoted saying that Saddam needed to be relieved of his weapons of mass destruction.
Even former President Bill Clinton said that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and used that to justify his bombing incursions into Iraq.
So if Rice was lying about the weapons of mass destruction, what does that say about the truthfulness of Dayton's Senate colleagues, as well as Chirac and former President Clinton?
I find the silence on the "lies" of Kerry, Kennedy, Lieberman, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton to be astounding given all of the coverage of Rice's supposed "lies."
It looks like Sen. Dayton made a New Year's resolution to try to be more relevant in 2005. I've seen him in the press quite a bit lately. This begs the question: Where has he been for the past four years?
Too little, too late, Senator. Most Minnesotans already know that the "lights are on but nobody is home" with respect to your performance in the Senate.
Yes, Sen. Dayton, next November we all will recall who fled his Capitol office fearing terrorism, yet found the courage to call Rice a liar over weapons of mass destruction.
Everyone knows the difference between an error and a lie. There is absolutely no excuse for Dayton making this shameful and baseless charge.
I understand Rep. Mark Kennedy has started exploring a run for Dayton's Senate seat. After this latest performance by Dayton, the 2006 election can't happen fast enough.
Lots and lots here today. Probably enough for two postings. Call it Two for Tuesday!
More thoughts on the local stadium issues. One argument that is constantly heard is, “Come on, when you're a billionaire, why in the world do you need our money?”
Take Seattle sports team owner, Paul Allen. A few years ago, Seattle voted to raise $400 million to build a new stadium alongside new Seattle Mariners' Safeco Field. Those were some apprehensive times for Seattle Sports Fans.
As fans, it splits our thinking right down the middle, doesn't it? At the exact time that we are thinking, "Come on, if you've got a billion dollars, why can't you just kick in the rest?” we are also thinking, "We have to get that stadium built or we lose the team!”
The whine from opponents then continues, “What good is it to read Forbes magazine year in and year out, to find out how rich these guys are if they don't even want to finance their own deals?”
Look at it this way. Paul Allen paid approximately $500 million in capital gains tax last year. You mean to tell me that he and the government couldn't figure out some way to take his taxes, call it a special tax credit and put it with the money he already committed towards a stadium so he can build a stadium that would generate more local, state, and federal taxes?
Surely there is a way that local and federal government can figure out a way for a special tax credit for building a major public facility like a stadium. If the state government can have a "special election" with a "special tax item" on the ballot that goes into a "special account," to build a stadium, definitely the federal government can have a "special tax credit" that it works out with the state and local government for someone building a stadium. Could it be then that a tax credit give to the billionaire would appease those that oppose increasing taxes?
Nah, then they would just whine that the billionaires are receiving special treatment and that the money lost from the capital gains taxes should be going to schools, blah-blah-blah.
Oh well, I can dream.
Arizona: New Logo & New Stadium
Enough is enough when the lowly Arizona Cardinals get a new logo and are about to move into their new state-of-the-art stadium in Glendale for the 2006 NFL Season. It's a damn nice looking stadium also! They even have a live construction cam!
I cannot take anymore!!!! AAAAGGGGHHHHH!
Is anyone in the St. Paul capitol building watching this? Or are they just playing the fiddle while the Vikings payroll burns!!?!?!?!!
In case you missed it, there was a significant faux pas on the web site of former Eagles quarterback and ESPN host Ron Jaworski.
Jaws, obviously, is an NFL guru who spends his time following the league very carefully and breaking down film (or, at least, he voices that every time you see him on the air!).
So since Jaws is, supposedly, one of the leading voices regarding pro football, he surely knows how to get basic facts right regarding, you know, matters regarding the NFL.
In a segment on his personal web site regarding teams that could break out in 2005, Jaworski includes the New York Jets, for the following reasons:
"Hiring Scott Linehan as the new offensive coordinator is significant. In Minnesota, Linehan cultivated a big-play, quick-strike offense. He's got the talent to work with in New York to have that same kind of offense. With Chad Pennington at quarterback, Curtis Martin in the backfield and receivers like Santana Moss and Justin McCareins, the Jets have the tools.
"Now they need the philosophy. Linehan will provide that. The Jets should be an attacking offense, one that is capable of scoring from anywhere on the field."
Great analysis, Jaws. With one minor exception. Linehan isn't the new offensive coordinator. It's Mike Heimerdinger.
Whoa! Who's your editor Jaws? Might want to have a little talky-talk with that person. Quick!
(Note: They may actually realize their mistake and correct the site before you access the link provided above. Nonetheless, it was there!)
Who I Want
Imagine this next year. The 6-0 Vikings go into Lambeau Field to take on the 1-5 Packers. Randy Moss again lights up the Girlfriend backfield....
And lights up the Packers fans with yet another Moss Moon.
Then newly aquired safety Donovin Darius lays a heavy (clean!) hit on Brett Favre resulting in Darius fumble recovery that he takes to the house.
Darius remains the one free agent that I hope the Vikings take a good, hard look at. Peter King thinks so too.
And having over 60,000 Packer fans booing their lungs out kind of warms the cockles of my heart, as well. I don't think Madison can afford to post billboards for TWO Minnesota Vikings players!
But then, I always have my trusting spray paint and Madison isn't that far a drive...
Links and Tidbits
----Rob Brzezinski is among more than a dozen people under consideration for the Seattle Seahawks' open team president job, it was learned Monday.
----Joe Juranitch could have used Ragnar's battle ax when the Vikings lost in Philly. Read how the classless Beagles fans treated the Vikings mascot.
----Look for future Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith to announce today his retirement from the Arizona Cardinals to join Reggie Fowler's investment group that is trying to buy the Vikings. Fowler's group also includes local automobile dealer Denny Hecker.
----Insiders say there are just four major investors, including Glen Taylor, in the Timberwolves owner's group to buy the Vikings, and one of them initially considered becoming general partner of his own group. But at the NFL's suggestion, that investor has joined Taylor. Taylor is considering adding a block of investors to his group for those who want to be part of the package, but for a much lower percentage. An objective view of the Vikings' value would be about $544 million, which would seem a fair price for whomever ends up buying the team. Red McCombs bought the Vikings in 1998 for $210 million plus $36 million in tax considerations. Teams with stadium leases similar to that of the Vikings have risen in value about 12 percent annually. That would make the Vikings' value $543.8 million.
----Why women should not be owners and/or coaches of men's sporting programs.
----Will the dollar be deposed as the world's reserve currency? Scary stuff. My kid could be working in a 2nd rate country!
----We have sports owners (Red McCombs, Carl Pohlad) who can't get the legislature to discuss the subject. But it could be worse, we could be living in New Orleans.
----The land for a possible new Jets new stadium could cost as much as $300 million. Land and infrastructure will be big topics here (as soon as Hell freezes over and the legislature gets off its big fat pork-laden butt). It'll be good to see how other areas get around these issues.
From the Sidelines
Yes, I love the Blues. And the Blues artists all have cool names. So, what's your Blues name? Follow the instructions below to get your genuine Blues name.
Then experience that legendary blues thrill.
1. From the first list, take the name using the first initial of your first name.
2. From the second list, do the same with your middle name.
3. From the third list, take the name using the initial of your last name.
First List - for your first name:
A=Fat; B=Muddy; C=Crippled; D=Old; E=Texas; F=Hollerin';
G=Ugly; H=Brown; I=Happy; J=Boney; K=Curly; L=Pretty;
M=Jailhouse; N=Peg Leg; O=Red; P=Sleepy; Q=Bald; R=Skinny;
S=Blind; T=Big; U=Yella; V=Toothless; W=Screamin'; X=Fat Boy;
Second List - your middle name:
A=Bones; B=Money; C=Harp; D=Legs; E=Eyes; F=Lemon; G=Killer;
H=Hips; I=Lips; J=Fingers; K=Boy; L=Liver; M=Gumbo; N=Foot;
O=Mama; P=Back; Q=Duke; R=Dog; S=Bad Boy; T=Baby; U=Chicken; V=Pickles; W=Sugar; X=Cracker; Y=Tooth; Z=Smoke
Third List - your last name:
A=Jackson; B=McGee; C=Hopkins; D=Dupree; E=Green; F=Brown;
G=Jones; H=Rivers; I=Malone; J=Washington; K=Smith; L=Parker;
M=Lee; N=Thompkins; O=King; P=Bradley; Q=Hawkins; R=Jefferson;
S=Davis; T=Franklin; U=White; V=Jenkins; W=Bailey; X=Johnson;
Me? I'm Muddy Boy Lee. Please address me as such in the future. My son turns out to be Ugly Boy Lee. My wife (Boney Boy Lee) might have something to say about that.
What is yours?
Photos of the Day
A huge mountain of cow manure is seen smoldering at a feedlot near Milford, Neb., Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005. The estimated 2,000-ton pile of burning cow manure spontaneously combusted about two months ago and continues to smolder despite attempts to douse it.
From the Sidelines: King Arthur and the Witch
From The Commish, a tale for men to live by:
Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.
The question?....What do women really want? Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.
He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer.
Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer.
But the price would be high; as the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.
The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first.
The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend!
Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noises, etc. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life.
He refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden, but Lancelot, learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur.
He said nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table.
Hence, a wedding was proclaimed and the witch answered Arthur's question
What a woman really wants, she answered....is to be in charge of her own life.
Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared.
And so it was, the neighboring monarch granted Arthur his freedom and Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding.
The honeymoon hour approached and Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. But, what a sight awaited him. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen, lay before him on the bed. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened.
The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth, be her horrible deformed self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half.
Which would he prefer? Beautiful during the day....or night?
Lancelot pondered the predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch? Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous, intimate moments?
What would YOU do?
What Lancelot chose is below. BUT....make YOUR choice before you scroll down below. OKAY?
Noble Lancelot, knowing the answer the witch gave Arthur to his question, said that he would allow HER to make the choice herself.
Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.
Now....what is the moral to this story?
The moral is.....
If you don't let a woman have her own way....
Things are going to get ugly
Set phasers to Grin and Bear It! Does one laugh manically as if insane or cry like a newly born baby? However one looks at it, the Vikes are again at the top of the chart when it comes to salary cap numbers.
For 2005, estimating the NFL salary cap to be approximately $85 M, the Vikings will be an estimated $30 million under. Think of who the Vikings could sign with that kind of dough.
Inside the NFL North division, the Bears come in at $19.28 million under, the Lions at $15 million under, and the lowly Packers at $3 million OVER.
So, whom could the Vikings target should McCombs (or Fowler or Taylor) decide to actually spend that projected money instead of saving it for a rainy day? The following summaries are players set to become free agents in 2005. Note that this list does not include players who are likely to void a year on their contract and thereby become free agents. I do not break out Restricted Free Agents and which will be Unrestricted. This list only includes players who started in 2004.
Idrees Bashir (Colts)
Gary Baxter (Ravens)
Aaron Beasley (Falcons)
Jay Bellamy (Saints)
Donovin Darius (Jaguars)
Will Demps (Ravens)
Tony Dixon (Cowboys)
Andre Dyson (Titans)
Nicholas Harper (Colts)
Quentin Harris (Cardinals)
Ronnie Heard (49ers)
Anthony Henry (Browns)
Kelly Herndon (Broncos)
Renaldo Hill (Cardinals)
Joseph Jefferson (Colts)
Sammy Knight (Dolphins)
Marlon McCree (Texans)
Dwight Smith (Buccaneers)
Fred Smoot (Redskins)
Travares Tillman (Panthers)
Bracy Walker (Lions)
Adrian Wilson (Cardinals)
Charles Woodson (Raiders)
Jessie Armstead (Panthers)
Akin Ayodele (Jaguars)
Kendrell Bell (Steelers)
Gary Brackett (Colts)
Rocky Calmus (Titans)
Andra Davis (Browns)
Mark Fields (Panthers)
Scott Fujita (Chiefs)
Morlon Greenwood (Dolphins)
Nick Greisen (Giants)
Edgerton Hartwell (Ravens)
Sedrick Hodge (Saints)
Warrick Holdman (Browns)
Orlando Huff (Seahawks)
Rob Morris (Colts)
Ryan Nece (Buccaneers)
Julian Peterson (49ers)
Tommy Polley (Rams)
Matt Stewart (Falcons)
David Thornton (Colts)
Will Witherspoon (Panthers)
John Abraham (Jets)
Raheem Brock (Colts)
Hugh Douglas (Eagles)
Marques Douglas (Ravens)
Jason Ferguson (Jets)
Carlos Hall (Titans)
Reggie Hayward (Broncos)
Darren Howard (Saints)
Aaron Kampman (Packers)
Chike Okeafor (Seahawks)
Seth Payne (Texans)
Corey Simon (Eagles)
Pat Williams (Bills)
Tony Williams (Bengals)
Bennie Anderson (Ravens)
Joe Andruzzi (Patriots)
Rich Braham (Bengals)
Milford Brown (Texans)
Rick DeMulling (Colts)
Ryan Diem (Colts)
Chris Gray (Seahawks)
Ben Hamilton (Broncos)
Justin Hartwig (Titans)
Eric Heitmann (49ers)
Jonas Jennings (Bills)
Kenyatta Jones (Redskins)
Walter Jones (Seahawks)
Kyle Kosier (49ers)
Jermane Mayberry (Eagles)
Stockar McDougle (Lions)
Kareem McKenzie (Jets)
Seth McKinney (Dolphins)
Tom Nutten (Rams)
Matt O'Dwyer (Buccaneers)
Orlando Pace (Rams)
Tupe Peko (Colts)
Dominic Raiola (Lions)
Victor Riley (Saints)
Oliver Ross (Steelers)
Kevin Shaffer (Falcons)
Cameron Spikes (Cardinals)
Robbie Tobeck (Seahawks)
Keydrick Vincent (Steelers)
Matt Willig (Panthers)
Paul Zukauskas (Browns)
Steve Christie (Giants)
Billy Cundiff (Cowboys)
Jay Feely (Falcons)
Todd Peterson (49ers)
Jeff Reed (Steelers)
Adam Vinatieri (Patriots)
Bryan Barker (Packers)
Toby Gowin (Jets)
Tom Rouen (Seahawks)
Kevin Stemke (Rams)
Dave Zastudil (Ravens)
Should be a few names on that list that the Vikes bring in for a look in the coming months. I hope.
More on Ownership
It is now being thought that Red McCombs is waiting for the NFL to conclude contract extensions for the league's Sunday night, Monday night and new eight-game Thursday-Saturday night TV package to rationalize his increased $650 million asking price for the Vikings. Nevertheless, just because McCombs is asking $650 million doesn't mean he'll receive any more visits to his Texas ranch. Without a stadium deal, it's almost a certainty he'll have to resolve for a smaller amount. A little used car haggling!
It could then be time for Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to recommence his effort to buy the Vikings from Red McCombs in two weeks. That's how long Arizonan Reggie Fowler has before his negotiating rights understanding with McCombs ends. Let the countdown begin.
Think Randy Moss didn't have an impact on the psyche of Green Bay fans when he ended their season by ending their pathetic post-season hopes? Go no further than Madison, Wisconsin where a string of billboards specifically target Moss.
The first one says: "Squirting an Official with water bottle $25,000."
The next one: "Ramming a Meter Maid $1,200 and probation."
The third billboard says: "Mooning pack fans $10,000."
The final one: "Zero rings for Randy Moss. Priceless."
If for no other reason than to show Packer fans as being overly obsessed with their hatred towards Moss, we cannot allow the team to trade him!
This is golden, golden stuff!
My son and I are home today. "Stay home days", Graham calls them. Graham has pink eye and strep. WKW (Well-Kempt Wife) needs to be at work so WTH (Well-Trained Husband) is at home with sick child.
So, I don't have a lot of time to develop a story for today. Just enough time to pull some things together before I am to turn on the Cartoon Network and sit down with Graham to watch Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, Looney Tunes......hey! That's not such a bad day!
Arizona Gets New Logo
The Arizona Cardinals are now sporting a new, more fierce logo.
After decades of sporting a mildly perturbed cardinal on their helmet, the Chicago/St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals finally have cracked open the wallet of owner Bill Bidwill for a relatively minor makeover.
Owner Bill Bidwill called the new logo "[a] tough bird," which "[h]opefully . . . will be worn by tougher and faster and meaner players."
And I'm still having trouble with the notion that anyone should be afraid of a little red bird.
"As they say, it's not the size of the bird in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the bird," coach Dennis Green said. "The cardinal is a small bird, but it can be a very aggressive bird. That's the idea."
Typical Denny, sounding like a guy who's trying too hard to come up with something good to say.
Added quarterback and apparent world traveler Josh McCown: "The only birds I know about are the duck and the dove and the quail, birds that you shoot,. You're not really supposed to shoot cardinals. I don't know if I'd shoot this bird. It looks pretty mean.
"This bird might pull a gun out and shoot right back at you."
There's a healthy image for the National Football League at a time when Jamal Lewis is getting ready to become someones girlfriend in Cell Block H.
From the Sidelines
Everyone that knows me understands my love of Guinness.
A Guide For The Un-Initated To Buying Guinness In An Irish Pub
1 Choose your pub carefully. A pint of Guinness does not appreciate loud music, loud people or bright flashing lights.
2 Ask politely for a pint of Guinness. Depending on the pub, it is possible to catch the barmans eye and mouth the word "pint", he will translate this accurately.
3 The barman will fill the glass between 70% and 80% capacity. It will then be put to the side for a few moments to allow it "to settle". Once the brownish liquid has almost turned to a solid black the barman will then fill the rest of the glass. NB: do not under any circumstances take the glass before it is filled. Some virgins seem to think that the settling stage is the final stage and walk away with an unfinished pint. At this point we Irish DO understand the predicament, but I assure you it causes endless mirth as well.
4 Once you have received your pint, find a comfortable stool or seat, gaze with awe into the deep blackness, raise the pint to your mouth and take a large mouthful. Be firm.
5 A good pint can distinguished by a number of methods. A smooth, slightly off- white head is one, another is the residue left on the inside of the glass. These, surpise surprise, are known as rings. As long as they are there you know your're okay. A science of rings is developing - the instance that comes to mind is determining a persons nationality by the number of rings (a ring is dependent on a swig of Guinness each swig leaving it's own ring). An Irishman will have in the region of 5-6 rings (they pace themselves), an Englishman will have 8-10 rings, an American will have 17-20 (we sip) and an Australian won't have any at all as they tend to knock it back in one go!
6 As you near the end of your pint, it is the custom to order another one. It is a well known fact that a bird does not fly on one wing.
Need another reason to drink Guinness (or any beer) for that matter? Go no further than this incredible tale:
Y'all have a great weekend. I've already got a start on mine.
Mike Tice doesn't even know if he can even hire new coaches to replace those that he has lost recently.
The front office at Winter Park doesn't know if they will be allowed to add to the Vikings payroll through free agency, let alone sign a #1 draft pick.
But down in Miami, things are just dandy. Let's take a look to see how the other half is living.
Dolphins new head coach Nick Saban has already figured out an important exception to the salary cap.
It doesn't apply to coaches.
As a result, Saban is rounding up an all-star assortment of assistants, throwing salaries of $800,000 a year or more onto the table in an effort to buy their services. (Oh, and Saban's salary is expected to average between $4 million and $5 million a season compared to Tice's $750,000 for the coming season.)
Former Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan went from a salary of $300,000 per year to $850,000 in making the leap from Minny to Miami. Vikings receivers coach Charlie Baggett (who for some reason was making $100,000 a year more than the team's offensive coordinator) saw his own salary double from $400,000 to $800,000 when he accepted the same position in Miami.
Most recently, the Fins added offensive line guru Hudson Houck, paying him $850,000 per year.
''There's a salary cap on players, but there's no salary cap on coaches,'' Saban said, according to the Miami Herald. "You have to understand that getting the best quality people to develop your players is a very good value. It's certainly something I believe in and it's something we believe in organizationally."
Meanwhile Tice can be found scouring the highschool football wite looking for a few new coaches who might actually receive a nominal bump in salary should they be hired by the team.
Oh, and the 'Fins wanna pony up just about their whole team to reunite Randy Moss with Linehan. This one is very interesting. Why? the 'Fins have the #2 overall pick this year. Hmmmmm.
Link of the Day
The Greet Machine has initiated a campaign launch for Tom Ridge to become governor of Minnesota. While governor of Pennsylvania, Ridge figured out how to build 4 new stadiums for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Eagles, and Pitt Panthers. In other words, Tom Ridge is a diplomatic and financial genius.
Now that Tom has resigned as directory of the Department of Homeland Security, Minnesota desperately needs his leadership. To that effect I created an online petition for the purpose of drumming up support for Tom Ridge's candidacy:
Please sign it if you are interested in seeing stadiums finally built in Minnesota!
Quote of the Day
From the Washington Post's Tony Kornheiser, regarding the NFL's inexplicable decision to allow the City-Town of Jacksonville to host a Super Bowl:
"The NFL must see itself as handing out some sort of charity when it awards the Super Bowl to any place other than New Orleans, Miami and Southern California. Because, believe me, nobody wants the game to be anywhere but there. So when the NFL insists on putting it in outposts like Detroit, Houston or Minneapolis, people ask, 'Are you guys nuts?' But when you pick Jacksonville, people are agape and say, 'Who in Jacksonville has a photo of Tagliabue with a goat?'"
Close, personal friend 78-year old Red McCombs probably doesn't believe in the "you can't take it with you when you die" adage. McCombs was born in the West Texas town of Spur in 1927, the mischievous oldest child of four siblings. He began working at age nine, selling peanuts to migrant workers. He was determined to make money. And he has never stopped.
Well, Red isn't selling peanuts any longer. He is trying to sell the beloved Minnesota Vikings. Reports during the 2004-05 season had the asking price hovering around $600 million. And that was too much for anyone to even nibble on Red's fishing pole. So, you would think that the price would drop a bit, right? I mean, if the hosue you are trying to sell has been sitting on the market for over a year you drop the asking price. Not Red.
McCombs has jacked up his asking price for the Minnesota Vikings to $650 million or more, a team source said Tuesday.
What can one say? I've got nothing. So this thread will end abruptly.
One player is paying particularly close attention to the trade rumors involving Randy Moss and the Baltimore Ravens.
Ravens cornerback Deion Sanders seemed to suggest to NFL on FOX's James Brown that he'd be more excited about returning to the Ravens if they landed our #84.
"First of all, that would really encourage me to play, first and foremost," Sanders told Brown while appearing on his Sporting News radio show.
Sanders went on to suggest that he and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis would be able to provide a little guidance for the occasionally wayward Moss, who has been dogged by controversy throughout his career.
"I think we can help him, not only on the field but off the field and let him see the big picture," Sanders said.
"Because football is just a blink of an eye, then you've got to deal with your life in your mid-30s or the early-30s, and we want to prepare him for that. Because football, it's over so quick, and we don't want him to burn so many bridges and destroy relationships that you're left alone when you retire. But I think we could really help him."
Deion Sanders and Ray Lewis are going to give advice to Moss on how to run his life? How about, ruin his life?
Moss is intelligent enough to see through these two clowns. And knowing Moss, the conversation might go a little like this....
Sanders: "Randy, would you come to the Ravens?''
Moss: "Anybody but Green Bay or the Ravens, homey."
Lewis: "But Randy, we need can tell you how to run your life."
Moss: "You're a murderer, the hell with you.''
Sanders: "What about me?. I'm hip, I'm cool, I know the inside dope.''
Moss: "Nope. You're part of the problem, homey.''
From The Sidelines
I've now had a chance to listen to the new 89.3 FM (The Current) station over the last three days. My mind is not yet made up whether I love it (yes!), am luke-warm to it (yes!), or just plain loathe it (yes!). I'll explain in a bit.
For those not in the Twin Cities, The Current is a public radio station under Minnesota Public Radio. Its goal is capturing new music that defines our era - and its musical roots and influences. 89.3 will be streamed live via the Internet, so listeners anywhere in the world can hear the broadcasts, as they happen.
As I said, my feelings have really run the gamut. Let me explain:
The Good: During my drive to work early Tuesday, I heard a song from a group called Two Time Polka. Apparently it is a group that originated in Ireland but plays Cajun music. It was very captivating and I have already ordered the CD. I will be listening to this CD as I sit outside under the garden pergola with my family this coming summer. And I would have never heard of them had it not been for The Current.
The Bad: Also on Tuesday, I was suddenly swept back to 1988 when Siouxsie & The Banshees' Peek-A-Boo roared from my speakers. I loved that song as it was on the tail end of the New Wave music that defined my twenties. The group was one of the Punk/New Wave movement's most revered iconic bands. So, why do I have this under the "bad" category? Because they followed it with a tune from Pinetop Perkins!
Now, many of you probably have never heard of Pinetop Perkins. Perkins is most well known as a member of the great Muddy Waters Band, and has also been inducted into the Blue's Foundation's Blues Hall Of Fame in Memphis. He is something of a legendary status in the blues world. And as I've let you know as of late, I love the blues.
So, here we had two great artists that rank high in my personal music library. Two artists which I would never hesitate to play. I just would never choose to play one after the other. Maybe I'm being picky, but I don't mix foods on my plate and I don't mix genres' when playing my music.
The Ugly: On Monday morning I heard a great Willie Nelson tune from his Stardust album. One of my favorites, indeed. That was followed by Bjork. Bjork is the kind of singer that my grandfather would have said, "Sounds like two cats fighting in a bag". Bjork fans, of course, would say that her music is odd, and ground breaking. I simply say, you don't follow a classic Willie tune with Bjork. Especially when people are driving.
So, the verdict is still out on The Current. But I do think they have a shot. It's early yet and they'll most certainly be playing around with the format. I suggest specialty shows. This is what BBC Wales Radio does and my wife and I often tune in to hear our favorite segments from BBC Wales each day. And I suppose this is what MPR is aspiring to.
Good luck to them. I'll be listening for these changes.
Neal St. Anthony, a business columnist with the Star Tribune, wrote an very interesting piece in the January 25 edition of the STrib. "State dropped the ball on stadium plan" went on to describe how Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration effectively killed a baseball bill last year that was acceptable to Senate leaders and was passed by the Republican-run House tax committee. The bill would have set aside money for a $531 million, retractable-roof baseball stadium without tapping income or property taxes. The plan also met the guidelines of Pawlenty's own 2003 stadium commission. But the powerful House tax committee killed the bill's chances when it voted down a different financing plan supported by Pawlenty that would have tapped into incremental taxes paid by pro athletes.
Why would Gov. Pawlenty toss up a road-block on something that so clearly would have meet his very own requirements? St. Anthony describes through interviews and quotes how Pawlenty is dodging the issue and placing stadium talk on the back burner until after the 2006 gubernatorial election.
So, it would appear that our esteemed governor is talking out of two sides of his yapper. On one side, Pawlenty touts, “Bottom line, I don’t want to lose the Vikings and the Twins on my watch.”
Then, on the flip side it appears Gov. Pawlenty, who repeatedly voted against stadium bills as a member of the Legislature, is saying what he needs to say to appease those who support the stadium measures. But then Pawlenty does not carry through on his promises so that he can point to the lack of movement to appease those groups who oppose new stadiums. All in time to garner votes from both sides in time for the aforementioned 2006 gubernatorial election.
That's a very dangerous game Gov. Some may call it undiluted political chicanery....dating two women at the same time. And you don't need to be playing it. Tom Ridge got it done in Pennsylvania amidst huge opposition.
In 1994, Ridge ran for governor of Pennsylvania, winning the election as a Republican. He was reelected in 1998, serving until his resignation to become Secretary of Homeland Security in 2001. Oh, and Ridge won reelection in 1998 after he garned a new stadium bill and approval.
That's right, Ridge worked a stadium bill during an election year. Are you listening, Tim? Here's a timeline for how Ridge got it done in case anyone at the Governor's Mansion in St. Paul wants to take notes.
March 1998 -- Plan B is officially born, with the details of the $809 million plan laid out in a press conference, including a $228 million baseball park, a $233 million football stadium and an expansion of the convention center estimated at between $267 million and $290 million.
June 1998 -- Negotiations among the city and the county and the two teams lead to an agreement that calls for the Steelers providing $76.5 million toward the cost of their stadium and the Pirates providing $40 million toward theirs.
July 1998 -- The Regional Asset District board, which administers half the funds raised by the county sales tax, approves its share of the Plan B funding.
August 1998 -- At a press conference at the site of the new baseball park along the Allegheny riverfront, PNC Bank announces it will pay $30 million over 20 years, starting in 2001, to put its name on the Pirates' facility, PNC Park.
October 1998 -- The Steelers make their long-awaited announcement on the site of their new stadium, to go just west of Three Rivers Stadium.
November 1998 -- As he wins re-election, Ridge says his top priority is to secure the state's portion of the funding for stadiums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Ridge conceded that voting for stadium financing was difficult for many lawmakers. But the governor, who handily won re-election in 1998, said his own political fortunes hadn't suffered because of his public support for using state revenues to assist these projects.
"As I tried to remind folks, there has only been one public person visibly, vocally and positively supporting the state's giving one-third [of the projected construction costs] to the stadiums over the past two years. That's me," Ridge said. "I would hope they would take some comfort in the fact because, clearly, that has been known statewide for some time."
He said there had been no voter backlash against a particular party or governor who supported public financing for stadiums.
No voter backlash. New stadiums in Pennsylvania. So, how have the teams done since then?
The Phillies had the 16th-highest payroll two seasons ago, at just under $60 million. That was increased to about $70 million last season.
The Phillies, who moved into their new ballpark in 2004, had been hampered by an unfavorable lease at Veterans Stadium.
The Eagles, who are heading to Super Bowl XXXIX, got there by signing wide receiver Terrell Owens, free agent linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, free agent defensive end Hugh Douglas, free agent linebacker Dhani Jones, and free agent defensive end Jevon Kearse. The Eagles moved into their new stadium in 2003.
Lessee, the Twins are having a hard time signing Cy Young winner Johann Santana. The Vikes are talking about trading away Randy Moss.
Tom Ridge, are you available to run for Governor of Minnesota in 2006?
Links and Tidbits
Ever since the Vikings were upset (yes, Cheesehead Craig, upset!) by the soon-to-be-Super Bowl runner-up Philadelphia Iggles, there has been rampant speculation regarding the potential trade of Mr. Randy Moss. Contained within various sport sites such as ESPN or CNNSI, and even amongst fan message boards, there has been very little in the way of actual credence that one could actually glom onto with any sort of conviction.
Using my vast powers of insider views and contacts, let us now look at some of the solid news that has emerged regarding the possible move. I will then offer my outlook regarding whether a trade should and could happen, and finally review the teams that might ring, amid plenty of picks and/or players, Winter Park as the Vikings attempt more than 15 years after the fact to do to another team the same thing the Cowboys did to them via the infamous Herschel Walker trade.
For starters, owner Red McCombs said on Monday that he has no plans to trade Moss. "I don't see how we would want to give up a player like that," said Red. Don’t you always know that owners who say, “I’ll never do this or that,” that the very next day they do the exact opposite? So don’t give that statement much weight. Especially since ol’ Red might not be the owner of the Vikings for much longer.
Close, personal friend Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press thinks that Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor eventually will step up and buy the team, even though Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler is trying to scrape together enough cash (and interested parties) to make it happen. But I still consider Taylor to be the front-runner and as a new boss he might be more of a mind to send Moss packing.
But the bigger thrust for a trade likely will come from Moss himself. Moss won't appreciate being the subject of "should we or shouldn't we" rumors emanating from the front office, such as Chris Mortensen's current report that an unnamed source pegs the chances for a trade at 60-40. So in lieu of coming off as unwanted, Moss will start making it known that he, not the Vikings, will say when their affiliation ends. And he'll do it by ultimately demanding a trade.
Moss might already be offering an allusion of his coming intentions through longtime friend Sam Singelton. Singleton, who coached Moss in youth football and baseball, said last week, "He's not happy there, and I think he wants to go somewhere else. He knows he's not going to win anything there."
So should the Vikes move Moss? At initial thinking, it might not appear to be a great brainchild. There's a big difference between the solid-but-far-from-great Vikings of 2004 and the 1-15 Cowboys of 1989, who were in significant rebuilding mode under a new coach, new owner, and rookie quarterback when Walker was traded.
Moss, in contrast, is a key contributor, and the team's overall talent level will dip without him. The Vikings looked at times lost when Moss was out with a hamstring injury this past season, although the team nearly pulled off regular season road upsets over Green Bay and Indy while Moss was on the shelf.
The crème’ de le crème at the center of this inquiry is whether the Vikes will get enough help on the other side of the ball to excuse the loss of Moss. I really and truly doubt that any team will send six players, three ones, three twos, and three threes to Minnesota for the talented-but-troubled Pro Bowler. But if the Vikings could swing a solid middle linebacker, a 320-pound run stuffer, and/or a quality cover corner plus a first-round and second-round draft pick, it might be worth making the move. And remember, it was the picks and not the initial players that eventually made Dallas great.
But why even make such a risky move? Because Daunte Culpepper is the bona fide head of the Vikings, and Moss' presence is keeping Culpepper's influence from taking root with the rest of the roster. Culpepper recently said that the only stat he cares about is wins, and he reasoned on the NFL Network recently that he doesn't go Afro for the big games because, to him, every game is a big game. That’s why my son Graham, wears a #11 jersey and not #84.
So it is my esteemed view that the team should use Moss as fuel for pumping up a defense that has been in despondency for much of the past decade. Such improvements could be more than enough to allow Culpepper to push the team to the Super Bowl.
Some will argue that if the Vikes were willing to spend all of their salary cap allocation, they might have been a lot stronger on defense in 2004, with only the addition of another stud defensive player like speed rusher Jevon Kearse. My argument is that a Kearse or other highly sought free agent wouldn’t have wanted to come here anyway…but that’s a topic for another day.
With all that said, who’s alleged to be in the market for Moss? It's in the Vikings' interests to get as many suitors as possible at the table. Regardless of Moss’ many cynic’s, my guess is that more than a few teams won't be able to resist pondering what Moss might mean to their offensive attack.
For now, I’ll put each of the following teams in the pool of prospective suitors: Jets, Dolphins, Ravens, Jaguars, Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Bucs, Cardinals, and 49ers.
Each team might have diverse motivations, but each will at least be suitably interested to talk about the possibility internally. Given the impact that Terrell Owens had in Philly this year, my guess is that, in the end, at least five teams will become won over that Moss can do more good than harm.
And unless ownership (McCombs or otherwise) renews the Vikings commitment to Moss with a contract extension, Moss’ tenor with the Purple could be over. Assuming ownership is likewise willing to spend money on replacing Moss, this could be their best chance to get real value for a guy who might be starting to venture down the back side of his prime years.
Blog Site Additions
You'll notice a few updates to this dog blog off to the left on the navigation bar area. There are a couple of RSS feeds now. RSS is a format for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites, including major news sites like Wired, news-oriented community sites like Slashdot, and personal weblogs. I've added a news feed for Vikings related stories and a link to iTunes giving you the Top 10 Songs in the Blues category for the day. (I have become a Blues junkie!)
I may play with this off-and-on over the next few weeks so check it out every now and then.
From the Sidelines
If you haven't already, check out my Dog Blog to check out the latest happenings with my two mutts.
Darling you gotta let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I’ll be here ’til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
Always tease tease tease
Siempre - coqetiando y enganyando
You’re happy when I’m on my knees
Me arrodilla y estas feliz
One day is fine, next is black
Un dias bien el otro negro
So if you want me off your back
Al rededar en tu espalda
Well come on and let me know
Me tienes que desir
Should I stay or should I go?
Me debo ir o que darme
Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An’ if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know
This indecision’s bugging me
Esta undecision me molesta
If you don’t want me, set me free
Si no me quieres, librame
Exactly who’m I’m supposed to be
Diga me que tengo ser
Don’t you know which clothes even fit me?
¡§saves que robas me querda?
Come on and let me know
Me tienes que desir
Should I cool it or should I blow?
¡§me debo ir o quedarme?
Should I stay or should I go now?
¡§yo me frio o lo sophlo?
If I go there will be trouble
Si me voi - va ver peligro
And if I stay it will be double
Si me quedo es doble
So you gotta let me know
Me tienes que decir
Should I stay or should I go?
¡§yo me frio o lo sophlo?
Ah, The Clash. No finer punk band in the history of Rock 'N Roll. Those boys knew their stuff. And it was a great time for me as well. When the album Combat Rock came out in 1982, I was twenty-one years old. I was a third-year pharmacy student. In the third year of my relationship with my then highschool sweetheart. And like all college kids.....I knew everything. I was rebel exemplified. In short, I was a real pain-in-the-ass.
Oh, right. This is a football related blog. Sorry about my Bloody Mary induced flashback!
As promised a few days ago, there will be topics to discuss this Vikings off-season. Probably more than once or even twice. So let's start off with the hot topic of Randy Moss even being in purple next year.
Lots has been made in the last week about a trade to Washington, or Arizona, or Oakland. We'll hear more. And I'm sure when pressed by the media the Vikings will deny that any such talks are taking place and blah-blah-blah. We all know that everyone has a price. Offer up enough in the way of defensive help and or draft picks and you bet your pierced nipple the team will listen.
Well, let me throw another possibility your way. With receiver David Terrell's Friday arrest likely to push Bears G.M. Jerry Angelo past the breaking point as to the underachieving and erratic 2001 first-round draft pick, inside word from my bud the Bear Man (Photo from 2001), that the Bears are hoping to trade out of the No. 4 overall spot, and select USC receiver Mike Williams with a lower pick.
First, of course, the Bears would need to find a trade partner. And in a year when a clear-cut top five picks might not emerge, it might be difficult for Chicago to find someone who'll make the jump for a guy who isn't head-and-shoulders above the rest, especially since the slotting process will require the team that selects from the four spot to give their pick a commensurate financial package.
The Bears also remain very interested in the Marty Booker situation in Miami. If new coach Nick Saban opts to release Booker, who was sent by the Bears to the Fins as part of the Adewale Ogunleye trade, Angelo will be interested in bringing Booker back.
The challenge, of course, will be to make Marty forgive and forget the abrupt manner in which the team communicated to him the fact that he'd been traded. Booker was very upset with the team at the time, and our guess is that he won't be inclined to return -- especially if the Vikings come calling for his services after the seemingly inevitable trade of Randy Moss.
So, Moss would be traded for some top defensive help and maybe a pick or two. And the Vikes would end up with Nate Burleson and two former Bears (Booker and Marcus Robinson) as the top three WRs. I might be able to live with that actually. Might.....as I really don't want to let Moss go.
Should I stay or should I go, indeed! I think I'll make me a batch of seafood curry using scallops, swordfish, grouper, and shrimp. Sip some imported wine. Bring out the port and select cheese for dessert. Do some pondering. You do the same and get back to me. Leave a comment. I might actually respond. This indecision’s bugging me........
From the Sidelines
If you didn't already know, I am a Licensed Drug Dealer (LDD). Licensed in four states as a matter of fact. Virginia, Texas, North Dakota (don't ask!) and Minnesota. And LDD is my funny way of letting people know that I am a pharmacist. I quit the retail racket of weekends, 12-hour days with no breaks, and working holidays waaayyyyyy back in 1997. In 1997 I became gainfully employed by the evil pharmacy benefit managers. I'm the guy who gleefully restricts the number of Viagra tablets Grandpa can get and raise your copay each January. And relish in it.
Then came THE REMODEL. Added 1200 square feet of cherry cabinets, Sub-Zero refrigerator, hardwoods floors, storage space, plasma TV, and God-knows-what-else to our humble abode. Oh yeah, about this time I decided I need a BMW also. What the hell, I was doing my part to help stimulate America's economy. Then came the bills.
So it was back to occassional relief at one of your finer retail pharmacies. I now work one to two nights a week to make ends meet. Time goes quickly and the money is good. But there are times I recall why I quit retail in the first place. Such as patient etiquette. Here is one man's tongue-in-cheek guide on how to make me feel extra special and love you, the customer, even more:
1) Be sure to stare at the pharmacist while your prescriptions are being filled. Staring at the pharmacist makes him or her work faster.
2) Never remember the name of the medications that you want refilled. By calling it "the little white pill," you are sure to receive the correct medication.
3) When calling in eight prescriptions or more, always arrive at the pharmacy to pick them up within 10 minutes. It is OK to hurry the pharmacists; if they make a mistake, it won't kill you or anything.
4) Feel free to ask the pharmacy staff for the exact price of your prescription before it is filled. The staff should know every co-pay for every insurance plan.
5) Always ask how long it will take to fill a prescription. If you're lucky, you will get it for free if it's not ready in 30 minutes or less. Also, be sure to keep asking if the prescription is ready every five minutes - pharmacists often keep prescriptions to themselves after they are filled just to tick you off.
6) Be sure to complain about the co-pay. The co-pay is set up on the whim of the pharmacist and has nothing to do with the insurance company.
7) It is not necessary to present your insurance card - or even know the name of the company. Pharmacists are psychic and know everyone's insurance.
8) Upon calling in a refill on a maintenance medication without refills, always question why the doctor has to be called when you've taken the same medication for years. It is only a myth that prescription medications have to be ordered by doctors.
9) Always question why the insurance company is so concerned about your getting Prilosec 10 days too soon. After all, you are paying $5.00 for it and that's all it costs.
10) Over-the-counter displays are put there in order to entertain your children. Please encourage them to play with any item and even open one or two.
11) Make sure you save all your old prescription cards. One of pharmacists' favorite games is to guess which one is current.
12) When you call in a prescription, just say, "Can I have my pills filled?" You can be sure the pharmacist will recognize your voice and know which medication you want.
13) Pharmacists are some of the few people whose ears work independently. So when you see a pharmacist on the phone, feel free to just start talking - his free ear will hear everything.
14) The pharmacist is the only person in the store who is really capable of writing down your refill numbers, so when you call, demand to speak to the pharmacist.
15) Try to do all of your pharmacy business on a Monday. The pharmacist will appreciate it.
16) Another pharmacist favorite is to have a patient walk up and ask, "Can I pick up my prescription?" Guessing who you are is another pharmacist game.
17) When there are several people ahead of you near the pickup counter, always stand right at it. The pharmacist will know how important you are and fill your RX first, and, if not, you can listen to juicy patient-pharmacist conversations.
18) If you are not asked for your insurance card, it means that the pharmacist wants to fill your prescription and then, after you are told how much it is, you can shout, "I have insurance!" The pharmacist will be glad to do it all over again.
19) When you need a really old prescription filled, tell the pharmacist that you have a standing order for it. This works especially well if the doctor who wrote it is dead.
20) When you get a new insurance card, make sure that you keep it a secret. The pharmacist would rather phone your old company to find out why your RX is being rejected.
21) When you drop off a refill bottle, tell the pharmacist you'll pick it up either today or tomorrow. This type of clarity helps him plan his workload.
22) When you order your prescriptions and the pharmacist asks which ones, respond by saying, "All of them." The pharmacist will know.
23) When asked for the number of your prescription, respond by saying, "I don't know, you have it there." The pharmacist will know.
24) When asking for a refill on a pain medication, make sure you wait until the last one is gone and then try to call late on Friday afternoon. It will be easy to get in touch with the doctor for a new Rx.
Next week, more on the Vikings and who knows what other rant. You'll just never know with me. It's the off-season and I have to fill my time somehow!
I've mentioned my good buddy The Commish before. Good guy...family man....runs our Beer Brotherhood Football Fantasy league.....sits next to me in Row 1, Section 101 on Vikings game days. Just likes Tice a wee bit too much for my taste but then no one is perfect. (He thinks Tice will be the coach to take the Vikes to a Super Bowl title...yeah, and Les Steckel was a great coach!)
Anyway, The Commish didn't waste any tears when Scott Linehan departed the Great White North for Bikini City. Here's his take.
The Commish felt that Linehan was a good coordinator. Linehan had the Vikings offense ranked right up there in yardage every year. But points per game? Not so much.
I agreed with The Commish that the Vikings are built for offense...speed offense. So what was the magic number of points the offense needed to put up on the board for the Vikings to win? If the magic number was not obtained, the oft-knocked Viking defense was too weak to contain the opposition. So this got The Commish intrigued and he sharpened his replica Mike Tice pencil, removed it from behind his ear and got to work. Here is what The Commish found:
In the 2002-03 season, the Vikes were 4-1 when the offense scored greater than 27-points per game. They were 2-9 when scoring less than 27.
In the 2003-04 season, the Vikes were 6-2 when the offense scored greater than 27-points per game. They were 3-5 when scoring less than 27.
In the 2004-05 season, the Vikes were 7-2 when the offense scored greater than 27-points per game. They were 2-6 when scoring less than 27.
Summary for the Tice/Linehan era: 17-4 when the offense went over 27 points in a game. 7-21 when they didn't. Kind of speaks volumes.
Enter Steve Loney. Loney was an offensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota in 1998-99 and at Iowa State from 1995-97 and 2000-01.
Loney returned to Ames for the 2000 season after a two-year stint at Minnesota. Under Loney, the Cyclone offensive line gelled and Iowa State ranked second in the Big 12 in rushing and allowed just seven sacks the entire season. (The Vikings allowed six sacks in two playoff games this past season and forty-six during the entire 2004 regular season!) ISU, a small school, ranked 21st nationally in total offense, averaging 424.5 yards per game. Oh, and Iowa State averaged 27.82 points per game in 2000.
Loney's offensive schemes produced record-breaking results at Iowa State from 1995-97. In Loney's first two seasons at ISU, the Cyclone offense produced the most prolific tailback over two seasons in NCAA history in Troy Davis, who rushed for a two-year NCAA record 4,195 yards. Troy's brother, Darren Davis, rushed for 1,005 yards in just nine games in 1997, giving the Cyclones three straight 1,000-yard rushers under Loney. He also helped develop Tim Kohn, a two-time first-team all-Big 12 selection at offensive tackle, center Pat Augafa, the 1995 Big Eight Conference offensive newcomer of the year and an all-conference choice in 1996, and Oliver Ross, currently with the Dallas Cowboys.
Iowa State increased its offensive production by 20 percent during Loney's tenure in Ames. ISU ranked second in the Big 12 and 37th in the nation in passing offense in 1997 with an average of 231.9 yards per game through the air. The Cyclones ranked fourth in the Big 12 and 13th in the nation in rushing in 1996 with an average of 237.7 yards per game on the ground, which included an impressive average of 5.0 yards per carry. In 1995, Iowa State was third in the Big Eight and 15th in the country with an average of 228.5 yards per game rushing.
What about under the lowly Gophers? Minnesota was second in the Big Ten under Loney's guidance in the 1999 seasonand ranked 11th nationally in rushing, averaging 239.1 yards per game. The Golden Gophers were fourth in the Big Ten and 26th nationally in total offense (415.4). Minnesota finished fourth in the Big Ten and 20th nationally in scoring offense at 31.6 points per game in 1999.
Minnesota broke 19 offensive records in 1999 as the Golden Gophers turned around their program and went to a bowl game. Minnesota produced nearly 5,000 yards of total offense in 1999.
Loney's unit also produced an all-Big Ten first-team rusher in Thomas Hamner (1,362 yds) and a first-team All-America center in Ben Hamilton. Hamner and quarterback Billy Cockerham combined to form the top rushing duo in the country with 2,167 yards for an average of 197.0 yards per game. In addition, Minnesota set team records for points (348), touchdowns (42), total offensive yards (4,569), average yards per play (5.9) and average yards per game (415.4).
So, an established and smash-mouth running game. Pass protection to the tenth degree. This is starting to sound promising.
Who was Scott Linehan again?
From the Sidelines Part One
My son Graham will be turning five this coming April. He can already tool around the computer like a pro, speak Spanish, point out the correct stars and planets in the night sky, is taking Irish Dance (big recital in a month!), can bowl a strike.....and still run around the house naked whilst ignoring pleas to "get your PJs on!"
Graham's new interest is doing mazes. Lots of mazes. Thirty mazes in a day was accomplished just last Saturday. We no longer invest in maze books. My wife and I now spend a portion of our day searching for printable mazes from the 'Net. It's actually a large portion of our day but don't tell our bosses.
Now, think back to win you were four going on five. Could you do a maze like this? Or like this? Or even like this....it even says 'hard' on it! Hell, I was too busy with a finger up my nose or playing with my Tonka trucks to worry about mazes.
Yes, we are proud. And we are bragging. But, this is impressive. So much so that I have taken it upon myself to design and build a kid-size maze in time for Graham's birthday party. He and his buddies will be able to walk through this lifesize maze on their own. Here is hoping for a warm April!
From the Sidelines Part Deux
My guy, George W. Bush, was inaugurated into his second-term Thursday. Watch Bush systematically take apart the soon-to-be extinct Democratic Party over the next four years. He'll do this by forcing the Dems to speak to issues that they really don't want to tackle. (Senator Clinton Urges Use of Faith-Based Initiatives...hah!)
Take apart the party of Roosevelt, Harry S. (a favorite of mine, by the way), and Kennedy? "What you talkin' 'bout Willis!?!?!"
For a spot-on commentary on why the Democratic Party doesn't get IT...read this piece by Brian G. Fortin.
$825,000 or $750,000? One of those figures is former Vikings offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan's 2005 salary with the Miami Dolphins. The other is Vikings head coach Mike Tice's 2004 salary.
As of yesterday, Linehan is officially making more than his former boss. By $75,000. Ouch! Just how valuable did the Dolphins think Linehan was? Consider that the average NFL salary for an NFL offensive coordinator in 2004 was $466,000. Not too shabby Scotty!
Linehan also wanted to take current Vikings offensive line coach Steve Loney with him. Tice slammed the door shut on that deal and is keeping Loney here...for now. Why?
If you'll recall from earlier this season, Tice's contract is set to expire after this season as only the option year was picked up by owner Red McCombs. Do you think Tice and the Vikings can get anyone of value (Norm Chow!!!!) by selling them on a one-year contract with no assurance of employment after 2005?
Therefore, it seems to be even money that Loney will be promoted to offensive coordinator. That's got to have Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss excited.
But back to Linehan's new three-year contract worth $2.55 million. What speaks volumes here? That McCombs is a skin-flint who throws nickels around like manhole covers? While that is true, McCombs is trying to run a business and prep for a sale of the team. He's doing what any other former owner has done. Lower overhead and make the sale palpable while increasing net profit.
So who's to blame for this one? Without a doubt, the Minnesota State Legislature. Without a new stadium to produce the revenue necessary to compete, the Vikings are totally handcuffed.
In 1999 the Vikings fell $11 million below the league average in total revenues. But team operating costs remained above that. Without a new stadium that can provide the same (and additional) revenue sources other teams such as the Dolphins enjoy, that gap has gotten wider every year.
In 2004, the Minnesota franchise ranked 31 out of 32 teams (just ahead of San Diego) in local revenue. The team fell $27 million behind average league revenues and simply can't compete at the dome under current conditions. Soon, the Vikings will no be able to generate the revenues needed to operate the team.
Take a gander at these NFL Rankings for the Vikings (Source: NFL CFO's office):
Net Gate Receipts: 25th
Parking: 31st (duh!)
Club Seats/Stadium Club: 31st
Total Revenue: 30th
So Purple Brothers & Sisters, I'm afraid until the State Legislature gets off their collective fat keisters and stops debating inane subjects such as Cosmetology and barbering regs merger under one examiners board, Methamphetamine manufacturing, and Mourning dove hunting season for example, and begins a stadium debate in earnest, there will be more departures from Winter Park for greener pastures.
