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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 Long, Hard Wait for the Vikings Home Opener Against Miami

I don’t know about anyone else out there, but I’m really glad that the Minnesota Vikings season opener against the New Orleans Saints is done and over. The anticipation and hype leading up to that game had me so wired I was hopping around like a squirrel on meth. If it was over and the Vikings had won I would be happier and I probably wouldn’t have spent so much of Thursday night accusing the officials of doing immoral things with sheep, but it’s still a relief that a game with so much overwhelming hype is done.

The game shouldn’t be completely written off because it isn’t as if there weren’t bright spots in the Vikings performance against the Saints despite the loss, because there were. But when you want a win those bright spots aren’t quite bright enough.

But now it is a new week and the Vikings are preparing for a new game. It reminded me of the song “Walk and Don’t Look Back” by Mick Jagger and Peter Tosh because the Vikings need to learn what they can from Thursday’s disappointing loss without dwelling on it. I was even going to post the video to that song, but Mick Jagger acted so weird in it that it almost killed the song for me.

On Thursday night the Vikings offense looked out of sync and, well, kind of crappy but even then there was reason for hope. The Vikings offensive line did a fantastic job of keeping Brett Favre upright and giving him time to find a receiver. He didn’t, but that was hardly their fault. Even Bryant McKinnie put in a solid performance until he left the game with a dislocated finger. Adrian Peterson, despite getting mugged, did not fumble the ball. He was also on track to have what would have been a 100-yard game, but the Vikings, for reasons I don’t understand, abandoned the run in the second half. New acquisition Greg Camarillo’s hands were just as sure as advertised, but the Vikings didn’t put him in the game until the fourth quarter.

The Vikings defense, with the exception of the Saints first offensive series, held one of the league’s most dynamic offenses to a paltry 14 points. Drew Brees was able to exploit the Vikings’ corners during the first series, but after that the Vikings secondary put on the brakes and held firm. The Vikings linebackers were men on a mission, making flying tackles and showing that E.J. Henderson really is up to game speed. And Jayme Mitchell even got a sack on Drew Brees who didn’t look comfortable all night.

So yeah, it was a loss, but there were plenty of positives for the Vikings to build on and that has me impatient for the Vikings match-up on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

The Miami Dolphins are sitting at the bottom of the AFC East, but that doesn’t mean they won’t put up a fight when they face the Vikings at the Dome on Sunday. On Sunday they won their first season opener in five years and they did it on the road in Buffalo. Quarterback Chad Henne and receiver Brandon Marshall flashed a growing chemistry that could prove challenging for opposing defenses to contain. And the Dolphins defense set a fast pace that Buffalo had a hard time answering. Will they be as much of a challenge as the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints? Probably not, but you never can tell what will happen.

Even with time off for his grandson’s christening [insert your own Brett Favre is old joke here], The FavreTM will have another week learning his receivers and how they run their routes. Favre didn’t unretire to lose, so I’m willing to bet that he’s logging his characteristic long hours in practice and looking at film. His favorite target from last season, Sidney Rice, may not be available, but something tells me that the 29-yard pass Favre lobbed at Greg Camarillo on Thursday night is just the beginning. Not only that, but it was reported that Percy Harvin’s migraines may have been triggered by sleep apnea. If that diagnosis is accurate, then now that Harvin is under treatment for sleep apnea, look for a surge in his production as he kicks off the rust.

And, for the love of Ragnar, give Adrian Peterson the damn ball! He’s running angry trying to show the team and everyone else that his fumbles are behind him and that Chris Johnson is full of hot air. Let him.

On defense, there is a good chance that possibly both Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin will be healthy enough to play in the next two games. If so, the secondary will get a nice upgrade and, just maybe, a few interceptions. He’s a nice, tall cornerback and I have a feeling that Cook will be able to win the jump-ball battle. Other than the secondary, the defense’s greatest problem on Thursday night seemed to be fatigue—the Vikings offense didn’t stay on the field long enough for the defense to catch their collective breath. By the fourth quarter the line that had done such a good job of stuffing the run suddenly seemed porous. I believe that as the offense improves the defense will too.

So, once again, I’m counting down until a Vikings game. But this time, I think there’s a much better chance that I’m counting down to a win. I’ll leave you with a song that no corny video can ruin for me. Which is good because the video really is pretty corny.

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

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

 

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My Vikings Training Camp Wish List

It’s been six long months since the Minnesota Vikings lost to the New Orleans Saints on January 24, 2010. It might take the edge off of my football withdrawal if I could get into baseball, but when I’m craving smash mouth football complete with calf-roping antics, baseball doesn’t quite do it for me.

But now it’s late July and soon, tantalizingly soon, Minnesota Vikings training camp will start up again and we’ll get to see what kind of a shot at redemption the veteran-heavy team has for the coming season. For a football-deprived fan like myself, it feels like Christmas in July. Truly. I’m filled with as much joy and anticipation for the start of training camp as I was when I was seven and hoping for a Cabbage Patch Kid.

So, in the spirit of Christmas, I’m making out my wish list for the coming season. How weird and wonderful would it be if a sleigh pulled by eight tiny linebackers landed on my rooftop and a jolly giant like, say, Pat Williams hopped down the chimney to deliver everything on my list? Well, a girl can dream.

Wish #1

Doubtless, this is at the top of many people’s lists, but it would be so very nice if Brett Favre came back to the Vikings for another season. Kind of a no-brainer wish. However, the chances of Brett Favre making a return in time for or during training camp isn’t likely given his well-documented disdain for training camp. Still, this is a wish list, not a likely list—might as well aim high.

Wish #2

Adrian Peterson is a dynamic, hard-working running back. Every time he gets the ball he pours his heart and soul into trying to make something happen. Here’s a thought:  How about you hang onto the ball. While not as flashy as a break-away run into the end zone, reducing fumbles and turnovers probably would have won that NFC championship game against the Saints.

Wish #3

He’s big and he, occasionally, shows flashes of ability that validate the Vikings decision to keep him around, but I would dearly love to see Bryant McKinnie play up to his potential every game, not one in five. If Favre does return, then, for the love of Zeus, protect the guy! Last year Julius Peppers pushed 6’8” 330lb Bryant McKinnie around like McKinnie was on castors. I don’t know if that means Peppers is jus that good or if McKinnie is just that lazy. During the off-season Peppers signed with the Chicago Bears meaning the Vikings will have to face him at least twice next season.

Wish #4

Please, oh please, don’t let Brad Childress’s decision to bring in Rhys Lloyd mess up Ryan Longwell’s head or kicking consistency. While bringing in Lloyd to pin opposing offenses against their end zones is great, Longwell says kick-offs give him a chance to get a feel for field conditions before he kicks for points. Longwell is money in the bank, don’t throw him off his game.

Wish #5

I love linebackers. Leber, Greenway, Farwell, they make me smile. But, and I don’t say this lightly, I really, really love E.J. Henderson. Most of his highlights show him flying Super Man style to make a tackle. Who doesn’t love seeing that? And with a healthy Henderson at middle, I like the Vikings chances of forcing three-and-outs much better. So, here’s hoping that E.J. Henderson is back to his pre-injury form and that his season isn’t cut short with an injury the way it has been for the past two years.

Wish #6

Maybe it’s because I added his jersey to my collection, or maybe it’s because I like seeing an under-dog come out on top, but I would dearly love to see Sidney Rice build on the amazing season he had last year. A participant at Larry Fitzgerald’s summer training camp, last season Rice debunked the theory that he was a draft bust. Let’s hope that this season, regardless of who is ultimately playing quarterback for the Vikings, he proves that last season’s performance is just the start of many good things.

Well, a football fan could keep wishing all day, but I think six is a good place to stop. Something tells me that as the Vikings training camp heats up there will be plenty of new things to wish for.

*This piece is also posted at http://www.vikingsmix.com under my other alias, Skol Girl.

http://vikingsmix.com/2010/07/training-camp-wish-list.html

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football

 

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Quarterback Search 2010

Another off-season is upon us, another season of speculation about the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback situation. Brett Favre unretired for the second time last year to lead the Vikings to another NFC north title but not quite to the Super Bowl. Not only did he return to play football at an age that is down right geriatric in the hard-hitting and fast-paced NFL, but Brett Favre also had one of the best seasons of his career. Fans and players both hope the 40-year-old quarterback will don purple again in 2010.

While it would be fantastic to have another season with Brett Favre leading the Vikings offense, I have a sinking feeling we won’t get it. I’m a ray of sunshine that way. The only certain thing in all this uncertainty is that no one really knows who’ll be the starting quarterback for the Vikings in 2010.

Gee, like that’s a new one.

Just look at the last two seasons. This year Sage Rosenfels and Tavaris Jackson were to duel it out in training camp for the starting position, then Brett Favre signed with the team and Rosenfels and Jackson were warming the sidelines, clipboards in hand. The previous year Tavaris Jackson was the starter. And Coach Childress was adamant that Jackson was the starter, right up to the point when he benched Jackson in favor of Gus Frerotte. Why should next season be any more certain than the last couple?

Life is sometimes described as “nasty, brutish, and short.” Life in the NFL looks a little worse but with better compensation. Football is remarkably temporary. It’s a fickle, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sport where the average career is somewhere around 11 to14 years. No one knows from one violent, fast play to the next who will be the starter for the next play. If you like consistency or long careers, watch golf.

It’s one of the wonders of the age that Brett Favre managed to play every game in the 2009 season. In just the Vikings game against the New Orleans Saints for the NFC championship Favre was hit so many times that I winced every time he took a snap because the odds were pretty good that he’d be pounded into the turf like a tent peg. But that game wasn’t unique. Vikings coaches and players sold Favre on playing for Minnesota saying he’d simply have to hand the ball to Adrian Peterson. Easy peesy lemon squeezy. But the running game stymied and Favre ended up throwing the ball like it was going out of style. And, since he spent all that time in the pocket trying to throw the ball, it would have been nice if he had had the offensive line to protect him. Sure Steve Hutchinson is good and so it Anthony Herrerra, but both Phil Loadholt and John Sullivan were first year starters. And then there’s Bryant McKinnie.

Is anyone really surprised that Bryant McKinnie, Love Boat scandal graduate, was dismissed from the Pro Bowl for excessive partying? He lobbied for fans to vote him to the Pro Bowl and then blew off most of the meetings, the picture, and all but one of the practices leading up to the Pro Bowl. His foot and ankle, apparently, hurt too much to show up for a picture or practice, but not enough to interfere with his busy schedule of partying and going to strip clubs. While this happened in the off-season, I can’t help remembering the amazing frequency with which Favre got hit because defenders were able to over-power 6’8” 330 lb Bryant McKinnie. Would you want to come back for another year if you knew all that stood between you and being horribly mangled was Bryant McKinnie?

If the Vikings are going to seriously court Brett Favre and bribe him into playing the second year on his contract with them, then they have to give him better protection than he’s been getting. And, with all the hassles of an uncapped 2010 season, the Vikings don’t have the same freedom to acquire that protection for Favre that they did a year ago. Faced with that, I don’t see Favre coming back for another year. Having Favre on the Vikings was fun while it lasted, but the 2010 looks like it will be yet another quarterback surprise.

*This piece is also posted at vikingsmix.com under my alter-ego Skol Girl. Check it out and get your fix of blogs and news stories about the Minnesota Vikings.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football

 

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Mother Love: Are the Vikings In Need of Maternal Motivation?

With the Minnesota Vikings bracing for their next game in the national spotlight on Monday, I find myself wishing that Sandra Bullock would reprise her roll as Leigh Anne Tuohy from The Blind Side and give them a hug-and-a-kiss-and-a-kick-in-the-ass pep talk to get them back on track.  Simplistic as it is, sometimes I think the team needs a mom.

Okay, it’s the height of overly simplistic, but there are a number of team issues that I can’t help but think a mom would help them get through. Here are a few of them.

  • Bernard Berrien and Adrian Peterson both getting ticketed for driving more than 100mph on Minnesota roads. That isn’t just speeding, driving that fast generally falls under reckless endangerment. And, I find myself seriously wishing that those two had a mother like a friend of mine who had been known, on occasion, to very loudly ask her progeny, “What is your goddamn problem?” In the face of an angry maternal figure asking that question, answering back, “I didn’t want to be late for team check-in,” or “I just didn’t realize how fast I was going” would be relegated to their proper place as lame and ineffectual answers, not to be repeated.
  • Brett Favre and Coach Brad Childress can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on audibles and when Favre should come off the field. For those of us with siblings, there comes a time when you realize you are going to have to find a way to get along because you are stuck with each other—at least that’s what I was told when I suggested we send my sister back where she came from. Likewise, Childress and Favre are stuck with each other. Childress hitched himself to Favre in order to deliver what Vikings owners the Wilfs want, a championship. I doubt Childress would have his lucrative contract extension if not for the success of our friendly quarterback from Mississippi. Favre hitched himself to the Vikings and Childress to get what he wants, a championship. Considering they have the same goal, folks need to put aside differences and figure out how to get the job done. They need a working compromise giving Favre the freedom to audible out of run plays based on what he sees on the field and do what he does best—use his experience to make things happen. They also need to agree that, since Favre isn’t a spring chicken, sometimes Childress is going to have to take Favre out of the games so to rest him for the postseason. If Favre is really going to be a team player, then he has to view his health heading into the postseason as a team asset.
  • Last week against the Carolina Panthers Bryant McKinnie said he had one of his worst games ever. When the St. Paul paper spoke with former Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer, he said it looked like McKinnie was on “roller skates” the way Julius Peppers pushed him around the field. I’ve tried to understand why people say McKinnie is good when it seems like every time the quarterback gets hit it’s from McKinnie’s side. The guy is 6’8” and weighs 335 pounds and yet Peppers pushed him around the field like he was on wheels. Make no mistake, I recognize that Peppers is good, but it is hard to believe he could sack and hurry Brett Favre as much and as consistently as he did if McKinnie wasn’t having a performance that was tepid at best. Since players don’t generally make it to the NFL by phoning it in, I think it is fair to say that somewhere along the way McKinnie may have lost some of that drive and urgency to do his best and be the best possible player at his position. If he took just a fraction of the passion he fuels into his bar fights and put it into his on-field performance, I don’t think ol’ Bretty would spend so much time getting pummeled.

Let’s hope the current NFC North Division champs don’t end up having to call in a little football mama to set them straight, but if they do, I hope that the Wilfs have Leigh Anne Tuohy on speed-dial.

*This piece is also posted at http://www.vikingsmix.com under my alter ego Skol Girl. Vikingsmix has fan blogs and links to news stories about the Minnesota Vikings. Check it out!

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2009 in Brett Favre, Football

 

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