RSS

Tag Archives: NFL

Feeling Superstitious About MN Vikings’ Loss in San Diego

Normally, I’m not a superstitious person. I have a black cat in residence who is constantly crossing my path, I don’t shy away from picking up coins that are tails side up, on occasion I have opened umbrellas indoors, and 13 never seemed like a particularly ominous number to me. But my normally levelheaded attitude is pretty much gone when it comes to football. Games like Minnesota Vikings‘ season opener against the San Diego Chargers, don’t do much to dispel that tendency.

While there are plenty of reasons for why the Vikings wrote A Tale of Two Halves at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday, it seems that bad ju-ju is as likely a reason as everything else I have heard.

I trace the change in the game’s momentum to the seemingly reasonable idea of putting my 20-month-old niece down for a quick nap. My sister and my niece were flying back home to Michigan Sunday evening and we thought it was worth a try to get Rookie (a.k.a. baby niece) to take a nap because it was going to be a late evening for her. Until this point, Rookie had been suited up in her new Adrian Peterson jersey and she was grooving to “Skol Vikings.” It was crazy cute to walk into the room and see her get excited that the rest of us were wearing purple jerseys just like her jersey.

All suited up and armed with a wiggly toddler, we watched the Vikings start off their season with Percy Harvin returning the ball 103 yards for a touchdown. That opening play was fantastic, but things got even better because the Vikings’ offensive line did a respectable job of helping Donovan McNabb stay upright and giving Adrian Peterson holes to run through. Free-agent acquisition Michael Jenkins gave us hope for the receiving corps. Fred Pagac’s aggressive defense kept San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers from getting comfortable with pressure from the Vikings’ revamped defensive line. Mike Singletary’s linebackers tackled like men on a mission. The Vikings looked a lot more like a team making a statement than a team in a dreaded rebuilding year.

Then Rookie, much to her very vocal dismay, was put down for a nap and things went all pear-shaped for the Vikings. Now, I suppose that it might be silly to credit the Vikings’ second-half collapse with the absence of a toddler whose understanding of the game is comprised solely of her affection for the color purple but, when faced with the possibility that Bill Musgrave’s offense is no better at adapting and executing than Brad Childress’s offense, I lean toward the missing toddler theory because it’s a much easier fix.

That offensive breakdown was the loose thread that unraveled what could have been an upset victory for the Vikings on the road in San Diego. Instead, the Vikings are starting the season in the NFC North’s basement because all the other teams in the division won their opening games. While being one game behind the rest of the division is hardly hole the Vikings can’t climb out of if they correct the problems they had on Sunday, it isn’t the way Leslie Frazier wanted to start his first full season as head coach, and it isn’t a great way to build positive momentum for a team that is seeking a new stadium.

For me, the most mind-boggling moment in Sunday’s game came when the Vikings sent Joe Webb in to take snaps in the Wildcat formation. As much as I love watching Joe Webb play, I’m biased against the Wildcat formation-not because it isn’t a good idea, but because I’ve never really seen it work. It’s supposed to confuse and confound an opposing defense so the offense can break lose an explosive play. While the Wildcat did confuse the Chargers on Sunday, it also seemed to confuse the Vikings because after two plays they were in a third-and-ten situation. But the worst part of it was that the Vikings squandered the momentum Adrian Peterson had created with two strong runs.

Adrian Peterson wasn’t awarded a $100 million seven-year contract just because he’s a swell guy, he got it because he’s a strong, punishing running back. The offense is built around him and he’s going to be the face of the franchise for many years, so why, why would you take the ball away from him when he’s hot? Seems to me that Bill Musgrave would do well to heed the immortal words of Bruce Springsteen, “Tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”

When you’ve got a talent like Adrian Peterson, why would you want to do anything else?

The Vikings’ running game is the center of the Vikings’ team identity. It’s meant to punish and demoralize defenders who try to stop it, the running game sets up the passing so the quarterback can take advantage of opposing defenses loading the box to stop the run, and it takes time off the clock helping the team win the time of possession battle. Taking time off the clock is especially handy in spelling the defense so they have the energy to stuff the opposing run and force them into third-and-long situations. Therefore, I cannot understand the decision to abandon an effective running game for a gimmicky play. The Vikings didn’t need to do it.

When faced with both the possibility that the Vikings new offensive system is falling prey to the same mistakes that their previous offensive system made, is it any wonder that I prefer to hope the offense can be fixed by making sure Rookie doesn’t miss a game? Making sure my niece has access to NFL Season Ticket is a lot easier than suffering through another season of Childressian offense.

*This post is also available at The Daily Norseman, a fantastic SB Nation blog. At The Daily Norseman I write under the name Skol Girl.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Football, Sports Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lockout Could Jeopardize the Cash Players and Owners Are Fighting Over

All you clever and jaded sports fans out there will probably laugh at this, but I really held onto the hope that the two extensions the NFLPA and the owners agreed to meant we wouldn’t see this CBA debacle make it into the courts where it has the potential to be a long, drawn-out process that will ass up the season. Nope, I optimistically thought that the extensions actually meant both sides wanted to avoid a lockout and work stoppage. That optimism seemed reasonable, after all, there are billions of dollars at stake that neither party will get if there is no NFL season in 2011.

But, just like my prediction that Adam Lambert would win American Idol, I was wrong.

Despite all the reasons why they shouldn’t mess with a good thing, the players and owners are going to end up fighting things out in court. I have come to realize a couple things about court battles.

  1. Outcomes are not guaranteed.
  2. The lawyers are the real winners.

Essentially, the players and their union could slug it out in the legal system against the NFL owners only to get surprised by the outcome and receive less than they might have gotten if they had continued arbitration and reached a compromise.

For me, the real kicker in all of this is that they are fighting over $9 billion in revenues-money from the fans. NFL football fans are kind of in the position of the wealthy, invalid aunt in a murder mystery. She hears her relatives fighting over the inheritance she will be leaving when she dies as if her decision to leave her money to them is a foregone conclusion.

But it isn’t.

If the responses, conversation, and debate regarding this issue are any indication, fans are getting pissed off. You don’t have to be a business school graduate, or a captain of industry to recognize the danger in pissing off your customers. Fans, feeling angry and alienated by all the fighting between the players and owners, could decide to take their business elsewhere. For as wonderful as watching professional football is, the NFL aren’t the only folks out there peddling football. College, arena, and even Canadian football could help fill the void that a lockout and shortened season could bring. It wouldn’t be the same, but fans do have options and both players and owners should remember that.

Back in college I suffered through a macroeconomics class. I don’t know if it was the material or the awful professor, but it seemed pointless. Despite the professor’s attempts to prove otherwise, economics isn’t a pure science. In pure sciences you can isolate factors in a controlled environment to discern what is going on, why it is happening, and you can duplicate the results. But economics can’t be studied in a controlled environment with isolated factors so you never really know what is going on or why and you might not be able to duplicate the results.

I took that jaunt down my academic Memory Lane to illustrate a point. The NFL players and the owners are fighting in court for rights to $9 billion in revenues, but they don’t currently have $9 billion in revenues-they have the expectation of $9 billion in revenues. And, they expect to have $9 billion in revenues because either that is how much the NFL generated in revenues last year or because that is what their financial models project that they will earn next year. Either way, they are scrapping over rights to cash they do not have, much like the relatives of the rich, invalid aunt in my earlier analogy. But, the very fact that they are fighting alters the financial landscape.

When the NFL players and owners finally kiss and make up and decide how to share their $9 billion in projected revenues, there is no guarantee that they will actually have $9 billion in revenues to share. It goes back to economics and the niggling fact that economic models don’t exist in a lab.

In pissing off me, you, and a whole lot of other football fans around the world, the NFL players and owners are jeopardizing the very thing they’re fighting over–expected money from fans. Quite honestly, with as annoyed as fans are getting with the players and owners over the prospect of a lockout messing up the 2011 season, $9 billion in revenues seems optimistic.

We’re still dealing with a crap economic environment in the United States. Crude oil prices are once again creeping up and so are foreclosures. People are out of work and worried about the future, but despite all of that, we’ve been willing to spend our cash on the NFL to the tune of $9 billion.

So what are the chances that we’ll be inclined to continue spending at that rate after the NFL players and owners drag the game we love through the mud? Ah, now there’s the $9 billion question.

Most fans will watch the NFL again when this mess finally clears the courts. We’ll even go back to spending our hard-earned money on the NFL. However, the NFL might have more competition for fan attention and money than they had before the lockout, making fans more tightfisted.

Think I’m exaggerating? Okay, I probably am, but consider this–who wants to drop $100 on team gear and at least that much for a game ticket, parking, and concessions to watch players who you think are millionaire douche bags playing for teams owned by people who you think are billionaire douche bags? Who wants to share that with their kids? So games stop selling out and can’t be shown on television in their local markets–not always, but more often than in the past. Eventually, there isn’t as much cost-benefit for businesses to buy ad time during games. Then, it trickles down into merchandising. Since parents aren’t taking their kids to games, kids don’t buy posters of their favorite players or ask for jerseys for Christmas or wear hats with NFL team logos, they don’t save their allowance for genuine NFL footballs and helmets. This is important because children, lacking any personal expenses, represent a significant amount of expendable income being infused into the American economy. And, because fans aren’t identifying with players maybe they don’t care so much about the latest edition of Madden so, after a good long run, the game is discontinued. Football’s king status in sports entertainment wanes.

The point of that speculative supposition is that all those merchandising-related sales bring the NFL licensing revenue, which is highly lucrative because it gives them significant cash in-flow without representing an additional cost to the NFL, thus adding to revenue. Without the sales of licensed merchandise (hats, t-shirts, jerseys, jackets, sports gear, posters, games, etc.), that revenue stream from licensing fees dwindles. What was a $9 billion revenue stream at the start of this legal battle, may shrink significantly if bitter fans don’t buy NFL merchandise at the same rate they did before. So, in disillusioning fans with a prolonged legal battle that could shorten the season, the NFL is actually risking devaluing its product.

Ramifications from this lockout have the potential to negatively impact the NFL’s revenues for years to come because it erodes fan support for the sport. Who knows how long it could take fan support to recover?

Players and owners are not in the sports entertainment business to get poor, they want to make money. I don’t fault them for that at all, it isn’t like any of the rest of us are working to get poor either. This is America and we still hold the belief that if you work hard and create a great product you can be successful. And, as far as products go, the NFL has a great one–it is a product that crosses age, gender, and race boundaries to become wildly popular and highly lucrative. But when the flashing dollar signs get in the way of players and owners making a sound financial decision, to the point of potentially eroding the very thing they’re fighting over, it seems…well, pointless.

*This piece is also posted at the Daily Norseman under my alter ego, Skol Girl.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on March 16, 2011 in Football

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let’s Here it for the Fans

It’s hard to come up with an new and creative spin on how, from the craptastic ashes of the Minnesota Vikings‘ 2010 season, a majestic phoenix could rise and wing our beloved Purple back to greatness, but I’m really going to make a stab at it. At this point options are kind of limited for Vikings fans. We can either whine and moan about how the Vikings always find a way to break our hearts, or we can find a way to put disappointment behind us and look forward with some kind of hope. Actually, there’s still the option of tossing back a couple of valium and buying that one-way ticket to Costa Rica and never thinking about the Vikings, the NFL, or football again, but I’ve mostly given up that idea. Mostly.

No, like the rest of you hardcore fans, I’m not going to abandon the Vikings. Instead, I’ve tried to think about 2010 in terms of that Jerry Springer recap, you know that “moral-of-the-story” thing he would do after he got people to unleash a whole mess of crazy on his show, to explore what we’ve learned besides the fact that even sweet grandmas can throw a mean left hook given the right inducement.

