Quotulatiousness

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).

January 31, 2015

Teddy Bridgewater wins the Pepsi Rookie of the Year Award

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:58

In somewhat of an upset victory, the Vikings’ rookie quarterback has won the (popularity contest) rookie of the year award. While I voted for him, I expected that the all-highlight-reel catches of Odell Beckham Jr. would be the big factor in voting. It’s true that the last five games of the season were very good outings for Bridgewater, putting up a lot of team records (many of them pretty trivial, honestly), I didn’t expect him to gain that much fan support outside the Vikings fanbase. The Star Tribune‘s Mark Craig reports:

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said a trip to this year’s Super Bowl has him excited about the possibilities of a future that he believes will include the Vikings’ first Super Bowl since Jan. 9, 1977, 15 years before Bridgewater was born.

“I can envision it,” Bridgewater said as he was making stops along Radio Row at the site of Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX. “That’s the plan. This right here is what you play for. Not 7-9. No one is satisfied with a 7-9 season. The ultimate goal is to be on this stage and be here.”

Bridgewater was in town mainly because he was one of five finalists for the Pepsi Rookie of the Year Award. The fans who did the voting made him a winner, Pepsi announced Friday night, over Giants receiver Odell Beckham, Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans, Bengals running back Jeremy Hill and Bills receiver Sammy Watkins.

Bridgewater is also a candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, which is handed out Saturday night here at the league’s awards show.

Bridgewater said being invited to the Super Bowl for a rookie of the year award was a “huge honor” when he considers how he fell from the projected No. 1 overall draft pick to No. 32 a year ago.

“When you look back to last year at this time there was all the scrutiny that I was under,” he said. “It also speaks volumes about the support I have from the fans because they make all of this happen.”

Update: Teddy didn’t win the Associated Press’ Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, which went to Odell Beckham Jr. instead.

1970 time capsule – Super Bowl IV

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


NFL 1970 Super Bowl IV – Minnesota Vikings vs… by wayne-johnson

January 23, 2015

“NFL 2015″ — A Bad Lip Reading of The NFL

Filed under: Football,Humour — Tags: — Nicholas @ 06:57

Published on 22 Jan 2015

“…and then you invented dirt lumps.” More of what COULD have been said in the NFL.

January 22, 2015

Rickspeak, end of season edition

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

The Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover goes into another deep trance to help explain to the masses (that’s us) just what the heck Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was really saying in his end-of-season talk with the local Minneapolis/St. Paul sports media:

Spielman met with the local Vikings beat writers on Wednesday, and covered a wide range of topics, from Adrian Peterson, to everything else. So, what did he say?

Well, you know it’s not what he said … it’s what he meant. And how do we know what he really meant?*

It’s simple.** You just need to know how to read between the lines and interpret accordingly.***

*We have no idea what he really meant

**It’s not simple, because I’m making everything up. And making this up is hard, man. So freaking hard.

***Again, there’s no reading between the lines. If I could read minds, dude, I’d use that power for evil and rule the world. Let’s all be thankful I’m just an idiot with a keyboard instead.

So, thanks to the local beat guys, we bring you Rickspeak, the post season edition. What Rick was actually quoted as saying will be first, and then our ridiculously satiric and completely made up interpretation* will follow.

*Or is it completely made up? (Yes. Yes it is.)

January 15, 2015

Reasons to hate every surviving team in the playoffs

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 07:31

At Football Savages, “Draw Play” Dave Rappoccio explains why it’s okay to hate all of the NFL teams left in the hunt for this year’s Lombardi trophy:

So only 4 teams are left in this year’s quest for the Lombardi trophy. The Seahawks of Seattle, the Colts of Indianapolis, the Packers of Green Bay, and the Patriots of Boston New England. I hate all of them. I wish for fire and brimstone and chaos in this final 4. I want the winners to limp into the final confrontation in Arizona and die on the field halfway through the first quarter. I hate them. Here’s why I think you should hate them too:

Colts – 2 Super Bowl Championships
Packers – 4 Super Bowl Championships
Patriots- 3 Super Bow Championships
Seahawks- 1 Super Bowl Championship, but it was won just last year

All 4 teams have been to the Super Bowl since the turn of the century. Outside the Packers, all have been there multiple times, and the Packers still won their appearance. The Patriots have the longest Super Bowl win drought, at a measly 10 years, and they’ve been twice since ’04. There is no underdog this season. There is no plucky team that could. There are only spoiled rich kids. The kids in your school who would get the new video games as they came out. The kids who would get dropped off in BMWs. The kids who had pools and pool parties and never invited you. The kids who would get A’s for participation because social interactions are easy when you are the kid everyone adores. Meanwhile the Detroit Lions sit in the back corner of the classroom and have a reputation as the smelly kid.

But championships aren’t the only reason to hate a team. Lots of teams have won championships, many of them multiple championships. But those teams aren’t here. The Steelers are sad and old. The 49ers are literally on fire. The Broncos have been taken behind the shed and Old Yeller’d. The Giants are sitting in the basement eating glue. The Cowboys are running around the lawn with no clothes on covered in filthy mud screaming obscenities. No, we need more to hate these 4 rich kids. We need to add real depth to our hate. So lets go over this, team by team.

December 29, 2014

Vikings beat Chicago in lacklustre end-of-season game

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

Unlike the later game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, the early game between the Vikings and the Bears was only important for figuring out who’d end up in the NFC North basement (but also who’d get the better draft picks in 2015). It may have been for the best that the Winnipeg CTV affiliate chose not to show the Minnesota home game and instead opted for a game with some kind of playoff relevance. I can’t really blame them.

At 1500ESPN, Andrew Krammer gives us an overview of the game:

The Minnesota Vikings were just getting started, with a rookie quarterback and a first-time head coach.

Jay Cutler and the rest of the Chicago Bears played again like they were ready for the season to be over.
Teddy Bridgewater threw the go-ahead 44-yard touchdown pass to Adam Thielen in the third quarter, guiding the Vikings to a 13-9 victory on Sunday to put one more blemish on a forgettable year for the Bears.

Blair Walsh kicked two field goals, Audie Cole had 11 tackles in his first start of the season and the Vikings (7-9) ended coach Mike Zimmer’s first year on a winning note.

Jay Cutler returned from a one-game benching with 172 yards on 23-for-36 passing without a fumble or an interception, but he rarely threw long and the offense was off all afternoon with a series of unforced errors.
The Bears (5-11) finished with their worst record in 10 years, perhaps the last game for coach Marc Trestman.

After the Vikings drove 61 yards to the 3, Matt Asiata was stuffed for no gain on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 to give Cutler and the Bears one last opportunity with 2:53 left and a four-point deficit.

They bungled it, metaphorically for this mess of a season. Three penalties, including two false starts, plus an incompletion doomed the drive.

With the regular season out of the way, and no post-season games in sight, some of the Vikings fanbase are already talking free agency and the rookie draft next year. While the Vikings appear to finally have their answers at head coach and quarterback, there are other roster positions that could (and should) be upgraded before training camp opens in 2015. There were players on the roster this year that more than earned their salaries (Bridgewater, Barr, McKinnon, Floyd, Rhodes, Smith, and Asiata, to name a few), and there were others who may not be with the team next year due to either salary concerns (Jennings, Peterson, Greenway, Robison) or performance issues (Munnerlyn, Patterson, Charlie Johnson, Robinson). Every team faces roster turn-over every off-season — it’s a cliché that it’s just business, but it’s a cliché for a good reason.

Earlier this week, Dan Zinski made the case that the team wasn’t sold on Munnerlyn as the answer to their backfield woes:

You could maybe forgive some of Munnerlyn’s struggles early in the season when he was still getting used to the scheme, but as the year has worn on, the cornerback has continued to blow assignments and hurt the team. Week after week, when confusion reigns in the Vikings’ secondary, it always seems Munnerlyn is the one being barked at by his teammates and coaches.

The veteran player you brought in specifically to bring stability to a young secondary is not supposed to be the one still getting lost in week 16.

When he’s not losing track of where he’s supposed to be, Munnerlyn is often flat out getting physically dominated. Captain is a smaller corner but, like Antoine Winfield, he came to the Vikings with a reputation for playing bigger than his size. We haven’t seen much evidence of that thus far in Minnesota, and the comparisons to Winfield now seem ridiculous.

[…]

If it’s Mike Zimmer’s intention to create a good secondary filled with players who play smart and play hard, I don’t see how Munnerlyn can be part of the plan. When Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer and the rest of the brain trust sit down to grade personnel and make decisions about the future, they should absolutely consider moving on from Captain Munnerlyn.

Contract-wise, cutting loose from Munnerlyn would not be difficult at all. The three-year deal Munnerlyn signed before the season was structured so that very little dead money would be left after the first season. Per Over the Cap, dumping Munnerlyn would save the Vikings $3.1 million in 2015 and $4.25 million in 2015.

The Vikings clearly had their doubts about Munnerlyn and constructed a contract that would give them the option to move on after one year with only a small penalty.

Update: PFF grades the best Viking performers in yesterday’s game.

Audie Cole, LB: +7.8

Breakdown: Chad Greenway has been a fantastic servant to the Minnesota Vikings, but Audie Cole’s performance in this game suggested that maybe it is time to move on. Cole was all over the field, making tackles in the run game, pass game, breaking up passes and even intercepting one that was nullified because of a defensive offside flag.

Signature Stat: Cole’s grade in this game is a better figure than Greenway has ever achieved. The last game Greenway has even had in that ballpark was in Week 11 of the 2008 season.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB: +4.0

Breakdown: The numbers might not be as pretty as a week ago, but this was another extremely accomplished performance from the Vikings’ rookie. His accuracy was on point most of the game and deserved better production but for a couple of passes bouncing the wrong way once they reached their intended targets. For the second week in a row he ended up with an interception that hit his receiver in the hands.

Signature Stat: With five dropped passes, one batted at the line and one thrown away, Bridgewater only actually missed on one ‘aimed’ pass all game. An Accuracy Percentage of 95.7%, best of the week.

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR: -1.2

Breakdown: How far has Patterson’s star fallen this season? From a player tipped to have a huge year, he ends the season playing just six snaps on offense, and causing an interception by dropping the ball the only time he was targeted. With teams routinely kicking away from him on kickoffs too, his potential impact there has been almost entirely negated.

Signature Stat: Over the last five games Patterson has played just 28 snaps, 20 fewer than he played in the season opener.

December 22, 2014

Miami Dolphins beat Vikings 37-35 on a blocked punt for a safety

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:25

This wasn’t a game for the ages, although it did have some twists and turns in the storyline leading up to the final minute of play (when the Dolphins legitimately got do do the Safety Dance). Teddy Bridgewater was unable to secure the victory in front of about 100 family and friends in the stadium, although it was a close game from start to finish. Bridgewater ended up with 19 of 25 for 259 yards, two touchdowns and an interception (but should have been credited with a third touchdown). Although the penalties didn’t make the difference in the game, it was disturbing to see two Vikings defenders lose their cool (and cost the team 15 yards each) after the play was over. Sharif Floyd and Gerald Hodges were both flagged for unsportsmanlike behaviour (and will undoubtedly hear from coach Mike Zimmer about their lack of discipline).

1500ESPN‘s Andrew Kramer sums up the post-game comments:

“I thought he played well,” coach Mike Zimmer said postgame, via Vikings.com. “One interception was bad luck. Rest of the time, thought he did a good job scrambling the pocket. He made some great throws, played with composure and continued to do all those things.”

Bridgewater helped validate the 550-word opening statement from offensive coordinator Norv Turner on Thursday, when the grizzled veteran coach defended his rookie’s progress by calling him ‘incredible.’

While Bridgewater had grown comfortable hitting receivers in the middle of the field, he showed off his arm on Sunday with touch passes, including a 21-yard touchdown to Greg Jennings and a 22-yard completion to Chase Ford that was millimeters away from being another touchdown. He also converted a 3rd-and-13 attempt with a deep throw to Jennings for 24 yards.

In a season where injuries and legal troubles caused a flood of attrition, the Vikings’ second overall pick in May’s NFL Draft has been their floatation device.

“Played pretty good, for the most part,” Bridgewater said. “We have to play a full game. On offense, we did a great job. High intensity.”

After dropping back Bridgewater nearly 50 times in Detroit, Turner came into Miami with a focus on creating a ground game. Matt Asiata took seven carries on the opening drive, picking up gains of 7, 8 and 10 yards in the first quarter as the Vikings cruised to a 14-0 lead.

Akin to the loss in Detroit, that early lead evaporated; but this time it wasn’t on Bridgewater, who threw two costly picks to the Lions. The Vikings’ defense allowed four touchdowns on four Miami drives in the second half, squashing the 10-point lead at intermission.

And the Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover on the third touchdown that should have been awarded to Teddy Bridgewater and Chase Ford:

Sell: Referees calling a penalty on every play in this game. I mean, holy crap was that one of the most horribly officiated games I’ve ever witnessed. Mystery defensive holding on Chad Greenway that extended a drive, mystery defensive holding on Xavier Rhodes that extended a drive, the BS PI call on Rhodes at the end of the game when he was looking at the ball and making a play on said ball, the list goes on. Did they cost the Vikings the game? 99% of the time, I think the calls even themselves out over the course of a game, but there’s a nagging burning in my gut over this game. Not necessarily on the penalties, which were bad, but on the Chase Ford touchdown that wasn’t right before halftime.

I mean, he had possession, his foot was in bounds, he dragged his toe in bounds, and he was inside the pylon before he went out. If that isn’t a touchdown, then honestly, I don’t know what a TD is in the NFL anymore. And if that was bad enough, when officials reviewed the Mike Wallace TD that occurred in a similar fashion later in the game, Wallace’s foot was no more out of bounds than Ford’s was, yet his TD call stood. It was one of the more horridly officiated games the Vikings have been involved in that I can remember. Since last week. Or the week before.

Update: Jim Souhan points the finger of blame for yesterday’s defensive collapse.

If you were playing Lifelong Vikings Fan Bingo on Sunday, you were able to cross off “punt blocked out of end zone to lose game” and “onside kick from 20-yard line,” winning you an autographed copy of Gary Anderson’s just-in-time-for-the-holidays coffee-table book titled I Only Missed Once.

Say this for the Vikings: They have evolved. A few weeks ago they were hoping their defense could give their rookie quarterback a chance to win. Sunday, they asked Bridgewater to overcome the team’s most disappointing defensive performance of the season.

A week after frustrating the Lions, the Vikings defense made the Dolphins look like they were still employing players named Griese and Csonka.

[…]

The Vikings made so many mistakes, missed so many tackles, it was enough to make you wonder whether some of their young defenders found their way to South Beach on Saturday night — and whether some of them should have stayed there on Sunday.

“Poor performance by us,” Zimmer said. “I saw us do things we haven’t done in a long time.”

Zimmer gets gloriously furious when his team, and in particular his defense, fails to display a grasp of fundamentals.

Some days, he seems to change colors right in front of you, from pale white to crimson. Sunday, Zimmer looked so angry you wondered if he was going to change states, from solid to liquid to steam.

“We were undisciplined,” he said, apparently auditioning for an endorsement deal with Maalox. “We didn’t even line up half — or some — of the time.”

Zimmer has earned praise often this season. Sunday, he was the only logical person to blame.

[…]

After a terse-but-polite news conference, someone asked Zimmer if he had offered a similar message to his players. “It was stronger,” he said.

December 15, 2014

Vikings let a late lead slip away at Detroit

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:31

The underdog Minnesota Vikings visited Detroit on Sunday to play the Lions for the second time this season. The first meeting between the two teams was a completely one-sided win for Detroit: Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw three interceptions and was sacked eight times during the game. This time was supposed to be different … and it was, but not quite enough. As the game had few playoff implications (the Vikings’ slim chances were dashed on Thursday), the broadcast wasn’t available in the Toronto market, so I again had to follow the game through Twitter, and the first half sounded great. Teddy Bridgewater was having an amazing first half (15 of 18, 168 yards and 1 TD), and the Vikings built up a two-touchdown lead by the middle of the second quarter.

Teddy’s game after the second score wasn’t as impressive, as he was picked off on back-to-back throws which the Lions turned into 10 points. In the duel of the kickers, Detroit’s Matt Prater managed two more field goals, while Blair Walsh had one short attempt blocked and missed on the other two (from 53 and 68 yards), which turned out to be the deciding factor in the game.

The Vikings defence did enough to keep the game close, as 1500ESPN‘s Andrew Krammer says:

The Lions gained just 32 yards on Detroit’s first five possessions, limited by a Vikings’ defense that held Matthew Stafford without a first down in the first quarter.

Stafford didn’t get any breathing room until Teddy Bridgewater tossed his first interception, which set the Lions up at the Vikings’ 11. Stafford cut into the Vikings’ lead with a seven-yard touchdown to Golden Tate just two plays later.

“Thought we did some good things,” Zimmer said. “When you’re playing a team that has that much explosive weapons, you have to pick your spots in all the things you do.”

With cornerback Xavier Rhodes shadowing Calvin Johnson, the Vikings were mostly able to neutralize the Lions’ best screen blocker and jumped the short passes to Tate, starting with a one-yard gain on a 3rd-and-2 attempt to end Detroit’s first possession.

“Third downs was obviously a key today,” Zimmer said. “But they made enough plays to win the game.”

Detroit ultimately converted just 2 third downs the entire game, but one came on a 17-yard screen to running back Joique Bell in the second half that led to a Matt Prater field goal. Prater’s 33-yard chip on the next drive gave the Lions a 16-14 lead that stood as final after the Vikings gave up 138 yards on 23 plays before Detroit tried to run out the clock.

The Vikings finished with no sacks for just the second game under Zimmer, but they still held Stafford to his lowest yardage total (155) since a Dec. 8, 2013 loss in Philadelphia (151).

“Hopefully this will springboard us into the kind of football team I want to have,” Zimmer said.

December 13, 2014

Adrian Peterson’s appeal is denied – he won’t be allowed to play this year

Filed under: Football,Law — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:12

As most dispassionate observers had expected, the arbitrator appointed by the NFL decided that Peterson’s ongoing suspension would continue until at least April 15, 2015. Unlike most dispassionate observers, Vikings fans were rather upset by the ruling:

Arif Hasan discusses the situation here:

After an agonizingly stupid waiting game, the NFL announced that arbitrator Harold Henderson has denied Adrian Peterson’s appeal against the severity of the NFL suspension regarding his incident, which means his suspension is upheld. The suspension is for at least six games will continue into the next season, starting immediately — meaning he will miss at least three weeks to start the 2015 season though right now is technically suspended indefinitely.

In April he will be able to reduce his suspension from indefinite to merely six games (meaning he could be reinstated and play for Week 4 of the 2015 NFL season) end his suspension. Contrary to previous reports, the suspension is for the remainder of the season, not six games. He will need to prove some degree of remorse and complete or make significant progress in parental counseling in order to be reinstated. Peterson will retroactively serve the six-game suspension by paying back the three game checks for the games he was on the Exempt List during his appeal after the ruling, per Ed Werder of ESPN.

Arif also quotes the conclusion of Harold Henderson’s decision with a bit of emphasis added:

The facts in this appeal are uncontested. The player entered a plea which effectively admitted guilt to a criminal charge of child abuse, after inflicting serious injuries to his four-year old son in the course of administering discipline. No direct evidence of the beating was entered in the record here, but numerous court documents, investigative reports, photographs and news reports, all accepted into evidence without objection, make it clear that Mr. Peterson’s conduct was egregious and aggravated as those terms are used in the Policy, and merits substantial discipline. His public comments do not reflect remorse or appreciation for the seriousness of his actions and their impact on his family, community, fans and the NFL, although at the close of the hearing he said he has learned from his mistake, he regrets that it happened and it will never happen again. I reject the argument that placement in the Commissioner Exempt status is discipline. I conclude that the player has not demonstrated that the process and procedures surrounding his discipline were not fair and consistent; he was afforded all the protections and rights to which he is entitled, and I find no basis to vacate or reduce the discipline.

Peterson and the NFLPA may now decide to launch a court action, but there is no way that legal action at this late date will make it possible for Peterson to return to the league before the end of the regular season.

December 8, 2014

Vikings beat Jets 30-24 in overtime

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

Not surprisingly, the Winnipeg CTV station chose not to show the Vikings-Jets matchup on Sunday, as neither team has realistic playoff hopes (the Vikings are still mathematically alive, but even if they won out, they’d still need an unlikely amount of help to earn a wildcard … they can’t win the NFC North this year). The Jets don’t have anything left to play for, aside from a better draft selection in 2015, but that didn’t mean they planned on laying down to the Vikings.

Fresh of his accolade of Rookie of the Week for last week’s game, Teddy Bridgewater showed that it wasn’t a fluke. Behind an offensive line that seems to get thinner by the minute — only two starters from the season opener are still healthy, and one of them is slumping terribly this year — Teddy played an excellent game, posting another stellar passing rating of 117.7 (which should get him consideration for rookie of the week honours again). Oddly, this was the third time Bridgewater has played against Geno Smith: they’d played against one another in high school and at university (Teddy won both of the earlier games).

(more…)

December 6, 2014

Fran Tarkenton on the NFL’s long-standing drug problems

Filed under: Football,Health,Law — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:57

In an interview with Jenny Vrentas, former Viking great Fran Tarkenton discusses this year’s crop of rookie quarterbacks (including the Vikings’ Teddy Bridgewater), the NFL’s ongoing disciplinary issues with Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, the long-term issues with NFL doctors dispensing painkillers, and the advent of performance-enhancing drugs. On the issue of league discipline, he believes the league should not allow Rice or Peterson to play again:

VRENTAS: Are you saying the Vikings should move on from Peterson because of his age, or because of the child abuse case that led to his suspension?

TARKENTON: I followed the Clippers thing. That owner [Donald Sterling] didn’t get indicted for any crime, but the racial comments he made were totally inappropriate, and we took a stand. The whole world and the NBA, we have zero tolerance to racism. And I think that’s right. I agree with that. But I also think we ought to have zero tolerance to child abuse and domestic violence. I don’t think [Peterson] should play again in the NFL. I don’t think Ray Rice should play again. Either we have zero tolerance, or we don’t. And what is more egregious than domestic violence and child abuse? I don’t know of anything, unless you kill somebody.

VRENTAS: Peterson has not played since the child-abuse charges first surfaced in September, and now he’s been suspended for the rest of the season, pending appeal. Do you think the response shows that teams and the league are starting to take these issues more seriously?

TARKENTON: Kind of. They have been a little bit wishy-washy. [The Vikings] were going to play Adrian Peterson [before reversing course in September]. Other teams were going to play other players [involved in cases of domestic violence]. And the NFL was going to give just a two-game suspension to Ray Rice. I don’t think we’ve gotten beyond “win at any cost” yet. And I think we need to get there. We should have zero tolerance to racism. We don’t believe that, right? Is that more important than zero tolerance to domestic abuse and child abuse? Unless we as a society think that way, then we won’t make progress. And the whole domestic violence thing, that has been tolerated universally, but certainly in the NFL. We can’t tolerate that. All these behaviors that are so egregious continue. We need to set an example.

And on the topic of team doctors and the use of drugs to get players back into games (but which had potentially serious long-term health implicatons:

VRENTAS: You wrote a letter to the New York Times regarding painkiller abuse, in response to the DEA’s recent spot checks of NFL team medical staffs. This has been a subject you have been vocal about. What was your experience with painkiller use during your playing career?

TARKENTON: This has been going on forever. I was playing for the New York Giants, and I hurt my shoulder in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I came in at halftime, and the doctor had a great big long needle, punched a few different places, and told me, “Show me where it hurts the worst.” I said, “Ow,” and he jammed a combination of xylocaine and cortisone into my shoulder. That’s not good for my shoulder, but he’s my team doctor. I don’t think he’s going to do something that hurts my career, right? He’s like my family doctor. If my family doctor tells me to take a pill, I’ll take a pill. So every Friday, I went on the subway from old Yankee Stadium, where we practiced, all the way down to lower Manhattan to St. Vincent’s Hospital, and they did the same thing they did at halftime. They shot my shoulder. It didn’t really help me, but it allowed me to play. Now, when I come back to Minnesota, my shoulder is worse. The year we played the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl in New Orleans, my shoulder was already deteriorating, and I hurt it early in the season in Dallas. The rest of the year I could not throw a ball in practice; I could not throw a ball in warm-ups over 10 yards. When I got in the game, I could throw it maybe 40 yards, because my adrenaline was up, but there was nothing on it. But every Friday, guess what they shot me with? Butazolidin. That’s what they shot horses with. Shot me up every Friday, all the way to the Super Bowl. I retired at age 39, and I see my doctors down here [in Atlanta] because my shoulder is killing me. They say, “You’ve got the shoulder of a 75-year old man. You need your shoulder replaced.” I talked to a lot of the old guys — Roger Staubach, Otto Graham, Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas, Y.A. Tittle ­— and none of them had shoulders replaced. I had my shoulder replaced, because they shot me up. Where was the conscience back then? People say, “You knew what they were doing.” I knew what they were doing, but I didn’t think they would hurt me. I didn’t think my shoulder was going to fall apart.

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