Friday, October 30, 2009

OK, calm down!

I’m convinced that if (Brett) Favre ever left the Packers to voluntarily play with another team, you’d hear things like “Oh, he was just a pill-popping alcoholic” or “He threw too many interceptions anyhow”.
Brad Carlson - March 2007

Not sure I've heard any Packer fans get so personal as to invoke Brett's addiction to Vicodin. But the interceptions bit has been bandied about since Favre left Green Bay, and it's a fair criticism. But it was rarely acknowledged during Favre's tenure with the Pack.

This week more than ever, emotions are running high in Wisconsin. In case you haven't heard, the legendary former Packer QB is set to arrive in Lambeau Field this Sunday as a member of the hated Minnesota Vikings.

First off, I feel the need to correct the record and say that I don't believe all Packer fans are phonies and/or delusional. As a matter of fact, my Uncle Gene and my two blogging colleagues (and good friends), W.B. Picklesworth and Mr. D, are some of the more intellectually honest fans amongst Packer Nation. But when KFAN radio host Dan Barreiro starts getting e-mails from Packer backers saying Aaron Rodgers is the all-time second best Green Bay QB behind Bart Starr? That goes beyond the realm of absurdity.

Speaking of absurd, there has been talk all week of how the city village of Green Bay will greet Favre upon his return. A Wisconsin radio station came up with a rather unique, if not morbid, idea.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Perfect Peace

Wendy Killian attends the same church as my wife and I. We don't know her very well but are familiar with the horrific tragedy she endured about four years ago (see WCCO-TV interview she gave Wednesday).

It was a warm summer night after a Wednesday church service at Abundant Life church in Blaine. Killian was in her van saying goodbye to her best friends.

"My friend Greg brought his little girl, Joy, to my window to say goodbye to me. She was 2-years-old. She said goodbye to me and they went into the church," said Killian.

It was the last time she would ever see the toddler alive.

"As I pulled away, I drove about 5 feet and heard a thump," she said

Killian thought she hit the curb. She didn't. She accidentally ran over and killed her best friend's daughter.

"Everybody was screaming and I ran up to her and started praying and I said, 'God touch her. Do something.' Everyone was just frantic," she said.

Joy died instantly in front of the church entrance she apparently snuck out of.

I remember four years ago when I learned of this incident. My thoughts immediately turned to the parents of the toddler and the overwhelming grief they must have felt. But I also couldn't help but think of the myriad of emotions Wendy had to endure. Even if she had been nowhere near the scene of the accident, Wendy would have no doubt grieved heavily for the loss of her best friend's daughter. Now throw on top of said grief a tremendous burden of guilt for being involved in such an incident.

Killian could not forgive herself for years.

"I would replay it in my mind and you hear the screams," said Killian. She said she struggled with thoughts of hopelessness and not wanting to live.

Thankfully, Wendy stayed grounded in her faith knowing that God was the only one who could see her through the pain. And while Joy's parents became distant as time moved on, Wendy sought another venue which to communicate with them: she wrote a book.

The book's title, "To Have Loved," reflects the love Killian feels for Joy and her parents.

"I would just like to tell them that I love them," she said.

She hopes her book will show others who are suffering through tragedy how faith can work miracles.

"There's hope that they can make it through this and not to give up because everything in you wants to give up," said Killian. "No matter what you're carrying in life, no matter what you're going through, that God is always there and he's always there to help us. If we're willing to hand him whatever we're carrying, he will give us peace and give us freedom."

If you have read this blog for any length of time, you no doubt know that my favorite passage of scripture is 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which says "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Certainly Wendy isn't thankful for this tragedy in her life. But in that tumultuous time she was able to exemplify the perfect peace which is only attained through God's grace and mercy. It's a testimony that will undoubtedly lead others out of a period of darkness. More importantly, it's another example of Jesus Christ being the way, the truth and the light.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"O" for Obvious (or Overkill).

It has been revealed that the two Northwest Airlines pilots who shunned radio communication last week were busy using their personal laptops. Given the preoccupation, NWA Flight 188 overshot the MSP airport by approximately 150 miles last Wednesday evening. While the pilots are currently on suspension, review of this incident will likely result in the their firings.

Case closed, right? I mean, if there were a rash of incidents involving non-attentiveness of airline pilots, there would be cause for serious concern.

Well in these times of Government desiring to kill the proverbial fly on a wall with a sledgehammer, our senior US Senator feels the need to demagogue get involved.

"This may be the ultimate case of distracted driving, only this time it was distracted flying," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat and a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on aviation operations, safety and security. "The pilots should have been focused on safely steering Flight 188 home, instead of checking crew schedules."

YOU'RE FREAKING KIDDING ME!!!!! Next thing you'll tell me is that playing poker and drinking beer during the flight would have been out of bounds also. I mean, really, Senator. Why don't you just go ahead and point out more incredibly obvious facts, like there being a difference between soup and Thousand Island salad dressing (Well...that's obvious to most people).

"It is simply unacceptable," she said.

Uh Oh!!! Now we have a disgruntled US Senator on our hands. Any estimates as to how much time Congress will waste on denigrating the behavior of all airline pilots based on the behavior of two dolts? This has the making a bad "Dilbert" story line.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Plenty of gray areas

Every Sunday evening at 9:30 local time, I tune in to The Sports Show with local sports commentators Sid Hartman, Dark Star and Patrick Reusse. Mike Max is the moderator who throws out sports topics and the aforementioned curmudgeons regurgitate their opinions.

While opining on yesterday’s Vikings’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Reusse specifically referenced the interception thrown by Brett Favre with a minute to play and the Vikings trailing 20-17. The pass was actually tipped by Vikes RB Chester Taylor before it found its way into the arms of linebacker Keyaron Fox. It was subsequently returned 82 yards for a TD, capping a 27-17 Pittsburgh win. Upon rehashing the loss, many Vikes fans lamented the fact that it was the reliable Taylor not hanging on to the catchable throw from Favre which resulted in the final dagger. With that in mind, Reusse went on to suggest that had it been QB Tarvaris Jackson throwing the pass, the blame would have been heaped upon the quarterback as opposed to Taylor. Reusse also contended that the alleged fawning over Favre causes the Vikings faithful to shift the culpability to anyone but the QB. He didn’t elaborate, but I wondered if he was implying that many Vikings fans are too overly fond of having a white quarterback.

WHOA!!!! That’s quite a charge! How could you possibly draw that conclusion?”

Uh, from things Reusse has said in the past.

Go back to December 2005 when the Vikings were hosting, ironically enough, the Pittsburgh Steelers. After an 18-3 loss in which the Vikes offense was utterly inept, Reusse felt there wasn’t nearly the invective directed towards quarterback Brad Johnson as there would have been had Daunte Culpepper exhibited the same performance. In his column the following day, Reusse said this:

That serves to reaffirm that many Vikings fans are phonies at best, and overly fond of the idea of having a white quarterback at worst.

If you were among the thousands sitting there in silence as the offense stumbled through the second half Sunday, and want to claim you wouldn't have been screaming for Daunte's neck in the same circumstance, you are lying and you know it.

Man, what an arrogant putz.

Before that December '05 loss, Johnson had guided the Vikings to six consecutive victories, something that took fans totally by surprise. Expectations were not nearly as high for Johnson (then in his 12th season) as Culpepper, who was tabbed the franchise QB after his selection in the first round of the 1999 draft and was runner-up for the MVP award just a season earlier. In fact, Culpepper's first season as full-time starter (3,937 yards passing and 33 TDs in 2000) ingratiated him to Vikings fans until a drop-off in performance over the next two seasons. Fair or unfair, the disdain for Culpepper stemmed from his inability to maintain the high level of play he had shown in previous seasons.

But the frustration over Jackson's mediocre performances had to do with the fact that there were zero expectations that he could succeed in the NFL. So when T-Jack was soundly booed, it was less personal towards him and more a message to coach Brad Childress that he was vastly overrating Jackson. It was at the behest of Childress to trade up to the second round to acquire Jackson when no other team had him projected higher than mid to late third round. Vikings fans felt precious time was slipping by given a strong supporting cast around a QB who many felt couldn't lead the team to the proverbial Promise Land.

So do I believe Reusse was invoking the race card on Sunday? No, I do not. Given some of things he has written in his time as a Twin Cities sports columnist, he's nothing more than a condescending gent who feels he's our intellectual superior in every way.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where have you gone, Chris McAlister?

Purple Nation turns it's faint hearts to you!!

While Vikings' fans wait with nervous anticipation regarding the severity of cornerback Antoine Winfield's foot injury, we know Karl Paymah isn't up for the job. Why not a free agent corner with 26 career interceptions?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rush flushed

Given the backlash, Rush Limbaugh being dropped as a potential investor in purchasing the NFL’s St. Louis Rams should come as no shock. Even though the sale process was in the very early stages, there were clear indications that the consortium led by Dave Checketts (with Limbaugh holding only a minority stake) would have had a difficult time receiving 75% approval from the other NFL owners.

But in a classic example of why sports writers should stick to writing about sports, writer Mike Florio totally misses the point and in some cases is flat out wrong in his analysis.

We continue to anticipate the launch of Rush Limbaugh's Thursday radio show, during which he'll surely blame the decision to drop Limbaugh from the group that is attempting to buy the St. Louis Rams on Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the media, and possibly anything and everything but the forces of the free market that Limbaugh otherwise embraces.

(In this regard, we're not saying that Limbaugh doesn't have legitimate grips with Sharpton, Jackson, and/or the media. But the reality here is that the decision of the NFL not to do business with Limbaugh reflects a prime example of a business determining its own course without government intervention.)

Sure, Limbaugh could disagree with the reasoning the NFL owners might use to deny his exclusion from buying in to an NFL team, but he wouldn’t denigrate the vetting process itself. Rush appreciates and understands business and free enterprise, even if Florio doesn’t. But the problem here is the quotes attributed to Rush (i.e. “slavery had its merits” or “the NAACP should practice robberies”) that were the likely catalysts in his removal from the investment group. Said quotes appear to be totally and utterly fabricated since no audio evidence has been produced (Rush is a radio guy for crying out loud. Shouldn’t be that tough to prove). The media, Sharpton, Jackson, et al are all free to object to Limbaugh’s attempts at buying in to the Rams. But to use information that hasn’t a scintilla of truth would completely fly in the face of the “free market” process to which Florio refers. Besides, libel and slander are still against the law, last time I checked.

But we also hope that Rush will reconcile Checketts' characterization of Limbaugh's intended role in the ownership group with Limbaugh's statement from last week confirming his involvement in the effort.

Specifically, Limbaugh said that he and Checketts would operate the team.

In a statement confirming that Limbaugh had been dropped like a freshly-polished limbo pole, Checketts painted a far different picture.

"Rush was to be a limited partner -- as such, he would have had no say in the direction of the club or in any decisions regarding personnel or operations," Checketts said. "This was a role he enthusiastically embraced."

The two versions can't be much different…

If Florio were a field goal kicker, he’d be “wide left” on that attempt. Truth be told, Checkett’s quote that was cited is in line with the Rush’s first public statement regarding the issue. On his radio program on October 7, Limbaugh said he was “part of a group with Dave Checketts that has put in a bid on the St. Louis Rams. And that’s all I can say. And that’s true. ” The key word there is group. Notice that Rush never said he would be involved in the day-to-day operations of the team or be a “co-owner”. Lest we forget, Limbaugh still runs the most popular radio talk show in America. He certainly doesn’t have the time to engage in both endeavors. To me, it went without saying that Limbaugh’s role with the Rams was always intended to be as a minority investor.

….and we're beginning to believe even more strongly that this was indeed a publicity stunt, and that it has achieved exactly what Limbaugh intended.

So he can now hammer away at his real and perceived enemies. And maybe, just maybe, he'll be able to persuade any of the remaining folks who have no opinion about him that he has been screwed.

Again, any investment group with Limbaugh’s inclusion might have been rejected by the NFL, even without the slanderous rhetoric attached to Rush. Fair enough. But this entire one-week circus had little to do with buying an NFL franchise and much more to do with the blatant attempts of those with their own skeletons to assassinate a man’s character. And it also gave sports scribes like Florio an opportunity to sit at the grown up’s table and delve into issues that transcend sports. Bravo!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Inevitable stupidity

When it was announced that conservative titan Rush Limbaugh was part of a group proposing the purchase of the NFL's St Louis Rams, the reactions were almost predictable. Naturally, the flap over his comments on ESPN SIX FREAKING YEARS AGO would be conjured up once more.

But the head of the NFL players union struck first with incredibly vapid objections.

NFL Players executive director DeMaurice Smith on Saturday made a move to solidify the union against a bid by conservative talk show radio host Rush Limbaugh as part of a group that aims to purchase the St. Louis Rams.

In an e-mail to the union's executive committee on Saturday specifically addressing Limbaugh's bid, Smith said, "I've spoken to the Commissioner [Roger Goodell] and I understand that this ownership consideration is in the early stages. But sport in America is at its best when it unifies, gives all of us reason to cheer, and when it transcends. Our sport does exactly that when it overcomes division and rejects discrimination and hatred."

Limbaugh is constantly tagged with these idiotic labels, yet no concrete examples of hatred or discrimination are ever given. I guess being the strongest advocate for such things as personal responsibility and American exceptionalism will get one tagged with such labels.

Besides, the only reason Limbaugh's personal views are such an issue is that he makes a living by making said viewpoints known. If other NFL owners were subjected to similar probes, how many would get full support from the NFLPA? That's a fact not lost on a surprising Limbaugh defender.

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC defended Limbaugh's right to buy the Rams. And Olbermann made the critics of Limbaugh on this point entry No. 3 on Olbermann's nightly "Worst Persons in the World" segment of Countdown.

"They're now gonna be character tests for sports owners?" Olbermann said. "There'll only be three of them left. Unless they beat the Vikings Sunday as of next Thursday it will have been a full year since the Rams won a game. My God, if Limbaugh wants to buy them far be it for me to tell him he's flushing his money down a rat hole."

Exit question: Is Olbermann now considered a de facto racist for his defense of President Obama's harshest critic?


Just a friendly reminder...'s not how you start, it's how you finish.

For the third time in the past ten seasons, the Minnesota Vikings have started a regular season 5-0. While that's nice, it guarantees absolutely nothing.

The previous two seasons in the past ten which the Vikes got off to such a nice start?

2000: The Vikings actually started 7-0 with first year starting quarterback Daunte Culpepper at the helm. But they seemed to hit a wall after week fourteen when they had a 11-2 record. The Vikings would go on to lose their final three regular season games, allowing an average of 35 points per contest. The season culminated in the NFC title game, a horrific loss to the New York Giants. That's a game affectionately known as "41-doughnut".

2003: With Culpepper having one of his finest seasons as a pro, the Vikes would start 6-0. But once again they inexplicably floundered, losing the next four games and six of their final nine. In one of the uglier ends to a regular season, the Vikings lost to the pitiful 3-12 Arizona Cardinals, thus being eliminated from playoff contention.

Am I excited for the 5-0 start? Sure. But no team ever clinched a playoff birth with five victories.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Welcome to my world, Brett

Happy birthday to a fellow 40-year old!


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Metrodome memories

It was July 15, 1982 when I attended my first Twins game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. A bunch of young, rag-tag ball players made up the Twins roster by that point in the season. Earlier in the year, owner Calvin Griffith jettisoned such notable veterans as Roy Smalley, Butch Wynegar, Rob Wilfong and Doug Corbett in an effort to shed payroll. As a result, the Twins fashioned a dreadful record of 28-59 going into this game against the Detroit Tigers.

Since we obtained our tickets to said game through the local rec center, my buddies and I were all stuck in the center field upper deck. See, as another cost savings measure the Twins organization wasn’t even making available tickets for the lower left field seats. The hope would be that fans who desperately wanted to be in the lower decks would instead opt for the more expensive seats around third and first base.

But I digress.

As young teenagers, my friends and I were in awe of indoor baseball. Imagine, no game would ever be rained out again! No more taking a bus all the way to the ball park and sitting in a torrential downpour waiting for the game to start! In our minds, the Metrodome was a veritable eighth wonder of the world! So it didn’t bother us in the least that the Tigers scored 11 runs in the top of the first inning. Even though the Twins would go on to lose 18-2, we had the time of our lives!

Over the next 28 seasons, I would attend scores of baseball games in the plastic ballpark. I was front and center for the surprising divisional race in the then American League West division back in 1984. I would also be among less than 10,000 fans present for a game the last weekend of the 1990 season when the Twins would finish in last place. Of course, I found a way to attend nearly twenty games the following year when my favorite baseball team made that magical “worst to first” run, winning their second World Series in five years! This year, for the first time ever, I was a partial season ticket holder.

So will I miss the Metrodome itself? Not in the least, considering what the Twins are getting in the new Target Field. But I will always cherish the memories of the many games I was privileged to watch!


Tuesday, October 06, 2009


PSST. Guess who's the only QB in NFL history to defeat all 32 teams??


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Another A.L. batting title?

With the American League Central division title on the line, Tuesday's one-game playoff with the Twins hosting the Detroit Tigers still counts as a "regular season" game. That said, Twins catcher Joe Mauer has not been officially declared the A.L. batting champ.

So what has to happen for Mauer to not win his third batting title? If he goes 0 for 18 on Tuesday, then Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki is your 2009 American League batting champion.


Game 163.....again!!

On Sunday, September 13, the Detroit Tigers beat the Toronto Blue Jays to improve their record to 76-66. Meanwhile, the Twins shut out the Oakland A's, giving them a record of 71-72. With the Twins 5-1/2 games out of first place with 19 to play, many Minnesota sports rubes (myself included) started focusing on the start of the NFL season. The logic of course was that if Detroit merely played .500 baseball the rest of the season, the Twins would have to go a whopping 15-4 just to tie for the division lead. And since power hitting first baseman Justin Morneau had just been declared out for the season, no one was giving the Twins a chance.

So what happened?

The Tigers did indeed go 10-10 in their final twenty games. And inexplicably, the Twins somehow won 15 of their final 19 games to force, for the second consecutive season, a one-game playoff to decide the American League Central division title!!

Tuesday, 4:00 pm at the Metrodome, the Twins will host the Detroit Tigers for the...ahem...."privilege" to play the New York Yankees in the first round of the playoffs.