There will be no significant free agent signings in 2005 and beyond. There will be no moving up to a Top 10 draft pick on Draft Day. Because there is no money to throw around.
There will be, instead, free agent signings that will be voiced as "significant" when in fact, the free agent is an oft-injured retread that the team wants to take a chance on because the guy signed a low-ball contract.
There will be, instead, the Vikes looking to trade out of their first round selection every year because they simply cannot afford to sign a first round rookie stud.
There will be, instead, unhappy coaches at Winter Park that are so below the league average on terms of salary that they need to pick up a second job.
Oh, and one more to watch. Vice President of Football Operations for the Vikings is Rob Brzezinski. In 2004 the Vikings were more than $19 million below the $80.6 million cap largely due to Brzezinski. The Vikings are projected to have at least $25 million in cap room this coming season. Brzezinski accomplished this by signing players to contracts that evenly distributed the cap hit over the life of the deal. Consider the seven-year, $30.83 million contract center Matt Birk signed prior to the 2001 season. Brzezinski has put the Vikings in position with the current salary cap restraints to have a great run for the foreseeable future.
Oh, and Brzezinski has a contract that expires after the 2005 season. Bye-bye Rob. It's been fun.
Links and Tidbits
If you haven't yet seen this parody of Brett Favre, DO IT!
Yesterday I left you with information pertaining to the growing speculation that a potential sale of the Vikings to Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler could be imminent according to various local media outlets. It looks like everyone is in full reverse mode as of this morning. You know what that means....yeah, a sale is right around the corner. When people start denying things you can be certain that very serious negotiations are underway.
Now, I have nothing against Fowler. Very little is even known about the man. But I would be against the sale if Fowler has to put together a team of investors in order to close the deal. Been there, done that.
From 1991 until 1998, the Vikings were owned by a 10-headed hydra that ran the ship. These people couldn't even agree on meeting times, let alone run the team. The President and Chief Executive Officer was Roger Headrick.
Headrick was a business man. He had spent a 30-year career in business (Exxon and Pillsbury) before coming to the Vikings. His principal expertise was in the area of finance and strategic planning. It was not football.
That's why I sat down on February 7, 1998 to conduct a review on Headrick and rate him in terms of running a business. I thought that if Headrick wanted to be viewed as being the ideal candidate to purchase the Vikings (remember Tom Clancy?) in 1998 based on his strong business acumen, then he should have his feet held to the fire and review his previous years as head Viking Grand Poohbah.
Much to my surprise, within days of posting the Headrick review on the old Viking Underground site, I was called into Winter Park by then marketing director Stew Widdess. What took place during the face-to-face meeting at Winter Park on a cold Saturday morning will remain private. But I posted a retraction shortly afterwards. A retraction that cost me the respect of many Vikings fans across the country.
Jump to present day. Here we are staring at another possible group of investors to again own the beloved Vikings. Do we really want to go down this road again?
To help you decide, I have gone into my vault and retrived the original Headrick review as posted back in 1998. I hope I don't get another call from Winter Park again. Send out the search party if you don't hear from me later this week.
“The Successful Owner’s Handbook”
February 7, 1998
by Brian K. Maas (Mr. Cheer Or Die)
So successful businessman Roger Headrick wants to fight for ownership of the Minnesota Vikings. Fair enough, but let’s look at the keys to successful ownership and see how the Pillsbury Doughboy rates:
1. Establish Plans: Already Roger ranks low here as he could not even plan correctly in the event that his bid for the team was exceeded, in this case by Tom Clancy. Now Roger is just bitter. Good long-range planning, Roger. And besides, if you had the right of first refusal, why didn’t you just put in a bid for $1 since it appears you were just going to raise the bid anyway?
2. Structure and Staff: Let’s see, Roger, your football organization runs on a structure that includes no GM, a public relations director who was fired in October but worked the rest of the season, and a board of ten directors with no clear responsibilities. When staffing, you should have been building a team whose members had complementary strengths. But with a lack of understanding of your organization’s future challenges, you chose instead to mix people with missing skill sets and perspectives. Football minds do not mesh with business minds, a la Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson.
3. Develop Systems and Processes: First was the need to improve efficiency through the use of technology, like actually getting computers into Winter Park. Heck, Roger, through connections with the Southern California Viking Fan Club, state-of-the-art computer systems were sent to you at Winter Park and you, gulp, sent them back unopened! Then there was the need to increase ticket sales by asking yourself, “Does this current system support, block or create obstacles to achieve the mission?” Instead we had blackouts, long ticket lines on game day and a head coach challenging ownership halfway through the year.
4. Manage Expectations: By conveying clear expectations for assignments, a good owner can eliminate time wasted by employees who don’t have clear direction. The staff at Winter Park has worked under the NFL’s thumb the last two years while they waited for you to resolve the 30% ownership issue with the other owners. That has to have been as frustrating for your employees as it was for the fans.
5. Work Efficiently: Maybe a course in time management should be thought about. Again, it really took two years to finally meet the NFL’s demand for 30% ownership? Maybe an adjustment of priorities and schedule to ensure your daily work aligned with this major job responsibility should have taken place.
1. Speak Effectively: By communicating in a succinct and concise manner, the nine other board members would have had a clear understanding of the Viking’s bylaws, and this upcoming nasty battle could have been avoided.
2. Foster Open Communication: By interacting with your fellow owners openly and directly, you could have made sure there would have been no “surprises,” such as Denny’s book, this past year.
3. Listen To Others: Roger, the WCCO poll shows that 98% of Minnesotans prefer Tom Clancy over you as Viking owner. What more clarification do you require?
1. Build Relationships: An owner should relate to his fans in an open, friendly and accepting manner while showing sincere interest. Tom Clancy has done that in 48 hours. You tried by hiring Jonathan Winters to do some ticket sales promos two years ago.
2. Display Organizational Savvy: One skill necessary in this category is to recognize which battles are worth fighting and when it is time to compromise. “The right message at the wrong time is the wrong message.” Now you tell Viking fans that you were going to place a competitive team on the field when it appears you will be losing the team. Um, Roger, why weren’t you doing that before?
3. Leverage Networks: Yeah, right. Let’s see, you lost the ownership vote 9-0. You must have been working overtime on this skill!
4. Manage Disagreements: This past season we had a head coach take on the ownership committee, the owners splintered and assistant coaches who quit to come back later in frustration. Way to minimize that conflict, Roger!
1. Provide Direction: This fosters the development of a common vision. Instead, under your direction, we had owners wanting Green fired while others wanted to retain him, owners wanting to sell, some owners wanting to spend money on free agents and others wanting to remain at status quo. There has been no direction at Winter Park since you took over, and it has shown on the field and off.
2. Lead Courageously: An owner should step forward to address difficult issues and put himself on the line to deal with important problems. A quote from Clancy, “ If things go wrong, there will be only one person to answer to, me.”
3. Influence Others: This skill helps to mobilize people to take action. Your skillful leadership over the last several years has mobilized thousands of Viking cyber-fans to complain via fax and e-mail to the NFL Commissioner’s office, local media and web sites.
4. Foster Teamwork: If the organization was a “team,” would Brian Billick have resigned in disgust with your leadership?
5. Motivate Others: A desire to excel comes from the leader. Instead we have owners and coaches who want out faster than they can open the door.
1. Know the Business: Instead of hiring a GM with a strong football background, you chose, instead, to appear at a scouting event with sun visor, stopwatch and clipboard. Next time, maybe bring a starter pistol for those 40-yard dash timings.
2. Use Technical/Functional Expertise: Your plan to renovate the Metrodome by lowering the field and adding 6,000 new seats was meet with laughs by Minneapolis engineers. The punch line? Seems a river runs under the Dome. Your response? “We can always divert the river.” Uh-huh.
3. Manage Profitability: Well, everyone can excel in at least one area. By not spending big-time money on those exceptional free agents the last several years, you have saved Viking fans from having to deal with lengthy playoff runs and having to dip into our pocket books for those playoff tickets. Thank you, sir.
4. Focus On Fan Needs: An owner should ask his fans what their needs are. You make lists which detail the needs you believe the fans have. Note the difference.
1. Act With Integrity: "What appears to have happened is that Mr. Headrick low-balled his opening bid, not knowing that somebody wanted to pay what the team was really worth," said Clancy. "And now he's going to his partners and saying 'OK, well . . . I tried to shaft you before, but this time I'm trying to do something better.' I guess the board wasn't overly pleased with that approach, and in any case it doesn't matter, 'cause I've already been approved." ‘Nuff said.
2. Demonstrate Adaptability: Adaptability is a skill in which an owner shows resilience in the face of constraints, frustrations or adversity. "The issue we have to deal with is, 'What do you do now with a guy that has turned adversarial like this?' " co-owner Jaye Dyer said. "To me this is just as dumb as [coach] Dennis Green's book deal.’
3. Develop Oneself: Learn from experience. Even in the heat of a bitter takeover battle at Pillsbury Co. in 1989, you reportedly remained cool and professional. The reputation that preceded your 1991 appointment as president and chief executive officer of the Vikings was that of a level-headed, intelligent, buttoned-down numbers cruncher who didn't meddle in sales, marketing, personnel matters, communications or corporate goal-setting. Again, Roger, learn from experience.
Overall Grade: F
To summarize, competitive pressure and fundamental changes will remain the hallmark of the NFL environment. The organizations have found that they are successful only when their staff, coaches, and players have the skills necessary to meet both current and future needs.
To ensure that the Viking organization keeps pace with the competition and continues to evolve and grow, we need a leader who will place a high priority on developing people and pleasing his fans.
And by reviewing the aforementioned skills, Roger, that’s not going to be you.
Got your own suggestion for ownership? Just leave a comment by using the Comments link at the end of this entry.
Lots and lots of stadium stories out there today. The STrib even provides a possible timeline to get all three (Gophers, Twins, Vikings) stadiums built. I'll return back to this topic later this month as things become more crystallized but you can always keep up-to-date with the latest and greatest stadium news by visiting the Greet Machine blog.
According to the STrib, Mike Tice wants to decide on one running back to feature next season. "Whether that's Mewelde Moore, Onterrio Smith or Michael Bennett, I think that has to [be decided] by the time we leave Mankato, if not sooner," Tice said.
That's good news for fantasy football owners, like myself. Also good news for Vikings fans who haven't seen a featured back since Robert Smith hung up his cleats. As you'll recall, Smith stunned Minnesota when he walked away from the game at age 28 after the 2000 season.
From what I saw of the current stable this year, no one totally enthralls me. And I want that big, break-way, top-5 NFL numbers kind of back that Smith was. That's why I'd personally love to see a trade for Jamal Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens. But, that's just me.
I'd be happy with any of the current four as well. I'd like to see what they could do given the chance to carry the load for the majority of the season. Each excelled this season, when give the chance prior to injury setting in. And with Jim Kleinsasser back next year to clear a wider path, you never know. The Vikes may just have a NFL Leading Rusher candidate in their very midst.
Who would you like?
Rumors of a pending sale are flying fast and furious this week. One can hardly keep up with them.
Former Vikings punter and current Vikings Game Day sideline reporter Greg Coleman is friends with Arizona entrepreneur Reggie Fowler who has been off and on news in regards to purchasing the Vikings from Red McCombs. Well, Fowler is back on again. Coleman spoke at length with Fowler recently and gets the feeling that a sale is near. No price mentioned, and Coleman is not sure if Taylor would be involved. Fowler wants a family like atmosphere and has zero intention of moving the team. Coleman also said today on KFAN Radio that Fowler wants to move his entire business to Minnesota as well as his family.
This same news was reported this afternoon on WCCO radio which broadcasts from Minneapolis. Stay tuned!
From the Sidelines
It's the off-season now. So I can't provide Vikings views 24-7 without repeating myself a thousand times or boring you half to death. So, I'm just going to post some non-football related things under the From the Sidelines heading now and then. You might find these things interesting. You might not. But you'll probably come to know me a little bit better than.
I've been taking seafood classes at Coastal Seafoods. What a great place. Knowledgeable staff, great seafood, and the classes have been wonderful to date.
I took my second class, Shellfish, last Thursday (1/13/2005). We learned a few traditional recipes for steamed mussels and clams. It was the mussels that really interested me in this particular class as my wife and I love the mussels served at the Atlas Grill in downtown Minneapolis.
We also sampled raw oysters on the ½ shell. I had done this quite a bit when I lived in Texas. I had found a bar that served up my favorite Belgian ales and also served up raw oysters every Friday. I recall in Texas, though, we laid on the horse-radish sauce pretty heavily. At Coastal it was straight oyster.
But sampling the oyster without sauce brought my attention to the differences between the East coast, West coast, and Japanese oyster. I ended up prefering the East coast (Northpoint) oyster.
But the highlight of the class was learning to prepare Oysters Rockefeller. I prepared this dish after the Vikings lost to the Eagles. It went flawlessly and it erased any memory of the bitter defeat of the Purple.
So, need a way to bury your sorrows after the season? Try a cooking class! It is great fun.
The Vikes were upset by the Eagles today when the Vikings made too many mental errors during the game and could simply not overcome them. I won't even blame the coaching stafff on this loss as it seemed to this fan that the players were put into the correct position and the correct plays were being called. The players simply did not make the plays.
Poor passes by Daunte Culpepper. Dropped passes by Randy Moss. Players not knowing the play called such as when an extra offensive lineman reported onto the field during the fake FG attempt that almost certainly would have resulted in a touchdown to Moss.
It was also very obvious that the Vikings missed pass-blocking specialist Moe Williams today. Not to mention Jimmy Kleinsasser.
In any event, it should be a heck of a Super Bowl watching Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons. What a complete team and what a complete game put on by the Falcons Saturday night when they destroyed the St. Louis Rams.
So, what will be the lingering questions as the Vikings head into this off-season? I'll try and tackle each of these over the next few months as more information comes out and as we look back on the campaign the was.
In no certain order:
1) Ownership: Will it be Red McCombs or will we finally see a sale to Glen Taylor?
2) Randy Moss Traded: We're going to read about it. We might as well discuss it.
3) Status of Mike Tice: Of course, this is very dependant on ownership.
4) Progress of a New Stadium Bill: We can always look to the Greet Machine to give us updates on that topic.
5) Defense: Can enough progress be made on defense next year to take the team farther into the playoffs?
6) The Draft: Trade up or trade down? Go defense or offensive?
7) Rising Ticket Prices: Will the fans be back next year? Will the season-ticket base start to erode? How high can ticket prices go?
Links and Tidbits
This guy wants to understand why intelligent people watch football.
Duh....I dunno? Why do we watch this stuff? Anyone? Maybe we can all show up at their next Mensa meeting dressed in our Cro-Magnon outfits, beat our drums around the campfire and reach a mutual understanding?
We'll Always Have These Memories
As the 2004 campaign comes to a close, at least we'll have these fine memories from the most eventfull game of the year (sorry Craig...give us one more time to crow!)
As for me? I'm now going to be able to work a little more with that new puppy of mine. Do more more bowling with my son. Start to plan out our new garden projects with my lovely wife. Maybe even find some time to do some more things for myself. Now where did I place that telescope last fall.....
Time seems to be slowing down the closer it gets to the appointed time of the playoff game against the Eagles. Creeping slower the more I anticipate the kick-off. Very slowly.
On Friday, a European spacecraft plunged through the murky atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan on Friday and successfully came to rest on a bizarre landscape of mystery never before explored.
My son and I love astronomy and the study of the solar system. So we've listened to the sounds from Titan. We've looked at the photos showing the orange surface. We've been awed by the whole scale of the project. And that things move slowly on Titan.
A raindrop forms ninety kilometers above the surface of Titan. It starts with an infinitesimal speck of tholin, adrift in the cold nitrogen atmosphere. Dianoacetylene condenses on the seed nucleus, molecule by molecule, until it is one shard of ice in a cloud of billions.
On Titan it takes almost a year for the shard of ice to precipitate downward twenty-five kilometers, where the temperature drops low enough that ethane begins to condense on it. It starts to drift.
At forty kilometers, the drop gets caught up in a ethane cloud. There it continues to grow. It occasionally collides with another droplet and doubles in size. Finally it is too large to be held effortlessly aloft by the gentle stratosphere winds.
Falling, the drop sweeps up methane and grows large enough to acheive a terminal velocity of almost two meters per second.
At twenty-seven kilometers, it passes through a dense layer of methane clouds, aquiring more methane, and continues its downward flight.
The air thickens, the velocity slows and the drop begins to lose some of its substance to evaporation. At two and a half kilometers, when it emerges from the last patchy clouds, the drop is at a lazy terminal velocity of one meter per second and hits the surface.
So, which is faster? The rain on Titan or waiting for the start of the playoff game? Today, time feels like the slow rain of Titan. Very slow indeed.
Much has, and will, be made of the tremendous height advantage that Randy "Moon Man" Moss will have over the diminuative cornerbacks of the Beagles this coming Sunday.
Moss stands 6-4 and leaps like a graceful gazelle. The Dwarfs of the Eagles each go 5-10. According to my 1979 Texas Instrument calculator, that is a 6" advantage...or 1/2 foot. Man versus boy. We've all seen what Moss has done when given that type of height advantage before. "Daunte fires high! Moss goes up and gets it! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown!"
Gets kind of boring after a while, doesn't it?
But I want to take you back to the key Vikings player for this game and the remainder of the playoffs. That would be Mr. Culpepper.
At 6-4 and 264 lbs., Culpepper outweighs each member of the starting
defensive secondary, each member of the starting linebackers, and two of the four starting defensive linemen for the Beagles. Culpepper is so big that often you can hear the voices of the defense echo off the huge frame as they bark out commands at the line.
"Watch out for the draw-aw-aw-aw!"
Culpepper can snatch and lift a mere 370 lbs. in the weight room. More than most linemen in the NFL.
One would expect to hear, "Did anyone get the license plate of that truck?", coming from the mouths of many a Beagles defensive player this Sunday.
This coming Sunday, Culpepper will be the most important player on the field for the Vikings. And I say he will stick out his tongue to the world. The world who did not believe.
It will be so.
Links and Tidbits
Check out the numerous Packer spoof photos that Spiking Viking has posted on his site. And be sure and save 'em for those times next year when your obnoxious Cheesehead co-worker needs a little reminder!
Reason 741 that we all hope the Vikings get to Super Bowl XXXIX? Randy Moss and Media Day!
Well, the fine we were all expecting finally was levied. $10,000 was the amount. Apparently a NFL spokesman said the fine was higher because Moss had previously been fined for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Anyone else think that the league went too far hitting Moss with a $10,000 for his pretend mooning of the fans in the end zone seats after scoring his second touchdown on Sunday?
Let's see, flipping off the fans (Jake Plummer) gets a $5,000 fine. Hitting a QB in the helmet late (Eric Barton) gets a $7,500 fine. Punching a guy in the crotch (Steve Gleason) gets a $5,000 fine. Pretending to moon the crowd gets a $10,000 fine?
The action by the league demonstrates that the rules and guidelines for imposing fines are meaningless. Unless there's language in the book that permits a guy who has been fined for unrelated behavior to be slapped with something more than $5,000 for a violation of the league's prohibition on vulgar acts.
Sure, $10,000 is a drop in the ocean for Moss, who earned $5.75 million this season. The difference between those two numbers prompted Moss to suggest that, in Philly, he might shake his, um, philly cheese steak. In which case, I'll pay the fine just to watch the obnoxious Philly fans choke (much like their team does every playoff season).
Still, the NFL needs to learn a thing or two about consistency in the imposition of fines. Especially if the league genuinely is concerned about getting nailed at some point with a race discrimination suit for its hiring practices. The fact that white guys Plummer and Gleason drew only $5,000 fines for a finger in the air and a fist to the groin, respectively, could end up being further proof of racial bias in the league office, when compared to the $10,000 fine levied against Moss for, in my view, far less offensive conduct.
In any event, the fine has not bothered Randy in the least...and it shouldn't. To wit, KARE-TV of Minneapolis recorded the exchange between Moss and reporters outside the Vikings' practice facility after the fine was announced:
Reporter: "Write the check yet, Randy?"
Moss: "When you're rich you don't write checks."
Reporter: "If you don't write checks, how do you pay these guys?"
Moss: "Straight cash, homey."
Reporter: "Randy, are you upset about the fine?"
Moss: "No, cause it ain't [expletive]. Ain't nothing but 10 grand. What's 10 grand to me? Ain't [expletive] … Next time I might shake my [expletive]."
You go Randy!
I've had enought to say about this topic. But, here is another great article but a self-admitted Moss hater who takes issue with Joe Buck and the media.
Yawn....Time to Talk Philly
Why Beagles fans have not been sleeping well.
Seems that the Beagles fans are starting to get nervous and scared. Come Sunday, the Beagles fans will be in need of an underwear change three or four times during the game (first you say it, then you do it).
You see, they Fear the 'Fro. The City of Brotherly Love is in danger of becoming the City of Brotherly Angst.
And things just get better and better for the Vikes. Moe Williams, once listed as "out" for Sunday is now slated to play. Williams will provide protection for Daunte Culpepper in passing situations.
Ah, yes. The tsunami of the NFC is coming Philly. Are you ready?
With T.O. out of the Philadelphia Eagles lineup the Eagles have to turn to their other receivers (very loose term). The problem for the Eagles is, however, that none of the receivers they have are going to scare anyone on the Vikings defense. The Eagles have got only two bonafide playmakers now in Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. The Vikings cannot let those two beat them. If Mike Tice and company can develop a game plan to play the Eagles smart, the Vikings will be off to the NFC Championship game.
So what is the best way to play, and conquer, the Owens-deprived Eagles? Let me walk you through my game plan (and hope that Tice is reading!):
1) Force McNabb to toss from the pocket: McNabb made strides this season in terms of developing a comfort zone. I should know as I had him on my fantasy football team! But McNabb minus Owens is a quarterback who will revert to previous seasons, when he was prone to stretches of imprecision and vacillation. McNabb hasn't run very much, or very productively in 2004, but he is still capable of breaking down a defense with the impromptu scramble. By jamming the wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, McNabb will be forced to hold the ball and, in such instances, he can become impatient and try to force some throws. Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ted Cottrell should continue the pressure he brought on Brett Favre and bring some inside heat, since the Eagles guards, banged up much of the season, are suspect. McNabb, by the way, has just one touchdown pass in three NFC Championship Games, but has thrown five interceptions and been sacked eight times.
2) Tackle Westbrook: The sense is that the Eagles' running game, not really much of a force anyway in 2004, will find fewer creases because of Owens' absence. So the key is to limit the number of big plays that Westbrook makes in the passing game. No back in the league had more receptions this season, and the elusive Westbrook, who coach Andy Reid may play more in the slot since he is essentially the Eagles' most dangerous receiver now, leads the NFL in yards after catch. The tailback might actually command some sort of "bracket" coverage from the Vikings. Perhaps he matches up with Antoine Winfield in those situations as Winfield is the Vikings best tackler.
3) Run the football: Since the Eagles staff inserted Jeremiah Trotter into the starting lineup at middle linebacker, Philadelphia's defense against the run has been markedly better than early in the season. But the Eagles might be suspect to the run and Tice should not abandon the rushing game if the Vikes don't have early success. I won’t say that the Vikes will be likely to impose their will against the Eagles' front seven as the Steelers did back in October, but the Philadelphia design has always surrendered yards in its bend-don't-break approach. Plus, being in workable third-down situations keeps Eagles coordinator Jim Johnson from blitzing as much.
4) Control tempo and keep the crowd out of the game: The denizens of The Linc can be among the loudest in the NFL, but are also among the quickest to turn on their homeboys when things aren't going well. The longer the Vikings hang in the game at Philadelphia, the more palpable becomes the sense of impending doom among the Eagles fans.
And the #1 Defense Is....
After one game, the much maligned Vikings' defense ranks No. 1 overall and against the pass in the NFL's postseason rankings. That's right, we're #1, we're #1, we're #1!
After ending up regular season ranked 28th in total defense and 26th in points allowed, the Vikings defense awoke Monday morning to find themselves ranked first in yards allowed (306), takeaways (four) and are tied for first in points allowed (17). And they earned those rankings at Lambeau Field on a sub-freezing January afternoon.
It should be no different this coming Monday morning.
Links and Tidbits
You may have noticed this morning but I wanted to point out that the blog has been updated so that the links are now in yellow and easier to see. Let me know if you have any other suggestions. And...thanks Shane!
Poll for Today
Back to ESPN. Perhaps one of the strangest television debates of all time occurred recently when Mike Ditka and Michael Irvin debated over the morality of Randy Moss' Moon Dance at Lambutt Field this past Sunday night.
I already exposed Irvin. Let's move onto Ditka who should look up the old saying, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones".
Nice finger Coach.
On ESPN, Ditka said he wouldn't want Moss on his team. This is the same guy who drafted Rickey Williams, put him in a wedding dress and then stood for a portrait. But Iron Mike doesn't want Moss on his team.
I would have thought the conversation with Irvin might have gone more like...
Irvin: OK Coach, I gat one...Ditka verse Gad in a game a' checkers. Who wins dat one? I gatta go wit Ditka.
Ditka: Now, Michael, let me ask you this: What if Da Bears were all 14 inches tall, you know, about so high? I think I go Bears 18, Giants 14 and it would FINALLY be a good game.
Irvin: Okay, Ditka, back to Moss: Next week, all the Vikings don't make it to Philly, the plane is delayed or something.. and the only players who show up are Moss & Culpepper. Moss & 'Pepper vs. Da Eagles. Okay, score, Mike.
Ditka: Alright, after da Moss Moon Part Deuce, I gotta say Vikings 17, Eagles 14.
C'mon Media! You are making complete asses of yourselves right now! Move on!
