2008 Off-Season Archives

May 13, 2008
OTA Update

I am planning to attend the morning OTA session this coming Tuesday, May 20. If it all works out, I will post photos at some point thereafter. I have a triathlon to prepare for this weekend, the craziness of soccer practices has now begun, and end of school year activities is in full swing. So the VU will probably be quiet until next week.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 4:15 PM
May 12, 2008
Limited All-Anniversary Team Print

I was notified of a real beautiful print that still has some copies available. This print was commissioned and printed by the marketing department of the Minnesota Vikings in 2001. The players on this All-Anniversary team print were voted on by the Minnesota media, past and current coaches, and the front office.

The Vikings printed the image as a set of limited edition lithographs. Currently, there are two variations of the print still available:

1. 18" x 24" unframed Open Edition Prints (no numbering or artist signature)
2. 18" x 24" unframed Artist's Proof Prints (numbered out of 100 with artist's signature)


The product is printed on a very heavy textured paper, great for obtaining player signatures and/or framing. Anyone interested in purchasing a print can visit this website.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:19 PM
May 3, 2008
OTA's & Minicamp

I was expecting to see camps earlier in May but I just heard from the Vikes. Organized team activities (OTA's) will be May 20-22, 27-28 and mini camp will be June 6-8. Practice times have not yet been established.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 5:07 PM
April 23, 2008
Vikes Land Big Fish

JaredAllenVikingBig.jpg

The Vikes landed Jared Allen, the player I targeted as the #1 priority before the season even ended. Since I literally have no time to write any lengthy, let me do a cut-and-paste from my friends over at PFT:

"The report that the Minnesota Vikings surrendered a first-round pick and two third-round picks to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for defensive end Jared Allen elicited the response of “holy crap.?

But it turns out that the Vikings actually gave the Chiefs a little bit more than that.

A league source tells PFT that the trade also involved a swap of sixth-round picks in the Chiefs’ favor. The Chiefs get the Vikings’ sixth-round pick, No. 182 overall, in exchange for a sixth-round pick that the Chiefs had previously acquired from the Buccaneers, No. 187 overall.

Granted, a swap of five places in the sixth round isn’t a particularly big deal, but it’s yet another demonstration of how badly the Vikings wanted Allen, and how much the Chiefs were able to extract from the Vikings for him. Between those draft picks they traded and the enormous contract they gave him, Allen will be a disappointment in Minnesota if he’s anything less than the best defensive lineman in the NFL."

Personally, I have no issue with the draft picks given. It's a steal compared to the Herschel Walker deal. And it gives the Vikes a bonafide DE instead of going through the crap-shoot of a draft selection. A position (DE) the Vikes do not have great history with I may add.

I have a slight issue with making Allen the highest paid defensive player EVER. But only time will decide that for us. Good for Allen, good for Zygi, good for Chilly. I'm thrilled for all. As I'm sure the Williams Wrecking Crew is.

VIKESALLENS.jpg

So, let's briefly talk about the defensive line. The starters would be Allen at RDE, K-Will and P-Will in the middle, which begs my question to you: Who gets the nod at LDE? The team site currently has the depth chart for LDE as:

Kenechi Udeze #95
Jayme Mitchell #92

At what becomes of the boys currently slated at RDE?

Brian Robison #96
Ray Edwards #91
Erasmus James #99

So, we will have 5 (really 4 as Udeze continues his courageous health battle) coming into camp. Which do you see being the leading candidate for the LDE position? I like Robison, but I'm not sure he's ever lined up on the left and I don't think he is a every-down player. Mitchell showed improvement last year, but not enough to warrant a starting job. James is coming off knee work. Edwards ended the season suspended four games for violating the NFL's policy on steroid use.

For me, there is onloy one answer. Zygi needs to get back on the team jet, fly to Miami and pick-up Jason Taylor. Forty-eight hours later we'll have our question at LDE answered.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 12:48 PM
April 22, 2008
Draft Countdown

It is now Day 6 of the Jared Allen watch. You know, the DE from Kansas City who had issues with being responsible....which is par for the course for people that age.

After much discussion with my internal Think Tank of all things Purple, I've come to the conclusion the Vikes should either A) give up this year's 1st Rd pick and their top 3rd Rd pick, or B) give up this year's 1st Rd pick and a current player TBD such as Bryant McKinnie or Ray Edwards. I think giving up this year's 1st and 2nd Rd picks would be a might high. Certainly, KC can go spit into the wind if they are waiting for this AND next year's 1st Rd picks.

Should the deal fall through, then I would hope my choice of Derrick Harvey, would fall into the Vikings laps. Not ideal, but those draft picks are valuable and I don't want to mortgage the farm for a proven DE in Allen. Not to say the thought of Allen playing alongside P-Will and K-Will doesn't excite me in the way Pamela Anderson excites those young boys just hitting puberty.

The VU will be suprisingly silent the remainder of this week despite this being draft week. My first duathlon of the season is this Sunday and I will be out-of-town. As for what I expect, I do think the Allen deal will get done and the excitement of the 1st Rd selection will be a non-factor for Vikes fans.

I still hope to attend a upcoming Vikings mini-camp session. Right now, it appears that camp will occur two-weeks after the draft. As long as my schedule is free, two weeks from now I should have photos of the newest Vikings for you.

Have a great remainder of the week!

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 9:37 AM
April 19, 2008
More Season Ticket Holder Perks

Just got the following in the mail today (4/19) from the Vikes. Guess which player the team is making as its selling point?


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 5:55 PM
April 18, 2008
'Heavens to Betsy' but Our Prayers Are Being Answered!

Some video from the STrib boys.

This is a great move by the Vikings. Consider that they have upgraded at DE...TE...and WR all at the same time. Need proof. Check out this TD catch by....you guessed it...Allen.

We might have to work on his music choices, though.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 3:25 PM
Jared: Vikes Finally Listen To Me

On Decemeber 22, 2007 I wrote:

Jared Allen, DE (Kansas City Chiefs) This is the FA that some people are already saying is the coveted name at the top of the Vikings FA wish list. There is a good chance that he’ll try the market out come next offseason. He’s just 25 years of age, and has shown that he is among the league’s best at his position. He’ll be a high priority for several teams once the signing period opens.

On January 2, 2008 I wrote:

I've got my moles out working again and I have heard a couple of things: One, the Vikes are going shopping at DE and have their eye on Jared Allen. Now, my moles state further that rumor started at KFAN radio so I'm not sure how much street-cred it has but then those boys have better connections at Winter Park than I do.

On February 27, 2008 I wrote:

I really wanted the Vikes to be able to pursue Jared Allen. But then along came the nasty viral tag and it could be closed...or is it?

Allen was given the Franchise Tag by the Kansas City Chiefs. But more importantly, the Chiefs used the "non-exclusive tag", meaning that Allen could still be in play. Dumb, methinks, on the part of the Chiefs. Clearly they are not serious about keeping Allen. Why is the non-exclusive part of the equation so important?

Had the Chiefs used the "exclusive" tag, it would have paid Allen more money (for one season) but makes it impossible for other teams to even try and get him. With the "non-exclusive", other teams can sign him, in return for two first round picks. Tempting, but perhaps too much of a gamble. Still worth a consideration.

Thursday, Allen finally paid his overdue visit. Per the STrib:

Turns out the Vikings’ attention has been on more than the upcoming NFL draft of late. The team also has been in talks with Kansas City about a trade that could fill a glaring need by putting Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen in a Minnesota uniform.

The off-season is about to take another huge step forward. Stand by.

The Whole L.A. Thing

Billionaire developer Edward P. Roski Jr. has made a commitment to build the kind of stadium an NFL team needs to thrive in Los Angeles. Now, he’s hoping one will commit to play there.

Roski, a part owner of the Kings and Lakers who has spent years trying to lure the NFL back to this area, unveiled plans Thursday for a 75,000-seat facility in the City of Industry he said could be finished in time for the 2011 season.

“I intend to develop our stadium project that meets all of the NFL requirements, and more,? Roski said at a Staples Center news conference, where stadium models and artist renditions were displayed. “Always the most important thing has been the certainty of doing this. A team is not going to commit to coming to Los Angeles without a stadium. We’ve taken this one point of uncertainty and made it a certainty. The stadium is a certainty and it will be built.?

And, Roski added, without public money.

“Absolutely no taxpayer dollars,? he said. “There’s no taxpayer dollars to get.?

I have one question: Why are all the seats purple? Future planning?

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 7:37 AM
April 15, 2008
12 - 4

The Vikes will go 12 - 4 this season. That's my personal assessment based on my review on the schedule released earlier today (4/15).

Preseason

Week 1 – vs. Seattle – August 8 – Metrodome – KSTP – 7 p.m.

Week 2 – at Baltimore – August 16 – M&T Bank Stadium – KSTP – 6:30 p.m.

Week 3 – vs. Pittsburgh – August 23 – Metrodome – CBS – 7 p.m.

Week 4 – at Dallas – August 28 – Texas Stadium – KSTP – 7 p.m.

Regular Season

Week 1 – at Green Bay (Monday) – September 8 – Lambeau Field – ESPN – 6 p.m.

Week 2 – vs. Indianapolis – September 14 – Metrodome – CBS – 12 p.m.

Week 3 – vs. Carolina – September 21 – Metrodome – FOX – 12 p.m.

Week 4 – at Tennessee – September 28 – LP Field – FOX – 12 p.m.

Week 5 – at New Orleans (Monday) – October 6 – Superdome – ESPN – 7:30 p.m.

Week 6 – vs. Detroit – October 12 – Metrodome – FOX – 12 p.m.

Week 7 – at Chicago – October 19 – Soldier Field – FOX – 12 p.m.

Week 8 – BYE

Week 9 – vs. Houston – November 2 – Metrodome – CBS – 12 p.m.

Week 10 – vs. Green Bay – November 9 – Metrodome – FOX – 12 p.m.

Week 11 – at Tampa Bay – November 16 – Raymond James Stadium – FOX – 12 p.m.

Week 12 – at Jacksonville – November 23 – Jacksonville Municipal Stadium – FOX – 12 p.m.

Week 13 – vs. Chicago – November 30 – Metrodome – NBC – 7:30 p.m.

Week 14 – at Detroit – December 7 – Ford Field – FOX – 12 p.m.

Week 15 – at Arizona – December 14 – University of Phoenix Stadium – FOX – 12 p.m.

Week 16 – vs. Atlanta – December 21 – Metrodome – FOX – 12 p.m.

Week 17 – vs. New York Giants – December 28 – Metrodome – FOX – 12 p.m.

Some of my buddies have already weighed in as well predicting anywhere from 7-9 to 11-5. So, why the rosy glow on my part. Oh, it's just intuition. Nothing more than that. I can tell you this: The season could be viewed as a lost if the Vikes don't at least win the North Division.

Now, that is saying something considering the Vikes have the fifth toughest schedule this coming season.

1 Pittsburgh Steelers 0.598
2 Indianapolis Colts 0.594
3 Jacksonville Jaguars 0.559
4 Baltimore Ravens 0.551
5 Minnesota Vikings 0.551
6 Cincinnati Bengals 0.547
7 Cleveland Browns 0.547
8 Houston Texans 0.547
9 Detroit Lions 0.543
10 Tennessee Titans 0.543
11 Chicago Bears 0.532
12 Green Bay Packers 0.532

13 Dallas Cowboys 0.524
14 Washington Redskins 0.524
15 New York Giants 0.520
16 Philadelphia Eagles 0.520
17 St Louis Rams 0.489
18 San Francisco 49ers 0.485
19 Seattle Seahawks 0.477
20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0.469
21 Arizona Cardinals 0.465
22 Carolina Panthers 0.465
23 Miami Dolphins 0.465
24 Atlanta Falcons 0.461
25 New York Jets 0.457
26 Kansas City Chiefs 0.453
27 New Orleans Saints 0.450
28 Buffalo Bills 0.449
29 Denver Broncos 0.446
30 Oakland Raiders 0.438
31 San Diego Chargers 0.422
32 New England Patriots 0.387

I look for the first four games to really hold the key for success during the season. The team certainly will not go 4-0 but there is a chance they could start 0-4, which would then lead to my 12-4 prediction of being completely and utterly without merit. I look for a 2-2 start with loses to Indy and Carolina.

The next four games could then catapult the Vikes into a firm North Division lead where I see them running the table. The crucial test here will be the MNF game against the Saints. Still, 4-0 is not unthinkable.

The remainder of November then finds the Vikes also going 3-1. The back-to-back Florida games could wear on the players.

So the Vikes are 9-3 heading into the last four games of the season. The Super Bowl champs come to the Dome in week 17 and I see the Vikes going 3-1 in this stretch as well. 12-4. Piece of cake, right?

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 5:43 PM
April 14, 2008
Chilly Does Good

A very nice story in the STrib Sunday. In case you missed it, you should know that we have a head-coach that is just as proud of his player's off-the-field accomomplishments as the ones performed on. In this case, the player is Anthony Herrera. My favorite part of the story:

"He [Herrera] popped his head in the doorway and asked, 'Coach, can we do this now? I have to be somewhere at 12:30,' " Childress said. "I said, 'Oh yeah, where?' He said, 'I have to be in St. Paul for a ceremony. I'm becoming a U.S. citizen today.' "

Childress congratulated Herrera and asked who was accompanying him to the big event. Herrera said, "No one but me." His wife and young daughter were in Mississippi. His mother was in Florida. And Herrera hadn't even thought to bother his teammates by asking them to join him.

"I said, 'Anthony, you can't get sworn in as a U.S. citizen and not have anyone with you,' " Childress said. "I said, 'Shoot, give me a minute. I'm going with you.' "

At least for one day, I'm warm and fuzzy all over.


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:11 AM
April 10, 2008
Just Plain Sick

I turned on local talk radio station 100.3 (KLTK) this morning to learn what I could about the next snow storm to hit the state. Yes, snow storm. In April. Over a foot expected. I'm so thrilled.

But the first thing I heard was host Chris Baker asking, "Should the cops have shot Carl Eller?" I was floored. Shoot Eller? Are you serious? Baker referenced a poll on his site along with a question "since the Vikings desperately need help at defensive end, should the Vikings consider signing Carl Eller to a contract?"

I went to the site and sure enough, there were the questions.

Are you kidding me? How could anyone talk about shooting Carl Eller? Baker stated he was not saying he wished the cops had shot Eller, but rather that it was an option and he felt the cops should have considered it. The sad fact is, most of the listeners think Eller should have been shot.

All I can say is, the world is turning sick. And I am so thankful the the policemen showed the restraint they did and were able to avoid using a bullet on Eller.

Thoughts?

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 9:53 AM
April 9, 2008
Moose Call

Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Carl Eller was arrested and jailed on multiple charges. He was charged with DUI, resisting arrest, and assaulting a police officer. It would also appear that Moose was, well, being a moose.

According to the Star Tribune, officers attempting to arrest Eller on Wednesday morning attempted to use a Taser gun on him. And Moose kept on coming.

Eller reportedly hit the officers in the face “several times? and threatened to kill them. Eller threw one of them onto the hood of his SUV, and the officers “feared for their lives.?

“They were in the fight of their lives,? police inspector Mike Martin said at a press conference. “They were in distress . . . you could hear them screaming on the tape, ‘We need another car here. We need help here.’?

Eller was subdued only after three more officers arrived, and one put him in a neck hold. Sgt. Jessie Garcia demonstrated a restraint hold on Inspector Mike Martin during a news conference where they talked about the arrest of Eller.

Eller0410-eller0410.jpg

Man, I hope this doesn't somehow show up on YouTube. I mean, who can forget Eller's appearance in The Black Six? Note: See the 1:00 mark.

The last time I wrote extensively about Moose was January of 2006. Carl Eller's had opened a new fine dining eatry called the Purple People Eatery in Woodbury which got mixed reviews by the Star Tribune.

carlplace.jpg

At that time, I hadn't been there yet, but intended to get over. Only the restaurant abruptly closed soon after. Which was soon followed by a big ol' lawsuit. I found the following to be an interesting nugget from that story:

"Vikings players have a long history of association with allegedly dubious financial practices (see "Purple Stain," City Pages, 4/5/2000). Fran Tarkenton, the storied Minnesota quarterback, once started a fast-food breakfast chain called Scramblers that went belly-up. More significantly, as the top executive of a software company called Shareware, he was party to an enterprise accused of perpetrating a "financial fraud scheme" in chasing after investors. (The matter was settled in 1999 with an agreement under which Tarkenton made no formal admission of wrongdoing but agreed to cough up a $100,000 fine and $54,000 in bonuses.) Chuck Foreman, the team's five-time Pro Bowl running back, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in 2000 for his purported connection to a series of bogus real-estate transactions."

Hey now! The Vikes greats also have had success as well. Benchwarmer Bob's and Joe Sensers places both do great.

Back to Eller. He's been in trouble before and may very well be again. On February 27, 2006, he was arrested for DUI. Eller has acknowledged his history as a substance abuser. But he has also become a treatment counselor and has spoken publicly to groups about the problems of chemical dependency. He just needs to realize DUI is serious. People get hurt. People get killed. I find nothing funny about this and I hope Eller can rebound and again become a person the Vikings can place front-and-center at fan related events.

I wish Moose the best.


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 8:19 PM
April 7, 2008
Gus

The Vikes are close to signing Mr. Gus Frerotte to be a backup(?) QB once again for the Purple. I guess that should ensure the lowest season ticket renewal rate of all-time.

For those who were watching Transformers on Saturday mornings during the late 90's and had no idea that football even existed, I bring you a history lesson. The time when Gus Frerotte head-butted a concrete wall in celebration, with the wall winning. At one time in his career, Gus Frerotte was an up-and-coming quarterback in the National Football League. Well, he was a starting QB anyway, starting 30 games for the Redskins from 1995 through late 1997. In a game against the N.Y. Giants, he celebrated a touchdown by slamming his head into a concrete wall. At least he was smart enough to leave his helmet on. Still, he was left woozy and headed to the hospital after suffering spasms at halftime. And, really, his career went downhill from the head-butt; he's started for seven different teams since.

060929_gus.jpg

One of those teams was the Vikings. In 2003 and 2004, Frerotte backed up Daunte Culpepper for the Minnesota Vikings. He was actually a stabilizing force for 'Pepper who leaned on Frerotte for mentorship. One could argue that when Frerotte left for Miami in 2005, Culpepper's career began to spiral downward.

What the aquisition does ensure is that the Vikes will take a QB in the 2008 draft. I do not believe the team would use a early draft pick to select Matt Ryan (Boston College Eagles). But if you'll recall, I did 'interview' Mr. Joe Flacco (Delaware) and I certainly think he could be drafted by the team.

For Those Keeping Score At Home

offseasonnew.jpg

No one can say the Vikes have been quiet this off-season and have certainly strengthened several key positions. But what about the draft? Can they take it a step further and repeat the successful draft of 2007? It will certainly come down to the first pick. And other than Peterson, history has not been kind to the Vikes lately.

draft23008.jpg

I still see the Vikes using the pick on a pass rushing DE. And my pick remains Mr. Derrick Harvey.


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:39 AM
March 27, 2008
Spring Break!

The Viking Underground will be on a little hiatus during my son's spring break from school. I expect to have new blog entries up sometime the week of April 6.

Now then, if we can just get it to stop snowing here!

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:34 AM
March 26, 2008
Matty B

So, Matt Birk is not going to participate on the voluntary off-season programs with the team? Am I concerned? No. Especially since he'll be working out with the Superstar Mike Morris. This is just another NFL management type "issue" that you and I could never get away with at our jobs in the real world.

There are some important issues to discuss, though.

Do I think Birk is at risk of jumping teams come 2009? I don't think so. I truly believe he would like to finish out his career here. He's a hometown lad afterall. Birk attended Cretin-Derham Hall High School in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and was an excellent student-athlete and a letterman and a standout in football, basketball, and track & field. He was an All-St. Paul Conference honoree, an Academic All-State honoree, and an All-State honoree in both, football and basketball. Matt Birk graduated from Cretin-Derham High School in 1994.

Just as important, Birk co-owns two restaurants, Matty B's Supper Club in St Paul, and Matty B's Urban Bar & Restaurant in Minneapolis.

So, Birk has roots in this area and he has financial ties. Are there concerns? Oh, yes. First up, do we want to proudly state that Birk is our chosen center when the man dresses up like this?

matt_lep.jpg

Please do't let that photo get out!

Secondly, Birk's estate (no such thing as a 12,000+ SQ FT home...that's an estate!) is up for sale. It is yours for a cool $3,995,000. Summer home, anyone?

So, Birk is not going to play nicey-nice with the Vikes management this off-season. His house is for sale. Maybe we should be worried afterall? Nah, the man probably is tired of the chosen decor and wants to move to a "man house" and not some sort of foo-foo-frilly-my-wife-dominates-me abode. I love Birk, and I have no business to knock the man....but really. This bedroom?

This entry?

A ballet room?

There are hints of manliness...

...but if you look closely there are kids toys all over the BB court, and a cartoon is on the Big Screen. I dunno. Maybe we have to let him go. Thoughts?

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
March 25, 2008
Addition by Subtraction

Earlier in March, I made a case on YouTube for the Vikes to offer whatever draft day picks they can muster and wave them in front of Miami Dolphin's Czar Bill Parcells in order to obtain discouraged DE Jason Taylor. It i starting to look like the Vikes might be looking to obtain even more draft day picks (or players) in dumping Bryant McKinnie from the team after his last brush with the law.

Let's face it, McKinnie has never quite reached his full potential with the team. McKinnie was once looked at as a Pro Bowl caliber offensive tackle. Could the Vikes be in a addition by subtraction situation? Let's review.

In 2001, McKinnie was the winner of the Outland Trophy, finished 8th overall in voting for the 2001 Heisman Trophy, was the CNN Sports Illustrated "Player of the Year" and a key part of the Hurricanes' 2001 National Championship. Also at UM, he was a roommate with current NFL tight end Jeremy Shockey. Maybe that's where the bad boy stuff started? Curse you Jeremy Shockey!

McKinnie was the seventh overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, and he replaced Todd "Offsides" Steussie at left tackle. McKinnie has been the starting left tackle for the Vikings ever since. At 6'8" and 335 lbs with size 18 EEE feet, McKinnie is the largest offensive lineman on the Vikings roster.

In October 2005, McKinnie was charged with a misdemeanor for his involvement in the 2005 Minnesota Vikings boat cruise scandal. McKinnie had been accused of performing oral sex on a dancer and receiving oral sex, along with three other men, from a dancer in a public area of the boat.

On May 26, 2006, McKinnie pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and being a public nuisance on a watercraft in connection with the Love Boat scandal. He agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and perform 48 hours of community service. McKinnie was not suspended.

On September 9, 2006, the NFL announced it would fine McKinnie and fellow Viking Fred Smoot one game check for the incident. For McKinnie, the fine amounted to approximately $41,000 and brought the matter to complete resolution. A day after the fine was levied, McKinnie was given a raise and a seven year extension of his contract worth $48 million. Ouch!

Then there was the Channel 5 blow-up. Channel 5 is the Twin Cities ABC affiliate KSTP that touted a discovery from “a tip? that was called into the station claiming that McKinnie and Mewelde Moore dumped trash bags at a construction dumpsite. The eight bags that the station reports were discovered during a dumpster dive produced what was touted as “explosive new evidence? that was voluntarily turned over the Hennepin County investigators after being sifted through by Channel 5 personnel – and claim to provide a link between Vikings players and the infamous boat trip on Lake Minnetonka.

Among the discoveries were fireworks, disposal cameras, pizza boxes (if, from the boat, were clearly delivered ahead of time), empty beer cans, a single champagne bottle, as well as more salacious items like an empty box of KY Jelly, empty boxes of the feminine hygiene products and a discarded pair of Victoria’s Secret underwear.

The story focused on different items found – namely a piece of paper with female names and flight arrival times and a twig that, for all appearances, looked like a large stem of a marijuana plant. The station identified the stick as a “marijuana bud,? but it also displayed a hollowed-out Swisher Sweet cigar – often used as a “blunt? to conceal marijuana inside a cigar wrapper. From what was seen on TV, the “marijuana bud? in question wasn’t visible, but discarded cigar tobacco and cigar leaves were shown.

McKinnie has always been very vocal to the point of disruption. In February 2006, the Vikings were considering trading quarterback Daunte Culpepper and McKinnie told the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "We already made one mistake (trading former Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss). Don't do it twice (by trading Culpepper). If that's the case, let me go." Culpepper was traded shortly afterwards to the Miami Dolphins but McKinnie re-signed with the Vikings regardless.

Most recently, McKinnie was arrested in Miami in the early morning of February 24, 2008, on aggravated battery charges, in connection with a nightclub fight. He was also charged on disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence. Authorities were called to Club Space after a fight broke out. McKinnie had been thrown out by a nightclub security guard and was arguing and spit on Eric Otero, according to a police report.

mckinniebryantpb4.jpg

Otero, 32, said he wouldn't press charges if McKinnie left. Authorities said that he then went to a nearby strip club, but later returned to Club Space and fought with Otero again. Miami Police found McKinnie in the middle of a large crowd, throwing punches and again yelling obscenities," according to the police report.

Police told McKinnie to stop. He refused and boarded a bus. The bus driver was ordered not to drive away. But despite beating up bouncers with metal poles, Bryant McKinnie is actually a good guy - if you were to believe Luther Campbell.

The 2 Live Crew virtuoso & sometime radio show host appeared on Dan Le Batard’s WAXY-AM show on Tuesday. The Miami Hurricanes fan showed his support for the vicious Vikings partygoer, saying Bryant wasn’t to blame for blowing up.

Campbell claims McKinnie went after the bouncer after the guy slapped a phone out of the Vikings lineman’s hand:

"You have to be out of your mind to slap a phone out of a 6-8, 350-pound man. That’s like me going up to Kimbo (Slice) and slapping the phone out of Kimbo hand. You know you’re gonna catch a beatdown.?

Luther lauds Bryant for actually being an otherwise “responsible guy“. He points out that when McKinnie’s in Miami, he always rents a shuttle bus when he & his pals it the town: “He dont’ even drive, cause he don’t wanna get caught with a DUI.?

Campbell also points out McKinnie’s generous nature when socializing at the local watering holes: “He spends at least $20,000 a night, and I’m not exaggerating.?

Usually a part of Bryant party plans, Luther says he wasn’t there the night McKinnie got physical with security - but wishes he was:

“I’m sad I wasn’t there, ’cause I’d have stopped it. It’s not worth it, and that’s the first thing I would have told him. ‘Look, it’s not worth it. This dude it not worth it.’?

So, all of this could have been avoided if McKinnie had just invited along Luther Campbell, voice of reason, to his night out. Pity.

Link to the full interview is here.

At any rate, Brad Childress did not mince words when discussing McKinnie's future with the team after the Miami incident. Childress said he faces a potentially "difficult" decision on the future of McKinnie.

Let's say the Vikes do dump McKinnie. Per the STrib:

"Essentially, either move (release or trade) would subtract roughly $1.5 million from their pool of available cap money, assuming the Vikings absorbed the hit in 2008. Written a different way, McKinnie counts $7.424 million against the 2008 salary cap if he is on the roster in 2008 and about $8.9 million if he is not. In the latter scenario, he would be off the books entirely in 2009. In today’s world of cap largesse, the release or trade of a high-paid veteran is not nearly as damaging as it once was. Even if they shipped out McKinnie today, the Vikings would still have about $15 million left in cap space to sign their draft choices and do a few contract extensions."

Later on, Childress reiterated that “Bryant is entitled to his due process? but added: “I’d just say that we’ve been consistent. The Wilfs have been consistent with the way we want the Vikings to be represented. I know what Zygi’s values are, and I know what my values are and I know what our collective Viking values are. … It’s difficult.?

So, back to McKinnie: What to do?

Option 1: Release him outright. Not the best choice. Granted, McKinnie may be suspended anyway so why not create some roster room. But I'd rather we get something, anything.

Option 2: Trade McKinnie. Put McKinnie and package a draft pick or two and place him under Parcells' nose. McKinnie returns to his Miami base and the 'Fins gain a starting OT. The Vikes get Taylor in return. Addition by subtraction.

It could certainly be that the Vikes might use a first round pick on a blue chip OT. With that in mind, I like OT Chris Williams out of Vanderbilt. He is imposing at 6'6" and 315 lbs. The only downfall is Williams has played the left side of the line during his college career and he would have to be trained to play the right. And he is heading into his senior season so I'm not sure he will declare.

Another possibility would be Sam Baker out of Southern Cal. Baker lists at 6'5" and 312 lbs. Baker also plays the left side of the line but may be more polished that Williams at this point.

Thoughts? Leave a comment below.

Additional Stadium News

This past Sunday I wrote to the slim chances that the Vikes push for a new stadium would get any attention from the Minnesota legislature this year. In fact, Monday my "close, personal friend" Sid Hartman voiced his agreement.

"Gov. Tim Pawlenty realizes the importance of the Vikings getting a new stadium, but he claims there isn't any way this came happen -- now or later -- unless the Vikings get a partner, such as Hennepin County, to get the project built. There is no chance of a vote at this legislative session, although there might be some conversation about what can be done in the future."

There was a curious statement in Sid's column as well that left me scratching my head.

"Target Center and Xcel Energy Center each are looking for $60 million to repair the arenas, but from the tone of members of the Legislature, there isn't any interest in meeting those demands."

Now, the Target Center I can understand as it is becoming an old arena. But why does the Xcel Energy Center need $60 Large to address repairs? Anyone have a clue? Please leave a comment and enlighten us. I was just there to watch my first professional lacrosse game (Go Swarm!) and will be back this coming Saturday to watch the Blue Man Group and have seen no need for repair. So, I'm confused.

Game Lounge

I'd like to hear from fellow DIRECTV subscribers who use Game Lounge. This is a channel on DIRECTV that turns your TV into a world of interactive fun. It was free this past weekend and we "lost the weekend" by playing classic board games. Loads of fun, just not sure it is worth $6 a month extra.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
March 21, 2008
Clearing the In-Box

Today's blog entry will be a rambling dissertation with no particular purpose than a stream of consciousness. I sometimes refer to these as a 'mind vomit'.

First up, some Vikes football. There are more and more mock drafts taking place these days. Everyone has an opinion and its quite literally a turkey shoot. I no longer participate in mock drafts as it is purely conjecture which can be upset as soon as teams start trading picks on draft day. I think one has a better shot at selecting which position the team will choose.

(If you want a good mock draft analysis, go to the Daily Norseman....great work there!)

Keeping in mind the free agents the Vikes have picked up already this off-season, and also hoping that they pick the best possible player irregardless of need, I see the Vikes possibly using their #17 overall selection on the following positions (ranked in order):

- DE
- WR
- OL
- QB

As you have seen, I have been providing some tongue-in-cheek video interviews on YouTube with some of the possible players the Vikes could draft. I'll see if I can put some more together. If nothing else, the videos introduce you to the player and provide some first impressions. Watch Joe Flacco handle himself with poise, the humor within Limas Sweed, the anxiousness of Derrick Harvey.

So, even though the Vikes track record at drafting a DE in the first round hasn't been good since they drafted Carl "Moose" Eller in the '64 draft, I still see them rolling the dice again at DE and hoping that the law of averages finally weighs in their favor. How bad has it been lately at selecting a DE? Consider:

Talance Sawyer (1999)
Dimitrius Underwood (1999)
Michael Boireau (2000)
Willie Howard (2001)
Kenechi Udeze (2004)
Darrion Scott (2004)
Erasmus James (2005)
Ray Edwards (2006)
Brian Robinson (2007)

Uff-da! That's some bad lutefisk.

I hope to create a VU video with Chris Long, even knowing the Vikes have no chance, as one immediately compares the young man to his famous father Howie. And Chris, well, he ain't no Howier when it comes to coming across as intelligent. Sorry, I know that is mean....but its the first thought I had.

Moving along, I apologize for the number of posts this week. It's the annual rush to get your kid signed up for all the summer camps to fill out the days. My wife and I both work so the young lad needs to be addressed. We feel guilty that he may never know the true joy of 3 months of no school and no place to go....but it's also reality that both his parents need to work. But I also didn't get a chance to spend a week learning or playing lacrosse. Nor was I able to spend a week in flag football camp. I think its a fair trade.

It is also time for me to step up the ol' training for any duathlons/triathlons I plan to do this summer. Especially since I didn't swim all winter. Now I have to make time to swim as well as bike (hopefully outside soon) and run. I'm not sure why, at age 47 (on April 26) I push myself this way. I think I go back to the days when I was 20-something and could effortlessly do it all, and in some weird way I hope tro stave off aging and return to the glory days.

I was just remembering this week about the time I raced against Lance Armstrong. I don't bother to tell anyone that he whooped my rear-end by 35-minutes in a triathlon.

On May 13, 1989 at Speegleville III Park outside Waco, Texas there was a certain buzz in the air as the athletes were all saying, "watch this kid, he's really something." This tri was a 0.6mi swim, 28mi bike, and 6.5mi run. Lance (then just 17-years old) finished in 1:54:05. His closest competitor finished over 6-minutes back. All I remember is Lance was finishing up the run as I was coming in off the bike. Here's a image of the race summary. Unfortunately, splits were not available.

That's some of the stuff that makes me feel old. As does watching the Oscars and fondly remembering an actor who appears in the Oscar tribute to people who passed away the previous year. People you thought would just go on living forever.

Or you watch legends age before your eyes in what seems to be a very short time span.

BeatlesStory651.jpg

paul old.jpg

Wow, did that last 40-years just fly by or what?!?!? OK, enough on aging. But be forewarned: We baby boomers aren't going to go gently into the good night. I promise not to wear black socks with my Bermuda shorts in promise to not throw up when I take off my shirt to get into the pool. Now, get off my lawn you punks!

The Wife and I watched 3:10 to Yuma the other night. Nothing like a great Western, is there? Even if Russell Crowe is a pain-in-the-toushie, he is fun to watch on screen. He plays the ultimate baddie, Ben Wade, in this film...and you don't reference a baddie's mama....ever.

Ben Wade: I've always liked you Byron, but you never know when to shut up. Even bad men love their mommas.

But stealing the film in Yuma was Ben Foster who played Charlie Prince, Wade's right-hand and truly rotten human being.

3635.jpg

Charlie Prince: Morning, Pinkerton. Name's Charlie Prince. I expect you heard of me.
[steps on Byron's hand]
Byron McElroy: Well, I heard of a balled-up whore named Charlie Princess. That you, missy?
[Charlie shoots Byron in the stomach]
Charlie Prince: I hate Pinkertons.

Not sure how Foster was bypassed for a Oscar nominee in the Actor Supporting Role category, but he was. But is was a very well done film. Not quite Tombstone (John Randle's fav film) but then what film can compare to classic lines like these (which Randle would scream at the QB):

Doc Holliday: I'm your huckleberry...

Wyatt Earp: Are you gonna do something, or just stand there and bleed?

New Music

Whilst listening to BBC Wales over the weekend, I was lucky enough to catch some songs from a Welsh group called Catatonia. Pretty damn good stuff. Anyone else aware of their music or am I just that much in the dark these days. Here's a clip:

Coming Saturday: It is back to 1998 and the press conference with Red McCombs on the next VU podcast.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
March 19, 2008
Mr. Derrick Harvey

The VU sits down with potential 1st round selection (Vikes have #17), DE Derrick Harvey.

For iTunes Podcast subscribers....no need to click if you are already subscribing.

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Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
March 17, 2008
No Sophomore Jinx for Adrian?

Sophomore jinx: Refers to an instance in which a second year NFL player fails to live up to the standards of the first season.

So, what is Adrian Peterson up to these days as his second season approaches? Is he lying on the couch with a bag of chips in one hand and a container of onion dip in the other?

Or maybe he is off to parts unknown, just hanging out in sunny climates and chugging down pitchers of margarita's while Jimmy Buffett music plays in the background?

Is he going to show up at mini-camp and then training camp, overweight and hopelessly out of shape? Will he be able to squeeze into his pants from last season or require the team's tailor to "let out the waist a few inches?"

Um, no.

On Sunday, I put together a very amateur video showcasing some of Adrian's rookie season and the fact that he has been drag-racing.....literally...this off-season. Heck, the man is so fast now that he actually deploys a parachute. Take a look:

Gosh, it's only...what?.....five months before the season starts. I'm not sure I can wait.

Coming later this week: I sit down with potential DE draft pick, Derrick Harvey in the VU's continuing series of pre-draft video looks. And coming Saturday it is back to 1998 and the press conference with Red McCombs on the next VU podcast.

For iTunes Podcast subscribers....no need to click if you are already subscribing.

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Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
March 16, 2008
Mr. Limas Sweed

The VU sits down with potential 1st round selection (Vikes have #17), WR Limas Sweed.

For iTunes Podcast subscribers....no need to click if you are already subscribing.

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Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:06 AM
March 14, 2008
Pssst, Hey Coach Childress!

OK, today is a blog dedicated to the man who helms the Minnesota Vikings. So, while it will be medical in nature, it will still be loosely related to football. I hope Brad Childress reads this and applies some of the findings to the team this coming season.

Am I worthy of writing a scientific-medical related blog entry? Well, I’ve been a licensed drug dealer (see pharmacist) for a quarter of a century now so, yeah, I think I can tackle this.

I’ve been listening to my new favorite podcast at Tri-Talk.com. If you are an endurance athlete, you need to start down loading these podcasts. Tri Talk is not only the #1 triathlon podcast, but now the #4 featured podcast in all of iTunes Sports and Recreation. It is that darn good. Note: Anything in quotes in this blog has been taken from Tri-Talk.

First up for discussion is the dreaded topic of lactic acid. For triathlete’s world wide, Julie Moss is the image often conjured up. Her claim to fame came during the 1982 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, in which she competed as part of her research for her exercise physiology thesis. At approximately two miles before the finish line, she became severely dehydrated. She staggered and crawled towards the end of the course, only to be passed moments before the finish line by competitor Kathleen McCartney. Her struggle to finish the Ironman was broadcast around the world, and provided inspiration to many to compete in Ironman events.

Not familiar with Moss and her ordeal? Take a peek. It ain’t pretty:

So yeah, one could say lactic acid has a reasonably pessimistic association. As stated on Tri-Talk:

“Most of us, including me, have been taught that a buildup of lactic acid is a bad thing, and that it is the primary cause of having to slow down at high intensities. That lactic acid builds up; the body can’t clear it, and is makes our muscles fatigued. It is even blamed for the soreness of muscles after exercise.?

So, where did the whole lactic acid issue cramp, er, come from? Roughly 100 years ago by a Nobel scientist, Otto Meyerhof. Meyerhof was a German-born physician and biochemist. So you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that one day Meyerhof decided to sever a frog in half and put its bottom half in a jar. Or maybe it was a beer stein. Anyway, he then gave the frog’s leg electric shocks to make the muscles contract, but after a few twitches, the muscles stopped moving. Why did they stop? Meyerhof discovered that they were inundated in lactic acid, and the modern theory on lactic acid was born. Tri-Talk postulated:

“To further understand this, let’s take a quick review of the two primary energy systems: aerobic and anaerobic. Both systems burn carbohydrate in the form of glucose (blood sugar) and glycogen (muscle sugar). The main difference between the two systems is the presence of oxygen–and the end product. Moderate exercise is mostly aerobic, with oxygen; it’s clean burning, so there is no end product. When exercise becomes more intense and the aerobic system can’t provide enough oxygen, the anaerobic system kicks in to provide energy, without oxygen. The end product of anaerobic exercise is lactic acid.?

This theory is under attack and has been something I’ve been tracking since 2005 when it began to be questioned. Let me stress: The basis of lactic acid has not come into the question. Rather, the link between lactic acid and muscle fatigue and soreness has been significantly challenged.

One such study appeared in May, 2006 when George A. Brooks, a professor in the department of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley gave an interview with the New York Times. Brooks has been promoting the hypothesis that lactic acid is a fuel supply for muscles, not just poisonous litter from extreme exercise.

“The current understanding by many physiologists, as first proposed by Dr. Brooks, is that muscle cells convert glucose or glycogen to lactic acid, and that the lactic acid is taken up and used as a fuel by mitochondria, the energy factories in muscle cells. Dr. Brooks even found that mitochondria even have a special transporter protein to move the lactic acid into them. In other words, the muscles want to take in that lactic acid as a fuel source, and have evolved with special receptors to do so. Intense training makes a difference because it can make double the mitochondrial mass, therefore increasing the amount of lactic acid that can be absorbed.?

In review, the traditional theory states that as carbohydrate is broken down for fuel, the byproduct is lactic acid. Lactic acid is believed to be a major contributor to muscle fatigue. The innovative theory is that while lactic acid is still a byproduct of carbohydrate, it is cleared away not in the blood, but absorbed by the mitochondria in the muscles. This still explains why elite athletes are able to have very little lactate in their blood at high intensities. It’s not being cleared away in the blood; rather, it’s been sucked up by the muscles like a Hoover.

“One of the problems in accepting this theory is that it left a gaping hole. If lactic acid is not the cause of muscle fatigue, what is? Before we can accept this new lactic acid and muscle fatigue theory, we should have something to replace it.?

Back to the liberal rag that is the New York Times. It recently reported a novel theory to explain muscle exhaustion. Dr. Andrew Marks, principal investigator of the new study from Columbia University, suggests that muscle fatigue comes from calcium leaking from the muscles. That calcium is a critical mineral required for muscle contraction. Less calcium means less muscle contraction, and more muscle fatigue.

“To help confirm this, the researches gave an experimental drug to mice that inhibited the leaking of calcium from the muscles. The mice were able to run 10 to 20 percent longer when using this drug.?

Let’s extrapolate that to potential implications to Adrian Peterson and the team. Let’s say that Adrian is able to run a 30-minute time trial at 6-minute miles, and that is his exhaustion point. Yeah, I know he’s Jesus and would never tire but go along with me.

That means All Day is running 5 miles in that 30 minutes. If he could run 20% longer at the same speed, that would allow Peterson to run 6 minutes longer at that pace before exhaustion, letting him run almost a full 10K at a 6-minute pace. This gives you an idea of the significance of the ability to increase one’s exhaustion point by 10-20%.

This investigational drug is still too dicey for trial on humans, and even if it were permitted by the US Federal Drug Administration, it would undoubtedly be made a banned substance by any given athletic body.

The purpose in passing this along to Coach Childress is not to say “get this drug for your team before they figure out how to test for it!? but rather to share with him the substantiation behind the new theory that calcium loss is behind muscle fatigue as opposed to lactic acid.

On to part two of this discussion for Coach Childress. I want to spend some time looking at whether taking in oxygen can aid and speed recovery. How many times have you seen football players complete long runs and then go back to the bench and breathe oxygen? Does that really help? Tri-Talk helped to asses this:

“In people with normal lung function…breathing oxygen has not been demonstrated to significantly change exercise performance. Based on the oxygen solubility coefficient and the increase in the cardiac output, perhaps a 1-2% increase in the delivery of oxygen occurs, yet few studies support the contention that this therapy helps the athlete. Why is it done? Perhaps because if an athlete who is paid $1,000,000 a year to perform thinks breathing oxygen improves performance, then the best course may be to supply the oxygen, considering no demonstrable harm comes from short-term oxygen therapy.?

Aha! It’s all in their heads! So, as long as the athlete thinks it does, and it causes no detrimental performance, why not let them do it?

Further, if oxygen during exercise does not help out, what about oxygen for recovery? Will you recover faster? Tri-Talk once again broke this down:

“I received a well-written e-mail on this subject from one of our sharp Tri Talk listeners, Michael Phillips, who is a respiratory therapist. He remind me that in terms of muscle soreness and fatigue, it is primarily caused by the buildup of lactic acid and damage to the muscles causing an inflammatory response, often caused by moving up to fast in volume or intensity in training. We’ll focus on the first reason, the buildup of lactic acid, as oxygen would not even theoretically help with muscle damage recovery. Will an increase in oxygen remove lactic acid faster? Lactic acid is the byproduct of CO2 production in the cell. Red blood cells that travel by the cell remove the CO2 and leave behind O2. Less CO2 in the system after exercise therefore means less lactic acid. However, breathing in extra O2 will not remove the CO2 any faster.?

So, Coach Childress, there is no study to support oxygen and recovery where the athlete did not know what the gas was. In cases where the athlete reported improved recovery from oxygen, that athlete knew what the gas was they were taking in.

To sum up oxygen and its use for revitalization, there is no supporting work where the athlete did not know if they were taking in oxygen.

“I think the great sports exercise writer Owen Anderson put it best when he said, “When examined closely, such findings should not be surprising. After all, the post-exercise recovery period is a time frame marked by sub-maximal heart rates and sub-maximal rates of oxygen consumption. In other words, recovery does not require oxygen delivery to be extremely high, as it is during intense exercise. Piling on the oxygen during recovery is like adding another half-cup of water to your goldfish’s tank: the creature already has quite enough water and a little more will not be helpful in any way.?

Maybe Childress should fill those oxygen tanks with helium. Then when Peterson yells, “Hi Mom!? into the camera he can sound like Mickey Mouse.

OK, bad idea.

Coming Saturday: A look back to 1997 when I sat down with then Vikings marketing director, Stew Widdess.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
March 12, 2008
Another Vikings Survey

Got this from the Vikes a day or two ago. I figured I'd pass along. Everyone loves survey's!

The Minnesota Vikings are working hard to constantly improve your game day experience and would appreciate your feedback. Please take a few minutes to share your opinion by completing the short (5-10 min) survey found at this link.

Thanks for your feedback!
The Minnesota Vikings

And when you get to the "What other websites do you visit to obtain Vikings information?" be sure and list Mr. Cheer Or Die's Viking Underground!!!!

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
March 10, 2008
Viking Fans On-Line

I received a e-mail from Ohio this past weekend. It was one of those blast from the past type of messages:

"Hey bro, how the hell are ya? Found this old pic, thought you'd get a kick out of it. The carefree salad days of the old email list...Viking Jim"

online.jpg

The photo is from 1996. As far as Vikings fans across the world were concerned, a significant event happened off the field during the 1996 season. The early precursor to the Viking Underground Fan message board, Viking Fans On-Line, was formed. By the seasons end, Viking Fans On-Line boasted 500 strong and was represented by members in 47 states and 9 countries. It was directly responsible for the Vikings setting a single day attendance record on September 22, 1996.

The Viking Underground web site, begun by Dan Hildreth, was honored in The Net magazine as the best personal NFL football web site. The Viking Underground & the Mr. Cheer Or Die web sites were honored with The Gold Star Trophy award honoring the best in NFL related web sites. Viking Fans On-Line assisted in initiating, creating and developing the very first Viking Fan Club Convention during the 1996 training camp.

It was a heady time. If one were to develop a family tree of Vikings related web involvement these were your Adam and Eve, the Big Bang, the start of it all.

Have any found memories? Were you a member way back in the day? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.

And if you have any other photos from those days, e-mail to me and I'll post additional photos as the week proceeds.

Coming Saturday: My 1997 interview with then Vikings marketing director Stew Widdess....who just happens to talk about Viking Fans On-Line

FA's by the Numbers

Bernard Berrian, receiver, Vikings: $605,000 (2008); $2.395 million (2009); $3.7 million (2010); $3.9 million (2011); $6.9 million (2012); $7.9 million (2013).

Madieu Williams, safety, Vikings: $605,000 (2008); $620,000 (2009); $2.975 million (2010); $5.4 million (2011); $5.4 million (2012); $5.4 million (2013).

Lasik

I had a rather bad experience with a contact lens this past week. Because of that, I am starting to think about having Lasik (or similar) procedure performed. Have you had a Lasik procedure done? Would you recommend it? What's the good, the bad, the ugly of it all? Leave a comment below and let me know!


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
March 9, 2008
Where Is Hicks?

On March 4, the Vikings website was reporting that free-agent running back and return man Maurice Hicks had been signed by the team. Hicks supposedly became the fourth free agent to sign with the team. He’s expected to take over as the Vikings’ primary kick returner.

But as of Sunday (3/9), Hicks does not show on the Vikes roster moves section of the site. There is nothing on the Media Center portion of the site. Nothing on the roster portion of the site. I was starting to panic. Did a break-down in negotiation take place? Did Hicks spend a weekend in the Twin Cities during the recent cold snap and high-tail it out of here for warmer climes?

I finally found mention of it on the news archive, buried deep. But the report is still there so it has to be true, right?

I had gone looking to get an update on what numbers the new players might have chosen. The player I am most interested in is Bernard Berrian (aka the Silent Assassin). On March 2, I wrote why he might end up with #82....you can go back and read that blog entry here. I know you have bad memories of #82, but then we had such high hopes for T.W., didn't we? Just take a look back at my 2006 mini-camp report. Sigh.

As for the others, Madieu Williams will be #20 and Thomas Tapeh will be #44.

What number do you think Berrian will don? Leave a comment. See you Monday when we take a look back to 1996 and the start of it all.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 5:42 PM
Number 17 Redux

Back on January 9, I posted the following blog entry. I think for the most part, it is still current. No comments were left at that time...maybe now?

It's way to early for me to think about April, that time of year when my son and I celebrate our respective birthday's. That time of year that I pull my annual April Fool's Day joke and piss off the poor saps that fall for it. But its never too early to look back and take a sneak look ahead.

Last year the Vikes had the number seven overall pick. There was a lot of talk of whether the Vikes had the grapefruits to move up into the number 1-3 spots or whether they would fold like a card table and move down later in the first round or even out of the first round altogether. Instead, they held at number seven and picked up this stiff.

ap001.jpg

Yeah, that really didn't work out so well for the Vikes. And this year they fall to the 17th overall selection.

So where does the team go from here? I start by reviewing the NFL's past selections at #17. NFL Draft Scout has a nice summary and the Vikes have picked twice from this spot, both with good results. In 2006 the Vikes selected LB Chad Greenway and in 1974 they selected LB Fred McNeill. Other notable selections at #17 have yielded Emmitt Smith (1990) to Steve Hutchinson (2001).

Let's assume the team is going to proceed with T-Jack at QB, go after one to two WR's via free agency and retain the services of Mr. Chester Taylor. The Vikes have a very good linebacker core. They have studs manning the interior of the defensive line. Where are the weak areas and which areas are aging and will need replacements in the coming years?

One area of concern to me is offensive line. The right side needs to be more productive and Matt Birk is not getting any younger at center. While I will agree that using your first draft pick on a offensive lineman is not glamorous, it has consistently shown to be a smart pick and often produces immediate results.

With that in mind, I like OT Chris Williams out of Vanderbilt. He is imposing at 6'6" and 315 lbs. The only downfall is Williams has played the left side of the line during his college career and he would have to be trained to play the right. And he is heading into his senior season so I'm not sure he will declare.

Another possibility would be Sam Baker out of Southern Cal. Baker lists at 6'5" and 312 lbs. Baker also plays the left side of the line but may be more polished that Williams at this point.

I don't believe the Vikes need to use a first round pick for center, if that's a position they want to solidify. Two names come to mind and would be there for the Vikes to consider in the second round. Those are Steve Justice out of Wake Forest and Mike Pollak out of Arizona State. Baker could have opted for the '07 draft but chose to return for his senior year and actually played better than in '06 and will better his draft position. Pollack and his Sun Devils teammates showcased one of the most experienced and honored offensive lines in the Pac-10. Either would do for me.

What about defensive end? If the Vikes do not address this during free agency (Jared Allen, please!) then DE could be the Vikes first round selection. One possible consideration would be Miami Hurricanes defensive end Calais Campbell who made it official Thursday by saying he will skip his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.

Campbell would be the Ed "Too Tall" Jones of this generation as he is listed at 6-foot-8 and 240-pounds and is considered a mid first-round pick by many analysts. Despite a disappointing season, scouts are still impressed by his size and potential.

Since Chris Long will be long gone by pick #17 the only other DE that the Vikes could consider is Derrick Harvey out of Florida. Harvey has decided to skip his senior year and enter the NFL Draft. You may recall seeing Harvey as the last time he appeared in a bowl game, he collected a career-high three sacks and recovered a fumble against Ohio State in the BCS national championship game. He tied for the team lead in 2007 with 14 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

And what about the defensive secondary? Darren Sharper is aging and there has been some speculation he may not return. Dwight Smith is almost certain to not return. Antoine Winfield ended the season hurt. So, who may be available for a first round selection at #17? Answer: Kenny Phillips out of Miami. Phillips, a 6-2, 211-pound safety out of Miami Carol City High, will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. Phillips was named to the All-ACC first team and for the season, Phillips ranked second on the team with a career-high 95 tackles (69 solo). A third-year junior, he added made two interceptions, three forced fumbles and 6.5 tackles for loss.

These are just some very early names. Every one and their uncle will have names and projections. Have some of your own? Leave a comment and we'll start our researching department looking into them.

Authors note: Again, the above was originally posted on this blog January 9, 2008. Here is a sampling of the best DE's for the upcoming draft with my comments added.

NAME COLLEGE HEIGHT WEIGHT 40 - TIME COMMENT
Chris Long Virginia 6-3 272 4.75 Will be gone
Vernon Gholston Ohio St. 6-3 266 4.67 Will be gone
Phillip Merling Clemson 6-4 276 4.75 May be gone
Derrick Harvey Florida 6-4 271 4.83 Probably available
Quentin Groves Auburn 6-3 259 4.57 Will be available
Lawrence Jackson USC 6-4 271 4.76 Will be available
Calais Campbell Miami (FL) 6-7 290 5.04 Will be available

Sunday Cartoon

Another Zygi & Chilly effort!


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:42 AM
March 6, 2008
There Is No Crying in Football

First, there was T.O.:

Now Brett Favre, who actually held a press conference and announced he was quitting. Crying like a baby. What is happening to the men of the NFL. Are they all high on estrogen now? Trying to get in touch with their feminine side? I mean, really.

OK, before you Cheeseheads start with your hate e-mail, I'll miss him just as much as you. Favre was always good for an interception or three at the Metrodome.

I was reading a blurb on Pro Football Talk and they mentioned Favre's consecutive games streak. And that got me to thinking: One thing I've had to endure from Cheeseheads is how great Favre's consecutive games streak is. How he was going to climb past Jim Marshall and stick that in our craw as well. Well, boo friggin' hoo. Guess what. He quit short of that record.

Actually, the consecutive games leader is a punter, Jeff Feagles. Let's go ahead and throw that out. In "second" is Jim Marshall, who played in 282 straight games as a defensive end from 1961-1979. On November 27, 2005, Feagles broke the NFL record for consecutive games played, with 283. The record was previously held by Marshall. Feagles' record continues, standing at 320 at the end of the 2007 NFL season.

Brett Favre's record of 253 consecutive starts, as far as I can tell, stands at third. So, the Vikes once again stand tall over the lowly Packers. Thhhpppppppttttttt!

Back to the crying issue: If there's "no crying in baseball", why are we suddenly seeing crying in football? I can tell you. It's the politics, man!

For Hillary Clinton, the crying happened during an appearance right before the New Hampshire primary. I must say I was surprised when I first heard that clip on the radio. There certainly has been plenty of debate as to whether Hillary Clinton's crying was legitimate or an act to win voters.

But right after that, came T.O. crying the alligator tears. Then the bunch from O.S.U. as the crying has trickled down to college football.

Now it was the Head Cheese. Yeah, the same guy who once was injured the previous week, then started one series and went to the bench...just so he could keep his streak alive. I thought there was no "I" in team.

I don't know anymore. I just don't know. I know Jim Marshall never cried. Twice Marshall kept his streak intact by walking out of hospitals where he was recuperating. Once from pneumonia and then again from ulcers. On another occasion he played after accidentally shooting himself in the side while cleaning a shotgun.

Sure, I get the urge to cry once in a blue moon. But then I sing, sing a song. I sing it loud. I sing it strong. I sing of good things, not bad.

I bid you, good day. Stiff upper lip and all that rot my dear chaps.

(Note to Gonzo: I now see you did a similar piece on the Daily Norseman. Great minds think alike, I guess!!)

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 3:11 PM
March 4, 2008
Favre Retires Live Blog Session

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 8:55 AM
Blue Man Odom

Author note: Oops, well this is what I get for writing a day ahead.

Johnny Lee "Blue Moon" Odom was a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. For most of his 13-year career, he played for the Kansas City and Oakland Athletics, Chicago White Sox, and Atlanta Braves.

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I still remember when he came into the league. Odom was a dominant pitcher. He pitched in two All-Star games (1968 and 1969), and won three consecutive World Series rings with the Oakland dynasty of 1972-1974. Best of all, he was an excellent all-around athlete and was used quite often as a pinch-runner. He also wielded a strong bat (for a pitcher), hitting 12 home runs with a batting average of .195 for his career. On May 4, 1969, he swung the lumber with authority and went 3-for-3 with a home run and six RBI against the Seattle Pilots (yes, Pilots).

So why do I bring this up? There is another Odom that could come into play and is a very good all-around athlete. Antwan Odom (born September 24, 1981 in Mobile, Alabama) could be that defensive end that the Vikes hope brings on the much needed pass rush the Vikes D sorely needs. He was originally drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft.

Oh, and he likes to sack QB's...especially aging QB's.

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And he has other talents. Such as blocking kicks. He even blocked a extra point against the Jets last year which was instrumental in winning that game and starting the Titans drive for the playoffs. Here is a photo of Odom (#98) driving up the middle against a FG attempt in a game against the Chiefs.

A sack artist and a key special team player. Maybe he can block for All Day on the goal-line as well?

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Odom is a 26-year old coming off an eight-sack season. I'd like to see him on the team, and would be more excited if the Vikes were successful in that attempt that their failure to get Justin Smith.

So, let's do it. Bring on Purple Moon Odom! If the Vikes were to land him, this would be the FA aquisition to get most excited about.

Thoughts? Leave a comment.


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:12 AM
March 3, 2008
Loony

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Can't help but pick on Loony Sid today (click on cartoon for easier to read pop-up):

And for those new readers who wonder why I refer to Brad Childress as "Chilly" and not "Chili", please read this blog entry.

Speaking of Loony

On Sunday, I stated how brilliant Randy Moss was by waiting on inking his renewal with the Patriots based on the fact that the Vikes chose to make the likes of Bernard Berrian the 4th highest paid WR...in the NFL. I'm not so sure based on a report I read at PFT:

"According to John Clayton of ESPN.com, Moss reached out to Culpepper on Saturday night about the possibility of "finishing what they started" in Minnesota on a new team.

Clayton cautions not to interpret such a move as a "package deal." But what the hell is it then?

If Moss is doing this only to persuade other teams that he's truly willing to leave New England, then it's sort of brilliant. We're convinced that teams are leery of making Moss the kind of offer that might get his attention due to fears that he'd then turn around and use that proposal to leverage the Pats into putting more money on the table.

If, in contrast, Moss is doing it because he genuinely wants to go to a new team that would sign Culpepper and install him as the starting quarterback, it's one of the stoopidest things we've ever heard."

PFT goes on and considers who may be interested in such a Moss-sprinkled with-Pepper Deal:

"A quick look at the list of the 32 teams reveals not many teams that even could be interested in such a move. As we see it, the possibilities are Baltimore, Denver (hey, we don't put anything past Coach Kevlar when it comes to free agency), Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Tampa, and St. Louis, where the head coach was the offensive coordinator the last time Moss and Culpepper were on the same team."

Well, as long as we're all being loony today, why shan't the Vikes be considered? The Vikes are looking for a backup QB, right? The Vikes are considering adding Javon Walker to the WR mix as well.....why not go for the jugular and attain Moss instead? Pepper still has an arm. When's the last time you saw a Vikes QB actually throw a deep ball to a WR without having the duck hunters in attendance stand and air-rifle the ball out of existence? I can tell you when:

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Pepper will be two years into his knee recovery which is the time it takes for a athlete to both recover and regain confidence in himself. Why not take a chance? Only one thing stands in their way. A certain bridge was burned between Pepper and the current head coach of the Vikes.

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So unless someone were to work on Chilly Willy and warm him up to consider it, it simply isn't going to happen. No matter how loony you consider the proposition to be.

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Vote in the Loony Poll below: Would you like 'em back or no (never mind the probablity factor...would you take them or not)?




Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
March 2, 2008
Free Agent Alert IV

Not so lazy afterall. I decided to just check-in ever so briefly. Christmas in Minnesota, indeed! Unlike their predecessor Red McCombs, the Wilf Bros Inc. are not shy about spending money. The only lingering question is are they spending their money foolishly? Time will tell.

The Chicago area went so far as to say Berrian is not worth Top 10 WR money. The Vikes just made him the fourth-highest-paid WR in the NFL. Check out this YouTube video for a non-purple tinted glasses look:

My counter to this? The video speaks of Berrian not being a receiver that goes after the ball...not fighting off his defender...not making the difficult catch. I beg to differ.

As of 8 AM CST, Bernard Berrian has yet to select a jersey number. This may be something to track. Berrian wore number 80 in Chicago. Slight issue there as the number was retired September 14, 2003. You may recall why.

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So, Berrian can choose amongst 82, 86, and 89. Number 88 was retired September 20, 1998 for the Vikings greatest defensive player of all time.

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Berrian wore #2 at Fresno State. So we know he won't reach back and wear his old collegiate number. My guess? He combines #80 and #2 and wears #82 for the Vikes.

Some "I bet you didn't know that" about Berrian:
- Place of birth: Spain. That makes Berrian the second international FA pick-up in two days. The other was Madieu Williams who was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Berrian grew up in California while both of his parents served at Castle Air Force Base.
- Selected: Round 3, Pick 15, Overall Pick 78 by Bears in the 2004 draft. He had been rated number 12 out of 156 WR's.
- ChicagoBears.com's columnists and announcers referred to Berrian as the "Silent Assassin".
- Berrian is a big fan of snakes. He owns a boa constrictor named Roscoe.

Pre-draft measureables
Wt 40 yd 20 ss 3-cone Vert BP Wonderlic
183 lb* 4.47s 4.21s* 7.34s* 39 in X 20*[2]
* represents NFL Combine

One thing is for sure, The Freak is looking very smart for not immediately signing with the Patriots. Consider: Berrian just received a six-year, $42 million contract, with $16 million guaranteed. Last season he had 71 receptions for 951 yards and five touchdowns.

Moss? 98 catches for 1,453 yards and 23 touchdowns. Moss should be assured of a $25+ guaranteed contract with numbers approaching $100 million in a long-term deal. Unless he just wants The Ring and opts to take a lower pay-day in order to catch on with a team that can get him there. Moss could certainly still land back in New England, but teams such as the Indy Colts and, gulp, Green Bay Packers could enter the fray. And don't count out Jerry Jones and the 'Boys just yet.

Back to the Silent Assassin. Time for you to sound off. Vote in the following poll. Leave a comment about the recent FA aquistions. And have a good Sunday. I'll leave you with this thought: Could Berrian be the only player in NFL history to receive two TD receptions thrown by two different Adrian Peterson's?

Go Vikes!





Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 8:24 AM
March 1, 2008
Christmas in Minnesota

Coming later today (click on cartoon for larger pop-up).

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:58 PM
Free Agent Alert III

The Vikings had hoped to lure a DE to the snowy depths of Eden Prairie before the weekend was out. But the player never left his initial visit in San Francisco. ESPN.com now reports that end Justin Smith, formerly of the Bengals, will now play for the 49ers.

Perhaps Chilly, who angered a certain Pats coach last year in Waiver War I, is looking for some sort of revenge with the Niners for taking his coveted DE free agent. San Francisco kick return man Maurice Hicks is due at Winter Park for a visit that could occur as early as today.

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John Clayton, who Sean Salisbury rudely dissed recently and as a result had his contract with ESPN trashed, is now reporting Randy Moss is starting to listen to offers from other teams. I know, it is not realistic to hope that the VIkings are one of those other teams but until he does sign with I can spit into the wind. Update: PFT is now speculating the Philly E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles-Eagles-Eagles may be making a run for The Freak.

Could the Vikes be thinking of further upgrading their defensive backfield by bottom-feeding off of Chilly's old team, the Eagles, once again? The Eagles have revised their web site to show Asante Samuel as the first-string left cornerback and Lito Sheppard as a second-string player. There are reports that the Eagles will try to trade Sheppard. The Vikes have extra picks. Hmmmm. (Click on cartoon for larger pop-up)

For those wishing to add to their Vikings wardrobe, check out the t-shirt at the Vikings store featuring Syd Davy of Canada, eh. If the t-shirt is again for sale, perhaps close, personal friend Randy Moss isn't far behind?

And just for humor sake, here is what some Jags fans are saying about their recent aquisition of Tro Williamson:

"Troy Williamson? hahahahahahahahaaa"

"uh, Williamson's problem is he can't CATCH. Garrard can't do anything about that. athleticism aside (yeah, he's fast), Williamson sucks. he can't catch, he can't block, his route-running is mediocre. and citing his draft position for a reason he's going to succeed is just foolish. being a "top ten draft pick for goodness sakes" by no means ensures your success in the NFL. i'm pretty sure there's been a top 10 bust or two (or 40) in the past. when you're getting benched for guys like Robert Ferguson and Billy McMullen....do i need to finish that sentence?"

"He couldn't catch these freaking passes...HE WAS WIDE OPEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's not Johnson/Jackson/Bollinger/Holcomb's fault...."

"Williamson has problems catching the ball. Unless he can rectify that problem quickly, it'll be hard for him to ever claim a spot on the lineup."

"Roddy White has more talent in a fingernail than Troy Williamson..."

Jersey Updates

Madieu Williams will be #21
Thomas Tapeh will be #44

Berrian Update

Bernard Berrian has been spotted wearing a Vikings cap and with a Vikings jersey in his arm as he emerged from the team’s weight room. That has to be a good sign, wouldn't you think? One thing for sure, he can't sing. Maybe with a huge pay day he can pay for some lessons.


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 9:19 AM
February 29, 2008
Free Agent Alert II

Madieu Williams, introduced to you earlier this week on the VU, will be a Viking. Several outlets are reporting Williams has agreed to parameters on a six-year contract that is believed to average about $6 million per year.

Former Gopher Thomas Tapeh has agreed to join his home-town team. Buh-bye Tony Richardson.

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Lastly, Bernard Berrian is getting the full-meal-deal treatment with the Wilf's providing personal transport to Winter Park. At least the number should stay south of $9 million a year. Anything more than that, and the Vikes will have over paid.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 12:56 PM
February 28, 2008
Free Agent Alert

Per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Rams have released veteran receiver Isaac Bruce. Any interest from the Vikes? Probably not.

Don Banks has a story that has Tavaris Jackson taking notice. Banks covered the Minnesota Vikings for the Minneapolis Star Tribune (1996-99) and the St. Paul Pioneer Press (1999-2000), so he has his connections. Banks says that the Vikes have offered a third-round selection for Sam Rosenfels, the Houston Texans backup. Ooooh, back to '92 when we had either Rich Gannon or Sean Salisbury. I'm all atwitter. He wasn't even mentioned on the NFL Networks recent coverage of the top FA QB's.

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How's about getting rid of one Pro Bowl fullback (Tony Richardson) for another? The San Diego Chargers have released Pro Bowl fullback Lorenzo Neal. Nah, let's keep browsing. I'm heading over to the bread section. You scope out the deli. We'll meet back here in 10 minutes.

Find anything? Me either. But I did hear these two ladies talking about Bears receiver Bernard Berrian. They were squeezing the tomatoes and one of them said they heard Berrian is expected to be over-paid by either the Vikings or the Titans as of midnight tonight. I guess one of these idiots is about to shell out over $12 million for this dude. Can you believe them apples?

This just in, Reds 6, Twins 1. When does football season start?

So what did you learn over in deli, anyway? Say what? They are saying besides Cincinnati S Madieu Williams, the Vikes might target Oakland QB Josh McCown, Cincinnati DE Justin Smith and Philadelphia FB Thomas Tapeh? Are they serving some bad cole slaw back there or something? Go back and ask if you heard correctly.

Excuse me, do you carry that in a sage color? You see, we might have a new QB named Sage.....excuse me? The Vikings and Texans have ended talks about Sage Rosenfels in exchange for a third-round pick? Whew! My hair color does not work with sage. Just would not have been right. What's that? J.P. who now? Come again? The Vikings are now turning their attention to J.P. Losman of the Buffalo Bill? The same J.P. Losman who was twice benched last season? For the love of, excuse me...where's the liquor section?

Can I borrow your phone for a long-distance call to Boston, please. Yes, hello Mr. Belichick? Can we talk shop? I have two gently used camcorders that would fit inside a lapel pin and all we're asking for is to talk to...

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...and we'll even throw in a nice deli tray. Otherwise, the game attendance in the Metrodome next season will be a bit like this...(key sound of crickets chirping)

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Oh gosh, thanks Mr. Belichick! Thanks! Yes, my son will be right over to sweep up your house. I've been training him since he was two.

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Yes Mr. Belichick, we did T.P. the house of Mr. Jerry Jones per your instructions. Now then, what was the number of Mr. Moss again. Hello? Hello? Operator, I think we've been disconnected.

I saw this cartoon over on the magazine aisle. Man, this Zygi guy is going to blow his stack over that cold-hearted penguin one of these days!

Yawn, time for a break. Hey! Here is another Zygi-Chilly comic! Yah! (Click on comic to create larger pop-up)

I'm going to mosey over to the dairy section. Hey, bud! What was the name of that long-toothed WR the Vikes had last year. A former Cheesehead if I recall correctly. Robert Ferguson, yeah, that's the dude. Do we still have him on the team or what? Uh-huh, I see. So let me get this straight, it appeared at one point that a deal with Ferguson would get done, eh? That ol' Fergie expressed a desire to remain in Minnesota after the season. Well, I could take him or leave him. So it looks as if a deal coudn't get done and Fergie will explore the market? What do those Frenchies say? Yeah, "c'est la vie!"

Yep, just got off the phone with my close, personal friend Mike Mayock of the NFL network. Seems Mike liked my story on the Vikes targeting Limas Sweed and opted to rank him numero uno WR draft prospect. Do I know my stuff or what?

Time for bed. I can find out where we screwed up in the morning. Or maybe I'll raise one eye-brow in mild astonishment.


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 7:04 PM
ESPN Makes a Free Agent Move

Back on 2/28, I named Sean Salisbury as the VU Nut Job of the Week. This was due to on-air attempt at levity by referring to fellow ESPN analyst John Clayton as the "Cryptkeeper." There is a YouTube video available at that former entry if you haven't seen the segment yet.

This, and the knowledge that Salisbury had been previously suspended for showing cell-phone photos of his "family jewels" to colleagues at ESPN promoted my thought that ol' Sean would soon be looking for work. Well, he is out. Another former Viking, Cris Carter, is in. That's like going from A-Hole to Class-A in one simple action.

I have disliked Salisbury ever since he basically destroyed the Vikes during the '92 season. Rich Gannon was benched in favor of Salisbury. Gannon was later quoted as saying, "For a guy who wasn't much of a player, he's a heck of a talker. And for a guy who didn't take many snaps in the league, he has a pretty good idea of how to play the position.''

Ba-ba-boom.

True to form and Gannon's accurate assessment, Salisbury does not seem to concerned about making payments on outstanding bills.....

"I have grown as much as I can at ESPN and decided to expand my horizons," Salisbury said in a statement. "I have created a brand and it's time to expand into other opportunities in TV, radio, Internet, publishing, movies and public speaking, among others. My resume speaks for itself as a football analyst, and I believe I can talk all sports with the best of them."

So it would seem reality is still a foreign concept for Sean. Who knows? Maybe he can get job as assistant jock strap inspector for an Arena League or CFL team.

Thank-you ESPN. Welcome Cris. My week has become a bit brighter.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:05 AM
February 27, 2008
DE May No Longer Mean Dead-End

On Monday, I discussed who the Vikes may be targeting in the upcoming 2008 NFL Draft. That would be Limas Sweed out of Texas. That may not bode well with the defensive minded Vikings fan but just because the DE position may not be addressed with the first round of the draft one must not forget the Vikes are a billion dollars under the salary cap this year.

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I really wanted the Vikes to be able to pursue Jared Allen. But then along came the nasty viral tag and it could be closed...or is it?

Allen was given the Franchise Tag by the Kansas City Chiefs. But more importantly, the Chiefs used the "non-exclusive tag", meaning that Allen could still be in play. Dumb, methinks, on the part of the Chiefs. Clearly they are not serious about keeping Allen. Why is the non-exclusive part of the equation so important?

Had the Chiefs used the "exclusive" tag, it would have paid Allen more money (for one season) but makes it impossible for other teams to even try and get him. With the "non-exclusive", other teams can sign him, in return for two first round picks. Tempting, but perhaps too much of a gamble. Still worth a consideration.

There are two other note-worthy names that I wanted to put forward for consideration. One is Antwan Odom of the Titans. Odom is a 6-5, 274 lb John Randle-esque of a man who burst onto the scene in 2007 accumulating eight sacks in limited duty. I worry that the Vikes could get into a bidding war and over-pay for the services of Odom as he has already stated that he'll give the Titans the first chance to sign him before free agency begins. In addition, prior to the 2007 campaign, Odom never had more than two sacks. Lastlly, Odom's production could have been a product of teams focusing on Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch.

The other name could be off the board before long: Chris Canty. The Dallas Cowboys are expected to tender Chris Canty at the highest level. What that does is force other teams to pay compensation of first- and third-round picks to get them in the event Dallas didn't match an offer sheet. Not impossible, but I'd hate to lose two draft choices for a player you may be rolling the dice on.

Whichever route the Vikes take to address DE and WR will be fun to watch. And it will give bloggers enough fodder to make it to spring.

Coming Later This Week

- a podcast with Foge Fazio from prior to the 1997 season. Fazio was the Vikes defensive coordinator

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:02 AM
February 25, 2008
That's Limas, Not Linus

Ol' COD may be getting up there in years, but I've still got a connection or two around town. I had a name whispered into my ear late last week as one of the players the Vikes have rated high, high, high on their big board at Winter Park.

Last year, the Vikes selected Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson despite concerns about his injuries suffered during college and was heavily noted by the media and potential NFL teams. That's probably why the team was able to select him at #7 overall despite being rated as the best player in the draft by ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr.

This coming draft, the Vikes could be sticking with the Big 12 Conference for their first overall pick once again. The man expected to be on the Vikes short list was hampered by a preseason wrist injury that eventually shut his last year in college ball down. His potential was never really reach during his 4 years at the University of Texas, but he will always be known for his great fade route in the end-zone to defeat Ohio State in the Horse Shoe 3 years ago on national TV.

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It is wide receiver Limas Sweed.

The best way for me to introduce you to Sweed is to view the following video. Keep your eye on the 0:49 second mark. Watch that catch and then think back to Troy Williamson. Try not to salivate too much on your keyboard. That's not good for the electronics.

At 6-foot-5, Sweed was often a mismatch for cornerbacks and a big target for Texas quarterbacks. He averaged 33.3 yards on his touchdown catches. Insiders suggest that he'll shatter the estimated 4.55 forty times given by NFL scouts previous to this season at the combine (I haven't seen the times from Indy yet...anyone?).

All I could find was one concern: Sweed managed to convert just 2-of-12 third-down passes thrown to him. Alright, so he's no Cris Carter. But his size reminds me of Jake Reed and his hands have to be an improvement over Williamson.

I dunno. This is a very intriguing option for the Vikes should they want to forego using their #1 on a defensive end, the other pressing need. What do you think? Vote below:




Coming Later This Week

- why the Vikes may be able to expend a draft pick on a WR and still address the weakness at DE
- a podcast with Foge Fazio from prior to the 1997 season. Fazio was the Vikes defensive coordinator

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
February 24, 2008
Madieu Williams

This captured my eye in Sunday's STrib buried in a story about Larry Fitzgerald:

"The Scout.com reports the Vikings are expected to pursue Bengals free safety Madieu Williams when free agency opens Thursday."

OK, I'll be the first to admit....I ain't ever heard of this here dude (picture of country bumpkin COD and fellow friend below). But it should come as no surprise when safety went from a possible need position for the Vikings to a high priority following the sudden release of veteran Dwight Smith (the Daily Norseman stated it best referring to Smith as Dead to Me).

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Williams seems like a tough sort of character. Perhaps in the mold of Mr. Joey Browner?

And picking up Williams would be a 180-degree upgrade in character over the exploits of Mr. Smith (see the VU Culture of Accountability Wall of Fame on the right navigation screen). Williams has his own web site, featuring the Madieu Williams Foundation, "a fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, focuses on health, wellness, nutrition, fitness and education. Through his foundation, Madieu reaches out to youth and teaches them at an early age the importance of a healthy lifestyle."

I think Smith had a foundation for taking security cameras out of public stairwells.

The connection with the Vikings is defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Frazier coached Williams in Cincinnati from 2003-2004. Williams started 13 games before ending the year on injured reserve with a quad injury. Williams had 74 tackles (58 solo) with two interceptions, two sacks, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. Williams is a unrestricted free agent.

Another reason to like Williams: During training camps Williams would fight with world-class clown Chad Johnson. Any one who would try to put a seal on the lips of Johnson is a great guy in my book. Let's get this guy.




Come back Monday for a inside scoop on a college player the Vikes have very high on their list of possible first round selections. Then you'll learn why they gave permission to Troy Williamson to look for a trade.


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 12:13 PM
February 21, 2008
Eclipse

The lunar eclipse was very fun to observe Wednesday night. This one was special for many reasons. The presence of Saturn just to the southeast of the moon and the bright star Regulus just north of the moon during the eclipse provided me with extra information to spoon the sponge-like brain of young COD Jr. who watched the eclipse with his Cub Scout binoculars...and his tongue never quieted during the whole thing.

Second, the color of this lunar eclipse was fantastic. We watched the moon turn an orange/deep red hue, due to the indirect sunlight that passes through the Earth's atmosphere and casts a glow on it. If you missed this one, you'll have to wait until December 20-21, 2010 to view another lunar eclipse.

I did set out to take some photos. My busy work schedule prevented me from proper preparation so I apologize for the quality of the photos. I'm better than that. But, it was five below zero making me fidget to make camera setting corrections. And it was more important to me to share the moment with my son than try and capture it all on film. But have a look anyway (click on image for larger view). Hope you had a great time viewing as well!

Music Recommendation

If you have never heard of Feist, you are missing something. Here is their cover of the Bee Gee's song Inside and Out.

Coming Saturday

This may be my last blog entry for the week as lots of the plate with a Cub Scout winter camp-out and other family events. But come back Saturday and you'll be able to download my 1997 interview with then Vikings offensive coordinator Brian Billick into your iTunes/iPod. Actually, it is available now on the VU Podcast page but I know many of you like 'portability'. If you choose to listen "early" via the podcast page, just be sure to hit the play button twice on the embedded player. Otherwise, those subscribing via iTunes will have the podcast available for download Saturday.

After you listen, come back and let me know what you thought about hearing this 'blast from the past." I hope to post my '97 interview with Foge Fazio next Saturday (March 1).

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
February 19, 2008
Damn Ice Dams

Over the weekend the temperatures were basking near the upper thirties here in the Tundra of the Great White North. Suffice to say I was not surprised to find a small puddle of water on the wood floor of our Great Room caused by a leaky drip-drip=drip from the ceiling above. "Friggin ice dams!", I roared to the wife. This was followed by my yearly soliloquy of how this was going to be our last winter in Minnesota and how we would be moving to the southern warmness of Arizona or Texas ASAP.

What the heck is an ice dam you ask? For those of you who have never lived north of Nebraska let me explain. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam can leak into a home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. The following shows a cross section of a home with an ice dam.

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Now, we really don't have a huge issue with these. This is only the 3rd time in 17 years that we've have to deal with it. It seems to take the right combination of heavy snow, followed by very cold temperatures with periods of thaws and the whole cycle kicks in. Usually, I deal with it by occasionally shoveling snow off the roof. This year, I had been lazy. Removing snow from the roof eliminates one of the ingredients necessary for the formation of an ice dam. So, here is me from the last weekend. Thinking about moving to Minnesota soon? This may be one thing you'll have to deal with. I'll take my chances in Arizona and tolerate an occasional gecco in my house over this crap.

I'm Going to Pee My Pants

There was a huge television event last night? Did you catch it? Was it circled on your calendar and spoken about 23 of the 24 hours each day for weeks leading up to the prodcast? If you have no children, you may have let this one slip by. It was the season opener (season seven) for the Fairly OddParents.

The Fairly OddParents is an Emmy-winning American animated television series shown on Nickelodeon, where it is currently one of the most popular shows (second only to SpongeBob SquarePants). COD Jr. eats them up. He also enjoys the classics, such as Jonny Quest, but loves the fast pace of this show. Mom and Dad like it too.

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The episode was called Fairly Odd Baby and was a hoot. After Timmy wishes that Cosmo and Wanda would have a baby, the Pixies and the Anti-Fairies join forces to kidnap the baby and use his/her untapped power for world domination. It will be up to Timmy, Cosmo, Wanda, Jorgen, and some explosive burritos to save the first fairy baby born in 10,000 years.

Did you happen to catch it?

Coming Saturday

My 1997 interview with then Vikings offensive coordinator Brian Billick.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:07 AM
February 18, 2008
Yo Vikings!

We are avid book readers at the COD House. Every so often I hope to bring a book to your attention. This past weekend, COD Jr. enjoyed a book entitled, "Yo, Vikings!"

Written by author/illustrator Judith Byron Schachner, she proclaims, "I live in a constant state of third grade bliss—making up stories and drawing pictures. Isn't that what we all did as children?" The same could be said for the heroine of her book, Yo, Vikings!, as a young girl named Emma immerses herself in a world of imagination and drawing when she prepares a speech for her class' World Discovery Day about Erik the Red, the hot-tempered Icelandic explorer and founder of Greenland.

With the help of her young brother, Ollie, Emma heads to the library, where a kindly librarian named Mr. Sigurd guides her research. Suddenly Emma's mind and journals are filled with Vikings, runes, swords and sailing ships. One day, she discovers that an actual Viking ship is for sale, so she and Ollie pool their money and baseball cards to try to purchase the artifact. They send off a letter and wait patiently for a reply. Meanwhile, Emma tells all her friends that she is going to get the ship for her birthday. Her pals are used to her wild tales and simply call this latest "Viking voodoo."

I won't spoil the ending, but I assure you that this book, perfect for elementary school children, is a tremendous blend of imagination and reality. It also sneaks in some history. We enjoyed it. If you have a youngin' in the house, give it a try as we think they'll like it too.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:51 AM
February 17, 2008
Fav Music

Here are three songs that are dominating my iPod at the moment.

First up is “God Gave Me Everything,? off Mick Jagger's The Very Best of Mick Jagger released in 2007. It is a song that Jagger cowrote with Lenny Kravitz. The CD is solid throughout.

Second is off the Raising Sand CD which is an amazing collaboration between rock and blue-grass greats Robert Plant and Allison Krauss....an unlikely pairing if there ever was one. Here is "Gone,Gone,Gone (Done Moved On)" from that CD.

Third is a selection from the new Jack Johnson CD. I really enjoy Johnson's stuff. I can feel the ol' ticker just slow down when I play his music. Our son loves his music as well and usually is dancing and smiling whenever Johnson's music is on. Enjoy the first single "If I Had Eyes" from Jack's newest Brushfire Records' release Sleep Through The Static.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:43 AM
February 15, 2008
Blue is the New Red

Nope, this is not going to be about Democrat's versus the Republican's. It doesn't have anything to do with Valentines Day. Yes, my significant other got her three dozen red roses (Thanks Costco!!) delivered to her office. Nope, I wanted to proudly announce that the COD family will be attending their very first concert...which is saying something since the youngest member is a few weeks short of 8-years old.

You got it! We'll be attending the Blue Man Group: How To Be A Megaster Tour at the Xcel Energy Center on March 29. We'll be on the floor very near the stage. From other people that have taken their kids to a BMG concert, we hear it is a great time. We'll be bringing along those Viking game day ear plugs just to be safe. We're not sure how far the "splash zone" extends but we figure to be close enough to pick up a sprinkle or two of BMG goo or whatever it is they tend to use to highlight their very visual performances.

So, what do you think? Are we being nuts in taking our son at this early stage in his "development"? I mean, it's not like we're caught running a red light with beer strapped in with a seat belt but a toddler is not.

Have you been to a BMG concert? If so, let us know what to expect! Leave a comment.

Coming Saturday, another VU podcast.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
February 14, 2008
Happy Valentine's Day

So, my Significant Other got her Valentine's Day gift. Yep, a big ol' tattoo:

trampstamp.jpg

I believe those are called "tramp stamps". OK, here is what she really got:

That's right, three dozen red roses. A WKW (Well Kept Woman).

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:17 AM
February 13, 2008
Season Ticket Renewal

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.

Now let me make it crystal clear that despite the history of price hikes that I'm about to give you, I still consider the Vikings ticket to be one of the most economical in town for entertainment bang for the buck.

Time for your history lesson.

seasontics001.jpg

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 McCombs 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!

For the 2005-06 NFL season, I paid $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%.

For the 2006-07 NFL season, I again paid $71 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1420 as the Wilf's held the line. Amazing for a team ranked thirty-second in revenue in the NFL. That was appreciated.

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

For the 2007-08 NFL season, I will pay $74 a ticket for two season tickets for a total package price of $1480. A mild 4% which will probably hold line with whatever my salary increase will be. That's not bad considering the fact the team has a blossoming star in Adrian Peterson, a exciting field of home opponents, and the aforementioned team revenue issue.

I still have reason to groan. Since first purchasing season tickets in 1993 for $25 a seat per game my cost has risen almost 66%. Using this inflation calculator, what did cost me $25 per seat in 1993 should only have risen to $36.52 per seat in 2007. Recall that I will be at $74 per seat for 2007.

Had my salary grown to 66% during this same period, my wife wouldn't have to work. Heady numbers indeed!

How 'bout you? Did you get your notice? Any huge price increase? Will you renew? When will enough be enough? Leave a comment.

YouTube Video of the Day

When late-night television was like putting on a old pair of comfortable jeans. Hereeeeeeee's Johnny!

Video Extra

The cast of "Spongebob Squarepants" lend their voices to classics from Hollywood's Golden Age of Internet lip-dubbing.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
February 12, 2008
The Guy Still Irks Me

I'm trying so hard to love Vikes head-coach Brad Childress. I'm from the "40 for 60" Joe Kapp generation of Vikings fans in which I truly try to get behind the entire team, ownership, and coaching staff. It's a tough sell for me when it comes to the head-coach.

While the rest of the sports world refers to Childress as "Chili", I prefer the nickname "Chilly" as in Chilly-Willy the penguin from the old cartoon days. That's one cold fish we've got over on the sidelines.

This past Sunday, Judd Zulgad had a piece in the STrib which had several quotes from Chilly that hammer home my point. Here are some examples followed by what I'd rather hear:

The 10-6 Giants, a wild card team, winning the Super Bowl: "I think if you look at the playoff run and you look at [quarterback] Eli Manning's play throughout the postseason, he played turnover-free basically, aside from the one the guy batted in the air [that led to an interception in the Super Bowl]. I think I mentioned the last time we talked, what were we, 10-1 in the last three games? Turned it over 10 times, got one takeaway. That's always what's the most significant stat. You watched the Giants take care of the football. Was it always pretty? No. Was it always clean? No. But you saw Eli get a little bit better from our game [a 41-17 Vikings victory in late November in which Manning threw four interceptions] on, and he just kind of grinded away at that."

Would have rather heard: “No matter how much you've won, no matter how many games, no matter how many championships, no matter how many Super Bowls, you're not winning now, so you stink. And right now, we stink.?

Tarvaris Jackson as the Vikings' starting quarterback: "I don't want to characterize it any way. Logic would dictate that he started at the end of the year, and I know he's going to spend time [working] on his trade. He'll be that much better with the wideouts, etc. But it's always a fluid situation and you know that change is part of this deal. Provided there is no change, that will be the guy."

Would have rather heard: “There will be changes here, there's no doubt about that.?

On making it clear to Jackson that he is the guy: "He knows how I feel about him, and that's the most important thing. I feel like he's progressed; he knows we stepped back a little bit toward the end of the year in terms of taking care of [the football]. When we were on that pretty good run [a five-game winning streak late in the season], we were taking care of it, at times, decently. He knows what he has to eliminate: those multiple-turnover games."

Would have rather heard: “In this climate of football as we've witnessed, you have to show some progress or there's a good chance you won't be in some place for very long.?

The NFL's upcoming free-agent class, which Vikings officials spent last week discussing: "It's not devoid of talent. There are some talented guys that are going to command big bucks. ... I think there's also probably some value. We [evaluate] all of them. All the way down the line, no matter how many snaps they have. Are they showing an upside? Do they fit our system? All of that. Whether they fit at the top of the roster or the bottom of the roster."

Would have rather heard: "I got problems here, I got problems there, ... I'm trying to get mentally organized.?

What needs to happen to turn around a pass defense that has finished at the bottom of the NFL for two seasons: "Different things in different situations. Obviously, we upped the sacks from 30 to 38, which this year put us eighth in the league. Probably just the steady pressure, continuing to change up with blitz and coverage. This is a roundabout way of saying rush and coverage. There are times when we need to rush better and somebody needs to beat a 1-on-1, and there are times where we flat need to cover better. ... Those are things that you look forward to working on in terms of cleaning up some of your technique in the offseason and then getting it on the field of play as we start the fall."

Would have rather heard: “When you don't know that you don't know, it's a lot different than when you do know that you don't know.?

The above "would have rather heard" are direct quotes from a Mr. Bill Parcells. What I'm trying to state is instead of trying to sound like any politician at election time and not actually answering any question, it may be better for Chilly to loosen up a bit and have some fun. Chilly, and the front office, need to figure out that there will be continued issues breathing life into a weakening Vikes fan base with the coach spouting cerebral dialogue and finding appropriate emotional beats amongst the beer-swilling crowd.

Maybe Chilly can attend a seminar sponsored by those wacky Coors Light commercials. He can attend classes given by Parcells, Dennis Green, Jim Mora, and Mike Ditka. Those are some boys who know how to have some fun. Maybe they can get Chilly to warm up.

chilly-willy-electric-blanket.gif

Agree? Disagree? Am I being too harsh? Not harsh enough? Let me know..leave a comment.

Your YouTube Video of the Day

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
February 11, 2008
Monday Morning Jive

Wow. Some real legends jamming out in the Netherlands. Your Monday just got better.


Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis
Uploaded by Hanvak

Coming Saturday will be another podcast. I usually only do podcasts when time permits and time has been sorely lacking as of late. I'll try to do better. The upcoming podcast will feature some snippets from two of my favorite podcasts from the BBC and hopefully you'll add them to your podcast menu as well!

And you can start to get ready for St. Paddy's Day by sending your own Lepregram, courtesy of Bennigans. Here is my own special VU Lepregram. Enjoy!

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
February 10, 2008
Sunday Acoustic

Just because this artist was the first musician that I ever spent money on. And a cassette tape at that. So kick back with a cup of Joe, sit down with the Sunday paper and enjoy a little John Denver.


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:58 AM
February 9, 2008
Back To Politics

Patrick Nielsen Hayden explains why he voted for Obama in the primary (he did it by absentee ballot). His reasoning:

I’m for Obama knowing perfectly well that, as Bill Clinton suggested, it’s a “roll of the dice?. A roll of the dice for Democrats, for progressives, for those of us who’ve fought so hard against the right-wing frames that Obama sometimes (sometimes craftily, sometimes naively) deploys. Because I think a Hillary Clinton candidacy will be another game of inches, yielding—at best—another four or eight years of knifework in the dark. Because I think an Obama candidacy might actually shake up the whole gameboard, energize good people, create room and space for real change.

Because he seems to know something extraordinarily important, something so frequently missing from progressive politics in this country, in this time: how to hearten people. Because when I watch him speak, I see fearful people becoming brave.

In listening to the libs around the water cooler, it sounds like many of them will probably end up voting for Obama. They think he has a chance to be a generational candidate — someone who will bring new voters into the process. If this ends up a contest between Obama and McCain (and it’s pretty clear McCain is going to be the Republican choice, since Mitt has packed it in), this election has the potential to go down as one of those watershed elections in American history, something that hasn’t happened since my guy, Ronald Reagan. I could stand a bit of watershed at this point in time.

That said, as Patrick notes, there are worse things than Hillary Clinton. Many of the Hillary supporters are stating that she isn’t getting much of a fair shake in the media, which clearly seems to loathe her and which also has a swoon going on for Obama. This is a fair complaint, but it’s also worth noting that life isn’t fair, and that little fact has worked for Clinton in the past; I don’t doubt she could have had a fine political career if she’d never met Bill Clinton, but the fact she did has worked considerably to her benefit to date. Now she has to deal with the downside of all that.

And yes, that does work in Obama’s favor. But there are the Dems that have the mind-set (however blind they appear to be) that feels the Elephants fundamentally fear a Clinton candidacy, because the Clinton crew is the only one on the Democrat side that is fundamentally unafraid of the "GOP smear machine"; they hit back, and they hit below the belt. With Hillary as the Donkey candidate we'll have another nasty election. Maybe with Obama we'll get some true rhetoric flowing between he and McCain. But as I stated a week or so ago, McCain and Hillary seem to like each other..scary as that may be.

As far as Obama or Clinton; the race is too close. I do think at this point momentum is with Obama. The longer the race goes, the more likely it is he’ll be the one to finish it. And McCain looks to be the most feared (and electible) over either of the Donkey choices at this point:

My vote will continue to be thoroughly undecided for the time-being. McCain is just too moderate for me. Hillary scares the bejezus out of me. Obama seems to be able to vocalize one word, "change" without any substance. But here is the thing that frightens me the most: Senators make piss-ass Presidents. And it looks like we'll be voting a Senator into the White House irregardless.

Never before have two senators run against each other for the White House.

Only 5 Presidents, Warren G. Harding, John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon Johnson were Senators before they were elected President. Of those Harding never held another elected position, and Truman only held a judgeship and the Vice-Presidency. Why?

Perhaps the reason lies in what makes a successful Senator: a diplomat. Unfortunately, “diplomat? and “leader? don’t make good bedfellows. Rare is the Senator that can a) strike the populous as a leader of the country, and b) can execute once they get there. History has not been kind to Harding or Lyndon Johnson, and the jury is out on Nixon and in some circles on Kennedy.

Let's dive into this aspect just a bit deeper.

Obama, Hillary, and McCain are all sitting Senators. A whopping total of two sitting Senators have been elected president - and even there, there's a mixed record:

Warren Harding, our disgraced 29th president, was notable for three things:

1. He was the only newspaper man to occupy the oval office. (The press and politicians regularly make the bottom of the list of trusted professionals. So Harding was a double whammy.) 2. He had the largest feet of any president (size 14), all the more surprising that he and his wife had no children - though he did sire a child out of wedlock with mistress Nan Britton. (By the way William Howard Taft wore "gout shoes" which are sized differently.) 3. He presided over the most scandal-tarred presidency in history. (Give the guy credit: He was in office for less than one term.)

John F. Kennedy is the other president to have been elected while still serving in the Senate. His record, of course, is better, even if things began disastrously with the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Still he was elected only narrowly (the definition of "narrowly" being "a bunch of dead people in southern Illinois") and perhaps only because his competition was Vice President Richard Nixon, a sweaty unlikable guy hobbled by a title that rivals Senator in presidential unelectability. (When V.P. George H.W. Bush was elected president in 1988, he was the first veep to do so since Martin Van Buren, 152 years before!!)

It's not as if Senators haven't tried for higher office. During this presidential election alone, Six senators have thrown their hats in the ring.

So why else don't Americans like to give Senators the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

The President is Chief Executive Officer. So the prize has gone overwhelmingly to governors, our states' highest executives, who in many ways are like mini-presidents. (Among other powers, the governor is the commander-in-chief of his/her state.) Senators, on the other hand, rarely can take credit for doing anything singlehandedly, so they're rarely seen as leaders. They co-sponsor complicated, often shady, legislation - legislation they can sometimes shirk responsibility for when the legislation turns out to be a liability. Sure, they have power to "advise and consent." But they can't order anyone to do anything.

Go back to the last election. Remember John Kerry? He seemed to have the makeup of a successful Senator: flexible, nuanced, a horse trader of sorts. Yet he didn’t have what appeared to be the makings of a good President: decisiveness and direction.

And this is where Obama will nail the coffin shut on Hillary. After several defeats Dem's were asking, “What happened to standing up for the little guy"? That’s what the Democrats were always about. Instead, in '04 they got this eastern, blueblood, upper-crust pansy who seemed to have absolutely no connection to the common man. And now they have a choice between Obama and another East Coast blueblood upper-crust pansy. Yeah, Hillary may be a yokel from Arkansas but she's all New York City now.

On the other other hand, the best Senators master the art of compromise, a skill sorely needed after 7 years of runaway White House power mongering. And if a Senator does manage to slog through the procedural morass and come out with something to show for him/herself, that's a real accomplishment.

At least, we better hope so. Because we're about to elect our third sitting Senator to be leader of the free world.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:12 AM
February 8, 2008
Nut Job of the Week

There is only one candidate for this week's VU Nut Job of the Week: Sean Salisbury. It wasn't even close.

I have never liked Salisbury even when he was playing with the Minnesota Vikings (1990-1994). The constant pompous attitude did me in. It's as if he has never actually had it made known to him that he was a horrible QB, a horrible person, and a complete and utter ass. Many of my buddies refer to him as ESPN's resident retard NFL analyst. And that's a pretty high distinction. Apparently, Sean hasn't learned a thing. Let's backtrack for a moment.

In the fall of 2006, Salisbury was suspended by ESPN for one week, for alleged misconduct at ESPN. That was because he thought it cool to go around the studio showing pictures of his private parts. Sean took a picture of his "tool" on his cell phone and was quite excited to show it to everyone at the company. "Hey, looky here what I can do with this phone!!"

Well, he has done it again. Ol' Sean recently thought he could be funny by demeaning John Clayton's appearance, comparing him to the the Crypt Keeper and calling him a clown. This was during one of those fake on-air debate segments with Clayton.

Here it is:

I think it is time for Ol' Sean to be fired....not suspended. Let him try to get a job in the real world. He can always put VU Nut Job of the Week on his resume. He could list it right under his "tool" cell phone picture.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:22 AM
February 6, 2008
Biggest Upset of the Weekend

The world does not revolve around American sports. I've always had a problem with crowning our sports teams as "world champions" when 90% of the world may not even play the sport. How can you deem yourself as a world champion when the sport you play may only take place in America?

I like to consider myself something of a world sports nut. Yeah, I still like American football the best but you can just as easily find me watching snooker (Google it if you have no idea) or my secret passion....rugby. Whenever I travel to Great Britain, I make a point to purchase as many rugby jersey's as my wife will allow.

So suffice it to say the biggest upset this past weekend was not the Giants beating the Patriots. Nope, not even close. It took place during the Six Nations tourney. The Six Nations is an annual competition to determine the top rugby nation in Europe. It is played between England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France and Italy. The top clash of Round 1 saw Wales journey to Twickenham, where the hosts England were out for revenge following a 27-18 loss in the last game of the 2007 tournament.

This past Saturday, Wales came from 13 points down to beat England 26-19 in the Six Nations on Saturday for its first win at Twickenham for 20 years. Twenty years. Can you imagine if the Vikings had not won at Lambeau for 20-years and went there and won?

Have a secret sports passion that you'd like to share? Leave a comment!

Go Wales! And go Vikes!

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:00 AM
February 5, 2008
Viking Kick Sled

I'm still very upset about the Carter-McDaniel snub. It is clear that the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee is political and has taken on what has shamed the film academy for so long: That being to recognize people it had previously overlooked. In 2006 Martin Scorsese won the Academy Award for Best Director for The Departed, which also won Best Picture. It was thought to be long overdue, and some entertainment critics subsequently referred to it as Scorsese's "Lifetime Achievement" Oscar, or the "Taxi Driver/Raging Bull/Goodfellas" Oscar.

Carter was snubbed for Art Monk. McDaniel for Gary Zimmerman. I do not begrudge the fact that either Monk or Zimmerman got selected. Both are deserving and were over-due. What is an issue with me is that two more deserving players were left out in the cold because of previous over-sights made by the selection committee. It ain't right, no matter how it is painted.

Enough. Time to move on.

This past weekend my son and I were able to attend the Plymouth Fire and Ice Festival. Being that my wife was in charge of the volunteers staffing the event, I could say we were obliged to attend.....but we enjoyed ourselves and would have gone anyway.

One thing that my son and I did was to try our hand at the Viking Kick Sleds. Yeah, the name alone drew us to the exhibition area.....but we had a blast with them.

Google Viking Kick Sled and the description you get is:

Take a funny, wooden chair and place a crossbar handle on the top. Attach this contraption to two metal runners. Voila, you have one of the most versatile means of transportation on snow there is, a kick sled or what the Norwegians call a spark or sparkstøtting.

Much like a scooter, you hold on to the crossbar handle, place one foot on a metal runner, then kick with the other. Hence the name spark, which means kick in Norwegian. But why the seat if you stand on one of the runners?

Whole families have been know to travel on one spark, one adult on the runners, the other on the seat with the children. The crossbar handle doubles as hooks for shopping bags, and a backpack can rest on the seat if the straps are secured around the handlebar.

The origins of the spark is somewhat unclear, but it's related to the sledge which predated skis by several thousand years. The oldest known sledge, found in Heinola, Finland, dates from 6500 B.C. The spark is much younger since steel runners couldn't be manufactured until the mid 19th century.

The modern version of the spark first appeared in a Swedish newspaper back in 1872 near Pitea on the Gulf of Bothnia. It is believed to have entered Norway about 1885 from Norrland near Tarna in Swedish Lappland. When the spark crossed the Atlantic is unknown, but chances are it was brought here by Scandinavian immigrants.

Go Vikes...literally! See you on the ice!

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:15 AM
February 2, 2008
Travesty

It is now official: The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Caton, Ohio is a complete and utter joke. It has become crystal clear that unless you are a wearing at least one Super Bowl ring on a finger, it doesn't mean diddly-squat how many Pro Bowls you went to; how many All Pro first teams you made; how you rank in career statistics; or if you "just catch touchdowns. Almost the entire national media had Cris Carter and Randall McDaniel as shoo-in's in this years balloting. Just how much of a travesty was the voting this year?

Consider, this man is in the Hall of Fame.

Yep, Michael, "I Like Coke" Irvin is in Canton. Cris Carter is not. Lets compare stats:

Coke Man
Pro Bowls - 5
All Pro - 3
Career Receptions - 750 (24th all-time)
Career Receiving yards - 11904 (16 all-time)
Career Receiving TDs - 65 (39th all-time)

CC
Pro Bowls - 8
All Pro - 4
Career Receptions - 1102 (2nd all-time)
Career Receiving yards - 13899 (6th all-time)
Career Receiving TDs - 130 (2nd all-time)

Makes sense to me that the Coke Man is crushed by CC in those five categories but still has a HOF jacket and Carter does not. Riiiiiigggghhhht.

On to Randall McDaniel. Dan "I Don't Know When to Shut the Hell Up" Dierdorf is in Canton. McDaniel is not. Let's compare, shall we?

The Mouth
Pro Bowls - 6
All Pro 6

McDaniel
Pro Bowls - NFL record 12 consecutive Pro Bowls
All Pro - 11

McDaniel does a ton of work for schools and other community service. He has never stopped giving back to the community that roared for him each and every Sunday.

Diedorf blathers on, oblivious to the fact the mute button should have been named for him.

So if you were to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the near future, you will see the likes of Irvin and Dierdorf enshrined there. But don't look for Carter or McDaniel. No wonder the hall is located in one of the armpits of Ohio (sorry Ohio....I'm pissed!). It has to be. If it were located in a real city it would have been burned to the ground by now.

Someone cue the soft music...I'm going to be sick for a few days.

CC's 1000th Reception Musical Slide Show

CC's 65 yard winning TD Minnesota Vikings over Bears

The Man's Nothing Box

Just in time for the Super Bowl, a special YouTube video for husbands and wives everywhere. Enjoy!

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 2:16 PM
The Minnesota Vikings Want Your Opinion

I got this e-mail from the Vikes earlier this week. I figured I'd pass along to everyone to have a turn at providing feedback as well. Go at it!

Dear Minnesota Vikings Club Season Ticket Holder:

The Vikings value the feedback and support of our fans. With the help of the National Football League, we are working to ensure that we are meeting your expectations in every way. Because your continued support is so important to us, we need to hear your voice!

In the spirit of continuous improvement, we invite you to share your thoughts with us by completing the following survey. Please take the next 15-20 minutes to express your opinions on a variety of subjects relating to your game day experience.

To access the survey click here:

http://vikings12.turnkeysurveyor.com

If your e-mail program does not support links, copy and paste the web address into your browser. All responses will be kept completely confidential. We sincerely thank you for sharing your views as we continue to do our best to make each season a memorable one.

Sincerely,

The NFL & the Minnesota Vikings

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 12:17 AM
February 1, 2008
Dogs vs. Cats

I own two (and love) two dogs. They are fabulous pets....and a lot of work. I was sent this following funny article. I'm sure dog/cat owners every where can relate!

DOG DIARY

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!

9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!

9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing !

10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!

12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!

1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing !

3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!

5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!

7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing !

8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite
thing!

11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

CAT DIARY

Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.

In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am.

Bastards!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow - - but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches.

The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe.

For now...

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:00 AM
January 31, 2008
Rush has a Point

Yeah, I know. It is Super Bowl week and I'm now posting another political blog entry. I dunno, maybe my hormones are out of whack and before you know it I'll be hiking my pants up to my armpits and spouting about, "those young whippersnappers and their damn skateboards."

My guy, Rudy-Rudy-Rudy has dropped out of the race leaving us with Senator John McCain as the likely elephant candidate. I like the guy...I just can't get excited about him. And it is that apathy that worries me. How many other conservative types will not bother to vote come November and make it easy for the donkey's to regain the White House (and I'm not saying that's bad....just that I don't swing that way any more).

There was one voice in the wilderness that was able to summarize my frustration: Mr. Rush Limbaugh. I don't always agree with Rush.....but he nailed it Wednesday and I bring that summary here for you to peruse and comment on. Enjoy! Maybe we'll talk pigskin later this week.

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

JOHNNY DONOVAN: And now from EIB Election Headquarters: Rush Limbaugh is about to make an important statement.

AUDIENCE: (sounds of milling about)

RUSH: (tapping the microphone)

RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen?

AUDIENCE: (applause)

RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you. Thank you very much for coming. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush!

RUSH: No, no, no, no. No. Thank you. Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, to all of those gathered here -- my loyal staff, my enthusiastic supporters, those of you who spread the word to every neighborhood, every precinct -- thank you. Thank you so much for all of your tireless hard work. We all work tirelessly, even I. I personally travel from my home to my studio, and back -- and I travel from my Florida studio to my New York studio. But, alas, we did not win. Now, I know that there are reports of campaign irregularities, but I want to point out to all of you: This is no time to quit. This is no time to feel down. This is no time to feel defeated. (wild applause and cheers) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. The same media... (boos) The same media that could not call New Hampshire right still... (boos) Ladies and gentlemen, please. The same media that couldn't call New Hampshire right still shamelessly in the prediction game, is predicting my demise and your demise. (boos) But I say, "Bah!" The same media that's losing circulation and readers and viewers and respect (applause) is predicting my demise.

AUDIENCE: Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush!

RUSH: Thank you. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Rush! Rush! Rush!

RUSH: Thank you. Thank you. We did not win. But we did not and we have not lost. I know of all these reports of campaign irregularities. It has been revealed and documented, ladies and gentlemen. My name was left off the ballots in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties, Broward County. (boos) My name was not to be found on the ballots in Orlando, Jacksonville, in Tampa, St. Pete. (boos) No, no, no, no. Elections are what they are, and one thing we know is there will always be another. This election might have been stolen from us, ladies and gentlemen, but let me assure you we will not -- I repeat -- we will not. We will not pull an Algore and sue anybody. (applause) We will not look at hanging chads, nor lawyers, no lawsuits. Thank you.


AUDIENCE: (cheers and applause)

RUSH: Thank you. Thank you. (cheers and applause) Thank you.

RUSH BABE: We love you, Rush!

RUSH: Thank you. I love you, too.

AUDIENCE: Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush!

RUSH: My friends, my friends, there is reason for optimism, there is reason for hope. By the way: "Change" is a stupid slogan, and so is "hope," but I know some of you want hope. Be of good cheer. From the shadows of this setback, let me offer this uplifting thought. In Florida, half the liberals voted for Mrs. Clinton. One-third of the Republicans voted for Senator McCain. Our friends in the media predicting my demise (boos) talk about how conservatism is dead. Let me ask a simple question, ladies and gentlemen. Why is it that all of the Republican candidates claim, to now carry the mantle of Ronald Reagan? Senator McCain is the most recent. "McCain Claims Conservative Mantle." Said McCain (doing McCain impression), "It shows one thing: I'm the conservative leader who can unite the party." How can I be said to have lost, ladies and gentlemen, when what I stand for is rock-ribbed conservatism, and each one of these candidates -- each one of them flawed, by the way, which has caused many conservatives to be wandering aimlessly in the electoral woods. How can it be said that I have lost or that conservatism has lost, when all of our Republican candidates claim to be conservative and to carry the conservative mantle?

AUDIENCE: Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush!

RUSH: In fact, it looks to me like Fred Barnes' candidate, Rudy Giuliani, has now dropped out. It looks like David Brooks' candidate, Mike Huckabee, has no traction -- he hasn't won anything since Iowa -- and he needs to get out. Tom Brokaw's candidate, Hillary Clinton, she's in deep trouble going into Super Tuesday. The race card didn't work. She needs the "firewall" of the Latino vote. But Tom Brokaw's candidate is floundering. Tim Russert's candidate, Barack Obama, seems to be doing better than expected. Good for you, Tim. I'm proud of you. Olbermann's candidate, Kucinich, is now gone. He's back in Ohio, trying to keep his seat against a primary challenger. Mort Kondracke's candidate, Ron Paul, gets weirder by the minute. (boos) Thank you. And I want to stress once again, ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for your support, and I want to assure you that I cannot -- and I will not -- leave the Golden EIB Microphone. (applause) I will not retire. I will not concede. (cheers and applause) I will not drift away! I will not fade away, until every American agrees with me --

AUDIENCE: Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush!

RUSH: -- as I have always said.

AUDIENCE: (cheers and applause)

AUDIENCE: Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush!


RUSH: Thank you. Thank you. (wild cheering) Here is the bottom line, ladies and gentlemen. I think this is it. There was a lot of anxiety among a lot of conservatives about Senator McCain. It's simply indisputable. But there was no figure in our roster of candidates who rose up to challenge him or galvanize conservative support. All the candidates on our side, for various reasons, are uninspiring or worse -- and so, just as I predicted, the base has fractured. Some going here, some going there. Senator McCain's been able to cobble together enough votes to win in a few states. Fine. He deserves credit for that. But to pretend that Senator McCain is the choice of conservatives when exit poll data from every primary state show just the opposite... He is not the choice of conservatives, as opposed to the choice of the Republican establishment -- and that distinction is key. The Republican establishment, which has long sought to rid the party of conservative influence since Reagan, is feeling a victory today as well as our friends in the media. But both are just far-fetched and wrong. Thank you. Thank you very much for your steadfast support, and I trust it shall continue because I shall.

AUDIENCE: (applause) Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush! Rush!

RUSH: Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Rush! Rush!

RUSH: Thank you.

RUSH BABE: We love you, Rush!

AUDIENCE: (applause)

RUSH: What is that, Mr. Snerdley? What do you mean, "How do I keep going?" (tearing up) How...? How...? How do I do this? (voice breaking) You know...I have such a... a vision for this country. (sniffling) I...

HILLARY: I have so many opportunities from this country. (voice breaking) I just don't want to see us fall backwards. (crying) No.

AUDIENCE: (smattering of applause)

HILLARY (emotional): So, it's not just political. It's not just public. I see what's happening. We have to reverse it. (quivering voice) And some people think elections are a game. They think it's like who's up or who's down.

RUSH: (sobbing) I don't want to fall backwards, either. (sniffle) Do you think this will help me with the women's vote?

END TRANSCRIPT

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:01 AM
January 30, 2008
Chip on North Dakota's Shoulder

First,let me state upfront that I'm a born & bred raised North Dakotan. From the thriving metropolis of Jamestown; current population 15471 and stagnant. Go Blue Jays!

But my home state had its collective pride stung recently when National Geographic did a unsavory piece...dirty buggers as my Grandma would say....called the "Emptied Prairie".

The article portrays North Dakota as a state littered with dead towns. Recently, the state's governor sent a letter to the magazine's Editor-in-Chief inviting a crew back to cover what he says the article left out.

North Dakota governor's letter to National Geographic

January 18, 2008

Dear Mr. Johns:

The recent article about North Dakota in the January 2008 issue of National Geographic was way off the mark. To give the magazine's readers a more accurate picture of our state, I've asked our Commerce Commissioner and Tourism Director to contact your editors and invite you back to cover what you left out - the fact that North Dakota is a growing 21st Century state with a bright future.

What you left out is the fact that North Dakota has a growing economy, well educated citizens, low crime, great infrastructure and one of the cleanest environments in America. All this adds up to a great quality of life. Our cities are growing, and our rural areas are finding new ways to create jobs and opportunities for our people.

For example, new ethanol and biodiesel facilities are transforming rural communities like Richardton, Underwood, Hankinson, Casselton, and Velva. Just a few years ago, North Dakota produced less than 40 million gallons of ethanol a year. With these new facilities, we will produce half a billion gallons. Your article also makes mention of the "moan of the wind" on the prairie, but that same wind is on its way to producing nearly 1000 megawatts of clean renewable energy on commercial wind farms across North Dakota.

In addition, Dakota Growers Pasta, a native North Dakota company, is now the third largest pasta manufacturer in North America, and other value-added enterprises like it are helping agriculture in North Dakota change and grow.

These are all small town, rural enterprises that reflect the spirit and ingenuity we have in North Dakota. Your article featured the small town of Mott, N.D., but failed to mention that every fall it is a destination for pheasant hunters from around the country and around the world. It's ironic that you represented this town with a photo of an abandoned homestead, when a more revealing image for your readers might have been a photo of sports fans lining the highway for 18 miles last year to cheer on the local football team, the Wildfire, on its way to the state championship games in Fargo.

Whether it's tourism, agriculture, energy, manufacturing or technology, North Dakota is moving forward. We're home to innovative firms like Microsoft Business Solutions, a subsidiary of Microsoft, which now employs 1,400 people at its Fargo campus. The company is currently expanding and will add nearly 500 more employees by 2010. Other companies, like Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing, Goodrich, Cirrus and Aerosmith are working to manufacture technically advanced components for the U.S. military and aviation industry.

As a consequence, we've created thousands of new jobs and careers. Our research universities and Centers of Excellence are creating the businesses and products of the future; our manufacturing sector is one of only a handful in the country that's expanding; and our energy sector is supplying the nation with clean, efficient energy, from both renewable and traditional sources.

For all of these reasons, and more, North Dakota is garnering national attention as a great place to live and work. This year Forbes Magazine has ranked the state of North Dakota 9th among all states for Business and Careers. Among 180 cities nationwide, Bismarck ranked 2nd and Fargo 4th. Most recently, the Beacon Hill Institute last month announced that North Dakota ranked 4th among all states for competitiveness - 1st in infrastructure and 4th in human resources.

There is certainly growth and opportunity in North Dakota these days, but more importantly, there is a mood of optimism across the land. At the same time, we are working hard to take our efforts to the next level, and an article that showcases the spirit, inventiveness and progress we're making would certainly be in order. I encourage you to take a broader look at our state and help us convey to the world what North Dakotans already know: that North Dakota is a great place in which to live, work, visit, study, have fun, and do business.

Sincerely,

John Hoeven Governor

This has become big national news. ABC has taken North Dakota under its wing. Did you watch the ABC news on Friday night? Check it out!

Tuesday night they aired yet another piece on the on going saga of National Geographic.

Let that be a lesson to National Geographic and their editorial board! Maybe next time, they'll paint a truer picture!

Just how cold is it here? Not so bad actually. I mean, Monday it was a balmy 46-degrees here in my Minnesota suburb. Tuesday (that's 24-hours later) it was a refreshing -1 with a windchill factor of -26. Even this polar bear (video taken in my backyard) was too warm. Better than Fargo, North Dakota where it on Tuesday it was -12 with a wind chill of -41....at 3 pm in the afternoon with the sun still up!

I hope I don't get a letter from the NoDak governor.....

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:00 AM
January 29, 2008
Nut Job of the Week

I don't believe that selecting a Viking Underground Nut Job of the Week will become a weekly award. But every now and then I'll toss it out there when the opportunity presents itself. And there are a lot of nut jobs running around in the sports world this week.

First up, you have Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins. Joe Gibbs decided to return to NASCAR and has left the team without a coach. Not only should Snyder have seen this coming and had a short list of candidates, he has chosen to put the horse before the cart and hired new offensive and defensive coordinators without a head coach in place! No "great" coach is going to be interested the job if he will be unable to run the show. The heir apparent, former Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, was interviewed four times and then promptly fired. Yep, Snyder is a strong candidate for this week's Nut Job award.

Next up is Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones. Jones deserves consideration for having the same plastic surgeon as Michael Jackson but that's not why he's being thrown in the mix this week. ESPN's Chris Mortensen suggested during a special edition of Sunday NFL Countdown that Jones is eyeing the possibility of swinging a trade with the Dolphins for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. The trade would send Marion Barber to the 'Fins in return for the #1 overall pick in which Jones would select Arkansas running back Darren McFadden. Yeah, trade a Pro Bowl running back that was under-used (and obviously under-appreciated) for an unproven rookie that would command huge signing money. Jerry Jones, Nut Job candidate #2.

Our next Nut Job candidate is playing in the Super Bowl this coming Sunday. Let me introduce you to Giants offensive lineman Grey Ruegamer. What has Ruegamer done to have me place him on the short list? Um, before we go further, please send any young children away. Okay, here we go. Ruegamer admits that he once assisted in the castration of 200 young lambs. And he accomplished the task without the aid of any tools or knives or other instruments. He used his teeth.

"You grab the forelegs and pin them to the ground, and then you grab the back legs and throw them on their back," Ruegamer said. "[A]way you go. It's the way the Basques do it. . . . [Y]ou pull them out with your teeth, spit them in a bucket, next one."

All fine candidates for the VU Nut Job of the Week but there is one nut job that has been, well, nutty as a fruit cake for a long time. And that person deserves the award this week not only based on past merit but for recent events.

gif animation

Earlier this week Raiders owner Al Davis asked head-coach Lane Kiffin to resign. Big Al even went as far as to write the letter himself. All Kiffin had to do was sign. Kiffin refused.

Want to know what's even crazier? There are reports that Davis is considering hiring Dennis Green to be the new head coach. Green is YouTubes nut job #1.

But back to Big Al. Think this guy has a screw loose?

Kiffin has been the Raiders' coach for one year, which followed the one-year tenure of Art Shell, which followed the two-year tenure of Norv Turner, which followed the two-year tenure of Bill Callahan. Since moving back to Oakland from L.A. in 1995, the Raiders have had six head coaches. They also had a bad boy that only "played when he wanted to play" and knew when it was time to get out. How did that work out for ya Randy?

Yep, Al Davis has taken down the once great Oakland Raider franchise. Black hole indeed.

Did I miss anyone? Let me know of any other nut jobs out there. Leave a comment.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:00 AM
January 26, 2008
Leader of the Free World

I consider myself something of a presidential historian. This fascination with U.S. Presidents started in grade school when I picked up my first book on past leaders. Jump forward forty years and I still am a sucker for books on the past leaders of the free world. My last such read was The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey which provided additional information on Teddy Roosevelt that I didn't already know.

One would think that all this knowledge would mean I can really pick 'em when it comes to voting in our presdential elections. Nothing could be farther from the truth. At great risk of embarrassing myself, here is my past voting history:

1980
Ronald Reagan - Republican
Jimmy Carter - Democrat
John B. Anderson - Independent

In my very first vote for president, this 19-year old know-it-all voted for the peanut farmer from Georgia. Hey! The man had seen UFO's. I was sold and I was 0-1 out of the chute. And I was not even close.

1984
Ronald Reagan - Republican
Walter F. Mondale - Democrat

Four years wiser and went to the polls and voted for the guy from Minnesota. Seemed honest, but maybe too honest.

And I found myself 0-2. After moving to metropolitan Washington D.C., I came to appreciate Reagan and consider him one of the three greatest U.S. presidents.

1988
George H. Bush - Republican
Michael S. Dukakis - Democrat

I was now living in Texas and should have known better. But in my third time at the polls I stayed true to my democratic upbringing and voted for Dukakis. I mean, the man looked pretty good riding around in that tank.

I was starting to think I might not ever vote for an actual presidential winner. I now stood at 0-3.

1992
William J. Clinton - Democrat
George H. Bush - Republican
H. Ross Perot - Independent

I was now living in Minnesota. I was married. My positive feelings about the Democratic party were beginning to unravel. I found Bush to be dull and he wasn't giving me the answers I was looking for. I was very, very angry at both parties. I revolted. I placed my first and only "protest" vote and voted for Perot. I mean, the man had charts. Very nice charts....and a crazy aunt in the attic.

I was now 0-4 on the loser scale.

1996
William J. Clinton - Democrat
Robert J. Dole - Republican
H. Ross Perot - Independent

In 1996 I was firmly turning conservative. I was now thirty-five years old and I was tired of having to pay for every damn program the liberals could think of. So I placed my first vote for the Elephant candidate. I mean, Bob Dole had that presidential quality, right?

0-5 for presidents. I was starting to laugh about it.

2000
George W. Bush - Republican
Albert A. Gore - Democrat
Ralph Nader - Independent

I now had a child. I was listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. I wanted the Dems out of the White House. I voted Bush. I was now 1-5. It remains to be seen if I actually "won" or not.

2004
George W. Bush - Republican
John F. Kerry - Democrat

There was no way I was going to vote for Frenchy. I kept true to the Republicans and voted for Bush a second time. I recall staying up very late to watch the electoral totals in Ohio. Can I get back to .500?

It is now 2008. I am back to being disgusted with both parties and the state of politics in America. I'm not sure when I'll make up my mind on who I'll vote for but it is wide-open currently.

It is early yet, but by all accounts Hillary Clinton and John McCain are starting to get hot. Sort of like the Giants heading into the playoffs. You want to be on a roll when it counts and Super Tuesday is right around the corner.

And maybe a Clinton vs. McCain race wouldn't be a mud-slinging type of affair and bring a presidential campaign back to respectability, which would be refreshing for America....don't you think. The two certainly admire each other.

mch.jpg

So, leave a comment and help me decide. Swing me one way or the other. If you force an answer from me at this very moment I would commit to Rudy-Rudy-Rudy Giuliani as he is at least promoting some new ideas rather than just the typical non-answer blather we're getting pre-convention at the moment. Giuliani has a plan for the largest tax cut in American history that will simplify the tax code, allowing tax payers to file on a single piece of paper and create new jobs.

My 2008 and future presidential predictions? Here you go. Lock these in. I mean, look at my track record!!!

2008 - Hillary Clinton
2012 - Hillary Clinton
2016 - Jeb Bush
2020 - Jeb Bush
2024 - Chelsea Clinton
2026 - Chelsea Clinton

Have a good one! We'll shoot for some football talk soon.


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 12:05 PM
January 22, 2008
More Good from Giants Big Win

I've only time for a quick blurb. My son was giddy for the Giants win over the Packers Sunday night for numerous reasons. One: I allowed him to stay up late to watch the whole game. He was doubly excited when the game went into overtime as that meant he could stay up even later!

Two: For some reason, my son is a die-hard Vikes fan and abhors the Packers. I can't quite figure that one out ;)

Three: His second grade class held a contest. The children were asked who they thought would win the NFC Championship game. The losing side would then be required to perform six "real" pushups and thirty situps. Only two people selected the Giants, my son and his best friend. And today is the day that the "losers" have to perform these feats. My son plans to do the Nelson voice (Ha-Ha) from the Simpsons the whole time these exercises are being performed. That would have been a great one for YouTube.

Anyone else have a bet with a Cheeser go your way? If so, leave a comment and tell us about it!

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 10:39 AM
January 21, 2008
Favre Exposed

Just a week ago Tony Romo was chastised for taking a trip to Mexico with Jessica Simpson. Simpson and Romo werer spotted everywhere from snuggling together in the back of an SUV, to sunbathing on the patio of their luxurious beach digs.

Dallas then lost to the New York Giants and many 'Boy's fans and even some teammates accused Romo of not having his head on straight for a playoff game.

In overtime on Sunday night, the NFL's all-time interceptions leader choked away a potential Super Bowl appearance by tossing a interception in O.T. costing the Packers a trip to Arizona and allowing the NFC's fifth seed, the Giants, to advance.

Some wonder if Favre had his head on straight. Had Favre taken a sunny vacation? The Viking Underground sent out its best undercover reporters to uncover the truth. The following video link will shock you. If may even disturb you. But it clearly exposes Favre as being ill-prepared for the NFC title game.

Favre exposed

(Note: Do to heavy traffic, please allow 10-30 seconds for the video to start. Please be patient. The video isn't over until the music stops!)

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 2:28 AM
HOF Color of Choice: Purple

Breaking: This just in to the VU. Coach Brad Childress has been seen in the Swiss Alps learning special dancing techniques that he hopes endears him to the fans in 2008. Chili has been viewed as a cold fish. Take a look at this two dance segments and think again. (Note: Wait for the flash to engage..usually in just a few secs after you have clicking on these links)

Chili Moves One

Chili Moves Two

This year's class at the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions in Canton, Ohio should have a distinctive purple hue to it.

At the top of the list for possible Vikings inductee's is Cris Carter who is one reception away from Canton.

Carter, 42, was named as one of 17 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. The class of 2008 will be announced Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl. Carter played 16 seasons in the NFL for three different teams (Philadelphia, Minnesota and Miami). He ranks second on the NFL's all-time list in total receptions (1,101) and receiving touchdowns (130). Carter, who was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990s, was selected to play in eight Pro Bowls (1993-2000 seasons).

I don't see how in the world they can keep him out of Canton. The only thing that could hold Carter back is that it is difficult to be voted in during the first year of eligibility. A minimum of four and maximum of seven finalists can be chosen. To be elected, a finalist must receive 80 percent of the 44 votes from the Hall's Board of Selectors.

The other finalists are Fred Dean, Richard Dent, Marshall Goldberg, Randy Gradishar, Darrell Green, Russ Grimm, Ray Guy, Bob Kuechenberg, Art Monk, Andre Reed, Paul Tagliabue, Derrick Thomas and Emmitt Thomas, Andre Tippett and former Vikings Gary Zimmerman and Randall McDaniel.

Last year McDaniel missed the cut in his first year of eligibility. A true travesty and I look for McDaniel to be a finalist this year and be inducted this year. Gary Zimmerman did make the cut but fell short of induction. McDaniel belongs over Zimmerman in my mind.

Consider: Randall McDaniel has embodied the characteristics that define Hall of Famers. The NFL’s Record and Fact Book is 784 pages long. On Page 750, the league lists the records for the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl. In the very first category, the first record listed is service (games played). One name sits atop the list – Randall McDaniel with 12 Pro Bowl games played.

While the numbers are compiled from 1971-2006 and don’t include the 14 selections for Merlin Olsen or the 12 for Ken Houston, nobody in the modern era played in more Pro Bowls than McDaniel – Reggie White was selected 13 times but played in 11, Jerry Rice was selected 13 times but played in 10 and Bruce Matthews was selected 14 times but played in 10 games.

One would think that in the only honor that distinguishes individual play, that the Pro Bowl would be the benchmark for induction into the Hall of Fame. It would seem that, like Vikings that have preceded him, not playing in a Super Bowl – a team achievement – is what prevented him from being on the first ballot.

Only seven offensive linemen have been elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot –- Forrest Gregg, Jim Otto, Jim Langer, Gene Upshaw, John Hannah, Anthony Munoz and Jackie Slater. What do they all have in common? They played in at least one Super Bowl. Coincidence? Don’t bet on it.

Of the offensive linemen that made the cut of 17, all of them share the same history of having played in at least one Super Bowl or NFL Championship Game – Bruce Matthews, Russ Grimm, Gene Hickerson, Bob Kuechenberg and Zimmerman.

While this doesn’t mean that McDaniel won’t eventually get the call to the Hall, it is disheartening to think that, of the ultimate individual honor in a team sport, that the Vikings' inability to get to a Super Bowl would be the biggest stumbling block for McDaniel to get the recognition he so richly deserves. He couldn’t have done anything more to deserve induction in his career and was acknowledged by his peers as the best guard of his era. Unfortunately, it’s going to take longer than some had figured it would for McDaniel to end up in Canton. I do think it will happen this year.

But back to CC. I remember being at the game on November 30, 200 when Cris Carter caught the 1,000th pass of his career for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions on a rare Thursday night game. Going into the game, Carter needed five receptions against the Lions to become the second player in NFL history with 1,000 catches. Jerry Rice has 1,259.

From my end zone I can still see the Vikings marching to a score on the opposite side of the field. I was nervously watching the clock tick down to the end of the first quarter as Carter caught his fourth pass of the game, and 999th of his career, at the Lions' 4 on the final play of the. That meant the team would be trying to score right in front of me as they switched direction.

The Vikings went back to Carter on the first play of the second quarter. The following play took place right in front of me: Carter beat safety Kywin Supernaw in the end zone and caught a four-yard pass from Daunte Culpepper to give the Vikings a 14-0 lead. And Carter had his 1000th catch followed by a hug from the Super Freak (Randy Moss) and a huge celebration.

In honor of that event, I was able to locate my own personal photos from that game and put together the following YouTube video:

My prediction is that McDaniel and Carter make the hall along with Green and Tagliabue. Yours? Vote for each person you think should be inducted:

Which Belong in Canton?
Select each name you think belongs in the HOF
Cris Carter
Fred Dean
Richard Dent
Marshall Goldberg
Randy Gradishar
Darrell Green
Russ Grimm
Ray Guy
Bob Kuechenberg
Randall McDaniel
Art Monk
Andre Reed
Paul Tagliabue
Derrick Thomas
Emmitt Thomas
Andre Tippett
Gary Zimmerman
Poll starter: Mr. COD See Results

Looking Like No London Game

There is a huge Vikings fan base in Great Britain. They were hoping that the Vikings might be selected to participate in a follow-up event to the 2007 regular season's game between the Giants and Dolphins held at London's Wembley Stadium. The New York Giants beat the Miami Dolphins 13-10 in front of 81,176 fans on Oct. 28.

Instead of regal purple, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head a list of four teams under consideration to play in the NFL's 2008 game in the United Kingdom, a league source said Sunday. The source identified the Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks as the leading candidates for the international series game to be played in the United Kingdom, probably in October.

The site of the game is undecided as the league is looking at two or three large stadium venues, as well as Wembley Stadium. The teams, date and venue will be announced during Super Bowl week late this month or in early February.

Wembley officials weren't so ecstatic because the game, played through a persistent drizzle, tore up the field and left it in rough shape for England's crucial European Championship qualifier against Croatia on Nov. 21. The English lost that game 3-2 and failed to qualify for Euro 2008. Besides Wembley, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, is another possible venue for next season's game.

I actually would prefer Cardiff over London should the Vikes be involved in a overseas game. The Millennium Stadium is a beautiful facility and we have close friends in Cardiff as well. And Wales is simply a lovely country to travel in and visit.

Here's to hoping for a Vikes game in Great Britian in 2009.

Movie Recommendation

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After watching so much football in January, you'll need to do something with your significant other. Mrs. Cheer Or Die and I watched Sweet Land this past weekend and our expectations were blown out of the water. By the end, Mrs. COD was in tears and I was a little verklempt myself. Since this movie takes place in rural Minnesota just after the turn of 1900's it resonated with us as we could have been watching a documentary on our respective grandparents. I wouldn't call this a chick-flick but it is a love story. Give it a whirl. From IMDb:

A young Inge Alltenburg travels to Minnesota in the 1920's to marry Olaf Torvik, a Norwiegan man who lives there. It is Inge's story of not being able to marry Olaf due to there different citizenship's, and not being accepted because of the war with Germany. Over time she learns English and befriends Olaf, Frances, and Frances' family. As Inge buries her husband Olaf on their Minnesota farm in 1968, we relive her life story as she tells her grown grandson about how she arrived from Germany in 1920 as Olaf's postal bride and of the obstacles they overcame in order to marry.
Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:00 AM
January 19, 2008
Slow As Molasses in January

It's one day before the NFL Championship games. Should I run to the beach for a quick dip? Mow the lawn? Wash the car? Um, no. You see, when Mr. Cheer Or Die woke up this morning the outside temperature was minus 11 degrees with a little bit of a breeze bringing the windchill to minus 22. I use to love it....now I hate it.

So, instead I bundled up and went for a run. Yep, I even wear Vikings colors when I exercise.

Actually, it wasn't all that bad and I actually overdressed. You heard that correctly, running in a minus 22 degree windchill was "nice." The worst part is that I've been fighting a nagging right calf pull the last few weeks and my mileage has dropped way off. That's going to hurt me when triathlon/duathlon season opens up in April.

At least I have been able to test out two Xmas gifts: the Nike Amp+ and the Nike Hatphones. The Amp+ is a wireless device you wear on a wrist which provides feedback as you run. I recommend both products highly other than being overpriced.

For those fellow runners who use the Nike + iPod Sport Kit, be sure and sign into my current Nike challenges which can be located on the right navigation area of this blog. Nothing like being miserable together!

We've also been extremely busy with Cub Scouts. There was the recent pinewood derby annual event in which COD Jr. won the Wolves den division, much to the surprise and joy of his father. And then there was a recent visit to our local fire station to learn valuable safety tips and learn more about firefighters. Three YouTube videos are available should you have a lad in scouts and are interested in watching.

Finally this week was car problems, possibly brought on by the cold weather. I own two BMW's and have nothing but praise for my dealership, BMW Motorwerks, quite possibly the best dealership in the upper midwest if not the country. And I don't tout that lightly. Take a virtual tour to see the dealership for yourself.

I had been out in my sedan Friday morning for coffee. On the way back home my "Service Engine Soon" light came on. Since it was a yellow indicator light I knew I could keep driving it and I took it straight to the dealer. With no appointment, I figured it would be sitting there for a while. But Saturday morning I received a call that the car was ready for pick-up. They had replaced my ignition coil and two cylinders that had been misfiring. Since my car was out of warranty I expected as big bill. I ended up paying $0. That's right, a major repair was covered by the dealership under "good will", the second such time that I have been extended such a perk. The other time was replacing a single Xenon headlight that would have otherwise cost me a cool $900. That's something that just doesn't happen every day in corporate America where nickels are thrown around like man-hole covers.

My salesperson at Motorwerks BMW is also great to work with. When I dropped my car off for service Friday, she saw me and came over to greet me by first name even though she had not seen me since I purchased a Z4 from her two years earlier. So, here's to the team at BMW Motorwerks!!

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 12:37 PM
January 18, 2008
Leave a Caption: Friday

You know the drill (see Tuesday and Wednesday).

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Classic Story

Thanks to Kevin for giving me a heads-up on this Green Bay Packers dad who took it to extremes with his son. Of course, the typical Packer fan would just say this is "funny." I don't think so.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:00 AM
January 17, 2008
Leave a Caption: Thursday

You know the drill (see Tuesday and Wednesday).

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Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:00 AM
January 16, 2008
Leave a Caption: Wednesday

Because I am old and bitter..and also very short of time this week...I plan to post a classic Packer related photo each day this week. I ask that you take a moment and leave a witty-funny-pithy comment as to a possible caption for each photo.

Today's photo: what's your suggested caption? Notice the hand placement!

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Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:00 AM
January 15, 2008
Leave a Caption

Because I am old and bitter..and also very short of time this week...I plan to post a classic Packer related photo each day this week. I ask that you take a moment and leave a witty-funny-pithy comment as to a possible caption for each photo.

A new videocast should be up in time for the championship games this weekend. Other than that, I'm working on getting Billy Volek for the Vikes via trade (straight up for Troy Williamson) and assisting in locating an anger management course for Mr. Phil Rivers who has become the leading candidate for As**ole of the Year.

Today's photo: what's your suggested caption?

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Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:00 AM
January 10, 2008
For the Married Football Fan/Book Review

Today we move away from football so you can turn your attention to your wife. You know, that other adult person in your house that brings you chips and dip whilst you park your large rear-end on the couch every Saturday & Sunday through the entire playoffs? You better lavish her with attention this week so she doesn't give you the Evil Eye this weekend.

With that purpose in mind, I bring you a review of Key Female Words. Study these and you'll live to be 80:

1. "Fine"
This is the word women use at the end of any argument when they feel they are right but can't stand to hear you argue any longer. It means that you should shut up. (NEVER use "fine" to describe how she looks. This will cause you to have one of those arguments.)

2. "Five minutes"
This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so women feel that it's an even trade.

3. "Nothing"
"Nothing" means something and you should be on your toes. "Nothing" is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. "Nothing" usually signifies an argument that will last "Five Minutes" and end with the word "Fine."

4. "Go Ahead" (with raised eyebrows)
This is NOT permission; it's a dare! If you mistake it for permission, the result will be the woman will get upset over "Nothing" and you'll have a "five-minute" discussion that will end with the word "Fine."

5. "Go Ahead" (normal eyebrows)
This is NOT permission, either. It means "I give up" or "do what you want because I don't care." You will get a raised eyebrow "Go Ahead" in just a few minutes, followed by "Nothing" and "Fine" and she will talk to you in about "Five
Minutes" when she cools off.

6. "Loud Sigh"
This is not actually a word, but is still often a verbal statement. Very frequently misunderstood by men. A "Loud Sigh" means she thinks you are a complete idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over "Nothing!."

7. "Soft Sigh"
Again, not a word, but a verbal statement. "Soft Sighs" are one of the few things that some men actually understand. It means she is momentarily content. Your best bet is to not move or breathe in the hope that the moment will last a bit longer.

8. "Oh"
This word -- followed by any statement -- is trouble. Example; "Oh, let me get that". Or, "Oh, I talked to him about what you were doing last night." If she says "Oh" before a statement, run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. She will tell you that she is "Fine" when she is done tossing your clothes out the window, but do not expect her to talk to you for at least two days. "Oh", as the lead to a sentence usually signifies that you are caught in a lie. Do not try to lie more to get out of it, or you will get a raised eyebrows "Go ahead," sometimes followed by acts so unspeakable that I can't bring myself to write about them.

9. "That's Okay"
This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can say to a man. "That's Okay" means that she wants to think long and hard before deciding what the penalty will be for whatever you have done. "That's Okay" is often used with the word "Fine" and in conjunction with a raised eyebrow "Go Ahead." Once she has had time to plan it out, you are in for some mighty big trouble.

10. "Please Do"
This is not a statement, it is an offer. The woman is giving you the chance to come up with an excuse for what you have done. In other words, a chance to get yourself into even more trouble. If you handle this correctly, you shouldn't get a "That's Okay."

11. "Thanks"
The woman is thanking you. Don't faint and don't look for hidden meaning. Just say "you're welcome."

12. "Thanks A Lot"
"Thanks A Lot" is dramatically different from "Thanks." A woman will say "Thanks A Lot" when she is really ticked off at you. It is usually followed by the "Loud Sigh." This signifies that you have hurt her in some callous way. Be careful not to ask what is wrong after the "Loud Sigh," as she will only tell you "Nothing."

New Kids Book Series

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DK publishing is launching a new series of books for kids called History Dudes ("Dudes from the past tell it like it was"). They do a good job of presenting both the daily life and important events in the lives of civilizations of the past. My son was genuinely interested in them, and we had fun going through them together. They are written by Laura Buller, and illustrated by Rich Cando, the creator of the fun Star Wars cartoon tribute, Star Dudes. Like most DK books, the information is presented in a highly graphic, non-linear form.

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So far, DK has announced two titles in the series: Viking Dudes and Ancient Egyptian Dudes.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:00 AM
January 7, 2008
Paper Cuts

Well, this blog entry was to have been an exclusive VU interview with Troy Williamson but his cell phone kept dropping the call. Sorry, comedy is not my thing.

I have been reading a book suggested to me by Shane over at the Greet Machine. Winter, especially after the Vikes are done, is my prime reading time. The book is “Old Man’s War? by John Scalzi.

This is a sci-fi book in which humans have gone to the stars to colonize other solar systems. As with other sci-fi books, the humans are hard against it because they must go up against many other sentient species that want the same real estate we do. So it is the human race against all comers. Do we crank out clones or robots or some other techy way to address populating the military? No! Earth creates an army full of retired, old people with a lifetime of know-how and an eagerness to leave Earth behind.

If I had not bothered to see who wrote the book, I would have thought that someone had found a long-lost manuscript in Robert A. Heinlein’s attic, the deceased sci-fi master. I read and own Heinlein’s entire library of sci-fi work. Such was his hold on me that during my first date with my future wife she expressed how much she had enjoyed reading Heinlein’s masterpiece “Stranger in a Strange Land? which was the 1961 Hugo Award-winning science fiction novel.

When we married, the inscription “May you never thirst? was placed inside our wedding bands in remembrance of that line from the novel and of our first date. “Old Man’s War? is a tribute to the old master.

As I read through “Old Man’s War? I came across a line that gave me pause. The line was part of a passage from boot camp and went, without giving too much away, “….was a slow death by paper cuts…? and I immediately equated this to being a Vikings fan.

Paper cuts are nasty. They hurt like hell for a very brief moment. Then the pain is gone until you are reminded of the cut when you soap up in the shower, or get salt in the cut when making dinner, or Tabasco sauce drips into it as you eat some tacos. Think about it. The pain is the same for Vikes fans no matter your age.

The Drew Pearson push-off in 1975.

The fumble on the goal-line as the Vikes drove to score first in Super Bowl XI after blocking the punt from the Raider’s Ray Guy.

Darrin Nelson against the Redskins in 1987.

Gary Anderson gagging on a 38-yard attempt with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter in the '98 NFC Championship game.

Paper cuts. They all hurt like hell when they happened. The pain went away, but the pain sometimes returns when you least expect it. And it still hurts.

Note: If any one can locate YouTube videos for the blocked Ray Guy punt from SB XI or the Gary Anderson missed FG from the '98 NFC Championship game please let me know.

Live Blog Test Goes Well

The VU had a very good initial test of its Live Blog application (courtesy CoverItLive) and will do it again this coming Saturday during the Packers-Seahawks game. Please join us then.


Posted by maasx003 at 1:00 AM
January 4, 2008
Sammy White: Former NFL Rookie of the Year

I'm not sure if you heard the news, but Adrian Peterson was the run-away winner of The Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award for the 2007 NFL season. He received 46 1/2 of the 50 votes from a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the NFL. Cleveland left tackle Joe Thomas received the other 3 1/2 votes. Joe who!?!? We'll talk more about that on the next VU podcast with my special VU mole deep in Ohio.

The Vikes have had other ROY's in the teams history. First there was Paul Richard Flatley. Flatley played in the league from 1963 to 1970. During his career, he played for the Minnesota Vikings from '63-'67 and then with the Atlanta Falcons. Drafted by the Vikings in the 4th round in the 1963 NFL Draft, Flatley was selected as the UPI NFL-NFC Rookie of the Year. As a Viking, Flatley played in the 1966 Pro Bowl.

Then there was Chuck Foreman (born Walter E. Forman) whom the Minnesota Vikings made their first round draft choice in 1973, selecting him with the 12th overall pick in the draft. He was a consensus choice as the National Football Conference (NFC) Rookie of the Year in 1973, when he rushed for 801 yards on 182 attempts and caught 37 passes for 362 yards.

Later on there was some dude named Randy Moss. In 1998, Moss helped the Vikings to become the number one ranked offense that season while they set a then record (thanks Pats!!) for total points by a team. At the end of the 1998 regular season, Moss was named a Pro Bowl starter and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year for his rookie record 17 touchdown receptions and the third highest receiving yardage (1,313) total of 1998.

But in between Foreman and Moss there was another ROY honoree for the Purple. Often forgotten about I wanted to make sure he was remembered if for no other reason that he was a Vikings WR that actually held onto the ball. If the ball was in the general area of of him, it was caught. If the play involved crossing the middle there was no pussy-foot dance routine as the route was finished even if it meant losing his helmet. Don't believe me? Take a look at this little video I put together.

Yes, you saw that correctly. Incredible hit, right? No doubt. But White hung onto the ball. During a 3rd and long play, Fran Tarkenton dropped deep into the pocket and delivered a bullet to White who was on crossing route, with Raiders DB Skip Thomas meeting him in the middle. As White made a spectacular catch on the ball he was hit helmet-to-helmet by Raiders Safety Jack Tatum, while Thomas closed the gap. The collision knocked Sammy's helmet and chin strap off, sending the helmet tumbling about eight yards backwards from where they landed. Although shaken on the play, he held onto the ball gaining the Vikings a first down. He would return to the game, however the Vikings were outscored 32 to 14, losing their fourth Super Bowl in eight years.

They don't make them like White any longer. I just wanted to make sure this former Vikes WR and ROY was not forgotten.

See you Saturday.

MP4 iTunes Video link

Posted by maasx003 at 1:00 AM
January 3, 2008
Lazy Thursday

Winter break is over. It's back to the drudgery of work and cold winter days. I didn't have any time to put together a thoughtful blog entry (I know, like anyone would know the difference) so I'm taking the lazy man's way out by suggesting links to other insightful blogs with great information that you may want to read. It is also a great way to introduce you to other blogs you may not otherwise be aware of. And this also gives me more time to fine-tune the pinewood derby car that Cheer Or Die Jr. and I are getting ready for his Cub Scout derby day on the 12th.

Coming this weekend will be a new VU podcast as well as a new VU videocast with Cheer Or Die Jr., so you have that to look forward to. Here we go with the links of the day:

Greet Machine: This blog is the grandfather of the VU. Without the Greet Machine there would be no VU. This is a blog that I check out every day. This week, the Greet Machine has selected its Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins of the Year Award. You can always check back each week when the Greet Machine selects the Knucklehead McSpazatron of the Week award...which has been dominated by the Purple so far.

The Daily Norseman: If there is a better Vikings blog out there, I don't know where. The DN is my favorite Vikings related stop. A very good entry this week takes a look at which QB had the better season: Matt Leinart, Vince Young or our own T-Jack. Take a look. You may come away surprised.

Deadspin: My good friends at the Deadspin wrote a nice piece on the New England Patriots saying what we were all thinking as we watched the game last Saturday night. PS: I confess that I ordered a Patriots Moss jersey this week....shhhh!

Lost Forest After Dark: What other blog has a tracker for "Brett Favre Interception Watch"? Is that classic or what?!? In case you were wondering, Brettsy is at 288 and counting.

Posted by maasx003 at 1:01 AM
January 2, 2008
Left Over Stew

This blog entry is going to be a lot of ramblings and such as we wind down the Vikings season and start all the off-season thoughts.

First up, the 2008 opponents. This schedule looks a little more daunting than the 2007 one in which the Vikes finished at 8-8. At first blush, I see the Vikes again floating around the .500 mark with a possibility of a ten win season. Leave a comment and let us know what your initial reaction to these teams may be.

Vikes on the road: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Arizona and Tennessee.
Vikes at home: Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, N.Y. Giants, Atlanta, Carolina, Houston and Indy

The NFL schedule is released in April.

We Need a Bench Monkey

After watching soon-to-be ex-Viking Troy Williamson drop two key passes in the Vikings loss to the Denver Bronco's Sunday, I'm going to start a fund so the Vikings can hire a bench monkey. A player screws up, the coaching staff releases the bench monkey who then takes out the player. Of course, should the coaching staff also screw up during a game by throwing a challenge flag when it is clear the correct call was made, the owner will also be able to release the bench monkey.

Of course, this is an idea that came to me while watching the marvelous ads for Suburban Auto Group over the weekend. Here is a summary of the ads via YouTube. Let me know if you have other suggested uses for a Vikings Bench Monkey!

The Mail Bag

Chad in Osceola, Wisconsin asks, "COD, will you begin doing podcasting again anytime soon?". I have given it some thought and decided to once again begin podcasting. VU Podcast Fifty-Three is now available on the VU podcast page. iTunes users can subscribe via the XML podcast link shown there or you can listen via the embedded player found on the podcast page. I'm not sure how often I'll be doing podcasts but I would hope for at least two a month to start with. Maybe we'll start lining up some guests as well. If you have a question that you'd like answered on the podcast, just e-mail me and we'll work it in. I will keep doing the videocasting via YouTube and now have a YouTube embedded player in the left navigation area. Podcast Fifty-Three.

Patrick "Purple Pilager" Moharter asks, "Rumor has it that the Rams are going to say "Goodbye" to Issac Bruce after the season. Any chance that we might see him in purple next season if he doesn't retire?" Thanks for the messaage Pat. I've got my moles out working again and I have heard a couple of things: One, the Vikes are going shopping at DE and have their eye on Jared Allen. Now, my moles state further that rumor started at KFAN radio so I'm not sure how much street-cred it has but then those boys have better connections at Winter Park than I do. Second, the Vikes will blow up their WR corp and try and land a possession WR and a speed WR. Personally, I think Bruce will land where ever Mike Martz ends up and see little chance that the Vikes make a play. I've heard Bryant Johnson as a possibility for the possession WR and then D.J. Hackett as the look-see for the speed WR. The issue is whether any of these names would want to come to a team with an unproven QB which is one consideration currently going on with the Vikes decision for Tarvaris Jackson for next season.

MN Vikes Running Club

I have created a year-long Nike Challenge for all Vikings fans who use the NikePlus/iPod running gear. This challenge is for fans of the Minnesota Vikings football team (or anyone who just plain loves to run). This is a year-long race to keep everyone in tip-top shape for the soon-to-be-Super Bowl champion Minnesota Vikings! Join today and chart progress via the Nike section on the right navigation pane of this blog.

Viking Underground Playoff Fantasy Group

I won the Beer Brotherhood Fantasy League this year, but that does not mean that fantasy football is over! I just signed up for the NFL.com Playoff Challenge, and I'm inviting you to start a team and play against me and other Minnesota Vikings fans. I've set up a private "buddies" page to track our team's performance against each other, and against the rest of my "buddies" group. To join the VU Playoff Fantasy group, please click here. Good luck!

Posted by maasx003 at 1:10 AM