2006 Off-Season Archives

May 24, 2006
"The End is Nigh" by Mr. Cheer Or Die


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Updated Note, 8-27-2006: Vikes Geek can now be found here. The Viking Underground truly appreciates the time that Vikes Geek spent writing for us and wishes him well in his solo effort!!!!

The Four Horsemen have come for me. My time is done. I will soon be joining an emerging new trend in blogging: retirement.

I’ve talked with quite a few people over the last few months that are quitting blogging. Most just say they are getting tired. I would say it is an inevitable conclusion to any blogger. Whether it is ending an addiction or whether it's relieving a burden. The end result is the same.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve found myself meeting all sorts of new people. Great, wonderful people. But, blogging also introduces many pressures, especially when you have an extremely large audience listening.

Suddenly you feel you have to write a post everyday, like a newspaper you feel that the content must be new and fresh each day. Stats are addictive. A person can end up obsessing and crafting each post to keep that readership growing. So, I began to ask myself, “Will my world end if I stop blogging?? My response always came back resoundingly, "no".

I think blogging makes people tired. It certainly has with me. Not to mention doing it for diddly-squat. And all the pressures and intensity of conversations in the blogosphere just wears you out. Look at most of the older bloggers (e.g. guys and gals blogging for 2 - 3 years) and they are all slowing down or dropping off. Only a small few are still as active as when they started.

So I’ve chosen to march down a different path. I’ve chosen to get 20-hours a week back into my life. And to tell the truth, I feel the burden lifting just thinking about it!

The truth is that I haven't been blogging much recently. Apart from the wonderful stuff that Vikes Geek writes, most of the stuff here has been regurgitated. Either it's been tasters from my upcoming 'events' for that week, or it's been stuff I posted in the distant past. Or, it's actually been dealing with some of the hassle caused by blogging in the first place.

And that last one holds the key to all of this. I'm just not enjoying it any more. The truth is the only valuable stuff here is the links and articles that others have written. This site is meant to be a useful resource for Vikings fans. The blog is supposed to supplement that by commenting on things "purple" from a fans point-of-view. In reality, the blog has drawn a little too much attention to itself and I've ended up incessantly fretting over how to top the last entry!

I’m just plain done. I’m burned out. I’m tired of the writing. And I’m tired of doing all of the little things that are behind the scenes of blogging, and most likely poorly and with no conviction.

The bottom line is that while the zeal for the team is as strong as ever, my zest for the blog just isn’t there any more. It’s become more duty than recreation. And the reality is that I couldn’t be more content about leaving it all behind. I’ll be able to spend more time with my loved ones, have more time for reading, more time for travel, more time for studying art and visiting museums. And also watch a Vikes game with no thought of capturing a photograph or jotting down a note for a future blog entry or sending out something instantaneously to the moblog.

My parting gift was the mini-camp coverage which I hope you enjoyed. But one week from today this blog will go dark. As of June 1, it will be no more. We'll keep everything up for history and research sake. But no new entries will be added and the 'comments' feature will be switched off.

As soon as we know Vikes Geek new home, we'll pass that along.

Thanks, everyone! It really has been a wild ride. See you at the games!

All my best,


Brian

Posted by maasx003 at 1:47 AM
May 23, 2006
"Blast From the Past"

Note: We once again take a trip down memory lane and reprint a VU blog entry from a loooooong time ago....

The Switch

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 Fran Tarkenton and Chuck Foreman 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.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:28 AM
May 22, 2006
"The Entry that Started It All" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

Note: The following entry was the first blog entry to be published on the Viking Underground on October 6, 2004.

"Boom-Boom"

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, 1995 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.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:23 AM
May 16, 2006
"Tough Talk? Or Tough Politics?" by Mr. Cheer or Die


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I gave pause to something Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said recently. At first, I passed it off as just political grandstanding. But the more I thought about the quote, the more it scared me to death. When asked about how things would fare should the Vikings not get a stadium funding bill passed this legislative session, he replied:

"I would be disappointed," Wilf said. "But I would hope that if we don't get the issue resolved now, we at least not forget the need for a new Vikings' home and that we just don't get put in the political backburner. We've always stated that we won't leave, but unfortunately that's something that politicians might feel is something that warrants their immediate attention."

In essence, what Wilf has done is crack the door open to start using the veiled threat of moving the team in order to accomplish his goal of building a state-of-the art facility for the Vikings in Anoka county. It is something that I had hoped the team could avoid. I'm sure that Wilf felt the same.

But now our esteemed legislatures currently in session in St. Paul have put the gun to Wilf's head since it has become abundantly clear the Vikings are third in line in the pecking order for the race to build new stadiums. They currently stand behind the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Gophers football team.

But I also see some panic from Wilf and Co. in that they are rolling out a new proposal in which it has been stated that the plan for a retractable roof will be removed from the table and we'll be looking at an open-air stadium at worst or a roof-ready stadium at best.

That smacks of desperation to me and I'm not sure that Wilf needs to go there. I'd much rather wait until 2007 to begin anew, hopefully with the Twins and Gophers out of the way. The focus can then be solely on the Vikings stadium pitch and the stadium can be approved with all the bells and whistles originally envisioned by the Vikings architects.

On the flip side, Wilf may see this year as his best opportunity to get state funding. My close, personal friend Sid Hartman wrote on Monday of the current state of affairs at the legislature. He quoted House Speaker Steve Sviggum as saying:

"We passed the Gopher bill in the House bipartisan [103 votes]. The Twins bill bipartisan [39 Republicans, 37 Democrats]. That is 76 votes. I think if you put them together in one bill it tears down from that high point. We probably are at our high water mark as far as number of votes. The Vikings are even changing the proposal this last weekend. Guys, we're in the bottom of the ninth inning. We're not in the top of the fourth. We're in the bottom of the ninth."

What Sviggum is saying is the votes are lining up as well as they will ever be. From the current high water mark, the votes in favor will most likely recede. So I can see Wilf saying, "If not now, when?" and I can't blame him one bit.

I just wish we didn't have that "build it or we move" gun pressed against our collective heads.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:45 AM
May 13, 2006
"Minicamp Schedule Update"

Sorry everyone, we're rescheduling for Sunday. More on times as they become available.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:47 PM
May 10, 2006
"Meritorious Work or Unsubstantiated Hype?" by Vikes Geek


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When the Minnesota Vikings hired new head coach Brad Childress they characterized their hiree as a man of integrity and family values. Once the Vikings’ front office deigned to speak in more meaningful terms about Childress, they assigned to Childress the label of “quarterback guru.? For his part, Childress has neither run from this label nor done anything other than perpetuate the conception that it suited him. But does it?

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, Childress’ designation as a quarterback guru derives from the work that he did with quarterbacks while serving as Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator in Philadelphia. Addressing whether Childress truly is a quarterback guru is a fairly straightforward proposition, then, requiring only an analysis of the benefits of Childress’ work with the Eagles’ quarterbacks.

In a previous column on college quarterbacks, I offered numerous statistics that suggested the potential value of certain quarterbacks beyond the college level. At first blush, all five quarterbacks about whom I wrote had impressive credentials. Upon further review, however, some concerns undoubtedly arose in the minds of some regarding where recent NFL draftees fall in the scheme of things. The same might be said of Childress’ work with his purported savants.

More Hype than Substance?

The following are some statistics for five well-known NFL quarterbacks:

Player..... Yards........ Comp. %.... TDs.... INTs.... Rating

1............ 2,654........ 55.8........ 16...... 13...... 86

2............ 2,385........ 62.7........ 17...... 9........ 98.6

3............ 4,110........ 63........... 26...... 14...... 92

4............ 4,456........ 59.1........ 28....... 16...... 85

5............ 2,059........ 45.4........ 9........ 14...... 55.2

A casual glance at the statistics suggests that quarterbacks three and four are far ahead of the other three quarterbacks on the list. It also suggests that quarterbacks one and five have a considerable amount of work to do to. It’s not surprising, then, that quarterback three is New England Patriot Tom Brady or that quarterback four is Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb, whose 2005 numbers are prorated here over a sixteen-game season. Nor probably is it surprising that quarterback number two is Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

What might surprise even the astute NFL observer, however, are the identities of the two remaining quarterbacks. Quarterback number one is former Eagles’ backup quarterback A.J. Feely—whose 2002 numbers with the Eagles are prorated here. And Quarterback number five is former Eagles’ backup Mike McMahon—whose 2005 numbers are prorated here.

What’s surprising about Feely and McMahon is that, despite working with a purported quarterback guru in Brad Childress, both have, at best, very modest NFL numbers. In the case of McMahon—the quarterback that Childress now has tabbed as the backup to Brad Johnson in 2006—the numbers are far below modest spiraling to the depths of awful.

Is McMahon’s poor 2005 performance the result of poor quarterback tutelage under Childress in Philadelphia? Probably not, given that McMahon’s 2005 numbers look very much like his career numbers in Detroit. But neither can it be said that Childress did anything to make McMahon better—at least nothing that someone in Detroit had not already at least matched. And that makes one wonder.

Feely is an even more interesting case with respect to Childress’ purported quarterback-grooming prowess. The casual NFL fan will point to the Eagles’ ability to the fifth-round pick Feely into a second-round pick for Feely in a trade with Miami. What that same fan will ignore, however, is that the Feely trade was predicated on Miami’s desperation more than on Feely’s performance. For, even with prorated numbers in his most active season with the Eagles, Feely was a modest to below average quarterback. His performance since leaving the Eagles does nothing to alter that view. That, again, makes one wonder what it is that Childress has done that merits labeling him a quarterback guru.

But more disconcerting with respect to Childress’ purported ability to cultivate prior unknown quarterbacks is the fact that Feely was not an unknown when he entered the NFL. Instead, Feely entered the NFL with scouts having only one concern—whether he had recovered from an injury that he had suffered in his junior season. Feely was a star in the PAC-10 prior to his junior-year injury. Only after his injury did he lose some luster—yielding to future first-round selection Joey Harrington during his senior season. That made him an injury risk in the draft, but one that most expected to pay off if he had recovered from his injury. At best, Childress merely showed Feely for what he was when he entered the NFL—a quarterback with modest to below average ability. That’s not Childress’ fault. But neither is it a cause to celebrate Childress as a quarterback guru.

Nor would anyone say with a straight face that Donovan McNabb has exceeded expectations since being drafted. In fact, most Philly fans would probably voice their concern over virtually all of McNabb’s non-Terrell Owens years with the Eagles. And the fairly modest QB ratings suggest just why that might be the case.

In short, if Childress truly is a quarterback guru, it is not on the strength of the work that he has done with Feely, McMahon, and McNabb. In fact, one could make the argument that, on the basis of what Childress was able to accomplish with these three quarterbacks, he is no better than average in developing quarterbacks. And that should raise at least a concern about Childress’ self-professed ability to develop a quarterback in Tavaris Jackson who, by Childress’ own admission, is “a piece of unmolded clay.?

Up Next: SWAC, 2007, and Mini-Camp



Posted by maasx003 at 1:01 AM
May 8, 2006
"Food For Thought" by Vikes Geek

As with any football season, Fall brings with it the wisdom of coaches across the land ready, willing, and able to bestow upon virtually every starter on their team the moniker of “great player.? That coaches tend to repeat such praise at the end of the season when prompted to do so should then come as no surprise.

No matter the time, no matter the place, no matter the circumstances, one thing is certain—coaches love their own players. They love them because they have become indebted to them. They love them because they have time invested in them. And they love them because it behooves them to love the players that they helped mold.

For the casual fan and the astute observer, alike, what this means is that anything that comes from the mouth of a coach regarding a player who played under that coach must be taken with a grain of salt. And that makes assessing a player’s value on the basis of a conversation with that player’s coach, suspect, at best.

Yet, after every NFL draft, the first people that football analysts contact—after the players themselves—are the coaches of the players drafted. And while conversations with draftees’ coaches can provide some insight into how a draftee’s coach views his own football universe, it offers little real value to anyone listening. That is, unless those listening simply want to be told what they want to hear.

Despite this fact, after the April 2006 NFL entry draft had ended, national sports reporters contacted head coaches around the country in a stated effort to gather insight into the ability of the various players drafted. Below are partial, paraphrased responses to questions posed by members of the media to the coaches of five quarterbacks drafted this year:

1: “He’s got a strong arm, great instincts. He’s a leader on the field and in the lockerroom.?

2: “Strong arm. All the guys on the team respect him. Tremendous ball player.?

3: “Great feel for the game. Natural leader. He’s got a strong arm. Tremendous all-around athlete.?

4: “Great arm. Loves to learn. A great leader. Well-respected by his teammates. Loads of upside.?

5: “Sees the field well. Great leader. Strong arm. Great presence.?

So, who would you prefer? The player with a strong arm and great instincts or the player with a great arm who is a great leader? Or perhaps you prefer the player who is a leader on and off the field and who has a strong arm. So many choices—all so different.

Of course, without having a name to put by the player, it is a bit difficult to decide, isn’t it? Maybe some numbers will help:

Player ....Yards ....Percentage .....TDs ....Ints ....Rating

1: .........3,815 .........65.7 ..........28 .........8 ......157.7

2: .........3,036 .........65.2 ..........26 .........10 ......168.6

3: .........3,073 .........59.1 ..........21 .........9 ......126.1

4: .........2,941 .........60.9 ..........29 .........5 ......164.9

5: .........2,530 .........59.3 ..........19 .........9 ......145.87


Does that help? Hmmm. Perhaps a bit more information would be useful—like the strength of schedule for each player’s respective team:

1: 27

2: 15

3: 62

4: 215

5: 26

That should suffice to permit a general impression of the circumstances under which each of our five quarterbacks achieved their statistics in 2005. And that—along with what each player’s coach said about their respective player—should help you decide your preference of quarterbacks.

Still not sure who to go with? Maybe this will help. Of the thirty-two quarterbacks named starters at the beginning of the 2005 NFL season, twenty were first-round picks. Yes, there’s some self-fulfillment going on, but the numbers are fairly bold. Of the remaining twelve starters, three were selected in the second round, three in the sixth, and one each in the fourth, seventh, and eighth rounds—two starters were undrafted out of college.

The implication is that first-round picks have a head start on the rest of the draft class—both in terms of talent and in terms of the drafting team’s desire to see the pick succeed. The latter makes sense only in myopic terms. The former, however, is what it is all about. And, as the above statistics suggest, there is some reason to look upon so-called diamonds-in-the-rough with skepticism—not only because fewer diamonds-in-the-rough tend to become starters than do generally agreed upon diamonds, but also because diamonds-in-the-rough generally come from the rough themselves, in a manner of speaking.

All of which takes us back to the original question. Which of these quarterbacks would you prefer to lead your team? Before you answer, however, I confess that quarterback five is a bit of a ruse. Although his numbers are respectable and his coach has nothing but good things to say about him, he was not drafted this year. And when you read his name, you might be a bit surprised given how his numbers compare to those of the others on the board. For player number five is none other than Minnesota’s Bryan Cupito.

Since Cup’ wasn’t in the draft this year, let’s take him out of the decision making process for now. That leaves us with four quarterbacks from which to make a decision. And remember, you don’t have to take anyone if you don’t want to.

The remaining four quarterbacks were drafted by NFL teams in 2006 but not in the order in which I’ve listed them. Each has pretty decent numbers and the requisite glowing comments from their college coach. Where the players differ most, however, is in strength of schedule. And that suggests that where numbers are comparable, SOS might help differentiate these quarterbacks a bit.

The player whose team had the strongest SOS among our five quarterbacks was Texas QB Vince Young (quarterback number 2). Next, in order, were Matt Lienart (1), Cupito (5), Jay Cutler (3), and Tavaris Jackson (4). Jackson’s Alabama State squad finished 215th out of 239 Division I teams. That’s not to say that Jackson did not earn his states, but merely to suggest that Jackson, and to a much lesser degree, Cutler, cut his college teeth on far more suspect competition than did this year’s first-round picks and even than did 2005’s 2nd round starters—Jake Plummer, Drew Brees, and Brett Favre.

That doesn’t mean that Jackson won’t succeed in the NFL. But it does mean that he probably has a great deal to learn in the NFL—like how to play against real competition. Fortunately for the Vikings, Jackson’s a sponge and Childress is his water.

Up Next: Quarterback Guru or One-Hit No Wonder? Plus, SWAC and 2007.

Posted by maasx003 at 7:31 AM
May 4, 2006
"Strange Ways" by Vikes Geek

Technical Difficulties Update from COD: Hello everyone. As you might have already seen, the VU is experiencing a big slow down this week (and last!) due to increased traffic on the system. In other words, more people are hitting the blog than ever before, and the server is having difficulty processing the requests. We are in the process of moving the system to a bigger server. I will keep you updated on our progress.

On the Tuesday after yet another suspect NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings began negotiations to buy out one of the three individuals responsible for their 2006 draft—player personnel head Fran Foley. In addition to being a less than personable individual, Foley purportedly had comportment issues during the draft—issues that at least one Vikings’ official has suggested led to the confusion that ensued for the Vikings in round two.

In a previous column, I outlined the problems that the Vikings created for themselves in round two and how those problems led the team to give away at least one third-round draft pick. In addition to the gaffes that the Vikings made that led to that cession, the Vikings made two second-round selections that look highly questionable with respect to the team’s needs.

Mysteries

I broached the topic of selecting New Mexico center Ryan Cook earlier in the week, noting that taking Cook with the fifty-first pick—rather than taking either him or another, comparable center later in the draft—compelled the Vikings to trade away picks to select Jackson. But Cook’s selection is odd for a more significant reason, namely, the Vikings appear to have no room for Cook in the foreseeable future.

Prior to the 2004 season, former Vikings’ head coach Mike Tice discussed moving center Matt Birk to guard. The rationale was that Birk not only could play guard above the level of the guards then on the Vikings’ roster but also that the move would prolong Birk’s career. Those sentiments reverberated with force last season as the Vikings struggled to identify a viable guard on either side of center and Birk suffered yet another injury.

Selecting Ryan Cook—whether or not the selection was a reach—appeared to be a move that would fit the plan that Tice had long mulled over. And if that’s how the Vikings planned to use Cook in 2006, at least the move would make sense from a position standpoint.

But the Vikings contend that that’s not the plan. The plan, according to head coach Brad Childress, is to have Cook back up Birk—a player whom the Vikings contend will be ready to play when the season begins. That leaves Cook on the bench as a center barring a change of heart by Childress regarding a move of Birk to guard.

Moving Birk to guard seems even more implausible now with the free-agent addition of Steve Hutchinson and the draft-day trade with Philadelphia for veteran guard Artis Hicks. Hicks’ addition virtually ensures that Cook is little more than a high-round backup for several seasons. And, given the depth at center in this year’s NFL draft, the Vikings certainly could have found such a backup later in the draft and used their fifty-first pick to take Tarvaris Jackson—or somebody else.

The second odd selection that the Vikings made in the draft was Tarvaris Jackson. Whether Jackson will become a productive NFL quarterback is anyone’s guess. What’s peculiar about the Vikings’ decision to select Jackson, however, is that he doesn’t appear to fit the Vikings’ needs.

After selecting Jackson, Vikings’ head coach Brad Childress noted that he liked Jackson because he could mold Jackson. Childress spoke of Jackson’s raw talent and willingness to learn and concluded that Jackson could be ready to start in the NFL within five years. And therein lies the problem for the Vikings.

Whether you believe that Childress’ cultivation of Donovan McNabb and A.J. Feely merits tagging Childress as a quarterback guru is irrelevant to the discussion of the merits of the Vikings selecting Jackson. All that matters is that Childress views Jackson as a long-term project. Aside from the fact that second-round picks normally produce in the first two or three years in the league, or find employment outside the league, the Vikings face a very real issue with their decision to take a player whom their own head coach believes is much further away from being ready to play in the NFL than would be a traditional second-round pick.

The concern for the Vikings is that, at thirty-seven years of age, current quarterback Brad Johnson is both at the tail end of his career—probably much closer than is Jackson to the beginning of his career—and only one solid hit away from a long stay on the injury list. That makes selecting Jackson—essentially with two third-round picks that could have been used on players that would have been NFL-ready in far less time—a less optimal route for the Vikings to have gone in the draft than merely standing pat after selecting Cook.

If Johnson stays healthy until Jackson is ready, the Vikings’ selection of Jackson need only stand the test of whether Jackson can play. But that’s a big if. If the if does not materialize, the Vikings will be left to determine in which direction to turn. And, failing an unexpected showing by either Mike McMahon or J.T. O’Sullivan, that could be ugly.

Up Next: Remaining Needs. Plus, finding room for an injured backup quarterback with a nice resume?

From the Mail Bag: "Chicks Adore Us" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

There is nothing Vikes Geek & I enjoy more than receiving mail...especially from the chicks. Yes, we often have to fight them off as we are seen around town and such, but it's something we've come to accept as being part of the job.

First off, Vikes Chicks are smarter than the average female fan. Always have been, always will be. They know the game, they know the team, and they know that the Packers SUCK. Take Wendy for instance who e-mailed me this week thusly:

My friend Tim from East Boston sent me this choice photo highlighting why Green Bay fans aren't very bright. Just think, this guy had to walk by hundreds of other fans, none noticing that his displeasure with Javon Walker had nothing to do with Walker's skill at bartering for goods and services.

This photo was attached. Touché Wendy!

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Then there was Annie who has her own blog on the very same server the VU resides on. And I've been a very baaaddddd boy by dragging down the speed of the server due to increased traffic. But Annie was not angry! Hell, no! She's a fan! She writes:

Things are a little sticky here today in blogville. I've had trouble loading the blog myself, and so have others. Either you get a page not found error, or it takes so long to load a page it's like waiting for Bleeding Gums Murphy to finish the National Anthem. I am sorry for the inconvenience, and hope readers will not give up on the fledgling blog. I can assure you that my blogging service is in the very best hands. The guy who runs this thing is awesome. We've been getting spam attacks that gum up the works, but he will root these evil spammers out and show them no mercy. OK, I'm told the problem is actually the high volume of traffic on The Vikings Underground, but they're moving to a bigger server tomorrow, and then there'll be plenty of room for us bookworms AND the rowdy football fans. (Heck, I was checking Brian's site myself over the weekend, for updates on the NFL draft.

Classy, and smart. Like all our Vikes Chicks. Thanks!


Posted by maasx003 at 10:00 AM
May 3, 2006
"Where's the Beef? In Minnesota, That's Where!" by Mr. Cheer or Die


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The most essential unit on any football team, from Pop Warner to the pros, is the offensive line. Anyone that has followed football for any length of time realizes that fact. Look at all the great Vikings teams and you find a roster full of All Pro and/or Pro Bowl offensive linemen. The last great line, from 1998, sent three offensive linemen to the Pro Bowl when Randall McDaniel, Todd Steussie, and Jeff Christy represented the Purple.

I bring up those three for another reason. The Vikings currently have three likely Pro Bowlers this coming season in Matt Birk, Steve Hutchinson, and Bryant McKinnie. In fact, I'd bet the farm on those three being in Hawaii next February.

Last season, the offensive line was suspect at best. The unit ranked 31st in the league in regards to the adjusted sack rate, which gives sacks per pass attempt adjusted for opponent, down, and distance. It was also one of the reasons the Poutin' QB suffered so much early on...eventually missing most of the season to injury. And then leaving altogether. Who wants to stand behind a porous offensive line afterall?

Enter a list of offensive linemen to compete for roster spots, sizable enough to elicit a response of ``Holy Toledo, I’m rich!'', from any restaurant the group decides to frequent this coming season. I mean, just look at this group!

The Offensive Line
(as of 5/3/2006; * signifies starter)
Name
Jersey #
Weight
Height
Center*
Matt Birk
78
308 lbs
6-4
Center
Ryan Cook
62
328 lbs
6-6
Guard
Anthony Herrera
64
315 lbs
6-2
Guard*
Artis Hicks
TBD
335 lbs
6-4
Guard*
Steve Hutchinson
76
313 lbs
6-5
Guard
Jason Whittle
TBD
305 lbs
6-4
Tackle*
Marcus Johnson
72
321 lbs
6-6
Tackle
Dean Bubin
71
305 lbs
6-6
Tackle
Adam Goldberg
73
330 lbs
6-7
Tackle*
Bryant McKinnie
74
343 lbs
6-8
Tackle
Mike Rosenthal
75
315 lbs
6-7
Tackle
Mark Wilson
63
318 lbs
6-6

But while it’s nice to have an offensive line that vaguely resembles a parking lot full of SUV’s, size isn’t the most important aspect of offensive line play. Consistency is. That’s consistency of play and consistency among players.

What is meant by consistency among players is this: a line that has been on the blocking sled and at the training table together for three or four years will almost always outplay an inexperienced one with more talent. Offenses are complicated and take a while to master, and even the bluest of the blue-chip recruits have a difficult time keeping track of all the various calls and shifts.

That’s why I’m both excited and a bit worried about the line heading into the season. The line is huge with an average weight of 324 lbs amongst the five slated starters. And with Birk back at center you just know the line calls will go much smoother this season. But with the addition of guards Artis Hicks and Hutchinson to go with tackles McKinnie and Marcus Johnson one has to worry about consistency among players. It may take this group a few games to really gel.

Consider also the Vikes open on the road at one of the loudest stadiums in the league in Washington. That will be followed by two very tough home games against Carolina and Chicago. I’m hoping the unit gels well before then. We already know the line will be good. “When?? is the question.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:59 AM
May 2, 2006
Breaking....


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Word has just hit the VU that the Triangle of Authority is dead! This is because Zygi and Co. are navigating a contract coup d'état with V.P. of player personnel Fran Foley. That’s a very professional and business way of saying, “don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.?

I first heard the rumor earlier this afternoon but could not get confirmation. The Enemy paper now has it.

We here at the VU have had a lot of fun with Fran, Fran the Lyin’ Man over the last couple of weeks ever since Foley’s work biography was found to contain numerous exaggerations.

So, Zygi has now terminated The Whizz and terminated Foley in very short order. Anyone still not believe that Zygi wants to restore class to the organization?

My guess is Scott Studwell, who deserved the post in the first place, now assumes the role.

Posted by maasx003 at 9:16 PM
"Mistakes Made, But At What Cost?" by Vikes Geek

As successful NFL personnel people will attest, NFL games are won as much in the front office as on the field, for it is the successful front office that tends to correlate with the successful team. In the NFL, a successful front office is measured by three criteria—contract management, free-agent signees, and draftees.

With few meaningful contract issues this season, the Minnesota Vikings’ personnel people are most aptly judged in 2006 on the basis of their free-agent signings and their draft acumen. After a respectable free-agency period, whether the Vikings would keep pace with their division rivals came down to a question of how the Vikings did in the draft. And upon further review, the returns are as much disappointing as they are promising.

In yesterday’s column, I noted that one could argue that the Vikings had a respectable draft. After selecting a consensus starter in Chad Greenway in the first round, the Vikings proceeded to add two more players in the second round—Cedric Griffin and Ryan Cook—who potentially fill extant holes. But it is with these picks that questions begin to arise about the draft skills of the Vikings’ draft coterie—head coach Brad Childress and personnel men Scott Studwell and Fran Foley. For beginning with the Griffin pick, the Vikings tranformed from a team intent on optimizing their selections to a team bent on proving that counter-intuitiveness trumps conventional wisdom. And that transformation could be the difference between the Vikings merely keeping pace with their division and conference rivals and gaining an edge on those same adversaries through a draft in which the Vikings purportedly had a numbers edge.

The problem with the Vikings’ draft picks from the second round on is not necessarily who they drafted—though there are some clear concerns in that area—but what the team paid to get those players and whether the team optimized its selections. And no matter how one dissects the draft, it is clear that the Vikings’ personnel people made several gaffes once they moved from selecting, in round one, a consensus player at a position that they desperately needed to fill, to drafting in the murkier waters of the post-round one realm.

The Picks and the Prices

Having addressed their primary need at linebacker with the selection of Chad Greenway the Vikings next moved to address their need at cornerback. With Brian Williams gone the Vikings needed a corner capable both of starting at nickel back and pushing the enigmatic Fred Smoot. There were several comparable cornerbacks of reasonable quality still on the board when the Vikings selected at forty-eight. But rather than selecting the more highly regarded Ashton Youboty, the Vikings opted for Cedric Griffin. That Youboty lasted until the seventieth pick suggests that taking Griffin at forty-eight was an unnecessary reach.

As I’ve said many times in the past, a reach is only a reach if it adversely affects your bottom line. And Griffin’s selection at forty-eight affected the Vikings’ bottom line. For, had the Vikings not drafted Griffin at forty-eight, they still could have taken him at fifty or drafted any number of other comparable cornerbacks in round three. The reach on Griffin would be virtually meaningless, however, were it not for the Vikings’ desperation to select a quarterback in round two and the team’s subsequent comedy of errors made in an attempt to ensure that they landed a player that they could have landed without having to trade away a valuable third-round pick.

Purportedly, the Vikings had Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens as their target in the second round. The Vikings erroneously assumed that Clemens would still be available when they next selected at fifty-one. When the N.Y. Jets swung a deal with the Dallas Cowboys to move into the number forty-nine position to take Clemens, the Vikings’ draft room imploded, with those who wanted to take Clemens at forty-eight at odds with those who did not.

The Vikings reacted to the Jets’ move by making two moves of their own. First, they inexplicably took center Ryan Cook with the fifty-first pick. Barring either a revelation that Matt Birk will not be ready to play at the beginning of the 2006 season or a determination to move Birk to right guard, a position that the Vikings purportedly filled with the trade for Artis Hicks, the move makes little sense as center is not a need for the Vikings. With several legitimate NFL players still on the board at positions of need for the Vikings, the selection of Cook—widely regarded as a round-five pick before the draft—therefore is mystifying.

Adding to the Vikings’ second-round intrigue was the Vikings’ trade of their two third-round picks, numbers eighty-three and ninety-five, to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the Steelers’ number sixty-four pick. With the sixty-fourth pick, the Vikings selected a major quarterback project, Alabama State quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.

To summarize the Vikings’ round two blunders, it is easiest to work backwards at this point. If the Vikings had wanted Clemens there was no excuse for not taking him with the forty-eighth pick. If that meant that another team snuck in between forty-eight and fifty-one to nab Griffin, so be it. There were many other viable cornerbacks still available—Youboty among them.

If the Vikings were content with obtaining Jackson, however, Griffin was a credible selection at forty-eight and the Vikings still could have had Jackson at fifty-one. And that would have left the Vikings with picks eighty-three and ninety-five—where they could have selected Cook or, if Cook was gone, another center such as the much more highly rated Greg Eslinger, or another player that filled a need.

Who would have been available to the Vikings in the third round? To name just a few, Rashad Butler, Maurice Stoval, Greg Eslinger, Dominique Byrd, Will Blackmon, Elvis Dumervil, and Mark Setterstrom. Even if the Vikings believed that these players were redundant or stretches, they were free additions—the price was merely proper management of selections in round two. That the Vikings failed properly to manage their selections in round two meant, at a minimum, that the team forfeited the opportunity to add at least one more third-round caliber player. That’s a peculiar luxury to afford oneself in an era in which third-round picks more often than not make the squad and stay with a team for at least three years.

Ultimately, what might be a decent draft for the Vikings on the basis of a solid first-round pick might as well be regarded as a highly disappointing pick for the loss of at least one pick in the third round without benefit of any meaningful return. And if the purported return is a bust, the second-round maneuvers in this year’s draft will look even more amateurish and could lead to a recall of personnel people.

Up Next: More Questions. Plus, remaining needs.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:07 AM
May 1, 2006
"At Fork in the Road, Vikings Go Big, Then They Go Down Home" by Vikes Geek

As the Minnesota Vikings prepared for the 2006 NFL entry draft, the vast majority of Vikings’ fans predicted a nice haul in the draft. With five picks on day one, history supported such a sentiment. And with a draft replete with good talent deep into the first round—and numerous players that fit the Vikings’ draft needs likely to be available when the Vikings selected at seventeen—the Vikings appeared in position to make a draft move.

To some extent, the Vikings did what they needed to do in this draft. Entering the draft, the team’s greatest need was at middle linebacker. Three linebackers stood out as potentially filling this need—AJ Hawk, Ernie Sims, and Chad Greenway. Of the three, Hawk widely was regarded as the superior linebacker with Greenway and Sims close behind. But a case could be made that Greenway—with thirty-five more tackles than Hawk in 2005—was the best linebacker on the board, with Sims a distant third both as a player and as a person. That made landing Greenway at seventeen a nice, as well as a less expensive, catch.

The question for the Vikings is how soon it will take Greenway to move to the middle linebacker slot. Vikings’ head coach Brad Childress has indicated that Greenway will open camp as the starter at weak side linebacker with EJ Henderson manning the middle linebacker position and Ben Leber lining up at strong-side linebacker. If Greenway shows the aptitude for the game that he showed as a walk-on at Iowa, however, the linebacker alignment could change before the regular season begins and the Vikings could have one of the more solid linebacking corps in the NFL.

Another of the Vikings’ pressing needs was a role player in the secondary. The Vikings filled that need by selecting Texas cornerback Cedric Griffin. While Griffin probably will not draw comparisons to Deion Sanders any time soon, the Vikings drafted him to fill an immediate need that does not require star quality—the role of nickel cornerback. And with 86 tackles for the Longhorns last season, he should be more than suited to fill that role.

The Vikings’ selection of Griffin meant not only that the Vikings had filled their two remaining vacancies, but also that the team could turn its attention to upgrading positions for which they at least had a body penciled in as starter in 2006. That shift of attention led the Vikings back to their number one problem last season and gave Vikings’ fans their first real reason second-guess the Vikings’ draft triangle—a group that, through pick forty-eight, merely had followed virtually everybody’s big board.

Finding a Fork in It

Shortly after selecting Griffin, the Vikings reached a fork in the road. Holding the 51st pick, the Vikings still sought an offensive lineman, a backup quarterback, and another linebacker. With several talented offensive linemen still available the question for the Vikings was whether they preferred finesse or brute strength.

One option was Outland Trophy and Rimington Award winner Greg Eslinger from the University of Minnesota. The only player ever to be selected both the best interior lineman and the best center in college football, Eslinger appeared to be a good fit for the Vikings as his selection would allow the Vikings to move Birk to right guard and to interject some quickness into a line otherwise heavy of foot.

The Vikings took the road more traveled, however, foregoing drafting Eslinger in favor of drafting the much taller, weightier Ryan Cook out of New Mexico. While the knock on Eslinger is that he is too small, the knock on Cook is that he is too tall—ripping the tape at 6’7?.

The primary concern about the Vikings’ selection of Cook, however, is not that Cook is too tall to line up at center for Minnesota, but that the Vikings’ took the mammoth center far too early in the draft. With most experts having pegged Cook as a second-day selection, picking Cook in the middle of the 2nd round certainly looks like a reach. And if the Vikings truly could have had Cook in the fifth round—where he was projected to go—then the team blew the pick with respect to what they later had to pay to move up to take Tarvaris Jackson.

If Cook pans out, however, all probably will be forgotten about this gaffe—one that pales in comparison to previous draft-day gaffes—as Vikings’ fans predominantly will recall only that the Vikings obtained Cook somewhere in the 2006 draft. And if Cook pans out—as is also expected of Greenway and Griffin—the Vikings will be able to look back at the 2006 draft, in which the team had only one pick in the first forty-seven, as at least a satisfactory draft.

Up Next: Jackson and Change.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:08 AM
April 30, 2006
"Squealing with Anger" by Mr. Cheer Or Die


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Many of you who know me well also understand that I wear my emotions on my sleeve. And I just want to open with that because I could come back here later this week and be in a different frame of mind over what transpired over the last 48-hours at the draft war room inside Winter Park.

But, as of right now I'm too infuriated to even articulate about the picks made on the second day. Just too incensed. And I know some of you, especially the younger fans, won't understand my anger. (And there will be those even angrier than myself.) So, let me try and elaborate for all those you think I’m being too harsh in my assessment.

It's been 46-years since the inception of the team. And the Vikings have yet to win a Super Bowl. So, the fans tend to magnify everything that happens with the team in an attempt to find the promised land.

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When a team has been to the Super Bowl four times and come up empty, the fans start reaching for excuses and help. To the fans, progress always seems slow. In fact, fans don't want improvement. We want a ring! And we want it yesterday.

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Whenever I'm sick, I'm always reminded of how the Vikings fans magnify every little move the Vikings make. You must know that feeling when all you have to do is lie in bed and concentrate on your condition. It's impossible not to focus on yourself. All your little aches and pains seem magnified. You watch yourself for the slightest signs of improvement. If there isn't any, you wonder why. You wonder what's happening. You start worrying about what you might have done differently to avoid being laid up.

The same with the Vikings. We'll analyze the hell out of every move, every trade, the coach, and even the food served at the MetroDome. So, exactly how do I usually keep a smile on my face?

First off, I gave Zygi Wilf a honeymoon period. And I still don't really have any issues with a man who has spent more in a single year than the previous did in five. Even Red McCombs enjoyed immense popularity his inaugural season. I also gave a honeymoon period to Brad Childress which was suppose to last one full season.....but that period may have abruptly ended over the weekend. And I also gave a honeymoon period to Fran Foley which lasted as long as a marriage with Zsa Zsa Gabor did....to any of her many husbands.


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So, for Vikings owners, coaches (Bud Grant excluded), administration, and players, our adoration can be fleeting. Especially when owners decide to raise ticket prices early in the year followed by a crappy draft. But I'm getting off topic a bit. (For a complete rundown on the history of ticket rate increase (and hijacking) please read more here.)

All we really ask of our Vikings owners and players is that we receive your undivided attention and effort. Or at least feign it. We don't like to be shared. Especially when the new owner is exploring the purchase of a Major League Soccer team to bring to the Twin Cities. Perhaps that fits into his new stadium plans or he has another goal in mind. But, the new owner hasn't even reached the Big Dance with the Purple yet. As The Wife® will tell me, "Keep your eyes over here, Mister!"

Yes, Mr. Wilf opened up his pocket book and brought the Vikes closer to the salary cap maximum. I'm not saying Zygi has to spend just to spend. But when the opportunity to vastly improve the team at a weak position presents itself the reply should be, "Cash or check?" and not, "I'll pass."

In that regard, Zygi gets high, high marks.

Additionally, I truly understand the need to bring in additional income for advertising by renting space for signage throughout the MetroDome which was done under McCombs. But, the appearance was more in line with a Texas league high school football than a professional football team. Last season, Zygi took a look-see for himself. He understood being an ECG (East Coast guy) and all. Again, two huge thumbs up in improving the look of the Dome.

And Wilf is riding a high approval rating here on the Viking Underground. Wilf got an 86% approval rating for April. For the year, Zygi actually improved to an overall 87% approval rating. I wonder if that will hold in May given the recent uniform change and then what I am referring to as a draft debacle.

Note: The May Zygi Approval Rating poll is now available. Just navigate to along the left frame to the poll area. And directly underneath the approval poll is a new poll on which NFC North team had the best overall draft.

With any draft, one has to allow time to judge the value of the players drafted. It will be interesting to see how the "experts" grade the team but I have to think no higher than a "C" which is again, helped by the first two picks which I truly loved.

But we aren't even sure Chad Greenway or Cedric Griffin will be "all that and a bag of chips" either. This could be one of the worst drafts EVER in the history of the team.

For example, the Vikes opening day linebacker corps for opening day could be Ben Leber at strong-side, EJ Henderson at middle and Greenway at weak. Um, don't you need at least one guy who can take on a block? There was Abdul Hodge for the taking. Numerous times in the second round and again early in the third. Instead, Hodge was picked up by the Packers. Now the Vikes have to face AJ Hawk, Hodge, and either Nick Barnett or Na’il Diggs twice a year. Hell, the Pack could even go 3-4! And do you know how pissed I get when I have to tip my hat to the freakin’ Packers!!!????!!!!

Then there was the reach for Tarvaris Jackson. I fully understand that other teams were looking to move up and “steal him? from the Vikes. But, c’mon!?!? That was a lot to spend for him. Yes, Jackson has got an absurd arm. Yes, the pundits said the arm of Jackson might be the best in the draft. But, the big negative in his game is Jackson has trouble absorbing an offense and taking it to the field. The West Coast offense is not an easy offense to learn. And the team let a QB leave that had a freakish arm who was already a Pro Bowler and familiar with the personnel. He just didn’t want to be here. So, we are now supposed to start from scratch!?!? (Recall the 46-year Super Bowl draught?)

I might be just too upset to think straight. I know I'm too upset to write any more for a few days and will look for the analytical honey-sweet tones of Vikes Geek to perhaps set me straight....or vindicate my current gut feelings.

How about you? Am I being harsh? Do you consider this draft to be a stinker or does it have the aroma of a Super Bowl? Can you put a smile back on my face? If so, I'd love to hear from you. Tell me what I am missing, please! And grade out the Vikes draft in the poll below.




Update: Sunday evening 9 PM CST

Best comment fed back to me so far....."No Steller names, but all soild players. Remember the Pats?" Slight smile starting to crack on left side of face. Keep them coming!

Vikes Free Agent Draft Summary 2006: Know anyone? Leave a comment if you do.









PLAYER



PLAYER

POSTION

SCHOOL

Stinson, Albert

OT

Jackson State

Carter, Jason

WR

Texas A&M

Baskett, Hank

WR

New Mexico

Jackson, Steven

FB

Clemson

Henderson, Taureen

HB

Texas Tech

Torp, John

P

Colorado

Palermo, Jason

C/G

Wisconsin

Gordon, Charles

CB

Kansas

Penn, Donald

OT

Utah State

Smith, Kyle

WR

Youngstown State

Cobb, Robert

CB

Massachusetts

Mathis, Wendell

HB

Fresno State

Mitchell, Jayme

DE

Mississippi

McKenzie, Kyle

LB

Minnesota

Nealy, Barrick

WR

SW Texas State

Hopoi, Manase

UT

Washington

Hoyte, Oliver

LB

NC State

 

Posted by maasx003 at 3:53 PM
April 29, 2006
"Draft Preferences" by Vikes Geek


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breaking......exclusive Winter Park fight between Scott Studwell and Fran Foley!!!

With the 2006 NFL entry draft drawing ever near, the Minnesota Vikings approach one of their most meaningful drafts in recent years. For this year, with five picks on the first day of the draft, the Vikings have an opportunity to fill their remaining holes with legitimate NFL starters—a goal which, if reached, would place the relatively young Vikings’ team in good stead for several years to come.

What the Vikings Contend They Want

Publicly, the Vikings’ draft consortium is saying very little. What members of this group are divulging, however, suggests that the team has yet to determine its first-round course, let alone the course it will follow in later rounds of the draft. That has left outsiders to pull together the scraps that Vikings’ personnel man Fran Foley, head coach Brad Childress, and personnel man Scott Studwell have offered.

Piecing all the statements together, one thing is clear—the Vikings could go one of several ways today. That means that the Vikings could still trade up, trade down, trade for a quarterback, or stand pat. And no matter where the Vikings draft—assuming they do not trade away all of their picks for a player or two—there remains a sense that the Vikings’ draft wonks will see what happens at the outset of the draft before they reach their final decision on whom to draft in the first round.

With that said, the Vikings certainly have let it be known that they have a strong interest in a handful of players. Among those players are Ohio State linebacker AJ Hawk, Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler, and Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway. The team also brought in Vince Young for an interview but said nothing about the interview, leading to the suspicion that the team either really liked Young or really disliked Young.

What the Vikings Need

For the past four years, the Vikings have needed defense more than they have needed offense. And for each of those four years, the Vikings’ paramount defensive need has been linebacker—more specifically, middle linebacker. This year is no different. Yes, the Vikings need a quarterback who will be ready to step in for Brad Johnson when Johnson is no longer able to take the field, but that need is slightly less pressing than is the need for a bona fide middle linebacker who can play this year.

Adding a middle linebacker would ensure the Vikings of having a quality NFL starter at every position on the field, with the possible exception of right offensive tackle—a position that the Vikings probably will fill by platoon, rotating the eminently mediocre to bad Mike Rosenthal and Adam Goldberg. That gives the Vikings at least a band-aid at right tackle.

The Vikings are without even a band-aid at middle linebacker, however, currently suggesting that former failed-middle-linebacker-experiment E.J. Henderson—who appears to have settled in nicely at outside linebacker—has the inside track on middle linebacker. That sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Numerous mock drafts have the Vikings selecting either a safety or cornerback in the first round. Those mocks—many of them offered on ESPN’s site—either offer some heretofore unavailable insight or were made in a fit of absolute misinformation. One mock board even had the Vikings drafting a corner in round one to “replace the departed Brian Williams.? As most Vikings’ fans will recall, Williams was number two on the depth chart behind Fred Smoot—rightly or wrongly—when he left for greener pastures. Drafting a corner to play nickel and passing up a starting middle linebacker would be a tremendous mistake, and one that the Vikings’ draft group appears incapable of making.

Pecking Order

The Vikings can make a case for drafting at several positions in the first round no matter where they ultimately select. Three positions, however, lead the rest in terms of how they would meet the Vikings’ current needs given who’s available in this year’s draft. In addition to drafting a middle linebacker such as Greenway or Hawk, the Vikings could draft a quarterback or a running back.

The following is a ranking of players from which the Vikings probably will have an opportunity to select:

1. AJ Hawk: Great college career. No mistakes in workouts. No surprises. Can play middle linebacker immediately. 121 tackles and 9.5 sacks in 2005.

2. Chad Greenway: Great college career. Sound college program with history of producing NFL-ready players, particularly on defense. Can play middle linebacker immediately. Could be better than Hawk. 156 tackles and 2 sacks in 2005.

3. DeAngelo Williams: Great college career. Massive numbers—two consecutive seasons with nearly 2,000 yards rushing. Vikings could use some help at running back even if Chester Taylor pans out, but especially if Taylor is just average. Average hasn’t been getting it done in Minnesota for some time, not even when the line was good. Was not asked to catch the ball out of the backfield at Memphis, but showed some ability to do so when asked to do so.

4. Jay Cutler: Would be higher if the Vikings needed him immediately and if he had the ability to play immediately. Since neither currently is the case, it is difficult to take him over a linebacker that would fill an immediate need or even over a running back as good as Williams who would fill a lesser, though still important role on the team. Another concern about Cutler is the Williamson effect. Prior to workouts, Cutler was mostly a regional commodity. The numbers don’t necessarily mean much coming out of Vanderbilt, a traditionally weak team, but they are good—3,073 yards, 21 touchdown passes, 9 interceptions, 23 sacks, 126.1 quarterback rating in 2005—with the exception of that mobility-challenged sack total. If you are in the camp that doubts Cutler, there’s fuel for your fire, however. in 2005, Gopher quarterback Bryan Cupito, not known for his quarterback play, threw for 2,267 yards and 15 TDs with 8 INTs. Would a game against Kentucky have put Cupito in league with Cutler statistics-wise?

5. Bobby Carpenter: Good college career. Benefited from playing with Hawk probably more than Hawk benefited from playing with Carpenter. Probably a second-round pick were it not for his Ohio State connection. 49 tackles and 8 sacks is good in total, but a bit light on tackles, making one wonder where Carpenter is when he’s not blitzing. Not an immediate middle linebacker.

6. Laurence Maroney: Great college career. Needs to work on pass receiving and run blocking, but has the speed and quickness to be a very good NFL back. 1464 yards rushing, 5.2 yard average, 17 receptions for 170 yards in 2005. Might not be ready to start at the beginning of 2006.

One of these six players will be available when the Vikings draft, even if the Vikings remain at seventeen in the draft. The two players in whom the Vikings had expressed interest but whom the Vikings probably will take a pass on should they be available when they draft are Texas quarterback Vince Young and Florida State linebacker Ernie Sims—both of whom are responsible for any drop that they see from the top of the draft.

For Young, the concern is mental awareness. It’s one thing to do poorly on the NFL’s written exam. That’s probably excusable. It’s quite another thing, however, to come off as a borderline imbecile when responding to questions that you’ve undoubtedly heard many times already and when you’ve arranged the interview to promote yourself, as Young did on Thursday. Responding to clearly worded questions, Young often gave answers that had nothing to do with the question—though Young clearly thought he was addressing the questions, often sounded befuddled by certain lines of questioning, and sometimes even failed to respond to questions. If that’s indicative of Young’s deftness, it doesn’t bode well for whichever teams selects him to read situations in the NFL.

The concern with Sims is his past—both off and on the field. Only an arrest for domestic battery and resisting arrest in his recent history deflects attention away from a very mediocre performance in 2005—77 tackles, zero sacks. If the Vikings mean what they say about getting the best available player, they probably will pass on this guy. If they mean what they say about quality individuals, they definitely will pass on Sims.

Up Next: The draft! Mulling over the picks.

Posted by maasx003 at 8:00 AM
"VU Draft Day Nirvana" by Mr. Cheer Or Die
VU Draft Picks: The Genuis Selections
(updated Saturday morning)
COD
The Commish
Milwaukee Mark
The Insider
#17 pick
Chad Greenway
Chad Greenway
Jay Cutler
Chad Greenway

The View from Inside Winter Park

Don't believe for one minute that this draft will be conducted by Fran Foley, who was seen recently with a huge eraser in one hand and his bio on the other. No, this Vikings draft will once again be conducted by the paramount Vikings linebacker of all time, Scott Studwell.

Studwell is the Vikings director of college scouting and this is his time to shine. And shine he usually does.


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For the 2006 NFL draft, I fully expect the Vikes to look at linebacker first and quarterback second. And I also expect them to stay put at #17 in the first round. Consider: if the team keeps all their picks, that will be five picks in the first three rounds. One has to think the Vikes draft-day brain trust has the grey matter to at least make three of the five picks turn into long term, viable solutions to their respective positions.

The following players could be available at selection seventeen within the first round:

DeAngelo Williams, RB Memphis: Insanely quick through a hole and is the most elusive (yes, even more than Reggie Bush) back in college.
Laurence Maroney, RB Minnesota: Yes, I'm against him but then has the ability to make a defender miss and that explosive gear that will allow him to take it the distance at any time.
Ernie Sims, OLB Florida St.: He is a very instinctive LB.
Chad Greenway, OLB Iowa: At 6'4 247, Greenway is as big as anyone could hope for in the NFL with the speed of a DB. He was clocked at 4.47 in the forty last fall at Iowa's timing day.

COD's pick: Greenway

How about selection forty-eight in the second round?

Abdul Hodge, ILB Iowa: One of the smartest middle linebackers I've seen in college football in a long time. He knows where to be at all times. Good in coverage, good against the run, good form tackler.
Omar Jacobs, QB Bowling Green: Omar's combination of accuracy, arm strength and speed makes him much like former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham. As he doesn’t have the speed of a Mike Vick, he still can run around some of the NFL's great defensive players making him a lot like Daunte Culpepper. And don’t forget Omar is another quarterback coming out of the MAC conference at Bowling Green, making him a high prospect given the history of quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich and Chad Pennington.
Max Jean-Gilles, OG Georgia: A prototypical right guard who would complete the rebuilding job along the offensive line.

COD's pick: Jacobs

How about selection fifty-one in the second round?

Ryan O'Callaghan, OT California: Prototype right tackle, a weak spot for the Vikes. Solid in pass protection as well as run-blocking. experienced and could start right away.
Thomas Howard, OLB UTEP: Great speed and versatility. Great addition to any team as a coverage guy and can line up against any TE in the NFL.
Alan Zemaitis, CB Penn St.: Experienced player who will be a perfect fit for the teams new Cover 2 defensive scheme.

COD's pick: O'Callaghan

How about selection eighty-three in the third round?

Brodie Croyle, QB Alabama: Croyle started for multiple years at Bama. He has a strong arm and can play with the big boys like Vince Young and Matt Leinart. He played well at the senior bowl, he has a great personality. He is a good leader and has good mobility. But according to a VU reader out of Alabama.....Croyle is more dud than stud.
Julien Jenkins, DE Stanford: A stud defensive end for the team to develop as a pass rushing DE

COD's pick: Jenkins

How about the recently acquired ninety-fifth selection (from Seattle) in the third round?

Andrew Whitworth, OT L.S.U.: An experienced starter who will provide quality depth at both right and left tackle for the Vikes.
John Alston, LB Stanford: Stock dropped after the combine, but ever since his pro day, it has crept back up.
Elvis Dumervil DE, Louisville: One...his name is Elvis. Two...he is an exceptional pass rusher with great speed to beat blocks on the offensive line.

COD's pick: Whitworth

So, how would you feel if at the end of the first day of the 2006 NFL draft the Vikes had the following players on the plane and heading for Winter Park?

LB Chad Greenway
QB Omar Jacobs
OT Ryan O'Callaghan
DE Julien Jenkins
OT Andrew Whitworth

Now, I'm not saying that this is who I want. I'm just voicing that one scenario the Vikes could consider is just staying with their picks and avoid the temptation to trade away in order to secure a bigger college name. A name which could become the next Lawrence Phillips, Heath Schuler, or Andre Ware....all first round busts.

In this case, I'm leaning towards rolling the dice on five studs instead of mortgaging away all the picks and taking the chance on one or two supposed blue-chippers.

You?

Posted by maasx003 at 1:35 AM
April 28, 2006
Breaking.....
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My buddies over at Pro Football Talk are now reporting that the Houston Texans have passed on RB Reggie Bush and inked DE Mario Williams who will be the first overall selection in the 2006 NFL draft.

Wow.

Either this is the greatest smoke-screen in the history of professional sports or the greatest blunder. In any event, tomorrow's draft just became the weekends must-see-TV.

Posted by maasx003 at 9:02 PM
April 27, 2006
"The Unveiling" by Mr. Cheer Or Die & "Worse than the Unknown" by Vikes Geek
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The Unveiling

UPDATE: The Commish found photos posted and sent them to me. Here are the new uniforms that I believe would have been taken at Giants Stadium this past winter when the boys were in town to don the new designs.

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So, you can now vote on the new uniforms below. Thumbs up or thumbs down? You decide. The poll is just a little ways further down.

The horn appears to have a very subtle crease in it now, don't you think? But it is still hard to tell. All I did was pull the helmet out of the Wiggins photo and try to focus in a bit more without losing too much resolution.

One of my co-workers is planning to be at the Mall this evening and said he would send me photos yet tonight if he has time. I have to trudge to work otherwise I'd be there myself.

From this morning....

Early this evening, the Vikings will unveil a new look to their uniforms. According to a running Viking Underground poll, here is what you want to see in the new uniforms:

Home Uniforms
69% of you want a purple jersey on white pants
28% of you want a purple jersey on purple pants
3% of you can't find your way home

Road Uniforms
71% of you want a white jersey on purple pants
26% of you want a white jersey on white pants
3% of you can't find your way home

Once you have seen the uniforms, come back here to vote on this simple poll:





And, as promised....with a hint of what will come tonight....is my own unveiling.

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Yep, purple on purple and a bit of the old school. I had made this decision when I saw this old photo from a Gopher's game at old Memorial Stadium.


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Back then, men wore suits and hats to sporting events. "So, why can't we do that now", I asked myself? Thus, the new look. It's not intended to look "gangsta" or "pimpish" but a look that harkens back to the days of yore.

"Worse than the Unknown" by Vikes Geek

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On Wednesday, Vikings’ Player Personnel Director, Fran Foley, offered his thoughts on the upcoming draft and his resume problems. More mystifying than his recent insistence that the resume gaffes were the result of clerical errors—an astonishing claim to which I continue to resist any temptation to respond in this column—were Foley’s nearly incoherent statements regarding draft philosophy and where the Vikings’ stand with respect to Saturday’s draft.

Few listening to Foley’s responses to questions regarding Saturday’s draft could be left with anything but doubt over Foley’s ability to resurrect what has become Minnesota’s annual homage to poor drafting technique. The following exchanges took place:

Question: “Does the uncertainty at the top of the draft order make your decision-making more difficult??

Foley: “I guess I don’t understand your question.?

Question: “Does the fact that teams near the top of the draft have not made clear who they intend to draft make it more difficult for you to focus on the players that you think will be available at seventeen??

Foley: “No.?

Question: “Have you identified the players that you hope to have an opportunity to select from among??

Foley: “It’s too early for that.?

Question: “How will the availability of the players that you target as potential draftees affect whether you accept an offer to move down in the draft.?

Foley: “We’ve identified five players that we really like. If only two of those players look to be available when we select we probably wouldn’t trade down—not more than one spot anyway. Understand??

There was more to the interview, but you get the picture. Maybe it’s time that we looked into what pictures Foley has on Zygi Wilf—or at least time that we collectively prayed that when Foley claims not to have the final word on which players the Vikings select he not only means what he says but also that he doesn’t have any meaningful influence on any final determination.

Up Next: Pre-pick Picks.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:34 AM
April 26, 2006
"Digging In" by Vikes Geek


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Yes, Cheer Or Die is taking the day to journey to his beloved Irish pub to quaff a few ales and celebrate taking another step closer to extinction. And he'll probably end the day with a few spoonfuls of ice-cream. So, raise a toast to COD and wish him well so that he can return Thursday to bring you the unveiling........

....we now join our movie in progress.

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With the number seventeen pick in the 2006 NFL entry draft, the Minnesota Vikings stand at an organizational crossroads—play for today or build for tomorrow. Still needing at least a middle linebacker and probably an outside linebacker to be a legitimate contender for a championship, but also needing a backup quarterback with a high learning curve, the Vikings are in a position to draft for 2006 or to defer returns to 2007 or later.

Drafting a linebacker that is capable of playing in the middle in year one is a dicey proposition in most drafts. This year, however, there appear to be two such players—Ohio State’s AJ Hawk and Iowa’s Chad Greenway. Speculation continues to swirl regarding the Vikings’ prospects of obtaining either Hawk or Greenway. Given the linebacking needs of teams currently drafting ahead of Minnesota, the closest thing to a certainty is that neither player will be in Minnesota purple next year if Minnesota does not move up in the draft.

By standing pat, the Vikings probably would miss out on an opportunity not only to draft Hawk and Greenway, but also to draft Matt Leinart, Vince Young, and B.J. Cutler. And that would mean that the Vikings will have left the off-season without filling their most glaring weakness for four seasons running and without filling a suddenly urgent need at quarterback.

The Argument for Standing Pat

Despite the fact that, by not moving up in the draft, the Vikings might forfeit their opportunity to address their most glaring needs in this year’s draft, the Vikings might be better served retaining their number seventeen selection spot and their subsequent first-day selections. The argument favoring such a decision rests on both math and numbers.

The math portion of the equation is fairly simple. By moving up in the draft the Viking will be assured of signing a player that they covet. They also will be assured of spending large on that player’s signing bonus. To nab Hawk, the Vikings probably would need to move into the top four of the draft. Last year, the number four pick, Cedric Benson, received a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $18 million. Conversely, last year’s number seventeen pick, David Pollack, received a signing bonus of $5.45 million. While both represent sizeable bonuses, Pollack’s clearly is more cap friendly and significantly more manageable. The stark contrast in dollar figures between a high and middle first-round pick might, alone, warrant a Vikings’ decision to stand pat this year.

But the difference between the Vikings trading up and retaining their number seventeen pick must be considered not only in financial terms, but also in terms of what the Vikings would have to cede in exchange for the number four pick in the draft. The price tag for such largesse likely would include not only the Vikings’ number seventeen selection in the draft, but also their two second-round selections. And that’s a price that the Vikings ought to deem prohibitive.

While obtaining an immediate starter at a position of need is a nice haul in the NFL draft, there is reason to believe that the Vikings—should they break from recent tradition—can accomplish what the successful organizations around the NFL routinely accomplish. Namely, the Vikings should be able to identify at least one bona fide NFL player in the second round.

The 2003 draft offers a gauge for this contention. Of the thirty-two players selected in the second round of the 2003 draft, twenty-seven remain in the league and twenty-four are with the team that drafted them. The numbers are even better for third-round selections with thirty of thirty-two players drafted still in the league and twenty-four with the team that drafted them.

What the numbers suggest, albeit from a small sample, is that even average personnel departments enjoy success drafting in the second round. Given the Vikings’ recent track record, this conclusion would appear to argue for the Vikings trading up in the draft. In fact, based on the Vikings’ recent draft history, the team probably would be better served trading away all of its picks for a couple of proven NFL starters.

Rather than dwell on their past draft failures, however, the Vikings need to focus on getting this draft and those from here forward correct. And that starts with maximizing utility. With a deep draft at linebacker, the Vikings should be able to select one or two quality linebackers in the first two rounds of the draft. That won’t include the likes of AJ Hawk, but it might include a player with the potential to be even better than Hawk, Chad Greenway.

Even if Greenway is gone, however, the Vikings probably will have an opportunity to select Ohio State’s Bobby Carpenter in round one and Abdul Hodge in round two if they opt to add quantity to their linebacking corps. And the Vikings certainly will have a host of very good football players from which to select at seventeen should they opt to draft the best available player, with players such as Laurence Maroney, LenDale White, DeAngelo Williams, Nick Mangold likely still to be available.

The mandate for the Vikings’ front office in this year’s draft is not necessarily to move up or to take a particular player. Instead, the mandate is to make judicious decisions for a change. That means getting value whether through a trade or by standing pat. And when one considers the financial commitment that comes with taking a top-five player, having pick seventeen and two second-round picks in a reasonably deep draft might just make more sense for the Vikings in both the short and the long term.

Up Next: Pre-Pick Picks.

Other Stuff: from Mr. Cheer Or Die


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Create your own newspaper

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Posted by maasx003 at 1:28 AM
April 25, 2006
"T-Minus Four Days: The Insider Updates" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

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Fresh from The Insider is that another quarterback is now on the Vikings radar....

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....yes, Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler has shifted momentum away from the Wonderlic Kid, Vince Young. The Vikes realize that they would still need to move up to grab Cutler, but the staff feels the price would not be as great as it would to nab Young.

The Insider also tells me that if the Vikings stay put at #17, a linebacker will be the pick. And the #1 linebacker on the board is Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway. And how can one find fault with a linebacker who wears a shirt with a list of 10 "Norm-isms" that have been uttered by Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker as seen below:

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I mean at #3 is "Run like a scalded-ass dog." And how will Vikes defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin like it when Greenway shows up with the shirt and Tomllin reads #6 which goes, "The three fastest ways to die are 1) natural gas, 2) electricity, and 3) cover 2".....I'd think Tomlin might just implode! But that is linebacker mentality.....and what the Vikes need.

New Look

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The Vikings aren't the only ones about to unveil a new look on Thursday. Come back Thursday morning when I will beat the Vikings unveiling with one of my own. And you won't have to travel to the Mall of America to see it!

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Of course, if you want to see the Vikes new uniforms (my own unveiling will give you a clue!) you can head to the Rotunda at the Mall of America. The event will run from 6:00-6:30 p.m. Which is when I'll be working my second job....so there won't be any personal photos. But come back to the VU for a special poll in which you can vote thumbs up or down.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:38 AM
April 24, 2006
"Fran, Fran the Lyin' Man" by Mr. Cheer Or Die and "The Case for Moving Up" by Vikes Geek

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Long lost twins, Jon Lovitz and Fran Foley were reunited this past week when Foley revised the summary of his early work history to amend inaccuracies. "I did nothing to misrepresent what I've done,'' he said. Foley was then whisked away by Lovitz, the original Lyin' Man of Saturday Night Live fame, and taken to a meeting of Pathological Liars Anonymous.

I was able to catch up with Lovitz at Pathological Liars Anonymous headquarters for a few words on Foley.

Hello, my name is Jon Lovitz, and I'm a member of Pathological Liars Anonymous. In fact.. I'm the president of the organization! And being a huge Minnesota Vikings fan, I came to rescue my brother Fran Foley.

Fran didn't always lie. No, when he was a kid, he told the truth. But then one day, he got caught stealing money out of our mother's purse. He lied. He told her it was homework - that our teacher told him to do it. And she got fired! Yeah, that's what happened!

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After that, lying was easy for Fran and me. Fran lied about his age and joined the army. He was thirteen at the time. Yeah.. he went to Vietnam, and he was injured catching a mortar shell in his teeth. And they made him a three-star general! And then he got a job in journalism, writing for the National Enquire.. er, Geographic! Yeah.. He was making twenty thousand a ye.. month! In fact, he won the Pulitzer Prize that year! Yeah, that's the ticket.

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And then our cousin died - Joe Louis - and Fran took it hard. Maybe too hard - he tried to kill himself. Yeahh.. he did kill himself! Sure! He was medically dead for a week and a half! It was an old friend that brought him out of it - Mother Teresa! Yeah, right.. And she told Fran and I about Pathological Liars Anonymous.

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But we were broke, and in need of money you see....so we invented the computer and sold it to our, er, fri...neighbor Bill Gates. Yeah, that's the ticket. And Gates gave us three...thirty mill...billion dollars. Man, we were eating hambur...steak every night!

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Oh, you'd be surprised how many famous people belong to Pathological Liars Anonymous. In fact.. at one of the meetings Fran met his wife - Angelina Jolie! Yes, he's a changed man now, and all because of Pathological Liars Anonymous.

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Why, Fran - he even gave Einstein his start in science after meeting Al at Pathological Liars Anonymous. Yeah. Every day! Yeah.. that's the ticket! Yeah, you betcha!

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So, I say to Vikings fans everywhere! Forgive my brother's little white lies! He will bring you five....ten Super Bowls! In fact, Hulk Hogan is going to be the team's new weight coach. Yeah, that's the ticket. Top that Jack! See you later!

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VU Podcast Fifty-One

The most recent Viking Underground Podcast is now available. It is a very short pre-draft podcast summarizing the results of the first ever blogger mock draft.

"The Case for Moving Up" by Vikes Geek

With one week remaining before the 2006 NFL entry draft, the Minnesota Vikings face a quandary. The dilemma facing the Vikings is whether they should attempt to move up in the draft, stand pat, or do something else. And given that the dilemma is the Vikings’ most ponderous in recent draft history, it is no surprise that the solution is somewhat elusive.

Barring a complete collapse in the Vikings’ draft room, the Vikings should land a bona fide NFL-caliber starter should they elect to retain their seventeenth overall pick. But finding an NFL-caliber starter is not all that the Vikings need in this year’s draft. The team also needs to find an immediate starter at linebacker—and one who can play middle linebacker immediately—and/or a quarterback who will mature quickly in the NFL.

The Vikings purportedly are looking at several players as first-round options—presumably considering different players for different selection slot scenarios. The players most often cited as among the Vikings’ first-round targets, assuming that Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart are off the board when the Vikings select, are linebackers A.J. Hawk, Chad Greenway, and Ernie Sims, and quarterbacks Vince Young and Jay Cutler.

Based on the needs of teams ahead of the Vikings, Hawk and Young likely will be gone when the Vikings draft at seventeen, and Cutler and Greenway probably also will be gone. Of the sixteen teams selecting before Minnesota, seven have enough of a need at quarterback now or in the very near future to select a quarterback with their first-round pick and six have enough of an immediate or near-term need at linebacker to select a linebacker in the first round of this year’s draft.

Interestingly, none of the seven teams ahead of Minnesota in the draft with a pressing need for a quarterback have a pressing need at linebacker and none of the six teams ahead of Minnesota in the draft with a pressing need for a linebacker have a pressing need at quarterback. Assuming that the teams ahead of Minnesota who need a quarterback or linebacker prioritize the available talent in the same order as do the Vikings, the players that the Vikings value most highly almost certainly will be gone when the Vikings select at seventeen. That would mean that the Vikings would be left to draft the best available player rather than for need should they stand pat. And that would mean another off-season during which the Vikings failed adequately to address their most long-standing, dire need.

To move up in the draft, however, the Vikings need to find a trading partner. Several such partners appear ready to dance with the Vikings, but to have a legitimate shot at drafting one of their prime targets the Vikings probably will need to move into the top six of the draft. The two most likely trading partners in that range appear to be San Francisco, which holds the number six pick, and New York, which holds the number four pick.

San Francisco needs quality and numbers more than it needs an expensive top-of-the-order pick. With the number six pick in the draft, the 49ers could choose from among several very good players, but none alone will suffice to turn around a team so in need of an infusion of talent. A later first-round pick and one or two later-round picks would be more valuable.

The Jets are closer to the playoffs than the 49ers and could make the case that one very good player will make the difference for them in 2006. But, assuming that Leinart and Williams are not available and that the Jets are not interested in either Young or Cutler, the Jets are in a position to trade down several spots—even to the seventeenth spot—to address what has become a priority for them, defensive end. With players such as Kamerion Wimbley, Manny Lawson, and Mathias Kiwanuka likely to be on the board at seventeen, the Jets could trade with Minnesota, get the player that they most need, and pick up yet another mid-major quarterback in the second or third round to break in over the next few years.

Assuming no other changes in the top three of the draft, swapping first-round picks with the Jets likely would provide the Vikings the opportunity to select from all of their main targets. Reggie Bush, Leinart, and Young once looked to be the top three picks in the draft, but recent interlopers Hawk, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Vernon Davis, and Mario Williams have muddied the waters. The recent shuffle atop the draft board, however, only strengthens the Vikings’ probability of selecting one of their targeted players should they hold the fourth or sixth pick in the draft. The only questions remaining for the Vikings are whether their potential trading partners have the same view of the big board as suggested here and whether trading up is worth the cost. The first question will remain unanswered until draft day. The second, however, will be addressed here well before the draft.

Up Next: The Price of Exchange—The Value of a Pick and Why Standing Pat Might Make More Sense for the Vikings than Landing the Player the Team Most Needs Now.


Posted by maasx003 at 1:10 AM
April 22, 2006
"Coming Monday: Pathological Liars Anonymous" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

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Posted by maasx003 at 1:09 PM
April 20, 2006
"Blogger Draft Update" by Mr. Cheer or Die

I am taking part in an all-blogger draft. It is just a little NFL Mock Draft consisting of fans who blog for their respective teams. I am representing the Vikings blog-o-sphere. The first seven picks have been selected as of 4 pm CST. It is a little slow and may take until the weekend to complete as "teams" may be on the clock while their "owner" is at work....or singing at the karaoke bar...or just passed out.

For me, the "owner" of the Vikings, I have put together the Triangle of Authority with myself, The Commish, and Milwaukee Mark who will decide the Vikes first-round selection in a calm and gentlemanly manner. But we will listen to our fans that pay to see our team.

In fact, the Triangle just had its first War Room fight. A trade offer came in from Buffalo. The Bills were offering their #8 1st round pick for the Vikes first round pick (#17) and one of the 2nd rounders (either #48 or 51). Their pitch was that we could move up 9 spots to get either Vince Young or Jay Cutler. The Commish wanted to pull the trigger and do it. I, being the part of Zygi, vetoed it on the basis that we could make a trade with Atlanta giving them our first rounder for Schaub....getting a vet QB while keeping both 2nd round picks! Any way, I had to lock The Commish in Bud Grant's broom closet, er, office while he cooled off.

Stayed tuned.

Posted by maasx003 at 3:43 PM
"Decisions to Make" by Vikes Geek

With most of their salary cap for 2006 spent, and with only a handful of modest starters likely to be available after the June salary cap cuts, the Minnesota Vikings are left to consider their options for obtaining through this year’s NFL entry draft the players that they yet need. The options appear to be three-fold. One option is to package picks for a modest gain in selection order. Another is to package many picks for a more substantial gain in selection order. The final option, of course, is to remain pat. And what the Vikings ultimately decide to do in the draft will—or should—come down to what returns the greatest value.

Vikings’ Current Needs

Entering free agency, the Vikings were in the market for a safety, middle linebacker, backup quarterback, running back, offensive guard, and offensive tackle. Despite the loss of wide receiver Nate Burleson, the Vikings believe that they are set at wide receiver with Koren Robinson moving to number one receiver, Travis Taylor to number two, and Marcus Robinson, Troy Williamson, and probably some discount salary cap casualty veteran, draftee, or free agent battling for the number three position.

The Vikings concluded the primary free agency period having addressed most of their off-season needs. The biggest signing, Steve Hutchinson, not only solidified the left side of the offensive line but also allowed the Vikings to spend less money for a second-tier free agent running back, Chester Taylor—a player who figures to out-perform anything which the Vikings have referred to as a running back in the past four seasons.

Strengthening the left side of the offensive line was critical not only because it allowed the Vikings to pursue a more modestly priced free-agent running back, but also because it allows the Vikings to run the West Coast offense—an offense that tends left to right—with some degree of efficiency. And it also means that the Vikings will be a little less concerned about having a 37-year-old starting quarterback in Brad Johnson backed up by a highly questionable backup in Mike McMahon, since Johnson will have his blind side covered by Bryant McKinnie, Hutchinson, and Matt Birk.

With the addition of Tank Williams at safety, the Vikings’ additions leave them in better position than they were in at the end of last season. But the Vikings have one glaring hole on their roster that they have not fully addressed in free agency. And that hole could come back to haunt the team if the team is unable to fill it through the draft.

Remaining Needs

At the outset of free agency, the Vikings signed former San Diego Charger linebacker Ben Leber. Leber arrived in Minnesota with two positives and two negatives. The positives for Leber are that he is young and has shown promise of significant upside. The negatives are that he is coming off of an injury in 2005 and has yet to reach his potential in a league notorious for making final calls on players early in their careers.

Then there is the added difficulty that Leber not only has not played middle linebacker in the NFL, but also that the Vikings reportedly will not ask Leber to play that role this year. All of which leaves the Vikings either better off at outside linebacker with no clear middle linebacker for 2006 or about where they were at the end of 2005—with no middle linebacker and some decent players on the edges. And as the Vikings can attest, that won’t get it done in the NFL.

Middle Linebacker

The Vikings’ coaches currently are suggesting that Dontarrious Thomas and E.J. Henderson are the prime candidates to fill the middle linebacker role in 2006. What remains unclear, however, is what evidence exists that either Henderson or Thomas is capable of playing middle linebacker. Henderson’s failure at middle linebacker in 2004 is outshone only by Thomas’ poor play just about anywhere he has played. And moving Henderson to middle linebacker not only augurs poorly for that position but also means transferring the Vikings’ best outside linebacker from 2005, thus portending the weakening of two positions with one change.

The Vikings’ front office is well aware of the Vikings’ linebacking deficiency—no matter the statements, as sparse as they are, out of Winter Park—as the Vikings are said to be making a pitch to move up in the draft to take Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk. As are most NFL teams, the Vikings are convinced that Hawk can be one of the few players to make a seamless transition from college linebacker to standout NFL middle linebacker.

The rub, of course, is that to obtain Hawk, the Vikings must do three things. First, they must make peace with sending a passel of picks to another team to move up in the draft. Second, they must find a team that is high enough in the draft to take Hawk that also is willing to trade down in the draft. Finally, they must convince themselves that Hawk is the right selection so high in the draft. And given the Vikings’ triangle of authority, that might be a daunting consensus to reach.

Up Next: Getting There from Here. Expectations for the Vikings’ various draft-day options.

"Who Should I Draft?" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

I am taking part in an all-blogger draft. It is just a little NFL Mock Draft consisting of fans who blog for their respective teams. I am representing the Vikings blog-o-sphere. The first four picks have been selected as of 11 am CST. What about the Vikes? Should I try and trade up? Trade Down? Stay pat?

Stayed tuned.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:49 AM
April 19, 2006
"The Insider Contacts Me" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

On April 22 of last year, The Insider had e-mailed me with the top three players on the Vikings board for the first round selection. Since he had given me the scoop on Randy Moss just a few months earlier, I listened. After all the dust of the draft had settled, the Insider did not disappoint. He was spot on.

For those not familiar with The Insider, he is an acquaintance of mine with inside access to Winter Park. We trade more e-mails about gardening than we do football....as we did this week. His credentials are sound and he only e-mails me about Vikings "scoops" when they are pretty damn sound. Last year, he said the following three people Sat atop the Vikings draft board. This is exactly what I posted in April of 2005 shortly after The Insider contacted me:

At #1 sits Braylon Edwards. No surprise there. With the #7 overall selection it makes perfect sense for the team to replace some of Randy Moss' production here. Edwards, a playmaker with a solid frame and great hands, has All-Pro potential. He immediately would become Daunte Culpepper's go-to receiver.

And here comes the curve ball. At #2 is Troy Williamson, the speedy WR out of South Carolina. Williamson has good size and blazing speed. Paired with Nate Burleson, the Vikings would have two downfield threats to take pressure off QB Daunte Culpepper and the new focus on running

At #3 is Mike Williams, whom Williamson leapt over in recent weeks. It appears that the Vikes are more focused on speed in making this choice to move Williamson ahead of Williams.

Edwards went to the Browns with the 3rd overall pick and Williamson to the Vikes with the seventh. Here is the early name The Insider has provided me....the name that currently sits atop the Vikings big board:

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Wow! The Wonderlic Kid! You've all read the reports that Vince Young scored a 6 on the Wonderlic test at this year's NFL Scouting Combine. The average score for a player at the combine is 19. The average score overall — hundreds of corporations use the Wonderlic — is 21. But a score under 10 is an indication of literacy problems. Former Iowa State running back Darren Davis reportedly has the record for lowest score, a 4. Former Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski reportedly got a 9.

Young then received a pass, took the test again and scored a 16. OK, so now we know he can read. But a 20 on the Wonderlic is indicative of about an I.Q. of 100. A score of 6...or a 16... means that Vince Young could hide his own Easter eggs and still have fun trying to locate them.

So, either The Insider has located a great stash of cannabis in his garden and has been stoking his pipe a bit too much.....or, we have another surprise coming later this month and we will once again bow to his greatness. And let me clear: while the Wonderlic Kid is currently the guy atop the Vikes big board, The Insider states that only if Young falls would the Vikes bust a move to get him. He goes further to state the team would not be willing to movie intop the Top 5 as the price would be too high.....but Top 12, definitely.

Stay tuned.


Posted by maasx003 at 1:25 AM
April 17, 2006
"V.D.D" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

Being the licensed drug dealer that I am, I ran across a new affliction ravaging our children late last week. And unlike the last April Fools prank (some people have yet to forgive me...HAHA!) this is no joke. This latest scourge to hit our youth, as penned by yet another lefty freak, is Nature Deficit Disorder. N.D.D. is the latest excuse for parents who are so selfish as to not spend time with their children that they must invent some excuse as if to say, "See! It is not MY fault!?

N.D.D. is the latest crutch for parents to dose their kids with ProzacRitalinPaxil. N.D.D. tells the sad story of kids who are so plugged into television and video games that they've lost their connection to the natural world. These kids then develop into slugs that can't even fit into a normal child's car seat and the parents must super size to the behemoth style car seat so they can roll Fat Albert to the nearest McDonalds for their next Happy Meal.

So, since I could only pen together two entries last week and since Vikes Geek was in vacation....IT IS NOT MY FAULT! I was only suffering from Vikings Deficit Disorder. This is when there is such a dearth of any Vikings news that I suffer from extreme bloggers block and can't string together a comprehensive entry to entertain you.

Oh, sure. I could give you the latest person's version of the forthcoming Vikings uniform change. I have about a dozen people e-mailing me each week having a cousin or uncle or someone who works for ReebokAdidasNike who just happened top have a top-secret photo of the Vikes new uniform. Yeah, right. We'll see it when we see it. Why waste your time? I received seven e-mails on Sunday alone from people on this subject.

No, my prescription involves just walking away from said blog for an undetermined length of time. I spend time in our gardens.....by the way the magnolias are having a great bloom……


The two magnolia. (Click image for larger)

…..putting together The Boy's® 6th birthday party with Super Hero theme. Games included Bad Guy Bowling and a race to save Superman’s life by gathering all the kryptonite that had fallen into our yard the night before when a meteorite whizzed overhead.


Super heroes hunt down kryptonite. (Click image for larger)



Our heroes located all the kryptonite. (Click image for larger)


And then there is trying out new martini recipes, planning for the bathrooms remodeling project, and still researching that possible BMW Z4 because I am suffering from male menopause. No wonder I have had little time to exert on this humble blog.

We’re catching up on movies with our NetFlix Account. Movies viewed last weekend on the ol’ home theater system……


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…..were: Cinderella Man (great!), The Chronicles of Narnia (The Boy’s® first 2+ hour movie), and Underworld (Kate Beckinsale in leather rocks!). Nothing like popcorn and some special ale to vanquish bloggers block.

My next entry? Who knows, I may discuss boxers versus briefs. V.D.D., indeed. I’ve got it bad.

Help!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:08 AM
April 12, 2006
"Zygi Spending to Move?" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

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On September 12, 1982 the Vikings opened the Metrodome. It cost $68 million to erect it. The Vikes want, and need, a new stadium and are next in line once the Twins and Gophers get their stadium issues resolved. Of course, the Vikings are making a huge push this legislative session to get all three stadiums to be considered at the same time.....but then don't hold you breath for politicians. You'll be left gasping for air every time.

At least once a year, I would be thoughtless if I did not bring out my soap-box and voice my concerns over the risk that we could end up losing the Vikings to parts unknown. Actually, we do know where. The L.A. Threat still lingers which means that the team could escape for the warmer climes of the west coast...lease or no lease.....if a stadium cannot be built for the Purple.

Since 1995, after the Rams and Raiders left, the National Football League has not had a team in Los Angeles. Since then, in cities across the nation (Phoenix, Seattle, Indianapolis, etc) owners have used the dearth of a Los Angeles franchise as weight. They have extracted concessions worth hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers while threatening to move to L.A.

The strategy has been a critical factor in the NFL's stunning building boom. A quick Google search lists that since 1995, stadiums have been newly built or renovated for 19 of the league's 32 teams, including Jacksonville, the site of Super Bowl XXXIX and Detroit, the site of Super Bowl XL. (And as Zygi has already stated, would it not be nice to have the Super Bowl return to the Tundra? A game in which the Vikes have home-field advantage?)

Some say the strategy has been such a success that Los Angeles, though it is the nation's second-largest television market, is more constructive to the NFL without a team than it would be with one.

The NFL has said it wants a team in Los Angeles by 2008 or 2009. League spokesman Greg Aiello said last year that the league has not determined whether it would be better to move an existing franchise or to start a new one by adding a 33rd team, whose owners would pay the others as much as $800 million to join. Aiello said the NFL is concentrating on getting a stadium ready for a prospective Southern California team.

He discarded the comment that the league and its owners have used Los Angeles as influence to win concessions from taxpayers, and noted that owners have invested mightily during the recent run of stadium projects, spending more than $1 billion.

I think he kept a straight face while voicing that statement.

Some analysts say communities are willing to give so much public money to a private company because each team creates its own trickle-down economy. A recent University of New Orleans study estimated the Saints' annual economic impact at $402 million. The city has also played host to nine Super Bowls, more than any other city. Though many economists dispute it, the NFL claims that Super Bowls now generate as much as $300 million apiece.

Stadium deals are essential to the success of an NFL franchise.

Over and over again, owners have launched campaigns to win stadium deals. Time and again with massive contributions from the public, and often with a reminder that the field might be greener in L.A.

In Seattle, concerns that the Kingdome was structurally unsound in 1996 prompted Ken Behring, then owner of the Seahawks, to weigh a move to Los Angeles. Instead, the Kingdome was imploded and replaced. The Seahawks opened the doors of a $430-million stadium, now known as Qwest Field, in 2002. The public paid $300 million; now-owner Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, paid for the rest. Of course, being the sixth richest person in the world has its benefits.

In the Phoenix area, the Cardinals will move into a new, $355-million stadium for the 2006 season, six years after voters approved a measure committing public money to the project. The Cardinals spent more than $500,000 lobbying for approval. The team will pay less than a third of the stadium's cost.

In Indianapolis, Colt owner Jim Irsay butted heads with the city in 2004, charging that his stadium, the smallest in the NFL, was dragging down revenues.

Irsay's ploy with Los Angeles was not restrained; he is a member at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. There was also a threat of a move to Canada.

In December 2004, Irsay and Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson announced a deal to build a $690-million stadium. Taxpayers, in order to pay back bonds funding the bulk of the project, are expected to contribute $46 million annually for the next 30 years.

Enter Zygi Wilf, the owner who is enjoying a near 90% approval rating on the Viking Underground (poll to the left). Wilf has publicly stated that "I want you to know I'm never going to threaten to move the team to get a stadium."

Good enough for me. But here is my concern, being the neurotic person that I am. I have looked into Zygi's checkbook and I see:

• $49 cool to Steve Hutchinson
• deferred bonuses due to Fred Smoot, Jermaine Wiggins, Pat Williams and others
• $600 million paid for the team
• a team-record 21 assistant coaches
• a Winter Park renovation project that will cost $2 million
• significant financial loss in 2005, estimated to be more than $10 million
• $102 million in cash this season on player salaries
• $2 million for new coach Brad Childress
• Doubling the size of the executive staff from three vice presidents to six (and we know how they can eat!)

So, why is the jaded side of me worried? I should be loving this, right? And don't get me wrong....I am! But the larger question still remains: will the team get a new stadium? If they do not, what would you do if you were Zygi Wilf and you’ve poured money into a bottomless pit and you continue to get the cold shoulder from the State?

You see, the reality that Zygi and Co. are spending more money than they are taking in bodes well for their chances that should the current group of geniuses in St. Paul whiff on the Vikings again this year, the team becomes a legitimate contender to get permission from the NFL to get a new stadium somewhere else. In this case, Los Angeles.

Zygi is smart. Very smart. Like a fox smart. I want this guy as our owner for a long time. And I want that ownership to be housed in Eden Prairie and then Anoka County. Not on Hollywood and Vine.

Have you visited the Minnesota Momentum web site yet to commit your support and put the screws to the professional wind-bags in St. Paul? Or are you waiting to join the Los Angeles Momentum movement? The choice is yours.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:58 AM
April 6, 2006
"2006 Schedule" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

The Boy® is on Spring Break...from kindergarten. I mean what the hell. I don’t recall getting a 10-day spring break from ANY school and I had to walk uphill both ways five miles in blinding snow storms each day!

So, I've been engaged with family duties and have had no opportunity to write. But the 2006 schedule has come out and I'm sure every prognosticator is telling the world that his or her team is about to finish with such-and-such a record and then win the Super Bowl. As if.

There is no other way to say it for the Vikes: the start of the season is a wicked schedule. At first glance, I can see the team starting out 0-3 and with a 2-6 record at the halfway mark. And that would be as ugly as purple on purple uniforms! But the back half could be a cake walk as the Vikings cultivate momentum and conclude with a 9-7 or 10-6 mark, getting hot just in time for a playoff run.

On the flip side, I could just as easily see them starting 2-1 and having a 5-3 record at at the mid-season mark and ending up with a division winning 11-5 mark.

And what games we have in store!

October 22 at Seattle: The Poison Pill Game
October 28 at the Dome: MNF against the Patriots.
November 19 at Miami: The Poutin’ Quarterback against the Vikes
November 26 at the Dome: The Old Sheriff returns to the Dome
December 21st at LAMEbeau Field: The Vikes humiliate the Packers on national TV once again.
December 31st at the Dome: Scott Linehan returns on New Years Eve

That’s a half-dozen games with enough excitement generated to light the upper Midwest for a decade.

Posted by maasx003 at 2:19 PM
April 4, 2006
"Fading From White?" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

The paramount Vikings linebacker of all time, Scott Studwell, was in L.A. for USC's Pro Day. Studwell is the Vikings director of college scouting and this is his busy time of year when he earns enough frequent flyer miles to take a family of ten to Europe via first class for free. I cannot substantiate the rumor that under Red McCombs, all frequent flyer miles had to be turned into the ol’ car salesman himself.


Click image for larger

Neither can I corroborate that Studwell was there to eyeball Reggie Bush or Matt Leinhart. I can be sure that Studwell was there to gauge the running back I was very high on previous to these workouts: LenDale White.

The fact is Studwell may have needlessly made a trip to the Crazy Coast. White opted to not work out due to a reported hamstring pull. He then said that he tweaked the hamstring while bench-pressing 225 pounds only 15 times. That was a reported one more than USC punter Tom Malone. White then decided to skip the running portion of the day.

Like many other teams in the NFL, I felt that White had the best chance of being the next Vikings featured running back due to his NFL power back qualities we all saw displayed so prominently in lasts years’ penultimate NCAA football championship game. But if can barely out lift the team’s punter, well then I just don’t know.

It may be time to look at linebacker or defensive end and see what blue-chipper the Vikes can nab. Consider: if the team keeps all their picks, that will be five picks in the first three rounds. One has to think the Vikes draft-day brain trust has the grey matter to at least make three of the five picks turn into long term, viable solutions to their respective positions.

The following players could be available at selection seventeen within the first round:

DeAngelo Williams, RB Memphis: Insanely quick through a hole and is the most elusive (yes, even more than Reggie Bush) back in college.
Laurence Maroney, RB Minnesota: Yes, I'm against him but then has the ability to make a defender miss and that explosive gear that will allow him to take it the distance at any time.
Ernie Sims, OLB Florida St.: He is a very instinctive LB.
Chad Greenway, OLB Iowa: At 6'4 247, Greenway is as big as anyone could hope for in the NFL with the speed of a DB. He was clocked at 4.47 in the forty last fall at Iowa's timing day.

How about selection forty-eight in the second round?

Abdul Hodge, ILB Iowa: One of the smartest middle linebackers I've seen in college football in a long time. He knows where to be at all times. Good in coverage, good against the run, good form tackler.
Omar Jacobs, QB Bowling Green: Omar's combination of accuracy, arm strength and speed makes him much like former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham. As he doesn’t have the speed of a Mike Vick, he still can run around some of the NFL's great defensive players making him a lot like Daunte Culpepper. And don’t forget Omar is another quarterback coming out of the MAC conference at Bowling Green, making him a high prospect given the history of quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich and Chad Pennington.
Max Jean-Gilles, OG Georgia: A prototypical right guard who would complete the rebuilding job along the offensive line.

How about selection fifty-one in the second round?

Ryan O'Callaghan, OT California: Prototype right tackle, a weak spot for the Vikes. Solid in pass protection as well as run-blocking. experienced and could start right away.
Thomas Howard, OLB UTEP: Great speed and versatility. Great addition to any team as a coverage guy and can line up against any TE in the NFL.
Alan Zemaitis, CB Penn St.: Experienced player who will be a perfect fit for the teams new Cover 2 defensive scheme.

How about selection eighty-three in the third round?

Brodie Croyle, QB Alabama: Croyle started for multiple years at Bama. He has a strong arm and can play with the big boys like Vince Young and Matt Leinart. He played well at the senior bowl, he has a great personality. He is a good leader and has good mobility.
Julien Jenkins, DE Stanford: A stud defensive end for the team to develop as a pass rushing DE

How about the recently acquired ninety-fifth selection (from Seattle) in the third round?

Andrew Whitworth, OT L.S.U.: An experienced starter who will provide quality depth at both right and left tackle for the Vikes.

So, how would you feel if at the end of the first day of the 2006 NFL draft the Vikes had the following players on the plane and heading for Winter Park?

LB Ernie Sims
QB Omar Jacobs
OT Ryan O'Callaghan
DE Julien Jenkins
OT Andrew Whitworth

Now, I'm not saying that this is who I want. I'm just voicing that one scenario the Vikes could consider is just staying with their picks and avoid the temptation to trade away in order to secure a bigger college name. A name which could become the next Lawrence Phillips, Heath Schuler, or Andre Ware....all first round busts.

In this case, I'm leaning towards rolling the dice on five studs instead of mortgaging away all the picks and taking the chance on one or two supposed blue-chippers.

You?

Shameless Plug

The VU is always ready to help with a new Vikings related site. One of the VU's readers recently started a new Minnesota Vikings message board about a month ago is trying to get the word out about it. Check it out if you get the chance.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:40 AM
April 3, 2006
"Does Brad Want to Be Like Mike?" by Vikes Geek

As the Minnesota Vikings wrapped up their 2005 season, the general consensus around the league was that the Vikings had the talent to be a playoff contender—not just in 2006, but in 2005. When the Vikings failed to make the playoffs in 2005, former head coach Mike Tice lost any support that he might have had from the new Vikings’ ownership and found himself looking for a new coaching job.

Enter Brad Childress.

Childress came to Minnesota after serving several seasons as Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator in Philadelphia. By his own admission, Childress had a somewhat circumscribed role as offensive coordinator under Reid, with Reid calling the plays in all but a handful of games. Despite the usual accolades from former players, Childress’ limited role in Philadelphia led some to wonder whether Childress was the right hire for a team arguably on the brink of a playoff run.

In defense of his new hiree, Vikings’ owner Zygi Wilf noted that Childress was an upstanding citizen and a good family man. Despite such overwhelming evidence of coaching acumen, some still wondered whether Childress was ready for a head coaching gig with a playoff ready team.

Initially, Childress opted to stand above the fray. “Let them wonder,? seemed to be Childress’ motto. “I’ll prove my mettle with my on-field performance.?

Childress’ lack of public statements, blanketed by front office refusals to offer public statements on the team absent approval from the triangle of authority—which included Childress—suggested that Childress would follow through with a pledge to show us on the field. And while the Vikings’ new head coach received criticism for so closely guarding his words, some local pundits acknowledged that, at a minimum, Childress had offered one improvement over the previous coaching regime by playing things a bit closer to the vest—a move considered more professional in some circles.

Without much more than the occasional comment on things of little relevance to Vikings’ football, Vikings’ fans were left to what to make of Childress. Would he be at least the slightest improvement over Tice? Or was he too much of a rookie—or too much of something else—to provide the Vikings the improvement at coaching that they so desperately needed after last season?

Two weeks ago, Childress began to show his true colors to Vikings’ fans. And if you resided in the camp that said let’s see what the man can do before we question his methods, you suddenly had reason to reconsider your position. In public statements the likes of which the new Vikings’ head coach previously had not offered, Childress made clear where he felt he stood in the pantheon of football coaching history.

“When I met the players, I could see some of them had concerns.? Childress commented to a gathering of reporters. “They were looking at each other like ‘who’s this guy?’ I looked them in the eye and said, ‘You didn’t choose me, I chose you. I chose you.?

Childress’ point was clear. Team was important, but nobody was more important than was he. For a coach so obsessed with “team? that he found it necessary to dump Daunte Culpepper for a bag of beans because Culpepper was “too much about ‘me,’? the comments were rather curious.

A Mere Blip on the Radar

Childress easily could have been forgiven his rather grandiose comments had he gone back to his vow of silence until the season started. For two weeks, it looked like that might happen. It appeared that the coach had found his way back to the higher ground, to a more sensible plane of professionalism.

But then someone asked Childress about Daunte Culpepper for the umpteenth time. And this time, Childress let fly. And, in so doing, the new coach revealed not only a strain of poor public decision-making, but also a touch of amateurism the likes of which we were assured by Vikings’ ownership did not run through the veins of this coach.

Responding to questions about Culpepper’s rehabilitation program, Childress noted that he had sent an assistant to Florida to check out Culpepper’s workout facility. Childress stated that the facility was inferior to what the Vikings had to offer in Minnesota and that he believed that Daunte would have been better served returning to Minnesota to rehabilitate. End the statement there and nobody blinks an eye.

What appeared to irk Childress, however, was not the fact that Culpepper opted to continue to workout in Florida. Nor did Childress even contend that Culpepper—despite the quarterback using what Childress deemed to be inferior rehabilitation facilities—was not making suitable progress in his rehabilitation. No, what Childress seemed obsessed with was the fact that the facility was located in a strip mall, next to a Wal-Mart and, though Childress does not know this for a fact, a Chinese restaurant. Yes—a Chinese restaurant. Need Childress say any more?

Well, only if he wants others to know what he was getting at. Precisely what picture was Childress attempting to draw for Vikings’ fans reading his comments? Was he insinuating something about locations that support Wal-Mart stores and Chinese restaurants? Was there any point to his rant?

We don’t currently know what Childress’ point was in delivering this rant, except that he was frustrated with Culpepper’s apparent refusal to rehabilitate in Minnesota. The concern for Vikings’ fans, however, is not over the disagreement, but over Childress’ ancillary concerns—concerns about the location of the facility in relation to a Wal-Mart and a Chinese restaurant. One has to wonder how rationale a person can be who shows more concern over the location of a rehabilitation center than over the progress that the person rehabilitating is making?

Ultimately, Childress’ recent public statements reflect the worst of both Denny Green and of Mike Tice in the arena of public statements. And if public statements offer insight into a coach’s ability to control his emotions and govern a team, Vikings’ fans might be in for a rude surprise in 2006.

Up Next: More Free Agency. Plus, stadium talk.

VU Podcast Forty-Nine

Join us in listening to Mr. Cheer Or Die, Shane of the Greet Machine, and Larry Spooner (Co-Chair of Minnesota Momentum) in bringing you up to date with the latest stadium developments with the Gophers, Twins, and Vikings. Listen in on the VU Podcast page.

New Wilf Approval Poll

The March edition of the Zygi Wilf Approval rating is closed and the April one is now up. Zygi finished with a 80% approval rating, his lowest of the year thus far. How will he fair in April? I'm sure the draft will play a role in that decision and you may consider holding your vote until then. You can find the approval poll along the left frame.

And a new poll is also up. Which position should the Vikes address first in the upcoming draft? QB? LB? RB? Vote to the left directly below the approval rating poll.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:35 AM
April 1, 2006
"Happy April First" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

It is April! Spring is here! And a very Happy April Fools Day! Many of you are reaching for this classic Who song about now.....

Wont_Get_Fooled_Again_label.gif

So, did you get suckered into my annual prank yesterday like many of you did last year? I must admit, it is getting more difficult to fool people, but it was certainly fun to watch April Fool's Day 2006 blossom across Vikings related message boards and such on Friday. Let us recap:

One: Set the Trap

First, to make the prank really stand out, it has to be near and dear to the heart. What is nearer and dearer to our collective hearts than the legendary horns on the helmet? A sure attention grabber that everyone has a opinion on.

During the last few weeks I set the stage with uniform updates. I planted a seed about a possible change to the helmet. The story was credible as changes to the uniform was covered through the local media. Earlier this week I alluded to being made privvy to a glimpse of the new helmet itself.

Two: Drop the Hammer

I posted the supposed new image on 3/31. This causes people to wonder out loud that it may not be a April Fools Day prank. Then there are the AFD purists who yell "foul" by baiting everyone a day early. Boo-friggin'-hoo. I set the trap the day before and drop the hammer the day of. Mark your calendar for next year.

The horns are staying on the helmet. They will just be updated a bit. So the image I posted yesterday on with the simple golden "V" was false.

The whole gag was in jeopardy on Wednesday when the Wilf story hit that the horns would stay. I traded some e-mails with my contacts at Winter Park (who suggested I run with a Jeff George for backup QB story which could have been good as well!) and ultimately made the call to run with the helmet gag anyway. Thanks to Shane of the Greet Machine who came up with the very realistic image.
If nothing else, I gave everyone some exciting message board fodder on a boring Friday!

Three: Truth Part One

It is true that I plan to attend a mini-camp session on Friday, April 7 and photos will be coming as early as April 8.

Four: Truth Part Two

It is true that the Vikings first ever draft pick, Tommy Mason, will be a part of a roundtable discussion at the Vikings Draft Party on April 29th.

See you Monday! Unless you are really, really pissed at me. In that case, just ask yourself "were you entertained Friday?"

"Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance." Sam Brown (Washington Post, 1977)

Who Dat?

As I stated, many message boards were ablaze with the AFD prank on Friday. None surprised me more than a New Orleans Saints message board here. Like the Saints fans have anything to crow about! And if you are a Saints fan back to check things out......go look up Anthony Carter circa 1/3/1988.

New Wilf Approval Poll

The March edition of the Zygi Wilf Approval rating is closed and the April one is now up. Zygi finished with a 80% approval rating, his lowest of the year thus far. How will he fair in April? I'm sure the draft will play a role in that decision and you may consider holding your vote until then. You can find the approval poll along the left frame.

And a new poll is also up. Which position should the Vikes address first in the upcoming draft? QB? LB? RB? Vote to the left directly below the approval rating poll.

Saturday Video

Many of you probably have seen this video. For those that haven't.......

No Fun League

I might have to write on this some more next week. But on the heels of llimiting what type of TD dance a player can celebrate, the NFL is now going to remove local TV affiliates from the sideline during games, thus ending their ability to shoot footage for news programs and other shows.

That ought to clear up certain sightlines on the sidelines since there will be a limited number of cameras, but what about our Sunday ritual of watching highlights on our favorite local sports wrap show? I bet this one is going to get some major coverage in the coming weeks.

Coming Monday

A entry by Vikes Geek and a new podcast covering the new stadium effort. See you then!


Posted by maasx003 at 1:01 AM
March 31, 2006
"New Helmet Design" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

I have been tracking the whole uniform change buzz very closely the last several weeks. Last week I had informed you that I had an inside track to the final helmet design and that I would be given a first glimpse in the near future. The future has arrived:

newhelmet.jpg

Yes, that is your new Minnesota Vikings helmet to be first displayed this coming preseason when our Vikings take the field against the Randy Moss-led Oakland Raiders on August 14 at the Metrodome. I may have stopped crying uncontrollably by that time. A report that the horn would remain on the helmet was actually untrue and unfounded. Well, maybe not unfounded. You see Zygi had a change of heart on Thursday. The Love Boat issue continues to dog him and the organization. The final blow was struck this week in Orlando on the final day of the NFL annual meetings. Zygi heard the beloved horn referred to as "resembling a sperm" and "[was sex] all anyone in Minnesota thought about?"

That was when the horned helmet died. The helmet design you see above was reportedly the #2 choice before Zygi changed his mind. Damn! We were that close to holding onto our horns!

I learned all this Thursday as I was visiting with some people at Winter Park. I had gone to confirm my credentials for attending one of the first mini-camp sessions that will be held April 7-9. That is the good news, as I plan to be at the Friday, April 7 session and photos will be coming as early as April 8.

It is not that I am against changing the uniform. I could have put up with purple pants and white jerseys. I could have found it acceptable to place swoosh’s and such on the side of the uniforms themselves. But the helmet was sacred, man. Hallowed. Revered. Deified.

I especially am of the opinion that we fans were snowballed. If Zygi was so hell-bent on a new helmet design, why not take a few weeks or a month and have a contest? Or give us three or four designs (including the legendary horns) to select from and have a fan poll? That way, we fans would have ultimately made the decision. We would have felt part of the decision making process. Not this sneaky "fly by night" pronouncement that leaves us fans out in the cold.

Excuse me; I have to go throw up.

Other Notes

The Vikings front office also let me know that the Vikings first ever draft pick, Tommy Mason, will be a part of a roundtable discussion at the Vikings Draft Party on April 29th.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:02 AM
March 30, 2006
"Linebacker Issues" by Vikes Geek

Entering the 2005-2006 free-agency period, the Minnesota Vikings had two glaring shortcomings—offensive line and linebacker. Many Vikings’ fans would have been content with the Vikings’ off-season had the team focused on these two areas. And with $32 million and change to spend under the NFL cap, the Vikings were in a position to do just that.

The Vikings began free agency quietly with the signing of veteran offensive lineman Jason Whittle, projected to be an emergency backup along the offensive line. The cost was minimal.

Slowly, the team appeared to be filling other holes at minimal expense, signing players like running back Chester Taylor. The Vikings’ decision to sign Taylor, a little-used backup to Jamal Lewis last season in Baltimore, suggested that the Vikings intended to build from the line back on offense in 2006, spending the big money on offensive linemen and making do with more modest players at some of the skill positions. The Vikings’ offer to Steve Hutchinson cemented the front-back suspicion.

Hutchinson’s signing not only signaled the Vikings’ renewed commitment to a strong offensive line, however, it also signaled the team’s apparent willingness to enter 2006 with a suspect linebacking corps. Because, despite the team’s acknowledgement that its linebacking corps remained an area of deep concern, the Vikings did little to ensure that the team’s linebacking corps will be better in 2006 than it was in 2005.

Yes, the Vikings did sign former San Diego Charger Ben Leber, but Leber is as much a question mark as he is an addition. Coming off of an injury season, there is legitimate concern about Leber’s ability to play at a high level in 2006. And with a limited track record in the NFL, there is additional reason to wonder whether the Vikings picked up Leber more because GM Fran Foley had a comfort level with Leber than because Leber was the answer to the Vikings’ problems at linebacker.

But even if Leber proves to be a solid addition, he’s not the player that the Vikings needed to add to the linebacking corps in free agency. The play of the Vikings’ outside linebackers was fairly solid last season with E.J. Henderson playing much better on the edge than in the middle, Keith Newman playing solid for most of the season, and Raonall Smith contributing when healthy. Add to that the fact that finding outside linebackers is much easier than finding middle linebackers and the Vikings appear to have put their money into a position of lesser importance than one for which they continue to have a pressing need.

Assuming a healthy and productive Leber, the Vikings’s signing of Leber can best be viewed at this point as a lateral move. With Newman out, the Vikings are pretty much where there were at the end of the 2005 season—some depth outside but without a credible middle linebacker. And with Cowart leaving for Texas, the Vikings are without a middle linebacker even in name. And that portends more linebacker problems in 2006, unless you subscribe to Brad Childress’ purported faith in E.J. Henderson as a middle linebacker.

Whether it be a miraculous and improbable reclamation of E.J. Henderson as middle linebacker or some other player, the Vikings need to find a middle linebacker post haste if they want to contend this season. The problem, of course, is three-fold. First, given the hit that the Hutchinson deal will have on the Vikings’ 2006 salary cap, the Vikings have little money left to pursue a free agent middle linebacker.

There is also the difficulty that, even if the Vikings had the money, the prospects would be dim. With the Vikings focusing their time and cap space on Hutchinson early in free agency, the few good linebackers in this year’s free agency crop long ago signed with other teams.

Finally, there is the issue of maturity. In the modern era, only one NFL team has won the Super Bowl with an inexperienced middle linebacker. And that team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had a pretty solid defense surrounding its young middle linebacker—the kind of defense that this Vikings’ defense probably will not come close to matching on its best day in 2006. That makes finding a middle linebacker in the draft a daunting prospect—but it might be the Vikings’ only remaining hope this season.

Draft Ayes

Fortunately for the Vikings, this year’s draft offers some good linebacker prospects. Among the likely Vikings’ targets in this year’s first round are A.J. Hawk, Chad Greenway, and Abdul Hodge. Hawk is the obvious top choice, but is projected to go in the first five picks of the draft. It certainly would make sense for the Vikings to trade up to get Hawk, but, of course, they must find a willing trade partner. And, even if they find such a partner, the price will be high—probably the Vikings’ first-round pick and two second-round picks—if not more.

That makes Greenway appealing—though Greenway, too, should be gone when the Vikings draft at number seventeen. As with Hawk, the Vikings could trade up to take Greenway. But such a trade likely would require an exchange of first-round picks, a second-round pick, and some other consideration. That makes the price for trading up to take Greenway about the same as trading up to take Hawk making the latter more palatable, if possible.

The Vikings could also wait to take Hodge, who is likely to be available at seventeen and might even be available through the first half of the second round. Of course, Hodge will be available later than Hawk and Greenway because he is a lesser talent than are either Hawk or Greenway. That lesser talent—if intended to be used as middle linebacker talent in the NFL—could mean the difference between the Vikings competing for the NFC North and competing for the NFC proper, a difference that makes Greenway more appealing than Hodge.

All of which makes trading up to take Hawk logical and sensible, if the Vikings hope to find a middle linebacker in this year’s draft with any hope of performing at a high level in the NFL in 2006.

Bigger Question

Assuming that the Vikings find a willing trading partner—likely either New Orleans or Oakland—they must still answer an even more fundamental question. With veteran middle linebackers available in free agency virtually every season, is it worth taking a projected middle linebacker—even one with the promise of Hawk—with a top-five pick in this year’s draft, if, by so doing, the Vikings must pass on taking a quarterback such as Matt Leinart?

Up Next: More Holes. Any Answers?

Posted by maasx003 at 8:16 AM
March 29, 2006
"My (Other) Kingdom for a Middle Linebacker" by Vikes Geek

Two years ago, I offered the Vikings my kingdom for a credible middle linebacker. The offer was appealing at the time given the meagerness of my offer and the limited likelihood that the Vikings would call me on the offer.

It was, of course, with some surprise, then, that I received a knock on my door in August of 2004.

“Who’s there?? I asked.

“Mike,? replied the stranger.

“Mike who??

“Tice—Mike Tice. I’m here to collect the debt.?

I opened the door and there stood former Vikings’ head coach Mike Tice. He had brought someone with him.

“This is E.J. Henderson,? he said. “He’s our starting middle linebacker this year and you owe me your kingdom.?

After wolfing down several cups of tea and a handful of scones, Tice agreed to let the wager run through the end of the year to determine if the credibility element of my offer had been met. “Not a problem,? he said as he picked a slivered almond out of his front teeth. “I’ll be back.?

Tice did not return at the end of the 2004 season.

I made a similar offer prior to the 2005 season. Again, Tice appeared at my front doorstep prior to the regular season. This time, he had two players with him. One of them wore a sheepish expression and stared at his feet—it was E.J.

“E.J. and I are here to admit that we were wrong in thinking that he was suited to play middle linebacker. We both think, in hindsight, that, you know, forcing him into the mix might have kind of messed him—and by him, I mean us—up. You were right. We were wrong.? Tice grudgingly said.

“But my parents didn’t raise a quitter,? Tice continued. “I’m going to take you up on your 2005 offer.?

And, as Tice spoke, he put his arm around the other player he had brought with him. After planting an affectionate kiss on the player’s cheek, Tice introduced the player.

“Vikesgeek,? Tice beamed, “meet our new middle linebacker, Sam Cowart. He’s the real deal. Smart, good speed—not great, but good. He’s going to get it done this year and I’m here to collect your kingdom.?

After another round of tea-drinking, scone-eating, and teeth-picking, Tice once again agreed to await the end of the season to collect on his debt. “I’ll let you stew until then,? he laughed in his now famous big guy laugh. Then he propped himself out of his rocking chair, brushing the cat hair from his new seersucker suit, and headed for the door. As he exited, with Sam neatly tucked under one arm and E.J. under the other, he turned and smiled. “This time,? he gloated, “I’ll definitely be back.?

Tice and I never again met.

This year, I make a similar, albeit smaller offer to the triangle of authority that now leads the Minnesota Vikings. In the interests of allowing myself a fighting chance should this offer ever become the center of a legal dispute, I offer only my “other? kingdom for a credible middle linebacker. That means that the Vikings can collect my “other? kingdom if they sign and employ a productive middle linebacker in 2006.

Despite offering this largesse in return for filling an obvious hole—a function for which someone in the triangle of authority certainly holds the responsibility and for which a generous playoff run might well be the return—my kindly nature nevertheless compels me to offer some suggestions.

And that’s the subject of the next column.

Up Next: Is Anybody Out There? Plus, Digging in Our Own Backyard.

Thanks to Wendy for the idea behind addressing the linebackers. She had written:

Great site for real fans - thanks.

I feel like I know what's going on at all the positions except for linebacker. Now that they've signed Ben Leber, what do you think the other spots look like. Is EJ going to start at one spot? What happens to Newman - I actually thought he was pretty good. Dontarious Thomas doesn't look like he can stop the run or cover anybody. Napoleon Harris just looked lost all year. Is this a spot we have to address via draft, trade before the season?

Thanks from Boston (where there aren't a lot of fans of the purple).


Posted by maasx003 at 1:44 AM
March 28, 2006
"Podcast with Dynamic Dolfan" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

Welcome to a special edition of the Viking Underground Podcast. In VU Podcast Forty-Eight, I phoned up fellow 1999 Visa Hall of Fans inductee Ernie Gorwood, otherwise known as the Dynamic Dolfan. The photo below is of myself and Ernie from the July 1999 NFL HOF Induction cermony.

ernie1.jpg

Ernie puts a lot of time into his game day costume as this photo attests to. And he is a lot of fun to be around! Listen in on the Viking Underground Podcast page as we talk about the recent Dolphins - Vikings connections and for Ernie's thoughts on the Culpepper trade.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:27 AM
March 27, 2006
Schedule Flash

We value our readers and their comments. Case in point:

Little news update for you guys. Vikes will play in the first MNF game on ESPN. It is the Sept 11th game against Washington. Here is the link to the story from the evil fish wrap!!!

Thanks to Playwhenwewana Guy!

So, the soon-to-be-Super-Bowl-Champion Minnesota Vikings open up the season at FedEx Field on a Monday night broadcast! Who can't wait for Hank Williams Jr.?

Bring it on!

Posted by maasx003 at 12:35 PM
"What Goes Around, Comes Around" by Vikes Geek

saints 024 small.jpg

Last week, the Vikings learned that the Seattle Seahawks would not match the terms of an offer sheet that the Vikings had made to All Pro offensive guard Steve Hutchinson. Seattle made its decision after learning that it would have to guarantee nearly $50 million in salary over seven years to Hutchinson in order to retain his services in 2006.

The initial consequences of Seattle’s decision not to match Minnesota’s offer sheet to Hutchinson were two-fold—the Vikings would have a benchmark player at left guard for the foreseeable future, at a price of $13 million in 2006 and approximately $7 million for the remaining six years of the Vikings’ offer, while the Seahawks would have an extra $7 million to throw around in free agency, if they so chose.

Many Vikings’ fans delighted in the ruling of Special Master Stephen Burban—a ruling that essentially made Hutchinson Vikings’ property. After all, went the rationale, “we won.? But, as with most things in life, what goes around comes around. And the Vikings’ use of a poison pill in their offer to Hutchinson has become, in another form, the lynch-pin of a Seattle tender to Vikings’ receiver Nate Burleson that the Vikings likely will not match.

For those not keeping close tabs, three things stand out about Burleson’s 2005 season—Burleson had some injury issues that limited his play early in the season, purportedly was the Vikings’ number one receiver, and—most notable—finished the season with fewer receiving yards than rookie dud Troy Williamson.

Coming off of a strong 2004 season in which he was the second option to Randy Moss for much of the season, Burleson’s abysmal 2004 season did not even reach the level at which one could define it as a “disappointing season.? It was far worse than that. So bad, in fact, that the Vikings tendered Burleson at the league minimum for 2006, requiring only a third-round draft pick as compensation should another team lure him away in 2006.

Despite Burleson’s awful 2005 performance, it is difficult to argue that he did not remain one of the Vikings’ top three wide receivers. That means that if the Vikings lose Burleson, they must either find a replacement from within who is able to provide the Vikings with some speed across the middle. Even with Koren Robinson in the fold, that likely means that the Vikings must receive a solid contribution from Williamson in 2006, barring a surprise salary cap casualty pick up this off-season.

All of which brings us back to where we began—tender offers that employ poison pills. Without rehashing Burbank’s ruling in the Hutchinson case, one additional qualm with permitting the use of poison pills in offers to transition players is that the practice undermines the intent of the NFL’s CBA. The purpose of the transition allowance is to allow teams some leverage in retaining key players. No matter your interpretation of the provisions of the Vikings’ offer to Hutchinson, Seattle’s use of a poison pill in its tender to Burleson dramatically illustrates how poison pills can be used to undermine the intent of the CBA—an intent that arguably should be considered in determining the validity of poison pills in offer sheets.

Last week, the Seahawks reportedly included two poison pills in their tender to Burleson. The poison pill made public to date would require the Vikings to guarantee Burleson’s contract of $49 million over seven years should Burleson play five or more NFL games in Minnesota next season—something that cannot happen if Burleson is a member of the Seahawks.

Of course, that’s the type of ridiculous circumvention of intent that we would not permit in most courts, because it makes a mockery of a related contractual agreement, in this case the CBA. But it is the type of circumvention to which Burbank’s ruling in the Hutchinson case has now opened the flood gates.

For those gnashing their teeth over the likely loss of Burleson, the trade-off is receiving Hutchinson. That means filling one large hole in exchange for creating a relatively smaller, though still noticeable hole, at wide receiver. And for that, you can thank the ruling in the Hutchinson case—or, if you prefer, the purported “hole? in the CBA.

But if you think this nonsense will end any time soon, you might be in for a surprise. Reports continue to circulate that the NFL will address the issue in the off-season and close any gaps in the CBA. But it takes two to tango. And the NFL Players’ Association has made it clear that they favor the current status quo permitting freer movement of players. All of which means that the Vikings’ maneuver to pick up Hutchinson could well cost the team—and the NFL—any meaningful use of the transition tag for the foreseeable future.

Up Next: My (other) Kingdom for a Linebacker.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:20 AM
March 24, 2006
"More Uniform Talk" by Mr. Cheer or Die

All this talk about changes to the uniform has me in lather. Especially when the rumors started popping about changes to the beloved, legendary Vikings helmet. It now takes not one, but two glasses of Irish Mist at bedtime to calm me down so I can slumber in peace. And I have since foregone on the ice.

Tonight, it may take three glasses. My close, personal friend Milwaukee Mark sent me the following which was something someone posted on the KFFL Vikings message board this week:

unis.jpg

Sickening, isn't it? Now, before you jump off the deep end, please consider that the source is unknown. Also key in on the dates which would correspond to the Red Menace administration prior to the Zygi administration. But, I'm sure the Triangle of Authority would have seen these prototypes and be working off of them.

I also have a lead into the new helmet design. My contact indicates that I may have the new design in my stone-cold hands within a week or two. So, standby and cross your fingers.

And as I alerted you to on Thursday, the Vikings did in fact sign Mike McMahon. I knew that my source at Winter Park would not have sent me the McMahon interview had the Vikings not had interest in signing him. Well, it is now official. McMahon signed a two-year contract to serve as Brad Johnson's backup. Also added was hard-hitting safety Tank Williams, 25, who had spent his four-year career with Tennessee.

And have a great weekend! Vikes Geek and I will see you next week.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:55 AM
March 23, 2006
"Mike McMahon Your New #2?" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

I received the following interview late last evening from inside Winter Park. It was sent to me because it was "an interesting read" but I wonder if it was sent to me to gauge your reaction to what I presume to be a very strong possibility that Mike McMahon would be brought in as the backup QB to BBB (Big Bad Brad) this coming season.

GIve it a read, and then leave a comment as to whether this would be a good or bad addition for the Vikes.

Q: Have the Vikings made an offer yet?
A: I haven’t really talked numbers with anyone yet. I know we will be talking later today or later tonight and maybe we can see if we can get something done.

Q: How was the visit?
A: It was very good; I met with the coaches and the entire coaching staff. Everyone seems to be very positive, especially about the future. I’m excited.

Q: Knowing Brad Childress’ offense the way you do, is this an attractive opportunity for you?
A: It is; I know the offense already, so that’s good. You can come in and already be a step ahead of the game. Also knowing the way Coach Childress is and how detailed and meticulous he is, it’s a great opportunity. Also getting a chance to learn a little bit from Brad Johnson is a great opportunity as well.

Q: How did they explain the role to you coming in?
A: I compete for the number two spot, and Brad’s the starter. I would like to come in and compete, just like I said, but at the same time, I want to learn from Brad. He has many years of experience underneath his belt. I definitely think I can learn from him. I got a little bit from Donovan (McNabb) but with Brad, he’s a lot older and I think he plays a little bit more conservatively, which could definitely help me and my career in the long run.

Q: Personality-wise too, Brad seems to like his quarterbacks kind of flat-lined? Do you like the fact he likes his quarterbacks to be calm and controlled?
A: Yeah, and that’s what I’m trying to work on as well. In the years past I have been moving around a little bit and I would like to come in and just watch how Brad Johnson does things and learn from him. And already knowing the offense and everything, it’s definitely a great opportunity and you never know what the future can hold.

Q: Is this your first visit?
A: Yes.

Q: Do you have some others coming?
A: Denver, tomorrow morning.

Q: Did they tell you how much?
A: As of right now we haven’t discussed numbers or contracts or anything, so I haven’t made a decision on anything yet.

Q: They have also talked about adding a young quarterback to develop here. Would that impact your decision at all?
A: If I can come in and just get the chance to compete for the number two and learn from Brad, to me that’s just a great opportunity in itself right there. It depends on where they would draft a guy. Being in Detroit where they drafted a first-rounder, it wasn’t the best situation you want to be in, but it depends. If I can get a deal done, will they draft a guy higher or will they draft one lower?

Q: Does it make a difference looking at Steve Hutchinson?
A: You know I played with him briefly in the Senior Bowl, so I know he’s a heck of a player and everyone knows that. He’s a great guy and I know from Jeff Backus, being good friends with him from Detroit and hearing some stories about him, he’s a great player. Also I met Koren Robinson at the player rookie party down in Orlando. We were doing a photo shoot for the football cards, so knowing some of those guys, we have a great line and some great receivers here and definitely a lot of offensive weapons. Of course the defense really stepped up last year as well.

Q: What was your assessment of how things were going for you in Philadelphia when you had an opportunity?
A: You get little opportunities and sometimes you have to make the most out of it. It’s not the best situation you want to be in; we had a lot of injuries. (Todd) Pinkston was out all year and of course Taylor was gone and of course then (Brian) Westbrook went down and basically the entire offensive line. So it wasn’t the best situation, but it was an opportunity and I did get to learn. I did get a chance to play, which I was very happy about, and get some experience to play, but now it’s time to move on and look forward to the future.

Q: Is this going to be pretty much the exact same offense that was run in Philadelphia?
A: I think it will pretty much be the same thing, maybe with a few changes here and there. You know it’s pretty much the West Coast offense from what they have told me. It’s nothing like I would really have trouble with. I think I know it pretty much inside and out; knowing it from Detroit and Philadelphia.

Q: Knowing Donovan and Brad are two totally different types of quarterbacks, what intrigues you about Brad so much to come here?
A: Over the years I have sometimes seemed to force some throws on third down situations when you can’t check it down and punt or just trust the back to go out and get the yards. Brad’s very good at hitting the check downs and playing it a little safer, and he moves the ball down the field a little slower. Donovan is more of a big play guy. I tend to take too many chances. Donovan takes some chances too, but playing behind Brad might get me to calm down a little bit and make better decisions on the field and therefore raise the completion percentage.

Q: Right now are you scheduled to fly out to Denver tonight?
A: I think its tomorrow morning. I’m scheduled to stay here tonight.

Q: Anywhere along the line have you had any experience holding on kicks?
A: I did a little bit when I was a backup in Detroit, but they had the punter there and then I did a little bit in Philly but you know Coy was there with David, so they kind of had a tight knit group. So I have done a few here and there in practices but never in game situations.

Q: What do you like most about Childress?
A: The fact that he is very detailed, and he’s straightforward. He’s not going to feed you any lines. He knows the offense inside and out. I had a chance to work with him last year; he was calling plays for me in the preseason and at the end of the year. I know how dedicated he is to his work. When you have a guy like that who has worked with Donovan and with the offensive coordinator and the quarterback coach here as well, they’ve coached a lot of talent with Brett and Donovan alone. It’s definitely an exciting opportunity and an attractive situation.

Q: Did you notice any difference in the offense in Philadelphia when Brad was making the play calls versus Andy? Was it more or less aggressive versus those two?
A: It was hard to tell sometimes. Brad was just as aggressive and it was tough, I think, because we didn’t have the guys out there that started the season and we didn’t have the talent that some guys might have. We had a lot of young guys out there not knowing the offense as well but we didn’t hold back at all. We just kept on going through the playbook and adding plays in every week as if we would with the regular starters and he just expected guys to step up and play.

Trivia Time Answer

Against the Colts in week 9 of 2004, Nate Burleson became only the second player in Vikings' history to return a punt for a TD and catch a TD pass in the same game. The first? That honor belonged to Randy Moss who did it at Kansas City in 1999.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:05 AM
March 22, 2006
"Shades of the Kansas City I-Formation?" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

I was but a wide-eyed lad at the age of eight when Hank Stram's Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. It was the Chief defense, not offense, which came through in the victory, holding Bud Grant's powerful running game in check for the 23-7 win. Though Stram's I-formation offense received much of the publicity, it was his defensive scheme of odd fronts, huge linemen, fast and powerful linebackers, and a suffocating zone defense which soon gained well-deserved attention throughout football.

I'm sure those fellow old-timers like myself will recall the Chiefs “stacked? defenses, in which each linebacker played directly behind a down lineman. So enamored was Stram of his own wiles, that when miked by NFL films for what became the upset Chiefs’ win of Super Bow IV, he chattered that the opposing Vikings looked as confused as if in a “Chinese fire drill.?

I'm starting to smell a return to that type of football. Come opening weekend 2006, you may think you have stepped into a time machine and are watching 1960's era football. Why? Here is what I think is happening.

The Vikings went out and grabbed RB Chester Taylor, the former Baltimore Ravens running backr. Taylor had spent his entire four-year career with the Ravens. Taylor served as the primary backup to starter Jamal Lewis. Despite limited production and experience, with only four career touchdowns and 737 yards gained from scrimmage, the Vikings look for Taylor to add depth and competition at the running back position. The 5-11, 213 pound Taylor graduated from Toledo and was drafted by the Ravens in 2002.

Up until the addition of Taylor and the loss (addition by subtraction?) of Michael Bennett, the Vikings had Adimchinobe Echemandu, Ciatrick Fason, and Mewelde Moore as running backs on the roster. That is, until Tuesday.

Yesterday the Vikings agreed to terms with fullback Tony Richardson on a multi-year contract. Richardson comes from the Kansas City Chiefs and gives the Vikings a starting-caliber fullback. And this bubba can block.

chiefschargers_110401.jpg

Add to the mix All-Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson who joined the team at 11:01 p.m. Monday when the Seattle Seahawks failed to match a seven-year, $49 million offer sheet he signed March 12. The Vikings could be putting three offensive linemen into the Pro Bowl this coming season. Matt Birk (center), Bryant McKinnie (left tackle) and Hutchinson (left guard).

Ready for the Kansas City, er, I mean Minnesota Power I-Formation anyone?

i_formation.jpg

In the image above, imagine this lineup:

LT: McKinnie
LG: Hutchinson
C: Birk
RG: Marcus Johnson
RT: Mike Rosenthal (for now)
TE: Jiiiiiiiiiiiiimmy Kleinsasser
QB: BBB
WRs: K-Rob and T-Will
FB: Richardson
RB: MeMo

Can't you just smell the power? Wouldn't you like to see Brian Urlacher get plowed under by Hutchinson then just as he is recovering get smacked by Kleinsasser and when his head is spinning get pulverized by Richardson as Moore screams by in high gear?

Hell yeah!!!!!

Not enough for you? What to add a hemi to that Minnesota Power-I formation?

power_right.jpg

LT: McKinnie
LG: Hutchinson
C: Birk
RG: Marcus Johnson
RT: Mike Rosenthal (for now)
TE: Jiiiiiiiiiiiiimmy Kleinsasser
QB: BBB
WR: K-Rob
FB: Richardson
HB 1: MeMo
HB 2: Introducing Mr. LenDale White

Of course, that image shows a power right I-formation and the Vikes would obviously go with a power left I-formation. But left, right, up the gut.....who cares? Just try and stop that lineup. Three deep in the backfield. Hell, they've have to add some new Intel chips to PS Madden just to keep the game controller from frying in your hand.

Granted, there is some work to do on the creation of a defensive with huge linemen (P-Will and K-Will, check), fast and powerful linebackers (um, OK then), and a suffocating zone defense (Fred Smoot, Antoine Winfield, Darren Sharper, check). But it is coming along. Put a Top Ten D in play with that offense and we're rolling people. Rolling like a knife through sweet, tender Kansas City BBQ.

Trivia Time

Test your Vikings knowledge!

Q: Who was the first player in Vikings' history to return a punt for a TD and catch a TD pass in the same game? Come back Thursday for the answer.




Comic Relief Time

Three years ago we added 1200-sq feet to our existing house and did some upgrading. We did not redo the bathrooms at that time. It is now time. So over the coming months, I will occassionally update you on the progress of gutting and remodeling our two upstairs throne rooms. Consider it a change of pace from the usual, um, crap that flies around on the VU.

First up, the throne possibilities. We are considering adding a Toto Jasmine. Just look at these features (and is is OK to laugh!!!!):

-Gentle Aerated Warm Washer
-Front and Rear Washing
-Massage feature with cycling motion
-Adjustable Water Temperature and Volume
-Automatic Air Deodorizer
-Heated Seat with Temperature Control
-SoftClose Anti-bacterial Seat
-Convenient Wireless Remote Control with large LCD Panel

Don't believe me? Take a look at the video. I bring it up here for A) comic relief as I thought the VU needed a cleansing and B) does anyone out there actually own a Toto washlet? If so, I want to hear from you. We are seriously considering this upgrade as part of our project. I'd love to hear from those of you who have gone through a bathroom remodel. What worked, what didn't, what would you do differently. Just drop a line to me.

Next, the whirlpool tub. Maax or MTI?

Posted by maasx003 at 1:04 AM
March 21, 2006
"Special Master Errs in Vikings’ Favor" by Vikes Geek

Let it never again be said that the NFL has never erred in favor of the Minnesota Vikings. With visions of Drew Pearson pushing off for a winning touchdown pounding in their heads, Vikings’ fans were convinced that Special Master Stephen Burbank—summoned by the NFL to hear the Seattle Seahawk’s challenge of the Vikings’ offer to All Pro left guard Steve Hutchinson—would find for Seattle. Instead, he found in the Vikings’ favor.

Burbank’s decision—revolving around a guarantee clause in the Vikings’ offer sheet to Hutchinson—meant that Seattle either had to guarantee Hutchinson $49 million over seven years or let him walk without compensation. Seattle chose the latter and Hutchinson became a Viking.

Undoubtedly, the Seahawks’ front office is in full self-loathing mode today, and for good reason. Had Seattle franchised Hutchinson rather than assign him their transition tag, Hutchinson would be Seahawk today for less than Seattle would have paid Hutchinson under the terms of Minnesota’s offer sheet. The Seahawks decided that it was worth the risk of transitioning Hutchinson to save $600,000 in salary. In hindsight, the risk was not worth the gamble.

But while Seattle’s personnel people should be kicking themselves for making the Vikings’ offer tenable, they should also be wondering about another decision, that of Special Master Burbank.

Under the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), teams are permitted to match offer sheets made to their transition players. The Vikings made an offer to Hutchinson. Seattle attempted to match the offer. Inexplicably, SM Burbank refused to allow Seattle to match the Vikings’ offer.

Burbank presumably is a quite able contract lawyer. But his decision in this case appears to miss the forest for the trees.

Contract Law 101

To become binding, contracts need to primary components. First, there must be a valid offer. Second, there must be valid acceptance. Of course, there are other matters of significance in a contract, such as the terms. And while the Seahawks, the NFL, and Special Master Burbank focused on the terms of the Vikings’ offer, everyone appeared to forget about the significance of the Seahawks’ right to match the Vikings’ offer.

The interesting thing about the NFL CBA with respect to transition players is that it invites two parties to make offers to one individual with the qualification being that the second offer—that made by the team labeling the transition player—match the first offer. Not only does the CBA invite such offers, however, it requires that the labeling team have the opportunity to match an offer. That means that the initial offer must be matchable. And that’s where Burbank erred.

Under the terms of the Vikings’ offer sheet, Hutchinson is required to be the highest paid offensive lineman on his team in 2006. The Vikings’ crafted their offer to Hutchinson so that he would be the second-highest paid offensive lineman on the Seahawks in 2006. Burbank held that Seattle’s re-negotiation of the contract of their highest paid offensive lineman, Walter Jones, was insufficient to meet the terms of the Vikings’ offer sheet because the re-negotiation occurred after the offer sheet was made and, thus, was an attempt to change a material term of the contract. That meant that Seattle could not match the terms of the Vikings’ offer no matter what they did.

Burbank’s decision, of course, directly contradicts the NFL’s CBA by not permitting the Seahawks to match the Vikings’ offer. Rather than viewing the Seahawks’ re-negotiation of Jones’ contract as an attempt to match the Vikings’ offer, Burbank viewed the maneuver as altering a material term of the Vikings’ offer. The material term of the offer was that Hutchinson be the highest paid offensive lineman on his team in 2006. Under the CBA, the Seahawks should have been afforded an opportunity to meet this and all material terms of the Vikings’ offer sheet. That they were not is the result of Burbank’s apparent confusion over what was material and what it means to alter a material term. By fixating on the Vikings’ offer and mischaracterizing the Seahawk’s offer rights under the CBA, Burbank’s erred. He further erred by determining that the Seahawks’ renegotiation of Jones’ contract altered a material term of the contract, since it clearly did not.

Advantage Vikings

Burbank’s error is egregious as a matter of law, but it certainly was bountiful for the Vikings. Rather than being left to explain how a team with the largest cap room and promises of big off-season moves failed to land a single front-line player in free agency, the Vikings’ personnel people can breath a sigh of relief. Sure, the Hutchinson matter could have been avoided had the Vikings simply pursued free agents earlier in free agency. And, yes, the Vikings severely limited their free agency options for the eight days that they waited for Seattle’s response to their offer to Hutchinson. But at least the Vikings have some certainty along the offensive line next season—an expensive step in the right direction. And for that, they can thank Special Master Stephen Burbank.

Up Next: Free agency, stadium issues, and the draft.

Update on the Uniform Change: by Mr. Cheer Or Die

Last week we talked about the likelihood of the Vikings making some changes to their home and away uniforms. The great preponderance of you voted for purple jersey & white pants for home and white jersey with purple pants for the road. And I'm fine with that.

The problem is I keep hearing that the Vikes want to go with purple on purple for home. Ghastly is the only adjective I can think of.

Worse still is that a rumor has somehow started in which the Vikings are looking at doing away with the legendary horns on the helmet and replacing it with either a simple "V" or the Norseman head shot. They do that and I might have to be hospitalized for several months to convalesce.

To that regard, the boys over at VikingsBoard.net took the impetus to start a petition. So, if you agree that the helmet logo is sacred.....sign the petition.

I can tell you that I have been in contact with no less than three people at Winter Park to give them the opportunity to confirm or deny the helmet rumor. I have heard nothing in reply. Could the silence be deafening at this point?

Posted by maasx003 at 9:06 AM
"The Gamble with QB's" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

Last week we discussed scenarios with which the Vikings could package together enough picks and basically sell out the farm in order to move up in the draft to secure one of the Big Three quarterbacks: Matt Leinart, Vince Young, or Jay Cutler. But there is another option available to the club and they might not have to give up quite so much. Not to mention take the safer road. And that would be 24-year-old Atlanta backup Matt Schaub.

Declaration around the NFL is the Miami Dolphins presented the Falcons with a package that included a second-round pick and additional picks or player(s) for the services of Schaub. So the ‘Fins either considered Schaub more impressive that Daunte Culpepper whom they received for a 2nd round pick…..or they simply Herscheled the Vikes.

In any event, the Cowboys, Ravens, Titans and Vikings have called the Falcons about Schaub and been snubbed. Why all the commotion over a backup quarterback?

Schaub was a third-round pick out of Virginia in 2004. He was the fifth quarterback selected behind Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and J.P. Losman. Schaub is the Falcons backup QB and has filled in on numerous occasions for the oft-injured Michael Vick.

In Week 5 of the 2005 season, Schaub put through the shredder the Patriots' defense. See video here. He amassed 298 yards and three touchdowns in a three-point loss. Why do I remember this? Just one week earlier Schaub had a magnificent second half in the win over the Vikings, running for 56 yards on four carries. Our guy at the head of the Triangle of Authority, Zygi Wilf, had a front-row seat for Schaub's vibrant relief accomplishment against his defense.

But I rather doubt the Vikes can come up with something….anything…that the Falcons want in exchange for Schaub. For the Falcons to do business involving Schaub, a team will have to offer Atlanta someone they can prevail with when and if Vick goes down for a game or two.

And that is the conundrum. Can the Vikings offer the combination of a starting-caliber backup and high pick(s) to get Schaub? Probably not. But should they look hard? As we say up in The Tundra, “Yeah, ya betcha.?

If the Triangle of Authority is going to role the dice on a quarterback this year, why not do it on a guy who's bargain basement priced. Schaub is due just $385,000 next year, the last of his contract, after which he becomes a restricted free agent. Wouldn’t you prefer the Vikings not to gamble a plethora of picks and players on an unknown in the draft?

Let me make this last point. Schaub is primed to step in and lead right now. Atlanta took care of a lot of the tutoring.
With the little bit of armchair coaching I have, I nonetheless deem the Big Three will be good players. On the other hand, Schaub just might be the preeminent gamble. He's without doubt the selection I’d prefer the Vikes pursue.




Posted by maasx003 at 1:08 AM
March 17, 2006
"Right Card, Wrong Hand" by Vikes Geek

This week, the Minnesota Vikings officially announced the trade of quarterback Daunte Culpepper to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the Dolphins’ second-round pick in the 2006 NFL draft. The deal cements a dubious distinction for a Minnesota franchise either intent on cutting off its nose to spite its face or saving money while claiming otherwise.

For the second straight season, the Vikings have opted to receive less for a veteran player than they could have received over the long haul. And, for the second straight year, the Vikings front office and ownership are playing the naïve enabler.

Vikings’ Options

The Vikings had two meaningful options for dealing with Culpepper’s boorish behavior. The first option—the one that the team elected exclusively to pursue—was to find the highest bidder for Culpepper prior to the due date of Culpepper’s 2006 bonus. This option required the Vikings to reveal their interest in trading Culpepper at a time when Culpepper’s injury status generally was uncertain. That meant most teams were unwilling even to consider trading for Culpepper.

Several teams in desperate need of a quarterback, however, offered some form of value for Culpepper in spite of the lack of certainty regarding Culpepper’s return. Among the teams expressing interest were the Baltimore Ravens, the Oakland Raiders, the New Orleans Saints, and the Miami Dolphins. Ultimately, the Dolphins proved most willing to deal.

As far as returns on injured, disgruntled, quarterbacks are concerned, the Vikings did well to obtain a second-round pick in this year’s draft. That assumes, of course, that trading Culpepper prior to the due date of his 2006 bonus was the best option. Zygi not only contends that it was the best option, he claims it was the Vikings’ only option.

Yesterday, Zygi characterized the Culpepper trade as one done out of necessity rather than desire. “I talked to him several weeks ago," Wilf said. "Since that point in time, it didn't seem like he was willing to find a way to work things out. He didn't want to come up [from his Florida home] to rehabilitate, and he did not want to work with the coaching staff. It seemed like we had two alternatives. We could have paid him the [$6 million bonus he was due March 24] like I intended to, and tried to work with him. But he was making every effort to find a way to leave. We did our best.?

Contending that there was no alternative to trading Culpepper, no matter the spin that Zygi now is offering, is, at best, a canard. If the Vikings had held onto Culpepper into the 2006 season, they would have been on the hook for a $6 million bonus this Spring plus a modest 2006 salary.

One owner would look at those numbers and ask: “Can I get a better return by paying Culpepper now and trading him if and when he is in shape?? Another asks: “Can I move Culpepper and his bonus without taking a PR hit??

Zygi, of course, chose the latter approach. We know this to be the case because of the words that Zygi chose to defend the trade. In his statement, Zygi does not even suggest that there was a comparison of possible returns between trading Culpepper prior to the due date of the bonus and retaining Culpepper into the 2006 season. Instead, Zygi all but states that Culpepper was calling the shots and was not interested in remaining a Viking and claims that Culpepper’s position bound the Vikings to trade Culpepper.

Forgive me for not believing that Wilf is as soft as he suggests with his contractually obligated employees, that he caves whenever confronted by a stubborn employee. Surely Zygi has had occasion to clarify the terms of the working relationship with an employee. And surely the result has not been that Zygi has merely acquiesced to the demands of the employee—especially not when a binding contract has given Zygi the upper hand.

Yet, today, Zygi is beseeching Vikings’ fans to believe that Culpepper’s demands so overwhelmed him that he could no longer bear the strain. And so, according to Zygi, Culpepper was traded.

The owner who dares to compare the return on trading Culpepper today versus retaining Culpepper would note, however, that Culpepper was under contract through 2013. That left Culpepper with two options for leaving the Vikings without the Vikings’ acquiescence—he could re-ingratiate himself and make himself trade worthy, or he could retire. The deck was loaded in the Vikings’ favor just as it had been with Randy Moss in 2005.

Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, the Vikings’ ownership blew the call. Moving Culpepper was not the issue, timing was. And only if the ultimate concern was salvaging bonus money for the owner’s pocket was this the right move.

Up Next: Henderson a gem. Plus, still looking. And, stadium issues.

Posted by maasx003 at 5:30 AM
March 16, 2006
"Happy St. Patrick's Day (Early)!" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

Special Reminder: The VU NCAA Fantasy Tourney: by Mr. Cheer Or Die

We did this last year and had a blast. I confess to know nothing about NCAA basketball but the NCAA tourney is as much America as the Super Bowl. You have to participate!

Therefore, the first fifty entrants are hereby cordially invited to join The VU's Private Group in the Yahoo! Sports Yahoo! Sports Tournament Pick'em.

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

Group ID#: 94801
Password: winter

Remember, the league is limited to the first fifty people who sign-up. Good luck everyone!

Kiss the Blarney Stone, Or Something Like That

This will be my last entry for the week (I expect Vikes Geek will have an entry coming for Friday). On Friday I will be in St. Paul celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. The Boy® will be performing with his Irish dance school, Rince na Chroi, at various venues all day. We aim to have a magnificent time without even trying. At any rate, this entry is going to try and cover a lot of ground.....so bear with me.

There was also a time in recent memory in which the Vikings use to have fun without even trying. Let's go back to the 2000 Minnesota Vikings

The setup: Veterans Jeff George and Randall Cunningham played well enough in 1999 that the Vikings finished 10-6 and won a playoff game.

The swap: In the off-season, Minnesota allowed both players to depart and handed the starting reins to Daunte Culpepper, who had no career pass attempts after being taken in the first round of the 1999 draft.

The upshot: Culpepper started all 16 games, threw for 33 touchdowns and led the Vikings to an 11-5 record, a division title and an appearance in the NFC Championship Game (41-0, doh!). He also made the first of his two Pro Bowl appearances.

Also during that time period from 1999 to 2004, Culpepper and wide receiver Randy Moss teamed on fifty-three touchdown passes. That’s the most in team history and more than doubles the runner-up total of twenty-six by Warren Moon and Cris Carter.

It is time to set some new records. And to establish new records, we need to look ahead a bit. And that begins with addressing the quarterback of the future. Yes, Big Bad Brad (BBB) can guide this team for the coming season, and possibly the next. But the team needs to look long term.

I had a tête-à-tête with VU regulars Milwaukee Mark and The Commish in the middle of the week. We spoke about the so called “Big Three? in the coming draft: Matt Leinart, Vince Young, and Jay Cutler.

Milwaukee Mark wants the team to do whatever necessary to move up and draft the Vanderbilt quarter back, Jay Cutler, who has all the tools the NFL looks for in a QB.

The Commish on the other hand says that all 3 have a good pedigree. Leinart is by far the most proven. But The Commish wouldn't trade up to the top five as it would cost the team too much.

I can see either. I mean, if they truly want to get a QB this year, why not do whatever necessary to grab one of the “Big Three? and HOPE they pan out? Remember '99 when like five QBs went in the top 12? Only Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper are still in the league and considered starters? The rest (Tim Couch, Akili Smith, and Cade McNown) are out of the league or riding pine. In order to maneuver into position to grab one of the “Big Three? the Vikings would be giving up a lot for one guy. And then cross their collective fingers.

Or, do they keep their picks and wait until the 2nd or 3rd and hope to land a unknown type and get lucky? Look no further than the great readers of the VU to come up with some solutions in this regard:

My guess is that the Vikes go after Bowling Green's QB Omar Jacobs, who is said to be ideal for the offensive system that Childress wants to install. He might be a reach in the mid-second round (where the Vikes will have the 48th & 51st picks), but it wouldn't shock me to see the Vikes pull a Jason Campbell and take him anyway.

Posted by J. Ryan at March 14, 2006 02:02 PM

omarjacobs.jpg

So, let’s flush out Jacobs a bit. And see if ol’ J.R. is all that and a bag of chips in regards to assessing talent and earn the VU Mel Kiper award for the week. From Footballfutures.com:

In his first year as a starter, Jacobs had one of the greatest years of any quarterback in college football history. He completed 66.9% of his passes for 4,002 yards, and 41 touchdowns. The most impressive stat though, was that he only threw 4 interceptions on 462 passes. The 41 touchdowns led the nation, and was also a MAC record. The 41/4 TD/INT ratio is the best ever in Division 1A. He’s not just a pure pocket passer either. Jacobs managed to rush for 300 yards and four more scores. He racked up quite a few post season awards for his awesome sophomore season. Omar was named to various All-American lists, was voted MVP of the GMAC Bowl, and was named MAC offensive player of the year. He was a marked man this year, and defenses came up with better ways to defend his talent. He still had a very good season, finishing with 2,591 yards and 26 touchdowns to just seven interceptions, while completing 60.7% of his passes.

Jacobs is the complete package at quarterback. He’s tall, strong, and athletic. He has a very good arm, and can easily make all the throws. His mobility is very impressive too. When things break down, he can leave the pocket and throw on the run, or tuck it and make something happen with his feet. He has displayed poise in the pocket, though at times he has left the pocket a little early.

There really aren’t too many flaws in Jacobs’ game. The biggest is his throwing mechanics, specifically his release point. Jacobs releases the ball at about shoulder height. He doesn’t get the ball up high enough. He negates his height advantage by throwing the ball that low, and it will result in tipped passes in the NFL. The only other issue would possibly be his experience, as he's a red shirt junior, and this is only his second season as a starter.
Omar Jacobs is the latest in the line of MAC QB’s to develop into legitimate NFL prospects. He will need some coaching in the NFL to fix his mechanics, but other than that, he has everything needed to be a star at the next level. He has all the talent to develop. He should have stayed in school to work on his mechanics and further develop, but he is in the draft. There are some talented signal callers ahead of him, but Jacobs has the talent to really develop at the next level. He could still hear his name called on the first day of the draft.

Man, that sure sounds familiar to a dude that came out of Central Florida, doesn’t it? But what it does say is the Vikings have options should they decide to pass on the “Big Three? and dig a bit deeper. That way, they can use that first round pick on getting LenDale White, a offensive lineman, or a linebacker. They can then package a deal to move up, if necessary, to grab Jacobs. Or Jacobs just falls to them in the second round.

Push comes to shove, and I have to opt for the more sure thing.....moving up to grab one of the “Big Three?. Even though, as The Commish alludes to, that may then take away the ability to get a good RB, LB, OL or safety. Double edged sword.

Leave it to the Vikes to once again make the draft a can't miss show.

More on the Purple Pants

I got a lot of e-mail like the following this week in regards to the purple pants thread:

Hey, I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your website, and I think it is very well done. I've been a Vikings fan since 1974, though I have never lived in Minnesota. I was born in Louisville, KY and now work and reside in Houston, TX. But one thing has been constant for me - I've remained a Viking fan for over 30 years (and God knows they are often very difficult on their fans). Your website provides a lot of interesting information about the team that I simply can't get here in Houston (where they constantly mull over whether to pick Vince Young or Reggie Bush). Keep up the great work!

As for the purple pants in the Vikings uniform - I am completely FOR IT! I really like the look of dark pants with a white jersey (such as what the Bears, Chargers, Jaguars, and Eagles do for example). However, I don't wish to see purple jerseys worn with purple pants. Purple jerseys with white pants at home, and white jerseys with purple pants on the road - that would look the best in my opinion. No more boring white on white on the road. Actually, I don't care for monochromatic uniforms (including white on white). I'd prefer to see the Browns always wear the orange pants, for instance. When the University of Texas wears their road uniforms, they are dressed in head to toe white. They look more like nursing uniforms rather than football uniforms. And about 10 years ago, I remember the Colts wore blue pants with white jerseys for maybe 3 games and then canned them. Not sure why. But I thought they complimented the NFL's most bland uniform.

Anyway, I say yes to the purple pants. But don't mess with the helmet.

Regards,
Greg S.
Houston, TX

After sleeping on it, I have to agree with Greg. I do think the purple pants complimenting the white jerseys for the road uniforms would become an instant classic. And I totally agree that purple on purple for home would become the laughing stock of the league. And by the looks of the poll from Wednesday, most of you agree.

And I should let you know that the Vikings e-mailed me to let me know these two polls are being tracked by Steve LaCroix, Vikings vice president of sales and marketing, who confirmed that the team is redesigning its uniform but would neither reveal details nor comment on the Enemy Paper report that the design includes purple pants to be worn at home with purple jerseys.

So, a weekend chore for you....promote the two polls reposted below to all your friends and Vikings related message boards. These polls may very well decide the final outcome!!!!







Coming Next Week

I'll be speaking with a Miami Dolphins fans about the trade and post as a podcast.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:26 AM
March 15, 2006
"The Day After" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

Special Reminder: The VU NCAA Fantasy Tourney: by Mr. Cheer Or Die

We did this last year and had a blast. I confess to know nothing about NCAA basketball but the NCAA tourney is as much America as the Super Bowl. You have to participate!

Therefore, the first fifty entrants are hereby cordially invited to join The VU's Private Group in the Yahoo! Sports Yahoo! Sports Tournament Pick'em.

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

Group ID#: 94801
Password: winter

Today's Topic

Many of you undeniably came here today expecting a "War & Peace" sized breakdown from me on the trade of the Poutin' Quarterback the First to the Dolphins. While that day may very well come it will not be today. There are two reasons for that.

First, it is The Wife's® birthday. One does not mess around when it is The Wife’s® birthday. I know those of you privileged enough to have a lovely missus at home know exactly what I am saying. I'm just damn glad she was not born on a Super Bowl Sunday.

Second, the information on the trade is somewhat rough and wooly. For example, in reviewing the official Miami Dolphins site, the only indication of a trade was this quite terse announcement:

In response to reports that the Minnesota Vikings have confirmed a trade of quarterback Daunte Culpepper to the Dolphins, team spokesman Harvey Greene said "anything we do is contingent upon a player passing a medical exam.

On the other hand, a quick visit to the Vikings Official site revealed that the site has removed PQ the First from the front page and inserted the new guy who decided to jettison the #1 QB instead of trying his hand at bridge building. And for all we know, Brad Childress did extend his hand to PQ the First and was rebuffed. Just as Ol’ Pencil Ear was last season when PQ the First was asked to address the team prior to a game in Detroit and refused.

My game day buddy, The Commish, worries over an identity crisis with the team now that Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper are gone. Being in the medical field as a licensed drug dealer, I do see people experience an identity crisis when they lose a sense of personal sameness and historical continuity. And while I must admit that the Vikings may be lacking in the continuity department at the moment, I see no worry over the release of PQ the First as the start of an identity crisis.

The team played most of last season without PQ the First. They had to learn to win without him. And they did, rolling off six straight victories with Big Bad Brad at the helm. Often inspired by Mr. Identity himself, Koren Robinson, the team was a legitimate playoff contender before the slide at the end of the season.

Besides, The Commish is just pissed because he now owes me a lunch at Famous Dave’s from The Bet.

To be honest, I am more concerned over Easter eggs at the moment than I am about this trade. For you see, there are now reports coming out of Winter Park that purple pants will be making an appearance next season. And now we know the real reason that PQ the First wanted out.

The last time the team tried pulling the purple pants stunt, the players refused to take the field saying, "no way are we playing looking like a bunch of Easter eggs!? That was in 2003 when the NFL was promoting the whole throwback jersey concept on us and gave witness to the ugliest uniforms of all time when the Packers took the field in these:

gbfavre.jpg

From what I recall, there are several episodes with purple pants in the history of the team. The team did, in fact, wear them with white jersey’s from 62-64 as pictured here:

Minnesota62.gif

Think about it. Do you want the mighty Purple People Eaters associated with those marshmallow Peeps chicks and dyed Easter eggs?!?!

I didn't think so. But then, the VU is a democracy so you can have a say.







Post some comments for me to read about PQ the First, Mr. Identity, and purple pants. Or just e-mail them to me. I’ll post some of the better ones later this week and discuss them. And be positive! C'mon, the future is so bright you gotta wear shades...and make them purple!

purpleshades.gif

I’m off to see a man about a cake.


Posted by maasx003 at 1:09 AM
March 14, 2006
"Black Smoke! Black Smoke!" by Mr. Cheer Or Die

blacksmoke1large.jpg

Back on January 19, I officially started the Poutin' Quarterback the First Watch which was to monitor when Daunte Culpepper would be shipped off to parts unknown. Just for PQ the First, I started a smoke signal much like when a new pope is chosen. Each day I would post a photo with smoke emanating from a small chimney white for "we are keeping him" or black for "PQ the First has been traded". The smoke is now black. The trade has happened.

PQ the First has been dealt to the Miami Dolphins for a second-round draft choice in the 2006 draft. The deal is conditional on Culpepper passing a physical.

That ought to make the Poutin' Quarterback the Second quite pleased. (Recall when Brad Johnson wanted off the team earlier this year as he wanted to be a starter? That earned him PQ the Second honors). Big Bad Brad (BBB) has just been handed the reins to lead the vaunted Brad Childress west coast offensive attack. And we know that BBB has at least been at Winter Park learning the new system and not bunkered down in south Florida wearing tin foil on his head to keep away the strange voices.

But, hold the mayo and onions for a tic. A close personal friend of the soon-to-be-highest-paid-OL in the league may say otherwise. And this is where it could get very interesting. Steve Hutchinson's agent is none other than the same agent for free agent Drew Brees. That person is Tom Condon. I wonder if Condon has even left Winter Park yet.

You see, there are reports that Brees does not want to play for the team that has sought him from the beginning of the FA period. That team is the New Orleans Saints who are playing hard for Brees' services.

I wonder who will call first, Condon or Childress. I'd look for Brees to be on a plane to the Twin Cities within 24-hours.

Update: Brees has since signed with the Saints (wonder what his Wonderlic score was!?!?) But now look for the Vikings to try and move up to the Saints first round pick. The Saints have their man and will no doubt start flaunting the #2 overall pick in the upcoming draft to the highest bidder. Wil the Vikings bite? In that case, which of the BIg Three QB's do you want: Leinart, Young or Cutler?

Poll Happy







Trivia Time

Culpepper passed for more TD's in the 1st five games of 2004 (18) than anyone else in NFL History at that stage of the season. Who held the old mark of 16? Leave a comment below.


Posted by maasx003 at 12:44 PM
Awaiting the Returns: by Vikes Geek

Note: For those of you who only ready the VU a few times a week I should bring you up to speed. I have a free agent signing of my own to announce. We've signed Vikes Geek to a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract that will only count 30% towards this year's salary cap. And we're damn glad to have him aboard. I take you now to VG.

Entering the 2006 off-season, the Minnesota Vikings had a clear list of needs—needs that they could address entirely through free agency if they so desired. Less than one week into the NFL’s 2006 free-agency period, the Vikings find themselves in a bit of an uncomfortable position and potentially with too much money left over to fill needs for which the talent pool may no longer exist.

Modus Operandi Quickly Changes

Two weeks ago, the Vikings inked free agent, veteran offensive lineman Jason Whittle to a modest deal. The move suggested that the Vikings would be frugal—though not miserly—in their approach to signing free agents this season. The model appeared to be one of signing veteran talent at good—if not bargain-basement—rates and avoiding overspending on one position or for one player.

Last weekend, the Vikings suggested there intention to employ an alternative free-agent signing model this off-season when they inked transition player Steve Hutchinson of the Seattle Seahawks to a seven-year, $49 million deal that includes $16 million in guaranteed money and counts $13 million against the 2006 salary cap. In addition to the tender made on Hutchinson, the Vikings also signed running back Chester Taylor, outside linebacker Ben Leber, wide receiver Koren Robinson, and placekicker Ryan Longwell.

Not including Hutchinson’s salary cap hit, the Vikings have already spent approximately $19 million of their approximately $33 million in cap space for 2006. Should the Seahawks fail to match the Vikings’ tender to Hutchinson, the Vikings will have spent approximately $32 million of their $33 million in cap space with several holes left to be filled and rookies left to be signed.

Included among the remaining holes—assuming Hutchinson becomes a Viking in 2006—are left offensive tackle, strong safety, middle linebacker, and backup quarterback. And that assumes that the Vikings are set with what they have at wide receiver, outside linebacker, right guard, and defensive end—a sizeable assumption.

For Vikings’ fans who have suffered the past three seasons under the miserly yolk of former owner Red McCombs, it would appear to be a welcome change to have an owner who is willing to bid for the better players. But the offer to Hutchinson is perplexing not only for the difficult position in which it places the Vikings as they attempt to fill equally pressing needs, but also because the move doesn’t quite do what it is billed to have done.

Seattle Calling

As the media outlets began gushing over the large deal that the Vikings had offered Hutchinson—“largest ever for an offensive guard?—public perception followed suit. Immediately, Vikings’ fans began calling local sports’ talk stations gushing over the supposed genius of the offer. “Seattle will have to make a tough decision on this one,? was the common refrain. “Either way, they’re screwed.?

That was the prevailing sentiment. And that appears to remain the prevailing sentiment.

The reality, however, is that it could be the Vikings who are screwed in the end. And, while fans undoubtedly would prefer to believe otherwise, the Vikings’ might be screwed by their own design.

Option Forsaken

At the beginning of the free-agency period, the Vikings were in the market for two offensive linemen. LeCharles Bentley appeared to be a logical target since he has played both guard and center and the Vikings have, in Matt Birk, a player capable of playing both guard and center. Signing Bentley would have made sense for the Vikings not only from the perspective of signing another All-Pro caliber player to fill a hole on the offensive line but also from the perspective of signing a player who would allow the Vikings to move Birk to guard—a position that the Vikings have long-considered Birk’s future home.

In addition to the benefits that signing Bentley would have conferred upon the Vikings from a personnel perspective, the Vikings unquestionably could have signed Bentley to a much more cap-friendly contract than that offered to Hutchinson—one that would have allowed the team to fill other glaring holes in the off-season. With the Vikings electing not to pursue Bentley, the former Saint signed with the Browns for $36 million over six years with $12.5 million guaranteed.

But the Vikings’ pursuit of Hutchinson is odd even without the decision not to pursue Bentley, because it does not ensure the Vikings anything. For, despite the large offer that the Vikings made to Hutchinson, they might end up without Hutchinson and without a viable backup. And that’s something that the Vikings’ personnel people could not help but understand.

Math Problem

Seattle currently has $17 million of cap space, with approximately $6.5 million of Hutchinson’s current offer from Seattle already counting against their 2006 cap. The Vikings are applauding themselves for putting the Seahawks in a box. Clearly, however, that is not the situation.

If Seattle matches Minnesota’s offer, the Seahawks will be on the hook for another $6.5 million in 2006. That would leave Seattle with $10.5 million of cap space to sign the safety and wide receiver that they apparently need and to find a lesser replacement for Hutchinson. While Seattle undoubtedly would have preferred that the Vikings not force them to pony up an additional $6.5 million for Hutchinson in 2006, most of the hit on Hutchinson under the Vikings’ offer sheet is in 2006 and Seattle has the cap room to match the offer and still meet its other needs in 2006—in addition to having an owner more than willing to spend up to the cap ceiling.

That makes the Vikings’ move for Hutchinson somewhat suspect. Combined with the team’s decision not to pursue an outright free agent in Bentley in favor of making a matchable offer for a transition player, the move is even more suspect and somewhat disingenuous. And combined with the reality that if the Vikings do not obtain Hutchinson in 2006 they might be left with no viable free agents left to pursue—and, coincidentally, close enough to the salary floor to make a few contract moves to reach that floor without additional signings—and one has to wonder about the Vikings’ intentions.

Even if the Vikings’ intentions are pure in their offer to Hutchinson, the move still is odd, at best, given the commitment that the Vikings are making to an offensive guard. For, even with the offer front-loaded, the Vikings are asking for trouble by even making such an offer.

Should Hutchinson become a Viking, he is certain to ask for more money in year two of the deal. And, whether or not Hutchinson becomes a Vikings, the mere magnitude of the offer to Hutchinson will have the wheels churning in the minds of other Vikings’ players who undoubtedly will consider themselves underpaid in the current climate—particularly players such as Bryant McKinnie, Brad Johnson, and Matt Birk. And that could have more of an unraveling effect on the Vikings than would have another three years of Mike Tice at the helm.

Up Next: More free agency discussion. Plus, stadium issues.

The VU NCAA Fantasy Tourney: by Mr. Cheer Or Die

We did this last year and had a blast. I confess to know nothing about NCAA basketball but the NCAA tourney is as much America as the Super Bowl. You have to participate!

Therefore, the first fifty entrants are hereby cordially invited to join The VU's Private Group in the Yahoo! Sports Yahoo! Sports Tournament Pick'em.

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

Group ID#: 94801
Password: winter

Remember, the league is limited to the first fifty people who sign-up. Good luck everyone!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:18 AM
March 13, 2006
VU Podcast Forty-Seven: Minnesota Momentum with Larry Spooner

spooner.jpg

Minnesota Momentum is a citizens’ coalition was formed to support Northern Lights - Minnesota's Sports, Retail & Entertainment Center – an important economic development project that will bring over $1 billion in private investment to Minnesota....and the Vikings new stadium. In VU podcast Forty-Seven I spoke with Larry Spooner (pictured above), the fan representative on the council.

Give a listen on the VU Podcast page.

Introducing Vikes Geek

The staff of the Viking Underground has just doubled from one lonely voice to two. I am delighted to officially announce the addition of Vikes Geek as a writer for the VU. Those of you who have been searching for VG ever since his blog crashed and burned will be glad to know he is back. Those of you who have not read VG previously and don't know his 'stuff' will soon be delighted to have another voice on the VU. Think of it as replacing the ol' V-6 engine with a V-8 and a nice fuzzy dice set and you get the idea.

So, take a moment and drop a comment for VG at the end of this blog and welcome him to the VU!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:36 AM
March 12, 2006
Starsky & Hutch?

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Wow! The Vikings could be working their way back to dominant offensive line, one not seen in these parts since the 1998 season when Jeff Christy, Todd Steussie, and Randall McDaniel were named to the Pro Bowl. It is now being reported that the Vikings have signed Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson to an offer sheet of mammoth proportions.

But before you start to scream and holler like a little girl at her first prom, keep this in mind: the Seahawks have a little thing called a transition tag on Hutchinson, giving them the right to match the Vikings offer. The ‘Hawks and the Triple Chin (Mike Holmgren) have a week to determine if they want to retain the services of the most highly sought offensive lineman on the market today. If they choose not to match, they receive no compensation.

Holy Red McCombs! I had concentrated on LeCharles Bentley as I thought the Vikes could not make a play for Hutchinson as the money would be too great. This move alone should signal that our new owner, Zygi Wilf, is going to spend the money necessary to bring a championship to Minnesota. I mean, think of this new look offensive line next season. If the Vikings can actually get Hutch in Purple, he'll land between Matt Birk and Bryant McKinnie. McKinnie came on like a ton of bricks last season and should have been voted into the Pro Bowl. Birk should be back at full strength following his 95th hernia operation.

The huge offer the Vikes laid on the table is most likely designed at discouraging the Seahawks from matching. Keep your fingers crossed!

From the numbers being reported, the Vikings have gotten his settlement on an offer sheet with a 2006 cap number in excess of $13 million. Using my trusty Texas Instruments calculator, that's more than one third of the team's existing cap space in the 2006 off-season, and more than twelve percent of the team's total cap room for the existing year.

In a related note, if the Vikes do win and Hutchinson is introduced the media as the newest Viking, look for the team to finally release the Poutin’ Quarterback the First to loosen up a little more bling-bling.

Posted by maasx003 at 4:52 PM
March 11, 2006
Rare Saturday Update Part III: Nooooooooooooo!

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According to te Enemy Paper, the Vikings have signed former Green Bay kicker Ryan Longwell. A Cheesehead on the team!!!! But then, Darren Sharper turned out pretty well last season, didn't he? And wouldn't it be sweet to see Longwell beat the Packers twice next year. (Not that we'll need FG's to beat the pathetic Packers anyway!)

Posted by maasx003 at 6:23 PM
Rare Saturday Update Part II

The pace of signings during the free agency period, in its first 24-hours, has been a little sluggish. But it is starting to build some steam. The latest:

Nothing new on the Poutin’ Quarterback the First. But one of the interested teams may now be looking elsewhere. Dolphins coach Nick Saban and G.M. Randy Mueller traveled to Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday morning to meet with free-agent quarterback Drew Brees. Brees has been in Alabama for treatment of a shoulder injury, which was surgically repaired earlier this year.

If the ‘Fins sign Brees, that would leave the Titans as the sole interested team in PQ the First. However, there are now reports that the Denny Green-led Arizona Cardinals may now be interested one again. Who knows? Maybe every team falls out of the race for PQ the First and the team just ends up cutting him? But then, it has only been one day. I think once Brees signs with someone, the pieces will fall into place.

And out of Philadelphia comes word that center LeCharles Bentley turned about face and walked out on the Eagles after a verbal commitment to sign with the team had been given. Supposedly, the next stop for Bentley is the Cleveland Browns (which will make Coworker Jim ecstatic). Why doesn’t Zygi Wilf send a private plane and pick up Bentley and bring him here? Unless, the team has their collective eye on Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson? And let me give you a little inside information, the team is really pushing hard to get Hutchinson. Very hard.

The Enemy Paper has now reported that team is bringing in linebacker Ben Leber on Saturday for a visit. Hell, he may even be at Winter Park as we speak. Leber would be pegged to improve two of the three linebacker positions.

As reported earlier this morning. The Vikings have retained K-Rob. We now have the numbers. The contract signed by receiver Koren Robinson is worth $12.7 million over three years, with $10 million in bonus money. Of the bonus money, $5.5 million is guaranteed. Not too shabby. A good deal for both sides.

And finally, ESPN's Len Pasquarelli reports that the Rams have signed former Vikings safety Corey Chavous to a five-year deal. Let’s face it, Corey was discontented in Minnesota, and he stayed away from most if not all offseason voluntary workouts. The Vikings made no effort to re-sign him. This was expected as will be the loss of Michael Bennett.

Another loss, and I think this one hurts a bit, is that corner Brian Williams has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The terms, according to ESPN 2, were for 6-years but no money was given.

Some comments provided to me today that I pass along as I thought them interesting:

Brian,

I had this thought yesterday and wondered your opinion on it. Will the Vikes pay the bonus due on Pepper and tell him to stay home till they can trade him as the Eagles did with Terrel Owens? thanks for your time. Have a great day.

Patrick M.

Patrick, I just don't see them keeping him. I think if they cannot find a trade partner the team will cut him. Vikes Geek had a good column earlier this week in which he argues the team should retain him so that Culpepper could "show what he has got" at some point during the season and perhaps garner a greater return once the Vikes did find a trading partner. That has some merit. But PQ the First has so upset people at Winter Park that I'm not sure they are willing to be patient and do just that.

Brian,

I realize that Zygi Wilf is a pretty shrewd guy, and I am appreciative of his organizational talents, and his apparent willingness to spend money to make the Vikings great, but I wish to point out a less-than-smart thing he said recently. I read the quote today (Saturday) in the StarTribune:

"Wilf has said that "money will not be an object to get myself a championship..."

An owner who's REALLY shrewd, as opposed to pretty shrewd, would have pulled in the reins on the Ego Rampant for a brief moment and said, "Money will not be an object to get a championship for all our wonderful fans..." He (or she) would be savvy enough to realize that championships are shared deals. Let me repeat the phrase for Zygi to hear: SHARED DEALS. Off-the-cuff remarks reveal important things about a man, and in this case, they reveal a guy who's not top-of-the-line shrewd in terms of public relations. Having said that, I will note that many or most of Wilf's fellow NFL owners are basically idiots who've allowed themselves to be corrupted by money, so, Wilf's moderate level of shrewdness is probably enough to net him (i.e., us) a couple of championships. Heck, if Little Eddie DeBartolo Jr. can do it, Zygi Wilf can do it.

Best regards,

Bob F.
Vikings Fan Since '61

Bob, While I agree that Wilf has some learning to do in regards to running a team....and a steep learning curve it is...I can tell you that Wilf is VERY shrewd. If he wasn't, he wouldn't have $1000 bills as pocket money. The steps that Wilf is taking to get a new stadium show just how great a land developer he is.

Wilf has gone on record to admit that he has "stepped into in" in regards to making remarks about the football team itself. I think part of the problem is that he is simply such a honest man. He has learned to be more concealing about who the team wants to get in free agency and the draft. You will see him continue to improve. Give him a bit of a longer leash. I think you'll be happy you did.

Note: For the latest breaking media news, be sure and look to the left frame under "Purple News" where the most recent Vikings related news will be automatically fed.

Posted by maasx003 at 4:04 PM
Rare Saturday Update

On day two of being held hostage by the Poutin’ Quarterback the First, there are supposedly just two teams still in the running. Those are the Miami Dolphins and the Tennessee Titans. The Oakland Raiders were reportedly one of the teams in the final round of bidding but the Raiders declined out when they heard the cost was going to be a second-round choice.

What was great news was that I woke up Saturday morning to discover the team had retained Koren Robinson, perhaps the teams MVP from the 2005 season. K-Rob will once again being lighting it up in purple this coming season.

And the best news of the day thus far is this: the Vikings made contact with Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson and are trying to arrange a visit over the weekend. Hutchinson is the Seahawks' transition player and is going to decree more than $6 million a year. The Seahawks would have seven days to match any offer. The Vikes had the bling-bling to pay him. It will be up the Hutch to make the choice.

Posted by maasx003 at 8:58 AM
March 10, 2006
Vikes Geek Special: Daunte’s Diet

Though Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Daunte Culpper has been tight-lipped about his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury, one suspects that a major component of Culpepper’s rehab routine has been weight reduction. How else can one explain Culpepper’s derriere—once firmly entrenched in the Vikings’ backfield plans—now sliding so readily through the out door?

Patient Heal Not Thyself

In law, there is a long-held wisdom—an individual who represents himself has a fool for a client. As self-serving as this saying is to the guardians of the legal world, it nevertheless contains more than a kernel of truth. And if ever there was need for reinforcement of such wisdom, Daunte Culpepper offers Exhibit A.

Dissatisfied with what he deems to have been a below-market, long-term contract and failed efforts to renegotiate the terms of his current contract, Culpepper, earlier this year, fired his agent and announced that he was assuming more responsibility for his business affairs. That statement could have meant many things, of course. Most logically, it could have meant that Culpepper was going to ensure that his name was not going to be further sullied in the name of seeking a more lucrative contract coming off of a disappointing season ended early by a serious injury.

Unfortunately for Culpepper, that was not his vision of taking more responsibility for his business affairs. Instead, what Culpepper apparently had in mind was that he would assume all responsibility for his business affairs—no attorney, no agent, nobody but Daunte—and would make inane comments to the press when not prompted to do so.

Other athletes have elected to represent themselves, but most have chosen to do so when negotiating a free-agent contract. Culpepper cut ties with his agent—his mouthpiece—when he was under contract. That might have worked out well for Culpepper were he not completely lost as a negotiator.

Notwithstanding Culpepper’s ridiculous contract demands and insistence on being named a starter in 2006 despite his poor 2005 performance and the uncertainty over his rehabilitation, Culpepper appeared prepared to set aside his differences with the Vikings’ front office and to prepare for 2006, picking up a nifty $6 million bonus for his modest efforts.

Apparently unable to separate desire from reality, however, Culpepper is determined not only to jeopardize his $6 million March bonus, but his future in the NFL. On Wednesday, Culpepper sent yet another e-mail to the media stating that he had requested that the Vikings either trade or cut him. The e-mail betrayed both Culpepper’s fragile psyche and his clear inability to manage his business affairs to his own benefit and undoubtedly made potential suitors wonder about Culpepper’s cognitive abilities.

Vikings’ Turn

Where Culpepper once stood as one of the more sympathetic and inspiring athletes in pro sports—exhibiting loyalty, determination, and friendliness despite some difficult circumstances—his recent play and demeanor have erased much of the goodwill that this intangibles once generated. That makes the job of the Vikings’ front office much less complicated. Now, rather than dealing with an individual who could once use fan support as leverage in negotiations, the Vikings are dealing with an individual lacking popular support. And that means making a calculated business decision is all that is relevant in Culpepper’s case.

I’ve made the case in recent columns that the Vikings need to treat Culpepper as an asset even if they decide to part with him. That requires keeping Culpepper as a member of the team until the return for parting with him outweighs the return for keeping him. This likely means that the Vikings will need to pay Culpepper his March bonus. That’s not what Culpepper wants and it probably is not what an assuredly frustrated Vikings’ front office wants at this point. Barring a good trade offer, however, it is the most prudent move for the Vikings.

By giving Culpepper his roster bonus, the Vikings will be signaling that they are intent on keeping Culpepper. Outside of retiring, Culpepper has no option but to stay with the Vikings—at a fairly cap-friendly salary—until the Vikings elect to part with him. And if other teams want Culpepper, they will need to bid for him. As Culpepper returns to health, he will find suitors, even if he runs with a limp. That will make him more valuable to the Vikings than anything they can get in return for Culpepper today. And that makes keeping Culpepper around—even if he does not like that reality—a prudent business move for the Vikings.

Up Next: CBA, stadium issues, and free agency.

PQ the First is Done in Minnesota: by Mr. Cheer Or Die

I think even those that have opposed my sentiment over the last six months that the Poutin’ Quarterback the First was entering Looney Bin status have now changed their minds. Face it, PQ the First is going to make some psychologist very rich indeed as he is one screwed up individual right now. And I take no great pride in saying that.

The most recent thing that PQ the First did was send out an e-mail to the world on Wednesday. PQ the First expressly stated in no uncertain terms that he wanted to be traded because he wasn’t being loved. Yeah, he wants to be loved but continue to work out in Florida while the new coach is busily installing a new system. Yeah, he wants to be loved and then demands a restructuring of his contract, after firing his agent, when no one is even certain how he will respond after major knee surgery. Want love PQ? You had your chances and you blew them all just like you blew off your team during and after the season.

As Zygi and Brad Childress are saying, “Talk to the hand, Daunte.?

The Vikes responded to this latest bull shit by essentially saying if the team can't trade PQ the First before a $6 million roster bonus comes due later this month, the team plans are to ask him to defer the bonus so that efforts to strike a deal can continue. At least that was what I was hearing until jumped into the BMW to drive home after a 15-hour day at the office.

I then heard a report on the radio that quoted Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com as saying the Minnesota Vikings have had it with PQ the First and are ardently seeking trade partners. Glazer was quoted as saying:

"Culpepper has infuriated people inside the Vikings organization by making his gripes public and refusing to mesh with new coach Brad Childress."

And not only that, there were also reports that PQ the First would be traded within the next 24 to 48 hours. See that white smoke in the left frame under PQ the First Watch category? That could become black very, very soon. Truth be told, I am hearing that the Vikings have established at least one trade AND that the team has multiple options.

So here it is. What I have predicted ages ago is about to happen. PQ the First will be traded and a transaction will be occur within the next 24 hours, and the transaction will be carried out after 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, because trades can't be made until the next league year starts.

The leading suitors are said to be the Dolphins and the Raiders. The Dolphins makes sense as they’ve been in the PQ the First trade rumor boat for about a month now and Miami is looking for a QB. The Raiders make sense because Randy Moss has been talking to PQ the First as I’ve reported on before. And Al Davis is crazy enough to do it.

But remember the Dolphins rumor started when Scott Linehan was still with the team. PQ the First got along, and admired, Linehan quite a bit. Linehan is now the head coach of the Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis. So don’t be one bit surprised if the trade takes place with the Rams and that current starter Marc Bulger will be part of the package that gets sent to the Vikings.

Poll of the Day

Who should have been traded last year knowing what we know now? Moss or Culpepper? Vote below.




Posted by maasx003 at 1:14 AM
March 8, 2006
Jerry Maguire? Ha!: A VU Podcast Special Edition

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He serves as the agent for notables such as Stephen Davis and Todd Sauerbrun. He also happens to be the agent for the Vikings Willie Offord and Troy Williamson. He has had multiple features on ESPN.com. He is David Canter, who only started work as an agent after a chance meeting on the side of the road. In 1995, Canter was at a gas station, changing a signal lamp on his car, when he ran into Miami Dolphin Lamar Thomas. After chatting for a few minutes, Canter got Thomas' cell phone number. Not too long afterward, Canter did some marketing deals for Thomas, who eventually became the first client for Canter's company.

It was my pleasure to speak with David and gain some insight into the world of being an agent for some of the highest priced athletes in the world. During the podcast you will learn insight into the agents view of the Wilf ownership, the new head coach, Offord's rehab, and even some news on PQ the First!

And I don't often do this, but share this blog and especially this podcast with all your Vikings friends. Ship them an e-mail and send 'em here. Do you frequent a Vikings message board? Do me favor and let people know about this podcast. Bring 'em here! This one deserves a listen.

Viking Underground Podcast Forty-Six

Trivia Time

Here is the answer to Tuesday's tricky question: "Who holds the Vikings team record record for most TDs by reception in the playoffs?"

The answer, Randy Moss who had 9 scoring receptions from 1998 to 2004. I was surprised because it just seems that Randy was not with the Vikes that long. I would have though Chuck Foreman. I guess it shows how much Moss always stepped up the big games (leaving 41-0 out of the equation).

Coming Thursday

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HIs site went down a few weeks ago. A fellow blog writer looking for a home in which to wrote his Purple-tinted prose. I love his stuff and so extended an invitation to write for the VU until he gets on his feet again (or maybe decides to make the VU his home!?!?!?). At any rate, come back Thursday for a off-season piece by Vikes Geek.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:05 AM
March 7, 2006
Someone Please Explain Tampering to Me

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At the end of last week I brought your attention to LeCharles Bentley who I thought would be a great addition to the Vikings offensive line. Then I read a report that states unmistakably the Eagles will sign Saints center LeCharles Bentley as soon as free agency commences, which should be sometime before Christmas at this rate.

Is that not tampering? What in the name of Hoover Dam is going on here? Why is the NFL allowing teams to chat to the agents of players who are not yet free agents? Again, is that not tampering? “Hello, Earth to Paul Tagliabue. Can you read me, over??

But before I doth protest too much, the Enemy Paper has now reported that the Vikings might have an arrangement in place with Chargers linebacker Ben Leber. Huh? Um, is that not tampering? But Leber's agent quickly came out and said this (rumor of his relation to Pinocchio have been overplayed):

Vann McElroy, the agent for Chargers free-agent outside linebacker Ben Leber, denied reports that his client and the Vikings have agreed in principle on a contract.


I mean, if teams and agents are going to become more audacious and apparent in their abuse of the tampering rule, someone in due course is going to have to get “Mike Tice’d? for violating a rule so that the whole thing doesn’t become a one-liner for sports columnists everywhere. That is, if it isn’t already.

What really astonished me is that one-third of the Triangle of Authority (Fran Foley) had this to say in the same paper, on the same page no less, of the report about Leber:

"You can't make contact with these [players]," Foley said in discussing the sense of anticipation that his cap-rich team is experiencing, "you can't plan with the agents and things like that [beforehand]."

First the silliness with the whole Collective Bargaining Agreement and now blatant tampering. What is next? Please don’t screw up my sport!!!!

Note: I'll be speaking with a sports agent on Tuesday for an upcoming VU Podcast. I hope to sneak in a question on tampering. If the interview does not come off I'll let y'all know. This agent represents multiple players on the Vikings roster.

Speaking of the CBA

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My close, personal friend Chris Mortensen roared onto ESPN Radio and reported on Monday morning that the NFL and the NFLPA have reached an agreement in principle on a new CBA, and that the deal is subject to approval of the owners on Tuesday. The article later appeared on ESPN.com

Warning! Do not attempt to hold your breath with out trained professionals at your side.

Under the pact, the NFL will lavish 59.5 percent of total football revenues to player salaries. My good buddy Mort also says that it's no assurance as to whether the owners will approve the deal. Pats owner Bob Kraft, Mort says, is compellingly opposed to the package, which addresses revenue sharing via the so-called "cash over cap" issue.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf needs to become Kraft’s best friend and ally. Let me explain.

"Cash over cap", according to "Morty", is the total of the full money compensated to players in a given year. Because high-revenue teams, like Dallas and Washington, have the capability to dump more money into players' pockets, the infinite ability to gush future cap dollars into current cap years could, in premise, disorder the NFL’s wonderful competitive balance because the low-revenue teams, like our Vikings, simply won't have the currency on hand to counterpart what Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder could pay. In a few short years we’d have an NFL where it would be the Yankees and Red Sox all over again. I saw MLB ruined this way and I’ll be damned to let it happen to football. The one hope is that the proposal apparently limits the extent to which a team can spend money in a given year over the salary cap.

Mortensen says that Tuesday's meeting could get hostile, and that it could extend into Wednesday. And I hope Wilf is lining up on the Kraft and the other low-revenue teams. Otherwise, even a new stadium won’t be able to save the Vikes.

Trivia Time

Here is a tricky question. Who holds the Vikings team record record for most TDs by reception in the playoffs?




Come back Wednesday to find out!


Posted by maasx003 at 1:59 AM
March 6, 2006
It is March: The Irish Dominate

Sorry everyone but I did not have any time to address writing football blogs this weekend. This was a family weekend. Rince na Chroi had a live performance at Concordia University in St. Paul. Rince na Chroi (pronounced rink-a na-chree) is a Irish dance school in which The Boy® is a student. This was the first of three performances for The Boy® over the next three weeks. And we're having a ball.

I did all the photography and video and I'm wading through some heavy editing as we speak. I hope to be back Tuesday with some Vikings stuff. Until then, you are welcome to listen into the show.....especially if you like Irish music (by 5 Mile Chase) and some dynamic sounds of bagpipes (Minnesota Police Pipe Band).

Part One

Part Two

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And we do it all again this coming weekend. See you Tuesday......I think.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:39 AM
March 3, 2006
FA Starts! First Up, Protect The QB!!!

Actually, check that. It would now appear that the free agency period is set to start three days later because the players and owners are now in the midst of squabbling over the revenue of the biggest sport in the world (screw soccer!). But I choose to ignore that greedy men would actually destroy the league much like has happened in MLB over the last few decades. So let's talk free agency like it actually did start today.

After a season in which the Vikings offensive line allowed over four sacks per game and lead to Poutin' Quarterback the First leaving on crutches, it would appear the team sprints out of the free agency gate looking to improve at offensive line.

And who could disagree?

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Pro Bowl offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley could make the jump from one domed stadium to another should the Vikings put together a great offer to land the free agent. I figure it like this: who can afford to outbid the Vikes? If the Vikes really want the big guy, he is ours.

Many experts deem Bentley the top linemen to be had. In addition to getting a Pro Bowl lineman, the Vikings would also benefit with the added bonus of indispensable flexibility. Bentley played as center at Thee Ohio State. When he entered the NFL, he started at right guard for two seasons with the Saints. He was shifted back to center in 2004.

Bentley, at 26, is a young stud that has been selected to the Pro Bowl in 2003 and again in 2005. He was chosen in as an alternate in 2004. He also was a near-unanimous choice for NFL all-rookie honors in 2002 and was named the NFL offensive rookie of the year by Sports Illustrated that season. The Saints have placed no tag on him.

I’m licking my chops.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:35 AM
March 2, 2006
One Billion Dollars

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Zygi Wilf is no more Dr. Evil than is Carl Pohlad or any other sports owner looking to compete in a sport wherein success hinges on every nickel and dime the team can earn in order to then upgrade the personnel. So, if you are anti-stadium, just leave now and return to your dark hole in the ground from whence you came.

Under Wilf ownership, the Vikings are taking the message of a new stadium in Anoka County to the state of Minnesota. And it's not a wobbling duck of a Joe Kapp pass but rather a Warren Moon precisionly thrown tight spiral. I received the following e-mail (part of a mass e-mail campaign) from the greatest coach in Minnesota sports history earlier this week:

Dear Brian,

Thanks again for joining Minnesota Momentum to show your support for the plan to build Northern Lights – Minnesota’s Sports, Retail & Entertainment Center!

Remember, Northern Lights is an important economic development project, with $1 billion in private investment to boost our state’s economy and create jobs. Northern Lights will be located in Blaine, which is in Anoka County. It will include a new stadium for Vikings football and host other events throughout the year. It also includes shops, restaurants, offices, a medical center, a hotel and 260 acres of preserved wetlands and trails.

Below is our first member update, with the latest news and information about what you can do to get involved.

Sincerely,

bg.bmp

Bud Grant

Co-chair

The message then went on to give specifics. It spoke told me that Minnesota Momentum will be airing statewide television and radio messages. The ads introduce the plan for the Northern Lights center and invite viewers and listeners to join us as members of Minnesota Momentum. The objective of this communications campaign is to get the facts out and make sure Minnesotans understand the benefits to the state of this economic development project. The messages began airing Tuesday (February 28), but if you have not seen the TV ad or live out of state, you can view it on the VU here or on the VU Videocast page.

How You Can Help in this Movement

You can help build our coalition by emailing your friends and inviting them to join as members. Just click here and you’ll be taken to the “Tell a Friend? function on the website, which allows you to quickly email several friends at once. Spreading the word about our coalition will help to keep our grassroots effort growing by the day! Haven't joined yet? What are you waiting for?

Key Dates: Legislative Session Begins March 1

The Minnesota State Legislature will begin this year’s legislative session on March 1. We expect the Northern Lights stadium development plan to be an important issue during the session, so stand by for opportunities in the near future to take action and make your voice heard!

Coming Friday

Well, if I can find the time that is. But Friday is important because the real bidding begins as NFL free agency opens. The Purple are projected to have a league high $24.1 million (said with a Dr. Evil sneer) in the kitty. What will happen?

Posted by maasx003 at 1:34 AM
March 1, 2006
In This Corner

Last week there was an account I wanted to write about but my trip to New Jersey got in the way. The Vikings placed their transition player tag on cornerback Brian Williams. And I think that spoke volumes.

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The transition tag gives the team the capacity to match any offer Williams might obtain on the free agent market. But Williams does not want to return to Minnesota, according to his agent, and he would be discontented if the Vikings hold him back.

"[Williams] would like to move on," agent Jordan Feagan said. "He's expressed to them that he would rather not go back."

Williams' contract expires this week and he is entitled for unrestricted free agency. By making him their transition player, the Vikings fundamentally offered him a one-year, $4.774 million guaranteed contract that he can sign at any time.

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I think this was significant news because Williams played so well when Fred Smoot went down (injury, not Love Boat) last season. I also think that Williams is viable enough to play both corner and strong safety. I really do. (Especially if my man Willie Offord is not resignd). And since the Vikings are expected to have a new strong safety next season with Corey Chavous almost certain to depart in free agency why not make a play to keep Williams?

But besides the dual aspect of a role with the Vikings, I'm more worried about what could happen should Williams depart. We would be stuck with Smoot lining up on the other side of the defensive backfield opposite Antonio Winfield.

Certainly, Smoot had an appalling year and is most likely not as bad a player as he showed last year......with some saying that Smoot showed more off the field than he did on. And certainly Williams may not be as good as he showed when one thinks about the 2004 season when Williams was giving up more big plays than the Minnesota Lottery.

What do you think? Should the Vikings, projected to be $20 million under the slary cap, make a huge play to retain Williams? Who do you want starting at CB next season. Vote below.




Zygi Approval Poll

As many of the readers of the VU know, I ran a Tice Approval Poll all season long. Ol' Pencil Ear ended up hovering around the 46% approval mark by and large for the season. The poll seemed to be well received and a lot of merriment for everyone, so I decided to continue it, but change the targeted person to new owner Zygi Wilf.

Each month, you will have the chance to vote on Wilf's approval rating. The final number in January was an astounding 94% approval rating for the new owner. The February number dropped a hair to 88% approval. Zygi is on a roll!

The March Approval Poll is now up and you can vote just to the left.

What do you think of those numbers? Warranted? Have a comment? Leave one at the end of this entry and don't forget to vote in the March poll!

New Poll

Posted just below the March Zygi Approval Poll is a new poll on which potential new stadium deserves to approved by the Minnesota Legislature and then built. This is for pure fun. I hope both professional teams can get new stadiums approved and ground broken this year!

As always, for the latest on local stadium news and how the legisilative vote is shaping up look no further than the Greet Machine. And as of today, the Minnesota Legislature is in session!

More from Google Earth

It seemed that many of you enjoyed guessing the Google Earth stadium shots I posted Tuesday. So here are four more. These are much more challenging. One is very tricky. See if you can name the NFL teams that play in the stadiums. First one that guesses them all correctly via e-mail to me will get his or her name mentioned (hey, I can't cough up any dough right now). No clues either. You should be able to get two without much thought but some may give you trouble....unless you live there!

UPDATE: We already have a winner! Peter Deusterman correctly guessed all four stadiums at 8:20 AM CST! Congrats Peter! The rest of you will have to keep working at it.

Stadium Shot One

Stadium Shot Two

Stadium Shot Three

Stadium Shot Four

VU Housekeeping

For the regular readers, I have completed some changes to the left and right frames and just wanted to walk through those in case you can't locate links.

The Podcast and Videocast links have been moved from the left frame to the right. Added to the right frame are a Creative Copyright License and my Blog's Networth ($24,275.22....don't ask me how they arrive at that number!).

New to the left frame are Quotes about the VU from various media outlets. I hope to add additional quotes as they come in. Below that is Purple News which is a RSS News service that supposedly will pull together only Vikings storys as they come in. That way, you can just use the VU as your central clearing house for direct links to other Vikings related news.

And just to remind everyone about Flickr, the new photo service I will be experimenting with to bring you my personal photos of the Vikings. Currently, I have over eighty photos posted from last year's Mini-Camp. How is everyone liking that? I will post more if people are enjoying reviewing the photos. I hope to use this for posting new photos in 2006 from mini-camp and such. Just provide me with feedback (positive or negative) on the Flickr setup thus far.

And yes, I have been in contact with Winter Park on several fronts. I hope to have some additional news and interviews soon. But please realize they are entering the crazy period of Free Agency, preparing for the Draft Party and the NFL draft, and even training camp. Winter Park never sleeps.

Come back Thursday when I'll have the latest from former coach Bud Grant and Minnesota Momentum, the guiding forces behind the big push for a new Vikings stadium. They are going all out. I'll have the new TV ad to share along with a memo from Grant. Wow! I don't see the Twins putting in this much effort!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:14 AM
February 28, 2006
Google Earth

Has you tried Google Earth yet? Wow, what a great little package they put together. The Boy® and I have had a great time tooling around the world looking at places he wants to visit some day. It has been a blast for him. He now refers to various maps and we have to look them up on Google Earth. For him it is akin to flying there.

Never seen Winter Park? Well, here it is from a birds eye view.

~GE10B.jpg

How about what an eagle sees as it soars over the Dome?

~GEBC.jpg

So, I thought I would take a little tour of other stadiums and let you guess which team plays there. Some are easy, some may take you a few seconds to put it together. And two of them show how cities....PROGRESSIVE CITIES...were able to build new baseball AND football stadiums. (Are you listening esteemed Minnesota Legislature?!?!)

Here is an easy one to help you warm up. Which NFL team plays here?

Extremely easy again. Notice the dual stadiums. Minnesota residents can put their tongues back in their mouths.

And just to add insult to injury, another city and state found a way to create these beauties.

Now a little harder. I've seen the Vikes play there three times. They had a great playoff victory there....and a horrible playoff loss. Can you name it?

One more for today. I have also seen the Vikes play at this stadium. In fact, I was on the sidelines. I lost 30 pounds (or so it seemed) due to the 120-degree field temperature. Where are we?

In Case You Missed it

If you did not see the little blurb at Pro Football Talk about former Texas QB Vince Young, here it is. It is worth reading as there is always one person who does some miserably on the Wonderlic test that it merits a story. But no one has every done this bad:

VINCE IS STOOPID?

A league source tells us that there's a rumor making the rounds at the combine that Texas quarterback Vince Young scored a miserably horrible six on the Wonderlic test.

A six! That's bad. It's beyond bad. In fact, it's the lowest score that we can ever remember hearing anyone getting.

All incoming NFL players take a 50-question version of the Wonderlic, with a 12-minute window within which to finish it.

We found 15 sample Wonderlic questions on ESPN.com's page 2, including such brain-benders as selecting the ninth month of the year from among five possible choices. We'd like to think that most people of average intelligence could get at least six of the 15 sample questions right.

Getting a total of only six out of a total of 50 questions of that same kind is pa-freakin'-thetic. For a guy who's going to be called upon to read defenses and call audibles and work through a progression of receivers against NFL-caliber opposition, it's downright scary.

The source tells us that he hasn't seen the result in writing yet, but that he's "99 percent" certain that Young's score was six.

Said the source, who knows a thing or two about evaluating college players:

"I predict he'll fall all the way out of the first round."

That's a bold statement, and we're not saying that we agree with it -- primarily because our guess is that there's someone almost dumb enough to get a six on the Wonderlic, who'll overlook Young's low score along with any other concerns that might come to light over the next two months.

It has since come out that Young's test might have been incorrectly scored and that he has since retaken the test and scored a sixteen. Whatever.

Trivia Follow-Up

Did you test out your vast Vikings knowledge with my trivia question posed to you Monday? The question was, "Which WR ran for more yards than another other WR in Vikings history?". The correct answer was Anthony "Chicken Legs" Carter.

Shameless Plug

Ever since the Great Computer Crash of '99, I have worried about losing valuable data. Back then, I lost all my Vikings related columns from 1998 - 1999. That was tough, man. Especially considering the '98 stuff was some of my best.

So I finally decided that I would take safeguards. This past weekend I invested in a safe deposit box for my bonds and other important papers. My bank is only going to charge me a $17 annual fee. Peanuts! All my valuable papers locked away in a safe the size of Fort Knox somewhere in an undisclosed location in the western 'burbs of Minneapolis.

That sealed it for me. Shortly after visiting the bank I head off to Best Buy and got a 300 GB external hard drive. The only thing that might have more storage space is Hillary Clinton's ass!

seagate.jpg

This little baby, made by Seagate, has some punch to it. I backed up all our valuable documents, photos, and spreadsheets from the last 7 years and it hardly made a dent in the storage capacity. And the damn thing is on sale currently at Best Buy. Just a mere $199. Wise investment. Of the 300 GB available, I filled up 40 GB. Awesome.

A lot of people have told me lately that backing up stuff onto DVD or CD is OK....as long as you then make new copies every 5 to 10 years as the data can degrade on discs. This way, with an external hard drive, I won't have to worry about that.

As the kids say, "Sweeeeeeeeet!"

Shameless Plug II

I now have 3,568 songs on the trusty iPod. I know this is not Vikings related but I have to do this. My Top Ten most listened to songs are:

10. Feel Good Inc. by the Gorillaz
9. Breathless by The Corrs
8. A Whisper by Coldplay
7. Constellations by Jack Johnson
6. What Happens Tomorrow by Duran Duran
5. Stranded by Van Morrison
4. Belle by Jack Johnson
3. This is Such a Pity by Weezer
2. Rodeo Clowns by Jack Johnson
1. Flake by Jack Johnson

But wait! There is more! I have everything categorized nine ways to Sunday. Such as playlists by decade. Here are my top three most listened to songs by decade starting with 1940:

3. Aint' Misbehavin' by Louis Armstrong
2. East of the Sun by Tommy Dorsey
1. Feicia no Capicia by Louis Prima

The 1950's:

3. School Days by Chuck Berry
2. It Happened in Monterey by Frank Sinatra
1. Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair by Nina Simone

The 1960's:

3. Hello It's Me by Todd Rundgren
2. Running Scared by Roy Orbison
1. Something in the Way She Moves by James Taylor

The 1970's:

3. I'm In Love With My Car by Queen
2. Pocahontas by Neil Young
1. Turn To Stone by E.L.O.

The 1980's:

3. Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash (the Boy's® current favorite)
2. Peek-A-Boo by Siouxsie & the Banshees
1. Young Americans by David Bowie

The 1990's:

3. Lithium Sunset by Sting
2. Dream by Forest for the Trees
1. Got My Own Thing Now by the Squirrel Nut Zippers

I know, I'm such a dork. But this is the beauty of the iPod. You never really know what is going to come on next. I'm not saying these are the best songs from each decade....just the ones that I seem to turn to for one reason or another. Make fun of me and tomorrow we'll divy up the Top Three by genre starting with Jazz, then Blues, then World........

And since I put you through all that, I promise to have something Vikings related for tomorrow. It will be on which corner should be playing opposite of Antoine Winfield. See you then!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:35 AM
February 27, 2006
The Bet

Had an on-line discussion with The Commish last weekend. It went like this (The Commish just loves when I do this to him):

-----Original Message-----
From: The Commish
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 12:53 PM
To: Brian Maas; Milwaukee Mark
Subject: Well....

What do you think about Mr. Culpepper now?

2005 Developmental Camp 008 small.jpg

To which I responded:

From: Maas, Brian
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 1:04 PM
To: The Commish; Milwaukee Mark
Subject: RE: Well....

About what? That he is obviously manic and bipolar? That he sees his ass is grass so now he is back-peddling? Did you see this story from Miami in which the Dolphins are saying the Vikes will just outright cut him?

Of course, the Vikes are saying his knee looks great. No one will trade for him if they say that he's overweight and smoking a pack a day.

He's gone. It's just a matter of whether by trade or by the axe.

The Commish, not to be outdone, wrote:

-----Original Message-----
From: The Commish
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 1:17 PM
To: Maas, Brian; Milwaukee Mark
Subject: RE: Well....

All I know all other stories about Pep were media dribble without any quotes from the Vikings or Culpepper himself. Now we have a story where Culpepper is quoted. With Childress, as you know, the Vikes are sealed tight; so any speculation of what the Vikes might do is just that, speculation. Might as well pick up the Inquirer they’d be as accurate as anyone right now! The chances of Pep getting axed are about as good as Green Bay finally adding the B to their logo.

Which led to my challenge:

From: Maas, Brian
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 1:10 PM
To: The Commish; Milwaukee Mark
Subject: RE: Well....

I smell a Famous Dave’s lunch bet. If Pepper is gone by 3/14 you pay. If not, I pay

The Commish accepted. Mmmmmmm, Famous Dave's BBQ. I can hardly wait. Or so I thought. Then I woke up Sunday to these headlines in the Enemy Paper (what we Republicans call the Star Tribune):

Wilf plans $6 million commitment to Culpepper

Let me get my brush and paint you a picture on what transpired this last weekend. On Friday we had head coach Brad Childress say about the possibility of trading the Poutin' Quarterback the First:

"You know, the phone rings both ways," Childress said at the Indy combine. "You don't not talk to people when they call. So we've had inquiries. I mean, that's what happens this time of year. So you listen to everything that's going on and find out what's subterfuge and kind of go from there."

Paraphrase: I always thought that a double negative (“You don't not talk to people when they call.?) cancelled the denial? Any way as reports have stated, and been confirmed through various avenues, the Vikings called Baltimore and Miami to gauge interest in PQ the First.

Now we have owner Zygi Wilf speaking that there were no talks of any kinds:

Asked if he could definitively say Culpepper was going to be on the Vikings roster in 2006, Wilf said: "That is our plan, yes. Always was." He reiterated that point in two follow-up questions.

Paraphrase: When PQ the First came calling for a pay raise....and was subsequently refuted ...Wilf also alluded that he would not be paying the huge roster bonus PQ the First has coming due on March 14. The rookie owner discovered that by doing that, he killed the quarterback's trade value. As the Miami report above revealed, teams interested in PQ the First were just going to wait for the Vikes to axe him. Why trade when the player would be obtainable in the near future?

So the Vikes then went Secret Squirrel on us and changed their tune culminating in Wilf now saying that the Vikes had no plan to trade...or release....PQ the First.

I read Wilf's statement, if we can trust this owner more than the previous car salesman, as an unequivocal statement that the team is not trading Culpepper, period. True? False? Who the hell knows anymore. And I love it.

Last week we saw several Enemy Paper columnists bitch about their bumpy conversion from the open door policy of Ol’ Pencil Ear to the tight-lipped Triangle of Authority under Wilf, Childress, and Fran Foley. In short, these media pundits displayed a public hissy fit. And it was embarrassing for them to show us their bloomers.

And here is why I might yet have a chance for a free meal, courtesy of The Commish, at Famous Dave’s. As the media demands information so that they can bring home a scoop, it becomes even easier to put out misinformation. In this day of age of journalism, few media types will even slow to confirm a story before running with it. And I think the Vikes are playing the local boys and girls like a fiddle. This is the season for half truths and toeing the party line. I’m sure the Vikes have their goals in mind for free agency and the upcoming NFL draft.

That's why the best line of attack is to utter as little as possible. It's the best way to safeguard the team’s improvement.

Stay tuned.

Hartman a Day Late and a Dollar Short

My close, personal friend Sid Hartman recently wrote:

Memo to Daunte: The smartest thing you can do if you want to remain with the Vikings is to get up here, start working with the new coaches and do your rehabilitation here instead of Florida. That will give you a chance to get things straightened out.

Memo to Sid: You are about 6-months behind the Viking Underground. Stop stealing my stuff.

Childress Calls Me

Head Coach Brad Childress recently left me a personal (cough, cough) voice-mail. Hear it now.

Trivia Time

Think you know this one? Test your knowledge. I'll give you the answer Tuesday.




And speaking of polls, there are only two days remaining in the February Wilf Approval Poll. If you have not voted yet, Monday and Tuesday are you last chances before the March Wilf Approval Poll is posted. You'll find the poll, and complete history, on the left margin of this blog.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:25 AM
February 24, 2006
Introducing Flickr

The Viking Underground continues to push the envelope on new blog development. I've introduced mobile blogging, podcasting, videocasting, and interactive polls to all my readers over the last year. I dare say that no other Vikings blog has as much technological upgrades as does the VU.

I now bring you the beta-testing phase of Flickr. Flickr is the best way to store, sort, search and share your photos online. There is a huge mass of Vikings photos in my photo vault and Flickr provides a way to organize them in such a way to make it very easy for you to navigate through them.

Over the years I have had people ask me for the original sized photo so they can download them and make their own prints and such. On the other hand, I've had people ask for smaller versions as they have limited broadband resources. With Flickr, the issue is solved.

Click on any of the three photos in the banner that appears at the top of the blog. This will take you to the actual photo within my Flickr account. Notice the "All Sizes" link above the photo? Click on that and you will have your choice of 5 photo sizes to view from. You can also run your own slideshow.

You can do the same within the Flickr Flash link at the top of the right navigation frame. This one requires that you have Flash loaded on your system....which most do.....but I was also wondering which one you preferred? The larger thumbnails at the top or the small Flickr Flash to the right?

At this point, I have loaded 84 photos from the 2005 Development Camp held last spring at Winter Park. Test it out and let me know what you think? Keep this as an option or get rid of it? Your feedback will be instrumental in my decision to stay with Flickr and cough up the necessary money to have unlimited bandwidth and uploading opportunities. I would then add other photo sets for your viewing enjoyment.

So, have some fun. Again, this is only a testing period so if you have issues accessing the Flickr photos it may be that bandwidth has been exceeded. If the feedback is positive and the demand for it is warranted, I will then change my "free" Flickr account to a "professional" and all those issues will go away.

Enjoy!

Shameless Plug

I hate business travel but always relish the opportunity to catch up on my reading whenever I have to fly. My last trip was no exception as I was able to finish the nearly 900-page novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. And I have also recently read it will be made into a movie....which is fantastic news.

I thought the book started out a wee bit slow but I could not put it down in the last third. I'd write my own review but it just wouldn't do justice to the zillion other reviews already out there. So here is one from Bloomsbury that did a nice summation:

'Absolutely compelling...It's an astonishing achievement. I can't think of anything that is remotely like it' Charles Palliser

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me…

Centuries ago when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of them all was the Raven King. A human child brought up by fairies, the Raven King blended fairy wisdom and human reason to create English magic. Now at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he is barely more than a legend, and England, with its mad King and its dashing poets, no longer believes in practical magic.

Then the reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey appears and causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and move. News spreads of the return of magic to England and, persuaded that he must help the government in the war against Napoleon, Mr Norrell goes to London. There he meets a brilliant young magician and takes him as a pupil. Jonathan Strange is charming, rich and arrogant. Together, they dazzle the country with their feats.

But the partnership soon turns to rivalry. Mr Norrell has never conquered his lifelong habits of secrecy, while Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous magic. He becomes fascinated by the shadowy figure of the Raven King, and his heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens, not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.

Elegant, witty and utterly compelling, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell creates a past world of great mystery and beauty that will hold the reader in thrall until the last page.

So, if you are a book lover and haven't read this one yet, do so.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:33 AM
February 23, 2006
Back

I have returned to the Tundra. Funny that a mere three days away feels more like three weeks. As it is, I have a lot to catch up on in the Real Job and so, dear reader, I must attend to those things.

For now, have you joined Minnesota Momentum yet? It is a coalition of Citizens for the Minnesota Sports, Retail & Entertainment Center.

dev_proj_500.jpg

Joining simply confirms that you can be listed as a member of the coalition along with other citizens, businesses and groups that support the Minnesota Sports, Retail & Entertainment Center and want to see the legislature take positive action on the project as soon as possible.

To sign up, click the Register button or simply click here to complete a registration form.

Apple? Hah!

Have you read the story about Apple's ITunes billlionth download? Apple's iTunes Music Store today crossed the marketing landmark made famous by McDonald's hamburgers: "More than 1 billion sold." Big deal. Recently, the Viking Underground had it's 100,000 reader. Not bad for a little operation that started from scratch back in the fall of 2004. Thanks everyone!

Posted by maasx003 at 7:31 AM
February 20, 2006
A New "Skol!" Song in the Making?

Skol, Vikings is the fight song of the Minnesota Vikings. It was introduced around the time the team was founded in 1961. The old recording is usually played whenever the team scores, accompanied by cheerleaders carrying flags that spell out the team's name.

cheerskol.jpg

For those not accustomed with the lyrics:

Skol, Vikings! Let's win this game.
Skol, Vikings! Honor your name.
Go get that first down
Then get a touchdown,
Rock 'em, sock 'em, fight, fight, fight, fight!
Go, Vikings! Run out the score;
You'll hear us yell for more.
V-I-K-I-N-G-S!
Skol, Vikings! Let's go!

And for those who have always wondered what the Hell does Skol mean; Skol (written skål in Norwegian, and sometimes "Skoal" in English) is the Norwegian word for a salute or a toast, as to an admired person or group.

I can tell you this much. Everyone in section 101 knows the words to this song by heart. After a score, we leap to our feet in unison and scream the song out in perfect harmony. It is a very time honored tradition. Much like the discussion last week on whether the horns on the helmet need to be changed or not, this song is one that in many purists minds should not be jazzed up for a new generation.

But last week I received a tip that relayed to me that the Vikings were considering adding a new version of Skol Vikings song to the game day experience. "Whoa Nelly!", said I. In my mind that would be akin to replacing the Mona Lisa with some of that new fangled modern art that looks like it was painted by a 5-year old.

But when I finally came up for air my source went on to explain that the Vikes would consider adding this new version to the pregame only and certainly have no intention of messing with the song at all in its traditional points of play (after scores and at halftime/postgame). The thought being that adding a new version with an edge to it might appeal to younger audiences. Again I said, "Whoa Nelly!" and again the voice at the other end emphasized that NOTHING will change with the words, style or current play of the beloved original song.

OK all you old timers, now deep slow breaths.....deep slow breaths.

When I could finally formulate two words at a time, I actually had a nice chat and even went as far to offer up my approval of a new jazzed up song. My stance was, why not play the new song during the video introduction prior to the player introduction?

shipskol.jpg

Or perhaps at the end of the game when all the fireworks are exploding above our heads? Hell, all the old timers leave in the third quarter anyway so they can get home in time for 60-Minutes and Andy Rooney. What would they care if a new version of the Skol song was played at the end of the game!?!?!?!?

At any rate I was given some work to do. Apparently Winter Park wants to take a pulse of your reaction to this news. And where better to talk a pulse than right here on the Viking Underground. First, take the poll below:





Second, leave a comment voicing your thoughts on this proposed new Skol version. Are you "a'gin it" or "fer it"....and why. Be thoughtful, concise, and considerate. And please keep in mind that it’s probably less than 50/50 right now but the Vikings are anxious to hear some responses.

Get to work.

Media Types Getting Edgy: Vikingland Security Introduced

Judd Zulgad at the Star Tribune got his undies in bunch late last week because the Vikings newest football hire, Fran Foley, effectively told the media that loose lips sink ships:

My position will be that we're not going to talk about our football business in public," Foley said. "It's just not going to happen. It's not the way that I do business, and it won't be the way that we'll do business from this point forward.

Locals will recall Zulgad from the 2004 - 2005 NFL season. He was the stiff that drew the short straw and was shipped off to cover the Green Bay Packers for an entire season. This was a STrib failed experiment, the thinking that locals in the Twin Cities would love to have Packer coverage along with Vikings coverage. Zulgad must still be taking bitter tonic:

So what exactly is the Vikings' plan to keep its fan base informed? Is there one?

"There is a change in approach at the Vikings organization from the past and we're working through it," said Lester Bagley, the Vikings' vice president of public affairs and stadium development. "There had been a lot of information in the previous regime that was out in the public that sometimes was inappropriate and potentially harmful to the club from a competitive perspective.

"We need to set a new course. That's kind of what we're going to have to all get used to working with. We also realize that the media are an important part of covering this club and getting fans information about exactly what is going on."

[The] Vikings apparently plan to only put out the welcome mat for their fans when it's convenient. "It's too competitive out there," Foley said explaining his lack of candidness. "We're not going to share any of that [information] with the public."

So now we get to the bottom of the issue for Zulgad. He's peeved because he will now have to work for a story instead of having it handed to him. I can almost picture the STrib boys clamoring to overthrow the new Vikings regimen and demand that the team bring back Ol' Pencil Ear who was, in himself, worth three to four easy columns a week ranging from scalping Super Bowl tickets to having no control over the players.

Well Judd, you may have lost your connections at Winter Park but I still have mine. I was in contact with no less than three Winter Park employees this week. I was not turned away once. The Vikings interest in their fan base is first and foremost and information is, and will be, free flowing. My latest invitation is to once again sit on an Advisory Board within the comfy confines of the newly improved facility at Winter Park. And the Vikings Official Fan Club will soon be relaunching their product to bring the team even closer to its adoring fan base.

So, I have no issues with the Vikes limiting media access and story lines so that beat writers have to work a bit harder to bring home the bacon. As Mr. Bagley stated, a competitive advantage is needed in every area of running a successful NFL franchise. The old way of free flowing information did not bring home any Super Bowl trophies that I can recall. At least, I don’t recall any Super Bowl hardware in the trophy case at Winter Park.

If you need some help getting some information Mr. Zulgad, give me a call. Maybe I can help you out. Otherwise, you best get to work on your next Vikings story.

Coming Tuesday

VU Podcast Forty-Five will be up and available for listening. And keep in mind I am traveling on business this week. I'll be posting photos to the VU Moblog from my phone as I make my way to a secret location before returning Wednesday. Check out the VU Moblog and see if you can determine where I am.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:53 AM
February 17, 2006
PQ the First Put on the Trading Block

bidder.jpg

Back on January 19, many of you thought me a complete gibbering moron when I informed you that the Poutin' Quarterback the First was on the trading block.

Who's laughing now?

I had heard from The Insider who had passed along that information. I haven't heard from The Insider since and frankly I'm a little worried that he's been given some cement boots and is swimming from the fishes. So, if you are still out there Insider, let me know!

By now you've all read the story printed in Thursday's STrib that essentially confirmed that PQ the First was up for the highest bidder:

After turning down his request for a $10 million raise, the team seems prepared to part ways with its once-franchise quarterback.

It seems that everyone is pointing to a blurb printed over at Pro Football Talk in which it was stated:

Per a league source, the Vikings are contacting all of the teams perceived to be in the market for a quarterback in order to gauge interest for a trade. The initial asking price, per the source, is a second-round draft pick.

And as a side note, I have been exchanging e-mails with Mike Florio of PFT about being on a VU Podcast in the coming week. As of Thursday, Mike has agreed and the time just needs to be set.

But back to PQ the First. Certainly, "shopping" is defined much differently than "trading". But just the way that things have transpired indicates that discussions have taken place and things said in such a manner that the cord has been cut. Everyone knows it is awfully hard for bad feelings to be put back in the box and forgotten about.

So, keep watching for the black smoke in the upper corner of this blog which will signify a trade has taken place.

Coming Next Week

I will be traveling on business next week and I will be posting some photos (crap cam cell phone quallity) on the VU Moblog site. See if you can determine where I am at!

But I will still be posting some stuff before I leave. Come back Monday for a little inside information from Winter Park. Your feedback is wanted!

And VU Podcast Forty-Five will be available on Monday in which a few of the VU vets will be discussing the Best Moments in Vikings history.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:46 AM
February 16, 2006
To Whizz, or Not to Whizz. That is the Question.

ont1.jpg

Onterrio Smith is lying low these days. Even his personal web site isn’t saying much. I can’t even tell when it was last updated.

Smith arrived with the Vikings and starting making noise from the start. He shaved the letters "S.O.D." into his head, short for "Steal of the Draft" after the Vikings selected him to join a crowded backfield in the fourth round 2003 NFL Draft.

He has played for the Vikings for 2 years, rushing for 579 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns on 107 carries in 2003. His 544 yards on 144 carries the following season would lead the Vikings. That’s where the S.O.D.’s future began to get a little, well, muddled.

In May of 2005 Smith was detained at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport for carrying dried urine and a mysterious device. This device was later found out to be the Original Whizzinator a kit which is used to beat drug tests. In June of 2005, Smith was suspended for the entire 2005 season after a third violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. And the problems didn’t end there.

Jun. 11, 2005:
According to Minneapolis Police Department records, Smith was cited for urinating in a public elevator around 2:30 a.m. on May 1, 2004. A surveillance video showed Smith going into the left corner of the elevator, ''where he assumes the position of a man urinating. Several females were in the elevator. They reacted by fleeing the general area, where he was urinating.''

Oct. 14, 2005:
Smith was been accused of sexual assaulting a 21-year old woman in 2004 in a teammate's apartment.

But here is the deal, most experts think that Smith is the most talented running back on the squad currently. Even the fans of the Purple can see this as did David Clark who e-mailed me the following late last week:

Do you think Onterrio Smith figures into the Viking's plan next season? Or do you think he's going to get cut? I think he's our best back when he's on the field.

I certainly can't disagree. Smith is the best all-around back that the Vikings currently have under contract. He blocks better than Mewelde Moore, and comes out of the backfield very well to receive passes. Recall that 63-yarder for a TD against the Cowboys to open the 2004 season?

Even new Vikings coach Brad Childress said RB Onterrio Smith "has a clean slate with me." I read that as saying we can expect Smith to be given one last chance. He would potentially compete with Mewelde Moore for playing time. Everyone expects that Michael Bennett will be playing for someone else next year, but until that happens he must be thrown into the mix as well.

Honestly, I would prefer that the Vikings make a play for a top-notch running back such as Shaun Alexander or Edgerrin James. Who wouldn't? But it looks very unlikely as Childress has already indicated that the Vikings are likely to use a committee approach at running back. Childress has indicated that he has already reviewed the impending free agent class, saying there were only journeymen and running backs that would be too expensive. At this point, it looks like Mewelde Moore could fill a Brian Westbrook-like role, while Onterrio Smith or Ciatrick Fason pick up inside carries. Or, Childress could be blowing smoke.

If no play for a top-notch FA is made, then I would love to see the Vikes make a play for LenDale White who is better suited for the NFL than Reggie Bush. The Vikes need a bruising RB, not another Michael Bennett speedster. Even my close, personal friend Mel Kiper views USC's class going this way in the upcoming draft:

ESPN's resident draft guru, Mel Kiper, has USC's first rounders go like this:

1. Reggie Bush to the Texans
2. Matt Leinart to the Saints
16. Winston Justice to the Dolphins
17. LenDale White to the Vikings
31. Darnell Bing to the Broncos

Of course draft predictions are far from an exact science (Kiper predicted Mike Williams to go #1 two years ago). And these predictions will change after the Senior Bowl and again after the NFL Combine.

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I'd like to see the Vikes draft White. If for no other reason than to replace Smith who is one step away from NFL banishment and doing Infomercials. Do you want to go an entire season with Moore, Fason, and Echemandu? Not me. How about you? Who starts at RB next year for the soon-to-be-Super-Bowl-Champion Minnesota Vikings?




Coming Friday: The end of the line for PQ the First

Posted by maasx003 at 1:29 AM
February 15, 2006
Horny?

At least once each year a dialogue takes place amongst the Purple Faithful that divides us up in such a way that it makes the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s feud look like a bad case of puppy love. This deliberation seems to always take place during the slow period defined as right after the Pro Bowl and right before the NFL Draft. The e-mail I received this week went like this:

I thought one of the most interesting things Matt said in the interview was his gripe about the horns on the helmet and how he thinks the design should be changed. I thought, "You have GOT to be kidding me." Millions of people grew up with those horns imbedded in their souls. I have never even considered the possibility that the horns aren't way cool. How 'bout running a poll, "Should the horns be changed?"

Bob Frost

(Vikings Fan Since 1961)

And for those that missed Birk's original comments in his interview with the boys over at Pro Football Talk:

PFT: Now tell me this, when you were a kid, did you know what the hell that thing was on the Vikings helmet?

Birk: No. No. Even looking at it now, it's a pretty poor depiction. It's supposed to kind of have that 3D look to it, like the horn actually is sticking out of the side of the helmet. I think it's time to update that, or at least get somebody to get a crack at it.

PFT: I think they should actually put horns on the side of the helmet. That's got aesthetic benefit and strategic benefit.

Birk: Yeah, that could be like a bull. You could hook the guy's jersey with the tip of your horns.

PFT: I remember when I was a kid I had no idea what that was. And then once somebody tells you, it's like, "Okay, now I understand it." But I think there's a lot of people out there who don't know what it is.

OK, besides proving my point on the East Coast biased mentality (how can you NOT know those are Vikings horns on the side of the helmet!?!?!?), the point is that a current Vikings player wishes the organization would renovate the helmet.

And since the question at hand is specific to the design of the helmet logo we'll steer clear of the entire uniform for now. But invariably the discussion always filters into the entire uniform. Things like, "I want purple pants" is quickly followed by, "Are you crazy! Do you want your team looking like an Easter egg?" and then the fun really starts.

But reader Bob Frost asked for a poll on the helmet. And by golly, I aim to please.




And if you have specific ideas for the helmet or uniform, leave a Comment at the end of this entry.

Coming Thursday, To Whiz or not to Whiz?

Posted by maasx003 at 1:31 AM
February 14, 2006
VU Podcast Forty-Four: Raider Ron Talks about Randy Moss

Happy Valentines Day! Did you get your main squeeze something? If you forgot, let your significant other listen to a Viking Underground Podcast! Especially if said person is a Randy Moss fan.

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VU Podcast Forty-Four (which one would think should be a podcast with Chuck Foreman) is now presented. I converse with fellow Pro Football Hall of Fame fan Raider Ron about the season Randy Moss had in Oakland. Raider Ron is also the present president of the Pro Footballs Ultimate Fans Association.

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In the 2000 NFL season, Raider Ron (Ron Rickard in real life) achieved a life-long dream of my very own. I have long articulated to The Wife® that at some point in the near future I plan to attend all the Vikings game on a seasons schedule....home and away. It just may have to wait until retirement, but I plan to do it nonetheless. Ron decided in 2000 to attend all the Raiders games on the schedule. And he had a blast.

Ron even has the Raiderville Platoon. A gnarly bunch of guys much like my own black heart. Think Black Hole and one thinks these guys.

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So take a few moments and give a listen to myself and Raider Ron. Oh, and for that podcast with Chuck Foreman, you can listen to VU Podcast Seven from August 8 of last year.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:00 AM
February 13, 2006
M is for Mascot

I usually do not have time for message boards. I usually have enough time in the day to address my full-time job, my part-time job, this blog complete with podcasts and videocasts and such.....not to mention making sure my son and wife don't feel neglected. Oh, and the dogs. One can never forget ones pets!

So, I very seldom have time to read all the Vikings related message boards available. And just for the record, my favorite is the KFFL Vikings message board. I also will lurk at the Viking Update message board where the topic for today's blog entry lies.

I stumbled across this thread in which the question was posed about my good friend Syd Davy, better known as 100% Cheese Free guy:

As Posted by JackDelRio55: question for Cheesefree..others please feel free to comment
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hey bro,
This questions isnt made to be taken lightly,and I'm sure you've been asked before but..Why the F%@K arent you our Mascot?? Ragnar is soooooooooo lame..his girly dances,lame costume is a joke compared to our old mascot who roamed metropolitan stadium which solidified our teams namesake in the cold and snowy conditions. You by far have WAY more passion for the Vikes then Ragnar, IMO you should be our new Mascott,I wish there was some way we could contact Wilf about it. I mean ,heck,everything else is new and hopefully changing for the better. I say since the old coaching staff,etc has been cut loose,its time to cut Ragnar loose too,unless of course Childress likes his hair style..anyway, IMO you would definately serve the role as new mascot,peace out Cheese..

I thought this would make a very fun and footloose entry for a blog entry. Why not discuss who would be a better mascot for the Vikings? Our very own Ragnar, whom I maintain a friendship with. Or our very own 100% Cheese Free who I’ve come to know very well over the years and have shared many a victory cigar with?

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Syd is known for picking up Randy Moss like a kid and bringing him into the stands following the many Moss TD's at the Dome over the years. Syd began following the Vikes when Bud Grant left the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1967 to coach the Minnesota Vikings. You see, Syd lives in our neighbor to the north.....Canada. Syd and his wife, Susan, make the trip to Minneapolis for every Minnesota home game (save for schedule conflicts with the Grey Cup!), and sit in their same seats in the front row of the southeast end zone that they’ve had since the 1991 season. The section is 101. The same row and section as yours truly sits in. Syd and I are literally no more than a dozen seats apart and will make hand signals to each other during the game to voice our approval or displeasure with the team. Syd is the man. No doubt about it.

Syd should rightfully be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Visa Hall of Fan section with me. The Vikings and others tried for years to get Visa to exclude the exemption that the entrants had to be citizens of the United States. Since Syd is a Canuck, he was simply not eligible. A true travesty if you ask me.

And then there is Ragnar.

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Ragnar is really Joseph Juranitch who currently is Assistant Dean of Students in the Hopkins School District. His first game was in August of 1994, when the Minnesota Vikings beat the Kansas City Chiefs. I really like the value that Ragnar brings to the field and have no issues with his copying the cheerleaders by grabbing some pompoms and shaking his bootie. A mascot is for entertainment value and must be able to reach all age groups and both sexes. And I think Ragnar is well received and much loved by all. I've seen him handle unruly fans with great aplomb and at the same time amuse a youngster into hysterics. And isn't that what a mascot is all about?

Ask me which I'd like to see as Vikings mascot and I can't choose. Syd is great in the stands. Ragnar is great on the field. Both are much needed at Vikings games. Put a gun to my head and I would say no one can touch retired Vikings mascot Hub Meeds, 72, who does a lot of volunteer work and lives in White Bear Lake. Meeds is the
personification of Vikings mascots. Meeds set the bar that none has been able to reach.

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But, it is not for me to decide. It is for you. Pressed with the question with who you would wish to be the Vikings mascot in the 2006 - 2007 season, who would it be?




Coming Tuesday

VU Podcast Forty-Four (which one would think should be a podcast with Chuck Foreman) will be posted. I'll be speaking with fellow Pro Football Hall of Fame fan Raider Ron about the season Randy Moss had in Oakland. Raider Ron is also the present president of the Pro Footballs Ultimate Fans Association.

Oh, and for that podcast with Chuck Foreman, you can listen to VU Podcast Seven from August 8 of last year.

See you then!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:12 AM
February 10, 2006
Entry 400

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Wow, this is the 400th entry of the Viking Underground. A milestone to be certain. So, I've decided to take the day off and head to my favorite pub to, ahem, celebrate. If you are in a certain western suburb of Minneapolis on Friday at a certain Irish pub and see a man dressed in purple drinking some pints of the best beer in the world (Guinness) then you best sit down and buy me another.

But, I don't want to leave you hanging with nothing to read this fine Friday. Here are some things for you to read and also look forward to.

Pro Football Talk with Matt Birk

The boys at Pro Football Talk have hooked up with our very own Matt Birk for a multipart interview. The first part can be read here. And here is a quote to wet your appetite:

PFT: What do you make of this speculation regarding Daunte Culpepper? Do you envision the team under any set of circumstances trading him?

Birk: I doubt it. Daunte's obviously had more good games than bad here. Before last season, they were talking about him as a potential MVP candidate. I don't think after seven games and an injury you just give up on a guy. But at the same time, everyone's anxious to see how Daunte recovers and comes back from this devastating injury. Only time will tell. They obviously haven't given him nearly enough time to heal up and don't know if he'll even be ready for this season. I think before you cut ties with a player like that you want to see what kind of product he's able to give you when he's fully recovered.

And I'm going to try and get Mike Florio, the head Kahuna at PFT, on for an upcoming podcast.

Mailbag

Just reaching into the ol' mailbag to answer a few inquiries.

I would like to see the opposite of the worst things in Vikings history. How bout' the best?

Sparks

Well Sparks, I have decided to pull in my Vikings buddies (The Commish and Milwaukee Mark) and do a podcast of what we think are the best moments in Vikings history. Look for that next week. If you would like to send in what you think is the best Vikings moment, just send me an e-mail before noon on Sunday and I'll read it on the podcast.

Have you heard anything about how Moss was viewed in Oakland this past season....by the fans and the team?

Loren

Nice segue Loren, as I will be speaking to Raider Ron this weekend for yet another VU podcast. The number one thing I intend to speak to him about is Moss in silver and black. And we'll also see if Moss intends to have Daunte sniff around for a move.

So, have a wonderful weekend all! See you next week!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:49 AM
February 9, 2006
VU Videocast Twelve

Some of you were wondering when I would be updating the Viking Underground Videocast page again. Long story short, the UThink server was having some neurotic moments post its recent upgrade. Large video file uploads just weren't able to be uploaded. Thanks to Shane of the Greet Machine, the intellect behind the UThink project, that seems to have now been resolved and VU Videos are back in business.

So, with no further ado, I bring you VU Video Twelve.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:25 AM
February 8, 2006
Worst Vikings Moments?

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Within the last two weeks, I have been reminded of Drew Pearson and how he made a hole in my heart and has also led to my belief that the game officials can dictate a games outcome....not to mention some black helicopter theories as to who actually wins a Super Bowl. But I don't want you to think I'm weird or anything. No X-Files entries today.

No, today I simply want to talk pain. Here are my Top Ten darkest moments in Vikings history (updated from my 12/30/2004 entry):

#10) Jan. 10, 2002: Named the sixth head coach in Vikings history on January 10, 2002, Tice was overmatched from the start and only won one playoff game.

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#9) March 2, 2005: On this date, Randy Moss was traded to the Oakland Raiders. This one could actually keep moving up over the years depending on how the star receiver performs for the Raiders. Or, it could fall off the list completely.

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#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.

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# 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.

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#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.

sb-steelers.jpg

#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.

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#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.

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#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.

walker90-1.jpg

#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.

falconschamp.jpg

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.

hailmarypass.jpg

(Dis)Honorable Mentions

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.

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.

Aug. 1, 2001: On a sweltering hot day early in Vikings training camp last summer, All-Pro offensive tackle Korey Stringer collapsed of heatstroke after morning workout drills, and lost consciousness. He was taken to the hospital with a body temperature of 108.8 degrees, and died about 15 hours later.

October 30, 1988: In one of the most memorable runs ever by an NFL quarterback, Steve Young scrambles 49 yards to score a touchdown with 1:58 left to give the 49ers a come-from-behind, 24-21 victory over Minnesota. Young, who can't find an open receiver on third down, eludes tackle attempts by at least four Vikings before stumbling the final few yards and diving into the end zone.

Have your own that did not appear on the list? Use the Comments section to share with others! And vote for your Alka-Seltzer moment below.




Posted by maasx003 at 1:25 AM
February 7, 2006
Was the Fix In?

I’ve never heard as much bitching and moaning from NFL fans post Super Bowl. Everyone seems to have spent Monday around the water cooler belligerent about the officiating from Super Bowl XL. Everyone is of the opinion that the newly crowned Super Bowl champions did not as much merit their crown but bought it instead. And the blogosphere is all in a froth ober it, such as the boys over at Pro Football Talk who posted this photo:

SteelersZebra.jpg

Funny stuff.

Even former coaches have offered up the opinion that the best team went home from Detroit as losers. Such as this former, and much respected coach:

Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl, beating Seattle 21-10 on Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit. But Bud Grant, who took four Vikings teams to the big event, thought the NFC champion Seahawks were the better team, even though they lost.

"If they played a two-out-of-three or three-out-of-five series, I think Seattle would win," Grant said. "I don't think either is a great team."

I'm not going to enter the debate of which was the better team and if the fix was on for the Steelers. I thought the game was awful. I thought the commercials were even worse (save for "The Streaker"). So I really don't want to dwell on yet another b-o-r-i-n-g Super Bowl.

What should be addressed is the antiquity of having over-weight middle aged men try and call a decent game. There should never be a NFL playoff game in which the outcome has been dictated by the officials. And that is happening just far too often within recent memory.

Don't you think?

That component of the game, the game which we all love, needs to be addressed. The sooner the better. The boys over at Pro Football Talk also agree. And they have come up with some ideas that appear pretty far-fetched but should at least merit discussion.

We've previously argued that the NFL should install a computerized system into the end-zone pylons that would determine whether the ball touches the plane. If such a system were in place, one of the most hotly-debated calls from Super Bowl XL (i.e., whether Big Ben got the tip of the ball onto the front of the goal line) would have been a no-brainer. Per the computer system, the ball either went in, or it didn't. Sure, some people would still bitch about the outcome, but it would be another level of protection over and above the frailties of one man making a snap decision and the inherent imperfection of camera angles.

And.......

Here's the biggest innovation we're proposing. Video replay should become an integral tool for the determination of whether the officials got it right. And not just for the stuff that currently is reviewable -- for everything.

The key here is to come up with a quick and reliable way of permitting the replays to be checked. But the answer is easy. The NFL should install at each stadium a secure wireless network that would allow key shots to be immediately fed via a replay official working in the network trailer to a screen that is either strapped to the referee's wrist or palm.

And the referee should have the ability, upon review of the images between plays, to change anything.

For example, on that very questionable offensive pass interference call that wiped out a first-quarter touchdown reception by Seahawks receiver Darrell Jackson, Bill Leavy could have promptly looked at the replay on his Dick Tracy wristwatch and concluded that there were offsetting penalties on the play, since there was illegal contact with Jackson as he was entering the end zone.

It was that phantom pass intereference call against Jackson that I thought laughable. And gave me all the information I need to know now that the NFL is fixed and that the officials can, and will, throw games. For if Jackson was pushing off that what was it that this thug was doing on December 28th, 1975.

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The flag is thrown on Jackson but way back in 1975 the officials did not call Drew Pearson for shoving Vikings cornerback Nate Wright just before catching Roger Staubach's Hail Mary pass in a NFC playoff game?

Replays show Pearson and Wright running side-by-side, and then as Pearson "adjusts" to the underthrown ball, Wright somehow flies forward at an odd angle. After making the catch, Pearson looked back for a flag and started celebrating only when he realized he'd gotten away with the most obvious offensive pass interference in football history.

What do you think? Should the NFL overhaul the officiating? How 'bout the SB? Was the Steeler victory earned or did they simply have the love of the refs behind them?





Posted by maasx003 at 1:33 AM
February 3, 2006
Super Bowl Podcast

Hey! We tried for well over a week to get a Seahawks fans to come on for a VU podcast but we did not get as much as a returned e-mail or telephone call. The original intent was to have this podcast be a debate between a 'Hawks fan and our very own Mr. Steeler. In the end, I gave up and we have VU Podcast Forty-Three with Harvey "Mr. Steeler" Aronson going solo with me.

Mr. Steeler maintains his own Steelers site. A fellow HOF inductee, Mr. Steeler was Pittsburgh's winner of the 2001 Visa Hall of Fans Award, and inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2002.

hotlinephoto.jpg

Join us for an astute podcast as we discuss the Steelers Super Bowl chances and point of view.

VU Fantasy Racing Reminder

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

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

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

Group ID#: 18716
Password: purple

For All You Tice Supporters

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I have studied the stupidity of Mike Tice lo these many years, and I am ready to drop another example on you. Ol’ Pencil Ear, the newly named Jaguars assistant head coach, told Jacksonville radio station WOKV on Wednesday that he chatted with one of the Vikes16 free agents about leaving the team and coming to work for him. Tice declined to specify the player. The quote, from the boys over at KFFL was:

Jaguars | Tice expected to work with offensive line
Wed, 1 Feb 2006 19:53:24 -0800

Don Seeholzer, of the Pioneer Press, reports Jacksonville Jaguars assistant head coach Mike Tice is expected to spend a lot of time working with the team's offensive line and new offensive line coach Andy Heck. In an interview with Jacksonville radio station WOKV, Tice said he also talked with one of the Minnesota Vikings' 16 possible free agents about joining him in Jacksonville but declined to name the player.


The quandary is that, until free agency opens, these players remain the property of the Minnesota Vikings. Thus, Ol’ Pencil Ear has admitted to a tampering infringement.

Recall that Ol’ Pencil Ear admitted a year ago to the scalping of Super Bowl tickets, in barefaced breach of league rules. The Commissioner imposed a $100,000 fine against Tice for the crime.

Any day now, expect Zygi and Brad to file tampering charges against the man who was leading the team just a few months ago. I would like Zygi and Brad to call up Paul Tagliabue and basically say, "We'll take Jacksonville's first round draft choice and Mike Tice can just write a $100,000 check to the Minnesota Vikings Children's Fund and we'll call it even."

Any one still missing Tice? And just in case you are wondering who the sixteen free agents are:

Brian Williams - CB - UFA
Corey Chavous - S - UFA
Cory Withrow - C - UFA
Keith Newman - LB - UFA
Koren Robinson - WR - UFA
Lance Johnstone - DE - UFA
Melvin Fowler - C - UFA
Michael Bennett - RB - UFA
Moe Williams - RB - UFA
Nate Burleson - WR - RFA
Paul Edinger - PK - UFA
Ralph Brown - CB - UFA
Raonall Smith - LB - UFA
Sam Cowart - LB - UFA
Shaun Hill - QB - UFA
Toniu Fonoti - OG - UFA
Willie Offord - S - UFA

Who do you think Ol' Pencil was talking to? My guess is K-Rob. Yours?

Posted by maasx003 at 1:43 AM
February 2, 2006
The Picks
VU Playoff Picks: The Genuis Selections
Super Bowl Edition
COD
The Commish
Milwaukee Mark
Greet Machine
COD Jr.
Coworker Jim
SB Winner
Pittsburgh
Seattle
Seattle
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh
SB MVP
The Bus
Matt Hasselbeck
Shaun Alexander
Ben Roethlisberger
The Bus
Hines Ward
Playoff Record
3-3
3-3
2-4
4-2
3-3
3-3
SB Winner '07
Denver
Detroit
Cincy
Vikings
Vikings
New England
Posted by maasx003 at 1:48 AM
February 1, 2006
Zygi's Approval Rating

As many of the readers of the VU know, I ran a Tice Approval Poll all season long. Ol' Pencil Ear ended up hovering around the 46% approval mark by and large for the season. The poll seemed to be well received and a lot of merriment for everyone, so I decided to continue it, but change the targeted person to new owner Zygi Wilf.

Each month, you will have the chance to vote on Wilf's approval rating. The February poll is now up and you can vote just to the left. And the January rating is now in, and I must say even I am staggered given the somewhat chaotic month. The final number was an astounding 94% approval rating for the new owner.

Wow!

What do you think of that number? Warranted? Have a comment? Leave one at the end of this entry and don't forget to vote in the February poll!

New Poll

Last week, I alerted you to a quote from new head coach Brad Childress:

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

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

What do you really think about that? You have an opportunity to vote in a new poll off to the left and let everyone know how you feel about the RB situation.

Trip Down Memory Lane

I received a nice e-mail from Shane of Nashville, TN this week with the following message:

Brian,

I was going through some "old" pictures that I took and came across a series of these from the Packers game on 11/22/1998. It's a picture of you, as your "evil" twin Mr. COD, atop his Jeep Cherokee whipping us into game shape. I thought I would pass this on to you and you may do whatever you wish with it. I wasn't sure if you had any pictures of you in action during this time or not. Take care and stay warm.

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Man, that brought back some memories of the 1998 season and the fun we all had pre and post game in the ol' tailgate lot. I'm just glad I didn't fall off the top of a icy Jeep roof as we got late into the season!

Thanks for sending Shane!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:11 AM
January 31, 2006
VU Fantasy Racing

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

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

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

Group ID#: 18716
Password: purple

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

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

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

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

Time for your history lesson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Shameless Plug

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

tunstall.jpg

Another Shameless Plug

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

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

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

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

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

Quote Numero Uno:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote Numero Dos:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote Numero Tres:

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

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

My comment: DAMN!

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

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

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

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

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

vikings700.jpg
New design (click for larger)
vikings802_thumb.jpg
Old design (click for larger)

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

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

So, which design do you prefer?




The Trophy is Home

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

trophy 002.jpg

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

Here is to next year and another fantasy championship!


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


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

LightScribe

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

lightscribe.jpg

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

To St. Petersburg

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

speter007.jpg

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

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

speter004.jpg

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

speter003.jpg

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

speter005.jpg

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

speter002.jpg

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

speter006.jpg

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

speter009.jpg

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

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

QB’s

UFA’s

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

RFA’s

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

RB’s

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

RFA’s

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

FB’s

UFA’s

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

WR’s

UFA’s

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

RFA’s

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

TE’s

UFA's

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

RFA’s

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

C’s

UFA’s

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

OG’s

UFA’s

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

RFA’s

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

OT’s

UFA’s

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

RFA’s

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

DT’s

UFA’s

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

RFA’s

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

DE’s

UFA’s

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

RFA’s

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

MLB

UFA’s

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

OLB’s

UFA’s

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

RFA’s

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

CB’s

UFA’s

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

RFA’s

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

S’s

UFA’s

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

RFA’s

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

K’s

UFA’s

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

P’s

UFA’s

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

RFA’s

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

More on Russia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow, St. Petersburg.

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

Weekend Outing: Recommendations for the Locals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh Yeah, Football

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Others of Note

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Influence Kiper?

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

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

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

Philly-Vike

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

I responded with:

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

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

Bad Boys Bad Boys.....

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

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

nycshirt.jpg

Thanks again Jay!!!!

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

bidder.jpg

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

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

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

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

Not much. As Vikes Geek wrote this week:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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or black for "PQ the First has been traded.

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I'll sleep on it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone?

Hello?

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

VU Podcast Forty-Two

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




Meanwhile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return of the Poutin' QB

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

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

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

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

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

Worthy of Note

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

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Shameless Plug

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

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

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

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

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

barrel man.jpg

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

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Moose's Place Closes

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

Coming Monday

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

Posted by maasx003 at 3:58 AM
January 11, 2006
Wednesday Fun!

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

Math Game

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

Let's begin:

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

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

VU Videocast Eleven

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

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

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

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

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Photo rendition by Shane Nackerud.

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

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

VU Podcast Thirty-Nine

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

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

VU Videocast Ten

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

Other Stuff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

VU Polls

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

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

VU Podcast Thirty-Eight

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

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





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

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

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

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

Other Stuff

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

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

Late Coaching Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Late Afternoon Coaching Update

Official Statement from the Vikes

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

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

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

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

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

VU Videocast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B2F2L Bowl


Week 14 - Round 1
69 The Viking Underground
43 Peggy
55 Tripleplay
72 TEAM SWILLER
45 Derek
41 Eric
73 PrimeTime
44 Cuyahoga Riverdawgs
Week 15 - Round 2
88 The Viking Underground
75 TEAM SWILLER
42 Derek
68 PrimeTime
Week 16 - Finals
77 The Viking Underground  
 The Viking Underground
 The Viking Underground
44 PrimeTime  
Posted by maasx003 at 5:17 AM
January 3, 2006
Williams Off the Table

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to Zygi Wilf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former Head Coach Mike Tice

Listen to Mike Tice

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

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

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

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

Posted by maasx003 at 3:55 PM
Screw the Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whoo-hooo!

Dismissal Poll

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




Zygi Approval Rating

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


Posted by maasx003 at 10:41 AM