Telling Stat of the Day
Quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who threw four touchdowns against the Packers, had 343 passing yards against the Eagles in Week 2. He was the only quarterback to throw for 300 yards against the Eagles this season.
Vikings are Cash Cow for Fox Sports
Poor, poor Joe Buck was disgusted by Randy Moss this past Sunday. But you know what? The Vikes-Pack tilt pulled in the highest rating of the NFL's Wildcard Weekend. The game received a 21.3 share. That was up 6% for Fox from last year's Seahawks-Packers game that started at 1 p.m.
The three other games had rating of:
Broncos-Colts AFC wild-card playoff game had a 17.6 share. The Jets-Chargers AFC wild-card playoff game had a 17.0 share. The Rams-Seahawks NFC wild-card playoff game had a 16.0 share.
Locally, the Vikes win over the Packers was the highest-rated game in Twin Cities history with a, get this, 75 share. That means 75 percent of all the televisions turned on Sunday afternoon locally were watching the game.
Did controversial Randy Moss and the Vikings help vault Fox to a ratings victory in prime time? Without a doubt. So when metrosexual Joe Buck goes shopping for more hair gel he can thank Moss when he can purchase the 55-gallon drum instead of the 4-ounce tube.
Last Word on Favre
Four interceptions (a fifth one dropped!) and a devastating loss to the Vikings is not how Brett Favre planned to go out this season. And now the question of retirement once again has arisen.
The way that both Favre and Cheeseheads showed an utter lack of class in the playoff game...who wants 'em back?
On Monday, I talked about how the so-called future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback could throw two punches on the field and not get called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty and get tossed from the game.
Now comes the report that eight Packers fans were arrested and twenty-one ejected from Sundays game. Of the fans arrested, four were taken into custody for unlawful conduct at a public event and four were arrested for drug-related offenses. Police found fans entering the stadium with marijuana. Police found one fan with cocaine after he was involved in a disturbance.
Sneaking in alcoholic drinks and urinating in the wrong place contributed to some of the twenty-one ejections. Three women had to leave the stadium because they used the men's restroom. Fourteen were ejected for "unruly behavior" in the seats, according to the police report.
Urinating in the sink at sacred Lambutt Field?
Memo to ESPN's Chris "I Will Never Refuse a Donut" Berman. Which disgraced Lambutt Field more? Moss? Favre? Or the "classy" fans? Hmmmm.
Eagle Joke of the Day
Poll of the Day
With Philadelphia Eagles fans and the East-coast biased media already looking past the soon-to-be-Super-Bowl-Champion Minnesota Vikings, I thought I'd entertain my loyal Vikings readers with a history of choking in Philadelphia.
First stop, the 1981 Philadelphia Sixers. The Sixers held a 3-1 lead in the Conference finals vs. the Boston Celtics. The Celtics won the next three in a row to take the series.
In 1977 the Sixers were ahead 2-0 against the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA finals, then lost four straight.
In 1964 the Philadelphia Phillies happened to blow a 5 1/2 game lead with 1 week to play.
In 1993, Phillies Mitch Williams deserved a nod for worst player choke when he single-handedly gave the Toronto Blue Jays the 1993 World Series. In Game 6 of the Series with one out in the bottom of the ninth and the Phillies leading 6-5, the Blue Jays got two men on base, bringing Joe Carter up to face Williams. Carter blasted a 2-2 pitch over the left-field fence, and the Blue Jays were World Series Champions for the second year in a row.
The last two years the Eagles held home field for the NFC championship games but lost both. Their loss two years ago was the first time the Tampa Bay Bucs had ever won a game in temps below 40 F.
One year ago it was Carolina Panthers third-round draft pick Ricky Manning Jr., who picked off three passes as Carolina sent the Philadelphia Eagles to their third-straight NFC Championship loss, 14-3.
Three years ago, the Eagles traveled to St. Louis for the NFC Championship game and lost 29-24. Can't really call that a choke, though. They just were out-gunned.
So, onto the 2004-05 NFL Playoffs. The Eagles have already lost the heart of their team in one Terrell Owens. In Week 16 they went into St. Louis with one thing on their collective minds - stay healthy. They did stay healthy but also walked away with a 20-7 loss. Philadelphia gained a mere 155 yards against a defense ranked 24th in the NFL.
In Week 17 the Eagles' backups were thoroughly dominated in a 38-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. So why is that important? Only the 1967 Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl after losing the final two regular-season games.
The motivational talk has already started while the fans whisper doubts in the dark. Take, for instance, Dave Spadaro from Philadelphiaeagles.com who refers to the season-ending two game losing streak in which key starters were sat:
"Playing scared? No. I call it playing smart. As for "flipping the switch" and having their playoff "edge," I don't think there will be a problem. Losing three straight NFC title games is the ultimate motivation. The Eagles have worked all year to get to this point in the season."
Spadaro then continues:
"It's all about the playoffs now, isn't it? The Eagles are still practicing hard, conditioning well, paying attention to the details. So they want to play it smart and keep McNabb healthy and let his body heal a bit. So they want to get Westbrook all kinds of fresh and springy. So Kearse has a chance to rest his aching body."
Sounds to me like they doubt their ability. Sounds to me like they have to speechify their way to a certain level of confidence. It also sounds to me like they aren't counting on their offense and will rely on their defense to beat the Vikings Sunday and advance to their fourth straight NFC Championship game. Here is what Philadelphia linebacker Ike Reese said to the Philadelphia Inquirer this week:
"I think we're a much better defense than we were then. We're playing pretty good ball right now, and we have everybody healthy. It's going to be strength against strength. Their strength is their offense, and I think our strength right now is our defense."
So the pundits are worried about the Eagles playing scared. The Eagles defensive players have no confidence in their offense getting the job done.
I don't get the impression that anyone in Philadelphia is sleeping well these days. Do you?
Bradshaw Also Needs to Look Inward
I borrowed this from Who-Hate-Me Guy over at the KFAN Rube Chat board. I found it so telling that I had to bring it over here.
After his NFL career ended, Bradshaw disclosed that he had frequently experienced anxiety attacks after games. The problem worsened in the late 1990s, after his third divorce, when, he said, he “could not bounce back” as he had after the previous divorces or after a bad game. In addition to anxiety attacks, his symptoms included weight loss, frequent crying, and sleeplessness. He was diagnosed with clinical depression. Since then he has taken Paxil regularly. He chose to speak out about his depression to overcome the stigma associated with it and to urge others to seek help.
OK, personal anguish is nothing to make light of. Certainly when it comes to family and depression. But seriously, if Bradshaw is going to cry foul every damn time Moss opens his mouth and speaks his mind, much in the same manner that Bradshaw does each and every Sunday from his pulpit, then isn't Bradshaw just as guilty of throwing gasoline on a fire that no one outside the media cares about?
Take a look at these numbers from The Sporting News:
59 percent: "Funny"
54 percent: No fine.
69 percent: Want Moss on their team
74 percent: think media should let Moss and TO antics "go"
68 percent say Moss is good for the NFL.
OK Media types, what is up with the disconnect between fans and media on this?
Eagles Joke of the Day
Q: What do you call 53 people sitting around a TV watching the Super Bowl?
A: The Philadelphia Eagles.
Poll for Today
Way back when, Michael Irvin and the "White House" Cowboys celebrated Irvin's 30th birthday with former Cowboy Alfredo Roberts. According to the Texas Monthly, "Party favors included 10.3 grams of cocaine and more than an ounce of marijuana, assorted drug paraphernalia and sex toys." The "White House" was a private pleasure palace near the team's training facility, where he and many teammates enjoyed their R&R, which apparently included just about any wanton activity you could imagine.
The 'Boys got plenty of heat for their bacchanalian ways. William Bennett, author of "The Book of Virtues," condemned Irvine and Co. for "hurting this country's morale." Lineman Nate Newton demurred. "We've got a little place over here where we're running some whores in and out, trying to be responsible, and we're criticized for that, too." Cut to Sunday night after Randy Moss scorched the Packers for two TDs and a "moonlight serenade".
After ESPN played its interview Sunday morning with receiver Moss, Irvin said: "In order to be a leader, you have to care about someone other than yourself. Randy only cares about himself. He's not a good guy to have on your football team.''
Fellow analysts Steve Young and Tom Jackson also ripped Moss before Irvin worked in another swipe.
"Randy, you make great plays. You're not a great player,'' Irvin said.
Must be the cocaine that has caused Irvin to have these memory lapses in which he can speak so eloquently on someone's character.
So could someone explain to me the brouhaha that has erupted over Moss' faux mooning of the folks in the end zone seats at the place which should be known from this day forward as Lambutt Field?
And what about Joe Buck's holier-than-thou reaction to the move? I find it ironic that Buck would have anything negative to say about Moss' antics after coming off as a flaming metrosexual -- at best -- in those Budweiser ads with the fictional football character "Leon".
What about ABC which featured a naked Nicollette Sheridan jumping into the arms of Terrell Owens? Denver quarterback Jake Plummer giving the crowd the one finger salute? Janet Jackson's "Nipple-gate"?
C'mon people, the moon move was no big deal. Given that Moss was hounded relentlessly by the Lambutt faithful prior to and during the game for Moss' ill-advised early exit from FedEx Field one week prior, his reaction was relatively mild, especially in comparison to some of the slurs and obscenities that surely were hurled his way.
Still, the NFL likely will slap Moss with a five-figure fine, fueled by the fact that the media (starting with Mr. Buck) has been crying incessantly about the routine. And, actually, that might be a good thing for Moss and the Vikings, since Randy needs to have that oversized chip on his shoulder in order to coax from himself the highest levels of performance.
Yes, Randy will have the last laugh on the media before the season is over. Just keep piling on him, please!
Favre Was Classless, Not Moss:
Can someone also explain to me how the so-called future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback can throw two punches on the field and not get called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty and get tossed from the game?
So was Favre properly criticized for this bone-headed, pussy-footed move? Hell, no. Did the guys on Fox point it out to anyone as they would have had it been Daunte Culpepper throwing punches?
They didn't and they won't. If this is the kind of crap that the great and powerful Favre is going to pull in a playoff game against the Vikings, then it is time for Brett to call it a career. Go home to Mississippi and sit on the porch swing and talk about the good ol' days. Your time has come and gone. And take your media sycophants with you.
When I first started blogging back in October of last year, little did I realize how much I would enjoy it. It's been a blast! I've meet new people and gained new skills and I've thoroughly enjoyed the experience thus far. Today's entry marks the 100th blog entry into Mr. Cheer Or Die's Viking Underground. Next stop, 1000!
Thanks to Shane for all he has done to bring this site along. And thanks to everyone who has visited and kept coming back. As always, I enjoy reading all your comments. And please feel free to pass the site along to friend (and foe!) alike.
Who’s Your Daddy?
I no longer give a hootin' nanny how the Vikings got into the playoffs. I don’t give a rip that they lost four of their last five games to end the season. I don't want to listen about their road record or record on grass.
It no longer bothers me that Corey Chavous is out, and Randy Moss is being portrayed as a detriment to the team. I don’t care that before this weekend, no 8-8 playoff team has ever won a playoff game.
Last week I told you that the Vikings were going to 1) win against the lowly Packers; 2) that Moss would have a huge game, and 3) to bet the farm. Even my 4-year your old predicted a Vikings win.
I just didn't know it would look so easy!
And I'll stick by my prediction that they will beat the Eagles this coming Sunday and then defeat the Rams in the NFC Championship.
Let's break that down a bit more. When the Vikings beat their longtime nemisis on Sunday at Lambeau Field, several big gorilla's were shed. Including:
1) Can’t win a big game
2) Can’t win on the road
3) Can’t beat a team with a winning record.
The NFC race is wide open. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is saying so. And the victory over the Packers will give the Vikings all the momentum they need to complete the NFC trifecta. Wild-card win, divisional playoff win, and NFC Championship win.
The key winning at Lambeau Field Sunday? Twofold.
The Vikes finally eliminated mistakes and costly penalties when in the red-zone and on defense. Give credit where credit is due. It took 3 years for Mike Tice to finally have his team ready for a game. And the timing couldn't have been sweeter!
Secondly, Moss had the monster game I predicted. Maybe the stats weren't quite there but hey, two TDs on a gimpy ankle ain't chomped liver. Let's face it. Moss was fired up and angry. That spelled the death for the Packers. As Moss has, and will continue to, OWN the Packers.
I'll write more later as I continue to breakdown the win. But I gotta catch some ZZZzzzzs.
But before I go, I ask you Cheeseheads ONE more time WHO'S YOUR DADDY!?!
Need a Jersey?
The Vikings have Vikings Game Worn Jerseys for sale at their site. For a mere $3500 you can have a game jersey worn by Daunte Culpepper or Randy Moss. For those watching their checkbook a little more closely you can aquire Keith Newman's jersey for $400. I think you might see a sale on Chris Hovan's any day now....currently at $1300.
Back in the 1993-94 NFL season, I paid $25 a ticket for four season tickets in section 201. My total package price for these four season tickets in the upper bowels of the Metrodome was $1000.
For the 1994-95 NFL season, I was moved up to section 101 in the end-zone. That's where I am today except that then I was in row seven and today I'm in row one. In any event, I had to dish out an extra $4 per seat for those four season tickets. A decision that took me about 15-seconds to decide upon. Total package price sky-rocketed to $1160 for four prime season tickets.
Reflecting back on those prices I realize those days are long gone and never to be seen again. This stems from reading in the STrib this week that ol' Red has decided to raise prices once again.
Before we discuss the latest rate hike, let's look at some more history for further perspective on this matter.
When prices started to rise and we had to make some tough financial decisions, I decreased the number of season tickets I was holding from four to two. This was not a decision made lightly and I often regret doing it. But the extra money afforded did allow my wife and I to attend other entertainment venues offered by the Twin Cities such as the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Gotta spread the wealth, ya know. But let's return to the history and the math.
For the 1996-97 NFL season, I paid $33 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $660.
For the 1997-98 NFL season, I paid $37 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $740.
For the 1998-98 NFL season, I paid $37 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $740. That's right. Prices actually held. But that was just before Red McCombs purchased the team. And that's where things really get interesting.
For the 1999-00 NFL season, I paid $45 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $900. An $8 per seat (17.7%) increase over the year before and largest yearly increase during my 12-year tenure as a Vikings season ticket holder. My salary increase that year was 3.8%.
For the 2000-01 NFL season, I paid $48.50 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $970. That one wasn't too bad to swallow but one would have thought that after a hefty $8 per seat increase that perhaps no increase was warranted? But wait, it gets even better.
For the 2001-02 NFL season, I paid $53 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1060. A $4.50 (8.4%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.2%. And keep in mind that just 10-years earlier I was getting four, not two, season tickets for that price. And Red wasn't about to stop there.
For the 2002-03 NFL season, I paid $58 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1160. A $5 (8.6%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.5%.
For the 2003-04 NFL season, I paid $62 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1060. A $4 (6.4%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.2%.
For the 2004-05 NFL season, I paid $64 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1280. A $2 (3.1%) per seat increase. My salary increase that year was 4.0%. Wow!
So, the amount of inflation since first purchasing season tickets has risen almost 61%. Using this inflation calculator, what did cost me $25 per seat in 1993 should only have risen to $31.29 per seat in 2003. Recall that I was at $62 per seat for 2003.
Had my salary grown to 61% during this same period, my wife wouldn't have to work. Heady numbers indeed!
Now, I know the team needs to make money. I know that the ticket prices are not out of line with the rest of the league. But here's the thing. When is enough actually enough? Where will it stop?
Will there ever reach a point in this Pro Football Hall of Fame fans life that I might have to walk away from it? Drop my season tickets because I have to put food on the table and keep a roof over my family? There is one such scenario wherein that could happen. And it has to do with a new stadium. And as an aside, the STrib does a nice job to promote various stadium bills and I'll return to that later next week.
If the Vikings ever do get a new stadium agenda on the table and actually get it approved I envision that whomever is owner of the Vikings at the time will implement a PSL (private or personal seat licenses).
A relatively new revenue source for team owners is the PSL. PSLs force fans to pay a fixed fee to obtain the privilege of purchasing season tickets. A ticket to buy a ticket!
In the past, teams typically allowed season ticket holders to automatically renew their tickets each year, and that fan's position was lost only if season tickets were not renewed. Now, in an increasing number of stadiums, season ticket holders must pay the PSL fees, which are typically quite expensive, before being given the privilege to pay for the tickets. PSLs don't even confer extra benefits to their customers beyond that of the endangered general season ticket holder.
This is nothing but another scam that takes advantage of sports fans. One more wedge that drives the diehard fans away from the game in favor of a more affluent audience. Just to fatten the wallets of the owners.
I recall a conversation with Jersey John after the 1998 season. Jersey John was the Pittsburh Steelers fan inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with me that year. This resident of the New Jersey shore has spent the past 27 years traveling to Steelers home games -- 750 miles roundtrip, Point Pleasant house to Heinz Field parking lot .
Jersey John told me about their new stadium efforts during that conversation. As part of the stadium agreement, approximately $37 million (but not less than $34 million) in net proceeds from the sale of personal seat licenses was to be raised in order to assist in funding the new stadium. John was being asked to fork over nearly $12000 for a PSL to retain the right to keep his four season tickets. That was $3000 a seat. Just to retain the right........
Jersey John wasn't a down-and-out type. He was a very successful business man. But twelve grand? It gave one pause. And it should have.
So if PSLs become part of the new stadium agenda, there could possibly be two more open seats in the front row available for you. If you have the upfront cash for a PSL...and can handle the 5-17% ticket rate hikes...and the $25 parking...and $60 jersey's.....and $5 hot dog.....Whew!
And Your Packer Joke of the Day
A guy arrived at a car dealership to pick up his 2003 Mercedes. Upon starting it for the first time, he reached over and turned on the radio. Nothing happened. Furious, he looked at the salesman and said, "When I buy a $50,000 car, I expect the radio to work."
The salesman explained that the radio was voice-controlled. All he had to do was say what he wanted to hear and the radio would respond with the correct music. "Wow! Pretty neat stuff." he said. He thanked the salesman and drove off. When he hit the interstate, he decided that he wanted to hear some tunes. "Country music." he said, and Willie Nelson started singing. "Rock and Roll", he exclaimed. Led Zeppelin blasted through the speakers. "Easy listening", he continued. It sounded like he was in an elevator.
As he listened to the smooth sounds, a beat up old truck nearly ran him off the road, then pulled away weaving and lurching all over the centerline. "Stupid, redneck drunks!" he screamed. "The Packer Fight Song" began playing.
Nope, I'm not crazy. Just following my M.O. as of late to bash everyone wearing purple for the first part of the week but then slowly come to the realization that this team has a decent chance for a 1987 type run in the playoffs.
The defense is starting to come together under Kevin Williams who was just named to the Associated Press all-pro team....first team no less. Williams is starting to dominate much in the same vein as Hall of Famer Alan Page.
The running game is starting to gel with Michael Bennett back to full speed. Bennett could provide the type of break-away "he...could....go....all....the...way" excitement that will only help the vertical game as well.
And there is a remorseful Randy Moss. Remember Merrill Hoge back in 2000? Hoge, an analyst on ESPN's NFL's Matchup, said he would take 20 receivers over the Vikings' Randy Moss. He said this because he thoguht Moss didn't play hard 110% of the time. The following week, Moss went out and roasted the Lions for seven catches, three touchdowns and 168 yards.
This past week, Moss has been widely criticized by national analysts and observers for leaving the field during Sunday's game in Washington with two seconds remaining. It would have been more typical of Moss to not respond to any media inquiries or have any comment. That was not the case this week.
That's why I know that Moss understands what he did was wrong. He is remorseful and wants to prove to his teammates that he can carry this team in the playoffs much like Anthony Carter did in the 1987 postseason. Why else do you explain that Moss privately addressed the situation with several players, among them Pro Bowl center Matt Birk.
"It's only lingering outside of here (Winter Park)," Birk said. "Inside, it's been put to bed."
Why else do you explain that Moss granted an interview to ESPN on Wednesday and Fox on Thursday? He also called Vikings coach Mike Tice's radio show on KFAN-AM on Thursday evening.
Moss' teammates expect a big game from him Sunday in Green Bay. I do too....even if Moss is running on only four-of-five cylinders. Quietly in Green Bay they are starting to realize that a monster is stirring. A monster who will be bringing his A-game and will be posting monster numbers.
Get ready for the Quake at Lambeau!
Graham Predicts A Vikings Win
Back on December 14th, I had posted a piece about Graham the All Knowing. My soon-to-be 5-year old Graham had analyzed the Vikings that week and came up with this:
"The Vikings aren't bad guys. They just play bad."
Who could argue?
Yesterday, Graham The All Knowing came home and promptly addressed me. He had received a secret message from space aliens. Yes, space aliens.
Now before you rush to judgement about our parenting skills or assume that Graham needs to be safely locked away inside the Looney Bin, let me explain.
Perhaps Graham does watch a little too many Looney Tunes but he is in no way crazy. He is currently in a Alien Phase of his life. You know how boys (and men!) are. Well, in this current phase, Graham has developed his own alien language and often recites alien phrases to us. He also shows us how aliens walk. His fellow buds at day-care join in this new found enthusiasm and often converse in alien code.
Back to the point about the secret message. Graham The All Knowing had received this secret message. He relayed to me that the message stated, "The Vikings will score six times and beat the Packers".
So I got to thinking. That is pretty reasonable to fathom. Vikes get four TDs and 2 FGs and win 34-31 over the Packers. I gave Graham a confident high-five and promptly called my bookie to bet the farm on the Vikes. You should too.
And today, I can assure you that at a certain daycare in southwest St. Paul there is a young lad proudly wearing a Daunte Culpepper jersey and speaking in alien. That's my boy.
My Playoff Predictions
St. Louis 37; Seattle 28
San Diego 27; N.Y. Jets 17
Indianapolis 42; Denver 27
Vikings 34; Green Bay 31
Games Jan. 15
Pittsburgh 24; San Diego 17
St. Louis 31; Atlanta 30
Games Jan. 16
Vikings 23; Philadelphia 22
New England 27; Indianapolis 26
Games Jan. 23
Vikings 37; St. Louis 34
Pittsburgh 26; New England 17
Feb. 6/Jacksonville, Fla.
Vikings 28; Pittsburgh 27
Vikings Boost Prices for 2005 Tickets
I'll more to say on this Saturday. Suffice for now that I am disappointed in this decision.
And Your Packer Joke of the Day
Packers Head-Coach Mike Sherman was talking to his wife about repainting their homes interior. In the first room she said she would like a pale blue. Mike wrote this down and went to the window, opened it, and yelled out "GREEN SIDE UP!"
In the second room she told Mike she would like it painted in a soft yellow. He wrote this on his pad, walked to the window, opened it, and yelled "GREEN SIDE UP!"
Mike's wife was somewhat curious but she said nothing. In the third room she said she would like it painted a warm rose color. Mike wrote this down, walked to the window, opened it and yelled "GREEN SIDE UP!"
Mike's wife then asked him, "Why do you keep yelling 'green side up'?"
"I'm sorry," came the reply. "But I have some of the players laying sod across the street.
And since it is Friday two, count 'em, two new polls....
Because I could not resist to stir up trouble.....
40. Oh I just couldn't. I mean really, she's only sixteen.
39. I'll take Shakespeare for 1000, Alex.
38. Duct tape won't fix that.
37. Honey, I think we should sell the pickup and buy a family sedan.
36. Come to think of it, I'll have a Heineken.
35. We don't keep firearms in this house.
34. Has anybody seen the sideburns trimmer?
33. You can't feed that to the dog.
32. I thought Graceland was tacky.
31. No kids in the back of the pickup, it's just not safe.
30. Wrestling's fake.
29. Honey, did you mail that donation to Greenpeace?
28. We're vegetarians.
27. Do you think my gut is too big?
26. I'll have grapefruit and grapes instead of biscuits and gravy.
25. Honey, we don't need another dog.
24. Who gives a crap about Wisconsin Dells.
23. Give me the small bag of pork rinds.
22. Too many deer heads detract from the decor.
21. Spittin' is such a nasty habit.
20. I just couldn't find a thing at Wal-Mart today.
19. Trim the fat off that steak.
18. Cappuccino tastes better than Espresso.
17. The tires on that truck are too big.
16. I'll have the Arugula and Radicchio salad.
15. I've got it all on the C drive.
14. Unsweetened tea tastes better.
13. Would you like your fish poached or broiled?
12. My fiancée, Bobbie Joe, is registered at Tiffany's.
11. I've got two cases of Zima for the Super Bowl.
10. Little Debbie snack cakes have too many fat grams.
8. She's too young to be wearing a bikini.
7. Does the salad bar have bean sprouts?
6. Hey, here's an episode of "Hee Haw" that we haven't seen.
5. I believe a Merlot goes best with string cheese.
4. Be sure to bring my salad dressing on the side.
3. I hate Spam and Velveeta sandwiches.
2. Those shorts ought to be a little longer, Darlin' .
And the #1 thing that you would never hear a Packer say.......
1. Nope, no more for me. I'm drivin' tonight
Favre Left Game Early?
A discussed on KFAN Rube Chat today, on November 17, 2002 the Packers came to town with the league's best record. The Packers also had a chance to become the earliest team to clinch a division title in a 16-game season.
The Vikings intercepted Brett Favre three times in a 31-21 victory. Oh, and Favre left the game with :32 tics left on the game clock. If memory serves right, Favre more slinked off the field unable to bear yet another loss at the Dome.
So Moss is a bad guy yet Favre continues to have every media outlet in the nation plant their lips on his lily-white behind? Just more incentive for the Purple to show everyone nationally that Favre is past his prime and it is time for him to return home to Mississippi to watch reruns of Hee-Haw and swat flies on the porch swing.
