Vikings signing DT Richardson is low-risk, high-reward

In his five years in the NFL, Sheldon Richardson has been a problem on and off the field.

The Minnesota Vikings are hoping Richardson can only be an on-field problem in 2018 as he signed a 1-year contract on Friday to play defensive tackle alongside Linval Joseph. Continue reading “Vikings signing DT Richardson is low-risk, high-reward”


A modest prediction for a modest Minnesota football team

Nineteen months ago, the Minnesota Vikings were on the verge of making it to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. All Blair Walsh had to do was convert a short field goal. Continue reading “A modest prediction for a modest Minnesota football team”

My experience at U.S. Bank Stadium

Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr gets interviewed after Sunday's victory over Green Bay,
Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr gets interviewed after Sunday’s victory over Green Bay.

I haven’t written in some time, but I experienced something unlike anything before in my professional journalism career Sunday night.

Working for The Albert Lea Tribune, I got to experience the first regular season football game at the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.

It was an unreal experience. I had been to the stadium before to cover the Chelsea-AC Milan soccer game. But the feeling in the stadium Sunday night could give a dead person goosebumps.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his security people walked right by me. I snapped a couple of pictures with my camera and phone before one of his people came up to me and asked for my credentials. Once I showed him, he apologized and said I was “OK” but to not get too close. It’s nice to get a little respect out here!

Once the players came on the field, the adrenaline started to flow through my veins. I remember coming out before a game to the roar of the crowd, albeit much smaller than the 66,800 in attendance.

The coolest moment was when quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Sam Bradford flashed on the big screen. As they came walking out to the field, the crowd started to get into it. Bradford is considered the team’s savior since he was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles when Teddy Bridgewater ripped up his knee in practice just a few weeks ago. As the two players approached the field, the crowd came alive. Hill and Bradford stopped before the turf and put their forearms together. No one but them knows what they said to each other, but I could tell Hill was excited for Bradford when he threw that first touchdown to Kyle Rudolph in the second quarter.

Some pictures I took that ran in the sports section of The Albert Lea Tribune.
Some pictures I took that ran in the sports section of The Albert Lea Tribune.

Stefon Diggs had an awesome game. His ability to run precise routes and his sure-hands led him to a career night. He hauled in an amazing touchdown catch, of which I got a picture in my newspaper. But what struck me most about him was his pregame warmup. I have never seen someone so excited to play a game. He was having so much fun in warm ups that I was worried he was going to tire himself out before the game. Little did I know, he had a lot more left in the tank that night. It was joy to watch him entertain the fans and inspire his teammates. He was a fifth-round pick just a year ago, and now he is turning into a great player.

The Vikings defense is so much fun to watch. Despite his old football age (32), Brian Robison is a joy to watch. He is playing on borrowed time, but moving like he is 25. He got really pumped up after his defense helped force a Green Bay turnover. They flashed him on the big board, and he dropped everything and started to get pumped up. The crowd got into it, too. Danielle Hunter is going to be good. He is so big, strong and fast. He is a nightmare. I got a great shot of him sacking Aaron Rodgers and stripping him of the football early in the game. Everyone Griffin and Linval Joseph are entertaining to watch on the sidelines. They have so much intensity and passion flowing through them.

Some pictures I took that ran on the front page of The Albert Lea Tribune.
Some pictures I took that ran on the front page of The Albert Lea Tribune.

Of course, it all starts with the head coach — Mike Zimmer. In person, I have never seen someone more connected to his team. From pregame handshakes to yelling at players for mistakes to congratulating those same players when they do something correct or make a big play, these players respond to his message. A perfect example of this is Trae Waynes

Waynes got beat up in the game. Rodgers was attacking him all night long and completing passes or getting Waynes called for penalties. Until one of the last plays of the game. Wayne stepped in front of a Rodgers’ pass and picked it up. There was no one in that stadium happier for Waynes, except for maybe himself, than Zimmer.

The night was filled with memories of beating Green Bay. Cris Carter was in attendance and was interviewed by Greg Coleman. When Carter flashed on the big screen, the crowd came alive again. I’m not sure what game Carter referred to when Coleman asked for his fondest memory of beating the Packers, but Carter said “We whopped their butt back to Green Bay so bad,” and the crowd just erupted. Later, the greatest quarterback in Minnesota history, Fran Tarkenton, was interviewed and, again, the crowd exploded.

A tribute to the late Prince at halftime was a great spectacle. Minnesota never forgets one of its own.

The new Vikings chant “SKOL” with the claps, is pretty awesome, too. It’s something to get the crowd involved.

To top it off, Minnesota beat Green Bay. It was a fantastic game played by two very good NFL teams. The excitement was off the charts.

It will be a memory I’ll never forget, that’s for sure.

All things Minnesota

The Minnesota Vikings are headed back to the NFL playoffs after a two-year hiatus.
A convincing 49-17 victory over the New York Giants sealed a spot in the playoffs for the Vikings Sunday night.
However, a division title is still up for grabs, as the Vikings will travel to Green Bay to play the Packers in another prime-time football game.
The scenarios are many, but the Vikings will either play the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, or Packers the this coming weekend in the NFC Wild Card Game.

Fitzgerald back to old self; Floyd finishing strong
After a disappointing year in 2014, Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has emerged back into a big-time threat in the Cardinals’ passing game.
It also helps when one of the league’s best quarterbacks, Carson Palmer is back and healthy again after suffering a torn ACL last season.
In 15 games, Fitzgerald has caught 103 passes for 1,160 yards and eight touchdowns.
In 14 games in 2014, Fitzgerald had 63 catches for 784 yards and two touchdowns.
Fitzgerald attended high school at the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield.
Arizona’s other dynamic receiver, Michael Floyd, is enjoying a late-season burst.
After missing the first game of the season and missing snaps due to recovering from dislocated fingers, Floyd’s production has picked up.
Over the last four games, Floyd has 23 receptions for 387 yards and one touchdown.
For the season, Floyd has 51 catches for 833 yards and six touchdowns.
He graduated from Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul.

It seems that the Minnesota Wild have avoided their usual winter meltdown this year.
If you remember back to last season, the Wild started to slide down the Western Conference standings Dec. 16, and it lasted through Jan. 13.
So far, the Wild is 19-10-6 with 44 points, and sitting in third place in the Central Division.

Cam, KAT, Woodson

Cam for MVP
The football game between the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants provided fans with an insight on just how good Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton has become.
He turned in another spectacular performance in that game, and kept his team perfect, 14-0, with a late-game drive that produced a game-winning field goal.
It doesn’t matter what happens the next this week or next week, he has helped the Panther wrap up home-field advantage for the playoffs, and is the clear front-runner for the Most Valuable Player award.
He has thrown for over 3,402 yards and 33 touchdowns,  while rushing for another seven this season.

Minnesota Timberwolves’ center Karl-Anthony Towns has regained confidence of his interim head coach Sam Mitchell, as Towns has seen an uptick in minutes over the last five games.
In December, Towns is averaging 28.7 minutes per game compared to 27.1 minutes per game in November, even though he is fouling at a higher rate (4.1 to 2.7).
With slightly more minutes, Towns has produced 18.5 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game, and is shooting 55 percent from the field, and 86.8 percent from the free-throw line as of Dec. 22.

Woodson to retire
All-Pro and future Hall-of-Fame cornerback Charles Woodson will retire at the end of the 2015 season.
Woodson, who won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Michigan in 1997, was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and a three-time All-Pro.
He spent eight seasons with the Oakland Raiders before becoming a Green Bay Packer for the next seven years.
He came back to the Bay Area in 2013.
He is fifth all-time with 65 interceptions.

Robert Griffin III, just shut up and play football

Robert Griffin III needs to shut up and play football. (Photo credit to
Robert Griffin III needs to shut up and play football. (Photo credit to

I’m so sick of people talking about Robert Griffin III. I’m sick of Robert Griffin III talking about Robert Griffin III. I’m sick of ESPN talking about him and every other media outlet giving him time on their airwaves.

Simply put: he isn’t worth it. Continue reading “Robert Griffin III, just shut up and play football”