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The Curious Misadventures of the Unlikeliest Sports Blogger–Part 4

Or, Where I Stop Toying with Ted’s Patience and Get On with the Story

Ted is a patient person, but even his patience has come to an end. He has demanded to know what happens in Part 4 of my curious misadventures of the unlikeliest sports blogger.

So there I was, writing under the name Skol Girl, a member of the Daily Norseman site for about a month and suddenly they were asking if I was interested in writing for the site’s front page. I pinched myself and enjoyed that feeling of professional validation for longer than I should have when it suddenly occurred to me that my first front page story would land just before the Minnesota Vikings’ rematch with the New Orleans Saints.

Not since 1998 had Vikings fans experienced that acutely agonizing sense of what could have been the way they did after the Vikings lost to the Saints in the NFC Championship game during the 2009 post-season. The game was close, scrappy, with both Brett Favre and Drew Brees marshalling their forces for incredible scoring drives. But the game ended with the Saints going on to the Super Bowl and the Vikings just going home. For the NFL to start the 2010 season with a rematch of that game…well, I got the feeling the NFL was setting up the Vikings to get completely trounced so the Super Bowl-winning Saints would have that glorious, “conquering-champion” moment.

My suspicion stemmed from the fact that the NFC Championship game was incredibly costly for the Vikings. Several key players were injured in that game and even several months later the Vikings’ roster was still gashed. I had my story.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little concerned about suddenly writing for the Daily Norseman front page. Because what I wrote would be on the site’s main page, a lot more people were going to be reading my articles and I really wanted to validate Chris Gates’ (our fearless leader) decision to add me to the staff. However, if I had known how I came to be offered that position, I would have been more interested in what Ted thought. Ah yes, we have come to the Ted portion of my tale and the explanation of why I refer to him as my fairy godfather.

Back when I was snarking back at Ted’s supportive comments on my fan posts (Part 3), I had no idea that he was sharing that same opinion with Chris and the other front-page writer Eric. See, my timing for drawing Ted’s attention was surprisingly good. Just as Ted was noticing my writing, the Daily Norseman found itself in need of another front-page writer.

It was Ted who recommended me for the front-page staff. He read my fan posts on the Daily Norseman and liked my peculiar take on football writing and my interaction with other DN members in the comments, which is kind of a big deal with DN.

As a chick in the sausage fest world of football writing, the odds are good that at least one guy in the entire readership of DN might be a dick. Thus far, I had been remarkably lucky in avoiding those people. However, there were a couple of the condescending “honey” and “sweetie” comments where guys kindly explained to me the error of my ways regarding my opinions. Actually, for some of those guys being condescending was probably a kindness—if I’d been a guy there’s a good chance they would have been a lot more abusive in their disagreement. Even though those “oh sweetie, let me explain something to you” comments grated on me, I tried not to answer back combatively. Sometimes it was a struggle, but I didn’t have many readers and couldn’t afford to start alienating them.

But Ted noticed my efforts. And it made him curious about me. Curiosity isn’t too surprising since a chick writing about football is only a little less rare than a two-headed duck. So, Ted wandered over here to WordPress to see what else I had written. Turns out he liked that too. Despite my family’s skepticism, it turns out I do have charm. Unfortunately, it’s only in print form.

When I set about writing that first front-page story, I had not a clue that Ted was my fairy godfather. That’s probably good because I had enough nerves about that first story, if I’d known he had vouched for me I would have been a wreck. Like I said, I wanted to validate the decision to add me to the front-page staff. It had me feeling insecure and as if I needed to up my game.

That professional insecurity is a spooky feeling and the urge to reinvent myself was strong. Fortunately, I had one of my better moments of self-awareness and realized that my style, quirky as it was, was what got me noticed so I should probably just be myself. I could improve, make sure to double-check all my facts and stuff like that, but stay myself. Even though my style wasn’t full of statistical analysis, it was full of me and I would sink or swim on the DN front-page as me.

I wrote exactly what I felt about the Vikings rematch with the Saints—dread. If the Vikings’ first game of the 2010 season was as costly as the last game of the 2009 season, I suspected that the Vikings would be limping the rest of the season. So, as humorously as I could, I wrote about how I would be cringing during that rematch and titled it “Wincing the Night Away,” I posted it, and then I waited.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first front-page post. That was probably good because any expectations I might have had would have been wrong. I got a ton of positive comments, some flirty banter, a marriage proposal, and asked out for a date. That guy who asked me out? A Saints fan–nope, not making that up. Real pity he was on the other end of the country because a guy who likes football and quotes Oscar Wilde is certainly worth meeting.

Despite my fears that DN readers would be outraged to have me doing my quirky schtick on the front page of the best Minnesota Vikings blog around, no one was calling for my immediate removal or saying I should be beaten with sticks. It was a surprise. Little did I know, bigger surprises were in store.

As always, thanks for reading. Join me for Part 5 and the bigger surprises. They may or may not have something to do with lights, cameras, and action.

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The Curious Misadventures of the Unlikeliest Sports Blogger–Part 3

The NFL lockout has dragged into its fourth month, the Minnesota Vikings and lawmakers are at odds over the Arden Hills stadium proposal, and not even Bryant McKinnie, who usually doesn’t disappoint, has caused a scandal lately. To say that stories about football in general and the Vikings in particular are thin is kind of like saying George Hamilton has a bit of a tan.

So, with absolutely nothing else to distract me, it seemed like a good time to turn my attention back to the long-neglected topic of how the heck I got into sports writing. That’s right we’re back with Part 3 of the Curious Misadventures of the Unlikeliest Sports Blogger. Which you already know from reading the title of this article. Hmmm, kind of stole my own thunder on that one.

But enough of that, back to the story.

To recap, I’m a girly-girl crème puff who also happens to rabidly love Minnesota Vikings football. In Part 1 of this series I wrote about how in August 2009, I responded to an ad asking for writers to blog about the Vikings on a site called vikingsmix and suddenly, I was writing about football every week–a prospect that wouldn’t have scared me so much if I had known just how few readers vikingsmix had. Then, in Part 2 of this series, I mentioned discovering the Daily Norseman and how different it was from vikingsmix.com. When I posted a story on the Daily Norseman I knew that people actually read it because they left comments. It was cool to write something and then share a dialogue about it with other fans. I wrote a couple posts and started to get some attention, not much, but some. Then, I posted “Brett Favre Returns to Football Again, Er, Again-Again.”

He’s ba-ack!

Eventually, the day will come when the football world no longer cares about every single thing Brett Favre does. Fortunately for me, August 18, 2010 was not that day.

Favre returning to the Vikings in 2010 was big news. It wasn’t as big a deal as it was the year before, but it was still big news. The Wilfs sent Steve Hutchinson, Ryan Longwell, and Jared Allen to Mississippi to reason with Favre and they managed to get him to agree to return for another season. Once again, Minnesota Vikings fans wanted to read everything they could about Brett Favre—even Daily Norseman fan posts written by Skol Girl. Yeah, that would be me.

My August 18, 2010 post about Favre rejoining the Vikings garnered lots of comments, lots more than my previous posts, and it even received a few recs. The recs were particularly exciting because they kept my story at the top of the fan post queue, exposing my story to more readers. However, more important than the comments or the recs, that post attracted the attention of Ted, my fairy godfather.

Where I meet Ted, sort of

Ted didn’t sprinkle me with pixie dust or say, “bibbity-boppity-boo”, but he was the first member of the Daily Norseman staff to leave a comment on one of my stories. Complimentary comments were always nice to read, but complimentary comments from someone on the site’s staff were even better. I love to write and it’s something I do almost more naturally than speaking, but I’m not doing this to get poor—so, knowing that someone on the Daily Norseman staff was reading my material made me feel hopeful.

That hopeful feeling was validated when, about two weeks later, I heard from Ted again. After my story about a particularly ugly preseason game he left me a comment saying I was a great writer and that he loved reading my posts. I remember I smiled benignly at my computer screen and asked, aloud, “Then why the hell haven’t you hired me?”

The computer screen did not respond. Fortunately, I didn’t expect it to.

The right ingredients

Success in life is about working hard and making the right choices, but it’s also about timing and luck. Ideally, through hard work and good choices, you’ll be in a position to take advantage of luck when the timing is right. This combination has almost always eluded me.

But not in early September 2010.

It was the day after the draft party for my fantasy football league and I was dead tired. We had stayed up ridiculously late enjoying the Minneapolis nightlife on a rooftop patio the night before. I was so tired that it hurt to focus my eyes enough to read. And yet, for some reason, I thought this was a good time to check my email.

Lurking in my inbox was an email from someone called Christopher Gates. I didn’t know who that was but the subject line was about the Daily Norseman. Despite not knowing who Chris was, I opened the email. It was an offer to write for the front page of the Daily Norseman.

I won’t kid you, in my sleep-deprived state, and considering what I’d been telling my computer screen less than a week before, I was under the distinct impression I was being punked. In retrospect, I can see that that didn’t make sense, but at the time I was really, really tired and not thinking straight. I did the wisest thing I could think of, I logged out and went to bed.

The next day, being much more rested and no longer seeing double, I reread the email from Chris. Good thing too because the offer was genuine. That’s how, just a month after I became at member on the Daily Norseman, I was a front-page writer.

For once, it seemed like my hard work and good choices had put me in the position to take advantage of some well-timed luck.

Thanks for reading and I’m fairly sure that in Part 4 of my Misadventures I’ll get around to mentioning marriage proposals, stalkers, and my first front-page post for the Daily Norseman. Oh, and more about Ted’s role in how I got the offer to write for the front page.

 

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The Curious Misadventures of the Unlikeliest Sports Blogger–Part 2

Or

A New Hope:  Writing for the Daily Norseman

I was chastised for leaving tales of my misadventures hanging for so long. And that was fair, it has been awhile since I started to chronicle my mishaps as a chick in the very male world of football writing. Actually, it was strange because I felt slightly shamed for not writing in a while and flattered that people wanted to know what happened next, all at the same time.

Hmmm, so where was I? Ah, yes, the Daily Norseman.

Much as I appreciated the freedom and leeway that writing about the Minnesota Vikings for vikingsmix.com in utter isolation provided me, it will probably come as no surprise that I wanted more. This is because no matter how shy and quiet the writer, writing, and posting it somewhere in public, is essentially an act of ego. Writers scribe away in the belief that someone, somewhere out there, is going to want to read what we have to say. Basically, this means that even a shy, bookish, socially awkward writer is (in a way) as much of an attention slut as a nymphomaniac reality television star with a coke habit. Kind of a disturbing thought.

But, for me, vikingsmix.com was just not enough of a fix. I wanted to know someone was reading my work, that my presence was actually noticed.

So I decided to check out the Daily Norseman, a fan site that vikingsmix.com linked to. What I did not realize at the time I started reading the Daily Norseman and decided to become a site member, is that it operates under SB Nation*. A site that had been around for a couple years, the Daily Norseman made me feel a little like I was moving from a small town to New York City. Not only did the Daily Norseman have a large community of members posting Vikings-related material, but members were also involved in an active conversation about the posted material, leaving comments and picking fights on even the most poorly written material. Clearly, if Daily Norseman members were so passionate about the Vikings and about their site that they would read stuff written by people who had only a passing acquaintance with grammar, then, I felt there was a good chance, they would read my material too.

If, by chance, you have followed me over here from the Daily Norseman, then you already know I take writing seriously. There aren’t a whole lot of things I do really well, but I like to think that writing is one of those things, so I put a lot of time and effort into it. It seems to me, that if you’re writing about how much you love your football team, then you should probably spell the names of the players on that team correctly—so I do. And, if you think that other people should want to read what you have written, then you should make it clear what the heck you’re saying, another thing I aspire to do. That’s why, even though I’m a long way off from being Ernest Hemingway, my writing tends to stand out in a public forum.

Even though I like to believe it’s that attention to detail that got me noticed on the Daily Norseman, it was probably the fact that I’m female that got me noticed at first. However, somewhere along the line it was my writing that started getting noticed too. I wish I believed so implicitly in my talent that it wouldn’t matter what anyone else said (or didn’t say) about it, but having my writing read and complimented was gratifying.

It’s pretty difficult for a writer to stay motivated with absolutely no feedback of any kind, let alone encouragement. To say that this positive interaction with the Daily Norseman community meant a lot is to seriously undervalue the term “a lot”. Arguing my points and defending my take on an issue provided a whole new zeal to my writing, not unlike sharpening a tool. If I had been particular about my fact checking before, knowing that people were actually reading my material made me religious about it because I knew that if I didn’t get the facts right I would get called out on it. And that’s good to know, it keeps writers honest.

Over a couple of weeks I wrote six fan posts on the Daily Norseman. Once again, my “big break” came courtesy of Brett Favre. Yeah, boggles the mind.

It was my fourth post, “Brett Favre Returns to Football Again, Er, Again-Again” about Ryan Longwell, Steve Hutchinson, and Jared Allen flying down to Mississippi to retrieve Favre, that attracted the attention of my fairy godfather**, Ted. And for special friends of Ted, interesting things can happen.

Thanks for reading and join me, eventually, for Part 3. Part 3 will likely involve a whole lot more on Ted and, perhaps, a few more oblique references to Star Wars.

*SB Nation is an up and coming sports blog community focusing on encouraging local coverage and conversation of teams.

**I refer to Ted as my “fairy godfather” simply because it seemed like he came into my life like the fairy godmother from Cinderella.

 

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The Curious Misadventures of the Unlikeliest Sports Blogger

I don’t know about you, but I think God has a sense of humor. And I say that because, for as much as I have written about so many other things like dating and knitting and how to survive hosting parties and juicing and motivational speakers and college admissions and books, it’s in writing about football of all things where I have actually found a tiny bit of success. I kid you not, it surprises me as much as anyone that I write a whole lot about Minnesota Vikings football both here and at the Daily Norseman. There are all sorts of good reasons why this is surprising and odd, but the most obvious reason is because I’m female. There just aren’t nearly as many women as there are men writing about NFL teams. That automatically makes me a bit of an oddity.

But, that said, there are plenty of women out there who are passionate about sports—athletic women who enjoy the thrill of competition and aren’t afraid to tear up a field. Yes, I’m talking about those Spartan babes who play hockey or kick for their high school football teams or play softball or are on a curling team.

Yeah, that isn’t me.

Nope, I’m a cupcake, a crème puff, a girly-girl. I have never been a jock, and it would be a stretch to call me sporty. I like reading books, drinking tea, doing pilates, knitting, baking, getting a manicure, hearing Tim Gunn talk about fashion, and getting my hair colored. If I have to kill spiders on my own I feel pretty darn tough. If I have to empty the mousetraps I’m looking for a Congressional Medal of Honor. And yet, as absolutely incongruous as it seems, in my chest beats the heart of a rabid Minnesota Vikings football fan.

So, there’s this one odd thing about me that has somehow become a big deal—me being a fan of the Minnesota Vikings. And, I owe it, in part, to Brett Favre.

I don’t know for sure, but I might be one of the few women who has actually benefited from him in the last couple years. See, way back in the summer of 2009 Brett Favre was doing his will-I-won’t-I retirement dance and, like a lot of Vikings fans out there, I was irritated. I was so irritated that I decided to write about it. That in itself wouldn’t have done much, but, shortly after I wrote about my irritation with Mr. Favre’s inability to just make a decision, I happened upon a posting on craigslist for fans to blog about the Minnesota Vikings. Since I really love the Vikings and since there just aren’t that many listings for writers, I applied.

Writers learn to get used to rejection. A lot of rejection. I was much better prepared for rejection because rejection was familiar territory. But vikingsmix.com, the site that had requested fan bloggers, actually wanted me to write for them. So, suddenly, I was a sports blogger and I had nearly no idea what that entailed. Granted it would seem to simply involve talking about the Vikings’ season from a fan perspective, but it didn’t feel quite so straightforward at the time. That whole lack of rejection really threw me off my game.

However, as a first foray into the wild world of sports writing, vikingsmix.com wasn’t too bad because they didn’t seem to have many/any readers to complain about what I was doing. Whether I was doing a great job or a lousy one, I have no idea because I think I got a sum total of three comments on everything I posted during the 2009 season. But, sometimes the absence of criticism is as close to encouragement as you are going to get, so, for the 2009 season I slogged it out in the near solitude of the vikingsmix site.

There weren’t tons of readers (any), but I was intrigued by the links vikingsmix posted to other sites, one of which was a little spot called the Daily Norseman, an SB Nation blog site.

So I became a member of the Daily Norseman and that’s when things started to get interesting.

*Join me for my next installment, it involves proposals and nearly fainting–mostly in that order.

 

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Reason to Believe: The Vikings Beat the Redskins Instead of Themselves

Just to keep things interesting and keep everyone guessing, on Sunday the Minnesota Vikings beat the Washington Redskins 17 to 13 at FedEx Field. In what’s becoming the theme of the 2010 season, expect the unexpected from this team. The Vikings have lost games they were expected to win and now they’ve won a game they were expected to lose. And that’s a big, hairy deal.

Let’s forget for a moment that just about every analyst out there agrees that the Redskins are a “mediocre at best” team and appreciate what a rare and wonderful thing it is to see the Vikings to truly play as a team this season. It wasn’t pretty or perfect, but in a wonderfully unspectacular fashion the Vikings learned from and limited their mistakes, capitalized on the Redskins’ mistakes (How great was E.J. Henderson’s interception off a tipped Donovan McNabb pass?), and won. I don’t care how much analysts might downplay this Viking victory, a win is a win. You don’t get extra points for style.

It was reported last week that interim head coach Leslie Frazier, in order to set the tone for the rest of the season played some mood music during practice. So, let’s enjoy Coach Frazier’s musical selection and a look at why things are looking up. You know, besides the fact that the Vikings won.

Last week, with the firing of Brad Childress as the Vikings head coach and naming Leslie Frazier as the interim head coach, I thought it would be wise to cultivate low expectations for Sunday’s game in Washington. After all, the Vikings hadn’t won on the road in more than a year, they would be playing outside, and they had a new coach.

Despite all the reasons why Sunday’s game could have been yet another disappointing loss in a season full of disappointing losses, the Vikings won. And, their win was as much about the things they weren’t doing as it was about the things they were doing. Unlike recent Vikings’ performances, during Sunday’s game the Vikings didn’t sabotage their success with the things that have plagued them all season.

  • Turnovers. The most notable difference between Sunday’s game and other games this season was that the Vikings’ offense did not turn the ball over—no fumbles, no interceptions, nada. It was nice to see the Vikings make the Redskins work to get the ball back. While the coverage teams have performed poorly, it still seems like a better option than simply handing possession over with turnovers and interceptions. And that goes back to the ball security that Frazier emphasized to players leading up to Sunday’s game. I read that Frazier told players to protect the ball as if it was an injured child. That’s the kind of image that will stick with a person, and maybe that’s why instead of forcing throws, Brett Favre was willing to take a couple sacks.
  • Penalties. On Sunday the Vikings were flagged three times for penalties for 15 yards while the Redskins were flagged six times for 35 yards. Honestly, the Vikings having only three penalties almost surprises me more than the Vikings not turning the ball over in Sunday’s game. Sloppy play has resulted in costly penalties all season, putting the Vikings at a yardage disadvantage and negating good plays. It was a nice change to see that the brilliant play on a punt return that was negated by a penalty was against the Redskins and not the Vikings.
  • Playing to strengths. Prior to Sunday’s game I read that Frazier was going to listen to Favre’s advice. Novel idea that, listening to the guy who has played for two decades and is older than some of the coaching staff. And, during the week Favre said that one of the problems is that offensive strategy gets too complicated. His point was that if a team executes plays well, then it doesn’t matter if a defense knows it’s coming or not, that defense still has to stop it. Well, Sunday’s game was a good example of exactly that. The offensive play-calling wasn’t electric, but it played to Favre’s strength with plenty of bootleg plays called that had him rolling out of the pocket. And, even though after the first Minnesota possession of the game the Redskins had to know the Vikings were going to run the ball a whole lot, they still weren’t able to prevent the Vikings from rushing for 137 yards.
  • Resilience. There were mistakes and misfortunes during Sunday’s game. The Redskins marched 83 yards for a touchdown on their first possession and they converted on third downs. Ray Edwards and Adrian Peterson both came out of the game with ankle injuries. But despite the rocky defensive start and the injuries, the Vikings found a way to regroup and battle through to win. After Washington’s first drive the Vikings allowed only three more third down conversions the entire game and Toby Gerhart and Brian Robison both stepped up with solid performances when Peterson and Edwards were injured. With as much as this team as gone through this season, it wouldn’t be surprising if they had used up all their resilience, but it looks like they found a previously untapped supply.

Clearly, the Vikings will have to work very hard and have some very good luck if they are going to have even the hope of winning a Wild Card for the playoffs. But, strange stuff happens every week in the NFL so until the Vikings are absolutely eliminated from playoff contention, I’m going to hold onto hope that a talented team with a new coach and the resolve not to quit has a shot.

*This entry is also posted at http://www.dailynorseman.com/ under the name Skol Girl. She’s my alter ego and she is really, really into the Minnesota Vikings.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football, Lifestyle

 

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So Long Randy–It’s Not Us, It’s You

This season, what the Vikings lack in wins, they make up for with drama. Yes, just when it seems that the season can’t get any stranger, Vikings fans get the football equivalent of Joaquin Phoenix’s bizarre, bearded appearance on Letterman. And this latest one is a doozy.

Four games after signing Randy Moss the Minnesota Vikings have waived him—adios amigo and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. For their troubles the Vikings have lost a draft pick, three additional games, and, if the comments are any indication, the love of the fan base.

Sad considering the Moss/Vikings reunion had such promise. Randy Moss, one of the most incredible football talents ever, returning to where it all started so he could catch passes from Brett Favre—the Vikings’ season would be saved and it would be glorious. This didn’t appear to be a stretch because a deep threat seemed to be the missing piece that would get things rolling.

But after four games with the Vikings, the best you can say about the Randy Moss experiment is that the results were mixed. In his brief tenure with the 2010 Minnesota Vikings, Randy Moss had 13 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Moss’ presence on the field also returned a kind of balance to the offense, enabling Percy Harvin to return to the middle of the field where he’s been so effective. However, despite being with the organization that he supposedly felt residual fondness for because they drafted him in 1998, and despite getting to work with a quarterback he said he had wanted to work with, fans witnessed Moss, once again, giving up on plays and being a temperamental diva. Most recently, after drawing a pass interference penalty during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game at New England, Moss pulled up short and stopped running the route. The pass, that looked like it would have been a touchdown if Moss had continued to run the route, landed just out of his reach.

Following the New England game Moss had a strange, rambling press conference that was seen by many as the catalyst for Coach Brad Childress deciding to waive him. However, from some of the stories leaking out about Moss’ behavior at Winter Park, and from seeing that his habit of giving up on plays was still alive and kicking, it may be that the press conference, and Moss’ informing the team that he wouldn’t fly back from Foxboro with them, may have simply been the final straws.

On a team that’s winning, Randy Moss’ deep threat is icing on the cake. And Moss probably thought that’s what he was getting when he signed with the Vikings in the beginning of October. At that time the Vikings were 1-2, a record that, though not ideal for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, was hardly insurmountable. Four games later, the Vikings have gone 1-3 with Moss. As good as Moss can be on a winning team, his history shows that he can quickly become a toxic anathema on a losing team—for as much as it makes me cringe and wish I could spin this any other way, at 2-5, the Vikings are a losing team and Moss did not look happy.

Randy Moss is a rare talent. He has the kind of legendary ability that most wide receivers would give their left testicle to have. But, either by choice, aptitude, or nature, he does not do well with a losing team. If you want someone who will rally the troops to play for pride even when the game is lost, or to hold it together when things look bad, Moss probably isn’t your guy.

And that is a real shame, because with Brett Favre battered and facing an NFL investigation, it would mean a lot to the team to have someone like Moss step up.

Considering that the Vikings are putting up with Brett Favre for another season, you’d think that dealing with Randy Moss would be a cinch. Favre, after all, has enjoyed a different set of rules from the rest of the rank and file players, so what should make his brand of diva so much more tolerable than Randy’s? Well, for all his diva-esque antics, and they are legion, try to think of a time when Favre gave up on a play or didn’t take the credit for poor play upon himself. How many examples are there of Favre not taking practice, film study, and games seriously? I’m trying but I can’t think of any.

A lot has been made of Coach Brad Childress deciding he’d had enough of Randy Moss, but here’s something that I think bears noting that I haven’t heard anyone else mention yet. Childress is not a guy to admit to mistakes (i.e. Tavaris Jackson situation), so it makes me wonder how bad, how very critical and toxic he appears to have thought things were with Moss that he would essentially say, “My bad” and cut Moss lose in the middle of the season. If Childress didn’t think things were critical he could have just waited until the end of the year and made sure that the Vikings didn’t offer Moss a new contract. That’s been Childress’ method with other players he didn’t want on the team. So for Childress to suggest that Moss is such a detriment that he has to be released immediately even though it means admitting to making a mistake…well, that should say something.

If fans want to criticize Brad Childress, and we know they do, then criticize him for bringing Randy Moss back to Minnesota in the first place and raising our hopes that this season wouldn’t end in tears. It isn’t like Moss is new to the league or that his long history of bad behavior was a well-kept secret. Randy Moss is the same as he was when he first showed up in the NFL in 1998. If you doubt that, just read his history of jail time (okay, that was before the NFL) and fines. Even the most basic due-diligence would suggest that Randy Moss, though an amazing talent, was being dumped by the Patriots for a reason and the Vikings would be wise to avoid getting tangled up with him.

But, they didn’t avoid Moss. Instead they jumped at the deal and now they’re attempting to jump out of it. I don’t know what is going to happen next, but, the way things are going, it’ll probably be snakes on the team plane.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football, Series

 

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Stops and Starts: What Are the Chances Favre Will Sit This One Out?

At the start of this season I naively believed that the 2010 Minnesota Vikings season would be a continuation their 2009 season. Six games into the 2010 season the Vikings have a 2-4 record and that’s just the beginning of the dissimilarities. But, should it actually happen, perhaps the most surprising difference between this season and last could be the benching of Brett Favre in favor of Tavaris Jackson.

Just typing that feels strange.

After the Vikings played the Packers last Sunday, Vikings quarterback Brett Favre hobbled off the field so gingerly that we knew he was either really hurt, or his acting had dramatically improved since There’s Something About Mary. Turns out he was hurt and had not one, but two fractures in his left foot—one in his ankle and one in his heel. With pretty much any other player, that would mean sitting out a game or two, but Favre isn’t any other player. Despite having his injured foot strapped into a walking cast most of the week and not practicing, Favre not only wants to play against the New England Patriots, but thinks he can help the team win.

I’m not sure if that’s inspirational or delusional, but it’s certainly stirring up a storm of speculation.

In an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press this week, former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon said that it seemed Favre’s footwork suffered when he was scrambling to try to make something happen. With his footwork and mechanics thrown out the proverbial window, Favre was making more dangerous throws resulting in more interceptions. And that was before Favre had two fractures in his left foot. One can only imagine what his footwork will be like after not practicing this week and trying to shuffle around on a fractured foot. My imagination is pretty good and I can’t come up with a version of that vision that doesn’t end poorly.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Favre could do something that makes sense and sit out Sunday’s game against the Patriots, letting Tavaris Jackson have the start.

Ideally, a back-up quarterback can step into the game when a starter is out, run the offense and not screw things up—it might not be spectacular, but it should be safe. Whether or not Tavaris Jackson is capable of that is uncertain, however, with a 2-4 record it isn’t as if Favre has raised the bar too high this season.

Now in his fifth season, Tavaris Jackson was supposed to be the Vikings’ quarterback of the future, but his tenure with the Vikings has had mixed results. At times when he steps back to throw, I can see what Childress saw in Jackson—he’s tall and athletic with a good arm. But then when Jackson overshoots his receiver or starts looking panicked after an opposing defense has gotten to him…well, then I start wondering how long it will be before rookie Joe Webb is ready to start.

While we can debate whether or not Tavaris Jackson has what it takes to be an elite quarterback in the NFL all day long, he does have something the Vikings desperately need right now, health. With two healthy feet, and a throwing arm unaffected by tendonitis, Jackson seems like the logical choice to start on Sunday. If Favre and Childress were making decisions logically, Jackson would start. Favre is too important to the Vikings to have him out on the field when his movement is hampered by a serious injury—it’s unnecessarily dangerous.

Today in the St. Paul Pioneer Press Ryan Longwell, when being asked about Favre’s ability to play on Sunday said, “I’ve seen the guy have a lot of injuries, and you just don’t bet against him.”

For me, it isn’t Favre’s toughness that’s in question, it’s his effectiveness I question. How effective can he be with two fractures in his left foot?

While Favre has good reason to have a messiah complex with regard to the Vikings (sending the team captains down to Mississippi to beg him to return can do that), his very desire to help the team should convict him to make the decision that will give them the best chance to win. Rationally, it’s hard to believe that the Vikings are better off having him play this Sunday. Maybe he’ll surprise me and have an amazing, breakthrough game and the offense will score early and often and it will be magical. I would love that. But, given the nature of his injuries, it seems like his health and availability through the rest of the season is more important than satisfying a messiah-complex or maintaining an epic string of continuous starts.

*This piece is also posted at http://www.dailynorseman.com/ under my alter ego Skol Girl.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football, Series

 

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