Today, I'm just clearing the desk of stuff I've found the last few days that I've found interesting.
Jermaine Wiggins made the USA Today All-Joe Team as the "Well-traveled vet made key catches."
The All-Joe team takes its name from Joe Phillips, a defensive tackle for 14 years for San Diego, Kansas City and Minnesota before retiring in 1999. The NFL's stars would not succeed without the All-Joes around them. They would never make the Pro Bowl without the guys who handle the grubbier assignments. Hence, the All-Joe motto: If you work hard, good things will happen. To someone else. And Wiggins certainly made Daunte Culpepper and Scott Linehan look good by picking up the tough underneath yards this season. Congrats Jermaine!
Red-Zone TD Performance
Very interesting piece available only in the print edition of USA Today so I'm not able to link to it. The paper charted red-zone touchdown performance to show how NFL teams fared in the red-zone during Weeks 13-16. Both offense and defense were evaluated. The Vikings as a team ranked as Poor Overall Performance. Not surprising, eh?
The offense was in the red-zone a mere eleven times during that period and scored a TD on just five possessions while the defense allowed the opponent into the red-zone twenty times and allowed fourteen TDs. For both units, this is a 17% drop in performance from Weeks 9-12.
I thought the team was suppose to improve as the season rolled on? I'll continue my Tice-has-to-go mantra a tad bit longer thank-you-very-much!
Sean Jensen at the St. Paul Pioneer Press posted these odds earlier this week:
• No NFL team with a record of .500 or below ever has won a playoff game.
• The Packers won both games against the Vikings this season, and 10 of the past 15 teams that have swept an opponent have won the postseason matchup as well.
• Since the current playoff format began in 1990, home teams are 41-15 (.732) in wild-card games.
• The Vikings have won just two of their past 22 games outdoors.
• And Packers quarterback Brett Favre is 7-1 in playoff games at Lambeau Field.
Well, what does one say to that? Hmmm, the Pack is 4-4 at home this year? That the Vikes have never lost a game at Lambeau while I watch the game in my Sponge Bob Squarepants underwear while standing on my head singing the Welsh National Anthem?
Odds are fun to read but have little meaning come game day. Otherwise, they wouldn't play the game!
More and more is being discussed about the potential sale of the Vikings to suitor Glen Taylor. I came across this today during a review of Chris Mortensen's chat with fans. A Vikes fans asked the question about the potential sale and Mortensen responded:
Chris Mortensen: (11:32 AM ET ) I can't confirm that but there are more and more rumblings (suspicions?) that McCombs is close to a sale. Again, no confirmation.
Now, my good buddy The Commish reported to me that when the Wolves played the Knicks recently, Taylor was there. And Taylor doesn’t go to a lot of road games. A reporter asked him why he went to that game and his exact quote was, “Let’s just say I was here to watch the Wolves game.”
Fingers crossed. Toes crossed. Salt over left shoulder. Lucky rabbits foot. Knock on wood. Stay tuned.
Giants Again In 2005?!?!
Well, there will be at least one loss on the 2005 Vikings season. The vaunted New York Giants. Which means the Vikes will be rolling high at 5-1 or 6-1 and will play the Giants and go into a severe funk the rest of the season. Possibly backing into the playoffs or losing out in the final week of the season. We're in some sort of Groundhogs Day loop here!
Wait a minute! I thought a certain head-coach said we wouldn't have to face the Giants in 2005! I think the exact quote from Coach Flaggy was "Thank God we don't play the Giants next year". This, of course, was after the shellacking given this season.
Maybe it was that Coach Flaggy was saying that HE will not have to worry about the Giants next year because he will be collecting welfare?
Kiss of Death? Or do these pundits know something? (Scroll to bottom of link) Theismann, Salisbury, Hoge, Jaworski, and Schlereth all pick the Vikes to win!
Perhaps receiver Randy Moss had the right idea when he strutted toward the tunnel on Sunday against the Redskins, with the Vikings poised for an onside kick with two seconds left and trailing 21-18.
Why bother to stick around for the inevitable?
Perhaps the entire NFL is wondering why the Vikings are bothering to make the march to Lambeau next Sunday for their first postseason date ever with the Green Bay Packers.
Pundits may be saying, “So what if the Pack only beat the Vikings on two late-game field goals in their head-to-head meetings this season? We smell a blowout and we think the overall psyche of the Purple would be far better served if they don't show up for the game. They’ll fold up and leave the field like Moss did last Sunday.”
Mentally, the Vikings haven't shown up for several games this year, starting with a Week Eight loss at home to the Giants. So why should they subject themselves to yet another nationally televised embarrassment as the whipping boys for their biggest rivals?
What Moss did Sunday by leaving the field before time expired was uncalled for. It sent the wrong message to his coaches, teammates and fans alike. It made this life-long Vikings fan reach for the nearest antacid bottle and empty it.
So I got to thinking. What would Harry P. (Bud) Grant have done had he still be coaching the 2004 team?
My younger friends (born after 1970), along with fans who came aboard the Vikings bandwagon in 1998, always roll their eyes when I revert back to the Grant Era. And I’ve been doing a lot of retracing this year. Because Grant would have control of this team. Grant would have eliminated costly penalties. Grant would have the special teams excelling. And Bud would never have allowed a player to leave the field with time on the clock, no matter how improbable a late game comeback would have been.
I watched a special on the Purple People Eaters on Fox Sport Net the other night. It was a fantastic retrospective on the linemen that dominated the field of play for many years during the Grant Era: Jim Marshall, Alan Page, Carl Eller and Gary Larsen. Ah, those were the days.
Here’s a little known fact for you. At the 1969 NFL Pro Bowl the announcer said, “Representing the starting NFC Defensive Line are the Purple People Eaters.” That’s right; Eller, Marshall, Page and Larsen started the Pro Bowl that year. Yes, the Vikes used to have a defense.
During this program it was pointed out that Grant and Marshall had the utmost respect for each other. If Grant was having trouble getting a message across to a rookie, he gave Marshall a nod and the problem was solved. If players were out of position on the field, Grant gave Marshall a nod and the problem was solved. If a player was penalized while inside the opposing 20-yard line, Grant gave Marshall a nod and the problem was solved.
Marshall once was hospitalized for pneumonia for a week. He checked himself out of the hospital, played the game, then checked himself back in. Marshall once showed up with a temperature of 103. Grant asked ol’ Fred Zamberletti (the Vikings trainer) what Marshall’s temperature was because he looked so horrible. “103,” said Zamberletti. Grant replied, “Good. He’ll play a helluva game, 103 and all.”
Which takes us back to Moss. What do you think Grant and Marshall would have done with Moss as he attempted to leave the field early?
Once scenario has Grant quietly nodding to Marshall and then motioning his head towards Moss. Marshall would have grabbed Carl “Moose” Eller, sauntered over to Moss, stood in front of him with arms crossed and glared him back to the bench.
Another scenario, my favorite, would have Grant nodding towards Zamberletti. Zamberletti would have reached into a long duffle bag and handed Grant his duck hunting shotgun. Grant would have set his sights on Moss’ rear-end and let loose with a full barrel of buckshot. Then there would have been a fight amongst the players as to who would be the last player to leave the field after each game. For the next twenty years. As Mick Tingelhoff once said of Grant after a duck hunting trip, “Bud doesn’t waste any gunshot.”
Ah, yes. The Bud Grant Era. There’s nothing finer in Vikings history and it’s all I have right now. Precious memories of a time when players played for the love of the game and for each other.
That seems so long ago now. So very long ago.
A Few Are Fired Up
Yes, Pro Bowlers Daunte Culpepper, Kevin Williams, and Matt Birk are always ready to give their best during any given game. All 60 friggin' minutes, too! And now comes another of my close personal friends, Dave Dixon.
According to the STrib, Right guard David Dixon, the longest-tenured Viking, is normally a quiet presence in the locker room. He became talkative and fiery Sunday, once he found out the Vikings would be playing rival Green Bay in the first round of the playoffs.
He aimed a profane aspersion toward the Packers in general, then directed his real anger at nose tackle Grady Jackson.
"Who's that fat guy ... yeah, Jackson, running his mouth, saying we knew we couldn't beat the Packers," Dixon said.
A Grady-specific profanity followed and then he said, "If he can say that about us, we can talk about the Packers? You know what they say -- it's tough to beat a team three times.
"We'll try to make that hold true for the Packers."
Now that's what I'm talking about! Um, Dave. Get in Moss' face, OK?
Do these faces reflect confidence heading into the playoffs?
After losing the last game of the year, and four of the last five games, the Vikings still found themselves in the playoffs when the Saints beat the Panthers. In the post game press conference Head-Coach Mike Tice (Coach Flaggy) said something along the lines of "with our great start we put ourselves in this position to back into the playoffs." Well, with all due respect to Steve Martin.....EXCUSE ME ! That attitude is what makes Tice an awful coach. It is an attitude carried over to the team. When Randy Moss walked right off the field with time remaining on the clock it showed that Tice has no control over the team. If he ever did.
It is just unbelievable, I'm at a loss for words. Anyone else feel the same?
But I do look at the upcoming barn burner this coming Sunday in terms of the ol' Win-Win situation. Beat the Packers, and the Vikes knock their most hated rival out of the playoffs at storied Lambeau Field. Lose, and Tice is almost assured of being fired despite the fact that Red McCombs picked up the option year of Tice's contract.
Next Year's Schedule Trouble?
Here are the Opponents for the Vikings in 2005:
Green Bay (X2)
and the Winner of tonight’s Dallas / NY Giants game.
I see five, maybe six sure wins at this point. Ugh! That's a touch schedule!
And in case Cheesehead Craig is wondering, here are the Packers opponents:
Late Injury Report
Vikings strong safety Corey Chavous' status for the playoffs is in doubt after he broke his left elbow on a running play.
I just signed up for my own team in Football Playoff Challenge 2004, and I'm inviting you to start a team and play against me!
I've set up a private "buddies" page to track our team's performance against each other, and against the rest of my "buddies" group.
To join my group, please click here. Football Playoff Challenge 2004 is really easy to play, and you can invite a bunch of people to play too!
It's New Years and anyone who is anyone (especially bloggers) has to post a New Years List.
Here are my Top Ten darkest moments in Vikings history:
#10) Dec. 28, 2003: On fourth-and-25 from the Vikings' 28, Arizona's Josh McCown hits Nate Poole for a touchdown as time expires to prevent the Vikings from advancing to the playoffs.
#9) Jan. 17, 1988: NFC Championship Game: Darrin Nelson drops a pass at the goal line on fourth-and-4 from the Redskins' 6-yard-line with 52 seconds to play in a 17-10 loss to Washington.
#8) Jan. 11, 1970: Super Bowl IV: After the Vikings cut the Chiefs' lead to 16-7 in the third quarter and capture momentum, Otis Taylor takes a short pass, breaks a couple of tackles and runs 46 yards for a score in a 23-7 victory.
# 7) Jan. 13, 1974: Super Bowl VIII: Trailing 17-0 in the first half, the Vikings move 74 yards to the Miami 6. On fourth-and-1 from the 6, Oscar Reed fumbles, and the Vikings never threaten again in a 24-7 loss.
#6) Jan. 12, 1975: Super Bowl IX: With the Vikings trailing 2-0 at halftime, Bill Brown fumbles the second-half kickoff, the Steelers recover and end up scoring what turned out to be the clinching touchdown in a 16-7 victory.
#5) Jan. 9, 1977: Super Bowl XI: In the first quarter, the Vikings' Fred McNeill blocks a punt by Ray Guy -- the first punt Guy ever had blocked -- and the Vikings take over at the Raiders' 3-yard line. But two plays later, Brent McClanahan fumbles, the Raiders recover and drive for the first score of the game and the momentum in a 32-14 victory.
#4) Jan. 14, 2001: NFC Championship Game: The heavily favored Vikings commit five turnovers and are outgained 518 yards to 114 and outscored 34-0 in the first half of a stunning 41-0 loss to the New York Giants.
#3) Oct. 12, 1989: The Herschel Walker trade: The Vikings trade Issiac Holt, David Howard, Darrin Nelson, Jesse Solomon, Alex Stewart and what ends up to be three first-round picks, three second-rounds picks, a third-round pick and a sixth-round pick to Dallas. The Cowboys use the picks to select Emmitt Smith and others to help them win three Super Bowls.
#2) Jan. 17, 1999: NFC Championship Game: With the Vikings leading 27-20, Gary Anderson misses a 37-yard field-goal attempt with 6:07 remaining against Atlanta -- his first miss of the season. The Falcons go on to score the tying touchdown and beat the Vikings 30-27 in overtime.
And the #1 Darkest Moment in my life as a Vikings fan, drum roll, please....
#1) Dec. 28, 1975: NFC divisional playoff game: The Cowboys defeat the Vikings 17-14 on a last-second, 50-yard Hail Mary pass from Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson, who appears to push Nate Wright to the ground before making the catch and jogging into the end zone.
Have your own that did not appear on the list? Use the Comments section to share with others! And have a great 2005!
The Vikings go three out of four late in the season. Their defense ranks in the lower portion of the league. They lose to Washington in the last game of the season yet squirm into the playoffs as a wild card. The playoff schedule starts on the road and most likely will stay on the road. Las Vegas pegs the Vikes as a 75 to 1 shot to even make the Super Bowl. Players are sick with the flu.
Oh, wait. I'm not talking about this season. The season is 1987 and the Vikes rolled over the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers before bowing to the Redskins in the 1987-88 NFC Championship game.
Who's to say it couldn't happen again? A couple of players get hot such as Wade Wilson, Hassan Jones, and Anthony Carter did in 1987 anything can happen!
Blackouts, No TV, Oh My!
I'm starting to hear a lot of grumblings from fellow Vikings fans that all of a sudden are finding other things more important than watching the Vikings. With the poor results of the last 3 years, and probably more of the same in store for 2005 it could be that for the first time since 1999 the season ticket base will dwindle. I'm starting to hear from people things like, "I was a season ticket holder, but not any more. Unless the Vikes put some quality players/coaches on the field and proved to me that they are trying to win, I will no longer renew my tickets."
Hmm. I also know many, many people who did not opt to purchase the potential playoff package when they become due in early December. Could the base be crumbling?
Cheesehead Craig suggests a boycott. I've heard this from others as well. People feel that the only way Red McCombs would come down in his asking price for the Vikings is if the fans forced it by refusing to re-new season tickets which would force Red to come down from his asking price of $600 million, then maybe Glenn Taylor would be in the picture to buy.
If Red continues to earn a profit, then there's really no motivation to sell. Of course, it would be better if local sponsors/businesses would also refuse their business to the team. That would be a big hit to Red's pocket!
In reality, boycotts hardly ever work. And the Vikings have a season ticket waiting list of nearly 2,000 people. So I don't see blackouts happening for a few more years yet. Unless a Steckel-like 3-13 season comes along.
"They Had the Flu"
Will that be Tice's excuse after Sunday?
Is it starting to smell like Arizona from 2003? I am a pharmacist and last year the week of the Arizona game I took a call from the team doctor to fill flu related medications for several Vikings players (patient privacy laws prevent me from saying who). The Vikes went on to lose. Now, Culpepper, Winfield, and Wiggins went home sick today. And a quote from this story appearing on KFAN was that backup quarterback Gus Frerotte, who hasn't thrown an offensive pass this season, would start Sunday if Culpepper is sidelined. Receiver Randy Moss took some reps at quarterback in practice Wednesday morning, and could be used in an emergency.
Well, if the boys drop one on the grass in Washington they already have at least one excuse (the flu) built in. And of course since Sunday's game at FedEx Field will be played on grass, the Vikes have another 'excuse' they can use also. They are 2-19 in their past 21 games on grass, dating to October 2000. Oh yeah, Arizona has a grass field too! This is all becoming just waaayyyyyy to deja vu for me!
When the Viking front office at Winter Park first wrote up coach Mike Tice's contract they should have anticipated that the regular season would have extended beyond January 1. Shoot, wouldn’t a blue-chip organization have even posted a February 1 or even March 1 date once the playoffs have been completed before making coaching decisions? By designating January 1 as the “go, no-go” date, owner Red McCombs painted himself into a corner and elected to pick up the option on a fourth full season with Tice coaching the Minnesota Vikings.
Whether Tice is even around in 2004 or beyond, however, remains to be seen.
Under the option exercised by McCombs, Tice will earn $1 million in 2005. That is much less than other NFL coaches. That alone will once again fuel the debate that McCombs is readying the team for a sale. Slash overhead, keep salaries (and morale) low and get a good price. That’s typical business practice.
But back to Tice. Is $1 million what he deserves? What exactly has Tice accomplished in three years on the job to deserve more? Tice has a 23-25 record since replacing Dennis Green with one game remaining in the 2001 season. He has yet to win the NFC North (a goal in 2003 and 2004) or even make the playoffs.
I believe that McCombs would have preferred to wait until after the grime of the 2004 regular season had been washed away before committing to another season with Tice. But the little problem of the date, January 1, to exercise the option stood in the way of doing just that.
Now this. Tice refused on Monday to extend the deadline. "When we couldn't get the option date changed," McCombs said, "that wiped out any discussion of a possible extension."
Look for the looming expiration of Tice’s contract to become a distraction next season. Just as it was during the late part of the current season. Yippee.
And one can’t rule out a short-term parting of the ways between McCombs and Tice, if the Vikings continue their annual late-season vanishing act. Even Tice (whom I’ve compared to Bluto Blutarski of Animal House) is smart enough to know that the exercise of the option is no guarantee. "It still doesn't mean I'll be back, you know what I mean?" Tice said. "We just have to keep fighting the fight."
That quote really chapped my hide. It’s late in the season. Your team has once again sunk during the late season stretch and the playoffs are again in doubt. Coach Tice, you have to start winning the fight.
Here’s a guy who was leading cheers for the Philadelphia Eagles to beat the St. Louis Rams on Monday. Had the Eagles won, the Vikes would have clinched a wild-card berth. Um, had the Vikings won Xmas Eve, you wouldn’t be leading cheers for another team. Maybe get your team ready for Washington this coming Sunday instead of worrying about another team!
If the Vikings lose at Washington on Sunday and miss the playoffs, or get blown off the field in their first-round playoff game at Seattle, Green Bay or even St. Louis, McCombs will end up going Trump on Tice.
Tice Will Be Back
Vikings owner Red McCombs picked up the option on coach Mike Tice's contract Monday morning, ending a year-long public discussion on Tice's future.
Tice, 45, has posted a 23-25 record since replacing Dennis Green before the final game of the 2001 season. He would have become a free agent Jan. 31 if the club failed to exercise the option.
I'm not sure what to think about this development at the moment. Give me 24-hours to sleep on it
Could it be that Red McCombs is getting ready to sell the Vikings (possibly to Glenn Taylor) either during the off-season or after the 2005 campaign? He has been rolling back expenses at Winter Park and now with picking up Tice's option I see another sign that a sale is coming soon.
If Red was considering keeping the the Vikings he would of either signed Tice to a long term deal or fired him outright. It is fact that NFL coaches don't like to coach under a one year deal.
Could it be that Red is keeping Tice for cheap to let Taylor deal with it? The team and organization will be set for the next owner. By picking up Tice's option, Red will let the new owner decide what to do with the coaching situation. The new owner can either clean house with all coaches and start over, or sign Tice to an extension. All of the coaches and Tice now have one more year on their contract.
Any Other Year it is MVP for Daunte
Peyton Manning picks up a NFL record 49th TD passes in a single season. But little has been made of Daunte Culpepper's 37 TD passes this season. Daunte has set a team record surpassing Randall Cunningham's 34 TD passes set in 1998. Tha puts Daunte sixth all time behind Manning's 49, Dan Marino with 48 in 1984 and then 44 in 1986. Then Kurt Warner's 41 in 2000 followed by Brett Favre's 39 in 1996.
I see very little mention of Daunte's impressive numbers anywhere. If Daunte passes for 3 TDs this coming Sunday against the Washington Redskins, that will give him 40 for the season. Good for fifth all-time. That's a MVP season in ANY book.
The STrib did a nice job breaking down the Green Bay D-coordinator making a swtich from man-to-man to a zone defense at halftime of the Xmas Eve game. Where was the Vikings defensive adjustment to slow down the Pack and Brett Favre?
This isn't the only game this happened during the 2004 campaign. The Vikes defense has come out weak all season and it seems very little has been addressed at half-time to make the proper adjustments as teams have rolled up huge numbers in the fourth quarter (see Detroit and GB the last two weeks). So I don't buy the argument that the Vikings defense has played better in the second half. The numbers don't lie.
While I don't think we can blame Tice completely, there are several factoids to be looked at and answered by all the Tice supporters. Let's break them down:
One: Undisciplined penalties & mistakes in the red-zone or during crucial drives. When the game was tied at 31 during the Xmas Eve game, the Vikes could have run time off the clock, scored, and won. Instead, stupid penalties put the team into passing situations which helped the Packers since the clock stopped after incomplete passes.
Two: Continually being out-coached by lesser teams. I've harped on this during the entire Tice tenure. Tice is still learning how to be a head-coach. I think coaching mistakes have added one to three loses to this year's total.
Three: Underachieving seasons. The past two seasons have seen the Vikes off to fast starts with a chance to wrap up the NFC North early. That would mean resting players, healing injuries, and testing depth. Instead, the Vikings collapsed during 2003 missing the playoffs altogether and could be on the verge (albeit unlikely) of missing the playoffs again this season.
So, where does that leave the Purple this season? In the wide-open NFC, one really can't say. But I now see the playoffs opening up this way.
Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks.
That sets up an interesting scenario. No one wants to play the hot Panthers right now. They are healed and healthy. Their defense is solid. The have one of the hottest wide receivers in Muhsin Muhammad. Could it be they beat the Packers while Minnesota beats up a floundering Seahawks team? That would set up this scenario.
Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles
I won't go any farther than this. But I find it intriguing that the Vikes might get the best possible first round matchup despite losing the NFC North crown.
But then, that would mean the Vikings coaching brain-trust can actually make some adjustments between now and the start of the playoffs. And that's where my confidence meter runs to zero.
For a very good story for how fans are juggling today's game and Christmas Eve go to the Pioneer Press which is the main lead, with photo of the Maas family, at:
In case the link is already down already just go here for the full story.
Merry Xmas! As long as we don't have a repeat of the screw job the Vikes received in LAMEbeau earlier this season. Remember?
Remember the Funble! Remember the Fumble! To arms, to arms!
I still look for the Vikes to dim the lights for the introductions and Moss to have his afro ready to explode and have a monster game. What a way to begin the Xmas holiday with a huge, division winning game over the Packers!
The worst thing anyone can do to Vikings receiver Randy Moss is make him mad. And here's hoping that Moss quietly is seething about his omission from the 2004 Pro Bowl roster.
Now, we all know that Moss was injured and consequently ineffective for five games in October and November, during which the Vikings went 2-3. In Randy's mind, however, there's no comparison between him and Joe Horn, Mushin Muhammad, and especially the Packers Javon Walker, all of whom made the Pro Bowl.
Of course, there's a disparity in statistics, due to Moss's injury. Randy has only 42 catches for 671 yards; Horn, Moose, and Walker average 81 catches and 1,218 yards.
But even with five less games played, Moss actually has more touchdowns (11) than Horn and Walker (10 each), and only one less than Muhammad.
There's no question that Moss is far more valuable to his team than any of the other three. With Randy healthy, the Vikings are 6-3.
My point here is that Moss likely will use the snub to work himself up into the same kind of indignation that following his round one free-fall in the 1998 draft. His goal for the rest of the season, and playoffs, surely will be to show that he's still the Super Freak, and with the Eagles' game-changing wide receiver gone for the year, Moss suddenly is the only receiver in the NFC playoff field with the ability to single-handedly deliver a series of victories.
Moss gets his first chance to prove he should've been named to the Pro Bowl roster on Friday, against Walker's Packers. I have a feeling that Randy will be sporting a renewed swagger, along with a poofed out 'fro spilling out from the bottom of his helmet. In a Christmas Eve showdown with the division title in the balance, I'll go out on a limb here and predict that Moss will have at least 10 catches for at least 150 yards and at least two touchdowns, regardless of whether his hamstring is finally back to 100 percent. And last week against the Lions, Moss showed his speed is almost back to 100 percent. The "Girlfriend D-Backs" of the Packers (note their long girlish hair) are probably shaking today.
Christmas Eve Game Thoughts:
The Star Tribune asked the question "Football or church?" during a call place to yours truly earlier this week. You can read my response here. They didn't exactly quote me correctly, but then I was happy with the piece overall and felt they gave a fair and balanced view for the Vikings.
Look for a similar piece from the Pioneer Press probably on Friday.
Call me the schizophrenic fan. No less than 24-hours after openly ripping the Vikings for their horrible (albeit winning) performance against the Lions things have dramatically changed.
First Antoine Winfield and Matt Birk are expected back into the starting lineup against the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Eve. That alone gives the Vikes the run stopper needed on defense and brings depth back to the already depleted offensive line.
But more importantly, the Philadelphia Eagles will have to try to make it to the Super Bowl without the guy who made the biggest difference for them in 2004.
Receiver Terrell Owens, according to the Associated Press, will miss the rest of the regular season and possibly the playoffs with a sprained right ankle and fractured fibula, suffered in the third quarter of Sunday's 12-7 win over the Cowboys.
He'll have surgery on Wednesday. The best-case scenario for Owens' return is the Super Bowl. But without him the Philly offense isn't much different than the crew that lost the last three NFC championship games.
This incident breathes life into the postseason hopes of teams like Atlanta, Green Bay, and Minnesota. Both the Packers and the Vikings already have lost at Philly. In a 27-16 win over Minnesota, Owens had four catches for 79 yards and a touchdown (which would have been reversed via replay if Mike “Coach Flaggy” Tice had thrown his red hankie). In a 47-17 thrashing of the Packers, Owens had eight receptions for 161 yards and a touchdown.
As a result, Friday's game between the Packers and the Vikings takes on even greater importance. The winner of the Christmas Eve showdown will win the division and nail down the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoff field. Suddenly, making it to the Super Bowl for the three seed won't be such a long shot. It'll take a playoff win against a .500 team such as the Carolina Panthers, a road win at Atlanta, and a return visit to Philly against a team that has to be feeling a lot less confident about its chances to make it to the next level than it did before Owens' injury last Sunday.
Think emotions won’t be running high about 2:00 PM CST time this Friday? A North Division crown and an “easy” playoff road to Philly. Yeah, the wind outside the Dome will be raw but the players emotions will be sky high come kick-off. Pass the cheese and egg nog, please.
Act One. Enter stage right.
The Vikings and the Lions are tied at twenty-one. The game clock on the screen shows about two minutes remaining in a pivotal game that Viking players have referred to as a playoff game earlier in the week. The Lions have no timeouts. The Vikings face a third-and-two at the Detroit eleven yard-line.
On defense, the Vikings have been shredded for 463 yards by the Lions' 30th-ranked offense, including 178 yards and two Joey Harrington-to-Roy Williams touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. The Vikings collection of soon-to-be-on-Welfare losers otherwise known as defensive backs have been worse-than-pathetic without Antoine Winfield in the lineup. On Sunday, even above-average starter Brian Williams had TOAST written all over his forehead.
So what would anyone do in these circumstances? Anyone with ANY football knowledge?
That's right. If you get the first down, then go down.
Since the Lions couldn't stop the clock, the Vikes could have run it down to two seconds, kicked the field goal, and gone home.
Instead, Moe Williams busted through the line, rolled safety Brock Marion at the five, and rumbled into the end zone. Yes, it was an amazing run. But I was thinking, "What the hell!?!? Does Tice have Williams on his fantasy football team or something!?!"
Act Two. Enter stage left.
And so it happened. The Lions marched right down the field. Harrington moved the Lions 80 yards in nine plays with no timeouts and 1:37 left in the game.
After defensive back Derek Ross was flagged for interference in the end zone, Harrington threw a fade to Roy Williams, who easily out-jumped Williams to make the score 28-27.
Even though the football gods eventually winked at Tice and the Vikings in the form of a bad snap for the extra point try, Tice shouldn't pat himself too hard on his back over this one. The contest should have gone to overtime, and if the Lions had gotten their mitts on the ball, they likely would have won the game.
Moe Williams admitted after the game that his touchdown run might not have been the best thing for the Vikings. "I looked up at the clock," he said, "and I was thinking after the first [down], I should have went down."
More importantly, Tice and/or offensive coordinator Scott Linehan should have given that direction to quarterback Daunte Culpepper when the play was radioed in.
Plain and simple.
Would such a move have been a statement of no confidence in the defense? Sure. And, as the events demonstrated, it would have been warranted.
The fact that they were bailed out by a fluke snap doesn't matter. This Minnesota team is no better than last year's version. If they somehow don't blow their driver's seat shot at a playoff berth, they should pack very light for their postseason road trip.
Act Three. Change of scenery.
Oh, sure. The Vikes can still win the NFC North and host a first-round playoff game but let me again state that the NFL's 30th-ranked offense shredded the Vikes defense like yesterday's cheese.
And speaking of cheese, if Joey Harrington can throw for a career-high 361 yards despite a severe case of the stomach flu what do you think NFL Golden Boy Brett Favre is going to do on Christmas Eve?
Fade to black. Fade to black indeed.
Indy Makes it Happen
This from the STrib today under NFL Notes.
The Colts and the city of Indianapolis have agreed on a deal to build an 63,000-seat stadium with a 30-year lease.
Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, team owner Jim Irsay and other officials announced the deal on the field of the RCA Dome before the Colts' nationally televised game Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens.
The deal also would allow the city to expand the Indiana Convention Center, which is adjacent to the RCA Dome, bringing the cost of the project to about $800 million.
The stadium, to be located about a block south of the RCA Dome, is scheduled to open by fall 2008 and include a retractable roof similar to Reliant Stadium where the Houston Texans play.
Peterson said the new stadium would allow the city to bid on Super Bowls.
The 63,000 seats can be expanded to 70,000, the minimum required to host a Super Bowl.
The stadium also would be designed for NCAA basketball, so it could host the Final Four. Peterson said the NCAA was involved in the design.
The RCA Dome has the smallest seating capacity among current NFL stadiums, at 55,506.
Wow. Well, that's one less NFL team that would have been moving to Los Angeles. And with San Diego now sporting a clinched division title and Super Bowl aspirations that leaves the New Orleans Saints and Vikings as likely candidates. And with temperatures hovering near or around zero for most of Christmas week I am again reminded of a former Minnesota Senator saying something about a "cold Omaha."
My son Graham is 4-years old and a fantastic kid. I can have the worst day and just seeing his face when I get home from work changes my outlook on everything. Last week I took my son Graham bowling. He's only four remember. He would take the ball and walk up to the line, and push with all his might. It would take the bowling ball about sixty to ninety minutes to make its way down the alley (bumpers up of course), but he was having a fantastic time. And then it happened. As my wife and I stood nearby watching, this four year old phenom-to-be actually rolled a strike. Graham called it an "X" since that's the way it appears on the scorecard.
I didn't even record a strike over two games, and here my prodigy rolled one all by himself. Now, each night we bowl in the long hallway at home using a soccer ball and plastic cups. He wants to go bowling again soon. Only next time, he'll have his own ball as Santa Claus will be leaving this under the tree on Christmas morning:
That's right, his own Scooby Doo bowling ball. We figure that Graham will pee his pants right then and there. So we'll be sure and have a change of underwear waiting for him!
What's this got to do with the Vikings? Well, Graham has great philosophical insight. On our Christmas cards this year we listed some various insights that Graham had told us over the course of 2004. One of those was, "The Vikings aren't bad guys. They just play bad." From the mouths of babes.
Play bad indeed. Know how some teams have monikers like "Steel Curtain", "Orange Crush", and "Purple People Eaters"? Well, I'm now suggesting "Animal House" for the Vikes.
Near the end of the loss to Seattle, Offensive Coordinator Flounder (Linehan) called for Randy Moss to roll out and possibly throw a pass or elect to run. Moss ended up throwing an ill-advised pass on first down at the Seattle 20-yard line with 2:16 left in the game and the Vikings trailing by four points. The ball was intercepted by rookie strong safety Michael Boulware. Coach Blutarski (Tice) should have overruled Linehan's play. Or called a timeout and reinforced to Moss that he was, under no circumstnces, to throw the ball into coverage.
Said ESPN analyst and former Vikings quarterback Sean Salisbury: "That was the worst play call of the 2004 season. Those type of calls are saved for video games, when you're playing against your kid at home. Mike Tice has a responsibility when that play is sent down from Scott Linehan, the offensive coordinator, to overrule it. ... This is a horrific decision. This is one that may keep the Vikings out of the playoffs. It also may cost the Vikings coaching staff their jobs."
And today it has been reported that if the Vikings win out, they will still win the division! After conferring Monday morning with the NFL office in New York, team officials learned the Vikings would hold the tiebreaker if the Vikings manage to win their final three games, which includes a Dec. 24 game against Green Bay.
Even if the Packers win their other two games -- Sunday against Jacksonville and Jan. 2 at Chicago -- the Vikings would win the division based on the NFL's third ring of tiebreakers.
At 10-6, the Vikings and Packers would be even on the head-to-head tiebreaker (1-1) and also division record (4-2). The Vikings would win out based on a better record in games against the teams' 12 common opponents this season. The Vikings' 8-4 mark would trump the Packers' 7-5 record against common opponents; the key game would be the Vikings' 20-3 victory over Tennessee, a team that defeated Green Bay 48-27.
While that may bring hope to Vikings fans, it brings disgust to me. We could be talking about resting players against the Redskins. We could even be talking about a bye. Instead, we hope for an improbable 3-0 finish.
I wonder what Graham will say to all this? I'll be sure to ask him and let you know. Soon as we finish polishing that Scooby bowling ball.
Tice Pulls A Blutarski
On a day that the Vikings needed a win bad, and at home no less, head-coach Mike Tice had a performance that harkened memories of Dean Wormer's get-together with the denizens of Animal House regarding their report cards.
"Mr. Blutarski. . . . Zero point zero."
As it turns out, Tice should have worn a toga, smashed a guitar, and poured mustard down his chest on Sunday, since his red-flag throwing, poor play calling "coaching" matched Bluto's GPA.
Zero. Point. Zero.
There are, in my view, simply too many factors conspiring against Tice this season, which will merely increase the pressure on Red McCombs to fire him outright. I dare say, even before the end of the season.
The reality is that the NFL is no longer a league of five-year plans. Coaches (e.g., Tom Landry) and quarterbacks (e.g., Terry Bradshaw) used to get plenty of time to show that they can get it done. Tice and offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan won't have the luxury in today's NFL.
Ah, nothing like a little smashmouth to Keyshawn to start the day out right!
Pro Bowl Update
Have you voted for Pro Bowl players yet? As reported in the Pioneer Press, our own Daunte Culpepper, with 652,318 votes, ranks third among all vote-getters in fan balloting for the Pro Bowl behind fellow quarterbacks Peyton Manning of the Colts (722,669) and Donovan McNabb of the Eagles (661,852). The Vikings' Kevin Williams is the leading vote-getter among NFC defensive tackles with 125,720.
Don't forget to bring your Moose calls to the game Sunday. The Vikings will honor former defensive end and 2004 Hall of Fame inductee Carl Eller during a halftime ceremony Sunday that will include the presentation of his Hall of Fame ring.
Note: I first published the following in 2001 in response to a piece written by then STrib columnist Dan Barreiro (aka the Curmudgeon). I offer this piece because last week I complained about the volume at the Metrodome. Could I too be turning into a Curmudgeon? Eeekkkk!
The other day my dog Glynis and I were tramping about the woods near our home. She is a whippet, which is something like a miniature greyhound and just as fast. She loves to chase squirrels. For those keeping score at home, the squirrels are up 225-0-1. The one tie being when Glynis caught a few hairs off the tail of a squirrel with slow reaction time. But she paid the price by slamming into the tree as well. Tree 1, Glynis 0.
On this occasion we did not see any squirrels. Oh, we could hear them chattering mockingly towards us. But they stayed clear of harm’s way. We did come upon a murder of crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos), an unkindness of ravens (Corvus corax) and even a convocation of bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), if I may be forgiven for using the proper group and Latin names for these species, ahem.
My wife Jackie had recently purchased a book about birds so that during a cold winter Minnesota day I can look from our window towards our bird feeders and no longer use the more common term for such groups, “a bunch of birds”, as was my practice before become a serious birder. Now I can engage in serious avian observation and sound like an authority.
When at last Glynis and I returned from our walk we discovered a gossip of women (Chatterus adinfinitus) at my dining room table, said gossip consisting of my wife and some friends.
“We best leave,” I heard Jackie say, “He’ll want to read the sports page now and then start to complain about The Curmudgeon.”
The Curmudgeon! My hated sports columnist who never, ever has a kind word for anything, anyone, or anything. Sensing that my blood was already boiling, even Glynis placed tail between her legs and hid underneath the table.
“Yes,” replied I to Jackie, “The Curmudgeon, Grouchus crankeyus.”
The term I wish to consider here has nothing to do with birding, except perhaps tangentially. It is curmudgeon, as applied to a particular Minneapolis Star Tribune sports columnist, albeit in a strained reach for humorous effect.
Not wanting to interfere with the gossip, I instead grabbed my sports page and trudged muttering off to my study, formerly known as the “hole under the stairs,” packed myself a pipe, ignited it, and, grinding the stem between my teeth, pulled the sports section out from under my arm.
The first thing I saw was the irascible, churlish aforementioned Curmudgeon pictured smack dab on the front page. He was ranting about his irritability from having attended a recent Minnesota Viking football game where the sound system was so loud it had roughed the edges of his temper, worn him down, and exposed a few nerve ends.
Taking a puff on my pipe, I recalled Jackie once say to a professor friend of mine, “Why, Bob, you used to be such a bubbly person and you aren’t anymore.” To which Bob growled in reply, blowing a wisp of hair off his forehead, “I got too old to bubble.” The same thing happened to this sports columnist, I guess. He has just gotten to old to bubble. But it appears he does enjoy a good grumble.
One thing that continually makes this sports columnist irascible and churlish is the positive thinking of Vikings fans, even when it appears the chips are down. To the sports columnist, it is depressing that Vikings fans continue to show up at games and stand on their feet and holler. It is also depressing to The Curmudgeon that the team uses the Metrodome as it should. That is to say, use its home-field advantage. If the team thinks it helps in having speakers in the field, to pipe in music as the opposing team huddles, to play “Welcome to the Jungle” as the ball is kicked off, I say more power to them.
I’d like to end by reminding The Curmudgeon that it was in fact his favorite sport, basketball, that started all this noise-making in the first place. It was the NBA that instituted the glittery introductions, the music blaring as the opposing team came up the floor, and the choreographed cheerleader numbers to entertain the paid attendance. Boy, I bet that must really burn The Curmudgeon to no end when that happens at a Minnesota Timberwolves game. Oh wait, that’s right, he enjoys it there at Target Center…at least, he hasn’t written a complaint about it yet. I know it couldn’t be a double standard now, could it?
As I puffed my pipe reflectively in my den, it occurred to me that just about everything irritates The Curmudgeon these days: the economy, politicians, positive thinkers, clothes, spotted owls, young people, old people, mechanics, plumbers, several major continents, and the expanding universe. I guess said sports columnist realized a long time ago that he, indeed, is a curmudgeon. The strange thing is, I bet he rather enjoys it.
First things first, you need to look at this TD by Randy Moss against the Titans just to set the table. Remember this speed?!?!?
Wouldn't you just love to see that happen against the Packers Girlfriends (have you seen their hair!) defensive backfield? Yeah, baby!
But more importantly the NFL had a significant wide-receiver signing within the last 24 hours. It was a mere $67 million, seven-year contract handed to the Colts receiver Marvin Harrison on Wednesday. What were they thinking? They need to look at the playbook of Vikings Vice President of Football Operations, Rob Brzezinski.
Under Brzezinski's leadership the Vikings have eliminated their salary cap deficit and have transformed their salary cap position into a long-term competitive advantage, signed superstars like Moss and Daunte Culpepper to long-term contract extensions and constructed a plan in 2002, along with then newly named Head Coach Mike Tice, to return the Vikings to long-term on-field competitive excellence.
The Colts? Between Harrison and quarterback Peyton Manning, the Colts have committed $57 million in bonuses and guarantees this year, for two players.
Maybe I'm missing something here, but there are 53 guys on the roster, and the Colts need to be able to put an adequate supporting cast around Manning and Harrison. With an average of $9.6 million per year in coin going directly to Harrison, it could be a challenge.
Next up for the Colts is running back Edgerrin James, who might have an eye on his native Miami as free agency approaches. Using the franchise tag on James would cost the Colts approximately $8 million in cash and cap dollars in 2005.
And while the Colts will have Manning, Harrison, and James together for at least one more year, it'll be very interesting to see how the Colts manage to paste together the rest of the roster with so much cap money going to only three players. Yeah, good luck.
Meanwhile, Moss will be tearing through the defensive backfields of many a team for some time to come. All while the Vikings defense continues to improve. And the Colts franchises sinks under the weight of three huge contracts.
Lot's of rumor flying around as of late pertaining to the current head-coach of the soon-to-be Super Bowl champion Minnesota Vikings. One possible destination being talked about in area sports bars and pool halls is the Washington Huskies.
According to the Washington Scout, there are really only four or five serious contenders. The Boston Globe is reporting that the Washington coaching search is headed by two candidates - Tyrone Willingham and Boston College coach Tom O'Brien, and that the list doesn't extend much past them. Those leading candidates are:
Tyrone Willingham (Former Head Coach, Notre Dame):According to Ted Miller of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Willingham is expected to interview with UW this week.
Walt Harris (Head Coach, Pittsburgh): Avani Patel of the Chicago Tribune reported that Harris is expected to be on UW's short list of coaching candidates. She also reported that Harris is expected to interview with Stanford later this week.
Tom O’Brien (Head Coach, Boston College): BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo said that he fully expects O'Brien to coach the Eagles next year. O'Brien has been contacted by UW for an interview.
Jim Mora, Jr. (Head Coach, Atlanta Falcons): The Seattle Times indicated Thursday that Mora - who initially showed no interest in the UW coaching position - may have met with Todd Turner and Mark Emmert and is intrigued with the idea of returning to his hometown.
Mike Tice (Head Coach, Minnesota Vikings): The Seattle P-I quoted Tice Thursday as saying the Washington job would one of only two or three jobs that could lure him away from his job as Minnesota's head coach. Tice spent ten years playing for the Seattle Seahawks and has a home in Seattle. Both of his children were also born in Seattle.
Scott Linehan (Offensive Coordinator, Minnesota Vikings): Rumors of Linehan lining up for a Washington interview continue to persist through back channels because of his ties to the UW program.
I'll try to post updates as they become available.
Will it come down to better North Division record or NFC record? Or even deeper?
Well, if Minnesota beats GB but wins only 2-3 against Seattle/Lions/'Skins to finish10-6 while GB also follows suit with their games (dropping only MN), GB will have 2 divisions loses, Chicago and Minnesota. Minnesota will have 2 division loses, GB and Chicago. So if may come down to conference record.
Minnesota has lost 4 conference games already, PHI, NYG, GB and CHI.
Green Bay has lost 3 conference games already, PHI, CHI and NYG. Losing against the Vikes would give GB 4 conference loses. Goes to another tiebreaker:
1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs). End up tied.
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division. End up tied.
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
Both beat Dallas
Vikes beat and lost to Bears. Pack lost to Bears and have one game remaining
Both beat Houston
Vikes beat Tennessee and Pack lost
Both have beaten Lions and have game remaining
Vikes have beaten Jacksonville and GB plays in Week 15
Both lost to Philly
Both lost to Indy
Both lost to Giants
Packers have beaten Redskins and Vikes play in Week 17
My projection in common games Vikes 8-4 and Packers 7-5
Vikes win North! Vikes win North!
After a very bad loss in which they could have had the North Division lead all to themselves, the Vikings are looking for answers after losing to the Bears by ten at Soldier Field. How about this one? The Vikings suck whenever they have to play outdoors.
The Vikings have not won an outside road game in December since 1999. I'll just let that stat sink in for a bit.
Now this little known gem. Mike Tice decided last week to not practice outside because it was snowing. We got a dusting that particular day. Not even enough snow to be measurable. Yet, a team that was once proud of playing in the elements took practice inside. A team that once banned heaters on the sidelines when it played at Met Stadium took practice inside. If I were dead I would have rolled in my grave.
The Vikings are a league worst 3-22 in their last 25 outdoor road games. The three wins were Green Bay on opening day last year, Houston this year, and Dallas on Thanksgiving in 2000. Yes, that's right, 2000. There were no outdoor road wins in 2001 or 2002. None. Nada. Zip. Here are the outdoor scores since 2001:
Baltimore L, 19-3
Chicago L, 27-23
Seattle L, 48-23
N.Y. Jets L, 20-7
Tampa Bay L, 38-24
New England L, 24-17
Green Bay L, 26-22
Green Bay W, 30-25
San Diego L, 42-28
Oakland L, 28-18
Chicago L, 13-10
Arizona L, 18-17
Philadelphia L, 27-16
* Houston W, 34-28
Green Bay L, 34-31
Chicago L, 24-14
* Overtime; Reliant Stadium roof was open.
And then there are those of you who think the Vikes would have a chance at Philadelphia in January. If you still think that, go back to the beginning of this column and start reading again.
But then, there was a bright spot yesterday. My fantasy quarterback in the Beer Brotherhood Fantasy League was one Donovan McNabb. Five passing TDs in the first half alone. A team record 464 yards passing. I think that qualifies as being taken out behind the wood-shed for a beating.
Packers quarterback Brett Favre had one of the worst outings of his career on Sunday at Philly. Also enjoyable to watch. But if the game had been televised by ESPN or ABC, the announcing crew still would have spent the whole time talking about what a great guy he is and how great it is that he's still trying his best to bring his team back and isn't it great to see a guy like Brett Favre still playing great and isn't he such a great guy to be the great Brett Favre and greatness is Brett Favre and if you're still reading this you haven't quite gotten the joke yet, have you?
What I want to know from you is which loss was more humiliating as a fan of the respective team. The Vikings getting beat by a team that had been beaten in its previous two games by a combined score of 62-17? Or the Packers who knew by winning they would have first place in the North all to themselves but were whipped by the Eagles 47-17 in a game that wasn't even that close? Tough call.
Let's hope that the Vikes can bounce back this week and that Antoine Winfield will not be out long due to a sprained left ankle.
FFLF (Female Fun Limitation Factor)
One of my perks is the ability to listen to Joe Soucheray on 1500 AM every now and then on the way home from work. Joe, like any radio personality, uses lexicon specific to his show and listeners. One such phrase commonly used or exercised in Garage Logic (the name of Joe's show) is the FFLF (Female Fun Limitation Factor). The FFLF is defined as when a woman asks "Do you really think you should be doing that?"
And boy, does it ever speak to enjoying a Vikings game. Last weekend, my game-day buddy and I spoke of how we felt guilty leaving the house for four hours to attend a game while the wives attended to the kids. FFLF, indeed. That gave me pause to consider why we felt that way.
Now, here is an enlightening statement; most women HATE football. They think it is boring, the game is too long, and way too complicated. Take a chick to a game and all a man usually hears is, "What’s with all those crazy rules? Off-sides, holding, interception, yada, yada, yada! Who cares?"
Now, I really can't complain. Mrs. Cheer Or Die steadfastly attended Vikings games with me for over ten years. OK, she usually brought a book along and I would have to bring her out of a mystery book reading stupor when the Vikings were in the red zone but at least she attended. She also came from a football family. Her brother played college ball and currently is head-coach for Hellgate High School in Missoula, Montana.
But after Cheer Or Die, Jr. was born she stopped attending. It was a decision reached mutually. Mrs. Cheer Or Die wanted to stay at home with the baby. I recall the first game I attended when the little guy was sick. I debated staying home to assist with a sick child but was pushed out the door and told to "enjoy myself." I was miserable at the game. FFLF.
And then there are the away games when I am at home on Sunday. I get The Look. The Look is another Garage Logic phrase that simply means the expression one gets from one's spouse when one does something incredibly moronic. Women are born with a natural ability to give The Look.
I usually get The Look when I SCREAM at the television when the Vikings fumble when driving late in the fourth quarter? Cheer Or Die, Jr. experienced his first Look during the game against the Packers when the ball was fumbled late in the game. I was yelling so he thought he should yell also. I got the dreaded Triple Dog Stare Look reserved only for the most grievous of husbandly crimes. For I was guilty of being considered a moron by Mrs. Cheer Or Die while at the same time passing along said trait to Cheer Or Die, Jr. We both hung our heads and shuffled our feet while standing a mere 2-inches from the television screen. FFLF.
It starts so early, this FFLF. At least, Cheer Or Die, Jr. got his first dose of the FFLF while Papa was around so we could both wallow in our pity together. That's not something a boy of four should experience by himself. He'll be fine. He'll have a little less enjoyment of football now. But he'll be fine.
But there is hope on the horizon. As soon as Cheer Or Die, Jr. is old enough to attend a game and actually stay focused the entire four hours I'm sure that Mrs. Cheer Or Die will only be too happy to push us out the door so she can enjoy an afternoon of reading while sipping some kind of weird herbal tea and partaking in a chocolate bon-bon or two. That's when we hope to turn the tables on her. MFLF (Male Fun Limitation Factor) will hit her like a defensive-end taking down a quarterback. At least, that's what we hope will happen. But for now, FFLF.
More Monday, FFLF permitting.
Another holiday season of joy and fellowship is finally upon us. It’s time to reflect upon all those things that make us, um angry. Yes, angry. Especially when it comes to Minnesota Vikings games. And since it is the season of fellowship, today I will devote a short essay on the thing I would change if you were crowned Thor, leader of all the Vikings Nation. We begin with the music level at the Metrodome.
Oh, yes! The music just rocks, doesn’t it? It used to be that the Vikings would release an eagle from the last row in the bowels of the upper deck. Said eagle would soar majestically over the crowd at the end of the National Anthem to an attendants arm on the field below. Have you noticed there is no eagle any more?
Remember, I am well connected to the Minnesota Vikings and my inside sources tell me that the reason the eagle no longer soars majestically is the decibel level is so high that the vibrations emitting from the Metrodome speakers make birds fall from the sky. They lost one eagle that way late last year. It was quickly disposed of very hush-hush. Shhhhh, you didn’t hear it here.
From my front row perch in Section 101, you can actually hear the speakers rip themselves apart as they struggle to reproduce the rich, complex nuanced sound of a jackhammer driving a 50-foot long nail into your head, or whatever the music is supposed to sound like.
I enjoy looking the twenty-something fans when the music is especially rocking. You know the twenty-something fans. They think Vikings football was invented in 1998 and the reason one goes to a game is to get drunk by 12:01 on game day and then pass out…only after they’ve barfed over your nice leather Vikings jacket.
Anyway, as the music reaches a level upon which my eye lashes shatter, the twenty-something’s are making that deadpan uh-huh, head-bobbing movement that indicates they are most definitely hardcore serious cool, even though the rear portions of their brains are currently being pounded into swiss cheese.
Idiots. I took my four-year old fruit of my loins to his first game this past preseason. I plugged his little ears with those little orange foam thingies so that the State of Minnesota would not send the child welfare authorities in to arrest me for conduct unbecoming of a parent. “You made your child deaf at age four because of your selfish need to attend Vikings games.”
The pre-game introductions began and a hair-metal anthem came on. This was quickly followed by heaving, beating bass drums. I looked at Cheer Or Die Jr. He was not bobbing his head up and down just like the twenty-something’s. He had his hands cupped over his ears while his face was frozen in terror I had not seen since Jerry snipped off Tom’s tail on the Cartoon Network.
"That hurts my ears," he said when the introductions had finished. It's a rocker's world, kid, I told him. It's the price you pay for rocking out.
"Rocking hurts my head," was his reply. Well, your old man isn’t deaf for nothing. After years of listening to first LPs, then tapes, and CDs via big floor speakers, then headphones, and finally 7.1 surround sound stereo my body is finally saying enough!
So, yes, I understand the desire to play music loud. On the other hand, there has to be a compromise to the volume it is played at. I have a youngin’ that needs to see more Vikings games before they move to Los Angeles or San Antonio or wherever it is they will end up. And his hands need to be signaling touchdown or be kept free to fire a whiskey bottle at a referee. Not cupped on his ears.
Golly! Who knew self-righteousness felt this good? Try it by leaving a comment on what thing you would change if you were leader of all the Vikings Nation.
More Friday; see you then.
"I think we're going to be saying, bye, bye, Vikings, in 2012."
Those words were uttered by Rep. Andy Westerberg, R-Blaine, on Wednesday after he had been appointed cochairman of a House-Senate stadium "working group" to "find solutions to the stadium problem." His district is the only area seeking a new Vikings stadium. But, Westerberg said, in light of the forecast, "it's going to be really hard to find money to put into a stadium."
This came on the heels on news of a $700 million state revenue shortfall announced by the state this week.
Now, I'm not so sure I take the same line as Rep. Westerberg that the Vikings franchise is doomed in Minnesota. A lot can happen over the next six years to change the financial horizon for the better. And a lot can happen to even dampen it further.
I still look for the Minnesota Twins to be the team that breaks the ice first, securing a new stadium or folding the franchise altogether. Only then, will the entire focus be on the Vikings. And only then, will the stadium, or franchise. determination be finally made.
Time to put down a bunch of thoughts that have been swirling through the old grey matter this week.
Proposed Minnesota Sports Complex
Are you in support of a Minnesota Vikings sports complex in Anoka County? Anoka County now has a site chock full of information ranging from adding your name to a list of supporters to viewing "fly-by" animation of the proposed sports complex. Pretty cool site, although I'd still prefer a stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
Media Fascination with Favre Continues
Lately, Brett Favre has been receiving more accolades than Jesus Christ did when he walked on water. I mean, enough already! I had to turn off the Monday Night game this past week because I could not longer stomach John Madden's love-fest with Favre. As our own Greet Machine pointed out this week, Jim Marshall has played in far more consecutive games that Favre and didn't even merit a mention on the MNF game. And now this NFL Poll from this week:
What is the main reason the Packers are doing so well right now?
1) Depth at running back
2) Defense playing better than expected
3) Game management
4) Inspired play by Brett Favre
5) Too many receiving targets to cover
Oh, make me puke already! I'll give you the SOLE reason. Within the past six weeks the Packers have played Detroit, Washington, Minnesota (WITHOUT Randy Moss), Dallas, St. Louis, and Houston. Next we'll start seeing this on the airwaves....
"Favre wins again! BRILLANT!"
Let's see what happens to poor Brettsy once he faces the Eagles Sunday! I'll stand by my prediction that the Vikes will win the North division crown by two games.
If you haven't already, be sure and submit your workplace for the Purple Pride Friday Contest. Just e-mail photos of your workplace to the Vikings at email@example.com and each Friday morning throughout the season, the weeks winning workplace will be surprised by Rusty Gatenby from 5 Eyewitness News and Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders! Winners also receive five pregame sideline passes, five field seats for the next home game and a ton of other prizes.
I'm still waiting for the call. Here's some shots of my workplace:
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Some people have inquired about my induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 1999, VISA in conjunction with the Pro Football Hall Of Fame sponsored a new promotion called the "Visa Hall of Fans" award. VISA, along with a select committee, would pick one lucky fan from every NFL team to represent their team in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. A special wing in the hall was set up to honor these fans and was named the "Visa Hall of Fans."
In order to be selected, fans would have to write a short essay explaining why they should represent their respective teams in the hall. In January 1999 the first class was selected and the thirty-one winners were invited to be honored at the Hall of Fame. Being there with the other thirty winners helped me recover from the devasting loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game following the 1998 season.
The Pro Footballs Ultimate Fans Association (P.F.U.F.A.) was born shortly after and holds a reunion each summer during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction festivities.
Week in and week out, people call up radio talk shows, claiming to be fans of the Vikings. They call to talk about the past weekend's game, next week, who sucks, who gets game balls. But do any of them ever consider who really sucks? Don't go throwin' stones just yet, Vikings fans.
I've been a Vikings fan since I can remember which pegs me an ardent supporter of the Purple for over 40 years. Nothing irks me more than atrocious showing of team spirit and loyalty by Vikings fans at the Dome. Fans are encouraged to make noise, become the 12th man on the field.
This past week at the Sunday game against Jacksonville someone started the wave. Pretty cool stuff unless your team is on offense. Anyone with a nominal sense of the game of football knows that when the offense takes the field one sits their butt down and feels guilty if you are breathing too loudly.
Why is it that fans cheer when the home team is on offense? Football fan etiquette dictates that you are as loud as possible on defense, and silent on offense. Cheering after and between plays is acceptable, but you don't start a wave when the offense takes the field. You don't chant "Let's go Vikes!" when Daunte Culpepper is barking a cadence at the line.
As if that weren't enough, why do fans start pouring out the exit gates at the beginning of the 4th quarter? Go to Green Bay, New England, Chicago, or New York. Not only do the fans stay until the end, but they're on their feet, screaming for their team for 60 minutes of play. What is it about Minnesota fans that make them so different? Is it that important to be first in line to get out of the parking lot?
So what is your responsibility as a fan? Ever wonder what fans are supposed to do? Well, allow me to spell it out for you:
Go to the game: Don't make the TV station buy out the tickets the Friday before the game so you "fans" can watch it on TV. If you call yourself a fan and don't make an effort to get out there and support your team, one should question your true level of devotion. Yes, the vikes have sold out for a few years now but I recall the days when breaking 40,000 in attendance was a good day. When General Mills had to buy out seats just so the game was televised locally. What goes around, comes around.
Cheer: Make noise when your team is on defense…LOTS of noise! Not only does it cause the opponent to false start, it sometimes causes them to burn timeouts. Not to mention that the defense feeds off of crowd noise. Ever see the defensive backs dancing on the field during TV timeouts? That's their way of firing up the crowd. Stand up if it's a critical game situation. Stop being so lazy, and get off your ass and cheer!
Shut Up: When your team has the ball, shut your pie-hole. Sit on your hands, and make sure you can hear the guy in the 19th row bite into his nachos. The offense relies on audible signals, and fans making noise only make it difficult (this includes you idiots who wait till we have the ball to start the wave).
Stay till triple-zeros: You're not going anywhere. What's your hurry? All you're going to do is sit in your car in the parking lot rather than sit in the seat in the stadium. There's nothing worse than looking around at the end of the 4th quarter seeing nothing but people heading for the exits, no matter the score.
The fans of a football team have the sole responsibility of bringing the home-field advantage to the home team. That doesn't happen often enough. Maybe it is because most of them aren't hardcore. Maybe it's the people who don't really follow football, who don't know how to behave at a game. I can't figure it out. Neither can Mike Tice.
Tice said after yesterday's game, "Can you believe they did a wave when we were on offense?" Tice said of the home crowd. "I love the excitement and everything, but we could use that when we were on defense. I think they booed me when I asked them to stop doing it."
I think you lose your season tickets if you start the wave when the Vikings offense takes the field. Period.
Bears Finally Turn to George
When the Vikings travel to the Windy City to play the Bears next Sunday, they may face a old man they had in purple themselves not all that long ago.
Weeks after writing him off as a head case who was more trouble than he's potentially worth, the Chicago Bears finally have realized that quarterback Jeff George has more talent than all of their current signal-callers combined, times ten.
ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reports that the Bears have signed George to a one-year deal, most likely for the prorated veteran minimum.
And although Pasquarelli suggests that the Bears will put George at No. 3 on December 5 against the Vikings, I've got a feeling that, if he's even remotely in football shape, he'll make his debut at some point during that game.
Indeed, placing him behind Jonathan Quinn, Medicine Woman on the depth chart would be even more of an indignity than George has suffered as teams have ignored him for most of nearly years seasons since he wrapped up a backup stint in Seattle, which came after sitting out for more than one full season after getting unceremoniously dumped by the Redskins in 2001.
The starter for the Minnesota game likely will be reformed pitcher Chad Hutchinson, who was dumped by the Cowboys in the offseason -- and who has yet to show much of anything in practice with the Bears.
But look for Hutchinson to be on a leash shorter than a pit bull in a park full of poodles in heat come next Sunday. The Bears will need to score points in bunches in order to keep up with the Vikings, and a loss will drop Chicago to 4-8.
Hovan Sulked on the Sidelines
Yesterday, Chris Hovan was a healthy scratch against Jacksonville. Oh, how the (high and) mighty have fallen.
I"ve never have had admiration for Hovan. Hovan, whom I often ridicule for wearing a hair net (thus the Pantyhose Head reference), never lived up to his own hype. And I saw through it from day one.
Hovan, who was not listed on the injury report, yielded his spot in the starting lineup to Spencer Johnson a week ago. This time around, Hovan also has coughed up his game-day roster spot.
Hovan is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and it's becoming more and more obvious that the Vikings won't try to re-sign him. Given his performance over the past two seasons, it's unlikely that anyone will offer him anything more than a minimum-salary contract.
As one league insider was said to utter Sunday afternoon, Hovan "has never been anything special." The source describes Hovan's reputation as "a classic case of marketing by him, his agent and those that like to kiss ass. He created an image through showmanship and bullsh-t that never equaled his play. Never."
Benson Tries Out For Scrooge
With the New Orleans Saints having an awful season and visions of a taxpayer-financed stadium now dancing in the toilet, owner Tom Benson seems to be losing interest in the NFL franchise that he has owned for some 20 years.
According to my guy "Da Pope" in New Orleans, Benson has even canceled the organization's annual Christmas party. He also is cutting costs at the team headquarters, including the food budget. Sound familiar?
Yeah, Red McCombs and Benson, both car dealers, are buddies. They must be having meetings together to even try and figure out how to use one office building and staff to run both NFL teams!
In any event, it appears that Benson will shift, like McCombs, to maintenance mode for the next few months as he tries to decide whether to cash out come February if the team can't finagle the cash cow of a shiny new venue in which to play the home games.
The guess here is that Benson eventually will sell to Larry Ellison of Oracle, who'll move the team to L.A. That, while bad for Saints fans, at least takes away one method of getting out of the Twin Cities if McCombs can't sell the team locally. McCombs would then be more pressured to sell to a local guy and increase the chances of getting a stadium bill passed.
Regardless of how it plays out, the situation in New Orleans will be a big part of what is shaping up to be one of the wildest and most unpredictable offseasons in years.
Washington Huskies Interested in Tice?
Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the name of Vikings coach Mike Tice has surfaced as a possible candidate for the head-coaching job at the University of Washington.
Tice, who declined to comment on the situation on Wednesday, is in the final year of his Vikings contract. However, the team holds a $1 million option for 2005.
Tice owns a home in Seattle, dating back to his days with the Seahawks.
I've never quite come to champion Tice. He's just always come across to me as being, well, over-matched when it comes to facing veteran NFL head-coaches. From time management issues to handling Randy Moss' recent hamstring injury, Tice just seems to be in learning mode.
So, it would not break my heart to see Tice go. However, I'd rather retain him than have to deal with McCombs try and bring in the cheapest available coach...which is what he would do.
Well, it's been a few days since my last posting. The end of every year finds me frantically trying to keep up at work while also juggling the holidays with family. Thus, the blog has suffered a bit. So bear with infrequent updates through the holiday season.
Oh, and to my great dismay I have discovered that my entire 1998 season stories were lost when my hard drive crashed in early 1999. I had forgot about it (who wouldn't!) and thus, I had just been posting game recaps from 1998. In retrospect, I just thought that added nothing. So, from this point forward it will be all 2004.
Will There Be A "Artest" Incident In NFL Someday?
Recently, one of the major sports web sites posted a poll asking which NFL player would be the first to "go Artest" refering to the recent NBA fiasco in which Ron Artest went into the stands to beat on some fans "Walking Tall" style.
One of the selections to the question was Todd Sauerbrun, a punter. Before one asks what in the name of Bud Grant would a punter be doing on such a list let me bring you back to the 1996 season.
The Vikes were hosting a game against the Chicago Bears, Sauerbrun's team at that time. Sauerbrun had been arrested the previous week on a drunk driving charge. To make matters worse, he had been driving off-road.....through a children's playground. I'm not making this up.
During pre-game warmups, I first attracted Sauerbrun's attention from my first row seat by making fun of his "guns". You see, Sauerbrun thought he had huge biceps....ala Keith Millard. You remember former Vikings defensive end Keith Millard? He was arrested once and told his arresting officer that his "biceps were lethal weapons".
Anyway, back then Sauerbrun was telling everyone that his biceps were so huge that he needed a specially designed jersey to accomodate the bad boys. Sauerbrun did not appreciate that I compared his biceps to the arms of my grandmother.
I further continued asking Sauerbrun if he needed a ride home after the game. I even offered up that I had a case of cold beer in the trunk and that I knew a special short-cut.....through a children's playground. Would he care to drive? Good stuff, right?
Well, Sauerbrun had to be literally restrained by two teammates as he tried to climb the wall separating the two of us. It was very funny to me at the time. But after seeing what happened in Detroit last Friday it could have ended ugly. I guess steroids and punters just don't mix.
We Should Be Worried
Mike Kelly's decision to leave his position as the Vikings' executive vice president speaks volumes. Kelly's contract expires at season's end, and he has, in five years, helped stabilize the club's finances and kept it profitable and competitive despite the revenue issues inherent in the lease with the Metrodome.
As quoted from the Star Tribune story, Kelly's differences with owner Red McCombs boil down to this: The franchise, he says, has gone from "a growth business to a maintenance business."
The Vikings are for sale at a reported price ($600 million) beyond the stretch of potential buyers. Their inability to get a deal with the state for a new stadium and the release of their legislative staff a month ago helped convince Kelly to move on.
"There's so much uncertainty going forward," he says.
Of course that's on top of a couple of years of shaving budgets and squeezing productivity from a small staff in a cramped training facility.
Here's what Kelly won't say: The bottom line at the highest echelon is not winning, it's the bottom line. Too little of the profit goes back into the operation for staffing, signing free agents or paying coaches. And it won't get better while McCombs tries to sell at a price outsized for the market.
Kelly's departure won't mean much to fans and I doubt you’ll much posted about it. He's not one of the players. But he wanted what they wanted. A chance to win a championship. So the reasons for his departure should worry all of us. Let’s hope that Red sells soon….and locally.
When Denny Green was head-coach of the Vikings, I started to capture all the little Yogi Berra type quotes that he would deliver straight-faced at news conferences. Stuff, that just left one speechless. Kinda lijke this one from 1997:
"Well he’s a ball player. Good football players make football plays. He’s a good football player. We were hoping he was a good football player, and it looks like he is. Football players that are good football players make plays."
And "when he plays like he could play, he makes all the plays he should make when he plays the way he can play".
Well, this one was made by Denny this week down in Arizona. The more things change, the more they stay the same....or something like that.
"When I make a decision, I stay with it until I change my mind." — Arizona coach Dennis Green, on his switch of starting quarterbacks.
Have a favorite Denny-ism that you recall from his tenure with the Vikes?
Yep, that's the proof in the pudding that the Vikes were once again screwed by the refs while playing on frozen LAMEbeau field. (By the way, how can a field be frozen when it has heaters underneath it!?!?).
Here is what Peter King says regarding the fumble on the kickoff return:
It's amazing, and a little sad, that the Minnesota special-teamer Derek Ross actually had possession of the fumbled Robert Ferguson kickoff return in the final minute of the Packers-Vikings game. And Ross was down before the pigpile got the ball disengaged from him and into the hands of a Packer. Green Bay then moved a few yards into field goal range and won. That stolen ball, quite likely, is the difference between the Vikings having a two-game lead over the Packers this morning and the Pack and Vikes being tied at 5-4 atop the NFC North.
The refs will always give the calls to the Packers as long as Brett Favre is in the league."Brett Favre is the golden boy of the NFL. We know they'd get some calls," defensive tackle Chris Hovan said. "But there were other ways we could have won the game without relying on those calls."
So beside the Ross fumble recovery called in favor of the Packers, lets look at other areas the Vikes were screwed on national television:
1) Marcus Robinson: a complete non factor because he was being held all night. Any flags? NOT ONE!
2) Fumble in the endzone by the Packers that was a non-fumble? It was plain on the reply that the fumble occured prior to the goal-line and it should have been Vikes ball as they recovered. The ball had not yet broken the goal-line prior to the fumble occuring.
But no matter. Let the Cheeseheads have their week in the sun. The Vikes will finish no worse than 9-7. The Pack, no better than 8-8. Vikes will win the Central and the Packers will be on early vacation.
Onto Mike Tice. I've never thought he could get the team to the Big Dance and I still don't. He's being outcoached each game. And while I could continue to carry a long leash and support him, I feel equally I can criticize him as well. To wit:
1) Poor decision making and clock management. There are too many examples for me to know where to start!
2) May have tough guy mentality, but not at all hard on players and rest of coaching staff. Thus, team does not portray "tough guy" image on Sundays. When has this team ever come from behind to win a game under Tice--when it really meant something! Name one!
3) He has arguably the most talent in the NFL on offense, has had 3 years to prove himself and yet, despite this, his overall record and success has been sub-par at best. Tice is ultimately held accountable for this team's poor defense--even though it may really be the coaches under him that are under achieving-he needs to take the responsibility.
4) Handling of Moss. No further explanation necessary. If Moss is on the field at Indy and Green Bay, the team is 7-2 and running away with the Central. This is the biggest blunder in Vikings lore since, well, Les Steckel!
I never met a Packer fan I didn’t like, although I find a good many of them annoying. Being a logical person, I have entered into my computer all the Packer fans I know and categorized them according to annoyance. A few of the several hundred categories are as follows.
Methodical Person: Boy, this guy really gets on my nerves. You’re already late getting started on a tailgate trip, and he will say, “All right, now let’s make sure we have everything.” He pulls out a checklist four feet long and begins checking off items: “Toothpaste, okay, toothbrush, okay, mouthwash, okay, toothpicks, where are the toothpicks? Anybody seen the toothpicks? Okay, Dental floss…” The guy will spend ten minutes checking off items related to oral hygiene, never mind that once he is at the tailgate he brushes his teeth with a finger dipped in paint thinner and then only ten minutes before the game begins. His breath kills trees. His is the acid rain of bad breath. I once saw a dressed-out elk get up and run three hundred yards just because this guy breathed on it. But he insists on being methodical. Finally, we, his tailgate companions, throw his junk into the trunk and him and his list in on top of it. “Toilet tissue!” he cries. “I didn’t check off toilet tissue!” Someone then makes a crude remark about his list.
Easily Annoyed Person: Some little thing will go wrong during a tailgate, such as forgetting to bring any toilet tissue, and the guy will say, “Really, I find this very annoying.” Or he will say, “All right, who’s got mud on his boots? Who is tracking mud onto my authentic Lambeau sod piece? Boy, is this annoying!” While he is thinking up new annoyances, he forgets to not overfill the turkey fryer with cooking oil and flames roar into the early morning ruining our breakfast and charring our respective eye-brows, and he says, “Complain, complain! All you guys do is complain. It’s really, you know, annoying.” I find persons who get annoyed easily particularly annoying.
Graduate of the Will Rogers School of Philosophy: Three hours into a tailgate with this fellow and you’re ready for the intensive-care unit of a psychiatric hospital. In real life, he wears a three-piece suit (very, very rare for a Packers fan) and speaks like John Houseman “making money the old-fashioned way.” At the tailgate instead of wearing the Packer approved blazer orange he wears a sloppy old Stetson and turns into Will Rogers, the cowboy philosopher. “I just never met a man I didn’t like, but those Viking horns going ‘baawooh, baawooh’ are shore puttin’ me to the test,” he will say. Almost nothing occurs that he can’t direct his cowboy philosophy at:
“If we could somehow feed some of this coffee to the Packer offensive line we’d get by that Kevin Williams real fast.”
“What they need in Minneapolis is a class in gun safety. Hardly a day goes by that some Vikings fan don’t shoot off his mouth about your season record.”
“If you ask me, the Packer fan base is like this here elk steak. The more we chew on it, the larger it gits.”
And so on and on and on. Tailgating with a cowboy philosopher is like….is like…Well, I can’t think of anything it’s like, but it’s real hard on the nerves. I guess cowboy philosophy is something you have to be born with.
Explainers: Packer fans that feel they must explain everything to you easily annoy me. “The reason we eat cheese is we have dairy cows in Wisconsin.” Oh? That never would have occurred to me. “You know why those coals won’t start? They got wet from the last time we tailgated.” Gee, I would have never guessed. “The reason we smear paint thinner on our coat sleeves is….” Half their sentences begin, “The way that works is…” Explainers apparently assume you have spent your entire life inside a paper bag and therefore have not the slightest notion of the reason for anything. But wait until you actually need something explained, such as why their team won’t be in the playoffs again, or better yet, how they expect to get into the playoffs ever again. “Beats me,” they say. “You expect me to know everything?”
Fixers: You notice a loose screw on your Vikings grill and start to tighten it. “Here, let me do that,” says the fixer, prying the screwdriver out of your hand. Or you start to adjust the idle on your power generator. “Here, let me do that,” the fixer says, shoving you out of the way. Fixers are of the belief that you are totally incompetent to perform the simplest task. If you’re buttoning your Vikings jacket, they say, “Here, let me do that for you.” Fixers are basically good-hearted chaps and really don’t annoy me that much. I’ve noticed that when it comes to wading into an icy Minnesota lake up to my armpits to retrieve a football thrown by a Favre-wannabe, a fixer will always step forward and say, “Here, let me hold your coat for you.”
Impressionists: You are up to your armpits in icy water trying to ret retrieve a football thrown by a Favre-wannabe, and the impressionist yells, “Hey, Brian, look! Here’s my impression of Bart Starr talking to Reggie White.” I was once on a tailgate trip with an impressionist who got stuck in a John Wayne impression and couldn’t get out of it. “Pass me the salt, Pilgrim,” he’d say, “and don’t be all day about it neither.” I finally had to stuff him in the turkey fryer.
Stand-Up Comics: These guys tell jokes end to end, always beginning, “Did you hear the one about…?”
“Yeah, we heard it,” you say.
“But probably not this version of it. Ahman Green, Brett Favre, and a hippie are on this plane together..” There is no way to stop stand-up comics. After the fourth joke in a row bring out the back-up turkey fryer and stuff them in it.
Take-Charge Guys: Every outing of more than one person has a take-charge guy: “Okay, the way we’re going to do this is, Pat, you do this, Fred you do that, and Arnie, you do the other thing. Everybody knows what he’s supposed to do? Good. We’ll meet back here ten minutes after the game.” The take-charge guy is a born leader. Unfortunately, as we all know, born leaders often have the IQ of a rock. That’s what makes them so easy to follow.
Whiners: The Packers lose again and the whiner says, “I knew this would happen! Now what are we going to do? Why do these things always happen to us? I’m not going tailgating again until we get a new coach.”
The only fit punishment for a whiner is to lock him up inside the vehicle with the Explainer, the Cowboy Philosopher, and the Impressionist. Sure, it’s cruel and unusual punishment, but it serves the wimp right.
Tice Smarter than Brian "The Genius" Billick?
As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, the suspension rules have been relaxed this year, permitting guys like Onterrio Smith to work with players and coaches as long as they do not participate in practice.
The Genius didn't know about this new rule when running back Jamal Lewis received his two-game suspension. As The Genius told David Ginsburg of the AP last month: "We can talk to him, but he's not allowed to be in the building, which I really think has to be revisited during the offseason. When you have an athlete in this position, this is when he needs the organization most. He needs to be around the counseling and the mentoring we have here.
"To totally isolate a guy from the team, I don't think is in the best interest of the team, it's not in the best interest of the athlete, it's not in the best interest of the league."
This is a major screw-up by the Ravens, if they coulda/woulda/shoulda had Lewis in the building during his suspension -- and someone within the organization needs to be answering some tough questions about how it came to be that they didn't know that the changes The Genius is advocating already have been implemented.
Tice 1, The Genius 0
Why Not Us?
The Cowboys are going to get a new stadium with a minimum of teeth-gnashing.
The Dallas Cowboys won voter approval for taxpayers to fund half the cost of a new $650 million domed football stadium in Arlington, Texas, to replace the 33-year-old Texas Stadium in Irving. Voters in Arlington, 10 miles west of Dallas, approved the proposal with support of 55.2 percent of voters to 44.8 percent opposed with 97 percent of precincts reporting.
While this is strictly a Minnesota Vikings related sports blog, I have to post my own feelings on the 2004 presidential election. And I predict that I'll receive more comments on this single piece than any of the previous 40-plus Vikings related postings to date. But that's OK, as I do think that if you are not having a fight with somebody, then you are not sure whether you are alive when you wake up in the morning.
I could just rant over all that has been said before but I'd rather quote someone that sums up my own feelings very well. From the desk, and the pen of arguably America's greatest current writer and author of the 1987 epic Bonfire of the Vanities, Novelist Tom Wolfe. As a member of the Manhattan intelligentsia. Wolfe seems a lonely defender of George Bush's conservative values.
"Here is an example of the situation in America," he says: "Tina Brown wrote in her column that she was at a dinner where a group of media heavyweights were discussing, during dessert, what they could do to stop Bush. Then a waiter announces that he is from the suburbs, and will vote for Bush. And ... Tina's reaction is: 'How can we persuade these people not to vote for Bush?' I draw the opposite lesson: that Tina and her circle in the media do not have a clue about the rest of the United States. You are considered twisted and retarded if you support Bush in this election. I have never come across a candidate who is so reviled. Reagan was sniggered it, but this is personal, real hatred.
"Indeed, I was at a similar dinner, listening to the same conversation, and said: 'If all else fails, you can vote for Bush.' People looked at me as if I had just said: 'Oh, I forgot to tell you, I am a child molester.' I would vote for Bush if for no other reason than to be at the airport waving off all the people who say they are going to London if he wins again. Someone has got to stay behind."
Where does it come from, this endorsement of the most conservative administration within living memory? Of this president who champions the right and the rich, who has taken America into the mire of war, and seeks re-election tomorrow? Wolfe's eyes resume the expression of detached Southern elegance.
"I think support for Bush is about not wanting to be led by East-coast pretensions. It is about not wanting to be led by people who are forever trying to force their twisted sense of morality onto us, which is a non-morality. That is constantly done, and there is real resentment. Support for Bush is about resentment in the so-called 'red states' - a confusing term to Guardian readers, I agree - which here means, literally, middle America. I come from one of those states myself, Virginia. It's the same resentment, indeed, as that against your own newspaper when it sent emails targeting individuals in an American county." Wolfe laughs as he chastises. "No one cares to have outsiders or foreigners butting into their affairs. I'm sure that even many of those Iraqis who were cheering the fall of Saddam now object to our being there. As I said, I do not think the excursion is going well."
And John Kerry? "He is a man no one should worry about, because he has no beliefs at all. He is not going to introduce some manic radical plan, because he is poll-driven, and it is therefore impossible to know where or for what he stands."
As far as Wolfe is concerned, "the great changes in America came with the second world war, since which time I have not seen much shift in what Americans fundamentally believe. Apart from the fact that as recently as the 1970s, Nelson Rockefeller shocked people by leaving his wife of 30 years, while now celebrities routinely have children outside marriage, the mayor of New York leaves his wife for his lover and no one blinks. But a large number of people have remained religious, and it is a divided country - do not forget that Al Gore nearly won the last election. The country is split right along party lines."
And there has been a complete climate change in the nation which elected Bill Clinton twice, to that which may confer the same honour on George Bush tomorrow. This, says Wolfe, began not with the election of Bush, but on the morning of September 11 2001.
None of us who were in New York that day will ever forget it, and Wolfe is no exception. "I was sitting in my office when someone called to tell me two light planes had collided with the World Trade Centre. I turned on my television, before long there was this procession of people of all kinds, walking up the street. What I remember most was the silence of that crowd; there was no sound.
"That day told us that here was a different kind of enemy. I honestly think that America and the Bush administration felt that something extreme had to be done. But I do not think that the Americans have become a warlike people; it is rare in American history to set about empire-building - acquiring territory and slaves. I've never met an American who wanted to build an empire.
So, there you go. A very well thought out summation of what is occuring in America today. And I couldn't be more proud that President Bush has been chosen again to lead the country. While those who oppose Bush shake their heads wondering "how could you?", also realize that there are more of us that are asking "how could you not"!
Dome, Sweet Dome
Back in the 1998 season there was a myriad of complaints from various NFL teams that the Vikings were manufacturing artificial crowd noise as a deterrent for opposing offenses.
The racket helped rattle Arizona quarterback Jake Plummer into three turnovers that led to 17 points for the Vikings in their 41-21 victory in the first playoff game that season. The decibel level wasn't the difference for Minnesota, its offense was, but it helped. At one point just before kickoff, Cardinals tackle Lomas Brown and some teammates tried to communicate by screaming while standing next to each other. They couldn't hear.
Neither could LeRoy Hoard or Robert Smith, who were side by side on the Vikings' side of the field. Plummer said there were times during the game when he couldn't hear offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, who was speaking directly into his helmet from the coaches booth via microphone. "With the loudspeakers and crowd noise, our communication was messed up all day," Arizona center Aaron Graham said. "It was almost non-existent. It forced us into trying things we haven't tried before."
The most annoying, and some say most disrupting part of the dome noise, is the roar through the speaker system. The Vikings blast heavy metal music and other canned noise into the arena to help whip the fans into a frenzy.
The Packers complained loudly about the piped-in noise after their 28-14 loss at the dome Nov. 22, 1998. Their biggest beef was about on-field speakers the Vikings say they use to channel the music to the cheerleaders.
Then Vikings vice president of business operations Rand Gottlieb contends the team stayed within league rules for stadium noise, including turning off all artificial sound when the opposing offense broke the huddle.
But that's when the fans took over, with 64,000 screaming as the quarterback slips behind center. That helped the Vikings go 9-0 at home in the 1998 season, winning by an average score of 36-13.
That's the dome-field advantage, something the Minnesota Twins used to win World Series titles in 1987 and 1991.
Now comes another complaint. A league source has leaked that the Minnesota Vikings have been accused of pumping fake fan noise into the Metrodome during one or more of their three 2004 home games.
In theory, the NFL is supposed to monitor, and prevent, this kind of stuff.
The complaint is that at least one of the teams the Vikings played at home this season believes that tape recordings of fans yelling and screaming have been played in the stadium at key moments to augment the natural din created in the domed stadium.
So with the Twins it is the air currents that can be changed in the late innings to work against the opposing team. With the Vikings it is artificial crowd noise that is winning the games.
I don’t know. When my voice comes back from cheering too loudly at last weeks win over the Tennessee Titans, maybe I’ll have something to say about it.
Trouble In Indy?
A team should never look ahead one week to its next opponent but in this case I just can’t help it. After the Vikes play at home against the New York Giants they travel to Indianopolis for a Monday night showdown with the Colts. After recently speaking with a fellow Hall of Fame Colts fan, here’s why the Vikes might be in a good position to win that game.
The folks in Indy are in full spin cycle when it comes to the topic of Peyton Manning and his sideline scuffle with receiver Reggie Wayne during this past Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. Rumors circulating in Indy as of Monday night are that Wayne's shout-and-shove of Peyton reflects an undercurrent of resentment toward Manning for his cap-busting contract.
The thinking, is that Manning was a "pig" when he didn't have to be. With eight starters slated to become unrestricted free agents after the 2004 season, more than a few players are getting antsy about the effect of Manning's deal on their own ability to get paid. The players know that it's going to impact all of them in coming years.
Meanwhile, it turns out that Wayne isn't the only guy who was in the face of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning on Sunday at the end of the team's loss to the Jaguars. Peyton also was told to stifle himself by the game officials, whom Manning apparently was trying to instruct on the finer points of handling an instant replay review.
The fan went on to say that Manning was acting like a "f--king baby, and like he was the Commissioner or something."
In Indy it's heresy to dub Manning a big phony. But I've heard it enough now to persuade me that there must indeed be something to it. And with some of Manning's own players mustering the guts to take him on in the public eye, Peyton's authority over the team could be crumbling.
So the Vikes could go into Indy and find team dissention. Especially if the Kansas City Chiefs light up the Colts this weekend.
There are now rumors that Saints owner Tom Benson could make Jim Haslett the first coach to be fired this season.
Benson supposedly is sulking over the team's embarrassing loss to the Vikings, and the fact that the Saints allowed a franchise-record 605 yards. Last week, Benson sent a memo to Haslett reminding him that the Saints are 1-3 against the team owned by Benson's car-bidness colleague, Red McCombs.
Current speculation (from fellow fan Hall of Famer Lionel Alphonso “Da Pope”) is that Benson could fire Haslett if the Saints lose to the Raiders on Sunday. Da Pope also said connected to the Haslett rumor is speculation that defensive coordinator Rick Venturi will go, too, and that offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy will become the interim head coach.
I wonder who else the Vikings could get fired this year? Mike Sherman, anyone?
Under the guise of tossing something against a wall to see if anything sticks, I offer this topic up for football fans.
An interesting footnote to the Rice trade to Seattle story. He asked Seahawks legend Steve Largent if Largent would allow his No. 80 to be unretired. Largent did agree to it. But I can't believe Rice had the grapefruits to make the request himself based off all we’ve heard about the surly receiver over the last few years.
I wonder if in the future the 49ers ever pick up a guy who used to be a star player and who wants to wear Rice's "80" in San Fran. What's the chance of Jerry smiling and offering to help the guy pull the shirt over his head?
With jerseys 11 through 19 now available for receivers, why didn't Rice do something fresh, like donning Joe Montana's No. 16? Okay, so punter Tom Rouen already wear No. 16 for Seattle. But he's a punter! Do they even need numbers? (Does Minnesota even need a punter!?!?!)
My question is simple. Did Rice cross the line in his request?
And I Shall Call Him MeMo
Though RB Michael Bennett could play this week, rookie Mewelde Moore will get his third straight start -- and he might have won the job outright; "Production is production," said offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. "You get an opportunity, you go produce. You've earned yourself more and more opportunities. That's life."
I’m happy to see Mewelde (aka MeMo) get another start for a couple of reasons. One, MeMo reminds me of Walter Payton. Sweetness was always getting yardage even while being tackled. Payton always had a knack to fall forward getting that extra yard or two. Also, MeMo is like Payton in that he delivers hits, not just taking them. Secondly, I was able to pick up MeMo for my fantasy football team which finds itself alone at the top of the Beer Brotherhood Fantasy Football League with a 6-0 record.
Setting Up for A Return On Sunday?
Vikings coach Mike Tice says that Randy Moss's strained hamstring is "more than mild," which means that Moss might indeed miss the first game of his seven-year career when the 4-1 Vikings host the 2-4 Titans on Sunday.
According to Tice, the Vikings won't make a final decision on Moss's availability until Friday at the earliest.
If it were up to me, I'd continue to play it coy all week, forcing the Titans to plan for the Vikings both with and without the guy whose year-in, year-out stellar performances likely have more to do with Jerry Rice trying to hang around and stretch his records than Rice would ever admit. Heck, I'd take the whole thing one step farther and dress Moss for Sunday, put him on the field for the first series, and take advantage of the attention he's sure to receive.
Then again, Moss knows a thing or two about playing in pain. He's battled ankle and foot problems over the years, with no adverse effect on his play. My guess is that Moss will, at a minimum, be on the field. More realistically, he'll find a way to contribute as the team tries to climb to 5-1.
Will Vikings Miss Moss?
No Moss? Panic amongst the Purple faithful? End of the football world as we know it? Nah!
For the first time in his seven-year career, Randy Moss suffered an in-game injury that caused him to miss playing time. But arguably for the first time since 1998, the Vikings have a supporting cast with enough juice to permit the team to not miss a beat without the centerpiece of their offense.
Then again, perhaps the real centerpiece of the Minnesota offense isn't Moss, but quarterback Daunte Culpepper.
Culpepper threw for a career-high 425 yards, with five touchdown passes for the third time this season. Previously, no one had thrown five touchdown passes in three games in any season. Culpepper has done it in only five games. “Pepper” is serving up some hot sauce right now.
I wonder if the typical East coast bias will prevent Culpepper from receiving the accolades he deserves. Should he keep up this torrid pace, he is deserving of being names NFC Pro Bowl starter at quarterback along with MVP honors for the NFL. But one man alone can’t win games.
Coupled with the steady running of rookie Mewelde Moore and veteran Moe Williams, the Vikes rolled up 605 yards of offense, the second highest total in team history and the most since 1969. For the Saints, the 600-plus-yard gashing was the most yardage the franchise ever has allowed.
Back to Moss, he pulled a hamstring in the second quarter of the 38-31 win, and he's listed as questionable for next Sunday's game against the Titans. If he misses the game, it'll break his streak of 101 straight starts.
But with Culpepper on track to register the most completions (on pace for 432), most yards (on pace for 5,651), and most touchdowns (on pace for 58) in NFL history, it's not as dire as it would have been in past years. Though the Vikes don't have another guy who can duplicate Randy's full complement of skills, Marcus Robinson has his height and jump-ball ability, Kelly Campbell can stretch the field, and Nate Burleson can make tough catches in traffic and along the sidelines. And let’s not forget pass catching specialist in tight-end Jermaine Wiggins.
There's still a lot of football to be played, but as of now it looks like the Vikings and the Eagles are on a collision course for a late January rematch of their Week Two Monday nighter. Home field advantage will be important but not crucial as the Eagles have proven the last three seasons.
I'd like to see the Vikings package Chris Hovan and Michael Bennett together and try and get some immediate defensive help. If the Vikings defense could just improve from "awful" to "OK", this team could be unbeatable.
Hovan would not be missed. Steve Martin has done a fine job this season. And with the plethora of running backs in the Vikings stable, Bennett could be spared for the greater benefit of the team.
The trading deadline is Tuesday. Let's see if the Vikes decide to work the phones over the next few days.
Hit a man when he's down, I always say. Yes, I am relishing in the fact that the Packers are pathetic. Even more so, I loved the torrent of boos raining down on Lambeau Field this past Monday night. This from Packers fans who've always told me, "We'll always support the team, no matter what the record." Bah! Take a gander at this photo Cheeseheads:
Somebody Punch the Dope
Back in 1997, I was on the field with a photographers pass to see our beloved Vikings take on the New York J-E-T-S! J-E-T-S! J-E-T-S! I recall that during that game Todd Steussie had been called for about 16 or 17 offensive offsides infractions. Immediately after one of these penalties in the second half, center Jeff Christy walked up to Steussie and delivered a right hand punch squarely to Steussie's jaw. Steussie did not jump offside again.
This past Sunday our beloved Vikings were taking on the dreaded rivalry known as the Houston Texans. Daunte Culpepper had just thrown a 50-yard TD strike to Randy Moss to give the Vikings a 28-14 lead. Kelly Campbell was on the sidelines because of injury but thought he should join Culpepper on the field to celebrate. A flag was thrown for illegal group celebration and the Vikings found themselves kicking off from the 15-yard line. Houston scored to give them momentum and eventually tied the game.
The Vikings pulled this one out but Campbell’s inexcusable behavior almost cost them the game. What did Campbell have to say for himself afterwards? Get a load of this quote.
"It'll get expensive (ensuing fines), but it is what it is," Campbell said. "I'm not going to stop what I'm doing."
Kelly, you can't be serious. Let's say the Vikings are playing in Super Bowl XXXIX. They've been behind all game because the Vikings have never ever lead in any of their four Super Bowl appearances. Late in the 4th quarter, the Vikings score on a dramatic play to go ahead by two points. There is less than 60 seconds left. All of Purple Valhalla is ecstatic. Wait, a penalty flag. Kelly Campbell has been flagged for illegal group celebration and the Vikings find themselves kicking off from the 15-yard line. The New England Patriots easily traverse the necessary length to kick a game-winning field goal.
How you gonna explain that one to the masses, Kelly? Hmmm.
Listen up Mike Tice. I think the best course of action at this point would be this scenario. At some point this season when Mr. Gotta Dance takes it upon himself to celebrate because he thinks, and I quote, "the excitement it brings to the team is too valuable", have Mr. Matt Birk, he of the Harvard degree, walk over to Campbell and apply a "Christy" to the glass chin of number 16.
Look at the Upcoming Game
The Vikings have the NFL's #1 offense after five weeks. The Saints have the NFL's twenty-ninth ranked defense. Look for Daunte Culpepper to have another great passing day and Mewelde Moore should run wild this week against what has been arguably the worst run defense in football this season. The Saints are permitting 144 rushing yards and two running back touchdowns per week. As long as the Vikings defense doesn't have another melt down, look for the Vikings to go 4-1 Sunday night.
Please bear with me as I tweak this very new blog. I’m busy dusting off my old HTML book and you can expect further tweaks in the future. I also decide to change the name from Viking Valhalla to Mr. Cheer Or Die’s Viking Underground. This takes me back to the 1997 season when I was involved in the legendary unofficial Vikings web-site.
This past weekend found the Maas family staying at the Wilderness water park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. On Saturday evening we were exiting the wave pool when I spied a very familiar looking person resting on a chaise. I must have been staring a bit too long as he caught me. “Dave?”, I asked. “Yep”, was the reply and I soon found myself shaking the baseball mitt sized hand of Vikings offensive lineman David Dixon. I asked him what the hell was he doing in Wisconsin of all places. He simply said, “Vacation”. Long story short, when I got around to asking him about having Michael Bennett back, he sort of hemmed and hawed his way through a reply. It left me with a very odd feeling that all was not yet quite peaches and cream with the oft-injured running back. It was not until our return to the Twin Cities that I learned Bennett had reinjured his knee in Thursday’s practice and is expected to miss two to four more weeks. And then it was clear that Dixon had already known but could not tell.
Seems that Tice is finally listening to my advice. For a couple of weeks now I have been telling everyone I know that Chris “Pantyhose Head” Hovan needs to be benched and Steve Martin given his spot. Hovan has been disappointing at best. I see Martin playing in position and making the plays that Hovan is not. It looks like my wish will come true this coming Sunday against the Houston Texans. Let’s hope I am right about my assessment.
A true story originally written during the 1997 season
I now read from the “Bible of the Minnesota Vikings” from the good book of the blessed disciple “Mr. Cheer Or Die”.
And during the 3rd quarter of play did such a horrendous call the back judge make that old men and frail women rose from their seats in the Thunder Zone and vomited beer cups upon the sacred field of play. So much so did the beer cups lay strewn upon the sacred field of play that the evil TV time-out was called upon. This is the time when the good book says that Mr. Cheer Or Die did arise from his high seat of knowledge upon which all Berserkers did look for hope and salvation and upon the sinning back judge did he deliver.
Into his mouth did Mr. Cheer Or Die place a authentic NFL whistle and let it blow with a mighty roar and reached into his pocket to mimic throwing the yellow flag of sin. The Berserkers of the Thunder Zone did then laugh upon the evil back judge and enticed Mr. Cheer Or Die into a mimicking-whistle-blowing-flag-throwing dance of the evil back judge. So much and so strong was the laughter that the evil back judge did upon Mr. Cheer Or Die point his finger and blow his equally powerful whistle.
The crowd hushed as Mr. Cheer Or Die was momentarily wounded by this heinous attack by the back judge. Play resumed on the sacred field and Mr. Cheer Or Die, always one step ahead of evil, quickly discarded his whistle to Mrs. Cheer Or Die who hid the Good Whistle of the Berserkers on her person.
Shortly, a agent of the back judge, whom upon it is known eat cameramen for dinner, appeared like dark magic at the row of Mr. Cheer Or Die and bellowed, “Come with me!” upon which fellow Berserkers in the Thunder Zone hurled such epithet’s at the agent that he did in due time approach Mr. Cheer Or Die who was unyielding in leaving his high seat in the Thunder Zone.
The agent of the evil back judge did then ask fellow Berserkers if Mr. Cheer Or Die was the person who mimicked the evil back judge. All responded, “NO!” and instructed the agent to leave with his life. It was at this point that the disciple Mr. Cheer Or Die did decide to go with the agent so that order could be brought into the Thunder Zone as the New Orleans Saints were leading the Vikings on the sacred field of play.
Led into the evil tunnels where no cameraman ever escapes, Mr. Cheer Or Die did relent to a search for the Good Whistle of the Berserkers. Little known to the evil back judge his powers cannot cloud the female Berserkers who have seen battle on the sacred field of play and Mrs. Cheer Or Die did safely dispose of the Good Whistle of the Berserkers in the sacred tampon disposal in the female rest room, in which no male Berserker has ever dared entered.
Since no whistle was found, Mr. Cheer Or Die was allowed to reenter Valhalla and led the Thunder Zone in such cheering that the prophet Ismail did score in the last seconds and lead our beloved Vikings to blessed victory. So saith Bud Grant.
Returning home from a short fall walk with my dogs I had just turned onto our street. I had been chuckling to myself over a recent e-mail sent to me from a Packer fan telling me that Green Bay would come off their bye week stronger than ever. I had been thinking of writing a paper to the New England Journal of Medicine showing that an indirect proportion exists between the intelligence of residents of Green Bay and proper use of sentence structure, grammar and spelling when I shivered, like one who on a country walk suddenly perceives a snake in his path. Even the dogs would proceed no further. For the house across the street from my own humble abode was displaying a Green Bay Packer table lamp in its window!
I decided right then and there that territorial dominance, of Viking over Packer, must be regained. And the plan that I immediately came upon was indeed for the venture. I must move my Viking table lamp to my master bedroom window, where this blatant attempt upon my fanhood would be avenged. One problem, though, my wife had banished all things purple and gold to the den where I could have my prized possessions and smoke a good cigar. Meanwhile she could hold tea parties in the living room without having photos of Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss looking down upon her friends, scones and marmalade. I knew my wife was downstairs somewhere, and for the next hour at least she would be occupied. I would have ample opportunity for the switch.
I did not delay. Thirty seconds later I was inside mounting the stairs with Viking lamp in hand, my face set, my eyes gleaming grimly. A minute later, I reached my destination, the master bedroom. No green devil, no Martha Stewart wife aware of my intentions, stood in my path to bar entry. With lamp in hand I went in.
Most master bedrooms, like most places of married importance, contain things so magnificent to the females that they are never used. With our four poster bed and my wife’s superb but rather oppressive bed canopy, the room had remained unchanged since our first year of marriage. As I snuck cautiously in, it was looking its best in the gentle evening light. But I was not in a reflective mood. I ignored the hand sewn pillow cushions, the cozy arm chairs, the pictures, the decorations, and the flowers. The starkness of the winter sky through the large bedroom window drew but a brief glance from me. Without delay I made for my wife’s dressing table which stood against the window near the bed. It seemed the perfect spot upon which my mighty beacon of purple and gold light would out shine that eye-sore across the street.
The primary requisite of the dressing table being a good supply of light, they are usually placed in a position to get as much of it as possible. This one is no exception; it stood so near to the window that in the summer time the breeze from the open window will ruffle the tassels on its lampshade. Making the switch of tasseled lamp to Viking lamp my heart suddenly slipped. Now standing in the doorway to the bedroom, dogs peering around her legs, was my wife.
For an instant I remained frozen. Even the greatest men congeal beneath the chill breath of the totally unexpected. I had assumed as a matter of course that my wife was down in the laundry room, and it took me several seconds to adjust my mind to the unpleasing fact that she was up in our bedroom. When I recovered my presence of mind sufficiently to draw noiselessly away from the line of vision, my first emotion was one of irritation. This continual changing of their minds, this alteration of plans, these sudden decisions to be upstairs when they ought to be downstairs, are what make women as a sex so unsatisfactory.
To irritation succeeded a sense of defeat. There was nothing for it, I realized, but to give up my quest and go. I started to carry the Viking lamp silently to the door, conscious now of the holes being drilled into my head by my wife’s eyes, and had just reached it, when across the street, there came to my ears a sound of clashing and clattering. Upon looking out the window I noticed instantly my neighbor’s Packer lamp was gone! I perceived immediately that his wife had taken the upper hand in his domain and had not only removed the ghastly thing but had deposited it, in pieces, onto the driveway,.
And so, going outside, I met my now-crying neighbor who had dropped on all fours and was picking up the remains of his treasured lamp. Defeated once again by the most sinister villain of all-time, the football-widow, we shared a cigar and waited for them to let us back in.
This past Sunday (September 26, 2004) Bill Brown was inducted into the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor. It brought back a memory from an earlier meeting with Brown. On February 12th I was invited to sit in on the Minnesota Viking Marketing and Sales task force. The meeting was held in the board room at Winter Park. As we sat down in purple chairs around a football-shaped table, a gentleman sporting a crew cut entered the room and immediately started joking with each individual as if he had known them all his life.
Bill Brown was a starting running back for the Minnesota Vikings from 1962-74. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1964, 1965, 1967 (started), and 1968. Among the all-time Viking leaders he ranks second in rushing yards (5,757), ninth in receiving yards (3,177), second in rushing-receiving yards (8,934), third in scoring (76 touchdowns and 456 points), and second in combined yardage (9,237). He led the Vikings in rushing in 1964-1966 and 1968, and in receiving in 1964.
Among individual Viking records Bill is third in career points (456), first in most seasons leading team in touchdowns (5), first in career touchdowns (76), and third in most touchdowns in one season (16). Playing the Rams on November 19, 1972, Bill hauled in a pass from future Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton and scampered 76 yards for the score. But the best record of all for “Boom-Boom” Brown are his stories from those exciting Viking years. And he told a few good ones at the meeting.
During the early years training camp was held in Bemidji, Minnesota. The coach at that time was Norm Van Brocklin and it seems Norm had a nasty way of cutting players during camp. According to “Boom-Boom”, Norm had one system for this. He would cut players anywhere, anytime. Van Brocklins’ favorite spot seemed to be the team bus as the team would return to Bemidji after a pre-season game. “That was especially hard on not only the player but the other players as well sitting next to him.”, said Brown, “And it was a very long way from Minneapolis back to Bemidji anyway, not to mention if you happened to get cut as we boarded the bus.”
Van Brocklin was also famous for his “two-beer” rule during training camp. Each player was only allowed two beers a day while at camp, unless, as Brown stated, you happened to be drinking Van Brocklins’ favorite...whiskey.
As “Boom-Boom” was finishing his whiskey story, Bud Grant knocked on the open door and Bill excused himself from the meeting. The two went next door to Bud’s office and the meeting became very serious once again. But at least we all had big grins on our faces courtesy of a player from a time when football was still a game, and meetings about marketing were not needed.