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).


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.

December 3, 2014

Teddy Bridgewater update

Filed under: Football,Humour — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:20

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t set the league on fire, but he’s still learning and improving his game (with the occasional regression, like all rookie quarterbacks). He played well enough on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers to get a nomination for rookie of the week honours for 15 of 21, 138 yards, two touchdowns and a career high 120.7 passer rating.

ESPN‘s Ben Goessling looks at Teddy’s play in the game:

Whenever he’s talked about a need to get rid of the ball faster as a rookie, Bridgewater has known the key to making that happen was the ability to identify coverages sooner. The way he operated on Sunday, in a victory over the Carolina Panthers, suggested he’s starting to figure out some of quarterbacking’s nuances.

On his 17-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings, Bridgewater walked to the line to see the Panthers playing off receivers Charles Johnson and Greg Jennings, who were lined up in a stack formation to the quarterback’s left. Bridgewater could see from his pre-snap read that he’d have room to hit Jennings underneath since the Panthers were guarding against a deep pass with 23 seconds left in the half. He threw a 5-yarder out to Jennings, who had room to show why he’s still one of the league’s best after the catch. Jennings made Antoine Cason miss, got to the outside and beat Bene Benwikere to the end zone, gaining 12 yards after the catch on a TD that put the Vikings up 28-6.

“I made the decision before the ball was snapped,” Bridgewater said. “The offensive line did a great job of allowing me to sit back there and make the throw, play pitch-and-catch with Greg. Greg was able to make a move and score a touchdown. Each week, I’m trying to make quicker decisions and continue to trust those guys each week.”

Meanwhile, over at the Daily Norseman, the Teddy Bridgewater Underground discovers that things can get tougher after the revolution is over:

Once we had toppled the Old Guard, I don’t think any of us realized that the transition from Revolution to Legitimate Government would be as difficult as the Revolution itself. Man, it’s easy to rile up the masses, especially when they feel they’ve been cheated out of the basics of good quarterback play their whole life. It’s easy to get them to rally around The Cause, and even to go to war over it, if necessary.

The Cause.

It started more as an Idea, but quickly grew into something that grew even faster than the most ardent revolutionaries could’ve imagined. From the moment we heard that in other lands the people enjoyed quarterback play, and we tapped in to forbidden short wave transmissions and hacked in to foreign TV feeds to confirm this was true, The Idea became The Movement. The Movement became The Cause. And The Cause became The Revolution.

¡Viva la Revolución!

But once we took over, the transition to governance wasn’t easy, far from it. Look, it’s easy to topple a government that was practically begging to be overthrown (there’s a Josh Freeman joke here somewhere, I just know it), but once that happens…there’s no one to blame but you if things go wrong. So from those heady days of overthrow and victory parades, we had to figure out how to run a country, and we had to do it without too many things going wrong.

Because when things go wrong, an idea can form. And then transition quickly to a Movement, a Cause, and then the next thing you know you’re in a ‘Quarterback Re-Education Center’ watching 16 mm game film of Joe Kapp, Fran Tarkenton, and Tommy Kramer. And you’re trying to tell yourself that the Marcus Mariota Movement isn’t a revolution, just a couple of peasants in neon green pants made by Nike.

December 1, 2014

Vikings dominate Carolina Panthers, 31-13

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 07:35

Another game that wasn’t broadcast in the Toronto area … but this time they had a good excuse, it being Grey Cup weekend. In the Maple-flavoured game, the underdog Hamilton TiCats lost to the Calgary Stampeders by a score of 20-16. Well, #oskeeweewee guys and good luck next year!

In Minneapolis, the Vikings were the beneficiaries of not just one but two blocked punts run back for touchdowns. This is the first time the Vikings have scored on a blocked punt since 1986 … longer than almost all the current members of the team have been alive. It had been the longest ongoing span of games in the NFL when Adam Thielen blocked the punt, scooped it up and ran 30 yards to the end zone for six points and a Vikings record. The record — the longest TD scoring run off a blocked punt lasted less than 20 minutes before Jasper Brinkley blocked another punt which was run back by Everson Griffin for 46 yards to set a new record.

The special teams did so well that it pretty much overshadowed the improved performance at quarterback by Teddy Bridgewater: not record setting numbers, but two touchdowns and no turnovers along with a 120.7 passer rating. Derek Wetmore looks at the special teams heroics:

Adam Thielen and Everson Griffen etched their names into team history books, and they combined to pull off a rare feat.

First, Thielen blocked a punt in the first quarter and scooped it up with one hand as he returned to his feet and raced to the endzone. The Vikings already led 7-0 at that point, so the longest blocked punt returned for a touchdown in team history put Minnesota up by two scores.

But his 30-yard return didn’t stand as the franchise-long for very long.

With the Vikings leading 14-3, Jasper Brinkley got his mitts on a punt and Everson Griffen was there to recover it and take it into the endzone, setting a new Vikings record for the longest blocked punt returned for a score: 46 yards.

One of the weirdest things about the game is that even with the win, the Vikings are at the bottom of their division with a 5-7 record and only mathematically alive for a wildcard spot in the playoffs. Even with the loss, Carolina (at 3-8-1) still has a chance to win their division and host a playoff game!

November 27, 2014

How bad is the NFC South this season?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:29

Dave Rappoccio says it’s this bad:

This week, the NFC south is a dumpster fire, and that might be an insult to dumpster fires. The Saints and Falcons are tied in first with 4 wins each, and the woeful 2-9 Buccaneers are one game out of picking 1st in the draft and 2 games out of first place. No team looks to have a winning record by the end of the season and we could potentially have a 5-11 division winner while a potential double digit team in a real mans division misses the playoffs entirely. IS THIS ACCEPTABLE?

November 24, 2014

Vikings fall short against Packers, 24-21

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:44

I didn’t get to watch yesterday’s game, as we were visiting friends for the afternoon. From the overall comments, it sounds like the defensive scheme worked very well against Aaron Rogers and the Packers, holding them to about half the scoring they’ve managed in the last few games. Unfortunately, Teddy Bridgewater got off to a slow start and wasn’t able to get into a rhythm until the fourth quarter. Although he wasn’t sacked too often, the pass protection was allowing the Packers to disrupt the passing game and Teddy was missing his targets a fair bit during the first half.

At the Daily Norseman, Ted Glover presents his weekly stock market report:

Blue Chip Stocks:

The Vikings Secondary: Yes, there were a couple of breakdowns, but the bottom line is that the Vikings held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers explosive passing attack to 209 yards. All in all, you can’t ask for a performance much better than that, and Xavier Rhodes led the way with I would argue his best game. He blanketed Jordy Nelson early, breaking up two passes, and although I’d have to go back and re-look, it seemed the Packers quit throwing his direction in the second half. Rhodes was the guy that stood out the most, but this was a team effort, and one where everyone deserves recognition. It’s a complete 180 degree turn for this unit from this time last year, and it’s largely the same guys.

Mike Zimmer: One of Zim’s mentors is Bill Parcells, who famously said ‘you are what your record says you are’. The Vikings are 4-7, but is there any question in anyone’s mind that this team is better than they were last year? And had this been last year, there’s no doubt in my mind this game would have been over by halftime. There’s still a ways to go, but I like this coach, and I like the attitude he’s bringing to this football team. Good things are coming, that I firmly believe.

Solid Investments


Teddy Bridgewater, QB: Teddy had some ugly throws early, but he also made some very good throws, and wasn’t helped out by a receiving corps that dropped at least four passes that I can think of off the top of my head. His backfoot throw that became a pick was terrible, but damn it, the kid never gives up, and is pushing the ball down the field. He’s also doing a much better job stepping up in the pocket, and running the ball and getting something out of nothing. All in all, I’ll take it, and he’s getting better.

November 22, 2014

Adrian Peterson talks to Tom Pelissero

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

Tom Pelissero was one of the best local reporters in the Minneapolis area when he worked the Minnesota Vikings beat for 1500ESPN. Earlier this year, he moved to USA Today, but still lives in Minnesota. Earlier this week, he talked with disgraced Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in an exclusive interview:

Adrian Peterson the football player will be back one day. He’s sure of it, even after the NFL suspended the Minnesota Vikings’ star running back Tuesday for at least the rest of the 2014 season after his no-contest plea to a misdemeanor reckless assault charge.

Peterson had expressed remorse for injuring his son and maintained he was disciplining him — with a “switch” from a tree — the way he was disciplined as a child. If Peterson meets the court’s requirements, no conviction will go on his record. But Peterson, a father of six children by six women, knows he faces a lifelong challenge to prove he’s not an absentee parent, not a child abuser, not any of the demons he’s been portrayed as since the incident.

“I won’t ever use a switch again,” Peterson said. “There’s different situations where a child needs to be disciplined as far as timeout, taking their toys away, making them take a nap. There’s so many different ways to discipline your kids.”

In the more than 90-minute phone interview — Peterson’s first extensive public remarks since his Sept. 11 indictment — he spoke with USA TODAY Sports on a wide variety of topics, including why he refused to attend a hearing with the NFL before Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him as well as his future with the Minnesota Vikings.

“I would love to go back and play in Minnesota to get a feel and just see if my family still feels comfortable there,” Peterson said. “But if there’s word out that hey, they might release me, then so be it. I would feel good knowing that I’ve given everything I had in me.”

Regardless of his football future, Peterson wanted to make clear his main focus now is on repairing his relationship with his son and trying to make people understand that, contrary to Goodell’s remarks in handing down his ban, his remorse is real.

QotD: The first “American” college football game

Filed under: Cancon,Football,History,Quotations,USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 00:01

… the first college-football contest was not played in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton, but in 1874 between McGill and Harvard. The game the two New Jersey schools played was something close to soccer, with players (25 per side) allowed to kick the ball or bat it with their hands, and points scored by kicking the ball into the opponents’ goal. This game spread to a handful of other northeastern colleges in the next few years, under varying rules.

Meanwhile, Harvard played a different, more rugbyish game that allowed the ball to be carried and thrown. In 1874 it agreed to a two-game series in Cambridge with McGill, which also played a rugby-type game. The first game, played on May 14 under Harvard’s rules, was an easy victory for the home team. The next day they played under McGill’s rules, which permitted more ball handling, used an oval ball (unlike Harvard’s round one), and scored points with a “try,” similar to the modern touchdown. The contest ended in a scoreless tie, but Harvard’s players decided they liked McGill’s rules better than their own.

The “Boston game” soon became more popular than the kicking-oriented variety, and when representatives from four American colleges met in November 1876 to standardize football rules, they largely adopted the McGill/Harvard version. So while the 1874 game was quite different from today’s football, it is at least recognizable as an ancestor, whereas the game Rutgers and Princeton played in 1869 was an evolutionary dead end.

Fred Schwarz, “Why American Football Is Canadian”, National Review Online, 2014-11-13.

November 19, 2014

Adrian Peterson’s suspension and the Vikings’ future plans

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:10

Andrew Krammer looks at the implications of Adrian Peterson’s six game suspension in the light of the Vikings’ planning for next season:

By April 15, the Minnesota Vikings had considerably narrowed down their NFL Draft prospects, had already signed their bulk of free agents and were well on their way to constructing the 2014 roster.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell essentially made the Vikings’ decision for them, if they were even strongly considering keeping Adrian Peterson after 2014 to begin with. On Tuesday, Goodell suspended Peterson for the remainder of the 2014 season (six games) without pay, adding he can’t be reinstated until April 15, 2015 — well into the Vikings’ preparations for the next season.

If Peterson has any chance of being on the Vikings’ 2015 roster, it won’t be as a suspended 30-year-old running back with a $15.5 million cap hit.

He’s likely donned the purple as one of the franchise’s all-time best players for the last time on Sept. 7, unless a few circumstances play out: (1) Arbitrator Shyam Das would need to rule in favor of the NFLPA this week, saying the NFL had no grounds to keep Peterson on the Commissioner’s/Exempt list after his Nov. 4 plea deal was accepted by a Texas judge. (2) The Vikings, who released a statement in support of Goodell’s decision, would have to then activate Peterson against the grain of public relations backlash that forced their own change of course on Sept. 17 to initially get him on the CE list and (3) if Peterson has any shot of winning an appeal, it’ll come with a neutral arbitrator hearing his appeal and not Goodell, as ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling pointed out.


I have no doubt Peterson will play in the NFL again, I don’t believe it will be for the Vikings after this mess was made worse with Goodell’s handling and the way Peterson has been used as a pawn in a battle between the league and its union.

The first benchmark to watch is the start of the new league year in the beginning of March. If they cut him by then, they’ll avoid paying a $250,000 workout bonus.

Put your proverbial money on that happening if Goodell upholds his own suspension (likely) and if the Vikings are ready to move on after paying Peterson $7 million in 2014 base salary for 75 rushing yards.

Update: At the Star Tribune, Jim Souhan enjoys the spectacle.

The most artfully-written jokes are those that contain the punch line in the premise.

Like this one:

Adrian Peterson thinks his punishment is too harsh.

Tuesday morning, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the Vikings star for the rest of the season without pay, meaning Peterson will not play for the Vikings again this season, and perhaps not ever.

Peterson’s case is bound to become a quagmire of legal positioning, union rights, management overreach and the ongoing course corrections of one of the most powerful people in sports.

There is one matter that remains clear.

A powerful football player took a branch and beat a 4-year-old until the boy bled through large welts on his back, suffered defense wounds on his hands, and took at least one lash to his genitalia.

Peterson deserves no sympathy, and anyone arguing that he is being unfairly prevented from finishing the season with the Vikings hasn’t done enough reading between the legalistic lines.

Peterson chose to be a legal pawn instead of a football king.

He has chosen to spend the rest of the season as a symbol of Goodell’s arrogance rather than a standout football player.

Peterson could have found his way back to Winter Park this season. His path was cleared by a lenient Texas court. Had he displayed remorse over his acts, and sought counseling, and thrown himself at Goodell’s feet, the commissioner likely would have levied a lighter sentence, perhaps even a retroactive one.

Instead, Peterson played into Goodell’s hands, and Goodell must have cackled at the opportunity presented to allow him to display strength.

Peterson showed no real remorse. He did not promise to change his behavior. He chose to side with the NFLPA and his legal team in challenging Goodell’s power.

If Goodell didn’t have Peterson, he would have invented him.

November 17, 2014

Vikings lose to Bears, 21-13

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 07:36

By the end of the first quarter, you could understand why Fox Sports had “flexed” out of covering this game … it was anything but rivetting TV. The Vikings looked rusty, as if they’d been off for several weeks rather than just the one week bye. The highlight of the game was a fake punt that caught the Bears totally by surprise as Andrew Sendejo took the ball 48 yards (a Vikings record). Aside from that, the offense couldn’t manage very much production and forced the defence to go back on the field far too quickly — the time of possession was very lopsided, as the Bears held the ball for over 38 minutes, leaving under 22 minutes for the Vikings.

Former Viking Jared Allen had by far his best game of the season, treating former Pro Bowl left tackle Matt Kalil like a turnstyle and pressuring Teddy Bridgewater several times and sacking him once. The Viking defensive line was held in check all day, recording no sacks and relatively few hits. Cornerback Josh Robinson was Cutler’s favourite target … as a shorter player, he was at a disadvantage against the Bears’ tall wide receivers, and Cutler completed a lot of passes to whoever he was covering on the play. Brian Hall has the details:

The Vikings knew all about the size disadvantage coming in. The Bears have Brandon Marshall (6-foot-5) and Alshon Jeffery (6-foot-3) on the outside. Minnesota has 5-foot-9 cornerback Captain Munnerlyn starting in the base defense and 5-foot-10 Josh Robinson to go with 6-foot-1 Xavier Rhodes on the outside in the nickel defense.

Chicago knew where Josh Robinson was and targeted him often with the tall receivers. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler just threw the ball up and let Marshall and Jeffery use their length. Jeffery was targeted 17 times and had 11 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown against Robinson. Marshall had 10 targets leading to seven catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns against Robinson.

Robinson wasn’t out of position in many of the cases, but Marshall and Jeffery used their size to make plays. Cutler was 31-of-43 passing — with 27 attempts to Marshall and Jeffery — for 330 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Minnesota, particularly Robinson, just had no chance against Marshall and Jeffery.

Joe Oberle says the game was actually worse than the score might indicate:

It’s difficult to determine which unit was more culpable for the loss, so we will start with the offense. They say numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but in the case of this game they tell enough. The Vikings had 243 total yards on offense (with 48 of them coming on a fake punt and a bunch more in what turned out to be garbage/prevent time).

Teddy Bridgewater was 18 of 28 for 158 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was inaccurate when throwing past five yards down field. He was sacked twice and hit five times, which shows once again that the offensive line that struggled to protect him. It was well into the game before Bridgewater targeted a wide receiver, as either he didn’t have time to see them or they were not getting open. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

These atrocious numbers came against the 26th ranked defense in the league coming in—a defense that had given up 106 points in their past two games. Were it not for the fake punt that set up the only touchdown, the final score would have been worse. Bridgewater and the offense took a step backwards against a team that had been demoralized. This game for the Vikings was actually worse than the score indicated.

November 16, 2014

The Vikings are always snakebit in Chicago … any hope of this changing soon?

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

The Minnesota Vikings don’t win too often in Chicago — their last win at Soldier Field was back in 2007 and they’ve only beaten the Bears at home three times since 2000 (despite the Vikings leading the all-time series 54-50-2). Sunday’s game may finally change Minnesota’s luck in Chicago, as the Vikings (4-5) are riding a rare two-game winning streak while the Bears (3-6) are in danger of melting down altogether.

In spite of the potential signs of a Vikings win, talk of any kind of playoff push is very premature … and despite that the Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover dares to hope:

@Chicago: We’ve laid out what the Vikings need to do to beat Chicago, and this is their best opportunity to escape the Windy City with a win since 2009…and they couldn’t get it done then. And let’s face it, the Vikings have to beat the Bears to keep any chance at the post season alive. A loss puts them at 4-6, and no realistic shot.

Green Bay: The Vikings have been on the short end of the stick more often than not against Green Bay and Chicago in recent seasons, but I don’t know if I was ever more dis-spirited than after the Thursday night debacle in Lambeau. In the wake of that disaster, the Vikings defense actually played a decent game, until the three and outs piled up by the offense just got to be too much. This is going to be one of the two toughest remaining opponents the Vikings face, and a win here would be huge. Can they do it? With Teddy Bridgewater, at home, I think they can.

I can’t emphasize how big two division wins would be for the Vikings here. Not only for playoff positioning, but as a ‘stand up and take notice that we’re here to stay for awhile’ kind of statement. We all want to beat the Packers, but if the Vikings are going to start their climb to the top of the NFC North and stay there, they have to start beating them. Starting that climb here would be fantastic.

After that, the Vikings should beat Carolina and the Jets, then they face the Lions in Detroit which is likely a loss, then two winnable games against the Dolphins and the Bears (who might be playing for an interim coach if Trestman can’t turn the Bears around). A 10-6 finish would be fantastic for the Vikings after their horrific start to the 2014 season (and it’d be two games better than I expected … and I didn’t foresee Adrian Peterson being out for most of the year when I made that guess).

November 6, 2014

Souhan – Peterson should be suspended for the remainder of the NFL season

Filed under: Football,Humour,Law — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:01

The Star-Tribune‘s Jim Souhan takes a strong stance against leniency for Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanour in Texas:

Roger Goodell has treated player discipline with the consistency of that annoying person you get stuck behind in line at Starbucks every morning.

One day, they want a Venti triple-foam frappé low-fat caramel macchiato topped with handmade artisanal whipped cream drained by pacifists from the udders of a cow that has attended global warming symposiums.

The next day, they order a black coffee. Small.

When he became NFL commissioner, Goodell wanted to impose discipline on every minor player infraction. He was going to make his name by cleaning up a league filled with violent young men.

Goodell proudly wore the badge he fished out of a box of Cracker Jack until Ray Rice punched his fiancée in an elevator, and Goodell’s friends with the Baltimore Ravens told him to proceed cautiously, and Goodell blinkered himself like a skittish horse.

Goodell went overboard with player discipline, then effectively disappeared when he could have taken a dramatic stance against players performing violent acts, and particularly violent acts toward women. He went from Mr. Venti-Everything to, suddenly, Mr. Small Black Coffee.

This week, Adrian Peterson, who has admitted to the severe and cowardly beating of his son, got the Texas treatment in court. He was allowed to agree to a generous plea deal that allows him to resume his life and career. It’s a wonder he wasn’t presented with a gold star for upholding the tenets of traditional parenting.

This time around, Goodell can get it right. He can establish that he has higher standards than the anachronistic Texas courts, that he holds players, and especially players who have gotten rich because of the NFL’s remarkable wealth, to a higher standard than the average citizen.

Goodell can and should suspend Peterson for the rest of the season. Doing so would improve Goodell’s reputation, and save the Vikings and the league a lot of grief.v

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