Quotulatiousness

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.

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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:

1(11)
2(45)
3(76)
4(110)
5(137)
7(228)
7(232)

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.
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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.

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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March 18, 2015

The Vikings once wore two different uniforms in the same game

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

H/T to @VikeFans for the link.

March 10, 2015

Vikings draft/free agency priorities

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

The NFL’s free agency period begins later today, after the three-day warmup of what many call the “legal tampering period”, where teams can contact and negotiate with pending free agents, but only contracts for players returning to their current teams can be finalized. Minnesota, for example, re-signed long snapper Cullen Loeffler and backup defensive tackle Tom Johnson over the last few days.

The Vikings currently hold the #11 pick in the first round of the NFL draft later this spring, but Vikings general manager “Trader Rick” Spielman has been a very active participant in swapping draft picks in each of the last three drafts, so I think it’s highly likely that unless the team has identified an overriding requirement for a particular player they’ll be looking to trade back at least a few spots in the first round to gain additional later round picks. Spielman has said on more than one occasion that he likes to have 9-10 picks every draft, and has managed to obtain multiple first round picks in each of the last three drafts (Kalil and Smith in 2012, Floyd, Rhodes, and Patterson in 2013, and Barr and Bridgewater in 2014). You can only get extra picks through shrewd deal-making, and Spielman has proven that he’s quite shrewd.

Between free agency and the draft, the Vikings need to address certain positional weaknesses and/or add depth to cope with injuries or other events preventing players from taking the field (*cough* Adrian Peterson *cough*). Here are the areas I think the team will concentrate on once the madness of full free agency begins.

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March 7, 2015

An update on the Adrian Peterson saga

Filed under: Football,Law,Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

If you haven’t been following along at home (and I don’t blame you if you haven’t), Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson only played in one game last season, due to media and fan outcry after he was charged over a beating he performed on one of his children. When I first heard about it, I thought it was a tempest in a teapot … that the mother of one of Peterson’s several children was trying to get her 15 minutes of media fame. Once I saw the photographs of the child’s injuries (taken a few days after the beating), I completely changed my mind. The child’s mother was totally right to raise this issue and Peterson did need to go to court over the incident.

Peterson is without a doubt the best running back of his generation — one of the greatest talents of all time — yet he still has his own issues that prevent him from achieving what his athletic talents would otherwise allow. And he’s his own worst enemy, because he doesn’t seem to get it that he himself is the one at fault for last year’s disappointments and frustrations (it wasn’t Roger Goodell holding the switch, and it wasn’t the team encouraging him to do it … this is all on Adrian). 1500ESPN‘s Judd Zulgad tries to put it in understandable terms:

Let me be clear about one thing: Peterson’ distrust, or anger, at the Vikings is misguided, juvenile and irrational. It’s also not surprising. Having covered Peterson on a daily basis for four seasons, I can tell you that for a superstar player he never seemed to have a huge ego.

But what also became clear about Peterson, and this took time to realize, was that his “get it” factor was incredibly low. That has shown itself in various ways.

In November 2009, Peterson was clocked driving 109 miles per hour in a 55-mile-per-hour zone. In March 2011, minutes before NFL owners locked out players, Peterson gave an interview to Yahoo! Sports in which he compared the players’ place in the game to “modern-day slavery.” In October, Peterson admitted to smoking “a little weed” while out on a $15,000 bond after being indicted on a felony child abuse charge.

Take these incidents on a case-by-case basis and maybe they can be rationalized. But put them together and you’re dealing with a guy who doesn’t get it.

The child abuse charge was why Peterson ended up playing in only one game this past season and why he ended up being transferred from the commissioner’s exempt list to the suspended list and is now back on the exempt list after a court found in his favor last week and gave the case back to the NFL.

Peterson ended up pleading no contest to misdemeanor reckless injury on Nov. 4 in Texas. The Vikings’ only misstep when it comes to how they handled the Peterson situation was the fact that after having him sit out in Week 2, they briefly decided that he could continue playing before outrage from fans and sponsors forced the team and the league to come up with a way to make him go away.

In recent interviews, Peterson has brought up his concerns about returning to the Vikings, as if they are at fault for his lost season. Perhaps Peterson’s feeling is that if the charges against him hadn’t occurred in the days after footage of Ray Rice striking his fiancée in an elevator surfaced that commissioner Roger Goodell’s punishment would have been different.

He’s probably right.

But let’s not forget that Peterson is the one who struck his 4-year-old son with a “switch”. If Peterson is angry at anyone for having to sit out, his frustration should be directed at himself. Second on that list should be Goodell.

The Vikings did nothing wrong when it came to Peterson not playing and, if anything, they should be angry at him. Spielman, Zimmer and everyone else knows this.

They also know that if they want to get anything in return for Peterson they have to act like they want him back. Thus, the trip to Houston became a necessity, even if it was a charade.

I was horrified at the punishment Peterson inflicted on his child. I thought the decision to de-activate him while his court case was in process was sensible and right. Then, of course, I was mortified when the Vikings tried to re-activate him so quickly, and I lost some confidence that the Vikings’ management could so mis-read the situation. As things progressed, I was unhappy with the NFL in turn for their hypocritical and inconsistent treatment of Peterson, as the league tried to reverse the flow of time itself in order to use Peterson to expiate their own disciplinary sins and omissions.

I can’t blame the NFL Players Association for pushing this, as the NFL should not have the power to retroactively define the terms and conditions under which NFL players work. Punishing Peterson for transgressions (however repulsive) that occurred before those particular rules were put in place is far from justice. Even more, the way the league has handled the situation makes little sense, as the punishment seems to be inflicted on the team Peterson plays for even more than on the player himself (after all, Peterson still collected a multi-million dollar salary while he was in NFL limbo). In what sense should the other 52 players on the Vikings’ roster have to put up with additional uncertainty (beyond the fact that their top player is kept out of the game).

Initially, I hoped that Peterson would recognize that he’d transgressed the boundaries that most North Americans accept on what is reasonable discipline for a four-year-old, admit that he was wrong, and work to regain the trust of society (in general) and the Minnesota fans (in specific). Instead, it appears that Peterson still can’t accept that what he did was wrong and he clearly resents the team management for not backing him 110% during his time away from the team. This is an amazing level of delusion and inability to empathize with others … the Vikings may not have been there for every twist and turn of his legal tribulations, but if that was what he expected, it only emphasizes that he’s not really aware of how badly he disappointed his employers, his fans, and the general public by his actions.

In light of this, perhaps it’s better for all concerned if Adrian Peterson continues his career somewhere other than in Minnesota. I hear Indianapolis, Dallas, and Arizona are lovely places to play football. Maybe one or the other will be his next employer/fanbase. That might be best for everyone.

Update, 9 March: This article might make some heads explode…

February 17, 2015

The illusionary arrival of racial equality in the NFL

Filed under: Football,History,Liberty,USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The Minnesota Vikings were a racially integrated team from their very first game … yet not quite fully integrated, as this post on the team’s official web site explains:

Six African Americans out of 42 total players appear in the first team photo in franchise history: Jim Marshall, Jamie Caleb, Mel Triplett, A.D. Williams, Raymond Hayes and John Turpin.

A color barrier that lasted 13 years in professional football had been broken in 1946 by Bill Willis and Marion Motley of the Cleveland Browns (as a member of the All-America Football Conference) and Kenny Washington and Woody Strode (both teammates at UCLA with Jackie Robinson) of the NFL’s L.A. Rams.

The expansion Vikings were able to acquire veterans from other teams. Marshall, Caleb and Williams came from the Browns (which joined the NFL in 1950), Triplett came from the New York Giants, and Hayes was the first African American player drafted out of Central Oklahoma by Minnesota in the 13th round with the 169th overall pick.

Players of that era were taking the field as one team, but weren’t allowed to have roommates of a different race. On road games, particularly to the “Jim Crow” South but also places like Miami and Los Angeles, reservations were booked at separate hotels, and black teammates often were refused service at restaurants.

“There was a definite separation there, and it was a separation that was enforced by the teams,” said Marshall before recalling a trip while with Cleveland to a posh Miami Beach hotel.

“We pulled up to the Fontainebleau and white players were let out at the Fontainebleau and black players were sent to an inner-city hotel owned by a black gentleman that of course was a very good host for us,” Marshall said. “We could play on the field together, but we couldn’t room together, and now we couldn’t stay in a hotel together.”

February 5, 2015

How not to do media relations, NFL style

Filed under: Business,Football,Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Unusually, in one of his last Tuesday Morning Quarterback columns of the season, Gregg Easterbrook actually talked more about football than usual:

In the run up to the Super Bowl, Marshawn Lynch received a huge amount of attention for insisting he just wanted to be left alone. If he’d actually just wanted to be left alone, he would have gone to the podium, offered a few sports platitudes — “the Patriots are a fine, fine football team” — and everyone would have left him alone. By making a great show of appearing in very dark glasses and ignoring questions, Lynch drew attention to himself. Which, one presumes, was what he wanted all along.

Many pro athletes don’t like having to face the media; Bill Belichick* doesn’t like to, Roger Goodell doesn’t like to. Their contracts require them to, because professional sports fundamentally are a form of entertainment, and fans find the media conferences entertaining. (Lord knows why.) Many players came from high school and college environments where the local sports media consisted mainly of homers: scandals were downplayed, the toughest question was, “How do you explain your brilliant success?” At the NFL level, players can be surprised to encounter sharp questions and hostile tones.

Not, certainly, because NFL games are more important than prep or college contests — NFL games are strictly entertainment, the outcomes are irrelevant to society. It’s just that at the NFL level, the sports reporters are at the top of their profession, too. They ask tough questions. Most players and coaches learn it’s the path of least resistance to play along, even when the questions veer into the absurd. Smart players and coaches discover that beginning a media conference by bantering with reporters about their careers rapidly turns them from attack dogs to lap dogs.

Then there are the players who would radiate hostility toward the sports media, such as Lynch. In 2009, he was suspended by the league for three games. Lynch seemed to expect sports reporters would act like team publicists and change the subject; instead he got abrasive questions. Since then, including last week at Super Bowl media events, he has accused the sports media of printing lies about him: “You all can go make up whatever you’re going to make up.” I’d venture a guess Lynch actually does not know what the sports media is saying about him because he doesn’t read the newspaper. He may prefer to believe himself the victim of some vast sports-media conspiracy.

The odd thing is that Lynch has a sense of humor, as he displayed in his Skittles parody. If he’d only show that humor at a media conference, the ice would melt. Instead he says things like this from last week, when he was supposed to take questions: “I come to you all’s event, you shove cameras and microphones down my throat. I ain’t got nothing for you all.” Reporters and spectators don’t get angry at Lynch when he expects them to attend games: for him to get angry when he’s expected to fulfill a contractual obligation involving cameras and microphones shows bad manners. At media conferences Lynch acts like a spoiled brat, which reflects poorly on him and his team.

When Thurman Thomas couldn’t find his helmet at a Super Bowl, then the Bills lost, for a while he was angry at the media because reporters kept bringing this up. One day he walked into a media conference with a basket of miniature helmets that he handed out to reporters, and told a couple jokes about himself. For the rest of his career, Thomas had the sports media eating out of his hand: When it was time to cast Hall of Fame votes, Thomas got a landslide of votes. Somebody in the Seahawks’ organization should tell this story to Lynch.

February 2, 2015

Super Bowl commercials Canadians didn’t get to see

Filed under: Football,Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

I may have missed a few, as I didn’t get to start watching the game until near the end of the first quarter, but of the ones that Forbes included in their round-up, I recognize only the Doritos, Coca-Cola (ugh!) and #LikeAGirl ads. We certainly got more than our fair share of Ford F-150, Nissan, and The Keg ads, however. I’d show more, but a surprising number of the ads now show warnings similar to this

Superbowl ads we can't watch

I’m sure they’ll eventually clear the border, but part of the point of the advertisers paying the big bucks for the Super Bowl timeslot is the immediacy.

February 1, 2015

Former Viking Mick Tingelhoff elected to the Hall of Fame

Filed under: Football — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 14:09

Mick Tingelhoff was a major contributor to the Minnesota Vikings during his long career, and was this year’s senior inductee:

Former Vikings C Mick Tingelhoff has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame by the Hall’s Board of Electors, becoming the 13th player in Vikings history to earn this prestigious distinction. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Canton, Ohio on August 8, 2015 along with Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Bill Polian, Junior Seau, Will Shields and Ron Wolf.

Tingelhoff was this year’s Senior Committee nominee to go in front of the Board of Electors, having been removed from the game for more than 25 years while still having Hall of Fame credentials.

Tingelhoff joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 1962 and started all 240 regular season games and 19 playoff games during his 17-year NFL career, having never missed a start with the club. From 1962-1978, Tingelhoff played a crucial role in helping the Vikings to 10 divisional titles and four Super Bowl appearances.

Serving as a key cog on the Vikings offensive line for nearly two decades, Tingelhoff earned All-Pro honors seven consecutive seasons (1964-1970) and was a Pro Bowl selection six consecutive years (1964-1969). In addition to his duties on offense, Tingelhoff served as the team’s long snapper on special teams.

Tingelhoff snapped to Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkenton and blocked for four runnings backs that earned Pro Bowl honors – Tommy Mason (1962, ’63, ’64), Bill Brown (1964, ’65, ’67, ’68), Dave Osborn (1970) and Chuck Foreman (1973, ’74, ’75, ’76, ’77).

He becomes the third Viking in the past four years (Cris Carter, 2013; Chris Doleman, 2012) to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and seventh in the past 10 years (Carter, 2013; Doleman, 2012; John Randle, 2010; Randall McDaniel, 2009; Gary Zimmerman 2008; Carl Eller, 2004; Ron Yary, 2001).

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