July 31, 2015

@DrawPlayDave explains how he decides what to put in his webcomic

Filed under: Football,Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

A brief Twitter exchange between Dave Rappocchio (@DrawPlayDave) and Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL):

July 17, 2015

Minnesota comes in at #5 on the NFL pain ranking

Filed under: Football — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

This is, sadly, pretty much right:

The Minnesota Vikings are a franchise committed to family: They have pain to share for all generations. For decades, they’ve bonded the people of the Upper Midwest with their ability to lift you up, then throw you down like a Prince thunder jam from the banks of Lake Minnetonka. Remember when the Metrodome roof collapsed a few years back? That’s what being a Vikings fan is like. Everything looks safe … beautiful even. And then … whoooooooooooooooosh.

To understand the Vikings’ pain is to know their history. No team that we’ll study on the Pain Rankings has been as routinely competitive through the years. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, the Vikes have qualified for the postseason 25 times. Twenty-five! Only the Cowboys and Steelers (27 each) have advanced more often. Dallas and Pittsburgh have 11 championships to show for those admissions to the dance. The Vikings? Four Super Bowl losses and a near-lethal serving of concentrated heartbreak.

This is the franchise that gave us the Purple People Eaters, Fran Tarkenton, Cris Carter, early-period Randy Moss, late-period Brett Favre, and Adrian Peterson. They gave us both Denny Green and Mike Tice’s ear pencil! How have the Football Gods not returned the favor with a few Lombardis?

The Vikings were destined for NFL royalty, but never received the crown. If they went to the Football Gods accounting department and asked why — with their abundance of gifts — they’ve never won it all, they’d receive an apology and the acknowledgement of an “unfortunate oversight.” Restitution comes in the form of a one-drink voucher at the holiday party and admission as the No. 5 team on the Pain Rankings.

July 13, 2015

“Links to this Site are not permitted except with the written consent of TO2015™”

Filed under: Bureaucracy,Cancon,Media,Sports — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Toronto’s Pan Am Games organizers appear to have been living in a cave without an internet connection for the last 15 years:

The organisers of the Pan American Games in Toronto, which start this week, require that people seek formal permission to link to its website at [toronto2015 DOT org].

Under the website’s terms of use, amid piles of incomprehensible legalese seemingly designed to hide from the fact that social media exists, it is decreed that no one is allowed to use one of those hyperlink thingies to connect to the website unless they first get approval. It reads:

    Links to this Site are not permitted except with the written consent of TO2015™. If you wish to link to the Site, you must submit a written request to TO2015™ to do so. Requests for written consent can be sent to branduse@toronto2015.org. TO2015™ reserves the right to withhold its consent to link, such right to be exercised in its sole and unfettered discretion.

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that the $2bn sports event – effectively a mini-Olympics – also appears to have trademarked the term “TO2015.” Which makes about as much sense.

Incredibly, this is not a misreading of the terms, and it doesn’t appear to have been a mistake either. Instead, it’s about the increasingly insane approach that intellectual property lawyers are taking to sponsors – and non-sponsors – of sporting events.

Alongside such gems as forcing people to put tape over their own computers if a computer company is a sponsor, and stopping people for drinking anything that isn’t a sponsor drink (if there is a drinks sponsor), now it seems the Pan Am Games lawyers have decided they need to prevent the internet from entering the hallowed sponsor world.

Strictly speaking, anyone who links to the website or even anyone who uses the games’ own hashtag of [hashtagTO2015] is violating its terms, and could be sued. Although not a court in the land would actually enforce it.

Notice that, as I live in Canada, I’ve carefully obfuscated the URL and the hashtag so you don’t accidentally click on them and violate their intellectual property right claims or anything. I suspect this will be the only actual coverage of the games I’ll be posting, just to be on the safe side. Discussion of the financial side, or the disruption to normal life in Toronto caused by the games, of course, is still fair game.

July 9, 2015

The first female NFL referee

Filed under: Football — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Amy Trask hopes that Sarah Thomas gets booed. I’m pretty sure she’ll get her wish (and then some):

I have never met Sarah Thomas, but I appreciate the significance of her achievement. When Sarah Thomas takes the field as an official at the start of the 2015 season, she will be the first woman to do so (other than in a temporary, replacement capacity) in the National Football League. I congratulate her and I wish her the very best for continued success.

I also hope that Sarah Thomas is booed.

When Sarah Thomas throws a flag she shouldn’t have thrown — which she will, as all officials do — she should be booed. When Sarah Thomas fails to throw a flag she should have — which she will, as all officials do — she should be booed. Sarah Thomas should be booed as loudly and as resoundingly as her male colleagues are booed.

Gender equality means gender equality. And if gender equality is the expectation, all consequences that flow therefrom must be accepted, whether one likes them or not.

When Sarah Thomas takes the field, she should do so without regard to gender. If one wants to be considered without regard to gender, then one should not consider one’s gender. Since I do not know Sarah Thomas, I do not know whether our views on these issues are similar. My hunch, though, is that Sarah Thomas has comported herself without regard to gender throughout her career.

It makes no sense to undertake one’s responsibilities — on the field, in an owner’s meeting, in a boardroom, as a physician, as a judge, as an astronaut, as a farmer, in the military, or otherwise — with any thought given to one’s gender. How can a woman hope (or insist, or demand) that she be considered and treated without regard to gender, while giving thought to her gender?

Might Sarah Thomas encounter some gender-based resistance? Of course.

My experience suggests she will not encounter any such resistance from Pete Morelli, the head of her officiating crew. I never encountered anything I believed to be gender-based resistance during any of my interactions with Pete or with any other officials. I never sensed that Pete or any other officials treated me any differently than they treated my male counterparts. (Some of them did not like my shouting and swearing—but to the extent they objected to it, I do not believe they did so because I was a woman.)

July 4, 2015

Which NFL team is the most AMERICA?

It’s the bitter end of the off-season in the NFL: everyone is waiting for training camps to open and there’s no football news at all (except disciplinary announcements). To help fill these empty days, Dave Rappoccio ranks all 32 NFL teams by how AMERICA they are:

32. Bills
Buffalo is basically Canada


15. Vikings
Yes, they are Norsemen, but charging into villages, burning everything to the ground and ruining lives is totally American as hell.


5. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are very AMERICA. Bald Eagles? Hell yes, slap our big ass scary national bird on it. The face on the logo faces left! Totally different than every other logo, a special snowflake, just like we think we are! It’s angry, SO AMERICA. They are based in Philadelphia, which was literally our capital city for a while! The liberty bell is there! Why aren’t they higher? Because the Eagles ain’t won sh*t, and America wins sh*t.

4. The Patriots
Giant annoying bullies who talk stupid and are too proud of themselves, so much so that they make their own rules, man. So America.

3. The Cowboys
What? How are they not no. 1? Because no matter how gloriously American the cowboy is, The Cowboys are loyal to Texas, and Texas would be its own country if we let it.

2. The Steelers
Fat, angry, out of work industrial giants. Go America.

1. The Redskins
The Redskins? First? Why? Think about it. They are the actual first Americans. If you want to look at it a different way, the Skins represent all the shaming and systematic oppression of those people, the most American way to treat others! Plus how we totally ignore them and forget to change the name! They are based in Washington DC, the capital of the country, and is run by a greedy capitalistic megalomaniac with no regard for others but claims to support “traditions” which are actually offensive! Plus, we haven’t actually been all that great since the 90s and we have horrible gun related tragedies all the time (Sean Taylor). That is ‘MERCA as Sh*t.

June 3, 2015

Is the Adrian Peterson soap opera over? Please say it’s over.

Filed under: Football,Humour,Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

I’m on the record as saying that I thought it would be better for both the team and for Adrian Peterson if he played somewhere else this season. If the comments from the Vikings are accurate, then that was never going to happen as they received no calls from other teams leading up to the draft about trading Peterson. Instead, after some weird moments on Twitter recently, Adrian Peterson showed up in Minnesota today to begin taking part in the offseason training sessions and to earn his $250k bonus for attending the nominally voluntary sessions leading up to mini-camp later this month. I’m still in two minds about this development: Peterson is a generational talent at running back and will make this season much easier on Teddy Bridgewater … but I still think he’s not committed to the team and would prefer to be playing somewhere else.

After today’s OTA session, head coach Mike Zimmer addressed the media and then gave the podium over to Peterson. The Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover provides his unique “Rickspeak” translation of what was said and what was meant at today’s press conference:

Hi kids, how have you been? If you’re a Vikings fan and didn’t know that Adrian Peterson and Mike Zimmer had a press conference after Peterson’s return to the team earlier today, you are one of two things:

Monumentally ignorant, or monumentally blessed; I can’t decide what. I’m a blessed ignoramus, so I kind of have both bases covered here, so I’ll let you decide what camp you fall in.

Be that as it may, there was a lot of information said at today’s press conference…if you know the ways of Rickspeak, and the meaning behind the words.

‘But Ted’, you ask to yourself, ‘what is Rickspeak?’

Rickspeak isn’t so much a language unto itself as much as it is a code. A code that would make Navajo Code Talkers burst with pride, and one that current Vikings GM Rick Spielman has mastered to a Ninja level. It’s part verbal judo, part linguistic gymnastics, and part hypnosis*. It’s a language as old as Aramaic and Latin**, and one that takes years to decipher and master***.

*It’s none of those things

**It’s really not even a language, it’s just me making shit up

***It takes nowhere near that long

And today, my Viking faithful, we were given a Rickspeak Tour-De-Force, not by the Master, but by his two faithful minions–head coach Mike Zimmer and part time running back, part time Prodigal Son Adrian Peterson.

So, my friends, let us jump into the verbal vomit pit, and get behind what ZimTzu and Peterson not only said*…but what they actually meant.**

*We really will give you direct quotes from Zimmer and Peterson during the presser

**I can’t emphasize enough that my interpretations of those quotes are totally made up bullshit

Amidst a throng of print, online, and TV reporters that would rival Super Bowl media day, Peterson and Zimmer walked up to the podium, and Mike Zimmer spoke first. Because he’s the head coach, and Mike Zimmer does whatever the fuck he wants, whenever he wants to.

May 3, 2015

Minnesota Vikings 2015 draft – third day

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

I didn’t think “Trader Rick” would be happy with “only” six picks in the final day of the NFL 2015 draft…

TJ Clemmings draft

Round 4 (110) – T.J. Clemmings, Tackle, Pittsburgh. After three straight defensive picks, the Vikings finally address their offensive line concerns. At the Pioneer Press, Chris Tomasson has this to report on Clemmings:

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Clemmings had projected by some to go in the first round but he dropped because of some medical issues. It’s not a high-risk pick by the Vikings, who have six picks on the third day of the draft.

It was appropriate Vikings Hall of Fame offensive lineman Randall McDaniel played a role in the pick on NFL Network. At the site of the new stadium that will open next year, McDaniel introduced construction foreman Lesley Singer, who announced the pick.

Clemmings, who was a second-team All-American as a senior and played in the Senior Bowl, has been projected as an NFL right tackle. However, he has the ability to play other positions on the line.


May 2, 2015

Minnesota Vikings 2015 draft – second day

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:00

After the (total lack of) drama and suspense over the Vikings’ first round pick yesterday, I did the sensible thing and went out for the evening and paid minimal attention to day two of the draft. Since I don’t follow college football, I wasn’t likely to say whether any given player was a good or a bad pick and aside from checking to see what position the drafted player is projected to fill, I could follow with an occasional check of my Twitter feed.

With all the trades in previous drafts, the Vikings hadn’t actually drafted anyone in the second round for several years (not since 2011 when they drafted Kyle Rudolph), but this time they actually did use the 45th pick on UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks, a former team-mate (and college room-mate) of last year’s first rounder Anthony Barr. Here’s 1500ESPN‘s Andrew Krammer on the pick:

Eric Kendricks draft card

The Vikings had offers to trade down from 45th overall, but general manager Rick Spielman said they weren’t expecting Kendricks to be there.

“He has the athletic skill set to be a three-down backer,” Spielman said. “We were surprised he fell to where we were at.

“And he says he can help Anthony Barr line up,” Spielman joked. “They said they had the ‘AB’ role when he was [at UCLA].”

Kendricks (6’0″, 230lbs) finished his four-year career with the Bruins totaling 480 combined tackles, 10 sacks, five interceptions and three forced fumbles. He was the NCAA’s 2014 Butkus Award winner.

The Vikings feel he can play either weak-side linebacker or the middle linebacker role for coach Mike Zimmer’s defense. Last year’s starter in the middle, Jasper Brinkley, left in free agency and signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Kendricks joins a linebacker corps comprised of Barr, Chad Greenway, Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges, Casey Matthews and others.

They spent one of 60 combine interviews with Kendricks in February and had heard enough to prioritize him atop their draft board.

After that pick, Spielman’s famous “Trader Rick” persona broke out in the Vikings war room and some wheeling and dealing took place. They swapped picks with Kansas City to move back four spots in the third round (with the Chiefs giving up a sixth-round pick, #193, in compensation). Then they moved back again in a trade with the Lions, going from #80 to #88 in the third round, acquiring the Lions’ fifth-round pick at #143.

After trading down twice for the extra picks, the Vikings chose LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter. Here’s ESPN‘s Ben Goessling on the pick:

Danielle Hunter draft card

It had been clear all offseason that the Vikings were looking for help at defensive end, and for the second year in a row, they took one in the third round. Hunter is an impressive athlete — a 6-foot-6, 240-pound end with 4.57 40 speed and 34½-inch arms. He didn’t put up the kind of sack numbers you’d expect in college and will have to figure out how to beat offensive tackles in the NFL. But after the Vikings missed out on signing Michael Johnson, they added the kind of lanky defensive end Mike Zimmer likes.

[…] Hunter had just 1½ sacks in 2014 at LSU, and after the Vikings took Scott Crichton last year, they could be looking at another end who could take some time to develop. Hunter came out a year early, and while Pro Football Focus ranked him second among draft-eligible edge rushers in run-stop percentage, he will have to get better at pressuring the quarterback. In any case, the Vikings will have to get something out of Crichton or Hunter this season to lighten the load for Everson Griffen and Brian Robison, who each logged more than 900 snaps last year.

The final rounds of the 2015 draft take place later today, with the Vikings holding six picks (for now, pending further wheeling and dealing by Rick Spielman):

  • Round 4 (110)
  • Round 5 (137) – (from Buccaneers through Bills)
  • Round 5 (143) – (from Lions)
  • Round 6 (193) – (from Chiefs)
  • Round 7 (228)
  • Round 7 (232) – (from 49ers through Dolphins)

May 1, 2015

Minnesota Vikings 2015 draft – first round

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:00

Well, few saw this coming … that Minnesota would actually use the #11 pick rather than trading down. Pretty much everyone read “Trader” Rick Spielman’s last pre-draft press conference as a clear attempt to get any kind of trade offer for the #11 slot, but perhaps no other team was all that interested in moving up.

With their original pick, the Vikings selected Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes. This is so boring: 90% of the mock drafts had this as the Vikings’ selection. Mr. Spielman, you’ve let us all down … where’s the drama? Where’s the suspense? Where’s the Earth-shattering Kaboom? How dare you do what everyone thought you’d do?

Trae Waynes-cb-Michigan State

Initially (never having watched any of his college games), I was enthusiastic about Waynes, but as the pre-draft process wore on, I started to think he wasn’t the best scheme fit (and Arif Hasan’s analysis added to the niggling doubts). When Rick Spielman came out to talk to the media about the team’s pick, he said there had been some offers to trade, but that they didn’t feel the trade value was worth it, as they had Waynes high on their board. Unless this is smoke-blowing, I tend to believe that coach Zimmer feels that Trae Waynes is the best choice for the Vikings’ secondary.

Here’s Arif’s immediate reaction to the pick at Bleacher Report:

Known for only giving up two touchdowns in the past two years, Waynes’ ability to protect against vertical threats is unparalleled in college. He should provide the Vikings with some protection against the deadly passing attacks of the NFC North, which features deep threats and quarterbacks who like to exploit them.

With Kevin White (Miami) in the division, it increases the importance of a player who can keep up with his speed and provide some protection over the top.

There are a number of concerns about Waynes going in, some of which match the issues that Xavier Rhodes had coming out of the draft, including a predilection for grabby play and issues with short-area quickness.

Known for his high character, Waynes puts in time in the film room and can read receivers well.

On the flip side of that is a limited ability to read offensive concepts, and he struggles with route combinations. For the most part, the quarters defense at Michigan State made it less important to do so, although that unique defense also raises questions about his capacity to cover interior routes.

April 29, 2015

I’d be delighted if this mock draft turns out to be close to reality

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Ryan Boser guest-posts a mock draft at Vikings Territory that would just bowl me over on draft weekend. It’s got a little bit of everything, and it’s based on the demonstrated draft tendencies of “Trader” Rick Spielman. It includes a higher-than-expected result from trading Adrian Peterson, along with movement up and down to accumulate more picks and sneak back into the bottom of the first round for that coveted fifth-year option:

The Vikings enter the draft with seven selections:


This is not enough. We know Rick wants nine or 10 picks. He’s traded back one spot with Cleveland in two of his last three drafts, and they’re ripe for the picking again at No. 12. However, he’ll need to slide back a bit further to acquire requisite ammunition, and for a team with numerous needs, it’s a flatter tier—the value of pick 11 isn’t much different from the value of pick 16.

TRADE: Minnesota sends 1(11) to Houston for 1(16), 3(82) and 4(116)


TRADE: Minnesota sends Adrian Peterson to Arizona for 1(24)

I’ve long been of the belief that bridges have been burned, and this whole process has been another “we have no intent of trading Percy Harvin” dog and pony show. Thankfully, Rick is a master of creating trade markets out of thin air.

I don’t know if it’ll be Arizona, Dallas, or one of the longer shots. What I do know is that Rick’s still stacking his chips from the Harvin trade, while simultaneously playing the Peterson suitors against each other. I think he ultimately gets his R1 pick (maybe more?), and another standing ovation.


Hey, let’s make a pick!

1(16) Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia; 6’1”, 222

We know that Spielman is fearlessly aggressive with offensive weapons early in the draft. This dates back to his very first selection as VP of Player Personnel, when he took an “injury-prone” Adrian Peterson, despite urgent defensive needs and Chester Taylor coming off a 1,500-YFS season in Year 1 of a 4-year contract.


1(24) Marcus Peters, CB, Washington; 6’0”, 197

We know Spielman really values DBs, and he’ll get no argument from HC Mike Zimmer. Peters, who’s met privately with the Vikings, is widely believed to be the best cover corner in the draft. While he comes with some Harvin-esque character/authority issues, Zimmer has made lemonade out of worse (Pacman Jones and Vontaze Burfict, to name two). The team has also shown Pro Day interest in fellow CBs Byron Jones and Kevin Johnson. Depending on availability, one of the three would be the pick here, and would make a dreamy tandem with budding superstar Xavier Rhodes.

TRADE: Minnesota sends 2(45) and 3(76) to Indianapolis for 1(29) and 5(165)

You knew better than to go to sleep. Rick loves his fifth-year options, as he’s proven by trading back into the end of R1 in three straight drafts. He’s made seven R1 picks in the last three years (2, 3, 2), with only one coming from an original Vikings draft slot, so we’re right on trend here.

1(29) Eric Kendricks, LB, UCLA; 6’0”, 232

Kendricks is in play for the Packers at 30, so 29 is probably the necessary destination. Although the 2014 Butkus Award winner is a bit undersized, he’s extremely intelligent, instinctive and aggressive. Whether he remains inside or moves to WILL, Kendricks quenches the team’s most desperate thirst, and allows Zimmer full freedom to deploy his bazooka (Anthony Barr) however he pleases.


Your 2015 Minnesota Vikings Draft Class:

1(16)* HOU – Todd Gurley, RB
1(24)* ARI – Marcus Peters, CB
1(29)* IND – Eric Kendricks, LB
3(82)* HOU – Tre McBride, WR
4(110) – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, DB
4(116)* HOU – Za’Darius Smith, DE
5(137) – Mitch Morse, G
5(165)* IND – Chaz Green, T
7(228) – Bryce Hager, LB
7(232) – Trevor Pardula, P

April 27, 2015

“If Peterson isn’t traded by Saturday morning, he’ll stay a Viking in 2015″

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:16

Charles Robinson has seemed to be the one media guy with an inside lead to what is really happening between Adrian Peterson and the Vikings leadership. Here’s his column laying out the possible trade situation and why he thinks Peterson is still unhappy with his contract:

Rarely has a veteran player dominated an NFL draft run-up the way Adrian Peterson has. While this is the portion of the offseason typically overrun with pro days, propaganda and draft subterfuge, Peterson has remained the veteran question mark curling around the month of April.

Who is in the running for a trade? Are the Minnesota Vikings listening to anyone? What’s the price for Peterson? How many Valentine’s Day cards did Jerry Jones send to his supposed favorite running back?

It’s the story that has driven some NFL front offices nuts (we’re looking at you, Cowboys) and made some head coaches uneasy about sharing opinions (hey there, Bruce Arians).


Money solves a lot of NFL disputes. It heals a lot of wounds. It rekindles a lot of love. There is a basic, bottom-line aspect of Peterson’s career right now.

1. He’s 30 years old.
2. He likely has a prime shelf life of two or three seasons remaining.
3. He has a team that wants to pay him $13 million to play in 2015.
4. With his current contract, he assumes all the risk of losing money in 2016 and 2017.

When a running back has a situation like that, here is what goes through his head: If he reports for what is essentially a one-year, $13 million season in 2015 and gets hurt, his value beyond this season could be obliterated. The Vikings know this. And deep beneath all the jockeying about why Peterson isn’t happy, that reality is a raging river. If Peterson reports to the Vikings, the moment he returns, he gets a big 2015 payday but no protection beyond that. In the winter of an NFL career, that is unsettling.


If Peterson isn’t traded by Saturday morning, he’ll stay a Viking in 2015

Because draft picks would be in play in any trade – and because the Vikings are looking for high compensation – this has got to happen before the end of the second round. Picks lower than that are not going to get this done. So if Peterson is still on the roster when the second round concludes on Friday night, he’ll be on the roster when training camp begins, too.

April 26, 2015

Vikings draft needs for 2015

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:06

It’s been a very long time since the Vikings have entered the NFL draft where a quarterback was not one of their top needs. Except for that one season of Brett Favre’s greatest hits, the team has been looking for their franchise quarterback since Daunte Culpepper went down with a serious knee injury in 2005. This year, finally, the Vikings are not in the market for a starting quarterback in the draft (let’s all just pretend that the Christian Ponder era never happened). Teddy Bridgewater, drafted with the last pick in the first round of 2014, has established himself as the unquestioned starter and we hope he’ll continue to improve his game the way he did throughout his rookie season.

The team still has some deficiencies that can be filled in the draft, including cornerback, safety, middle and strong-side linebacker, wide receiver, and offensive guard. The mock draft folks have had a great time trying to read the tea leaves to figure out who the Vikings will draft, and I guess it’s fine for them to speculate wildly. (It keeps them off the streets.)

As I say around this time every year, I don’t follow college football, so there’s little or no point in me trying to predict the individual players who will end up wearing purple and gold this year. Instead, I can look at the team’s needs at various positions and try to guess how the team leadership may play their hand during the draft (you can consider this my re-thinking of my March 10 post on the same topic). Where I mention actual player names, it’s not because I’m convinced they’re the answer at that position, but that the mock draft folks have that player pencilled-in frequently enough that it does seem a strong possibility.

April 12, 2015

Arif Hasan breaks down the Vikings’ offseason moves

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Many fans have been feeling frustrated with the Minnesota Vikings for their apparent lack of interest through the free agency period of the NFL’s year. The team indicated interest — but not sufficiently strong interest — in a few big name free agents, but didn’t end up signing any of them. For fans hoping for interesting story lines (and headlines), there was much disappointment. Adding to that, of course, is the morale-draining saga of Adrian Peterson’s ongoing disciplinary issues with the league’s head office and his clearly communicated desire to leave Minnesota as soon as possible.

With all that in the background, Arif Hasan does his best to pull out the non-headline-getting but important roster moves the team has made since the start of the new league year and how that may affect their approach to the draft at the end of the month:

The Vikings re-signed a number of players, none of whom are expected to start, but some of whom can be critical depth going forward.

The most important of those re-signings was a former Arena Football League player entering age 31: Tom Johnson. A shockingly effective defensive tackle in rotation, it would have been easy to expect Johnson not only to be cut in training camp, but not to be picked up by another team.

Instead, he had the fifth-most sacks per snap of any defensive tackle with at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps, per Pro Football Focus. That’s more than Gerald McCoy and Aaron Donald.


In addition, the Vikings re-signed potential starting guard Joe Berger and last year’s starting running back, Matt Asiata. Cullen Loeffler, the long snapper, was also signed to a contract for one year.

Those re-signings don’t reveal much about the Vikings’ plan for next year, but letting linebacker Jasper Brinkley walk does. The Vikings did not contact Brinkley much throughout the free agency process, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, until the last minute to offer a one-year deal. He instead took a two-year deal in Dallas.

The Vikings are clearly willing to move on from him at inside linebacker, and such movement could mean there’s already a plan in mind for one of the two linebacker positions that seem to be unsettled. The Vikings’ willingness to go after Brinkley for a small amount may mean that plan could use depth, but it does not require the player who played there last year.

The Berger re-signing, along with re-signing restricted free agent Mike Harris (who played both guard and tackle for the Vikings last year as injuries piled up) may provide clues into the guard battle, which we’ll discuss a bit more below.

Arif goes on to discuss the (few) free-agent signings, including the Polish man-mountain Babatunde Aiyegbusi, trades (Matt Cassel to Buffalo, Mike Wallace from Miami), and cuts (headlined by Greg Jennings). After all that, he tries to gaze into the cloudy crystal ball to determine what the Vikings are likely to do in the draft:

There is no real “known” need, but the assumption that the Vikings are interested in defensive backs and linebackers seems fairly widely held by national media. It’s in part motivated by the extensive contact the Vikings have had with both sets of position groups in a list compiled by the Star Tribune.

So far, it seems like the Vikings’ plan is to draft positions they think are in the worst shape but let players fight it out for those positions of need and prove that they are talent, not potential. Which is to say, let the young roster develop and then weed out the ones who don’t develop quickly enough by next year.

With the Vikings’ broad pattern of selecting late-round linemen, don’t expect a guard early in the draft. One could imagine with Greenway being restructured instead of cut that outside linebacker may not be a selection early on. But that could just be the cost of mentorship—or a sign of a lack of confidence in their outside options behind Greenway (which seems unlikely).

Minnesota has a bad left tackle in Matt Kalil, but there’s real reason to think he’s not as bad as he has been in the last two years. His rookie year was good, and he could tap into the talent there, and the last five games of this last season were better than the previous 27.

In that case, the popular picks for offensive linemen like Brandon Scherff, La’el Collins or Andrus Peat may not play out. Besides, cutting a guard on the off chance the lineman you like is there seems more reckless than general manager Rick Spielman has shown to be.

The best option may be trading down in the draft to grab an inside linebacker and cornerback with the early picks or potentially a safety. Otherwise, expect a year with lots of young players struggling, while a few shine.

April 10, 2015

“Scotland in the 21st century is a hotbed of the new authoritarianism”

Filed under: Britain,Government,Religion,Soccer — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Brendan O’Neill on the odd disconnect between American views of Scotland (roughly summed up by kilts, whisky, and Braveheart) and the reality:

… far from being a land of freedom-yearning Bravehearts, Scotland in the 21st century is a hotbed of the new authoritarianism. It’s the most nannying of Europe’s nanny states. It’s a country that imprisons people for singing songs, instructs people to stop smoking in their own homes, and which dreams of making salad-eating compulsory. Seriously. Scotland the Brave has become Scotland the Brave New World.

If you had to guess which country in the world recently sent a young man to jail for the crime of singing an offensive song, I’m guessing most of you would plumb for Putin’s Russia or maybe Saudi Arabia. Nope, it’s Scotland.

Last month, a 24-year-old fan of Rangers, the largely Protestant soccer team, was banged up for four months for singing “The Billy Boys,” an old anti-Catholic ditty that Rangers fans have been singing for years, mainly to annoy fans of Celtic, the largely Catholic soccer team. He was belting it out as he walked along a street to a game. He was arrested, found guilty of songcrimes—something even Orwell failed to foresee—and sent down.

It’s all thanks to the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, which, yes, is as scary as it sounds. Introduced in 2012 by the Scottish National Party, the largest party in Scotland the Brave New World and author of most of its new nanny-state laws, the Act sums up everything that is rotten in the head of this sceptred isle. Taking a wild, wide-ranging scattergun approach, it outlaws at soccer matches “behaviour of any kind,” including, “in particular, things said or otherwise communicated,” that is “motivated (wholly or partly) by hatred” or which is “threatening” or which a “reasonable person would be likely to consider offensive.”

Got that? At soccer games in Scotland it is now illegal to do or say anything — and “in particular” to say it — that is hateful or threatening or just offensive. Now, I don’t know how many readers have been to a soccer game in Britain, but offensiveness, riling the opposing side, is the gushing lifeblood of the game. Especially in Scotland. Banning at soccer matches hateful or offensive comments, chants, songs, banners, or badges — all are covered by the Offensive Behaviour Act — is like banning cheerleaders from American football. Sure, our cheerleaders are gruffer, drunker, fatter, and more foul-mouthed than yours, but they play a similarly key role in getting the crowds going.

The Offensive Behaviour Act has led to Celtic fans being arrested in dawn raids for the crime of singing pro-I.R.A. songs — which they do to irritate Rangers fans — and Rangers fans being hauled to court for chanting less-than-pleasant things about Catholics.

Even blessing yourself at a soccer game in Scotland could lead to arrest. Catholic fans have been warned that if they “bless themselves aggressively” at games, it could be “construed as something that is offensive,” presumably to non-Catholic fans, and the police might pick them up. You don’t have to look to some Middle Eastern tinpot tyranny if you want to see the state punishing public expressions of Christian faith — it’s happening in Scotland.

March 27, 2015

Adrian Peterson’s public image

Filed under: Football,Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:00

The fans still hold Adrian Peterson in high regard … but not as high as they did before September, 2014. His agent’s antics along with a steady drip of news through a few key media folks and rumours possibly originating with his family and friends are slowly corroding that public support. I think he’s probably still got more supporters than detractors among the Vikings fanbase, but it looks like he’s losing (or has already lost) the benefit of the doubt from the local Minneapolis-St. Paul media. For example, here’s Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan’s latest:


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