Blowing off the cobwebs

The day is finally here! Football season is upon us all and tonight we have the chance for revenge against the team that lucked out in every area of the field to claim the NFC Championship and eventually the Super Bowl. Yes it still hurts, but tonight we can salvage some pride and get our season off to the best possible start.

Late hits will be landed, deep passes thrown, footballs held onto and we can announce ourselves as the biggest team in the NFC and not the P*ckers as most analysts would love to tell you.

It’s going to be tough but if we play real football we can walk away from the bayou with our heads held high.

Going into the game Brett said “I would have to give the edge to the Saints, first of all, as far as first game, where are you from a team standpoint overall as far as chemistry and things of that nature?” So yeah, thanks for the vote of confidence dude. But in all seriousness, we need to protect Brett for key plays, have All Day run all over the Saints shoddy run D, and hope that our secondary can stand up to Brees and the smorgasboard of receivers he has at his disposal. It’s gonna be a toughie!
As for my prediction, despite the fact I know we can win this, something tells me the mood in the camp isn’t quite right. No Rice is a biggie, and nerves will by sky high compared to the do no wrong Saints who are also at home (please don’t talk about crowd noise again). A 30-20 loss is what the pessimist in me says, it could be closer but it’s what my head tells me. My heart on the other hand says a 71-3 win with Brees’ arm falling clean off after a tasty hit from Ben Leber and Jared!

But don’t just ask me, there are other places that have a more positive outlook on things. The gab has a great in depth preview covering all areas of the field.

And Jazzy at the Viking Ship has been working overtime, playing Madden, checking the history books and getting all creative! Awesome stuff!

Well, it’s good to be back that’s for sure! I’ve had a torrid summer, full to the brim with work, work, work and wedding, wedding, wedding, not to mention the London Olympians who go into the Division 2 Southern Conference final this Sunday against the Hampshire Thrashers, and then hopefully the Div 2 Championship the week after. I’m hoping I can keep up the same volume of postings that I started this blog with, it was a lot of fun, and I hope this season I can really settle down in the blog and get some quality posts under my belt. There will certainly be plenty to talk about over the next 17 weeks and beyond. Here’s to a Super Bowl year for the mighty Vikings! Skol.

Tuesday Morning News – Caught in the Middle with Ray, Vikings were scared of Saints, and more from the Spielmeister

Good morning Purple Nation. This morning more stories have been milked from the teat of Rick Spielman who spoke at the Vikings’ Arctic Blast event last week.

Following on from his statements about the future of Chester Taylor and other free agents, Rick also touched on the loss to the Saints. It’s pretty much the same stuff that’s been said by players and fans for the last 3 weeks, but at least the guy is also trying to move things on, by looking ahead to next year, “You have to move on, you don’t have any choice… we are very hopeful that we can have a good draft and get some of these guys back and we’ll be right back where we were last year.” Rick will soon be in Mobile looking for Leprechauns and potential players for next year, they’ve certainly set some high draft standards of late, let’s hope they can keep up the good work.

Spielman’s other priority as mentioned was to keep hold of our unrestricted free-agents, but while the future for these guys is clear, the situation for restricted free agents is not. Defensive End, Ray Edwards is not happy about being “caught in the middle” with regards the current situation. As it stands, we have to offer Edwards a contract or another team can lay claim to him so our role is clear, but this doesn’t stop Edwards feeling left out in the cold. Most of his frustration luckily is aimed at the “pencil push[ing]” Commish, Roger Goodell, and also the Players union. We just need to make sure that we do retain his services and keep him sweet with us. Handle this right and he’ll be a loyal player for years to come, take advantage of his situation and he could understandably leave us at the first opportunity.

Edwards also took time to speak about the loss to the Saints. His comments have drawn quite a bit of interest however due to hinting that the team showed some fear as the game neared its unfortunate climax.

“There’s no room for fear in this game and I felt that there was a little bit of that there in New Orleans and that’s why they beat us,”

We’d had a few pieces of insight into the Saints game but this is one of the more interesting. Now I’m not surprised the team were scared as the end of the game approached, this was a chance to get to the Super Bowl for the first time in 30-odd years, but being scared and showing fear are two different things, and Edwards is right when he says we showed fear whilst the Saints didn’t and that’s what lost us the game.

Edwards also vents some frustration at the attitude of the Vikings’ coaching staff.

“We try to pride ourselves in trusting everybody that is on our team and I feel that it wasn’t [the case],”

On the one hand these comments are worrying. For a player to come out and say that they didn’t feel the coaches trusted their players at a given point isn’t what you want to be hearing, and there is a good chance that over the coming days that certain areas of the media will take these quote and run wild with them, particularly with his future undecided. But at the same time, he also accounts this breakdown in trust as a blip, a poorly timed blip, but a blip nonetheless. Either way, it is something that needs to be overcome because if we are going to make it to the Promised Land, we need to be able to cope with crunch situations.

From real news to happy go luck offseason speculation, here’s a little gem from Bleacher Report, and 10 Things for The Minnesota Vikings to do this Offseason. Some pretty standard stuff in there about Favre and Peterson, but also some interesting opinions on keeping Ray Edwards over Chester Taylor, getting a better player to kick the ball to touchback every time (something about Ferris Bueler), and also some scathing views on the true value of Jared Allen and telling it like is about Madieu Williams.

And that’s all folks, apart from another slightly dour FAVRE WATCH

Today, Daniel Beer reckons we need to worry more about Cedric Griffin than we do Brett Favre.

And Dave Carroll throws in his opinion on Brett’s season and on our options if Favre does pack it all in.

Have a good one everybody!

Skol!

Vikings Pro Bowl Preview, McKinnie-Gate dominates headlines

A very good morning to all you Vikings fans on this beautifully crisp Sunday morning. Apologies for no entry yesterday, damn did I miss a lot of gossip!

Well one story anyway, involving our “Pro Bowl’ offensive tackle, Bryant McKinnie. Following his earlier tweets that he wants to get in the best shape of his life, it seems that old Big Mac has spent most of his time in South Beach living it up in the club, rather than training with the rest of the NFC ahead of the Pro Bowl today.

Consequently he’s been kicked off the team. Now McKinnie has gone into damage control, posting all sorts of explanations onto his twitter page, mostly along the lines that he’s wasn’t feeling strong enough to play in the game and had been in touch with his trainer about this and was looking to pull out anyway.

There has been plenty of opinion on this from all over the web, but from where I’m sitting (In bed with a hot chocolate, watching Federer destroy Murray), the issue of what McKinnie was actually doing in Florida is irrelevant, though he could have been a little less obvious about what he was doing on his twitter. It’s more the fact that he should have just not turned up for the Pro Bowl in the first place. If he was injured, then pull out and let someone else take your place. McKinnie’s actions could well damage the reputation an event which was already struggling for recognition within the grander scheme of the NFL, and it’s certainly rattled a few cages within the game.

In contrast to McKinnie’s Pro Bowl attitude, our All-Pro, and 7th consecutive Pro Bowl selected guard, Steve Hutchinson is raring to go tonight, despite having shoulder surgery lined up in two weeks time. His “old school” view on the game centres mostly around the game just being plain old fun, and an opportunity to see a lot of players who you might not see on a given season. The Star Tribune also reports in the same article that Jared Allen is also looking to pick up a few sacks in this game. I think it would really be a hoot though if he lined up on both the AFC and NFC D-Lines just so he’d have another shot at killing Aaron Rodgers, who starts for the NFC team.

In that same article there’s some info on the 2010 season with regards free agency. It reports that if the new Collective Bargaining Agreement isn’t in place by March 5th, then the Vikings will not be able to acquire any Unrestricted Free Agents unless we offload some of ours first because we made it to the NFC Championship game. This could prove both interesting and potentially damaging, as free agency is something we’ve come to use to our advantage in recent years. There are more details on this story here too…

There’s a very good interview with Fran Tarkenton by Ryan Michael. There isn’t any real Favre-bashing in there, it’s more of a good interview with one of the greatest players ever to wear purple so check it out.

The Star Tribune have a good interview with Jon Gruden, who coached the Bucks to Super Bowl glory in 2002, and is now on Monday Night Football duty. Obviously Favre is the subject of the day, but he also addresses the age old question of what we have to do to get over the hump and finally win a championship.

The Saints have been fined a total of $30,000 for 4 late hits last week, 3 of which were on Favre. How about fining the referees for missing those calls too? Just sayin’…

And finally it’s time for a very muted FAVRE WATCH

And pretty much all there is today is comparisons to a “Classy” Kurt Warner who retired yesterday. I must say that Warner has earned the right to retire, but to call him classier than a 40 year old legend of the game who got beat to crap last Sunday and came back for more is a bit of a cheap shot in my opinion.

And that’s it, it’s b-fast time now!

26/01/10 – The cold, hard light of day

Last night, with a kind of morbid curiosity, I sat down with my fiancée to watch the highlights from last night. Enough has already been written about the game, the mistakes, the fumbles, the interception, and the poor calls from the refs. All I’m going to say is that it still stings, and is going to for quite a while.