The more I think about it, the more it seems that if we had to vote for a Minnesota Vikings MVP in 2010, it should be the Vikings fans. In a season rife with drama and disappointment, the Vikings fans did an almost heroic job of hanging in there with our team.

With the exception of the 1970s which was a pretty boss decade for the Vikings, Minnesota has at least one lousy season every decade. This last decade was a bit worse than usual because there were four seasons when the Vikings won less than half of their games and  two seasons when they merely broke even between wins and losses. So, for six out of the last ten years the Vikings have had a mediocre to crappy record. It helps put 2010 into perspective because 2001, 2002 and 2006 were as bad or worse than 2010. What made 2010 seem so much worse was how great 2009 had been.

That painful jaunt through the Vikings sub-par records for the last decade was just an overly elaborate set-up to my attempt to find the good in this steaming pile of disappointment. There is nothing like a brilliant, winning season, say like 2009, to attract fans. However, I don’t think you have the right to call yourself a fan, a real fan, unless you cheer for a team during a losing season. Until then, as far as I’m concerned, you’re just a fan intern.

For example, a lot of people became Vikings fans during the 1970s which, as I said earlier, was a totally boss era for the Vikings. They were the defensively dominant Purple People Eaters who made three of their four trips to the Super Bowl in that decade. As Ted Glover said in his great piece about the wonder of outdoor football, the Vikings of that era were some of the toughest mamba jambas to play the game of football. Yep, the 1970s were a great time to become a Vikings fan, but for those who remained Vikings fans during 1984, the infamous Les Steckel year, you my friends, you get props and a shiny gold star. I was only in kindergarten at the time so my memories of the 1984 season are kind of fuzzy.

And, like those fine folks who managed to hold on through the 1984 season, the people who became Vikings fans in 2008 and 2009 when our Vikings were the NFC North division champions and made it through 2010 with their purple pride somehow intact, you are now full-fledged Vikings fans. Embrace the pain and the paradox of our team.

If I had to come up with just one thing to hate it would have to be something that makes me sounds deep and wise and altruistic, and, somehow, I don’t think black jelly beans will cut it. However, if we came up with a bigger, longer, itemized list of the things I hate, bandwagon fans would be somewhere in the top 50%.

Bandwagon fans make me want to growl and grind my teeth. I don’t like them. I don’t like them with green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am. So if there is anything to be gained from a craptastic season like 2010, it’s that the bandwagon fans who cheered for the Vikings the previous two seasons have drifted off to give their fickle support to the Packers and the people left are the real Vikings fans who cheer for the Vikings even when their home games are played on Detroit’s Ford Field or the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.

As 2010 dragged on and it became painfully clear that it would not be a repeat of 2009, I expected a pretty big drop-off in Viking support from the local populace here in Minnesota. But I was pleasantly surprised at how many people were still showing their horns no matter how lousy things were going for our team. For example, I remember one day when I needed to get away from all things football for a couple hours and so I went to a sanctuary of all things dainty and girly–the teashop. I was going to eat scones, drink tea with my pinkie in the air, and enjoy not thinking about football for a little while. But that isn’t what happened. Instead, I sat there, eating my scone and drinking my tea while I eavesdropped on the grandmas sitting at the table behind me who were talking about what the Vikings needed to do to turn the season around. Now, for all you manly men out there who have never been to a teashop let me explain something, conversations about football are something of a rarity in places where there are more frilly doilies and dainty teacups than you can shake a stick at.

That those little, old ladies were so involved with the Vikings’ season that they simply had to discuss the Vikings’ season over floral teacups is both cute and kind of sassy. That those ladies weren’t atypical suggests that the Minnesota Vikings have better fans than they had any reason to expect this season. Yes, even in a season where our Vikings made under-performing and drama as commonplace as black nail polish on goths, people were still wearing their Vikings shirts in the middle of the week, were still putting up purple and gold mailboxes, and were still adorning their vehicles with Vikings decals and flags.

So, for all this Purple Pride in the face of adversity and general crappiness, I think the Vikings’ fans deserve some kind of acknowledgment. I would prefer my allotment of the aforementioned acknowledgment in the form of cash or tropical vacations, but I’ll take heartfelt thanks too. After a season like 2010, the Vikings faithful deserve at least that much.

*This piece is also posted at the Daily Norseman under my alter ego Skol Girl.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2011 in Football, Series, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Good, the Bad, and the Not So Good-looking:

It is always a challenge to get caught up after a vacation. When the vacation you’re catching up from isn’t yours, it’s also a surprise.

My sister swept into town, her husband and her baby in tow, and I wasn’t able to find the time to even skim the sports page until they left. Which was tough because plenty of interesting things happened in the wide world of Vikings football while I was distracted by the cuteness of my teething eight-month-old niece.

As far as I can tell, this is what I missed. Percy Harvin spent a night in the hospital for observation after collapsing on the practice field because of migraine complications—he was released the next day. The Vikings lost to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football. Sidney Rice went to Vail, Colorado for hip surgery. Javon Walker, who once elicited criticism from Brett Favre for contract antics back when they were teammates together in Green Bay, signed with the Vikings to help shore up the depleted receiving corps. The Vikings completed a rare player-for-player trade with the Miami Dolphins, exchanging corner back Benny Sapp for wide receiver Greg Camarillo. Former member of the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff, Pete Carroll came to town with the Seattle Seahawks to face the Vikings on Saturday night—the Vikings won, but their performance was a mixed bag.

Actually, I did manage to see both the 49ers game and the Seahawks game, but I’m kind of writing off the 49ers game because I was distracted. My niece was watching the game with me and Rookie was a cute, non-sleeping, handful in her Vikings onesie. So I’ll just speak to the game against the Seahawks which I watched without Rookie.

Saturday night reminded me of a Clint Eastwood movie, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Really, there was a little bit of everything.

I’m more of a bad news first kind of person, so that’s where I’ll start. The Vikings offensive line needs to gel, protect the quarterback, and give the running game a fighting chance. Certainly, they are affected by not having John Sullivan in at center and having a rookie on the line too, but in the meantime, the quarterbacks are suffering. There were some plays Saturday night where, I don’t know if there was a miscue or what, but Seahawks defenders barreled through the line untouched and flattened Brett Favre. To make matters worse, one of the times he was being flattened Favre fumbled the ball.

For his part, Favre was mostly what you would expect. He some showed signs of fatigue and rust, but it was liberally sprinkled with accurate missiles spread out to nine different targets. Perhaps the most shocking reception was Farve’s first pass over the middle to Percy Harvin. I didn’t even realize that Harvin was going to play because he hasn’t been able to participate much in practice. While Favre did throw two picks, one of them wasn’t his fault—Bernard Berrian couldn’t quite hang on to it and the Seahawks defense snagged it on the bobble.

But now, onto better things.

I’m just going to highlight a few things, but there were lots of good things peppered into an up-and-down game.

Greg Camarillo pulled in passes with his sure hands showing Vikings fans why the team traded Benny Sapp to get him from Miami. Camarillo may not have breakaway speed, which was a liability when the Seahawks defender got two yards ahead of him and intercepted Brett Favre’s pass, but Camarillo’s fantastic sticky fingers could still make him a favorite target for Brett Favre. Some of the local journalists have sneered a bit that he isn’t particularly explosive or dynamic, but I think with Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin (when available), and Bernard Berrian (when he’s on the same page as Favre) not every player on the offense needs to be exciting and dynamic—some of them can just get the job done.

Despite being treated a bit like a redheaded stepchild, Sage Rosenfels marched the Vikings downfield and distinguished himself as the only Vikings quarterback to pass for a touchdown during Saturday’s game. He connected with newcomer Javon Walker in the end zone. Walker was in thick coverage but fought to come up with the ball. With the latest talk being that Tavaris Jackson is going to be the second quarterback on the depth chart, I hope that other teams recognize Rosenfels abilities and give him a chance to do more than fondle a clipboard on the sidelines this season.

And on defense, young Chris Cook is making a strong bid to be a starter in the September 9 game at New Orleans. With his height and his speed Cook was a desirable pick, but the coaches have said how much they like his sheer drive to learn everything they have to teach. Buzz-worthy through training camp, Cook was in on several great stops Saturday night. He’s got confidence, ability, and drive—and Lito Sheppard and Asher Allen are going to have to work hard on Thursday night if they want to win the starting job away from him.

On special teams Darius Reynaud had a fantastic game. His kick return from around the Vikings 4-yardline up to the Seahawks’ 22-yardline was a thing of beauty. If he can keep making plays like that, you have to believe he has a future with the Vikings.

It is going to be interesting to see how many starters the coaches decide to play on Thursday. Will we get a repeat of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, or will we see a more cohesive team? Guess we won’t know until Thursday. Is anyone else getting twitching about September 9?

This piece is also posted at vikingsmix.com and http://www.dailynorseman.com under my alter ego Skol Girl. She’s all football, all the time.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 31, 2010 in Brett Favre, Family, Lifestyle

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Brett Favre Returns to Football Again, Er, Again-Again

Ah, here we are again. Once again, on the Tuesday before the Vikings second preseason game football just got a lot more interesting because Brett Favre unretired (yes, again) to play quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings (yes, again). There were months of speculation, there were rumors, there were dire predictions and there were lots, and lots of jokes—but here we are once again, with Brett Favre.

I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to think I could write about this with a template. All the important stuff would stay the same, I could just change the dates and some of the details. In fact, I strongly considered simply reposting the piece I wrote last year about Favre’s signing. However, on rereading it, I discovered that, even though the pertinent details about Brett Favre were more or less the same, my opinion about him had undergone at bit of a change.

Turns out, a year ago I wasn’t quite sold on Mr. Favre. In my defense, his year with the New York Jets was not the sort of thing that would ignite Super Bowl dreams. But his 2009 season with Minnesota Vikings made me a believer. I remember the moment with almost crystal clarity when I was watching the Vikings play and suddenly realized I was screaming, “Yeah, go Brett! Go Brett!!!” I stopped mid-scream I was so surprised. The real kicker (yes, the pun is intentional) was that it was still preseason. He endeared himself to me, a hardened cynic, just that fast. Good thing he doesn’t sell Amway.

So yes, this season I’ve already planted my skeptical Scandinavian butt firmly on the Favre bandwagon—I staked out my seat early.

But for as much as things seem the same, with Favre swinging into Minnesota just one day shy of the day he arrived last August, there are a lot of notable differences. Probably the biggest difference is that both Favre and his teammates have a better idea of what they are getting from one another. I honestly do not care how many millions of dollars the Wilfs throw at the guy, Brett Favre is worth every penny on several levels. Here are a few of them.

  • Good to great. Having Favre under center immediately elevates the Vikings offense from good to down right dangerous. The guy reads the blitz like nobody I’ve ever seen, adjusting on the fly, and audibling out of doomed plays—and that was before he was 40-years-old. Now, with 20 years of experience, there is nothing he hasn’t seen. That kind of knowledge is invaluable and enables the offense to take advantage of situations that might otherwise have cost them.
  • “Do or do not. There is no try.” Brett Favre is like Yoda**, he really is the Jedi master who brings out the best in his teammates. I can’t tell you how many times last year I read or heard about Favre sending Harvin or Rice a text telling them about some film they should watch because he thought it would help them. He operates like an extra coach helping to develop the young players on the team. When you consider the youth of most of his offensive weapons it’s apparent that that is the kind of investment that can benefit the Vikings for years to come. The gift that keeps on giving, if you will.
  • Cash money. Brett Favre means money. Period. People are excited about getting to see him play and they buy tickets which means no local media blackouts for the Minnesota faithful and it means that those attending the games are buying concessions, spending money in the merchandise tent, and patronizing local businesses before the game. Not only that, his jersey is still one of the top selling jerseys of all NFL merchandise—his name on gear is like a direct line of revenue. And, if he propels the Vikings to another winning season, it helps the Wilfs gain greater traction for new stadium discussion with the Minnesota legislature. This guy equals cash for a whole lot of people.
  • I want it all and I want it now. With the current Vikings roster you can’t swing a cat without hitting a Pro Bowler. The Vikings are thick with talent, but some of that talent is aging and thinking about retirement, like Pat Williams. We have heard the dread term “rebuilding year” so often that it is almost hard to believe we’re in a year where the team is built, but it is built—and it is built to win now. I include coaches because Leslie Frazier (probably) will be a head coach somewhere next year and some of the staff will likely go with him. With the Vikings current player and coaching roster Favre isn’t the star, he’s part of the mother-freaking constellation.

Well, it was several months in the making, but I have to say, I think I like Brett Favre’s 2010 arrival in Minnesota may lead to an even better season than last year. Don’t burst my bubble.

*Just in case you’re curious how suspicious I was a year ago https://chinspeaks.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/favre-fest-is-all-thanks-to-his-daughter/

**I have a deep and amazingly geeky affection for Star Wars (but only Episodes 4-6, the others suck) so I assure you that I’m not using this comparison lightly.

This piece is also posted at http://www.dailynorseman.com/ and http://vikingsmix.com/ under my alter ego Skol Girl. She’s very focused on Vikings football. Can you tell?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 19, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Minnesota Vikings Idol: Saturday Night’s Look at Deep Talent

How great is it to get to watch Minnesota Vikings football again, even if it is only preseason? I’ll confess, I didn’t always like preseason football. While I always welcomed the return of football, I used to see preseason football as the redheaded step-child of regular season football because the games didn’t “count” and the star players hung out on the sidelines wearing visors. However, I have seen the error of my ways and have new appreciation for preseason.

After avidly following the Vikings draft choices and practice squad for the past couple years, the preseason now has a certain American Idol quality. Even though I don’t get a vote on who stays on the team and who goes home, I do like that feeling that I was there at the start of their NFL career.

But, if I did have a vote about who makes the Vikings roster and who doesn’t, here are a few guys who got my attention last night in the Vikings 28-7 win over the St. Louis Rams.

Asher Allen. Not only does this guy have a rock star name, he also is showing that he means business at cornerback. Only 5’9”, Allen is hitting big, not unlike Antoine Winfield, and prevented a few deep plays with good coverage forcing a Rams fourth down.

Colt Anderson. Sometimes it isn’t so much about stunning ability as it is about tenacity. On special teams Anderson was flattened into the turf twice trying to stop a Rams return but he kept getting up, kept honing in on the play, and eventually was in on the stop.

Chris Cook. A lankier cornerback at 6’2”, Cook really got my attention on a special teams play where he slapped the ball out of the returner’s hands and Kenny Onatolu recovered it.

Garrett Mills. With so many of the Vikings offensive stars injured, guys farther down on the depth chart have gotten more reps. Mills showed off all that practice, pulling in four catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.

Jayme Mitchell. With the cloud of uncertainty that has followed Pat and Kevin Williams in their legal fight against a four-game suspension, the Vikings have quietly built up the depth on the defensive line. Mitchell sacked, hurried, and all-around terrorized the Rams first-round pick Sam Bradford.

Logan Payne. A former Minnesota player, Payne caught 7 passes for 52 yards and a touchdown. Even when he was getting mugged by the Rams secondary, he showed a scrappy persistence.

Joe Webb. His footwork was kind of a mess and there were a few times when he was running for his life from the Rams defense, but what a run he had. Webb rushed for 24 yards and connected with rookie Mickey Shuler for a touchdown. There is no doubt that Webb is raw, but the talent is there validating the decision to switch him from receiver to quarterback.

This post is also available at http://www.dailynorseman.com and at http://vikingsmix.com under my alter ego Skol Girl. Yeah, you should see me in my Helga horns…

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 16, 2010 in Football, Lifestyle

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: