July 17, 2015

Minnesota comes in at #5 on the NFL pain ranking

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

This is, sadly, pretty much right:

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

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

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

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

July 9, 2015

The first female NFL referee

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

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

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

I also hope that Sarah Thomas is booed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 4, 2015

Which NFL team is the most AMERICA?

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

32. Bills
Buffalo is basically Canada


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


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

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

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

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

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

May 3, 2015

Minnesota Vikings 2015 draft – third day

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

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

TJ Clemmings draft

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

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

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

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


May 2, 2015

Minnesota Vikings 2015 draft – second day

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

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

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

Eric Kendricks draft card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danielle Hunter draft card

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

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

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

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

May 1, 2015

Minnesota Vikings 2015 draft – first round

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

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

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

Trae Waynes-cb-Michigan State

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 29, 2015

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

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

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

The Vikings enter the draft with seven selections:


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

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


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

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

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


Hey, let’s make a pick!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Your 2015 Minnesota Vikings Draft Class:

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

April 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

April 26, 2015

Vikings draft needs for 2015

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

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

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

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

April 12, 2015

Arif Hasan breaks down the Vikings’ offseason moves

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 25, 2015

Reason.tv – Sports Stadiums Are Bad Public Investments. So Why Are Cities Still Paying for Them?

Published on 17 Mar 2015

“Anybody that drives around Southern California can tell you the infrastructure is falling apart,” says Joel Kotkin, a fellow of urban studies at Chapman University and author of the book The New Class Conflict. “And then we’re going to give money so a bunch of corporate executives can watch a football game eight times a year? It’s absurd.”

When the Inglewood City Council voted unanimously to approve a $1.8 billion stadium plan on February 24th, hundreds of football fans in attendance cheered for the prospect of a team finally returning to the Los Angeles area.

On it’s face, the deal for the city of Inglewood is unprecedented — Rams owner Stan Kroenke has agreed to finance construction of the stadium entirely with private funds. The deal makes the stadium one of the most expensive facilities ever built and is an oddity in the sports world, where most stadiums require millions in public dollars to be constructed.

And while the city still waits to hear if it will indeed inherit an NFL team, the progress on the new privately-funded Inglewood stadium has set off a bidding war between other cities that are offering up millions in public subsidies to keep (or attract) pro-sports franchises to their area.

St. Louis has proposed a billion dollar waterfront stadium financed with $400 million in tax money to keep the Rams in Missouri. And the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders have unveiled a plan to turn a former landfill in Carson, California, into a $1.7 billion stadium to keep the Rams from encroaching on their turf. While full details of the plan have yet to be released, it’s been reported that the financing would be similar to the San Francisco 49er’s deal in Santa Clara, which saw the team receive $621 million in construction loans paid for with public money.

Even the fiscally conservative Scott Walker is not immune to the stadium spending craze. The Wisconsin governor wants to allocate $220 million in public bonds to keep the Milwaukee Bucks basketball franchise in the area. Walker has dubbed the financing scheme as the “Pay Their Way” plan, but professional sports teams rarely pay their fair share when it comes to stadiums and instead use public money to generate private revenue.

Pacific Standard magazine has reported that in the last 20 years, the U.S. has opened 101 new sports facilities and stadium finance experts say that almost all of them have received public funding totaling billions of dollars. Politicians generally rationalize this expense by stating that stadiums will generate economic revenue and job opportunities for the city, but Kotkin says those promises are rarely realized.

“I think this is sort of a fanciful approach towards economic development instead of building really good jobs. And except for the construction, the jobs created by stadia are generally low wage occasional work.”

“The important thing that we’ve forgotten is ‘What is the purpose of a government?'” asks Kotkin. “Cities instead of fixing their schools, fixing their roads or fixing their sewers or fixing their water are putting money into ephemera like stadia. And in the end, what’s more important?”

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.


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.”

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