What I’m being forced to do is to try and take solace in just about anything, for example:

1) I’d much rather we lost this, than lost another Super Bowl. Really! If you look at Super Bowl losers over the past 9 years, with the exception of the Cardinals, and possibly the Eagles, all the other teams have faded into obscurity or are in the process of decline. The Patriots, Bears, Seahawks, Panthers, Raiders, Rams and Titans all lost Super Bowls, and out of this list, only the Titans are starting to recover. Now of course I am making the assumption that we’d have lost to the Colts, but judging by our apparent curse, this is a pretty fair assumption to make.

2) The team could be galvanised further by this loss. Like I said, it’s not a Super Bowl loss, and given the manner in which we played and the bad luck we had in the game, there are still a lot of positives.

3) At least I don’t support the Cowboys. I mean I’d have to bathe in bleach every day just to try and wash all that icky fail off my skin.

More mourning in the coming weeks I’m sure, but for now it’s time to move on, sort of…

The Minnesota Star Tribune is taking a look at all the talking points from the game, and for me the biggest factor in our loss, the 12th man on the field. In quite possibly the understatment of the century, Chilly said on Sunday night that “We just had a fullback in there and we changed up and broke the huddle with 12… You can’t call back-to-back timeouts, either. I thought we slipped up there.” Slipped up. Really? I think it was more like dipping your nuts in honey, walking out into the woods, and then acting all surprised that a hoard of fire ants have rendered you infertile. It was not a slip up, it was the mother, brother, any other sucker of all “slip ups”! It was walking straight into the lions den armed with an etch-a-sketch and a pen lid.

Now it seems that Tahi might have been the full-back who wasn’t meant to be there in the huddle, and he was understandably cagey when questioned yesterday during the final locker room media day, fending off questions with a “Coach Childress will talk about it because I really don’t know what happened or what was going on. They’ll know more about it than I do.” I can’t imagine what he’s going through if he was the one at fault, but what is more likely in my opinion is that it was one of the coaches who sent him out there. More answers could come today though during Chilly’s final presser of the season, so more on that tomorrow.

There is still no news on the extent of Cedric Griffin’s injury, though all signs are still that it’s a torn ACL. Also added to the injury list is Antoine Winfield, who re-injured his foot in OT. Hopefully these will all be cleared up by the start of the new season, but I’m particularly concerned about Winfield, who was a shadow of his former self when he came back from injury this season. With any luck the off-season break will do him the world of good.

So with the Pro Bowl coming up this weekend, and very few of our players who were selected actually going, the only things left to do are to wallow in the defeat some more, fantasize about next season, wonder whether we’ll draft a new star QB or the next Troy Williamson, and stay tuned in to…

FAVRE WATCH!

In today’s edition, the Wilf’s could offer the old man a mega contract to stay on next season, Darren Sharper reckons he should come back, and ESPN’s Ed Werder claims Favre told him it’s very unlikely he’ll be back. *

*All items in Favre Watch should be taken with water, after meals, and in the knowledge that 99 times out of 100 they are concocted by the Jagermeister Troll (a bit like the Absinthe Fairy, only 300lbs and sporting an overgrown handlebar moustache)

And so the fallout from the Vikings’ loss begins…

Typical, you compose a 1000 word opening post, and then find a whole smorgasboard of other material to throw in there, here’s the best of the fallout from last night… just try to stay positive Purple Nation.

Check out Sports Illustrated’s Extra Mustard links today, including the Paul Allen radio call of Favre’s interception. I must say that we really don’t have anyone quite like the legendary PA over here in England. I love listening to this guy and the way he calls games. In fact I can even invision a sketch involving daily fails, with Paul Allen turning up and yelling “and it is…. NO GOOD” But seriously, he doesn’t sound best pleased with our #4…

But for how long will he be our #4? Not long according to Fox’s Jay Glazer. Well it looks like *cue Brian Fantana* “Favre Watch” is starting already, mind you I’m not going to take the word of someone who works in close proximity to Troy “look what they did to my precious Tony Romo” Aikman too seriously.

Nor am I going to listen to the Stupid SOB who puts the Stupid SOB into Stupid SOB (NBC’s Rodney Harrison), who said Favre should just go, and that it was destiny that the Saints won.

Having just chatted with my future Father-In-Law, destiny had nothing to do with it, more the NFL’s wish to have a fairytale with N’Orleans rather than the old man.

If this is a sign of things to come, it’s going to be a rocky off-season… bring it awwnnnn! You just gotta keep the faith, like this guy

Oh and spare a thought (as possibly a couple of punnets of grapes) for Cedric Griffin, who is going to be having a very quiet spring/summer thanks to a suspected torn ACL and possibly MCL too! It just gets better and better doesn’t it?

Vikings miss out on another Super Bowl – Not the best way for me to start out

Good afternoon Vikings fans in the UK, good morning to fans in the US, and welcome to my Vikings UK Blog. I decided to start writing this because, plain and simple, I love the Vikings, but I’ve also noticed a distinct lack of dedicated Vikings blogs out there especially from a UK perspective. Over the past 3 or so years that I’ve been supporting The Purple, I’ve come to rely on a  few newspapers and the NFL for all my Vikings goodness, but it just isn’t enough any more (especially after last night). I needed a personal blog, a fans point of view, and having been unable to find many myself (not saying the ones out there aren’t good mind you), I’ve decided to start my own. But enough of that, I’ll talk more about my journey as a fan of the Vikes over the coming months.

Now I wish that I could start my blog on the highest of high notes, writing about how with 19 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter with the score tied at 28-28, 11 men stepped out onto the battlefield of the Superdome, ran a couple of yards, and setup a 48 yard Ryan Longwell field-goal which flew gracefully between the uprights and sent the Vikings to their 1st Super Bowl in 33 long years.

I wish I could, I really do. But I can’t. Because, with 19 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter, with the score tied at 28-28, we put 12 men out on the field, 12 men broke from the huddle, and as a result we were penalized 5 yards. The following play saw Brett Favre roll out to his right, and with a good 5-10 yards of open field (and Bernard Berrian) in front of him to run into, he instead threw across his body to Sidney Rice, and was intercepted by Tracy Porter at the 22.The game went to overtime, the Saints drove right up to the Vikings’ 22 and then 23-year old Garrett Hartley connected with a 40 yard field-goal to send the Saints to Miami where they will face the Colts for the Super Bowl.

This was my first “exposure” to the bitter disappointment which has befallen hundreds of thousands of other Vikings’ fans across the globe. I know this is gonna hurt for quite a while, but my love for the Purple is still there, and I know that after last night, it will never fade.

The thing is that we played the better football. We totalled 475 yards on offence, we got four touchdowns, and we came back to tie the game twice against the #1 seed in the NFC in their own backyard. We outplayed them; the only unfortunate thing is that we also outplayed ourselves. We turned the ball over 5 times which you can’t afford to do in any game let alone in the NFC Championship. We did blow our change of ending a run of 4 (now 5) consecutive NFC Championship losses. But, and it’s a big but, we can walk out of Louisiana with our heads held high. For the past 17 games (it would be 18 if we’d actually turned up against the Chicago Bores) win or lose, we’ve been the talk of the NFL, we’ve been the team which has inspired in the NFL, and we’ve been the life of the NFL. The 2009 Minnesota Vikings will be remembered in the history of the game, and not because of our tragic loss last night.

Our team, led by the 40 year old, former Green Bay P*cker Brett Favre has been electrifying. From the last minute Greg Lewis catch against San Francisco, through the missed Ravens FG by our former kicker Steve Hauschka, right up until Garrett Hartley sealed our fate last night, we’ve lit up the league, and our team has carried, in the words of ol’ Chilly, the “Heart of a Champion.”

It is for this reason that I think we can all be proud of our boys and optimistic for the future. This team is still capeable of reaching the big game next season, the hunger is there, the passion is there, and quite possibly a certain Silver Fox will be there.

Yes, he did what so many predicted, even at the start of the season, throwing the game away with his final action, but after last nights heartbreaker, the battered and bruised figure of Brett Favre lumbered his way up onto the podium for the post-game press conference and looked like he’d just been in the ring with Mike Tyson and a Bengal tiger. He was clearly a broken man, both mentally and physically. Over the course of the game, the Saints hadn’t sacked him once, but they hit him, and hit him hard, a total of 11 times! He didn’t lose us the game, the team lost the game (with a little help from the officials). And for many out there who want to blame Favre, just try and think about where we’d’ve been without him this season. Nowhere is the answer.

Favre says that he needs some time to think about whether he’s going to don Purple again next year, but “[he] wouldn’t say months” so let’s all keep our fingers crossed over the coming weeks. The cynics can roll their eyes at the old man, but he needs the time. Who wouldn’t after a game like that? Pat Williams says he’s 50/50 for next season, and I can’t blame him either. But I get the feeling that they will both be back. Despite the loss, and the pain the team are feeling I still get the impression that there is an unbreakable spirit between the players, and I think they will want another shot at that which has elluded the Vikings since they first stepped out onto a field.

So here ends my first post. It is my aim to update this blog at least once a week with all the latest news from the Purple World, and to hopefully fill the empty void which now awaits us until football season kicks off again. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations.

I leave you with one final question: