January 27, 2006
Chuck Foreman: the greatest Viking ever!
As many of you know, it was my birthday last Tuesday. Usually, I get a present from my parents, my wife and kids ... and my college roommate. Yes, as strange as that sounds, my best friend and college roommate still not only remembers my birthday, but he also gives me a present. And usually it just isn't any present, it is obvious he puts some thought into it. This year this is what he got for me:
The Star Tribune Chuck Foreman medallion! Can you believe it? Chuck Foreman is by far my favorite Viking of all time. The number 44 is an almost mythical number to me. When the Vikes gave Leroy Hoard that number I cried for days. Fortunately, no one one the Vikings has that number now. I'm not sure anyone will ever be worthy of it.
So, thanks Curt in Grand Forks! I was thrilled to receive this gift!!!!
And as an aside, this gift made me think of other Vikings memorabilia I have, and I came up with this box of Moss' Magic Crunch. Anyone else have this box? Anyone know what it is worth? Seeing this box kind of ticks me off now thinking that the Vikings used to have the greatest WR in the NFL. The cereal was good though.
January 3, 2006
Coaches and other random thoughts
First of all let me say that I was happy that Zygi gave Tice the pink slip. It is time to put the Red McCombs years behind us and the best way to do that was to fire the Tice. McCombs only hired Tice, who had questionable head coaching credentials to begin with, because he could save some money. With the Wilfs now in charge, I think we are finally going to see some changes at Winter Park that make sense if the organization is really interested in winning a championship. And this may sound callous, but I hope all the assistant coaches under Tice get the pink slip too. Here is my list of who will probably be considered:
- Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator for the Redskins. It sounds like he is the top pick amongst the players.
- Ron Rivera, defensive coordinator for the Bears. I've heard a lot of talk about this guy being given a chance somewhere in the NFL to be a head coach. We'll see if it is the Vikings.
- Ted Cotrell, defensive coordinator for the Vikes. Say it ain't so. I want to fully clean house.
- Scott Linehan, offensive coordinator for the Dolphins. Again, his credentials aren't quite there yet, but Daunte sure would be happy. I expect the Vikings will give Linehan a shot.
- For the rest of the possible choices, check out this post from Mr. Cheer or Die, plus the comments.
And concerning Tice, let me just say that I think he is a top notch guy. One of his best qualities is how gracious he is in defeat, and he showed this quality off again by praising the Wilf family after he was fired. I will remember Tice, the person, fondly.
I was also happy that the Gophers retained the services of Glen Mason. Letting Mason go would have meant rebuilding, again, for the Gophers. The Gophers cannot afford a "big name" coach to replace Mason, which would have meant hiring some kind of "no name." Retaining Mason means recruiting will continue (and Mason has done pretty well with this considering he has to recruit with the Metrodome), and it means continued respectability for Gopher football. I've said this before and I'll say it again, the Gophers will not win a Rose Bowl until they are playing on campus again. Mason is the right coach to bring them to this point.
In case you missed it, Sid reports that this week will include a big meeting between T-Paw, the Twins, and Hennepin County concerning the shape of the latest (and greatest!) new stadium plan:
A meeting next week to include Twins officials, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat and maybe other commissioners will no doubt decide if the Hennepin County plan to build a new baseball park will be extended into next year or dropped.
At this point, it is apparent that nobody involved in the negotiations for the baseball stadium are convinced Pawlenty will stick his neck out in favor of building the stadium that not only will assure the Twins remain in the state, but result in million of dollars in labor contracts and building materials.
There is no assurance that the site in back of Target Center will be continue to be available if something constructive isn't done soon.
Count me in the group that doesn't believe Pawlenty will push to get this baseball stadium built.
Amen to that. There is no way that T-Paw sticks his neck out for this, not in a year when the Republicans will undoubtedly be fighting for their political lives. I'd like to think that Pawlenty will want to solve this problem, but right now he is in extreme politician mode as he tries to make everyone as happy as possible while really getting nothing accomplished. Meanwhile, stadiums get more and more expensive ...
Just finished my first book of the year, Empire Falls by Richard Russo. This was a fantastic and very well written book, but I couldn't help but think that I've read it before. It was very similar in feel to Minnesota author Jon Hassler's Staggerford and Grand Opening. In fact, another Russo book I've read, Straight Man, was eerily similar to Rookery Blues by Jon Hassler. So, I dug around a bit to find out if anyone else has these same feelings, and I find that Russo is a big fan of Hassler. What does this mean for you? Probably nothing. But if you've read any Russo and you enjoyed it, I encourage you to pick up Hassler's books, especially Grand Opening.
Now I'm reading Planets by Dava Sobel. Pretty good so far, but nothing can top her writing in Longitude, the story of a clockmaker's attempts to solve the biggest maritime problem in the age of discovery.
That's about it. See you soon!
December 13, 2005
Daunte could throw for 146 yards
In the midst of all the praise and genuflection for Brad Johnson, I think there is an unwritten truth that needs to be ... well ... written: Daunte could throw for 146 yards too. Does anyone in their right mind doubt this? Don't get me wrong, I love Brad Johnson and all that he has brought to the team this year. He maybe has even shown Daunte a thing or two about taking what a defense gives, or how to lead a team in the huddle (that is if Daunte was ever at the game). Big Bad Brad is awesome, phenomenal, grizzled, crafty, yadda, yadda, yadda. I love him. But I don't think he is the main reason the Vikings are playing better. Here are the reasons:
- Improved defense. Actually a vastly improved defense. In years past we have all cringed at 3rd and long because we knew 9 out of 10 times the other team would convert. No more. Combine this with Planet Williams stuffing the run and you've got respectability. Not top defense in the NFL, mind you, but respectability.
- Special teams. Special team play has been awesome as of late. One only need to look at the Giants game to see how important special teams can be to the success of a football team. Which brings me to ...
- Koren Robinson. This guy is phenomenal all the way around. He can do it all: run, return, catch ... we have yet to see him pass, but I bet he could do that too. All of his spectacular play has left me wondering, "Randy who?" (just kidding!)
- Turnovers. Along with a vastly improved (and now jelling) defense the Vikings have suddenly turned into interception fiends. I believe they are 2nd in the NFL in interceptions this year. That is a big, big deal. Let's hope the trend continues during the Pittsburgh game.
- Brad Johnson. Of course, Big Bad brad is a reason for the Vikings newfound success, but I ask again, could Duante throw for 146 yards and a TD? Yes he could.
Combine Daunte with all these other reasons the Vikings are playing better and I think the record would be the same. If you think otherwise then you are smoking crack. And if you think the 37 year old Brad Johnson should replace Daunte next year, you are addicted to heroin. Peace out.
December 5, 2005
With the Vikings win yesterday everyone seems to be talking about Daunte vs. Brad Johnson. Who should be the starter next season? Would the Vikings be this good with Duante still at the helm? First of all let me say I think Brad Johnson is just what the Vikings needed this year. He has played phenomenally well, and he deserves all the accolades he is receiving. However, he is 37 years old. History will tell us that substituting a young, talented QB with an older QB that has had one good year is just a huge mistake. Remember when we replaced Brad Johnson with Randall Cunningham? No, next year put Daunte back under center. I love Brad Johnson and all that he is doing for us, but Daunte is still the future.
Stupid Packers. Can't even beat their so-called "arch rivals." Show some pride, Favre! I can't believe how putrid the Packers are right now. There is still a way to salvage the season (by beating Chicago at home), but I doubt this team has the backbone to pull that one off. Thanks for nothing!
I worked on my family's Christmas letter last night. Does anyone else find the yearly Christmas letter absolutely painful to write? Every year I go through the same thing with my wife: me "putting my foot down" and refusing to write the letter, and her begging me to "just do it" (with her of course) until we finish it. It usually turns out pretty good too. But I just can't stand writing the stupid thing. I don't know why.
I watched the T-Wolves last night and was impressed with the team effort. KG only scores 11 points and they still pull out a seemingly easy victory. The key to this team obviously isn't KG dominating night in and night out. It is Wally and someone else scoring at least 15 and the team playing some solid defense. But especially Wally ... whenever he plays well the team does better as a whole. At least that is what I'm seeing this year. Maybe SBG can do some analysis of it.
Watching the game last night got me to thinking about how I would improve it. There is no doubt in anyone's mind (I don't think) that the college game is vastly superior to the NBA. Quite frankly, besides the playoffs, the NBA can sometimes be excrutiatingly boring. So, if I was comissioner, what would I do differently? Hmmm...
- First of all I would decrease the number of games played in a season. 84 games means way too many games are meaningless. I would probably drop the number of games to 60 at the most.
- Secondly, I would decrease the number of teams that make it into the playoffs. I would institute a playoff system ala the NFL and MLB where only the division champions make it in plus a couple of wild cards. Again, this will have the effect of increasing the importance of regular season games, and it will also make the division races a little more meaningful. Right now, who cares about the divisions?
- I would allow any kind of zone defense. If a team wants to play the 2-3 then so be it. No more delaying the game with these stupid illegal defense calls. It would also force teams to value pure shooters a little more rather than players that can just back a defender down to the basket. Man! I would get rid of that stupid defensive three second rule so fast it would make your head spin.
- I would definitely increase the shot clock to 35 seconds. Increasing the shot clock will bring back the fundamentals of basketball (offensive ball movement anyone?) we obviously enjoy while watching the college game.
- I would institute international rules like referee-less sideline inbounds passes. That would make it a little more interesting. The trapezoid shaped key is just stupid though.
- I would also get rid of that stupid rule where an offensive foul can't be called if a player is inside the half circle under the basket. Huh? Who was the genius that came up with that? Let the players actually play defense! You know, the defense that they learned throughout their whole lives playing basketball? If you are planted and a player comes into the lane out of control and knocks you over, I don't care where you are, it is an offensive foul!
- Finally I would fire any NBA television director that switches a fast break shot or impending dunk camera angle from the half court view to the baseline view. You know what I'm talking about. You are watching a fast break unfold, you are excited that it will probably be a dunk, when at the last second the camera view switches to the baseline. Your TV is suddenly filled with just a shot of the basket and a player dunking the ball and maybe a defender's hand. Man I hate this angle! Show me the half court view! I want to see the whole play unfold! I want to see the trailing options, I want to see the defenders try to set up, I want to see the angle of attack! Sheesh this makes me angry!
That's about it. With these changes the NBA is bound to be better. If Stern needs any more advice he knows where to find me.
November 29, 2005
Vikings Kensington Runestone curse?
While tooling around the fantastic Wikipedia I chanced upon this article about the Minnesota Vikings. Inside the article it describes a couple of curses that currently plague the Vikings ala the Curse of the Bambino or the Billy Goat Curse. The curse that caught my attention though is the Kensington Runestone curse. I must admit, I have never heard of this one:
The Vikings have the more esoteric rune stone curse, named for the Kensington Runestone, claimed to be Viking in origin, which was found near Alexandria, Minnesota. Legend has it that the runestone predicts the fate of the Minnesota Vikings in the future.
22 Norwegians on
discovery voyage from
Vinland over (the) west we
had camp by 2 skerries one
days journey north from this stone
we were and fishe(ed) one day after
we came home found 10 men red
with blood and dead.
The 22 Norwegians in this reference are a reference to the 22 players that play on a starting offense and defense on an NFL football team. The 10 dead are usually a reference to a massive group of injuries or an offense or defense that plays sub par.
Has anyone ever heard of this? I have been a Vikings fan for like 30 years and this is the first I have ever heard of this.
Whether I have ever heard of this curse or not, though, it sure seems to be working. Curse you, Kensington Runestone! First of all it is a fake, and now I find out it has kept the Vikings from winning the Super Bowl! It must be destroyed!
November 14, 2005
All hail the mighty Nostra-COD! Fear the man, the only man, who dared to predict that the Vikings would beat the G-Men of New York.
Note the scowl on the face of Nostra-COD! He is angry with you! He is angry that so many doubted! How could we ever doubt the majesty of Nostra-COD? Needless to say, we will not make that mistake again.
Oh great Nostra-COD! Who will win the Monday night battle vs. the Packers? What numbers shall I pick in the lottery? Will I beat Craig in bowling? Only Nostra-COD knows. We are lucky to live in the presence of such greatness!
November 7, 2005
That is what I'm talking about!
Wow. The Vikings looked really good yesterday. I think Jay Glazer nailed it on the head when he asked Mike Tice at half time, "Where have you been for 6 weeks?" Just look at what this team was able to do:
- Rush for 164 yards against the 10th ranked defense.
- Register 4 sacks and 2 interceptions in a much improved defensive performance.
- Captitalize on Detroit turnovers.
- Dominate on special teams with a 33.7 yard kickoff return average for Koren Robinson. Wow.
- Thoroughly dominate the game and make it look easy.
Having said all of this, let's do a little "reality check" here: The Vikings were playing against quite possibly the worst QB in the division, who, on top of being just flat out putrid, had no one to pass to besides the fleet-footed Mike Williams and the undrafted Scottie Vines (who?). If Garcia was in there I still think the Vikings would have won, but it would have been much closer.
Still, for this victory I give all the credit to the Vikings defense. They played with passion and determination and it was nice to see them dominate for a change. Detroit punted 5 times! That was nice to see.
And of course, I gotta say something about Brad Johnson. Johnson only passed for 136 yards, but, again, he capitalized on Detroit turnovers and the Vikings were running the ball well. I know he provided some sort of "calming effect" on the team, but I'm not ready to name him the starter next year. Let's see if he can string together a couple of nice games before we hand over the keys to the car. Besides, Daunte had a pretty nice game against Green Bay and I'll take that performance over Johnson's performance over the Lions any day of the week. Don't get me wrong, I love Brad Johnson, and I think he did a great job. We are lucky to have him. Let's just see if he can beat the Giants.
If the Vikings can beat the Giants next week ... well, that would be something. After their performance yesterday, though, I do have some hope.
October 24, 2005
Winning is fun, isn't it? And it is amazing how much relief and excitement I can get out of a win from a now 2-4 team. But that is exactly what I feel: relief and excitement.
For a couple of weeks my standard joke has been, "The Vikings of the past were known for getting on their boats and raping and pillaging. It is a shame they are still known for that."
But now, redemption. The Vikings played with heart. They never gave up. They actually provided me with a teaching moment for my kids! "See kids?" I said, "The Vikings never gave up. Keep working hard, keep believing in yourself, and good things will happen." It sure beats the lesson, "Don't have sex in public." Although that is a good lesson too, I suppose.
Cheesehead Craig came over for the game as is customary when the Pack visit the Twin Cities. For most of the game it was "The Battle of the Pessimists" as both CC and I tried to convince each other that ours was the worse team. I had an early edge given that the Pack roared out to a 17-0 lead, but the tide quickly turned to CC's favor when the Vikings took the lead 20-17. "The Pack suck at defense," CC said, "The Vikings have this game won."
I responded, "Are you kidding? Does Brett Favre still play for the Packers? They'll come back to win this, no doubt about it."
Just then the announcers gave the statistic that Favre has 38 fourth quarter comebacks to his credit. My pessimism was justified. I added, "Daunte has never won a game like this. You just wait, he'll screw it up."
Then the miraculous happened. The Vikings won. Daunte got the Vikes down to the 38 yard line and Edinger kicked a 56 yard field goal. Are you kidding me?
I jumped up and down. I hooted and hollered. My kids came running into the room and we all hugged and high fived each other. CC sat dejectedly on the couch and watched the celebration.
I turned to him and said, "At least you've got the Axe." CC responded, "The Pack and the Badgers cannot win on the same weekend this season." This is an interesting point that CC discusses on the Oracle ...
Anyway, I'm happy today. I feel good about being a Vikings fan today. The season has hope. Not much, mind you, but I'll worry about that next week. For now, for this week, I'm going to be happy, and that is not a typical feeling for a Vikings fan. This week, though, all is right in Viking land.
October 14, 2005
Why is it so hard to be a fan of Minnesota sports teams? It is such hard work! Fans of the Twins and the Vikings cannot just watch a game. We are constantly thinking about things happening off the field. In my case, it is stadium matters and the long term viability of these two Minnesota institutions. For the Twins, that is all I have to think about. For the Vikings, though, that is a whole 'nother story.
Holy cow am I ticked off with the Vikings right now. These "sex boat" allegations are horrible. That even 17 players saw fit to put the crew of these boats through something so inappropriate ... I couldn't even think straight yesterday. I hope the players involved are dealt with severly, and I don't care who they are. They have tarnished the image of the whole state and that should be taken very seriously. Every new detail that comes out makes me cringe. I can't imagine what Zygi is going through right now.
Having said that, I am also upset with the media reaction to all of this, especially Jim Souhan and Nick Coleman (man, this guy is on a role!). Top Jimmy's column today offering a glimmer of redemption was better, but his reactionary, exaggerated articles from the past two days have been way over the top.
They remind me of a student sports journalist trying to find his voice and deciding to just fly off the handle to get new readers. Specifically they remind me of Josh Linehan, former sports editor of the Minnesota Daily who in 2000 called for the "death penalty" for the U of M men's basketball team due to the cheating scandal that rocked the program. This article was beyond "over the top," it was just plain stupid. It was an obvious attempt to rile people up, and Dan Monson got so riled up he threatened to revoke the press credentials of the Daily for future basketball games. Sadly, a "seasoned" reporter like Jim Souhan is still writing articles like this.
My point is let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. Just like terminating the Gopher's basketball program was a stupid idea, suggestions that the future of the Vikings is in jeopardy are equally stupid. And it makes me angry.
What happened out of Lake Minnetonka is inexcusable and as I said above the players involved should be dealt with severely.
However, I am still, and will always be a Vikings fan. I will not group these 17 players into the same group of Vikings players that I have cheered for and appreciated throughout my life. Players like Scott Studwell, Joey Browner, Chuck Foreman, Matt Blair and (hopefully still) Daunte Culpepper. Players that have given of themselves on and off the field and made our community a better place to live. Sid mentioned that at the same time this boat incident was taking place, Adam Goldberg and Mike Rosenthal were at a local Jewish organization talking to kids and thanking them for their help with a food drive.
This is what makes the Vikings a great organization.
Hopefully it is this kind of activity that players will choose to pursue to define themselves and the Minnesota Vikings in years to come. As Ragnar says I still have faith. This incident will pass away, just like the Gopher's cheating scandal, and the team will be stronger for it. Deal with the players involved, yes, but leave my team, it's rich history, and it's future as a continued positive presence in Minnesota out of it.
September 12, 2005
Well, that was unexpected ...
Wow. That was a painful game to watch. It was the exact opposite of what I expected. The defense was stellar (at least compared to the last few years) and I must say I enjoyed watching them way more than the offense. And as COD has already said, Chris Kluwe may be our only Pro Bowl representative. Nice punting throughout the game. Let's get to the negatives:
- The offensive line sucked. It all comes down to that. They couldn't protect Daunte, and they couldn't open up holes for the wonder that is Michael Bennett. This must be corrected or it will be a long season.
- Our running game is laughable. If you were wondering why MeMo wasn't playing, apparently he sprained his ankle on a kick return. He is weak. Maybe it is time to stick Moe in full-time, or give Fason a try. Regardless, it won't matter until the O-line is fixed.
- The wide receivers sucked. They were so non-existent in this game that Kleinsasser and Wiggins became Daunte's go-to guys. However, having said that, I don't think having Randy around would have mattered much. I am of the opinion that if Randy was still here he would have seen how much trouble Daunte was having and he would have started pouting. Daunte had no time to get the ball to anyone.
And finally, let's talk about Daunte. Let me start by saying everyone has a bad game once in a while. I also must stress that I wouldn't trade Daunte away for anything or bench him in favor of Brad "Mr. Wobble" Johnson. However, I am of the opinion that Daunte, for some reason, does not have that "special something" (yet) that allows him to win a game like that. You know what I'm talking about. Elway had it. Montana had it. Favre definitely has it. These are the types of QBs that by sheer determination can will their team to a victory. Have we ever, in all the years that Daunte has been playing QB, seen him "will" the Vikings to victory? Have we ever seen him take the ball at the end of the 4th quarter, drive down the field against all odds, and cram it into the end zone to win the game? I honestly can't remember him ever doing this. Am I wrong? Do I just have a poor memory?
We could have won this game. Daunte had a chance and quite frankly he blew it. He needs to find that "special something." He needs to learn how to win when his team is behind.
August 14, 2005
The Vikings game
Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Cheer or Die my son and I attended the Vikings game last Friday night and we sat in the first row. I don't think I've ever sat in the first row for anything, ever! Not for the Twins. Not for the T-Wolves. Certainly not for the Vikings. I suppose the only time I sat in the first row was when I was on the bench on my high school basketball team. Ah, the memories... but I digress. On Friday my son and I sat in style and it was a fantastic, eye-opening experience. Check it out:
When we first got to the Dome the Chiefs were warming up. Obviously Mr. Cheer or Die's seats are in the first row of the end zone where the visiting team warms up. This gives Mr. COD ample opportunity to heckle the opposition, which he has described before. Seeing the players up close was amazing. I told my son to yell down, "We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher!" but he thought that was a pretty stupid idea.
This is a picture of the play before Daunte hooked up with Burleson for the evening's first score. It really doesn't do justice to how close we were to the action. Remember when Sharper broke up that potential TD pass to Samie Parker? That was right in front of us. I think my son thought they were going to land in his lap! He was freaking out.
And speaking of Darren Sharper, before the game a video of him came on the scoreboard screen with Green Bay's logo and colors in the background. Sharper said something to the effect, "Welcome Vikings fans! I used to be the enemy, but now I am on the good side. Thanks for your support!" Or something like that. Then the colors and logo shifted to the Vikings. It was hilarious. The crowd cheered.
Unfortunately for my son, the Metrodome is also not that great of a football stadium either. Since he is a little short, this was his view if he sat normally. He could barely see over the wall separating us from the field. So, for a lot of the game he stood and leaned over the wall. Thankfully this didn't bother the people behind us and my son got more into the game as a result. That was nice. I told him if the Vikings caught a TD pass on this end he might end up catching one of the players in the celebration. He was a little nervous after that! The people behind us got into the action of joking with him that he "better get ready" whenever the Vikings got close to our side. Unfortunately Burleson didn't jump into my son's arms after the opening drive. That would have been pretty wild.
This is my attempt to get a picture of the new Vikings cup for the 2005 season. As you can see, my stupid camera kept on focusing on something else. Well, I know how much all of you wanted to see that cup, so I hope this will do. We'll have to ask Mr. COD to get more pictures of the cup when he attends games this year.
My impression of the game is thus: the defense needs work. The Chiefs' offense moved pretty smoothly in the first quarter even though they didn't manage to score many points. Daunte looked spectacular. I have no doubt that he will play up to the high standards we expect, but Bennett was a disappointment. I've been hearing rumblings already that MeMo will be the starting running back by October. We'll see. And of the rookies, I was highly impressed with Ciatrix Fason. I had no idea he is as tall as he is, and he ran very, very well. And Erasmus was very quick off the block. I think we'll see him in the starting line-up very shortly.
So, that was our trip to the Vikings game. It was very special for me and my son to get a chance to sit that close to the action, even if it was only a preseason game. Thanks a ton Mr. COD! We had a blast!!!
May 26, 2005
Good riddens, Red
I don't have anything really coherent and/or well-planned to say about the recent sale of the Vikings, but I do have a lot of "stream of consciousness" type thoughts:
First of all, thank God (thank you God!) that this is the end of "Purple Pride." Gah! What a horrible catch phrase we've been tortured with all these years. Just think about it: "Purple Pride" ... it sounds like a phrase someone would use in a porn film. Zygi's first order of business should be to rid this phrase from the Vikings' lexicon. Anyone caught uttering this phrase ever again should be forced to listen to Chris Berman praise Brett Favre and Lambeau Field for 24 hours straight. This will be the last time this phrase is ever mentioned on the Greet Machine.
Secondly, when Red became owner he thought it would be a good idea to create a Vikings hall of fame. Not a bad idea, but what to call it? (Valhalla) It needs to be a powerful name that reaches back into Viking lore. (Valhalla) A word that maybe the real Vikings used to talk about the afterlife (Valhalla) where Viking warriors fought battles in glory for eternity. (Valhalla) I know, let's call it the "Ring of Honor." What the ?!?!?!? Note to Zygi: after you are done torturing anyone who utters the "phrase that cannot be spoken" please try to work the name "Valhalla" into some aspect of the franchise, perhaps even the "Ring of Honor." Naming the "Ring of Honor" as such when the name "Valhalla" was available was an injustice on par with something like re-naming Thor's hammer "Tappy." It just shouldn't have been done. (By the way, Thor's hammer is called Mjolnir. Try saying that three times fast you inebriated, illiterate cheeseheads! Skol Vikings!)
Another note to Zygi: for the love of all that is holy stop playing "Welcome to the Jungle." Just stop! My ears can no longer take the bleeding induced by this overrated song. Again, the Vikings need a song that maybe hearkens back to the real Vikings. (The Immigrant Song) A song that rocks and makes sense from the standpoint of "From the fury of the Norsemen, O Lord, save us!" (The Immigrant Song) A song that the Twins already use! The Twins!!! To recap: "Welcome to the Jungle" OUT; "The Immigrant Song" IN. Let's make it happen, Zygi.
Concerning the stadium, I love, love, love what I am hearing. Zygi obviously remembers the Viking teams of old. The teams that would chant "Odin, Odin, Odin" as they prepared to thrash the visiting opponent while the cold descended on the field. The teams that would play in the snow, the mud, the rain proving once again the greatness of the group of people known as "Vikings." It is time to bring this tradition back and I am just giddy over the thought of an outdoor stadium. Giddy! I've said this before, but the day they opened the Metrodome every male in Minnesota turned in his penis. You heard me. It is time to reclaim our manhood and start welcoming other teams, as Zygi has already said, to our nice, warm Minnesota winters. Build a stadium, Zygi, but build it without a roof. What a genius idea! It gets me pumped just thinking about it!
And speaking of the stadium, I am still of the opinion that Wilf is going to pay for the bulk of it himself. Let's recap what Wilf has already said. First of all, he has forcefully stated that he will never move the Vikings. "It will never happen" he has said. So, that bit of leverage with the state legislature is gone. Secondly, he is now stating that he prefers an outdoor stadium. The legislature will never agree to fund a $500 million venue, where the main tenant only plays 10 games a year, and where, due to its lack of a roof, it is basically out-of-commission for at least half of the year. Never. So, that bit of leverage is gone. Thirdly, as I've already mentioned in another post, Wilf is a Giants fan, and the Giants are paying for their own stadium themselves. I know Wilf has already said that public financing will be a part of the plan, but he could be talking about infrastructure or what have you. If Wilf wants to have an outdoor stadium, he is going to have to pay for it himself. And this, Vikings fans, is a very good thing.
UPDATE: It looks like Glen Taylor agrees with me:
Taylor said he believes Wilf will do a good job owning the Vikings, and he thought the New Jersey real estate mogul's call for an outdoor stadium was a smart move -- one he would have made as owner.
"I'll say that now," Taylor said. "I'm not sure how we'd have negotiated it. But all along our plan was an open-air thing to make the suites more valuable. And it was something we thought we could build ourselves that way."
Indeed, as the process of negotiation moved along, Taylor became more and more convinced that's how any new stadium would have to be done.
And that would have made any Vikings deal much more expensive than the $600 million price tag.
"I assumed the further we got in this, there was the possibility we'd have to build our own stadium," he said.
Who isn't excited? Who? I am pumped!
Finally, what does this sale do for the prospects of a Twins stadium? If I was a state legislator I would be thinking, "OK, we've got a new Vikings owner that is going to come begging at the state capitol as early as next year. We've got a workable Twins stadium proposal that will get that mess off our plate. Do we really want to deal with two stadiums next year at the same time?" I sincerely hope the legislature does the right thing, the smart thing, and takes care of the Twins (and the Gophers) this year. I honestly think that this Vikings sale gives the Twins stadium bill some momentum. Legislators don't want to deal with this anymore knowing that they will have to deal with the Vikings in earnest next year. In a short snippet yesterday I heard Sviggum say that stadiums for the Gophers and the Twins will be dealt with in this special session. Let's hope that this Vikings sale and a little strong arming from Sviggum can finally put this mess behind us.
That's all for now. See you soon.
April 29, 2005
The Leader of the Vikings
What a beautiful sight this is, Daunte Culpepper at mini-camp:
Mr. Cheer or Die sent me this picture today after taking about 300 at the mini-camp this week. Sheesh! Some guys get all the breaks. Anyway, stop on over at Mr. Cheer or Die's site for more pictures over the next few days.
March 14, 2005
Let's start off with a little stadium news. There hasn't been much to report lately, but it appears that things are about to heat up. First we had Sid Hartman reporting that Hennepin County is working on a plan, then Jim in St. Paul reports that the Pioneer Press has written two editorials in as many weeks concerning the advantages St. Paul has over Minneapolis as host of a new Twins stadium. Then, Shooter reported this Friday:
As the state legislative session approaches its midpoint, there is little Vikings stadium talk, primarily because of the team's unresolved ownership status.
Discussion in the Legislature about a Gophers on-campus football stadium is expected to heat up in a couple of weeks, followed by talk about a ballpark for the Twins late in the session. The Vikings are rooting for a ballpark for the Twins, because then baseball no longer would be an impediment for them.
Because 2006 is an election year, if stadiums are not approved this year, they probably won't be approved until 2007.
Two things strike me about this snippet. First, what about the plan coming out of Anoka County for a new Vikings stadium? Anoka County has done a ton of work towards this goal and it sounds like the Vikings, due to their potential sale to Reggie Fowler, have pretty much given up on the issue. That is a shame because from what we've heard Anoka County won't wait any longer to start developing. If you'll recall, only Eden Prairie came up with another proposal that even slightly approached the level of determination shown by Anoka County to land the Vikings. Who will step up after Anoka County gives up?
Secondly, if nothing happens this year, if the Twins are yet again unsuccessful in their efforts to work out a stadium deal, the fact that 2006 is an election year isn't the only bit of bad news. Of course I am referring to the expiration of MLB's collective bargaining agreement. We won't have a lease or the player's association protecting the Twins from elimination after 2006, that is a fact. Some other facts: the Twins don't draw well at all, particularly for being division champions three years in a row; Steinbrenner and the other MLB fat cat owners are sick of subsidizing our franchise; and Pohlad has already proven he is willing to sacrifice the team.
Let's hope that Sviggum is still confident that a Twins stadium bill will pass this session. If it doesn't, I don't like the looks of the future for Minnesota's "beloved" baseball team.
You know who I feel like in all of this? Cassandra of Greek mythology fame. Cassandra had the power to tell the future, but no one would believe her predictions. I predict without a new Twins stadium the team will not be here past 2010. By that time the Vikings will also know where they stand with the citizens of this fine state, and the Twins will make damned sure they are not the only tenants in the Metrodome. After 2010, let the countdown begin until we lure another franchise back to the area.
Boy, I'm in a peachy mood today, aren't I?
Update: I just got accused of being "doom and gloom" over on TwinsTerritory.com for my prediction of 2010. What does everyone over here think? Am I being too pessimistic? Truly, what do I know. And I was in a pretty bad mood last night. Maybe the Twins will stay in the Metrodome forever!
If you haven't checked it out yet, you should head on over to the TwinsGeek's new site TwinsTerritory.com. I have a "site" on there called Ballpark Banter (thanks for the name SBG!) where I am rehashing some of my old posts from the Greet Machine. I've gotten some interesting comments, of course, mainly from what I would consider to be stadium opponents (of course), but that is what I expected. We are a rare breed, my friends, to believe that our community would benefit from a new Twins stadium. Most other Twins fans either don't want to think about this stadium business, or they are flat out against it. Anyway, if you are bored, you can re-read some of the posts I've already made here. What fun!
Have no fear though! The most recent and up-to-date stadium news will always appear on the Greet Machine first. Especially now that I've gone through the trouble to redesign this site!
A couple of things you might have missed regarding the Vikings this weekend. First of all, ESPN reported that Plaxico Burress fired his agent. Most likely, this means that Burress will not wear the Purple next year, but I also read somewhere that the Vikings made an offer for as much as four years that the WR is contemplating accepting. Regardless, according to the article above, a player must wait 5 days before retaining new representation. Again, it looks like Burress will not be replacing Randy Moss.
Secondly, it also sounds like our "affair" with Donovin Darius is over, but then again, this article was so cutesey about it I can't be sure that the Vikings aren't still trying to work out a deal. I don't think they are, but I could be wrong. Honestly I'm not upset about this. To give up a first round draft pick for a player that hasn't even been to a Pro-Bowl did not sound like a good deal to me.
And speaking of shaky deals, Darren Sharper is now a Viking. This is tough for me to stomach. Of course this is due to his being a former Packer, but also because 1) he is getting a little old, 2) it sounds like he is having some knee problems, and 3) he was the leader of the NFL's 25th ranked defense last year. Is he that much of an upgrade? Maybe I am being a little pessimistic. Is he better than Russell or Chavous? Yes. Will it be strange cheering for him? Yes. Will he give the Vikings an edge over the Packers? Oh yes. Even if he doesn't play, no one on the Vikings will know the Packers better. Hmmmm ... that makes me feel better.
Finally, congratulations to the men's Gopher basketball team on finally making it back to the Big Dance. Be sure to fill out your Official Greet Machine tournament bracket through ESPN! Details for how to join our group are at the top of this page. Let's have some fun!
March 10, 2005
Let me cut to the chase. The Vikings' recent free agency moves have left me very happy. In fact, I can think of little else now besides what the Vikings will do with their two draft picks in the first round to complete their Super Bowl team. First let's recap:
- Vikings trade Randy Moss to Oakland for LB Napoleon Harris the the 7th pick in the draft. Immediate improvement to our LB corps with addition of Harris.
- Vikings sign former Bill Pat Williams, a big, fast, run-stuffing DT who will immediately improve our defensive line.
- Vikings sign free agent CB Fred Smoot giving the Vikings two of the best corners in the league
- Vikings sign TE Jermaine Wiggins.
Now, if I could digress here for a minute to talk about Fred Smoot. Not the player, but the name: Fred Smoot. Wow, that has got to be the best/worst football name I have ever heard. The name Fred Smoot belongs in a Victorian era mystery novel, "My dear Smoot, could you pass the tea and crumpets?" Before he became a football player did he just get pummeled at school? I sincerely would like to know. Anyway, Fred Smoot is now one of my favorite Vikings. I just love saying that name! Fred Smoot!
Back to the business at hand. With the trade of Randy Moss and the signing of Smoot and Williams our two first round draft picks are just packed with intrigue. Here is how some of the big boys map out the first 7 picks:
- San Francisco 49ers: Alex Smith (jr.), QB, Utah
- Miami Dolphins: Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn
- Cleveland Browns: Aaron Rodgers (jr.), QB, California
- Chicago Bears: Cedric Benson, RB, Texas
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carnell Williams, RB, Auburn
- Tennessee Titans: Adam Jones (jr.), CB, West Virginia
- Minnesota Vikings (from OAK): Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan
You read that right, Braylon Edwards, the best WR in the draft. Personally, I would be shocked if Edwards fell this far, but I would take him. About Edwards Kiper writes:
Edwards' size, strength, speed and overall athleticism would go a long way toward filling the void left by the trade of Randy Moss, which is how the Vikings acquired the selection in the first place. Minnesota also has needs on defense but can address them later in the first round.
Yes indeed, Next we have:
- San Francisco 49ers (2-14) Aaron Rodgers* | QB | California
- Miami Dolphins (4-12) Ronnie Brown | RB | Auburn
- Cleveland Browns (4-12) Alex Smith* | QB | Utah
- Chicago Bears (5-11) Braylon Edwards | WR | Michigan
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) Carnell Williams | RB | Auburn
- Tennessee Titans (5-11) Adam Jones* | CB | West Virginia
- Minnesota Vikings (from Raiders) (8-8) Mike Williams* | WR | USC
About Mike Williams, Scouts Inc. writes:
The Vikings have few needs to address and can really focus in on the ones they do have with two first-round picks thanks to the Randy Moss deal with the Raiders. The team is trying to improve the depth of its receiving corps by signing Rod Gardner in free agency, but Gardner is nothing more than a No. 3 receiver in the NFL. Williams might not possess Moss' freakish talents, but he's a dynamic weapon in his own right. Running in the 4.5's at the combine really solidified Williams as a top-10 selection and the trio of Williams, Nate Burleson and Gardner could make the transition a lot easier than expected for QB Daunte Culpepper.
Agreed. I think even if the Vikings get Rod Gardner, Williams would still be a great, and necessary pick.
So, Kiper and Scouts have the Vikings going with WR with the 7th pick. Unfortunately for us, they haven't updated their mock drafts since the Vikings signed Smoot, so I had to do a little digging to see who the Vikings may pick up with their CB situation taken care of (and if they don't give up this pick to get Donivin Darious).
- Mike Williams
- Thomas Davis, S, Georgia
Now we are getting somewhere. The play of Russell and Chavous has been horrendous. Put a decent safety in the secondary and we may see the defense reach at least a level of mediocrity. And I'll take mediocre over awful any time. About Thomas Davis, FoxSports.com writes:
Davis plays safety like a linebacker and excels in run support. The Vikings already have a run-stuffing tackle up front in former Bill Pat Williams; now Ted Cottrell's defense needs a sound tackler and punishing hitter in the secondary.
Wow, I get visions of Joey Browner in my head reading that. Smoot and Winfield, and the possibility of a decent safety? Oh my goodness, what have we done to deserve this? This kind of good fortune usually doesn't happen for Viking fans. Now if we could only get our linebacking up to par ...
About.com's James Adler
Who? Well, I'm not saying this guy is as well known as Kiper, but About.com is a respected site and his guess is as good as any. Let's see who he thinks the Vikings will pick up:
- Derrick Johnson, OLB Texas
- Troy Williamson* WR South Carolina
You read that correctly. Adler thinks both Edwards and Williams will be gone by pick seven, which will leave the Vikings with arguably the best LB the draft has seen for years. About Johnson Adler writes:
With the addition of cornerback Fred Smoot and linebacker Napolean Harris, the Vikings could really go a long way toward finally solidifying that defense with the addition of a potential superstar in Derrick Johnson.
Wow, I could go for that scenario, too. How can the Vikings go wrong with this 7th pick? Williams, Edwards, or Johnson ... I'm feeling really good about this. I'm feeling really excited about next year. Adler writes this about Williamson:
After picking up a playmaker on defense with their first pick, the Vikings might look ease the blow of losing Randy Moss by adding a talented playmaker to the receiving corps as well.
Randy who? Just kidding! He's no Mike Williams, but I 'm sure Williamson can at least catch the ball. And that will be more than we had with Jake Reed.
Anyways, that is the way things are shaping up. The way I see it, the Vikings will get Gardner. I expect that will happen soon. I'm 50/50 over whether or not the Vikings will pick up Darious. If that happens they would probably have to give up that 18th pick. As much as I'd hate to do that I think Darious would be a good pick up.
That's all I got for now. See you soon!
February 24, 2005
Change your attitude
Seriously, I don't even know why I'm going to try. Mr. Cheer or Die has a great post today that discusses the Moss trade and he says everything I would say and more. He even beat me to the punch and printed off the Mel Kiper top 10 draft picks. Nice work, Brian. You saved me a lot of time this morning.
However, I do have a couple of things to say about this trade. First of all, I don't like it. Moss was the best. He was exciting. He put butts in the seats at the Metrodome. He made the Vikings offense work the way it did. The fact that he was constantly double teamed opened up that offense in ways we probably won't ever see again. When I heard about the trade I was in emotional pain. I was practically in mourning. It ruined my whole evening and I couldn't stop thinking about it. But I vowed to not write anything until this morning so I could get my thoughts together. So, here they are.
What does this say about Reggie Fowler and/or Red McCombs? I could think of three things and none of them are good:
- Red McCombs doesn't think Reggie Fowler will be approved by the NFL so he is continuing business as usual as the now and future owner of the Vikings. Bad news.
- Red McCombs is sticking it to Vikings fans one last time before he rides into the sunset. Bad news.
- Reggie Fowler actually approved this trade which, once again, makes him a liar. Bad news.
Why is it such hard work to be a fan of Minnesota sports? When talking about the Vikings specifically we have ownership issues, stadium issues, and now this stupid trade. NFL trades are very rare, but we have some doozies on our record books. We have this one, we have the trade of Fran Tarkenton to the Giants, and we also have the Herschel Walker trade. A look back at the history of these trades demonstrates that they usually don't work out too well for the Vikings.
And a quick note about the trade itself, what did we get for the best receiver in the NFL? A stick of gum and a Barry Zito rookie card? Man, it looks like we got screwed. Napoleon Harris? It is sad when Napoleon Harris is now the best linebacker on the Vikings. That shows how bad our linebackers have been over the last few years. THe seventh pick in the draft is great, of course, but another late rounder? What, so we can pick up another Aaron Elling or Eddie Johnson? Oh goodie.
Finally, are we going back into the Dark Ages of being Vikings fans? And I'm talking specifically about blackouts. Randy Moss is the reason Red has enjoyed so many seasons in a row of Vikings sell outs. We may see this trend continue next year, but if the Vikings don't show some kind of improvement, the absence of Randy Moss is going to hurt ticket sales. That's just all there is to it.
When my kids are in a bad mood all my wife needs to do is take one look at them and say, "Change it." So, that is what she had to say to me last night. I have to change my attitude about this or else it is going to be a really long off season. So, I am going to look on the bright side of things.
If I was the owner of the Vikings here is what I would do. With the 7th pick in the draft I would take another defensive lineman. I know what you are thinking but bear with me. I would take the departure of Randy Moss and turn it into an opportunity to hearken back to the glory days of the 1970s. Are you starting to get my drift? The Purple People Eaters, baby. I know Kevin Williams, Kenechi Udeze, and a player to be named later are hardly Page, Eller, and Marshall, but they are a start.
With the next pick I would either take a corner or a wide receiver, preferably a corner. And with all the cap money the Vikings have I would pick up either a corner or a wide receiver, preferably a wide receiver. Someone like Plaxico Burress.
Now think about it. Napolepon Harris is definitely an upgrade over any linebacker we have now. We could have another decent corner to put across from Antoine Winfield, and we could have a very good receiver to replace the enigmatic Moss. With the other draft picks we have we could upgrade our safety situation and pick up another offensive lineman.
I guess what I'm trying to say is the trade of Randy Moss could actually work out pretty well for the Vikings. We get rid of a selfish and disruptive player, upgrade the defense, replace said player with another excellent wide receiver, and retain quite possibly the best QB in the NFC.
We've still got Daunte, people. And this is now unequivocally Daunte's team. Daunte is a winner and in him I see another Fran Tarkenton. Did Fran ever have anyone with Moss's talent? No, but he had his own skills and a dominating defense.
That is what I am going to choose to focus on. What's done is done and I look forward to the Vikings' next moves. Let's see what happens.
February 17, 2005
Would the real Reggie Fowler please stand up?
Hello everyone. Sorry that you didn't receive your usual early morning edition of the Greet Machine. I am actually at home feeling a little ill today. So, I slept in. Have no fear though. I expect to make a full recovery. While in bed, however, I had some time to reflect on some things happening in the world of Minnesota sports. Read on if you are interested.
You know, I was planning a big todo for this web site when the Vikings were sold. I was planning on doing something completely different, where the site's home page would just be full of fireworks and dancing heads of the new Vikings owner. I was really excited for this. Now, I'm not so sure. I just don't know what to think about Reggie Fowler. And if I wasn't already unsure of what to feel about Fowler, now we have all this news about embellishments on his resume. Truthfully, the more I hear and think about it, the more it angers me. Either he is a liar, or he has idiots working for him. Either way, it makes the whole deal look shady, and it shines a very bad light on Fowler himself. Don't think the legislature isn't paying attention to the "truthfulness" Fowler is already displaying to our fine state. Our friends in the House will use any excuse they can to not do their jobs. This will just make that inevitability all the more likely. And really, why does a millionaire need to exaggerate on his resume? Let the facts speak for themselves. Sheesh.
The question remains, will the NFL finance committee still approve Fowler in light of these inaccuracies? Yes. I don't know why they wouldn't. Should they? I'm not so sure anymore. Again, I don't know what to think. All I do know is the more shady Fowler looks, the further the Vikings will be from solving their stadium woes.
Speaking of a new stadium for the Vikings, did you catch this tidbit from Sid?
Alan Landis, one of the partners of prospective Vikings owner Reggie Fowler, told some people connected with Fowler that he is a big stockholder in the Yankees and the YES Television Network. According to the Yankees, Landis owns about 1 percent of the team and YES. Landis was one of about 15 people connected with Fowler who toured the Metrodome following the Fowler news conference Monday. The word is that Fowler and his developers are going to look into the possibility of remodeling the Metrodome so it could create a lot more income.
First of all, as Mr. Cheer or Die has already pointed out, it appears that all wealthy people like to stretch the truth a little bit. I don't know why I am surprised by this, I just am. This is just plain wrong and can only come back to bite you later on. Duh.
However, what I really wanted to focus on is the news that Fowler and his esteemed associates are going to look into remodeling the Dome to see if they can't beef up its revenue streams. As happy as I am to read this, I don't expect much from it. Fowler, Landis, and Zyggi (great name) will study the Dome, put together some figures and decide that it just won't work, or it would cost just as much as building a new stadium. This is all a part of the game.
The fact of the matter is, I would love a new stadium. I would also love a renovated Metrodome. I just want the Vikings to stick around past 2011. I feel the best chance for legislative assistance is with a renovated Dome. If Fowler's group finds that this is feasible I would be thrilled.
Let's stay on this stadium theme. Outside of Minnesota, we have some news from Kansas City where the Royals have been trying to figure out some stadium problems of their own. It seems, as the article linked to previously will attest, that the city of Kansas City wanted to move the team downtown, but the owner of the Royals wanted to stay in Kauffmann Stadium. That is about as backward as you can get. The author writes:
Last week, as you know, the city stopped looking at plans to build a new downtown baseball stadium when the Glass family ó David and Dan ó announced that they want the Royals to stay at Kauffman Stadium.
The Glass family said that, as they see it, Royals fans do not want a downtown stadium, there's no particular need for a new stadium and the team can compete just fine in Kauffman Stadium.
Critics, meanwhile, said the Glass family backed out because it did not want to put up any of its own money to build, it is shortsighted, it went back on its word, and it does not care enough to invest in Kansas City's downtown.
This is just too strange to believe. And refreshing. All Glass wants now is to have the city make some renovations to Kauffmann stadium as promised by the lease. Wow. I am impressed.
A couple of years ago I was stunned to learn that the Royals were sqwaking about lack of revenue. Selig even came out and made some veiled threats saying that the situation would have to be addressed or the Royals wouldn't be able to compete. I was stunned because I knew the Twins would take Kauffmann Stadium in a heartbeat. I mean, it is a beautiful stadium. Anyway, kudos to the Glass family for making the right call. Again, it is refreshing to hear about. Special thanks to Vince for pointing me to this news.
Sadly, I must report that I will not be renewing my Vikings season tickets this year. With three kids and one income it has just gotten to be too expensive. However, I can't not get anything for working my extra job at St. Kate's. That would make me sad and surly. So, instead, I decided to buy an iPod mini. What a fantastic little toy. It can hold 1,000 songs and play up to eight hours before it needs to be recharched. And also, being a U of M staff member, I got it for a discount at the Apple store at the MOA.
Special bonus points if you can figure out the song that is playing in the picture!
Finally, tomorrow there will be something different for you to read. Intrigued? Stay tuned to find out what!
February 13, 2005
Wow. What a weekend.
First of all let me send out a heart felt congratulations to Reggie Fowler, soon to be the first minority owner of an NFL franchise in the "modern era" of the NFL. Unlike Glen Taylor, who has yet again only gone half way in his attempt to buy the team, Reggie went out and took the bull by the horns and got the job done. While the sale is certainly not final (it still has to be approved by the NFL finance committee) I am less pessimistic than I was on Friday that the deal will be approved. Let's take a look at some of the positives of this development:
- Fowler will be the NFL's first minority owner. That is significant no matter how you look at it.
- Fowler has teamed with Denny Hecker to give the deal that "local connection" that is so important.
- Folwer has said he will move to Minnesota.
- Fowler has said he will privately finance a large portion of the stadium.
- Steve Novak, director of government services for Anoka County, has already said that this development is a "good thing."
- The phrase "Purple Pride" will forever be smitten from the Minnesota lexicon.
Now let's take a look at the negatives:
- Fowler is not a Minnesotan. Moving here will help, but he will still be an outsider.
- As an outsider, Fowler will have a really hard time getting any support for a new stadium with the legislature.
- Fowler has hinted that he will try to privately finance a large portion of the stadium himself, but how much can he really afford? The Arizona Republic estimates his wealth at only $400 million. I will be very interested with his comments tomorrow concerning his stadium plans.
- The NFL would have preferred Taylor not only because he could have gotten a stadium built in Minnesota more easily than Fowler, but also because his ownership group would have been a little smaller.
What happens next? Your guess is as good as mine. Is this an improvement over Red McCombs? You bet it is. Is it enough to get the Viking's stadium mess solved? No. I really don't think it is.
Really ... way to go Taylor (heavy sarcasm). Yet again you half-assed it and let the team slip through your hands. And did you catch his actual offer? $400 million now, and $200 million when the stadium is built or the Metrodome lease runs out. I'm sure Red took one look at that plan and threw it in the trash. In fact, I'm not sure Red would even sell the team to Taylor if the Fowler deal falls through. Maybe it is a good thing Taylor isn't buying the team. Look at the shambles the T-Wolves are in.
Let's not talk about that yet, though. Let's talk more about stadiums. I'm sure you already saw this, but Reusse wrote a very interesting column this Saturday concerning stadiums and how he feels the Twins have fallen into third place on the legislature priority list. While I agree with this, I don't think the Twins have fallen quite as far as they would have had Taylor bought the Vikings. If Taylor had bought the Vikings it would be a Vikings love-fest at the capitol this session. Now, however, Fowler's purchase and stadium plans will be met with skepticism at best from our friends in the House. They may warm up to Fowler, but not right away.
Or it could go another way. The legislature could use the momentum of the sale to Fowler and take this opportunity to push a plan through. It would certainly be the smart thing to do. There won't be a better time than now. Fowler will be considered a hero by most Minnesotans for saving us from the Red-scourge from Texas, and I would think the majority of the public will have a better "feeling" towards the team than in the past. Is the legislature smart enough to act on this? No. I really don't think so. I hope I'm wrong.
Regardless of how the legislature immediately responds to this sale to Fowler, though, I agree with Reusse that the Twins are now in third place in the stadium sweeptakes. As Mr. Cheer or Die has already pointed out, there are already something like three bills proposed for the Gophers, and with a sale of the Vikings, Fowler and Anoka County will definitely make a proposal. Truly, though, the Twins current positioning is partly there own fault. They do not have a preferred site, and Pohlad has not made clear what his actual contribution will be (not to mention the fact that the legislature hates Pohlad). The Twins are asking for state support without a real plan to point to. The Vikings, on the other hand, have a strong partner in Anoka County, and I would be stunned if Fowler's stadium plan didn't have some hard, concrete numbers for the legislature to work with including a meaningful owner contribution. I am really, really looking forward to Fowler's news conference tomorrow, and the inevitable reactions from our fine, hard working legislators.
The Twins have some work to do, plain and simple. They have to put together a plan with either St. Paul or Minneapolis, they have to make a meaningful and upfront contribution, and they have to keep on winning
(because they probably won't get a sniff this session). What they are doing now, what they have been doing for the last 8 years to secure a stadium deal just isn't working. Something needs to change and I hope they are beginning to realize that.
The legislature, obviously also has some work to do. They need to put away this hatred for Pohald and start thinking about the well-being of our state. The Twins add a lot to the quality of life for Minnesota and losing them would be unbearable and even more costly in the long run. A Twins stadium will not get built without some sort of state aid or financing assistance. That is a fact. We need some leadership in the House and the governor's mansion which, sadly, I just don't see right now.
I'm watching the Sports Show right now with Sid Hartman, Dark Star, Patrick Reusse, and Mike Max. They've spent the first 15 minutes talking about Flip Saunders and the hapless T-Wolves. I gotta say ... I really don't care. I was surprised by Flip getting fired, but he had been there 10 years! And in those 10 years he was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round 7 times. And now, with a team he took to the Western Conference finals last year, he has led them to a sub-500 record. I think Flip has been given every benefit of the doubt over the years. He has had his chance. He lost control of this team, and now they are fighting to even make the playoffs. Filp may be a scapegoat, but really, he had to go. I think this was a good move. It is time for a change. Flip will still get his, too. They have to pay him for the rest of this year and next. Don't feel bad for Flip.
Well, they just talked about the Vikings sale to Fowler for a whole two minutes before moving on to the Gophers basketball team. What about your stadium article Reusse? What about Fowler's stadium plans? Nothing. I can't believe I stayed up until 11:30 for this.
That's it for now. Maybe more later.
February 11, 2005
More and more rumors
OK, we've all seen by now this Star Tribune report that the "general principles are set" for a Reggie Fowler purchase of the Vikings. There are some things to remember though. While Red and Reggie could announce a sale, it is far from a done deal. The sale must be approved by the the NFL Finance Committee, and the chair of that committee, Saints owner Tom Benson, has already seemingly said something about Fowler's chances:
"We are not going to admit owners who are not 100 percent qualified like some other professional leagues have done," Benson said. "Our rules are that the general partner must own 30 percent of the team, and he can't use the team as a collateral to borrow more than $125 million of the purchase price."
Is this a veiled commentary on Fowler's chances to buy the Vikings? Or is Benson just laying out the rules? I am of the opinion that the NFL is doing their "due dilligence" in trying to get a minority owner (like teams do when hiring a new coach), but in the end the team is going to end up in Taylor's hands. Check out this bit from Sid today:
However, on Monday, McCombs phoned Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and encouraged him to remain a possible buyer.
Taylor said McCombs asked him this: "Fowler is progressing with his group, but if they don't work out I would like to know if you still have interest?"
Why would Red call Taylor if a sale to Fowler looked close? There is definitely more here than meets the eye, my friends. Could we be looking at another Tom Clancy type situation? And I've said this before, I'll take Fowler as an owner. He seems like a genuinely good guy and I would be very interested to find out what his stadium plans are. But Taylor is just too good of a fit. We know it, the NFL knows it, Red knows it, the state legislature knows it.
If it is announced that Fowler's bid has been accepted by McCombs, don't start planning for the "Fowler era" just yet. I think we may have a little more drama after that.
Did you see this article from Viking Update today regarding a possible trade of Randy Moss? This one was a bit of a shock to me mainly due to Culpepper's quote:
"I tried to smooth things over for the last five years," Culpepper said. "I'm done with it. No more. I'm not having it anymore."
I've often thought that all this talk of trading Moss has been nothing more than talk. I mean, why would Red be shopping around Moss when he is about to sell the team? It doesn't make sense, unless he wanted to light a fire under a potential bidder. But now we've got these comments from Culpepper. I'm just not sure anymore.
However, I'll still be shocked if Moss isn't wearing purple next year. Think about this. Moss is still an extremely valuable offensive weapon. We keep on hearing that he could be traded for defense, but the Vikings are $30 million under the salary cap! The Vikings could easily keep Moss and keep this high powered offense intact, and spend $30 million on some much needed defensive upgrades. In fact, that is what I think a new owner will do.
UPDATE: This Patrick Reusse article in the Strib pretty much confirms what I wrote above. Taylor expects Red and Reggie to agree to a purchase, and the NFL to turn Fowler down. Great, great article from Reusse which also suggests Taylor is still interested in the Twins. Get it done, Glen. Make us proud.
Also, Barry at bjhess blog rightly says that he hopes a new owner doesn't "go off the deep end" and spend all that salary cap. Well said. I hope he spends more than Red, though.
Sorry for the prolonged silence everyone. Things have bee really busy for me lately. And then when our connection to the Internet went down yesterday here at the U it just totally discombobulated me. I swear, I just sat in the corner drooling all day mumbling "fix the router, fix the router..." I could not be consoled. So, today will be an extra special edition of my inane ramblings. Lucky you.
Let's start this off with some stadium news. No, not Minnesota stadium news, but some interesting news coming out of New York/New Jersey. The Giants are planning on building a new 80,000 seat stadium next to their existing stadium, and they have agreed to pay for the entire cost. Wow, wow, wow. However, their plans have hit a snag because an entertainment and shopping district called Xanadu (read "big mall") is also being constructed in the area. The Giants are very concerned with this. They want Xanadu to be shut down on gamedays because they think it will be a parking nightmare if the mall is also open at the same time. This could seriously stop the entire project from happening. I truly can't believe this. In addition, check out this little snippet:
The team currently occupies 33 acres of the 400-acre facility. The sports authority's land offer was about 50 to 75 acres, the source said.
The Giants have offered to pay $4.8 million in rent and another $1.5 million in PILOT fees, payments in lieu of taxes. The state is looking for more than $6 million in rent plus PILOT fees, said a source close to the state.
What in the world?!?!? I don't think I have ever seen anything like this. Let me see if I understand this. In addition to paying for their own stadium (to the tune of $700 million), the Giants will also pay rent for the land and these strange PILOT fees, and the total of these payments could be close to $6 million. Wow.
Back to Minnesota. Unless you are living under a rock you know that we now have a two horse race between Fowler and Taylor to buy the Vikings. Sid wrote an interesting piece today talking about this potential sale and saying that Taylor is still very much in the running and actually might be preferred by the NFL.
Taylor is a Minnesotan who has the financial wherewithal to own the team and, in my opinion, has a better chance to get a stadium built. Fowler would be the NFL's first minority owner, but his group would be new to this community.
After the league's bad experience with a splintered ownership group before McCombs arrived on the scene, there's little doubt in my mind the NFL would prefer Taylor.
I gotta admit, I would prefer Taylor. I'm really excited to have the Vikings sold, but Taylor, hand's down, has the best chance to build a new stadium or renovate the Metrodome. Unless, of course, Fowler is planning on going the Redskins/Patriots/Giants route and paying for the stadium himself. His partners, which include the mall magnate Zyggi Wilf and New York real estate tycoon Alan Landis, might suggest that he is putting together a unique plan. Given my choice, though, I'll take Taylor if only because he is a Minnesotan who would be committed to keeping the team in Minnesota. In fact, I'm a little ticked that Taylor has waited until this point to get serious. It seems like a repeat of what happened the last time the Vikings were put up for sale.
Did anyone watch the finale of the "Amazing Race" last Tuesday? I thought it was pretty good, although I was upset that Kris and Jon didn't win. I have never seen a better combined attitude out of a couple in my life. Always happy, always nice to each other, they were simply an inspiration. However, what I found most interesting about the show was when the teams were in Japan trying to catch flights out of Tokyo to Chicago. Two teams found out that they could catch earlier flights to Chicago so, at separate times, they ran up to the gates and begged to be let on the flights. Both times the Japanese staff at the gates admitted that there were seats available on the plane, but that they wouldn't let the teams on. Here is what I found interesting though. Both times, and at separate gates mind you, the teams begged to be let on and the attendant said, "But you would not get a meal." This was always the first reason given why they would not let the teams on the flight. It seemed that they thought not having a meal would be enough to dissuade someone from wanting to be on the flight. Do most Japanese people say, "No meal? You animals! Of course I'll wait for the next flight. I mean, I have to have my meal. I don't think I could live without my meal." Of course, both teams said, "We don't need a meal, please let us on." Only then did the Japanese staff at the gate revert to the old standby, "It is against company policy." Anyway, I thought that was weird. You probably could care less.
And this ends another edition of "Who Gives a Rat's Butt Theater."
I think most people will agree with me, but I hope the Twins sign Santana to a 4 year contract. Right now the offer on the table seems to be 4 years for $38-$40 million. I realize that this is a big gamble, especially for someone who has already had elbow surgery, and for a team that has already been burned by the Joe Mays deal, but this is the freaking Cy Young award winner. This is the next Sandy Koufax. If the Twins wait, it will only get more expensive. To me, it is worth the gamble. Let's get it done Terry.
You know what I hate? No? Well, I'll tell you. I hate it when I open my camera up to take a picture and there is a big fingerprint smudge on the lens. And this happens every time I go to take a picture. What is it about the lens that makes kids want to touch it? I am befuddled by this. Given the choice between touching a big Teddy Bear, or touching a camera lens, I would bet that 90% of children will go for the camera lens. And I don't care if I put my camera in a vacuum sealed, airtight room with alarms and electric shocks attached to the camera itself, the next time I open it, it will have fingerprints on the lens. I need this to stop. I really do.
That's it. See you all later.
February 7, 2005
I pride my self on being able to admit when I am wrong, and boy was I ever wrong about this year's Gopher's basketball team. Now, in my defense I think they've caught everyone by surprise, but last October I wrote something stupid which is now coming back to haunt me. In October the U of M student newspaper, the Minnesota Daily, advertised student Gopher basketball season tickets and the advertisements themselves featured a huge picture of Jeff Hagen. I was unimpressed and I wrote, "If that is the best player on the Gophers, the only player worthy of featuring in an advertisement to build excitement for the team, then they are in a load of trouble this year." Boy was I wrong. Jeff Hagen is a stud, and Vincent Grier is out of this world. If you are still torturing yourself with the T-Wolves start watching the Gophers. It has been a long time since I've had this much fun wathing Gopher's basketball.
Why am I writing this now? Because people are doing Google searches for "Jeff Hagen" and coming to my site through the post in October above. So, if I mention "Jeff Hagen" enough hopefully Google will now pick this entry to point people to. Did I mention that I love Jeff Hagen?
And in case you didn't know, Saturday's game was worth 40 points for the Gopher's athletic program in the battle for the fabled "Border Battle Cup" between the U of M and Wisconsin. Never heard of this competition between our two schools? That is because this "fabled battle" is in its first year. Anyway, here are what the standings look like:
|Date||Sport(points available)||Site||UW Pts||UM Pts|
|Oct. 8, 2004||Volleyball (20)||UM||0||20|
|Oct. 8, 2004||Womenís Soccer (40)||UW||0||40|
|Oct. 30, 2004||Volleyball (20)||UW||20||0|
|Nov. 5, 2004||Menís Hockey (10)||UM||0||10|
|Nov. 6, 2004||Football (40)||UW||40||0|
|Nov. 6, 2004||Menís Hockey (10)||UM||0||10|
|Dec. 4, 2004||Womenís Hockey (10)||UW||0||10|
|Dec. 5, 2004||Womenís Hockey (10)||UW||5||5|
|Jan. 6, 2005||Womenís Basketball (20)||UW||0||20|
|Jan. 29, 2005||Womenís Hockey (10)||UM||0||10|
|Jan. 30, 2005||Womenís Hockey (10)||UM||0||10|
|Feb. 4, 2005||Menís Hockey (10)||UW||10||0|
|Feb. 5, 2005||Menís Basketball (40)||UM||0||40|
|Feb. 5, 2005||Menís Hockey (10)||UW||0||10|
|Feb. 18, 2005||Wrestling (40)||UW|| || |
|Feb. 20, 2005||Womenís Basketball (20)||UM|| || |
|April 8, 2005||Menís Tennis (40)||UM|| || |
|April 10, 2005||Womenís Tennis (40)||UW|| || |
|TBA||Softball (10)||UW|| || |
|TBA||Softball (10)||UW|| || |
Yikes! This is what is known as a royal butt whoopin' behind the proverbial wood shed. Can the Badgers come back and actually make this a "battle"? Yes, but it is unlikely. They would have almost have to sweep all the remaining competitions.
However, having said all of this, ask me what I would rather have: the Border Battle Cup or Paul Bunyan's Axe, and I'll take the Axe every time.
Finally, the two Twin Cities dailies were a flurry of Viking news this weekend, floating between reporting on a potential sale of the Vikings and a trade of Randy Moss. Sean Jensen of the PiPress reported on Saturday that the NFL was in fact involved in discussions with Red and potential buyers of the Vikings franchise. On Sunday, Sid reported that Fowler is "close to putting a group together to try to buy the Vikings, and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor may have made or will make a new bid to buy the team from Red McCombs." And now today, the Strib again reports that there is no validity to ESPN reports that Moss is being shopped around. Tucked in this article is also some Fowler/Taylor news:
Meanwhile, Fowler's exclusive negotiating rights with McCombs, believed to be for 30 days, will reach its midpoint today. Some have speculated that McCombs will attempt to either complete a deal with Fowler or move on to other offseason business this week. Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has said he will be ready to act if Fowler is unable to purchase the team. Taylor, however, has been unwilling to meet McCombs' $600-plus million price tag.
I think we can safely assume that something will be happening shortly. Here is what I think. Red wants to sell, the NFL desperatelty wants him to sell, either to a minority owner or a local owner, and it is now make or break time for Fowler's group. Could Red be dropping Moss trade hints in order to freak out Fowler or Taylor? To get them to move quicker on a purchase of the team? Whatever the case, I don't think I can take another year of Red owning the team. Imagine if you were a potential buyer of the Vikings. They are $30 million under the salary cap. If you bought the team, what would you do with all that cap money? I know what I would do, I would spend it and make a run. I would play with my new toy. Pray. Pray that Fowler or Taylor buys the team. Let's have fun again next year.
February 1, 2005
You would think that after Twinsfest I would have a lot to say about our boys of summer, but, alas, whenever I am looking in the paper I am always looking for one of two things: stadium news and/or a sale of the Vikings. Today we've got some news about a potential sale of the Vikings. Charley Walters (and let me take a moment here for a second ... who doesn't just love Charley Walters? The days that his columns come out are always brighter. The birds are always chirping louder. I breathe an audible breath of happiness when I see a new Charley Walters column ... OK back to the post) reports today that Emmitt Smith may become a part of Reggie Fowler's group:
Look for future Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith to announce today his retirement from the Arizona Cardinals to join Reggie Fowler's investment group that is trying to buy the Vikings. Fowler's group also includes local automobile dealer Denny Hecker.
Wow. That is quite a rumor. I wonder if that would give Fowler more credibility or not. I would also find it interesting that Smith would finally become a Viking (in a way) which is what should have happened if not for the doomed Walker trade. As is the case with all Shooter columns, though, you've got to take this with a grain of salt. In other words, I'll believe it when I see it.
Secondly, the Pioneer Press is also reporting that Vikings president and McCombs hatchet man Gary Woods met with Steve Sviggum yesterday to talk about a potential sale of the Vikings and a possible stadium. Sviggum had this to say about a possible sale:
"He said he had a couple of conversations with Fowler and a couple of conversations with Glen, but it didn't sound like it was close," House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said after meeting with Woods.
I just don't know how to take this. On the one hand billionaires usually like to keep this stuff quiet, especially given the (semi?) exclusivity agreement that Red gave Fowler. On the other hand, wouldn't a billionaire love to let something slip like, "Fowler is getting close," to try to get Taylor to possibly drive up the price? Maybe, maybe not. Whatever the case, it appears that Sviggum at least doesn't think a sale is imminent. That stinks.
There will come a day, I am sure of it, when both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune home pages scream the news that the Vikings have been sold. Fowler or Taylor, at this point it doesn't matter to me. When that day comes we can all breath a sigh of relief and move on to the next fire to put out. I'm also thinking of doing something special on this page when Red is gone. A "special edition" Greet Machine. We'll see.
Shooter also wrote some interesting news about Twinsfest that I think bears repeating:
The Twins' reported attendance of more than 29,000 for their TwinsFest last weekend at the Metrodome was significantly more than the turnout for similar outings in Pittsburgh and Seattle. The Pirates drew slightly more than 14,000 for their three-day gathering, up 7,000 from last year, and the Mariners attracted about 14,000, 1,000 fewer than last year.
Twins fans ... you just can't figure them out. During the off season they come to the Metrodome in droves, but during the regular season they stay away. I suppose it has to do with the difference in the weather. Anyway, I see this as yet more proof that if and when the Twins leave/are contracted the state legislature is finally going to get their comeuppance. There are too many Twins fans in the upper Midwest for the legislature not to feel their anger.
Check out Mr. Cheer or Die's site today for some great writing on a new Vikings stadium, and the possibility of the Vikings signing Donovin Darious, currently of the Jags. Plus, find out what your name would be if you were a blues singer. Me? My name should be Blind Bones Thompkins. And I'm a singin' the stadium blues:
I got the stadium blues ...
because our legislature is filled with morons
I got the stadium blues ...
because our legislature is filled with morons
When the Twins and Vikings leave Minnesota
We will have to change our name to the 3rd Dakota
January 26, 2005
Sign the petition!
Please sign it if you are interested in seeing stadiums finally built in Minnesota. Thanks Mr. Cheer or Die!
(Just to clarify, this is all a joke. Please don't take this too seriously. Join in the fun!)
Is Fowler for real?
This was just sent to me from Curt in Grand Forks. It seems that Chris Mortenson of ESPN is ready to rain our parade:
More on the Vikings possibly being sold: Two sources with intimate knowledge on the status of the franchise say that the latest proclamation by Phoenix businessman Reggie Fowler is all smoke and no fire.
"He's not even a factor," one source said. "The feeling is, he's trying to intimidate Glen Taylor (another bidder) but Taylor doesn't need to be intimidated -- he's done very little to make this happen."
Taylor is the Minnesota Timberwolves owner who has been identified as the most likely buyer at this stage. But a league source said that Taylor has been fooling himself into thinking that he could force McCombs into coming off his original asking price of $600 million.
Now, with the new television contracts coming in, McCombs isn't dropping his price. He may go up, not down. In fact, Taylor has been advised by league officials that he should act soon if he's serious about purchasing the Vikings at the current $600 million level, although there's a business sense that $575 million might get McCombs' attention.
The sources say there has been one meeting each with Taylor and Fowler and that those meetings were relatively brief. Fowler, they say, is not a major player, regardless of the pomp and circumstance.
There also is nothing clandestine happening behind the scenes.
"There are no confidentiality agreements, no exclusive negotiating period, none of that," said a source."
With this and Red raising his price Taylor better get moving quick or we could have a real rough next couple of seasons.
January 24, 2005
Fowler in town
KSTP just reported some interesting news about Reggie Fowler, who attended tonight's T-Wolves game as the personal guest of Denny Hecker. According to Joe Schmit, who interviewed Fowler on camera, Fowler and Red have signed an "exclusivity agreement" which means that McCombs can only negotiate with Fowler at this point, and for a period of 60 days. Fowler brushed aside reports that he didn't have the financial means to buy the Vikings saying "people can say what they want" and that he wouldn't be here if he didn't have the money. Cheesehead Craig also called to tell me that KMSP reported that Fowler needs to have $180 million of his own money to make the purchase, and that $180 million is Fowler's "magic number" to adhere to NFL ownership rules.
Fowler also made it clear that he would move to Minnesota if he bought the team and that while he is here he will be shopping for a home on Lake Minnetonka. Joe Schmit also reported that Fowler may need "7-10 days" before he can make a bid.
Holy cow. I think this is for real. God bless you Reggie! And good luck with the negotiations. Anybody else got any rumors?
Category "Sports business"
January 18, 2005
Vikings sale rumors
Mr. Cheer or Die writes a great rumor today concerning a potential Vikings sale. It seems a sale to Reggie Fowler is very much a possibility at this point:
Former Vikings punter and current Vikings Game Day sideline reporter Greg Coleman is friends with Arizona entrepreneur Reggie Fowler who has been off and on news in regards to purchasing the Vikings from Red McCombs. Well, Fowler is back on again. Coleman spoke at length with Fowler recently and gets the feeling that a sale is near. No price mentioned, and Coleman is not sure if Taylor would be involved. Fowler wants a family like atmosphere and has zero intention of moving the team. Coleman also said today on KFAN Radio that Fowler wants to move his entire business to Minnesota as well as his family.
In fact, Mr. Cheer or Die says that this very news was reported today on WCCO radio, and this weekend on KFAN, so I think we may see something fairly quickly. Thanks for the great reporting Mr. Cheer or Die!!
This is somewhat similar to the rumors that I've recently heard concerning a sale to Fowler and/or Taylor. Last week on a local sports show featuring Mike Max, Sid Hartman and Dark Star, it was rumored that Glen Taylor was 45 days from purchasing the team and that he was receiving heavy pressure from the NFL to include Fowler in the deal. Both Mike Max and Dark Star energetically backed up this rumor saying that a Taylor/Fowler purchase should almost be expected at this point.
Then, I got this rumor from an anonymous commenter for a post of about a week ago:
Rumor around town is that a deal has been done. Fowler's group owns majority of the team and Glen Taylor has a 10% stake...a stadium deal is also apprarently ready to go...expect news to be released soon!
All of these rumors involving Taylor and Fowler ... I can't help but think there is some major wheeling and dealing going on right now between those two and McCombs.
Keep your fingers crossed. I think we may finally be rid of this Texas-sized nightmare pretty soon.
We've heard this all before, but I think it is real this time.
January 9, 2005
At the start of the Vikings season I was feeling pretty good. In fact, I was feeling really good. I was positive the Vikings would walk away with the NFC North title. The Vikings were returning the NFC's best offense, and their defense had to be improved with the additions of Kenechi Udeze and Antoine Winfield. I was also pretty high on the Vikings new linebacker corp, and I was convinced that they would be much improved thanks to E.J. Henderson and the drafting of Dontarrious Thomas. I was so positive that the Vikings would win the NFC North I wrote some bad haikus at the beginning of the season, and I made yet another bet with my neighbor, Cheesehead Craig that not only would the Vikings win the NFC North, but they would do so in convincing fashion. I boldly predicted that on Christmas Eve Brett Favre wouldn't even be playing. Either he would be injured, or the Vikings would be so far ahead in the standings that it wouldn't even matter. We bet a cheeseburger at Fuddruckers. I could already taste my half-pound "Triple Cheese."
Needless to say, my predictions didn't quite work out. Favre came into the Metrodome and crushed my hopes of an NFC North title like an empty can of beer on a drunk Packer fan's forehead. Not only that, but after the Christmas Eve game I got sick with some kind of upper repiratory infection and I was laid out for almost a week. The doctors didn't know exactly what it was, but I did. It was "Vikingsitis." I've been struck with this ailment before and it usually afflicts Vikings fans all over Minnesota around this time of year.
To make matters worse, however, was the fact that yet again my Packer loving, Brewer worshipping, Badger bleeding neighbor won another bet!!! How many of these stupid bets do I have to lose before I taste victory? How many times must I feel the humiliation of defeat? It seemed like my neighbor's string of victories would never end. And then came January 9, 2005. This is a day that will go down in Vikings lore as one of the greatest days in team history. What a glorious day.
As is tradition, I trudged across the lawn to Cheesehead Craig's house to watch the 3rd matchup this year between the Packers and the Vikings. If the Vikings have to travel to Lambeau, then I would travel to the den of the enemy as well. I didn't have much hope given the Packers sweep of the Vikings during the season and I entered Craig's domain singing, "Let's go insurance adjusters, let's go! Let's go insurance adjusters, let's go!" I love that commercial. As a loyal Vikings fan, though, I have learned not to get my hopes up for the Vikings in the playoffs. Sure there have been some big playoff wins, 1987 vs. San Fran comes to mind, but not this year. I was determined not to let my hopes get the best of me this year.
68 yard TD pass to Moe. 3 and out for the Packers. Moss TD. Winfiled interception. Anderson field goal. 17-0 Vikings. "Aha!" I thought to myself, "The Vikings have done this to me before!" I told Cheesehead Craig, "If the Vikings lose, at least I will have this wonderful first quarter to remember." But on the inside, hope was starting to creep in. I was starting to believe and that is a dangerous thing. I watched the rest of the game getting more and more hopeful as the Vikings continued to play good, smart football. I couldn't believe it. Thankfully, finally, my hope was finally rewarded. Unless you are living under a rock you know the Vikings won the game 31-17. It seems the Vikings can only score 31 points against the Packers (I was begging them to kick the field goal at the end to make it 34), but I suppose that is poetic justice given the scores of the other games. 31 points would be all they needed today.
A few days ago I wrote some pretty harsh words towards the men in purple. I had lost my faith. For that I apologize. The Vikings seemed to hear my plea though. They played with pride. They played with passion and conviction. The defense finally stepped up with four interceptions and 3 sacks, and Daunte went for the jugular whenever he could. Daunte Culpepper ... can we say enough great things about him? He is, without a doubt, now the best QB in the NFC. This is his career defining game up to this point, and the future is looking very bright. I am giddy and I've got at least 7 more days of feeling this way.
When I came home I explained to my wife how I was feeling, "You see, honey, this is why I am a Vikings fan, for the way I feel right now. There is a profound happiness in me right now, and it feels wonderful. I am so happy, and I feel great! And ... "
"Shane," she interrupted me, "You do realize that the Vikings will lose now the day before your birthday."
Women! Bah! They can't just leave well enough alone with their "practicality" and "realism" and "hatred of sports." She can say whatever she wants, it won't dimish the happiness I feel right now. Curt in Grand Forks and I agree that this victory against the Packers today makes the whole season worth while. Whatever happens next is just icing on the cake. And yes, I have renewed hope in this team, and, yes, I know that is a dangerous thing. But today I just don't care. Bring on the Eagles. I know now that anything can happen and it feels great.
Craig, I'm sorry for your loss today. Believe me, I know how it feels. At least you'll still have your Fuddruckers cheeseburger, purchased by me. And all I'll have is a second round playoff game. Needless to say, I think I got the better deal.
January 7, 2005
Amazing! Welcome Google Searchers!
This blog is getting nailed right now by people searching Google for any news on Glen Taylor's rumored purchase of the Vikings. Check it out: do a search in Google for glen taylor vikings (just click on the link). This humble blog comes up as the fourth link, above the Star Tribune, and above Viking Update. This is amazing to me. And, if you are like me, you must wonder, why? Why does Google rank the Greet Machine so highly? Is it because of my phenomenal writing? My awe inspiring prose? Is it because Google knows I am from Minnesota or that I am a knowledgeable Vikings fan? None of the above. Google ranks this blog so highly because of its URL. First of all, the Greet Machine comes from a ".edu" domain so Google gives it a little more credence in its rankings. Secondly, this blog comes from a ".lib" domain. Google knows this comes from a library and as a result ranks it even higher. So, to sum it up, the Greet Machine has the double whammy of being from an educational domain, and from a library. Ha! If only they knew.
So, for all of you coming to this page as a result of a Google search, here is what I know about a possible sale of the Vikings (and sadly it probably isn't much more than you already know):
- Charley Walters convincingly reports that the a sale is probably imminent:
The time is ripe for a sale. The Vikings are in a downslide and Sunday's loss in Washington is expected to result in hundreds , if not thousands of season ticket cancellations. McCombs hasn't experienced a local TV blackout since he bought the Vikings for $245 million six years ago, but diminished attendance could cause that next season.
Taylor, a billionaire from Mankato, Minn., quietly has positioned himself during the past year to buy the Vikings. Don't think he hasn't met with top NFL officials, as well as various team owners who would eagerly approve a sale.
- However, as I say in the post below, Sid Hartman just reported yesterday in a column piece called "Vikings sale not close":
There have been rumors that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor was close to a deal with Vikings owner Red McCombs to buy the NFL team, but Taylor said, "I have not talked to McCombs in more than a month. There is nothing new. I'm still interested in the team."For the sake of my sanity and my own hopefulness, I choose not to believe Mr. Hartman.
One of Taylor's concerns is that if he does buy the Vikings, the Legislature might be less inclined to support a new stadium because they wouldn't worry about Taylor moving the team.
- We also have hearsay. Mr Cheer or Die reported yesterday:
Now, my good buddy The Commish reported to me that when the Wolves played the Knicks recently, Taylor was there. And Taylor doesnít go to a lot of road games. A reporter asked him why he went to that game and his exact quote was, ďLetís just say I was here to watch the Wolves game.ĒYes, we need all the luck, and prayers, we can get right now.
Fingers crossed. Toes crossed. Salt over left shoulder. Luck[y] rabbits foot. Knock on wood. Stay tuned.
- There are also rumors that Ted Waitt of Gateway wants to buy the team. I don't give these rumors much credence. Charley Walters also reports that:
Insiders say Los Angeles sports entrepreneur Casey Wasserman remains seriously interested in trying to acquire the Vikings.
This scares me a great deal since Wasserman would only have one goal in mind: to move the Vikings to LA. Let's hope these rumors are not serious.
- Finally, we have the potential of a Vikings sale to Reggie Fowler. As recently as early December Fowler was in Minnesota attending an informational meeting in Anoka County regarding their push for a new stadium. According to the Star Tribune:
Fowler, whose group of potential partners appears to be growing, met with members of the Anoka/Blaine stadium contingent Nov. 22 at the Minneapolis Club. During the meeting, Fowler and a host of other interested businessmen listened to a presentation of development possibilities for the 740-acre land tract off I-35W.So, Fowler is still definitely in the picture. Personally I doubt Fowler has the financial power to make a purchase of this kind, but he has promised to move to Minnesota if he did and keep the team in Minnesota so I would welcome this sale.
So, to sum up, there are heavy rumors floating around that Taylor is poised to buy the Vikings. And I'm a firm believer in "where there is smoke, there is a fire." There are also rumors of other people buying the Vikings. Based on all these rumors, I think we will see a sale of the Vikings shortly after the end of the season. Hopefully it will be to someone that A) is committed to keeping the team in Minnesota and B) someone who is committed to making the team into a winner again. My money is on Taylor.
January 4, 2005
Today will be an all Vikings post. Unless you are living under a rock you have heard all about Randy Moss and his early departure from last Sunday's game. I won't pontificate about this too much since I think it is obvious what a selfish and despicable act this was. In fact, I'd like to point you over to Mr. Cheer or Die's Viking Underground for his take on Moss:
What Moss did Sunday by leaving the field before time expired was uncalled for. It sent the wrong message to his coaches, teammates and fans alike. It made this life-long Vikings fan reach for the nearest antacid bottle and empty it.
I'm at the point where antacids just won't do it for me when it comes to Moss. I say Tice should bench him for the Packers game and then we should trade him. I say his last act as a Viking should be walking off the field like a selfish coward. I'm so sick of his theatrics and his "at least I'm getting paid" attitude. It is a slap in the face to me, a lifelong Vikings fan and season ticket holder, and the Vikings greats of the past who played with pride and respect for the game. Sit down Moss. Your "leadership" skills are no longer necessary.
And just when you thought Vikings tradition couldn't take any more hits, check out this comment from ESPN's Page 2:
How sad is it that the Minnesota Vikings, once clad in purple parkas, once producing the sort of winterized condensed breath that meant death for a visiting team in the playoffs, are now the softest team in the league? Eighteen of the last 20 games outdoors -- a Minnesota loss? Now, Randy Moss walks off the turf with two ticks left in Washington. Presumably, it was too cold for the Indoor Warrior. Somewhere, Bud Grant feels a pain in his chestal area -- and it's not frostbite.
The sad thing is he is absolutely right. The Metrodome is every bit of a dump as a football stadium as it is a baseball stadium. Where is our pride as Minnesotans? Why do we put up with this? We have seriously turned into a bunch of pansies who have all turned a blind eye to our heritage and tradition as a NORTHERN team. Our team, our tradition, our stadium, our ownership ... it is all in shambles. Our collective manhood is being questioned. If a new Vikings stadium is ever built I say it should be an outdoor stadium so we can attempt to regain what was lost when the Vikings moved out of the Met.
And yet, there is hope. Every time I look at the StarTrib website or the Pioneer Press I pray that I see Red McCombs has sold the team. Now, it seems we are extremely close to that inevitability:
Rumors were hot Monday at the Vikings' Eden Prairie offices that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is closing in on a purchase of the Vikings from Red McCombs.
For the love of all that is holy, please let this be true. Stay tuned for my list of immediate changes Taylor should make if he buys the Vikings. Feel free to get started in the comments below.
Lastly, I'd like to send a shout out to Stick and Ball Guy who has highlighted my meager ramblings in his most recent post. Thanks Stick and Ball Guy!
January 2, 2005
The torture continues...
OK. I knew I said I wouldn't write about sports that much anymore, but I just can't believe what is happening. Not only do the Vikings make the playoffs in the pansiest way possible, they also have to play the Packers! Again! Its like a never-ending fraternity initiation with the Vikings bent over asking the Packers "Please sir may I have another?" I knew the Vikings would make the playoffs, and I also have no hope for them getting out of the first round. But having to play the Packers, knowing that it will be the Packers who will embarass and crush them in their futile attempt to get a playoff win, is the ultimate knife-twist in the already twitching body that is the Vikings pathetic 2004 football season.
Man this has me steamed. For years Packer fans have tormented me with their playoff "superiority" and "winning tradition." Bah! I can already sum up what I'll be forced to hear for the next week: "Favre Favre Favre, Lambeau Lambeau Lambeau, below freezing, below freezing, below freezing, mystique, mystique, mystique, BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!!" All you Packer fans can shove it up where the sun don't shine and then stick it two doors to the left ...
I've dealt with this for far too long. I grew up as a Viking fan in Wisconsin, right across the border in River Falls. When I was a boy of 8 one of my good friends, Jason Simpson to be exact (and a Packer fan to boot) had the audacity to ask me, "How are the Viqueens doing this year?" I rolled up my fist in my Vikings mitten and socked him right in the nose. Ha! That's how we're doing (insert KG's favorite saying here)!!! And if you don't want another you better start showing me some respect!
Three times in one year ... THREE TIMES IN ONE YEAR!!!! Do recall the movie Remember the Titans? Do you remember when Coach Yost, after learning the refs weren't calling a fair game, told his defense to blitz and terrify the opposing offense saying, "You make sure they remember, FOREVER, the night they played the Titans!" That is how I want the Vikings to play. All out, no holds barred, nasty, dirty, chop blocking, clothes line flying, trash talking, body sacrificing football. Late hits out of bounds? I'll take a dozen. Encroachment with a QB takedown? Give me a few of those too. I want this team to play with attitude!! Conviction!! PRIDE!!!
For the love of Bud Grant please play with some PRIDE! And Tice, if there is only 2:30 left in the 4th quarter, and it is 4th and 5 on the Packers 45 yard line, and the game is tied, GO FOR IT! Show some backbone and cram it down the Packers' throats. Unleash Daunte and let him stiff arm his way to victory! This is it. This is the season. Please show me that I haven't wasted 30 plus years cheering for what Bill Maas today called the "most southern team in the North." Please. Please. Man I feel sick.
December 14, 2004
It ain't over till it's over
I just read this little tidbit on Mr. Cheer or Die's Viking Underground and I gotta say that I am shocked. The Vikings still have a chance to win the division. If the Vikings win all of their remaining games, they will win the division, even if the Packers lose to the Vikings and win two more. That is remarkable. The Vikings can play horrible all season, have the same record as the Packers, and still take the division.
I truthfully don't know how I feel about this. After the Seattle game I was practically begging the Packers to beat the Lions just to put me out of my misery. After they won I thought, "Well, I don't have to worry about the Vikings any more. If they beat the Packers on Christmas Eve I will be satisfied." Now I find out the Vikes are still in the running! OK ... you know what, I may be a glutton for punishment but I think I am actually happy about this!
So here is what we know:
- Daunte Culpepper has never lost to the Detroit Lions. I don't see why he would start losing to them this Sunday.
- If the Vikings beat the Lions, I don't see them losing the Packers at home. The Vikings know they are playing for their playoff lives and Mike Tice's job. Beat the Lions and I practically guarantee the Vikes will beat the Packers.
- Again, Mike Tice's job is in serious jeopardy. The Vikings, I predict, will use this to their advantage and play with a little more heart.
- Linehan will never, ever allow Randy Moss to pass again. So, we've got that going for us, too.
The Vikings can win these last three games. So, I cannot give up hope until its all over. I'm a Vikings fan. I'm used to this.
Well, it is over for the Twins and Corey Koskie. Again, this doesn't upset me too much. That is what we get for being Twins fans. The Twins are like a college team. About every four years the team completely changes and we find ourselves with a new set of players to cheer for. Koskie had a good year last year, not great but good. He will certainly be missed, but it is time to give someone else a shot. Is anyone else really upset that Koskie is leaving? I mean he was injured a lot, he is getting old, and the Twins have at least two players that can fill in. I like Aaron Gleeman's take on the situation. One of the biggest negatives to Koskie leaving is that it opens a door for Rivas to still play second. Yikes! For me, though, again being a Twins fan I'm kind of used to this.
One thing that never seems to be "over" is my favorite subject, stadiums in Minnesota. In case you missed it, Sid Hartman reported this Sunday:
Behind the scenes, the Twins are working with Hennepin County and St. Paul in order to come up with a reasonable plan in which each group could present a plan to the Legislature for a baseball stadium. Then a vote would be taken and a committee would decide whether the ballpark is in Minneapolis or in St. Paul. Sam Grabowski, executive director of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, calls the ballpark a top priority, as do officials of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce.
See where it says officials from both Minneapolis and St. Paul consider a baseball stadium a "top priority?" Here is what I don't understand: why are Minneapolis and St. Paul so desperate for a stadium if, as we are led to believe, stadiums have such a negligible economic impact on a community? Why? I don't think I've ever heard of a city ever say, "You know what? We don't want a new stadium. There is nothing in it for us." No, over and over again in cities all over America city officials practically beg for professional sports stadiums to be built. If the Minnesota legislature would allow it, the St. Paul city government would tax the wazoo out its people to build a stadium.
I ask these kinds of questions sort of facetiously since I think I know the answer, but still it makes me wonder why cities are always so gung ho about stadium construction and state legislatures are so typically against it?
December 8, 2004
Yesterday I was getting ready to write a much different post for today. I was fully expecting neither Koskie or Radke to sign. This wouldn't have bothered me much, though. I remember two years ago when Radke was just pitching awful, and some guy joked in the paper that his kids must not love him very much because for Father's Day they bought him tickets to a Twins game with Radke pitching. So, I think Terry Ryan was wise to give Radke only a two year $18 million deal. With pitchers, you never know when they are just going to tank it. Don't get me wrong, though. I think Radke had a very good year last year and I am excited, no thrilled, to have him come back. When I saw the news this morning it immediately brightened my whole outlook.
However, again, losing Radke wouldn't have bothered me that much. That is what we get for being Twins fans. We should come to expect this kind of crap now: losing our best players, watching baseball indoors on a beautiful summer day, losing to the Yankees every year, praying that our minor league system can keep churning out talent, etc. It makes life exciting doesn't it? I love being able to complain about all this stuff. What would I do with my time if I wasn't belly-aching about Pohlad and his cheap ways or those idiots at the state capitol? I have no idea.
Having said that, I gotta also say that my respect for Radke has just gone up big time. How many times have we heard a player say "its not about the money" and then prove to us that it is, in fact, almost all about the money? Too many times (Guardado?). Radke could have probably gotten the 3 year $33 million dollar offer his agent wanted from another team given his track record, but obviously staying in Minnesota is important to him. I can relate. On the librarian free agency market I could probably command at least $500 - $1000 more per year from another library, preferably in a warmer climate, but I choose to stay at the U of M. Oh yeah, it's all about loyalty. Brad and I have something in common now.
With this deal the Twins starting rotation looks like this: Santana, Radke, Silva, Lohse, Mays. Mays, of course, is the big question mark, but if he can come back with his normal stuff I like the looks of this rotation. The TwinsGeek had a great column yesterday talking about what other teams in the Central have been doing and quite frankly it doesn't look like much. With the signing of Radke the Twins may have just become the favorites in the Central again.
What about Koskie and Jones? Again, the TwinsGeek did a nice job in today's column talking about how he expects that Jones and Rivas both will be gone next year to make room for Radke and Koskie. And even with Jones and Rivas gone the Twins payroll will be about $4 - $5 million more than last year. Has Pohlad had a change of heart? Sid Hartman reported on December 5th:
On another subject, Bell said he never has seen Twins owner Carl Pohlad as determined to win another World Series. "Sure, finances are important to him, but he talks much less about finances these days and a lot more about how we can put a team together that can win a World Series," Bell said.
This is good news, and the increase in the Twins payroll may be proof that Pohlad does indeed want another World Series. We shall see.
I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the article in Sunday's Star Tribune that talked about the rumors of a Vikings sale to Glen Taylor. Of course, those rumors "fizzled" out, but the article itself was loaded with interesting tidbits, including news about Reggie "Donald Watkins" Fowler. That isn't really fair, I guess. It appears he is still in the game:
Fowler, whose group of potential partners appears to be growing, met with members of the Anoka/Blaine stadium contingent Nov. 22 at the Minneapolis Club. During the meeting, Fowler and a host of other interested businessmen listened to a presentation of development possibilities for the 740-acre land tract off I-35W.
Good news. Very good news. I think Fowler would have a good chance with the state legislature given that 1) he is a minority, 2) he has said he will move to Minnesota, and 3) he isn't insanely wealthy. It looks like Fowler is waiting patiently until either Red lowers the price or he can line up some investors. The article also had a good explanation of the total cost of buying the Vikings and why Fowler is taking his time:
Private development of a new stadium might prove critical to the team's future in Minnesota. The Anoka County Board, the only public entity to step forward for the Vikings, has approved a county-wide sales tax that would contribute $250-$300 million toward a new stadium.
That total still would leave some $300 million to complete the stadium portion of the project, and the state's $700 million budget shortfall makes it unlikely that any further public money will become available. The conceptual development -- which would include a major shopping area, a hotel, restaurants and a team museum -- is projected to cost $1.5 billion.
The stadium cost would come on top of the Vikings' purchase price for any new owner. McCombs had been seeking $600 million for the franchise, a number that could grow when the NFL completes negotiations on its remaining television contracts. The magnitude of that investment has led Fowler to continue his search for big-money investors to back his candidacy.
Truthfully, I hope Glen Taylor just puts us all out of our misery and buys the team. According to today's Pioneer Press (Charley Walters):
Of his interest in buying the Vikings, Taylor said owner Red McCombs' asking price of $600 million makes it a difficult transaction. He also said there wouldn't be many changes required if he bought the Vikings because the team has been well run and isn't far from becoming a contender.
I wonder what kind of price Taylor would be happier with: $500 million? $550 million? I have a feeling this off season will be very interesting for Vikings fans.
December 6, 2004
Oh boy was I in a foul mood yesterday. The Vikings were outplayed, outcoached, outhustled, etc. etc. Once again I wanted Mike Tice's head on a platter. But as I thought about it more it became clear that this was just another case of our defense playing poorly and the Chicago defense playing really well. Chicago's defense got to Daunte, they had good downfield protection, and they completely neutralized Randy Moss. I think Tillman really got into his head. The Vikings losing Antoine Winfield didn't help either. I hope he is a fast healer. So, I was still really ticked but really, as Vikings fans we've seen it all before.
Then I watched the Packer/Eagles game. Yikes! That was a "behind the woodshed" type beating. That was a demoralizing, "why do we even try" type beating. For most of the first half I had a big smile on my face watching the Pack get waxed, and then it dawned on me. The Eagles are completely in a class by themselves this year in the NFC. The NFC is their's to lose and it doesn't look like they will lose it anytime soon. If the Pack can't even make a decent game out of it what chance do other teams, especially the Vikings, really have against the Eagles? Not much of a chance at all I would wager. So, unless the Vikings rip off a four game win streak, I will not let my hopes get up too high. Beat the Pack December 24. That will make the season all worth while for me.
Cheesehead, what were you thinking during that thrashing? Could you even watch the whole game?
My wife figure out what she is getting for her birthday, so I will post the rest of the clues and their meanings sometime today. See you soon!
November 29, 2004
Not even a mention?
OK, I can understand all the hype over Favre's 200th consecutive start. It is impressive. You can't argue with that. However, what I can't understand is that with all the comparisions with other streaks in NFL history, Jim Marshall's streak of 282 consecutive games played is not even mentioned. They mention Cal Ripken's streak, they mention Jerry Rice's streak of consecutive games with a catch, but they don't mention 282 freakin' consecutive games played? To put it another way, Marshall played in every game from 1960-1979. EVERY GAME. And he started in 270 consecutive games from 1961-1979. Furthermore, Marshall wasn't some pansy QB who slides before he gets tackled or gets really hit only two or three times a game. Marshall was a DE that hit and got hit every single play. Where is the respect? Where is the sickening love-fest for Jim Marshall? Why do we have to keep hearing about Brett Favre when his streak is still 70 (70!!!!!) games away from breaking the record?
Thank goodness for the Gopher men's hockey team. Where would the U of M athletic department be without them? I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again, but the one thing the U of M will never tolerate is a mediocre hockey team. We demand excellence in hockey and we won't have it any other way. Men's basketball? We consider it a moral victory to lose to 18th ranked Alabama by six. That is pathetic. Football? Maturi is practically salivating over a trip to the Music City Bowl. No, the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. If it was up to me, any mention of the name "Gaylord" in the Golden Gophers record books is not a reason to celebrate.
So, my hat is off to the Gopher men's hockey team. #1 in the nation and stocked with Minnesotans. If you like hockey, Minnesota is a great place to be. If you prefer basketball or football, though, all you can hope for is a fluke season where either the football team reaches the Sun Bowl or the basketball team wins the NIT. That is truly pathetic.
My TV is broken. And I didn't have the world's greatest TV to begin with, it was only a 27" regular old TV. So, I took it in to get repaired. I was expecting it to cost maybe $100 to fix. $150 tops. Nope: it will cost as much as $350, possibly more. According to the phone call I received, the circuitry is absolutely fried. And to get this great piece of news they charged me $45. So, now I will be forced to watch my 19" piece of junk TV for who knows how long. With Christmas coming around the corner, I simply cannot afford to get a new TV, even if I tried to get another 27". So, if anyone can tell me how I can get a cheap TV I am all ears. If it is cheap enough I wil buy it right away.
My wife's birthday is on December 11, and I've already bought her present. She is, of course, trying desperately to get me to tell her what it is. And, of course, I won't tell her. But I have agreed to give her some clues. They will start hard. Very hard. But they'll get easier. The first clue is:
Dan Majerle shares something in common.
November 23, 2004
No matter how you slice it
It was announced today that the Vikings will not retain the services of Mike Kelly past this season. No matter how you slice it, this is not a good development. Some people see this as a sign of an imminent sale, but I see this as a sign of Red McCombs's entrenchment. He is digging in his heels and doing whatever it takes to both save money and show Minnesotans that he sees no hope for a Vikings stadium. It is also becoming clear that McCombs expects to own the team when the season ends and possibly even next season. Bad, bad, bad, bad news. Kelly was the Vikings front man for the stadium effort and his departure signals that McCombs is doing everything he can besides what it will take to keep the Vikings in Minnesota. Besides being the stadium front man for the Vikings, Kelly is also a Minnesotan (from Edina). Without him, a stadium deal for the Vikings this year is even more unlikely than it already was. Kelly, who obviously was doing everything he could to keep his mouth shut had this to say about his departure:
"I want this to be a positive thing and not a negative thing," Kelly said. "I'll just say that ... recently there has been kind of a transition from a growth position to kind of a maintenance position ... I also think from a business perspective, there's not a whole lot more we can do. I don't think there's a lot of growth out there for us."
That is not good to hear. It sounds like more cuts are coming as the Vikings become the Twins of the NFL. Sure they can put a winning team on the field, but it will be in spite of having one of the worst owners in the league. Oh goody. Thanks for everything Mike! You will be missed. My only hope can be found in the always delicious Shooter column, who today said:
Mike Kelly's resignation Monday as executive vice president of the Vikings had been quietly in the works for weeks, and some insiders are surprised that it took so long. Kelly could end up back with the Vikings if Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor purchases the team. Vikings owner Red McCombs squeezed Kelly into resigning. Two years ago McCombs forbade him from interviewing for a top executive position with the Atlanta Falcons.
Glen Taylor is increasingly looking like our only hope. The Fowler-Hecker team looks to have already given up.
I don't know if you know this, but the great states of Wisconsin and Minnesota are right now in the midst of a competition for the "Border Battle Cup." Our two universities are right now battling for bragging rights over who has the best sports program. I recently came across this web page from the Badgers site that does a great job of showing how the two programs are faring in this epic struggle:
|Date||Sport(points available)||Site||UW Pts||UM Pts|
|Oct. 8, 2004||Volleyball (20)||UM||0||20|
|Oct. 8, 2004||Womenís Soccer (40)||UW||0||40|
|Oct. 30, 2004||Volleyball (20)||UW||20||0|
|Nov. 5, 2004||Menís Hockey (10)||UM||0||10|
|Nov. 6, 2004||Football (40)||UW||40||0|
|Nov. 6, 2004||Menís Hockey (10)||UM||0||10|
|Dec. 4, 2004||Womenís Hockey (10)||UW|| || |
|Dec. 5, 2004||Womenís Hockey (10)||UW|| || |
|Jan. 6, 2005||Womenís Basketball (20)||UW|| || |
|Jan. 29, 2005||Womenís Hockey (10)||UM|| || |
|Jan. 30, 2005||Womenís Hockey (10)||UM|| || |
|Feb. 4, 2005||Menís Hockey (10)||UW|| || |
|Feb. 5, 2005||Menís Basketball (40)||UM|| || |
|Feb. 5, 2005||Menís Hockey (10)||UW|| || |
|Feb. 18, 2005||Wrestling (40)||UW|| || |
|Feb. 20, 2005||Womenís Basketball (20)||UM|| || |
|April 8, 2005||Menís Tennis (40)||UM|| || |
|April 10, 2005||Womenís Tennis (40)||UW|| || |
|TBA||Softball (10)||UW|| || |
|TBA||Softball (10)||UW|| || |
A quick analysis shows that due to the strength of the Gophers women's sports, the U of M should be able to win the Cup. I predict that the Gophers women's hockey team will sweep the Badgers (40 pts), and that the Gophers women's basketball team will also sweep the Badgers (40 pts). In addition, the Gophers wrestling team should easily beat the Badgers (40 pts), and while I think the Gophers men's hockey team should also sweep the Badgers (as they did in Madision a few weeks ago) I predict the teams will split at Mariucci (10 pts). That is 130 points to go with the 80 points they already have for a total of 210 points.
The Badgers basketball team should easily beat the Gophers in men's basketball (40 pts.) and they should be able to win at least one hockey game (10 pts.). Add that to the 60 pts they already have and you get 110 pts.
The final 100 pts comes from softball and men's and women's tennis and I don't have a clue how good Badgers or the Gophers are in these sports. However, the Badgers only chance at the cup depends at how good they are at these sports. Otherwise, I predict the Gophers should win the cup easily and prove once again our dominance in sports vs. our neighbors to the east.
November 22, 2004
I'll take it
This post was shaping up to be a little bit different in the first three quarters of yesterday's Vikings game. Just like many of you, I thought that Mike Tice should be fired. The Vikings showed such a lack of heart, and worse a total lack of discipline, that I thought surely this is the product of poor coaching. These thoughts of Tice's imminent dismissal culminated with the Lions safety in the 3rd quarter. If you would have been watching the game with me, you would have heard some choice words for Tice, the defense, the offense, the entire coaching staff ... heck, I thought even the water boy deserved a tongue lashing. What a heartless bunch of stiffs.
Daunte must have heard all of us because he played an amazing 4th quarter. I know everyone else is saying it so I mine as well too: Daunte is becoming a better QB without Moss around. There is no doubt about it. I don't know who got the coveted game ball, but my vote would go to Daunte.
There are also some bright spots with the defense. Only 51 yards given up in the second half. Johnstone's 3 sacks. The play of Antoine Winfield. Finally benching Chris Hovan. However, the game was won when Mooch took the penalty rather than forcing Tice to make a decision on 4 and 2. Daunte lived up to the MVP talk and the Vikings squeaked by. Here is hoping they can carry this over into next week against Jacksonville. I've already heard that Moss will be back. It will be interesting to see how the Vikings react to all of this, as usual.
A couple of words about the Artest b-ball fiasco, first about the state of the game and its players. Do any of you know why they call basketball players cagers? Its because in the early days of the game they enclosed the court in chicken wire to keep the ball and the players in bounds. Basketball was known as a vicious game with players pushing each other against the cages and getting into numerous fights. Basketball has a long history of fights. I don't know how many of you remember, but one of the worst fights in college basketball history happened between Minnesota and Ohio State. Our own Dave Winfield slugged a guy five times while he was already on the ground. I guess what I am trying to say is don't tell me that the game or the players are any different than they have always been. Fights happen all the time in the heat of the moment and while this may go down as one of the worst I don't think it is unique or a sign of the times.
The only reason it will go down as one of the worst is because it was taken into the stands. This of course is inexcusable. You have to wonder what was going through Artest's head (and Jackson's) as they wailed on the fans in the stands. Not only are they going to lose most of their salaries, but they are going to get sued out the wazoo. However, just as Artest and Jackson (and O'Neal for that matter) should be blamed for their lack of composure, the fans should also take the blame, if not most of the blame. When has it ever been OK to throw your drink at another person, or verbally assault another person for 48 minutes? I go back to one of Charles Barkley's more salient points of wisdom when he said something to effect, "I think players should be able to pick one fan per game and kick his ass." Amen to that. Who else wouldn't try to defend their honor after the abuse most NBA players take every night? Quite frankly I'm surprised we don't see more of what happened with Artest.
Having said all of this, Artest got what he deserved. He is a thug with an attitude problem, and beyond what happened during this game he needed what my father-in-law calls a little "reality therapy."
The Packers really tick me off. Another game another last second field goal for the win. That kind of consistent performance will come back to haunt them. As I was saying to Cheesehead Craig last night, I have a new name for the Packers: The Green Bay Wigglers. They wiggle out of every game and I'm getting sick of it.
That's it for now.
Category "Links of the day"
October 22, 2004
Donald Watkins Part II and some links
Did anyone catch the news about Denny Hecker and Reggie Fowler today? No? That's because there isn't any. If you've forgotten, about two months ago it became well known that Reggie Fowler, an Arizona businessman, was interested in purchasing the Vikings. In order to assuage the fears of Minnesota Viking fans he partnered with Denny Hecker, a local car salesman, and said that the two of them would have a proposal for purchasing the team "soon." Well, today the Star Tribune reported:
Two months after publicly revealing his interest in joining an ownership group to purchase the Vikings, local businessman Denny Hecker continues to mull his options.
He acknowledged Wednesday that there has been no significant movement in broaching the issue with owner Red McCombs, but Hecker added, "We're still working on it behind the scenes."
McCombs is seeking in excess of $600 million for the team, a price Hecker and Arizona entrepreneur Reggie Fowler do not appear ready to meet.
Does this mean that they don't have the money, or that they have the money but are unwilling to pay $600 million? I'm beginning to think they don't have the money. Forbes recently valued the Vikings franchise at $600 million. Red McCombs will not lower his price. Unfortunately it seems that in Reggie Fowler and Denny Hecker we have another Donald Watkins on our hands. They are all talk, and it looks like they may never make an offer to buy the team. Without some Minnesota ownership, the Vikings have absolutely zero chance of securing stadium funding from the legislature. Even with a Minnesota owner it will be difficult. I'm not saying Fowler and Hecker are the answer, but I definitely know Red McCombs is not.
I'll be visiting my best buddy Curt this weekend. I'll "talk" with all of you next week. In the meantime, here are some links for you to enjoy:
- This is a great article. This guy has created a device, called TV-B-Gone, that will turn off any TV in the area. Interesting social implications and reactions.
- Here is the TV-B-Gone website.
- This "who should you vote for quiz" takes quotes from Bush and Kerry and asks you which ones you prefer. The catch is you don't know who said the quote. Revealing? Perhaps.
- Need a site to help you convince your mom not to vote for Bush? Try ConvinceYourMom.com.
- There are a lot of plans to give America energy independence. Personally, I feel along with health care issues, alternative sources of fuel and retooling the car should be two of our government's highest priorities.
- A detailed review by someone who has seen "The Last Starfighter: the Musical." This is so cool! I wish I could go! Check out this quote:
It is difficult to describe the feelings as one sits through this production. For vital minutes at the beginning of the show, your mind reels, over and over: "I am watching a musical production of The Last Starfighter. I am watching a musical production of The Last Starfighter". This said, however, I found my half-smirk and wide eyes quickly overcome with the poignant, powerful song sung by Zur to his estranged parent, "Father to Son". It speaks of his rightful place, his hereditary throne denied him, his pain at being left in the cold and lost without meaning, which is why he now intends to destroy the very world he was rejected from. It is strong. It is touching. It is, at the end, a very real song delivered by a very real performer.Awesome! You can't make that kind of stuff up! As many of you probably know, I recently purchased The Last Starfighter on DVD. My kids and I watched it last weekend and I must say it hasn't lost any of its magic. Greetings Starfighter! You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Zur and the Kodan Armada...
- 50 great Halloween songs for you to download and enjoy. Amazing collection.
- This is incredible, but Iran has endorsed Bush. Very odd.
- The biggest sunfish I have ever seen.
Have a good weekend everyone!
October 18, 2004
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Daunte Culpepper ... wow. I love to watch this guy play. Another game, another 5 touchdown pass performance. He is making it look so easy that we might be taking it for granted what inspired football he is playing right now. And for all the people that think Gus Frerotte should be starting ... I can't believe I even had to type that sentence out. Reusse had a great beginning to his column today dealing with the Daunte haters out there:
Daunte Culpepper's most determined critics were not able to view his entire performance on Sunday night. These people were otherwise occupied from 8 to 9 p.m., since they make up the I.Q. demographic for "Desperate Housewives."
Zing! Here is hoping that a 425 yard, 5 TD pass performance will shut these people up. Daunte is the NFL MVP so far this season. No question about it.
Randy Moss will be back next week. I think we can bank on that. But in his absence Nate Burleson had a really nice game. Actually, 6 receptions for 134 yards is really, really nice. But if Daunte didn't get the game ball last night it would have to go to Mewelde Moore: 109 yards rushing, 78 yards receiving, and 51 yards returning kicks. What impressed me more, though, about this kid is how hard he is to bring down. Cheesehead Craig and I both agreed he reminds us of Ahman Green, except he holds on to the ball too. Now the question is, what happens when Bennett comes back? What happens when Smith comes back? I honestly would rather see Moore in there. He is tough, he is determined, he rushes, he catches, he does it all, and he does it impressively. Steal of the Draft? I think we have finally seen the SOD and it ain't Onterrio "Pass the Dutchie" Smith.
If anything can temper my enthusiasm for the Vikings this year, it is the pathetic defense. Yet again the game came down to the last quarter, and the last minutes, even though the Vikings offense was able to rack up 38 points. Corey Chavous is saying this is a "team game" but if one part of this team will keep them out of the Super Bowl it is the defense. What if the Vikings traded Bennett for another decent corner, or a healthy linebacker? Unfortunately I doubt any other team would take the injury prone Bennett at this point. Switching defensive coordinators for the past 3-4 years (I honestly can't remember how many the Vikings have had) cannot help, but Cotrell's schemes are not impressing me at all. Tice even had to challenge the defense this week to be more agressive. Here is hoping they can improve because they will not go to the Super Bowl with this defense.
My family carved pumpkins this weekend. I'll be showing the three pumpkin designs in the next couple of days, but I think the best design goes to my oldest son. Every year he comes up with a new design, and every year I say to myself, "That is going to look stupid." And every year he proves me wrong. I don't know what inspired this year's design, but I think it looks kind of cool.
My kids and I have started to play my old Stratego game. Do you remember Stratego? It is an easy game to learn and it is fun to play for adults and kids. Anyway, take a look at the box cover for my old version of Stratego. What the heck does it mean to be a "two-handed" strategy game? I certainly don't have to use two hands to play. Do they mean to say it is a "two-player" strategy game? Very odd.
I pray the Gophers don't have to play Michigan and Michigan State back-to-back next year again because that just isn't working out for them. What an ugly game. Not only did they prove they aren't yet a Rose Bowl contending team, but they also proved they are not a tough team either. It was cold, it was rainy, and it was obvious they prefer to play inside. The U could have renovated Memorial Stadium for $10 million. Instead they chose to move into the Metrodome. Some decisions come back to haunt you, but that decision is a fricken nightmare that won't stop.
Finally, I am upset the Red Sox won last night. It just prolongs the inevitable. I love David Ortiz, but the rest of the Red Sox can take a flying leap.
October 7, 2004
Before I begin let me say that I am not, nor will I ever be, a manager in baseball. Not little leagues, and certainly not in the major leagues. The game was painful last night, as I'm sure you'll agree, and I can't decide if I would rather lose in a blowout, or a close game in extra innings. I am leaning towards a blowout.
Having said that, I would have left Nathan in, too. I cringed when I saw Jesse Crain warming up. Granted, he might be the closer of the future, but this was going to be too much for him. His first postseason appearance at Yankee stadium in an extra innings game? Come on. No way. When Nathan walked back out I was relieved. In hindsight, should Gardy have put Crain in? I have no idea. Should he have put Romero in to face Matsui? Possibly, but Romero has really struggled as of late. I would have liked to have seen Nathan finish it off. My question now, though, is will he be able to pitch Friday? Probably with a day off. And yes, I would still put him in. No question.
And speaking of managerial decisions, I would have pinch hit for Kubel in the 8th. Here is another situation where a rookie was expected to produce, but it wasn't even a normal situation in regards to a playoff game. He was facing possibly the greatest reliever of this generation: Mariano Rivera. I know Gardy probably liked the fact that Kubel was a lefty, but the rookie looked so outmatched out there, it wasn't even funny. If only Koskie's ground rule double would have stayed in the park! We wouldn't even be having this conversation.
Have no fear, though, Twins fans. We only need to go back 2 years to see somewhat of a repeat of this situation. In the 2002 ALDS vs. Oakland the Twins won the first game and then lost game 2 in Oakland 9-1, and then lost game 3 at the Dome 6-3! Man that was painful. However, you all know the rest of the story, the Twins take the last two games and go on to the ALCS. Here is hoping the Twins won't even need game 5. Come on Silva!
Non Twins news, I don't know how many of you saw this, but Charley Walters reported on Tuesday that Reggie Fowler and Denny Hecker are getting closer to making an offer for the Vikings. I predict next week. It is funny how my mind can change so quickly. When we first heard about this maybe happening, I was freaking out. Who is this Reggie Fowler character? Now I think it is exactly what the Vikings need. It will be a happy day when I don't have to think about Red McCombs and his veiled threats ever again.
Mr. Cheer or Die of Vikings fan fame has created a blog on my humble U of M blog system, UThink, called Mr. Cheer Or Die's Viking Underground. I am thrilled to have him aboard! Anyway, he has already posted a hilarious account called "The Switch" which describes his efforts to display a Vikings lamp in his house. I encourage you to check it out and the rest of his site as he gets more content up.
September 26, 2004
Hello Vikings fans. It is nice to be 2-1. Let's look at the good stuff first:
Daunte Culpepper: 19/30 for 360 yds and 3 TDs (1 rushing)
Randy Moss: 7 receptions for 119 yds and 2 TDs
Onterrio Smith: 94 yds rushing and 104 yds receiving
The Vikings also held the Bears to only 239 yds passing which is pretty good considering the Vikings were ranked last in the league in passing defense (that spot should be taken by the Packers after what Peyton Manning did to them). As Mike Tice has said repeatedly, a win is a win and it is nice to be heading into the bye week sitting at 2-1. Now the Vikes can take a week to heal and correct some mistakes.
Now for the bad stuff. Who else is completely underwhelmed by the Vikings this year? First of all, the defense looks just like it did last year. Wasn't Antoine Winfield supposed to make our secondary respectable? It almost looked like Rex Grossman was picking on him rather than Brian Williams, and to make matters worse Grossman was actually succeeding in getting balls over Winfield to his receivers. And our defensive line is not getting to the QB. Sure, we had two sacks, but not until late and it seemed Grossman had plenty of time to throw. Now really, this shouldn't surprise me. The Vikings are built around offense, but I'm sick of this "bend-but-don't-break" defensive style. I mean, we weren't playing against Brett Favre or Peyton Manning! Let's get after the QB! What do I know...
Now before I go on my next tirade, let me just say that I realize both Mike Rosenthal and Matt Birk are injured, and that they have been replaced by O-linemen that are now being forced to learn on the job. Because of this, Daunte may not have as much time as he needs to let a play develop. However, I gotta say I am sick of this conservative style of offense. I know that Tice and Linehan want to control the ball to keep the defense off the field as much as possible (or to just give them a rest), but for the love of Pete take the shackles off Daunte and let him pull the trigger!!! The only way we are going to be successful this season is if our offense torches the opponents and we just aren't doing that right now. Consider this, the Bears secondary has been decimated by injury and yet we only scored two touchdowns against them!?!?!? I guess Lovie Smith deserves some credit, but Culpepper and Moss should have shredded the Bears ala Brett Favre and Javon Walker today (Walker had 198 yds and 3 TDs in the loss!).
Nothing exemplifies this pathetic conservative style more than the Vikings last drive in the fourth. With two minutes left to play, and the Vikings on the Bear's 48 yard line after a failed on-side kick, the Vikings go three and out after two runs and a failed Culpepper scramble. That horrible set of play calls left the Bears with 1:31 left with which to score and take the lead. I don't blame Culpepper for this, I blame Tice and Linehan for not going for the juggular when it mattered most. Sheesh Tice! Take the ball and tell Daunte to ram it down their throats! Slant to Moss, screen to Smith, bomb to Campbell, anything but this conservative mamby-pamby crap! All we needed was one measly first down! I gotta calm down.
And I know most of you can't stand it when Daunte "gets his roll on" after a score, but I wouldn't mind if we saw a whole lot more of this from Daunte against the Houston Texans after the bye. Heck, I wouldn't mind if Daunte started to do the Chicken Dance after we scored just so we start to score some dag-blasted touchdowns. Tice! Please unleash our offense! Where is Brian Billick when we need him? Screw clock management and start scoring!
September 21, 2004
Euphoria and Disgust
If you were anything like me last night, this is how you watched the Twins celebration:
FSN: Yay! The Twins won! Look at all the champagne. It doesn't get any better than this. Let me flip on over to the Vikings game...
Channel 5: Daunte! You moron! Hold on to the freaking ball! Sheesh! My whole night is ruined. I wonder what is happening with the Twins...
FSN: Oh look! Torii has goggles on! Hilarious! Man I love this team. I am so happy! Hmmm ... maybe Daunte crossed the goal line before he fumbled...
Channel 5: Daunte! You were about 5 millimeters away from the goal line! I swear my daughter has stronger hands than you! HOLD ON TO THE BALL!!!!
I have a funny feeling that was how most of us watched TV last night.
So, looking at the picture, on the right we have a team that knows how to win, and on the left we have a team that has yet to figure that out.
The Twins clinching in Chicago was a thing of beauty. A great pitching performance by Carlos Silva (who has all but wrapped up that third playoff spot) and a dominating performance by the Twins hitters. The White Sox players just talk, while the Twins let their bats do the talking. Mark Buehrle was absolutely put in his place early with two two-run home runs in the first inning. None was better than Torii Hunter's, since Torii took Buehrle's comments last week the most personal. I tell you what, Torii has really stepped up this year into a leadership role on the team, and he obviously has it in him to take it to another team when he feels a message needs to be sent.
And unlike years past the Twins cannot take it easy now. They have a real shot at home field advantage in the ALDS, most likely against the Red Sox. I don't know about you, but the Red Sox make me nervous with Pedro and Schilling on the mound for the first two games, not to mention the one-time dominant Derek Lowe. Actually, the Twins might face Tim Wakefield. His knuckleball has always given the Twins trouble. However, the Metrodome has got to give the Twins an edge. The last time the Twins faced Pedro at the Dome they won, but only after Pedro was taken out. With Radke and Santana pitching the way they've been ptiching recently, though, I really like our chances and I don't care who we are playing.
The Vikings ... ugh. It is amazing how you can be so pumped up for the game only to be so crushed at the end of it. The game was dominated by Viking mistakes and mistakes by the officials. Let's take a look back:
- The Vikings stopped the Eagles on their first drive. The phantom holding call on Winfield should have never been called.
- Rosenthal leaving the game with an injury began a painful night for the Vikings O-line. Haayer got abused by Kearse, and Daunte had no time in the pocket the whole game.
- Daunte getting stuffed on the goal line in the first quarter was only the beginning of red zone difficulties the Vikes would have the whole game.
- Speaking of which, every time the Vikings crossed the 50, they would implode under holding and false start penalties. And who is this Dugan kid? It may be time for the practice squad for him.
- Matt Birk's holding penalty wiped out yet another Viking touchdown in the third.
- But Daunte's fumble at the goal line was the biggest killer. If not for that fumble, the Vikings would have been up 13-10 going into half time. That fumble just punched me in the gut.
- T.O.'s TD was obviously not a touchdown. Although the officials should have never called it a touchdown, Tice should have thrown the red flag. I mean, wasn't anyone watching replays of the play up in the Vikings' booth?
I'm sure there other examples of ineptitude, but these should cover it for now. Matt Birk said after the game that it isn't a talent issue, and it isn't an effort issue. It is an execution issue. The Vikings choked, and that is all there is to it. They have not figured out how to win the big game on the road and until they do they won't get very far. Thankfully the season is young, and the mistakes they made can definitely be corrected, but just this once I wanted Daunte and Randy to step up and lead the Vikings and prove that this is a different team. Unfortunately I'm still waiting for proof. The only silver lining is that Green Bay lost at home to the Bears. There, now doesn't that make you feel better?
To wrap it up, at the same time the Twins were celebrating we had Daunte Culpepper coughing up the ball yet again (and right at the goal line! Ahhh!!!). So, a night of euphoria and disgust. The life of a Minnesota sports fan in a nutshell.
And for those of you that are wondering, I love Daunte Culpepper. I wouldn't trade him for anyone. I just wish he would hold onto the ball, or at the very least limit his fumbles at the goal line.
September 20, 2004
Tonight is the night!
Oh boy, who isn't excited about tonight? First we have the Twins game with the possibility of them clinching on the hated White Sox's own turf ... Sheesh! It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. Then we have the Vikings making their return to Monday Night Football ... Man! Owens vs. Moss and Culpepper vs. McNabb. My family had better know that the big TV is mine tonight! I may have to get home early and camp out in front of it with a clicker in each hand. Of course the dilemma is if the Twins clinch tonight, when will it exactly happen? I'm hoping for half time, but that probably isn't likely. So, I may have to make use of my picture in picture capabilities, or tape the Twins celebration with my DVR. Is there anything better than watching the celebration of your favorite team after they have won something? I swear it just doesn't get any better.
Did anyone see the FSN-Sporting News breakdown of the Vikings-Eagles game tonight? According to Viking Update:
The Sporting News on-line preview for the Vikings-Eagles game gives check marks for everything from positions to coaching and, of the 11 categories listed, gave the Eagles the edge in nine of the 11 -- only giving the Vikes the edge at QB and wide receiver. Eight of their "experts" all picked the Eagles to win the game. Why they give the Eagles the edge at offensive line remains a mystery, but that's irrelevant. With such domination one would expect a blowout. Their official score prediction? Eagles win 38-35. With such a disparity, one would think 38-7 would be more accurate.
Interesting. I'm under the impression that the Vikings offense line is much bigger than the Eagles. Perhaps they give the edge to the Eagles O-line because of how pathetic our D-line played last week? Who knows. Nonetheless, I can only hope that the score will be this close. The Vikings are already ranked last in pass defense in the NFL which must have McNabb and Owens licking their chops. However, if Onterrio Smith can rush for 100-150 yards, and the O-line can protect Culpepper, it should open things wide open for Moss/Burleson/Campbell/Robinson. This is just a great early test of the Vikings as a Super Bowl contender. A close loss wouldn't worry me too much, but a blow out would have me rethinking the Vikings place amongst the NFL elite.
Time for my bold prediction for tonight. Everyone is talking about how the Vikings should be able to run against the Eagles. With the focus on Onterrio Smith and our running game I expect the Eagles secondary will be very active in trying to help shut Smith down. So, I'm predicting it will be the right time for a little flea-flicker action. That would be sweet.
Make sure you fill out ESPN's Sports Nation poll on the game tonight. Interesting results so far. It seems people think the Eagles and Vikings are neck and neck right now in terms of who they think will win.
September 16, 2004
|Good try McKenzie
"I'm excited to have Mr. McKenzie back," Packers safety Darren Sharper said. "Now we have all the pieces in place with this team to make our run to the Super Bowl. And I dare any offensive team to throw the ball at our secondary now. I double-dare them. I quadruple-dare them to test us as a secondary."
|Hey McKenzie, Moss is over there...|
Umm ... yeah. Maybe Sharper has forgotten last year when the Vikings scored 30 points in a win at Lambeau (Moss had 150 yards receiving and a touchdown) and 27 points in a loss to Green Bay at the Dome (Moss had 87 yards and a touchdown). Isn't this the same secondary they Vikings will be seeing this year? The Vikings will have no trouble scoring points. That is not the concern. The concern is can we stop the Packers offense? That, of course, remains to be seen.
|So close, but yet another Moss TD...|
The Vikings made their own moves yesterday signing two washed up defensive backs to shore up their shaky secondary: Terrance Shaw and Ralph Brown. Now I hope these two can step up and really contribute. In fact, I expect it. But there is a reason they were released and no one picked them up until the Vikings came calling. Maybe they've lost a step. I don't think I need to remind any Vikings fan of Antonio Freeman's Monday Night Miracle in 2000. Do you remember who was covering Freeman? That's right, Cris Dishman, a guy the Chiefs cut during training camp that year and the Vikings signed to shore up their shaky secondary. Hopefully history will not repeat itself.
So, in conclusion, it matters little that McKenzie is back with the Packers. This is the same secondary they had last year when they lucked themselves into the playoffs. What matters is the Vikings own defense and our ability to stop what appears to be an improved Packer offense.
Category "Sports business"
September 14, 2004
Why do I even try to think of a title...
Kids ... I swear I am keeping track of all the extra money my kids are costing me. When they hit 18 I am going to present them all with bills for damages to my house and car through the years that will shock them. It is already shocking me, and my oldest is only 9. Take last week for example. My daughter, who just turned four, decided to "color" my mini-van. Only she decided to use a rock as her crayon. When I saw the damage, which wraps around the entire vehicle, I was too stunned to speak. Sputtering, I turned to my daughter to ask her what on earth prompted her to wreak this kind of devastation on something I am years away from paying off. She just looked at me and said, "Dad, you're crazy." I don't know what to say to this. No matter how much I want to, I cannot reason with a four year old. It is impossible. You say, "Honey, you can't scrape a rock against a car. It ruins the car." And she says, "OK Daddy, do you want to play with my dolls?" How frustrating. Maybe I am crazy. Regardless of my mental state right now, though, she is going to get a bill for this when she least expects it. Oh yes, there will be restitution!
Interesting article about the Vikings defensive line today in the Star Trib. As I sat in my seat at the Dome this weekend I was thinking the same thing. Vinny had all the time in the world to throw. I don't care how good your corners are, if the QB never feels any pressure he will eventually find an open man. According to the article, Dallas was only hurried on 12 of 50 throws. 12 of 50!!! That is unacceptable, especially considering how strong the Packers O-line is. And it appears that Hovan received most of the criticism. Are we a couple of weeks away from a benching? I wonder. I also wonder about this quote:
"They were going up against [Pro Bowl left guard] Larry Allen. I didn't expect them to go out and beat Larry Allen on every snap. He's a future Hall of Fame-type guy. But I didn't expect us to hand him a yellow coat, either. That's what we did out there. We handed him a yellow coat."
Maybe I'm just dense, but what in the heck does it mean to hand someone a yellow coat? I have no idea what this means. Oh wait, I just figured it out. They hand you a yellow coat when you enter the Hall of Fame. Sheesh, I guess I'm a little slow on the draw today.
Bob Sansavere wrote an interesting column today for a change that suggests the relationship between Reggie Fowler and Denny Hecker isn't as set in stone as we have been led to believe. Apparently the deal, as far as Hecker is concerned, hinges on whether or not they can get a stadium deal shortly after purchasing the team.
"The biggest hurdle is not the purchase price,'' he said, "it's setting up without a stadium. That's what we're really looking at ó where would we be without a stadium.''
Hecker also added:
"This goes back to, 'Be careful what you wish for.' If you get it, you may not get rid of it. If you do get (the Vikings) and don't get a stadium right away, it's more painful than it is with a stadium. You don't want to risk enormous capital for fun.''
I also heard on the radio this morning some comments from Tim Pawlenty who was audibly happy about a local owner possibly buying the Vikings. Could part of Hecker's involvement be some assurances from the governor that he would look more favorably on a new Vikings stadium with a local owner? I would say that the answer is a definitive yes. No way Hecker, or Fowler for that matter, would do this deal without talking with the governor. Pawlenty also said he expects an offer to made within the next few weeks. While the article above hinted that things are still up in the air, I would be shocked if Red didn't have an offer on the table by the second week of October.
Category "Sports business"
September 12, 2004
What a weekend
What a weekend for Twin Cities sports enthusiasts. We had the Twins, we had the Gophers, and we had the Vikings and they all won their respective contests. Let's get to my "thoughtful" observations (yeah right):
The Gophers took a step back, in my opinion, this weekend. They say a win is a win, but I say a win is a win unless you are playing a Division I-AA opponent. Then you had better Win with a captial "W" and win convincingly. The Gophers struggled against a team picked to finish in the middle of the pack of the D I-AA Gateway conference. On the bright side the mistakes they made can be corrected. For example, Justin Valentine being stuffed at the goal line and then stripped was rather embarrassing. That touchdown would have blown the game wide open. I tell you, it looked like the Gophers were trying to pump themselves up the entire game but just couldn't do it due to the caliber of opponent they were playing. Note to Mason: never schedule a D I-AA opponent again. It just ain't worth it. A win against a D I-AA opponent doesn't count towards bowl standings, but a loss sure would.
Three things I've noticed watching Gopher football: 1) the Gophers' offensinve line will wear down opponents. A close game doesn't matter in the first couple of quarters. Sooner or later the O-line is going to wear down the defense and Barber-Maroney is going to go wild. It is inevitable. 2) the Gophers' defense needs to defend the short pass better. Teams are starting to figure out that if you want to beat the Gophers just nickel and dime them down the field. That has got to stop. And 3) Cupito is a much more accurate passer that Abdul-Kaliq, especially on the run. That pass to Ernie Wheelwright was a thing of beauty.
Do you know how cool it is to work for the University of Minnesota? Let me explain it to you. My place of work, my employer, has a football team. Not only that, but the place I work also has a basketball team, a baseball team, and a hockey team that all play on a national level. Does your place of work have any teams to that you can cheer for? Does, say, General Mills have a nationally ranked football team? I bet they wish they did so they could take on those jerks at Kelloggs. I tell you, working at the U really has its perks. You just have to know where to look.
Illinois State is located in the cities of Bloomington-Normal. These two cities are known as the "Twin Cities" in Illinois. So, in a way, last Saturday's game was a battle between the two "Twin Cities"!! So, needless to say, Minneapolis-St. Paul crushed that pansy town of Bloomington-Normal to claim the title of the real Twin Cities. I'm sorry, these are the things I think about. It cannot be helped.
Let's talk about the Twins. What is really on my mind right now is who finishes out the three man rotation in the playoffs? Mulholland, Silva, or Lohse? I think we can knock out Lohse right now. He has just been way too erratic this year to be considered. So that leaves Mulholland and Silva. If you would have asked me on Friday I would have said Mulholland for sure. He's got the experience and has been somewhat consistent this year. However, Silva's performance on Saturday was very good. I think the coaching staff is taking a liking to his approach his last couple of outings. Plus, he can probably last a little longer out there than Mulholland at this point in the season. He might just be the third starter in the playoffs.
I'll be going to the game this Tuesday to see Santana pitch. I swear every time he takes the mound I think he is going to get a no-hitter. And now that I have just jinxed him it probably won't happen, but I'm not really the superstitious type. I think the bats of the White Sox may have more to do with the difficulty Santana will have pitching a no-hitter on Tuesday. Anyway, this Tuesday the Twins will be handing out a Santana/Cy Young button at the game and that has me pumped! I already have the "Get to Know 'Em" and "Gotta See 'Em" buttons, not to mention the complete set of Twins fishing lures, so a new button will be nice to add to my collection of atypical Twins memorabilia.
Finally, we have the Vikings game. Much like the Gopher's game. I was not impressed with the defense. First of all, the Vikings could not get to the quarterback. We had one sack in the fourth, but up until that point Testaverde had all the time he needed. Was Hovan even out there? They showed a replay on the JumboTron that featured Hovan just getting stuffed. Anyway, also much like the Gophers, Dallas picked our secondary apart with short passes. Vinny passed for 355 yards for goodness sake, and they converted 8/15 3rd downs. To make it worse, Dallas is an average offense at best! Am I being too critical? They did only score 17 points.
No wait, I have even worse news: our starting cornerback, Ken Irvin, injured his Achilles tendon before the game in warmups and is probably lost for the season. He's not really our starting CB, but Brian Williams has been hurt most of the preseason. Brian Williams, you had better get to 100% really quick. And everyone, please say a little prayer for the health of Winfield this season. Our secondary is looking very, very thin right now.
Now for the bright side. Our offense is humming. Daunte looked spectacular out there today. I mean, five touchdown passes! Five! He is on pace for 80 TD passes this year! OK, deep breath. Daunte's audible to Onterrio Smith in the 2nd quarter demonstrates, at least to me, what a mature QB Daunte is turning into. And Moss, although he officially had only 27 yards, really marched the Vikings down the field. I saw in his press conference that he too was shocked with the 2 interference penalties called against the Dallas defense. I think we'll see a lot more of that throughout the season. And did you see Randy Moss lay down the guantlet when a reporter asked him to compare himself to Terrell Owens? Moss said, "There is no comparison." Ohhh ... I love that kind of stuff. Let the trash talking begin.
The Vikings win was great, don't get me wrong, and I think the defense will improve as the season progresses. I mean, they are already better than last year. However, the best news to come out of the day was Reggie Fowler's interview with the press. In his interview he said he anticipates making a formal offer "in the next few weeks." And concerning his relationship with Denny Hecker he said:
"I think it's very important, as an outsider, to give a level of comfort to the people here," Fowler said. "And with people like Denny Hecker involved, I think that goes a long ways towards establishing credibility that we would keep the team here. It takes enough work just getting involved in buying the team. Can you imagine the work it would take to buy a team and then move it?"
This is very , very, very good news. I am so pumped about this. To have a local owner again (Fowler would move to the TC and Denny already lives here, duh!) will be huge. Fowler also hinted if he bought the team his company's real estate arm could get involved in the development of a new stadium. I don't know what that means exactly, but I would suggest Fowler tries to go it without the aid of the state legislature. It just isn't going to happen with the state's assistance, I'm afraid. Maybe (hopefully!) he has already considered that.
Good weekend. See you soon.
September 11, 2004
The year of the Vikings begins
Last year was a particularly painful year for Vikings fans. I was just thinking about the Cardinals game and what I wrote about it on my old blog. I thought it was interesting since I still have some of the same feelings, the Vikings did in fact sign a shut down corner, and I still have my one wish for Mike Tice. Here is the post in its entirety, from January 5, 2004:
Well, I think it's about time to comment on my beloved Vikings. About a week ago, when they played what is being referred to as the "Disaster in the Desert," I was so shocked I actually accepted what was happening. Onside kick? Of course the Cardinals are going to recover it! Was there any question? A pass interference penalty on Denard "Someone please cut me!" Walker? Saw that one coming a mile away. A last second touchdown that simultaneously knocks the Vikings out of the playoffs and puts the hated Packers in, while Lambeau Field watches on the JumboTron? A last second touchdown that for some reason the Vikings couldn't cover even through they knew the Cardinals would have to throw for a touchdown? Was there any doubt? After the initial shock of it, didn't you just kind of chuckle? The Vikings have done it again, I said to myself. At least they won't break my heart on my birthday this year (Jan. 17).
What to do? How does Tice fix this mess? Perhaps it isn't really as bad as it seems. The Vikings will have about $20 million to play with in salary cap and if they don't throw it at a decent cornerback I will either have to write Tice a nasty letter, or I will just do what I normally do and gripe about it. I have griped about the need for a decent cornerback for years now, ever since Wasswa Serwanga put on his jock strap for the hapless Vikings. I realize the "big dogs have to eat" as Willie Shaw used to say, but the Cardinals (the Cardinals!) picked the Vikings apart during the last quarter of the game. And as I alluded to above, Denard Walker isn't the answer.
Why do I torture myself like this, my wife asked after the game. It's a good question, and particularly pertinent for a Vikings fan (and probably a Bills fan, too). All I have to say is when the Vikings win the Super Bowl I will be able to say, I was always there. Through thick and thin I was there cheering the team on. It will be sweet. I'll probably shed a tear. I will walk out of my house, or whatever establishment I'm in, and I will shout the most joyous cheer. Then I'll race around my house like a lunatic screaming the whole way. My best buddy Curt will probably be with me, and we will act as giddy as little school girls. We will get in my car and find anyone to celebrate with, and we will dance in the street as if there was no one looking, crazy and unabashed. Over and over again we will be pinching ourselves, asking each other, "Is this real? Have the Vikings really won it all?" And the answer will be YES! YES! Before I die, this is my dream. All I ask is that the Vikings win one Super Bowl. Mike Tice, can you grant me this wish?
September 10, 2004
This weekend is really the official start of fall. Not because of the leaves changing colors or the temperature getting colder, but because of NFL football. Like many Vikings fans I am really looking forward to this season. Most prognosticators are picking the Vikings to win the NFC North, and I can't say I disagree. With an improved defense to go along side their stunning offense, I think the Vikings will surprise a lot of people. One prognosticator that I really admire is the Tuesday Morning Quarterback now with NFL.com. His writing is humorous, thought provoking, and not always just about football. Lots of good stuff to ponder. Concerning the Vikings, he hammered Randy Moss in his NFC preview, saying:
TMQ thinks what's wrong with the Vikings is the obvious -- Randy Moss. Sure he's scary good, but for six years now, the Minnesota program has been structured around getting Moss his stats and stroking his puerile ego. This hasn't added up to a championship, has it? ... In six years, no one at Minnesota has stood up to the runaway selfishness of Moss. Until someone does, this franchise is goin' nowhere.
Ouch. I wouldn't say this team has gone absolutely nowhere in six years with Randy Moss. Two NFC championship games is more than anyone else in the NFC North have been to in six years. Yet, a Super Bowl victory is the name of the game, there is no disputing that. And although he dislikes Randy Moss, he still picks the Vikings to win the NFC North with a 12-4 record in his All-haiku NFL predictions edition of TMQ. Apparently not satisfied with the verbal abuse he gives Moss in the previous article, he offers this haiku about the Vikings:
Moss volunteers toYes, very upsetting. There is so much more to the team than Randy. I've written about Daunte before, and how lucky we are to have him so I offer this haiku as a replacement:
block and run decoy routes. Not!
This season's league MVP
No, I don't smoke weed
Or, perhaps it would be better to take a little jab at our rivals?
Brett Favre, why do you
lay on the ground? Oh, you've met
Udeze and friends
Please feel free to add your own Vikings related haiku in the comments below. I am actually looking forward to what Cheesehead Craig can come up with.
In conclusion, I am pumped for this Sunday. It should be a great game, and as many of you know, I will be there. Truly, this is the year of the Vikings. Winning the NFC North will only be the beginning.
August 20, 2004
More about Fowler
I recently found this article in the Arizona Republic's website AZCentral:
In the article the author tells the story of how Reggie Fowler was called upon to provide some loan money for an Arizona charter school that was in financial trouble. Seemingly without much thought or negotiation Fowler took a chance and provided $10 million to the school. There is much to read into this story. One possible point is that Fowler has a sympathetic heart. He saw a group of people in need and provided them a substantial amount of cash. Secondly, Fowler seems to act quickly and it sounds like he doesn't mind taking chances. He would definitely need to act quickly and take a chance if he bought the Vikings.
I've read that Taylor is willing to talk to Fowler to be a part of the investing group as long as Fowler agrees to keep the team in Minnesota. I am hoping that Taylor can be involved as a minority partner just to keep the wheels off the team. Perhaps with Taylor, Fowler can raise enough money to buy the team and finally take it away from that snake-oil salesman Red. Sheesh! How did we end up with Red McCombs?
Finally, I can take this away from the article above: it sounds like Fowler has a heart and that he loves the game of football. No one with a heart and a healthy respect for the game can possibly want to move the Vikings. I'm beginning to feel a little better.
August 18, 2004
At this point, the question on everyone's mind is, "What are the intentions of Reggie Fowler?" Does he want to move the team, or does he want to keep the Vikings in Minnesota? The fact that he is from Arizona, a state that already has a team, is sort of a good thing. However, he isn't a Vikings fan. I bet that this last weekend's game was the first time he had ever been to Minnesota. He probably doesn't care about the fans. He probably doesn't even care about the stadium. He cares about turning a profit. Fortunately for us, he would be the lowest member on the NFL ownership totem poll. I can't imagine that owners would turn over the lucrative LA market to such a new owner. But stranger things have happened.
Taylor has already said he will not get into a bidding war. That sucks. What good is it to have a few billionaires in our state if they don't step up in a time of need? Pohlad, God bless his greedy heart, stepped up and bought the Twins. Taylor stepped up and bought the T-Wolves. We shouldn't expect him to step up again, but it sure would be nice. And what about Dick Schulze of Best Buy? I can't believe our local wealthy people haven't jumped into action yet.
Let's look at the bright side. I was watching Minnesota Sports tonight last night (great show) and they were interviewing Jay Glazer, a national NFL writer, and asking him if he thought Mr. Fowler would hurt the teams chances for a stadium and he actually said absolutely not. He said the team is sitting very pretty with the cap right now, and that they should be sitting pretty for another five years. A new owner would spend more money than Red to bring in the talent to win a Super Bowl and perhaps push the team's stadium woes to the forefront of the state legislature. This is what Glazer said, anyway. I'm not sure I agree with him, but would Taylor seriously have any better luck at building a stadium? If Taylor bought the team he has already said the Vikings would never move. There goes his leverage at the state capitol. If the House doesn't think the team is in danger of moving why build a new stadium? So, maybe having Fowler buy the team is a good thing.
Again, the crux of the matter is his intentions on moving the team. Let's just hold out hope that he wants to keep the team in Minnesota. Tagliabue doesn't want the team to move, that is for sure. We are a good market with loyal fans and a lot of team history. Sadly, in all of this Tagliabue may be the best friend that we have. Tagliabue cares about the health of the league and the Vikings staying in the NFC North makes for a much healthier league. McCombs and Fowler may only be interested in turning a profit.
Man is this painful. Why is it so painful to be a fan of Minnesota sports? Man do we suffer. I'm so sick of it!
August 17, 2004
Not good ... not good at all
As Curt points out in a comment below, Viking Update is reporting:
VU has been told that the Vikings have spoken with an investment group from Arizona about purchasing the team. Just as the annual threat to move the team to L.A. comes up, so do rumors of a sale to outside investors. This time, however, it looks as serious as ever and could be sold by the end of the month.
It is officially panic time. I've done some searching for Reggie Fowler in Arizona newspapers but I haven't been able to find anything regarding his possible purchase of the Vikings. I guess what my main question is, is he interested in moving the team? Of course, the Vikings still have the lease until 2011 and the Rozelle letter so there is little doubt in my mind that the team is stuck here until 2011. However, an absentee owner will not be able to build a stadium in Minnesota. Red has proven that. What happens as 2011 approaches?
Glen Taylor where are you?
August 9, 2004
If you didn't get a chance to see Eller's induction into the Hall of Fame this weekend you missed something special. Eller gave a fantastic speech that clearly showed his focus in life is not on his past glories on the football field, but the positive impact he can have in the African-American community. I wish him all the best and hope that today's Vikings (ahem, Moss) can learn a thing or two from Eller and the way he conducts himself. Congratulations Carl! You deserved it!
Speaking of his football career, though, there is little doubt that he dominated during his era. Look at these stats: a Vikings record 130 sacks, 766 tackles, 202 assists, and 6 pro-bowls. It is nice that he is finally in the Hall. Now if only the final member of the Purple People Eaters can get in: Jim Marshall.
Check out these statistics for Marshall: 127 sacks, 719 tackles and 269 assists. Marshall also holds the NFL record for recovered fumbles with 29, and is, of course, the NFL iron man with 282 consecutive starts over his 20 year career. It is a travesty that he is not in the Hall. His record of 282 consecutive starts will never be broken. Unfortunately it will be even harder for him to enter the Hall now as this was the last year that he could enter as a player from the modern era. From now on, he can only be one of two players nominated from a pool of old timers. I have little doubt that one day he will be inducted. It is a shame that he will have to wait so long.
August 6, 2004
How lucky we are
Patrick Reusse has written a few articles about this topic, one quite recently, which prompts me to share my own opinion: we are extremely lucky to have Daunte Culpepper as our quarterback. I mean, we are silly lucky to have him. What I don't understand is how anyone can prefer Gus Frerotte or Todd Bauman to Daunte. It is just mind boggling to me. Consider this little tidbit:
A year ago, Culpepper completed 65 percent of his passes. That was a Vikings record. Even Fran Tarkenton, with those forward laterals to Chuck Foreman, never reached that figure. [And] Culpepper rated third in the NFL with a 96.4 quarterback rating.
He also started in the Pro Bowl and broke the Vikings record for rushing touchdowns by a QB in only his fifth year as a player, fourth as a starter! The guy is simply amazing!Also consider the draft within which Daunte was taken. Five quarterbacks were taken with the first 12 picks. Let's take a look at where they are all at:
- Tim Couch -- backing up that stiff Favre for the Packers.
- Donovan McNabb -- starting for the Eagles and still trying to overcome the Chunky Soup jinx.
- Akili Smith -- not even in the NFL, unless he's changed his name
- Daunte Culpepper -- Vikings fans were stunned when he was selected (what about Kearse?), but he will lead us to the Super Bowl.
- Cade Mcnown -- also not in the NFL anymore.
So really, the only QB that can compare with Daunte from that draft class is McNabb. Let's take a look at their career statistics side by side:Daunte:
Daunte and McNabb are arguably very similar players, but Daunte has a better overall passing percentage, more yards passing, a better yards per attempt average, 24 more touchdown passes, 9 more rushing TDs, and a much better overall passer rating than McNabb all in 12 fewer games. Again, his numbers are simply stunning, yet people still want to bench him. Wow! As Reusse says it is either just plain ignorance or racism.
The two beefs most people have with Daunte are his fumbles and interceptions. Daunte showed remarkable improvement in the INT department last year and only threw 11. Also consider that Fran Tarkenton is third in the NFL record books for interceptions thrown with 266. I don't hear many Viking fans complaining about Fran. Daunte's fumbles continue to be a concern, but he improved in that category last year, too, and I expect he'll improve again. And when you think about it, of his 16 fumbles last year the other team only recovered the ball 6 times. Is that really what we are worried about? Six? I tell you what, I'll take Daunte and all his flaws any day of the week over the struggles other teams are having to even find a QB even half as good as Daunte. Look at the Bears, or the Redskins, or Dallas, or the Giants, or the Bengals ... really the list goes on and on of teams that are struggling to find a QB that can play. Do you realize how lucky we are to have Daunte?
July 20, 2004
|Please Mr. Thomas, don't hurt me!|
Given that last year's linebacker corp was so awful, we should expect a great deal of improvement this year. I mean, there is only one way to go compared to last year, and that is up. Sure, our linebackers are young, but they are fresh. I also have a feeling that this Tabu nightclub fiasco will serve to motivate Henderson and Nattiel to prove their critics wrong. Henderson especially. According to some NFL scouts, Henderson really excelled in nickel situations last year, and that while there may be some growing pains with his new role as starter he should be fine over the long run.
Having said all of this, the guy I am really looking forward to watching is Dontarrious Thomas. Again, according to NFL scouts Thomas has great range, is fast (he was nicknamed "Reindeer"), and is a great open field tackler. So, to recap, we have Claiborne to solidify the unit, Thomas and Nattiel on the other side, and Henderson to man the middle. And apparently we have Rod Davis to back him up. Really, I don't worry about this year's young talent. Anything will be an improvement over last year.
July 13, 2004
Time to think about football
My Vikings season tickets are some of my most prized possessions. I don't have the best seats, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't have bad seats either. I sit amongst the true fans in the upper levels of the Dome, fans that are devoted and passionate (and relatively poor like me). This will be my 4th season owning the tickets, and almost every year I have made incremental moves down the stands. The first year I had tickets I sat in section 217, Row 28. That is pretty much at the top. However, after four years I am now in row 21! Baby steps, I realize, but every row helps. Next year I expect to break into the teens. You gotta have goals.
Needless to say, I just received my season ticket package for the 2004 season. I am pumped! To the right is one of my tickets for the Green Bay game Christmas Eve. What on Earth convinced the NFL schedule makers that this was a good idea is beyond me. I must admit that I am a little ticked off that my Christmas celebration will be chopped up by a football game. Being a person of Scandinavian descent, my family usually did our Christmas on Christmas Eve. However, the game itself should be good as always. Although I'm hoping that the Vikes will have the NFC North wrapped up by then, a little piece of me hopes the game is meaningful. Who knows? Maybe we'll need to beat the Pack to wrap up home field advantage? Regardless, the Packers should be easy to defeat this year, regardless of when the Vikings play them.
When I was in Milwaukee I asked Gabe, one of Cheesehead Craig's friends and a rabid Packer fan, what game Packer fans really get excited for. He said, "See these Christmas lights strung up all over my basement? They only get turned on for the Packer/Viking game. It's all about the Vikings." Well, this year it will be more appropriate than ever to turn on those lights for the game.
July 6, 2004
Just to reiterate, the Vikings are not moving to LA. I wrote about this a few days ago, and since then more reasons have come forth which strengthen the argument that Red is doing little more than bluffing.
- According to the Viking Update article above, Red is, at best, fourth in line to move our team to LA. First in line is the Chargers. Secondly we have the Saints whose Superdome lease expires next year. Finally we have the Colts who have already proven they have the guts to move to another city. Red has not been in "the club" long enough to be given the lucrative LA market. No way.
- A more subtle reason, however, suggesting the Vikings will never move is the NFL's current divisional alignment. The NFL just realigned to four divisions in each conference, and most people agree that the placement of the teams is pretty good. In fact it is really good. One division I know the NFL is proud of is the NFC North. Truly, the NFC North is the NFL's most perfect division. Four natural rivalries and four really football crazy cities. Moving the Vikings would mess all of this up and create the same problem the NFL had when the Buccaneers were in the NFC Central. This may sound like a weak reason, but the NFL takes this stuff seriously.
The Vikings sell out every home game, they have natural, healthy rivalries in the area, and the have a tradition of support from their home state. The NFL does not want another Cleveland on its hands. No way. Compared to the Chargers, Saints, and Colts, the Vikings have not been begging nearly as long for a new stadium. In the NFL ownership circles I'm sure the general feeling is Red hasn't earned and he doesn't deserve LA.
I tell you, if Red dares show his face to the Metrodome crowd this season I will boo like I have never booed before. First of all, he is making the worst bluff in the history of stadium politics I have ever seen. Does he think we are all rookies at this? Secondly, he is a moron. There are more tactful ways of getting a stadium built. Plus it is obvious he hasn't learned anything from the Twins stadium battles. Do not threaten Minnesotans with a move we know will never happen! Red, we will never build a stadium for you! Sell the team!
July 1, 2004
You would think that during the summer we wouldn't have to keep hearing about stadium issues, but in this blasted state we can never escape them. A couple of weeks ago the rumors were floating around that Red McCombs was going to sell to Glen Taylor. Now, more than one news source is reporting that McCombs is going to try to move the team to LA for the beginning of the 2008 season.
This is such a load of crap, I can't believe we are even taking Red seriously. Let's take a look at the reasons why Red will never move the team to LA:
- The Vikings have a lease in the Metrodome until 2011. Tagliabue has already said that teams with leases will not be moving. He said this at a news conference during last year's Super Bowl.
- The MSFC has the infamous "Rozelle letter" which guarantees the state of Minnesota a football team until 2011. There is no getting around this letter. It was even signed off by the NFL lawyers of the time, one of which was Tagliabue.
- There is no way the NFL gives a relative ownership newcomer like Red McCombs the lucrative LA market. No way. As Shooter is reporting today, the NFL is much more likely to give this $800 million market to a guy like Tom Benson of the Saints. The Chargers also make much more sense to move to LA as their lease has already expired, and the team already practices in LA. Sid reported way back in January:
"With an impasse in San Diego about the building of a new football stadium after the city built a new baseball stadium, the consensus at the Super Bowl was that if the Chargers don't get a new facility, they will definitely move to Los Angeles, either in a new stadium or a remodeled Los Angeles Coliseum. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said he hopes to be able to report something on the Los Angeles situation this spring. Tagliabue made it very clear again at his Houston news conference that teams with leases will not be moving. However, he talked about how much need there is for a new Vikings stadium in Minnesota."
Obviously, Tags did not get a chance to clarify the LA situation, probably to give Red and other owners the chance to hold us all hostage for new stadiums. Very savvy.
- Where in the world would the Vikings, or another team for that matter, play in LA? Right now the only option they have is the LA Coliseum, and already two teams have left that dump (the Raiders and Rams). There has been talk about making the Rose Bowl more of an NFL venue, but so far there has only been talk. There is no plan, and there is certainly no funding. If Red moved the team to LA he would be in the exact same boat he is in now. He would need (or demand) a new stadium. His move to LA just doens't make any sense.
Have no fear Vikings fans. The Vikings are here to stay. Besides, did you know the Chargers moved from LA to San Diego? A move back just makes more sense. There are at least 3 other owners that have been in this business longer than Red that have the seniority to move to LA. Red is stuck.
June 15, 2004
Will Christmas come early this year?
It is hard work being a fan of Minnesota sports teams. Pain? We've got our fair share of that. Suffering? Plenty of that too. Minnesota's sports history is littered with sob stories from the Lakers and the North Stars leaving town, to contraction attempts on our beloved Twins, to seven first round defeats in a row for the T-Wolves, to January 17, 1998 and the overtime defeat of the Vikings in the NFC championship game. My eyes are watering just thinking about all of this. Another black mark, though, on our illustrious sports history is the day Red McCombs bought the Vikings. I swear, it wasn't a minute after he officially bought the team that the double-speak and "shifty talking" began. One reporter asked, "Will you move the team to San Antonio?" Red answered in his Texan drawl, "The Vikings belong in Minnesota." Translation: "The Vikings belong in Minnesota, but if I don't get a new stadium then I'll have to move them to a city that wants them."
One of the the only good things that came out of the Twins contraction mess of a couple of years ago was that it showed Minnesotans, especially Minnesota judges, are pretty strict about lease agreements. Thanks to that and the infamous "Rozelle letter" Red has found out that the Vikings are stuck in the Metrodome until 2011. Even Tagliabue has gotten in on the act of thwarting Red's attempts to move. What is a poor billionaire to do?
SELL! Once again VikingUpdate is spreading the rumor that a sale of the Vikings to Glen Taylor is in the works. They've been saying this literally for years, but you know what? This time I believe them. There is no way Red will get any kind of stadium legislation passed this year, even if a special session is actually called. Red, as much as I hate to admit it, is no dummy. He knows when to walk away, and he knows when to run. It is time to run. I bet Glen will put $500 million on the table this time, and Red will jump at the chance to make a tidy little profit.
I feel it. This time the rumors are true. Skol Vikings!
May 19, 2004
Viking seats upgrade!
One of the ways I spoil myself is by purchasing season tickets to the Vikings. I've had these for three years now and I gotta say I just love them. Football season is so much more fun when you go to every other game, and I get really pumped up to go to Vikings' games. Anyway, I started out in row 28, last year I moved down to row 24, and now I am moving to row 21! Slowly but surely I'm paying my dues and working my way down. And believe me, even these little baby steps make a big difference in how well a person sees the game. So, for those of you that care, my seats are now:
Section 217, Row 21, Seats 15 and 16
I would also like to take this opportunity to say that I sell my tickets to about 3 games every year. So, if any of you out there are interested in any of the games (except the Packer game of course) just let me know.
May 18, 2004
Couple of good articles
ESPN has a couple of good articles today focusing on two of my favorite sports franchises, the Twins and the Vikings. First we have an article about the Twins from Peter Gammons. Usually I find Gammons's articles to be highly unreadable, full of inappropriate quotes and song lyrics that just make his articles confusing and painful to read. I don't really mind him as a TV commentator, but as a writer he stinks (look who's talking). Anyway, his article today was more about the genius that is Terry Ryan and it hinted that he may be willing to trade away some of our young minor league talent to make a run for the World Series this year. That is great news, although who could he be talking about? Surely not Justin Morneau, but what about Restovich or even Michael Ryan? And I know Adam Johnson is finally considered expendable. I'd like to think that going to the World Series would do wonders for the Twins' stadium chances, but going to the ALCS two years ago didn't help any.
The second article comes from another baseball writer, Rob Neyer, who amazingly enough seems to be quite the fan of the Vikings. His article focuses on the most painful moments in Vikings history, and certainly brought back some not-so-good memories for me. You see, my birthday is on January 17, so almost every year around that time I get to watch the Vikings crumble. Last year was no expception. Hey Denard! The Cardinals are going to throw it in the end zone! Play some freaking defense! Anyway, Rob's list of painful moments included these fun b-days:
- January 17, 1988: NFC Championship -- I don't care what Neyer says, I don't think Darrin Nelson ever had "great hands." Don't get me wrong, I love Darrin, but I wasn't surprised when he dropped that pass. What was most painful about this is that the Vikings dominated the 49ers the game before. No one was a better WR than AC on top of his game.
- January 17, 1999: NFC Championship -- The most painful memory of all, the year that could have been. Probably the only moment in all my sports watching past when I almost cried. I was so stunned after the game I must have sat there for a good 30 minutes totally immobile. But it was my birthday so I had to open some presents ... stupid birthday presents. Why can't they just let me wallow in my own depression?
- January 14, 2001: NFC Championship -- Not on my birthday, but close enough. This game was so stunning it became laughable. What really ticked me off, though, was the postgame interview with Randy Moss when he said the Vikings would never win the Super Bowl. Moss has never been one to hold back, but much like his I-play-when-I-want quote, this one really set me off.
Neyer's article begins with a great put-down of Red Sox fans which I totally agree with. Boston fans, especially Red Sox fans, are the biggest bunch of whining prima-donnas on the planet. It's like they feel entitled to everything from a World Series to a Stanley Cup to a Super Bowl because they are "the greatest fans on Earth." Please. They give new meaning to the term "fair weather" and their accent makes my ears bleed. Learn how to speak coherently you bunch of Cro-Magnons! Next to Packer fans, I despise Red Sox fans the most. They whine and complain about Steinbrenner and the Evil Empire yet they spend almost as much and have nothing to show for it. I can't wait until baseball's divisional series this October when yet again the Red Sox are at home playing Mario Golf or whatever lame game they must play and the Twins are battling for a berth to the World Series!
And on that note, I will leave you. If I want any team to win the AL East it is the Orioles.
April 24, 2004
Are you kidding me?
Wow! It looks like the Vikings just picked up the highest rated DE in the draft: Kenechi Udeze. This guy is quick, strong, fast, agile, and as you can see in the picture, he gets to the quarterback. He fell to pick #20 due to a shoulder injury, but from what I've heard it will either heal on its own or it can easily be repaired with surgery. This guy will be a disruptive stud and will be a steal at #20. Like Moss, he will also have a chip on his shoulder that he fell this far in the first round. Yikes! We got a player! And to top it all off, the Vikings convinced Miami they were going to pick Vernon Carey, so they traded the Vikes the 20th pick and another 4th round pick to move up one spot ahead. Studwell and Tice are forgiven for last year's draft debacle as far as I'm concerned. Udeze will have an immediate impact and should improve our defense by putting pressure on the QB. For more information on Udeze see: