Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"O Hamlet, Thou hast cleft my heart in twain."

If, as Pro Football Talk is suggesting, Randy Moss ends up on the Green Bay Packers, there will be unprecedented sorrow expressed at PV. That is more than we could take.

Imagine d'Artagnan joining the Cardinal's guards. Unfathomable.

Real tears could flow.

Just so you know.

Day Job: "They" is not singular, and a link on film narrative

We're doing a little experiment here at PV. This is primarily a sports blog, but I'm thinking of incorporating a bit of non-sports chatter into the routine. If I write a non-sports post, I'll always include "Day Job" in the title (so that if you are here to read only about sports, you know what to gloss over). They won't be all this boring, I hope.

Despite the insistence of stubborn English teachers, the plural pronoun is becoming a singular genderless pronoun. This is used not just in everyday English speech, but by the mainstream media. More and more often I hear somebody on TV use "they," "their," or "them" as a pronoun to refer to a singular subject. You know: "A person shouldn't take their work home with them." Something like that, where the plural pronouns "their" and "them" are used to refer back to the singular noun "person." It's easy to fix this agreement problem: either make the noun and pronouns all singular, or make the noun and pronouns all plural. But to many people it doesn't sound wrong, so nobody seems to be fixing it. And I'm not just talking about live broadcasts--I'm talking about narration in which there should have been time to proofread and revise.

Every time I hear it, I grit my teeth and squint as if somebody has just poured hot wax over my head. I just can't stand it.

I see it less often in professional writing, as there's a higher standard of grammar in writing (though I rarely read a freshman paper without the same error).

Help me, people. On issues of grammar, English teachers are among the most conservative people on earth. Language always evolves: what is grammatically correct today may not have been grammatically correct a century ago, and may not be grammatically correct a century from now. But help me prevent "they" from becoming the genderless singular pronoun.

Thanks for your time. I'd also like to provide an interesting link for you to check out:

"The New Disorder: Adventures in Film Narrative" by David Denby (The New Yorker)

Denby explores why films seem to be playing around with chronology so much. My theory: film is just slower than literature, and mainstream film is now doing with novelists and poets have been doing a long, long time. If you want fragmented narrative, just try T. S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" or William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury." Film just takes a little time to catch up to what is going on in fiction (this is also my theory for the rise in meta-fictional film. If you'd like to read perhaps the best model of metafiction, try John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman). But Denby gives the recent film trend of fragmentation and re-ordering some insightful treatment.

In praise of Drew Bennett

There is a veteran that should be the Vikings' top free agency priority. The Vikings should--nay, MUST acquire this man.

This man is Drew Bennett.

Drew Bennett is a 6'5" athlete. He's fast. I know a white WR is either supposed to be a possession receiver or "deceptively fast," but Bennett is just fast. He can go deep and make plays.

Drew Bennett has the size, speed, athleticism, and shiftiness to transform the Vikings' offense. Indeed, give Brad Childress a singular talent like Bennett, and Brad Childress might just transform football offense as we know it. Drew Bennett is the playmaker the Vikings need to get to the Super Bowl and win the damn thing.

You may look at Drew Bennett and see an average NFL wide receiver. You, however, are an idiot. In the right system, Drew Bennett can be an elite WR. His size allows him to make plays short; his speed allows him to make plays long. There's really nothing Drew Bennett can't do on the football field. He would instantly be the best WR on the Vikings' roster. Hell, if the Vikings talked Anthony Carter out of retirement, HE would instantly be the best WR on the Vikings' roster, we know that. But Drew Bennett is a special, special football player. We should march on Winter Park until the Vikings recognize this and run--RUN--to sign him.

And besides, according to his wikipedia page, he has memorized the movie Ghost (let me tell you how suprised I'll be if this is just a wiki prank that will be removed momentarily: not at all).

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This colossal wreck

One year ago today, I looked about the internet and thought perhaps I had something original to contribute to the sports blog community, and so this humble blog was born. One year...perhaps on the way home, I'll pick up a vegan cake. Um...perhaps not.

The Minnesota Vikings may never win a Super Bowl in my lifetime, and this depresses me in unimaginable ways. I sometimes wonder if my entire philosophical worldview would be different had the Vikings won the Super Bowl in 1998. Perhaps existential ideas like futility, absurdity, and hazard would make less sense to me. As it is, my outlook is dour. How we follow sports can tell us something about how we live our lives, or at least I like to think so. So I hope that this blogging matters. It's mostly been good fun expressing ideas between classes. But thanks to those who take the time to read this blog, and thanks to those bloggers out there who give us something to read and think about. Blogs have made following sports much more fun. If I'm going to trudge through this weary existence without seeing the Vikings win the Super Bowl, at least I'll have this.


To celebrate this anniversary, let's let Percy Shelley remind us of the significance of all our earthly endeavors.

"Ozymandias" by Percy Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said--Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The Next Ten: Dirk Nowitzki

For the 96-97 season, the NBA named its list of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players. For 06-07, we at Pacifist Viking will be adding 10 players to the list. We are not the first to re-examine the list of the greatest players. But you know what? We're the best.

Dirk Nowitzki is a rare talent, and he's only recently come into his own. In 2006 he averaged 26.6 ppg and 9.0 rpg and led the Mavericks to the NBA Finals ('06 playoffs: 27.0 ppg and 11.7 rpg). Playing the league's most talent-rich position, he's been All-NBA 6 times, including All-NBA first-team the last two seasons (this season he will undoubtably be All-NBA first-team again).

This season he's averaging 25.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg with some AMAZING shooting numbers (50.4% FG, 42.7% 3pt., 90.6% FT) in leading the Mavericks to the best record in the league. He'll turn 29 this summer. No doubt he's going to go down as one of the most versatile basketball players of all-time. He will also go down as one of the greatest.

Dirk Nowitzki is akin to Goethe, because I am lazy.

Previous Players: Bob McAdoo, Dennis Rodman, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Reggie Miller, Allen Iverson, and Jason Kidd.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Bloggers: your reputation is in your own hands

It's become a commonplace story for bloggers to express moral outrage. A blogger comes up with some bit or some scoop; somebody from the "mainstream media" uses said bit or said scoop without crediting the blogger; bloggers express outrage. Recently, The Big Lead suspects a scoop of its own was used without credit by PTI. A few months ago, YAY Sports was upset with Scoop Jackson for stealing a bit. Last year Colin Cowherd used some material from the M Zone. And people were (rightly) angry about these things.

That's fair. Anytime you are borrowing somebody else's ideas, you should identify the source of those ideas. I teach English; I emphasize again and again that you must cite any borrowed material. Bloggers have the right to moral outrage when their material is used without credit, or even when their comrades in blogging have their material used without credit.

But, Mr. High Horse Blogger, you probably have your own issues to worry about.

You're probably flouting copyright law every time you blog.

Because photos are copyrighted material. Just because it is easy to copy and paste pictures with a computer doesn't make it legal. Just because everybody else is doing it does not make it right.

If you are going to use a photo that you lifted from somewhere around the web, at the very least you need to credit the source of the photo. But I'm not even sure that's legal. Probably, you need to get permission to use the photo. There are a few exceptions. "Fair use" generally means you can copy borrowed material "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research" without infringing on copyright, according to Title 17 of the U.S. Code. But I doubt using a recent photograph to supplement your blog entry, without comment on said picture, fulfills the standards of Fair Use.

There are also a lot of images out there that are now in "public domain." These images could be in the public domain for any number of reasons (usually they're just old), but once they're in the public domain, they're yours to use.

But I'm no copyright lawyer (maybe someday). There are other sources you can use to learn more:

The University of Maryland University College provides data on fair use and copyright.

Here's information from the U.S. Copyright Office (probably a reliable source on copyright) on Fair Use.

The U.S. Copyright Office also gives you the actual legislation.

Bitlaw deals directly with using images online.

So I join you in your moral outrage; members of the mainstream media should not use material from blogs without identifying their sources (though it's legitimate to ask at what point a story is just "out there" as "common knowledge" and no longer requires citation). But when you decide to get morally outraged, make sure you're not participating in a similar transgression.

We know who Peter King DIDN'T like

Peter King is the sort of douchebag who likes players at the combine if they call him "sir" or "Mr. King." And if you read today's MMQB after the combine, it's not hard to pick out a player King evidently doesn't like. Not because King explicitly points out anything the player said or didn't say to him, but because it's a guy he's chosen to make fun of more than once in his column.

Here's King's "Quote of the Week III" (remember what I said--roman numerals are for philistines):

"Just look at my body of work at USC. I won a national championship as a freshman. I've been all-American two times, broke every record at USC, fourth in NCAA history in scoring touchdowns. I had 41. So look at the film.''

--Trojans wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett, sounding a tad bitter at the prospect of dropping in the draft. He's projected to be a late first- or second-round pick, dropping in some scouts' eyes because of average quickness and a perceived difficulty in getting away from quick corners in bump coverage.

OK. Nothing much to that--though King did choose this quote. Remember, sometimes the reporter doesn't have to inject bias, but shows bias in what he chooses to report about. Showing Jarrett sounding "a tad bitter" then talking about his flaws, is a deliberate choice.

Then look at "Quote of the Week IV":

"I respect him, he respects me, and that's how we pretty much differ.''

--Dwayne Jarrett, on his relationship with former USC wideout Mike Williams.

Was that English he was speaking?

Do you think that Peter King is going to use a player's quote, then say "Was that English he was speaking?" for a player he likes? I don't think so. If King likes a guy, he's not going to go out of his way to insult his use of the English language; he'll save that for guys he didn't like.

Besides that, I'd like to see this quote in context. What is the question he was answering? Was it just, "How do you and Mike Williams differ?" If so, the answer actually makes sense. Mike Williams sucks in the NFL. Jarrett, another USC WR that might be slow, doesn't want to be compared to Mike Williams because that would be bad. However, he is a USC alum with Williams (did they play together, too?) so he doesn't want to insult him by pointing out the ways that Williams sucks and the ways that he, Jarrett, is good. So he avoids the question by saying they respect each other. Fine.

But King isn't done making fun of Jarrett:

a. Dwayne Jarrett said Saturday that Pete Carroll's coaching staff at USC "is the best coaching staff I've ever been around.'' What a tribute! Did you know the USC coaching staff is better than New Brunswick (N.J.) High's? Amazing.

OK. Jarrett said something cliched and meaningless--just like EVERY athlete and EVERY coach says MANY things that are cliched and meaningless. But as a columnist, King gets to pick and choose which lame and meaningless quotes he's going to make fun of. Do you think Tiki Barber ever says anything cliched and meaningless? Brett Favre? Do you think King will make fun of them?

Jarrett must have annoyed King in some way at the combine. Didn't call him "sir." Didn't recognize him. Didn't give him time to answer questions. Who knows? But King has made the effort in his column to make fun of Jarrett, so I have little doubt Jarrett did something that, to King, signified a lack of respect. Because King thinks he's earned the respect of a person he's never met or helped or done anything to or for in his life.

King said other dumb things. Calling Troy Smith "a little Napoleonic, "BUT" a "natural leader." His moralizing over the gore in The Departed. The same brain-dead moralizing schlock he comes with every week.

But as time goes on, if you find that Jarrett becomes one of King's weekly whipping boys, don't be surprised--you can see it beginning here.

Darrell Jackson, anyone?

According to the News Tribune (found via PFT), the Seattle Seahawks (infamous whiners) may try to trade Darrell Jackson. I don't know what the Vikes would have to give up to get him, but whatever flaws Jackson has as a player, on the Vikings he would instantly be 10 times better than any other WR on the roster.

We're in the pure fantasy and speculation phase of the football year, folks. Let me fantasize about David Carr throwing zingers out to Darrell Jackson.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Chuck Klosterman on Viking fans

You can read Michael Rand's interview with Klosterman at Randball.

Here's a selection:

"unlike football fans in other cities - Viking fans actually enjoy the experience of losing important games; it somehow validates the futility of their existence. There is some abstract, undefinable quality that makes anyone associated with the Viking organization a failure....If Minnesota ever won a Super Bowl, it would be like Sisyphus losing his rock. As such, Viking fans are not tortured at all. They are simply embracing their self-reflexive doom to the highest possible degree. It’s actually somewhat noble."

Um...I guess. But I already understand the futility of my existence; I would sort of like a championship to give me a few smiles on my journey into the abyss.

Oh, and this is almost the exact opposite thing Klosterman once said in an interview with Bill Simmons:

"What I love about Red Sox fans is their sense of doomed destiny; they almost want to lose, because that failure is romantic. This is far different from, say, Minnesota Vikings fans, as they always believe -- and I mean always -- that this is the year. And it never is, and it never will be."

As Walt Whitman said, "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

David Carr, future Super Bowl MVP with the Minnesota Vikings

I'm going to say what needs to be said: David Carr will be the best QB in the league soon, and anybody who thinks otherwise is a philistine.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

So, who is the 60th greatest basketball player?

At this point, I'm willing to take suggestions: what player, either current or former, should be added to the PV list of the 60 greatest players?

Here's the original NBA 50 team, and here's the players we've added so far: Bob McAdoo, Dennis Rodman, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Reggie Miller, Allen Iverson, and Jason Kidd.

I really had no problem coming up with these nine players: the only questions I had concerned Reggie Miller, and I kept forgetting about Jason Kidd (though he clearly belongs), but I'm fairly confident in this list. I just don't know who else to add.

Hoops Hype looked at players 51-60 about a year ago, so you can look to that list for ideas.

Here are some players I'm considering:
Dominique Wilkins: the scoring averages from '85 through '93 are impressive.
Dirk Nowitzki: For six straight years he's been averaging 21+ points and around 9 rebounds per game. The last few years he's brought his game up a notch, and his best years could be in front of him.
Tracy McGrady: I'm not a fan, but he does have those two scoring titles.
Dwyane Wade: Is it too early? Players who win championships as the best players on their teams so early usually have historical status.

How about some of the ABA's MVPs? Choices not already on our list include Connie Hawkins, Mel Daniels, Spencer Haywood, and Artis Gilmore. Or should we consider two-time BAA scoring champion, Joe Fulks?

I'm open to suggestions. Let's hear your ideas.

And if you're interested in this subject, you should enjoy Elliot Kalb's book Who's Better, Who's Best? in Basketball. It's a good read and a good basketball history primer, even though his arguments are frequently fairly weak. For example, he ranks Shaquille O'Neal as the best player ever without really providing a sound argument for why he's better than Wilt or MJ. His arguments seem to be that Shaq almost won more scoring titles (so what?), that he's a great rebounder (OK...except that he NEVER led the league in rebounding. Not once), and that he's been great in the playoffs (he never really shows convincingly that his playoff performances were drastically superior to a lot of other all-time greats). Each chapter works fine as an essay on its own (except the George Gervin chapter--his analysis of how many points Gervin's poor defense cost the Spurs never really works), but his actual rankings of one player over another are unconvincing, almost like he's not bothering to try convince you of the rankings.

Media Bias in Sports: " Former Viking Robinson gets 90 days in jail"

My Packer fan friend Rob, a sometimes commenter at PV, sent me the following in an email:

how the media works: sports headline: former viking robinson gets 90 days jail.

not: 'packers wr robinson gets 90 days jail.' nice huh? what clearer
illustration of bias and prejudice in the media can you find?

It's true: go see for yourself. It's possible that since this is an AP story picked up in St. Peter, MN, the focus is framed around a Minnesota connection. But when using that AP story, isn't it a bit awkward for SI to use that headline on its NFL page?

The Next Ten: Jason Kidd

For the 96-97 season, the NBA named its list of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players. For 06-07, we at Pacifist Viking will be adding 10 players to the list. We are not the first to re-examine the list of the greatest players. But you know what? We're the best.

In this decade, Steve Nash is starting to overshadow Jason Kidd as the best point guard in the league. While Nash may be brilliant, this is completely unfair. In Jason Kidd's career, he has led the league in assists per game 5 times, been second in the league in assists per game 3 times, and been in the top-5 in assists per game another 3 times. Compare that to Nash, who so far has led the league twice and been in the top-5 a total of 3 times. Kidd has the numbers to claim the title of greatest passer of this era.

Jason Kidd has been All-NBA first team 5 times. He's been NBA All-Defense first or second team 8 times. And he carried a less than inspiring Nets team to the NBA Finals two years in a row. He's done so by being in the top-5 in assists per game a whopping 11 seasons. He's one of the top point guards ever to play the game, and easily one of the 60 greatest players ever.

Jason Kidd is akin to Christopher Marlowe. Here is Marlowe, stepping up as the great poet and playwright of his era--and then gets completely overtaken by William Shakespeare. The difference is that we are right to consider Shakespeare the master over Marlowe; I find it hard to argue that Steve Nash is better than Jason Kidd. You could even argue that Nash is Marlowe to Kidd's Shakespeare: Kidd, like Shakespeare, has the much larger and more impressive ouevre. But we'll deal in perception and call Kidd the Marlowe to Nash's Shakespeare.

Previous Players: Bob McAdoo, Dennis Rodman, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Reggie Miller, Allen Iverson

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Next Ten: Allen Iverson

For the 96-97 season, the NBA named its list of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players. For 06-07, we at Pacifist Viking will be adding 10 players to the list. We are not the first to re-examine the list of the greatest players. But you know what? We're the best.

Allen Iverson has won an MVP and four scoring titles. He's led the league in steals per game three times. He's got a career regular season scoring average of 28 ppg (3rd all-time, behind only MJ and Wilt) and a postseason scoring average of 30.6 ppg. Without much talent around him at all, Iverson took the 76ers to the 2001 NBA Finals. He's a unique player and historically accomplished (only three other players--Jordan, Wilt, and Gervin--have four or more scoring titles). He is easily one of the 60 greatest basketball players of all-time.

Iverson is akin to Langston Hughes. Iverson is often credited with bringing the hip hop attitude to the NBA; he refused to compromise his life, attitude, or image for anyone. Hughes is credited with bringing the rhythms of black music (jazz and the blues) into poetry. Hughes also refused to compromise his artistic vision: he famously said that a black poet that wants to be known as a "poet" and not a "black poet" is trying to write like a white poet, and he expressed unconcern over whether white people liked his poetry or not.

Previous Players: Bob McAdoo, Dennis Rodman, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Reggie Miller

(photo by Carl Van Vechten, in public domain)

Monday, February 19, 2007

1st round bust to Super Bowl champ

We're turning this blog into "We Love David Carr" for the time being. Here is a list of the quarterbacks that were first-round picks, were considered busts by the teams that drafted them, then won Super Bowls as starting quarterbacks with other teams.

Len Dawson (first-round pick of Steelers, won title with Chiefs)

Jim Plunkett (first overall pick by Patriots, won two Super Bowls with Raiders

Doug Williams (first-round pick of Buccaneers, won Super Bowl with Redskins)

Steve Young (first-round pick of Buccaneers, won Super Bowl with 49ers)

Trent Dilfer
(first-round pick with Buccaneers, won Super Bowl with Ravens)

Gee, maybe the Bucs should have held onto some of their first-round QBs? In addition to these three that won Super Bowls, Vinny Testeverde went on to have a solid career playing for competent teams.

Could David Carr become one of these QB busts who rewrites his legacy with a Super Bowl win? I don't know. Certainly there are many more busts that failed and never revived their careers with championships. But here's the thing: David Carr never sucked in Houston. As the Insomniac mentioned in a previous post, we kept waiting for Carr to have a breakout season, and it never came. But he also never bottomed out: he was a mediocre QB on a bad team. We could ascribe his mediocrity to being a young, inexperience quarterback who didn't get very good coaching, who played on an expansion team, and who rarely had a chance to succeed playing behind a poor offensive line (he was sacked at an historic rate). He's never been so awful as to make me think he can't be good. With a better team, with a better offensive line, with better offensive coaching, with more experience, Carr could become a good quarterback.

And the Vikings have no better option for 2007, anyway. Tarvaris Jackson may be a superstar QB someday, but I doubt that day will come in 2007. If they're going to get a competent veteran to play for a year or two, they could do worse than Carr, who has had some success and is still young enough to be considered a potential good QB.

UCLA defeats Arizona

When I made the existential choice to root for UCLA, I might have considered location. If I had chosen a Big Ten school, I'd get to watch them play every weekend. As it is, on Saturday I got my first chance to watch the team I've been following from afar (the Bruin Basketball Report does a good job summarizing games). Here are a few observations on this team, based on what I saw against Arizona.

Darren Collison
Collison is a much better point guard for this team than Jordan Farmar was. Farmar dribbled a lot, looking for his own shot; Collison moves the ball around, getting teammates good shots and constantly pushing the tempo of the game. Don't get me wrong, Farmar was great: it's hard to criticize his style of play on last year's team when he was the best player on a team that got to the NCAA championship game, and if he were on this year's Bruin team, he might alter his game to better suit the team's abilities. But right now, Collison is a wonderful point guard.

Against the zone
After UCLA opened up the game with domination, Arizona switched to a zone. The zone was occasionally effective (and it was much more effective than man to man was), but the Bruins still managed to break it. They broke the Arizona zone just the way you're supposed to break a zone: move the ball around quickly, hit your outside shots, run the floor, and penetrate to alter the zone. They were particularly good on Saturday at making their three pointers: there were stretches when the team was really hot, and a few players hit some DEEP threes.

UCLA should be good in the NCAA tournament because they match up so well with anybody; they shouldn't get a bad matchup against a team with a style they can't match. They can run the floor, they can play stifling defense, they have a competent post game, they can rebound, they have outside shooters, they have versatile scoring guards and swingmen--it's a formidable team.

The Next Ten: Reggie Miller

For the 96-97 season, the NBA named its list of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players. For 06-07, we at Pacifist Viking will be adding 10 players to the list. We are not the first to re-examine the list of the greatest players. But you know what? We're the best.

Reggie Miller may be the greatest shooter in NBA history. He's the career NBA leader in three-point field goals. He led the league in three-point field goals twice, and led the league in FT% five times. And he was no mere shooter that only got open looks set up by the rest of the team: he was a killer scorer that defenses needed to account for. His career scoring average of 18.2 ppg includes six seasons with over 20 ppg. And in the playoffs, he brought his game to another level. I'll never forget the 25 points he dropped in the fourth quarter against the Knicks all while taunting Spike Lee. And that's just the most famous of many great playoff performances.

You could make the argument that Miller doesn't belong on a list of the 60 greatest players of all-time. As I said, he's arguably the greatest shooter in NBA history, but he was never recognized as a dominant performer (though capable of occasional dominant performances). But if I left Miller off the list, I'd be deliberately leaving off the most accomplished three-point shooter ever, and that doesn't seem right. Plus I'd have the Beav to deal with.

Reggie Miller is akin to George Herbert. Herbert is best known for gimmicky poems like "Easter Wings" and "The Altar," poems that are actually shaped like the thing being described. But beyond these gimmicks, Herbert is a master metaphysical poet. His entire collection The Temple contains moving, thoughtful, invigorating poetry. Still, while Herbert deserves mention as an all-time great poet, one cannot say he was the best poet of his era--there are several 17th century poets that are superior. Miller, too, is known as a somewhat gimmicky, one-dimensional player: he's one of the all-time great three-point shooters, and his clutch playoff performances are the stuff of legend. But Reggie Miller's gimmicky career added up to the sum of 25,279 points. He's an all-time great player by any standard. And like Herbert, Reggie Miller was never the best player of his era (he was never even all-NBA first OR second team), but he is memorable and great.

Previous Players: Bob McAdoo, Dennis Rodman, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett

PV guest post at

If you like my (ongoing) bit paralleling NBA greats with poets, you might enjoy my guest post at today, where I give the same treatment to some current NFL players. And while you're at it, keep checking out it's an excellent football database (simple and easy to access), and they do some really interesting stuff with the numbers on their blog.

Friday, February 16, 2007

David Carr and Tarvaris Jackson

Aquiring David Carr does not mean abandoning Tarvaris Jackson.

If the Vikings sign somebody like Jeff Garcia, it is time and the way of all flesh which requires we would have him for 1-2 years. It will be accepted, practically required, that Jackson then will take over the reigns. Hopefully he'd be ready.

If the Vikings sign somebody like David Carr, it is the Vikings' choice to have him for 1-2 years. If he is average, then they can have him for a short time and turn it over the Tarvaris Jackson. If he is good...well, then they never have to turn it over to Jackson.

When you have a QB with "potential," you don't know whether he's actually going to be a good quarterback. At best, it's a 50-50 proposition. At best. If the Vikings get a 1-2 year solution with the intention of starting Tarvaris Jackson around 2008, what do they do if Jackson turns out to be no good? Then the Vikings get to suck.

But what if they had options? Who says you can't have 2-3 good young QBs on your roster, and find out which one can turn into a franchise QB? If the Vikes have two guys who could become the QB for the next 10 years, well, then they've got twice as good a chance at finding their franchise QB than if they have one.

I do this on Madden all the time: when I draft a QB, I don't KNOW that he's going to become a star. I hope he will, and I've invested in him, but I don't know. Then, if a QB with potential opens up cheaply or in a later round, I'll get him too. If that first option doesn't work out, there's a chance the second option will. You just never know.

The idea that you are only allowed to have one QUARTERBACK OF THE FUTURE, and that if you acquire another QB under 30 you have given up on your QUARTERBACK OF THE FUTURE is ludicrous.

Tarvaris Jackson may be the Vikings' franchise QB. He may not. But there is no reason to bank on it, to set the franchise up in such a way that requires him to be the franchise QB by 2008 or 2009. It can only help to have other options, to have somebody else who might be able to take that franchise QB label. Jackson is a second round pick--he's actually cheaper than a lot of backup QBs, so there's no reason not to keep him. Carr makes a fair amount right now, but if after one year he proves worth it, great, and if he doesn't, you can either abandon him or renegotiate his contract.

It just makes too much sense to bring in David Carr. He'll be 28 in 2007. Perhaps he went through is growing pains with another team so he doesn't have to with the Vikings (if Jackson does become the guy, expect some early struggles like in 2006). He may turn out to be the Viking QB of the future. He may not. And bringing him in to play QB for the Vikes is a long, long way from Childress and company saying "we were wrong about Jackson; he'll never be the franchise QB." Either could, and if both are good, then all the better.


Tim Hardaway's comments should not be the story that it is. Yes, it should be a news story; we should take note when a celebrity says such a thing. But radio hosts, bloggers, writers are spending WAY WAY WAY too much time on this story. Why? Tim Hardaway said some awuful things--awful things that you've probably heard said before. Hardaway ADDED NOTHING NEW TO THE DISCOURSE ON HOMOSEXUALITY IN AMERICA. We now know where he stands, but the things that he said have been out there in our society for a long time; there's no reason for this to be the catalyst to make sportswriters talk about it nonstop.

And now I'm going to use this as a catalyst to talk it.

I do not like the term "homophobia" or "homophobic." It's not that I disbelieve in the concept of homophobia, but that the word is applied too broadly. In it's broad application, we label people homophobic who should require some other word; by labeling these people homophobic, I think we distort the discourse. Here are the two groups of people that are often called homophobic but should not be.

People who are prejudiced or bigoted against gay people
We don't call a racist "blackphobic," and we don't call a misogynist "femiphobic." Bigotry does not equate to fear (perhaps bigotry stems from fear, but it does not equate to a "phobia"). A phobia implies something psychological that may be beyond a person's control that needs to be restrained. Bigotry, certainly, is a result of social conditioning, but there's still an element of conscious choice. A lot of the people who hate gay people are not homophobic, i.e., afraid of gay people. They are bigots that require a different, stronger word. heterosexist, perhaps. The term homophobic has come to be the equivalent of "racist" or "sexist," but to me that term distorts what it is. and should not be applied.

People who believe homosexuality is morally wrong
There are people who, usually for religious reasons, believe homosexuality is sinful or wrong. I disagree with these people; furthermore I think in a free society these people should not obstruct freedom and equality for gay people. However, these people have a moral stance that is an "idea." They are not afraid of gay people. Many of them do not hate gay people. They think gay people are morally wrong; they have a concious idea, not a less than concious fear. Certainly you are free to disagree with them, but unlike a bigot, you might have a chance for rational dialogue and discourse with these people (not always--a lot of the people who believe homosexuality is wrong mix in, or are hiding, the outride bigotry, hate, and prejudice of the first group). Applying "homophobia" to this group of people does not help that dialogue; it only distorts what it is. If you are arguing with somebody who believes homosexuality is wrong, and you refer to that person as "homophobic," you are not allowing a clear rational discourse, because the labels have distorted what you are arguing about.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

David Carr

Steve Young wasn't terribly exciting as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Jim Plunkett was a bust with the New England Patriots. And right now, the only people who care about those two facts are Buc and Patriot fans.

If David Carr could be on the Vikings for a late-round draft pick, they MUST acquire him. There is no fourth-round pick that is going to be better for the Vikes than David Carr. He instantly gives the Vikes a competent veteran QB who still has potential and youth.

David Carr will be 28 during the 2007 season. Jeff Garcia will be 37 during the 2007 season. If the Vikings could acquire Carr and choose not to, and they do acquire Jeff Garcia, I am going to have a VERY hard time rooting for the Vikings in '07. What foolishness! Jeff Garcia shouldn't even be a consideration right now (and hopefully, he's not, but the rumors persist). David Carr should be a PRIORITY right now.

Dang, I'm excited about the Vikes for the first time in almost two months. The idea of going into 2007 with either Brooks Bollinger or Tarvaris Jackson as the immediate answer at QB left me bored, frightened, a little tipsy. The idea of David Carr, once touted enough to be the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft but struggling on an expansion team behind an historically bad pass blocking line, excites me to no end. I would once again be totally jazzed up for the Vikings.

This has to happen. We need to be excited. Another season of dreary offense and wasted defense would be too much. Give us some hope.

Jump on the "David Carr to Vikings" ship, people, because this is the best ship that's going to pass these ports for some time.

Grab Sack

Yelling Louder made me laugh with its look at lesser-known moments in black history.

The Star Tribune gets a look at the Vikings pre-free agency plans. Yes, we've reached a point in sports history with pre-free agency planning. The planning for the part that plans for the next season. Ce la vie.

Free Darko explores balancing love and sports (PV main squeeze Possible Flurries watches football with me all day on Sundays).

And the Fanhouse makes me think my "The Vikings could have a young competent veteran QB with potential in 2007" dreams come alive. Yes, I would be ECSTATIC if the Vikings traded for David Carr. ECSTATIC. I see no better option at QB for '07, and there is still potential for this guy stuck behind an expansion line for five years.

And finally, I'm changing my moniker back to "Pacifist Viking." I am still a vegan (cue the athlete cliches: "Nobody believed in me," "There were a lot of people who doubted me," or Tom Green's "There's a lot of people that are hoping I die today" which might have been the funniest thing I ever saw), but if you're going to have an online identity, it's good to have one clear, unified identity. So we're back to Pacifist Viking, who is still a vegan. Sorry to anybody who was bothered, annoyed, or confused.

The Next Ten: Kevin Garnett

For the 96-97 season, the NBA named its list of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players. For 06-07, we at Pacifist Viking will be adding 10 players to the list. We are not the first to re-examine the list of the greatest players. But you know what? We're the best.

Kevin Garnett won an MVP in 2004, cementing his place in NBA history. He's been All-NBA first team four times, led the league in rebounding the last three seasons, and is a virtual lock for a double-double every game. He's been a 20-10 guy for the past eight seasons. He's of a new generation of power forwards, athletic and versatile.

The problem is, we don't know how good Garnett may be. He's been on a mostly awful franchise for his entire career, rarely playing with competent teammates. He's never had any post help on the Timberwolves to take pressure off him, and he's only had one serious chance at an NBA title. He is truly one of the 60 greatest players of all-time, but his career is in some ways known for disappointment, for losing, for what he has not been able to do.

Kevin Garnett is akin to John Keats. Keats was a poet of limitless potential, and the poetry he did produce has stood the test of time. He's known for the brilliant Romantic poetry he did produce--but there's also so much that he might have accomplished that he could not. He died at 25 of tuberculosis; he could not accomplish all that he hoped he would, and he knew it (see "When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be"). Kevin Garnett has been saddled with a tuberculosis of his own, a tuberculosis that goes by the name of Kevin McHale. This tuberculosis has cut short Garnett's brilliance, preventing him from becoming seriously considered in "the greatest ever" discussions. Like Keats, who might have gone on to be "the greatest ever" but is instead still a major poet, Garnett will be recognized as an all-time great but will never be considered the greatest. Oh what might have been.

Previous Players: Bob McAdoo, Dennis Rodman, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sport in Poetry: A.E. Housman's "To An Athlete, Dying Young"

“To An Athlete, Dying Young” by A.E. Housman

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
An set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
Afer earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

What do we have in this poem, a message given from the poet to a dead athlete?

In the first two stanzas, we have an unexpected parallel. The first stanza describes a victory parade for the victorious athlete, with townspeople lined up in the streets to cheer. The second stanza describes a funeral procession for the very same athlete, with townspeople lined up to mourn. The parallel tells us of the unlasting quality of earthly athletic achievements—and by extention all our earthly achievements.

And what’s this? In the third stanza we find we’re not reading a conventional elegy. The poet tells the dead athlete that he is a “smart lad” to die early. Why? Because he “slip[s] betimes away/From fields where glory does not stay.” The athlete died in his glory; had he lived a long life, he would certainly not have died in his glory. Nobody expects a record to last; no man stays champion forever.

The fourth stanza lines “And silence sounds no worse than cheers/
After earth has stopped the ears” has a modern resonance. We see aging athletes hanging on past their prime. Why? They don’t want to give up the cheers, the competition. There’s a pain in the silence. Or, if you prefer to think of it another way, when you play, you might hear silence, or boos, or cheers. But when you’re dead, what do you care? It doesn’t matter anymore. Silence, cheers, who cares? You can’t hear anyway. There's also the implicit meaning that silence or cheers don't matter for much in life, either, since you'll die eventually anyway and they'll be pointless.

By dying early, we learn in the fifth stanza, the athlete will not wear his “honours out”; he will not be one of the “Runners whom renown outran/ And the name died before the man.” If he lives a long life, he will be forgotten—his fame will fade before his body will, his name will die before his body does. It’s better, says the poet, to die young, in your prime, when everybody still respects, honors, and knows you, than to live a long life and be forgotten for your youthful athletic exploits.

The strong motif is the “laurel,” the award for victory. It is a plant; it will wither and die. So too will the athlete’s exploits; so too will all our exploits. And in the last two stanzas, the poet reminds the athlete (and other athletes, and other people) to die early, to die with “The still-defended challenge-cup” (could we also compare this to an athlete retiring as champion—John Elway retires as Super Bowl winner, and he never again has to suffer losing or failure on the athletic field? Think of the earlier line "Eyes the shady night has shut/
Cannot see the record cut"). And all the people will flock to the grave of an athlete who died young; will a lot of people flock to the grave of an old retired athlete who’s prime was long, long ago (does the NFL even care for it’s retired athletes by covering medical expenses for broken-down football players)?

The subject is athletics and death, but the message is for all of us. Fame is fleeting, glory is temporary, time is punishing, and death ultimately wins every game.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Grab Sack

The Daily Norseman sums up my feelings on Jeff Garcia becoming a Viking. Actually, the Daily Norseman almost sums up my feelings on Jeff Garcia becoming a Viking. I would add in a lot of punching myself in the throat to stop myself from screaming uncontrollably.

If we are going to laugh at the death of an animal, we can laugh at the death of a human being. At least Yelling Louder assumes so.

The City Pages does feature blogging about sports, like comments on last night's T-Wolves' win.

The New York Times reviews two books on Piston Pete Maravich.

And finally, I did my first liveblog this weekend...of a local news broadcast. This is a blog that I and others write for about the Twin Cities (mostly local TV but also comments on cheapness and various inanity), so check it out if you're interested. I read sports blogs that mix a lot of non-sports posts in and I really enjoy that; I don't do that much here because I've compartmentalized my life too much (I also "try" blog about literature and theory elsewhere). It's also why I only link to blogs that are "primarily" about sports on this site, since I link to a lot of other business on the other ones).

The Next Ten: Kobe Bryant

For the 96-97 season, the NBA named its list of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players. For 06-07, we at Pacifist Viking will be adding 10 players to the list. We are not the first to re-examine the list of the greatest players. But you know what? We're the best.

Let me say this about Kobe Bryant, one of the 60 greatest basketball players of all-time: I like him better as a selfish player than as an unselfish player. There are plenty of guards in NBA history that can average 28 ppg while getting teammates involved; there's nothing terribly historic in that. But when Bryant just shoots as much as he wants and dominates individually, he is historic and mythical. Last season he averaged 35 ppg, with games of 61 and 81 points. That's the kind of performance we want to see from this four-time All-NBA first teamer, three-time NBA champion, dynamic scoring threat. Don't show us your mundane versatility; show us the domination with which you are capable of filling out a box score.

Bryant is akin to Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer was once accused of rape too, but nobody seems to care about that anymore, either.

Previous Players: Bob McAdoo, Dennis Rodman, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash

Favre v. Marino

Read the post at

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Next Ten: Steve Nash

For the 96-97 season, the NBA named its list of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players. For 06-07, we at Pacifist Viking will be adding 10 players to the list. We are not the first to re-examine the list of the greatest players. But you know what? We're the best.

Steve Nash doesn't have the numbers to belong in this class. But all MVPs should be included, and though Nash's two MVPs are controversial, he still has two MVPs. And what he's done for the Phoenix Suns, the NBA, and the game of basketball has been outstanding. He's still in the process of one of the more memorable runs in NBA history.

Steve Nash is akin to Walt Whitman. Whitman destroyed conventional poetic form, pretty much inventing free verse. He revolutionized the very idea of poetry, remaking it in ways never before imagined. But he didn't just break from convention into free verse: he wrote spiritually moving, artistically inspiring, intellectually invigorating poetry. He opened everything up and made us see poetry differently, and nearly everyone approves. Nash has done something like that to basketball.

Previous Players: Bob McAdoo, Dennis Rodman, Tim Duncan

The Next Ten: Tim Duncan

For the 96-97 season, the NBA named its list of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players. For 06-07, we at Pacifist Viking will be adding 10 players to the list. We are not the first to re-examine the list of the greatest players. But you know what? We're the best.

Every player who has won an MVP that was not on the 50th anniversary team will be on the Pacifist Viking 60th anniversary team. And that includes one of the top two or three players of this decade, Tim Duncan.

Duncan is obviously one of the 60 greatest players; he might be one of the ten greatest players (in Elliot Kalb's book, he was 9th). Three championships (and the best player on the team for all three). Two MVPs. Three NBA Finals MVPs. I just wish we would call him what he is: a Center.

Tim Duncan is akin to Alexander Pope: fundamentally sound, technically skilled, but ultimately dull. He inspires nobody; we remember him because we have to remember him, not because we want to.

Previous Players: Bob McAdoo, Dennis Rodman

Grab Sack (links and comments)

It’s not even worth commenting on, but it’s worth observing: Rush Limbaugh thinks the media is too hard on Rex Grossman because he is white. One could write a lengthy essay pointing out the absurdity of Limbaugh’s claim, but one could also write a lengthy essay pointing out that cat is spelled C-A-T. It just doesn’t seem worth the effort.

Pro-football-reference has expanded its historically playoff statistics.

Fanhouse, how dare you get me to dream of Larry Fitzgerald with the Vikings! How dare you!

FreeDarko looks at perception of homosexuality in NBA lockerrooms.

Outsports compiles some of the reactions to John Amaechi’s book.

Blue Viking Devil, some people root for teams that manage to handle their rivals at home.

Ron Artest mistreats his dog. I’ve got some issues about how the PETA blog addressed this. As I attempted to comment on their blog, “Is it necessary to title this post 'Thug Life'? Is it necessary to bring up a crime that Artest has absolutely no involvement in? In criticizing Artest's treatment of animals, is it really necessary to perpetuate negative stereotypes of black athletes? PETA seems better than that.”

Learn about new Viking defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.

Here’s a college president talking about eliminating a college football program.

Check out Peyton Manning's average regular season.

Leslie Frazier as defensive coordinator should work out fine. We don’t know a ton about what he’s going to do, but there’s no reason to lower our expectations for the 2007 Viking defense.

To Michael Irvin’s detractors: Blow it out your ass. Just because you don’t like him doesn’t mean he’s not a deserving HOFer. Just because you like Art Monk doesn’t mean Irvin isn’t a deserving HOFer. If you think Troy Aikman is a HOFer, then there is no question Michael Irvin is a HOFer. He was an obnoxious man as a player, and he's an obnoxious man as a commentator, and that means a lot of people don't like him. That doesn't matter--he's one of the great NFL receivers and deserves to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

As I’m extremely picky about which books I pick up to read, I doubt I’ll ever get to John Amaechi’s new book, but I’m still interested. It’s not as big a story when a former player (and a mediocre one at that) comes out--it will be huge when an active player comes out—-but stories like this put homosexuality in sports into the mainstream conversation, which is a good thing.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Next Ten: Dennis Rodman

For the 96-97 season, the NBA named its list of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players. For 06-07, we at Pacifist Viking will be adding 10 players to the list. We are not the first to re-examine the list of the greatest players. But you know what? We're the best.

How could the greatest rebounder in NBA history not be considered one of the 60 greatest players of all-time? Dennis Rodman led the NBA in rebounding 7 times. His actual numbers are not as high as Wilt's rebounding numbers, but they played in different eras; there were other rebounders near Wilt in his era, but Rodman was so far superior to all his contemporaries that he stands out for his brilliance. Look at the list of the top rebounding seasons of all-time. Of the top 30 rebounding seasons in NBA history, 29 came in the 1960s (Wilt in 1972 is the exception, and Rodman's top season ranks #31). Rodman has the best rebounding season since 1972, and the two best seasons since Wilt retired. There are only 6 players included in the top 100 rebounding seasons of all-time that posted their numbers after the 1970s (Rodman has 7 of those seasons).

He was a seven time All-Defense first team player, a two time Defensive Player of the Year. He won 5 championships; everywhere he went, he contributed to making that team better.

As the best rebounder of all-time, as one of the greatest defenders of all-time, and as a five-time NBA champion, Rodman is one of the 60 greatest players who ever lived.

Rodman is akin to Edgar Allan Poe. Like Poe, Rodman's brilliance never hid his tormented and haunted soul; in fact, his brilliance seemed a direct result of his soul, as if it exuded directly from it, and put the eccentric individual all the more on display. Both are remembered in large part for their weirdness and creepiness, but that weirdness and creepiness led to a greatness that should be remembered on its own.

Previous Players: Bob McAdoo

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Next Ten: Bob McAdoo

For the 96-97 season, the NBA named its list of the 50 Greatest Basketball Players. For 06-07, we at Pacifist Viking will be adding 10 players to the list. We are not the first to do so. But you know what? We're the best. We'll start not by adding a contemporary player, but by adding the most egregious omission from the 50th anniversary team.

How could anybody leave Bob McAdoo off the list of the 50 greatest players in NBA history? Evidently he's an unlikeable guy, because there is no justification for leaving him off the list.

He won an MVP. He was the only NBA MVP left off the 50th team.

He won three consecutive scoring titles (and all three seasons were over 30 points per game).

And later in his career he was a solid contributor on championship teams, earning himself two rings.

Are you going to tell me you wouldn't take McAdoo the player or McAdoo's career over Dave Bing, a guy who was on the 50th team?

McAdoo is one of the greatest players in NBA history. There's no way to say that a player who won two championships, three scoring titles, and an MVP isn't one of the 60 greatest players. We're adding him to the PV 60th Anniversary Team. And that means only 9 players from the post 96-97 era get added, but so be it. This isn't the first time we've written about the underappreciated McAdoo, and for good reason; people need to recognize the greatness.

Another part of this "The Next Ten" gimmick will feature matching a poet with the player based on arbitrary standards. For McAdoo, we've chosen Percy Shelley: spurts of short-lived brilliance, but enough of an ouevre to stand the test of time, though ultimately overshadowed by the other greats of the age (for Shelley Wordsworth and Keats, for McAdoo Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). You know, I've seen Shelley referred to as "Shelley," "Percy Shelley," and Percy Bysshe Shelley," but never "Percy B. Shelley." That sounds comically made up. So let me as an English professor begin to popularize "Percy B. Shelley."

Outsports on the Snickers Commercial

Cyd Zeigler Jr. at Outsports has a good column about the overreaction to the Snickers ad with the two mechanics kissing, and I think he's got the right interpretation of the ad's meaning:

"The sophisticated message seemed to be that the overreaction of "straight" men to homosexual contact is completely irrational...the reaction of the men was so ridiculous that it made the reaction of straight men to homosexual contact the butt of the joke, not the kiss itself."

That's the joke--not that being gay is bad, but that traditional masculine fear of homosexual associations are ridiculous.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Realistic Best Case Viking Scenario for 2007

What was that bang? gave us a great Viking offseason plan, but he didn't give us the best case scenario. The REAL best case scenario is to trade Brad Johnson straight up for Peyton Manning, trade the rest of the offense to the Chargers for their offense, and trade the defense (sans KW and PW) to Baltimore for their defense, then trade a late-round pick to the Patriots for Belichik.

But let's try be reasonably realistic. I want to give a projection for the best case scenario that we could realistically expect from the Vikings.

Trade for David Carr; hope he's good.
I'm always looking around for the next Jim Plunkett. Plunkett was a the #1 pick in the draft, and never seemed like much of a QB with the Patriots. But when he got to a talented Raider team, he was good enough at QB to help them win two Super Bowls (and he was MVP of one of those games). Perhaps it's overly optimistic to think that an early-round pick that bottoms out could flip into a career of decency as a championship QB, but it's always possible.

In five seasons with the expansion Texans, David Carr hasn't looked like much of a QB. But he has been the most sacked QB. We know he has played behind an atrocious offensive line and that he hasn't had a load of talent around him (Domanick Davis had a few decent years as a RB, and Andre Johnson looks like a really good WR, but that's it). He's never put up good numbers (though Dom Capers has never had a QB throw for 20 TDs); he's never won many games.

Maybe, just maybe, he can turn things around.

Chad Greenway, Erasmus James, and Tank Williams recover 100%.
Greenway and James are first-round picks who haven't had much chance to contribute for the Vikings. If they can recover to be contributors, the Vikings can be much improved. Maybe Greenway could move to MLB, since E.J. Henderson and Ben Leber are solid OLBs. James might be able to provide that outside pass rush the Vikings missed so badly in 2006.

Sign Dwight Freeney or Jared Allen
There are solid pass rushers in free agency. The Vikes could go get one of them.

Draft a WR at #7; hope he's an all-pro quality player.
It's hard to get stud WRs in free agency; the Vikes have to work hard at scouting, draft a WR, and hope he is their stud. But they don't just need one new WR

Sign a decent WR to be a #2.
Drew Bennett's available and he's fast.

Acquire a TE with speed.
Whether it's through the draft, trade, or free agency, the Vikes need a TE that can get separation from linebackers and even make plays downfield. Jermaine Wiggins is a solid possession TE, but he isn't fast, he doesn't get open easily, and he doesn't do anything downfield.

Get improvement from players already on the roster at key spots.
Bryant McKinnie was lousy in 2006, but I believe he was dealing with an arm injury. If he can improve into a dominant LT (it is possible), and Hutchinson and Birk do more, the Viking offensive line could be potent. Can Ryan Cook improve and play competently at RT? Can Cedric Griffin handle being a starting CB? There are players on the team with the possibility for improvement.

Get no regression.
We don't know how many great years Pat Williams has left; let's hope a lot. Kevin Williams is young enough that we can expect more good years, as is E.J. Henderson. Antoine Winfield is a talented, versatile CB, and he needs to maintain his skills.

What I've listed here is, as I said, a best case scenario. But it's a reasonably realistic best case scenario. There's a lot of hope and unknown in these suggestions, but there is a possibility in all of them and even a probability in some. Football always gives us the chance to hope for next year, because there's real opportunity to improve in the offseason.

(Blue Viking Devil used a very deception title of his previous post. There's going to be no "Blog Hiatus" just because he's not posting for a few days. He's just one man; I'll still be blogging like a madman).

Monday, February 05, 2007

Blog Hiatus

I will not be posting on the blog for a bit of time. Also I have no comments on the Superbowl since I did not even watch one second of it. The reason for both of the above statements is because I am currently camping out to maintain my #1 spot in the graduate line for Duke vs. UNC at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday. That is right folks #1 which means I get to have my normal spot of standing on the floor directly under the visitor's basket first half and Duke's basket second half. This is two years in a row I have been #1 in line and unfortunately the last year I will be #1 since I graduate from Divinity School in May. I plan to be back in full force around mid-February after my week journey back to the frozen land of Minnesota. Look forward to my dissection of fan heckling along with a story and picture.

I no longer can call Peyton Manning a loser and for that reason alone I will cheer for the Colts to go 0-16 next year.

post-Super Bowl (5)

Historical Comparisons

The 2006 Indianapolis Colts
The 06 Colts compare favorably with the 1976 Oakland Raiders. The Raiders were a team that was always good--check out their regular season records from 1967 to 1977. They were actually in the AFC championship game 5 straight years (73-77), but until 76, they always came up short. Then in 1976 they were spectacular, going 13-1, overcoming the Steelers in the playoffs (they had met in the playoffs the previous four seasons, with the Steelers winning three of the games), and finally getting the validation of a Super Bowl victory. They are now thought of as one of the great teams of the 70s, though the Steelers are THE team of the 70s.

The Colts under Manning have had seven playoff appearances; all seven of those playoff seasons featured 10 win seasons and five of them were 12 win seasons. The Colts have been a spectacular regular season team that just always came up short. They've finally broken through. Given the way the team is built, one can question whether they will get through and win another one in this decade (though Manning always gives them a chance--he's that good). They probably won't be remembered as the team of the decade--that's the Patriots. But they broke through and they don't have to have the reputation as losers, as a team that was always losing in the playoffs.

The 2006 Chicago Bears
When looking at all the Super Bowl losers, it's hard to find a comparison for the Bears because we don't know what is going to become of the Bears. 5 of the first 6 Super Bowl losers went on to win a Super Bowl within 10 years. Will that be the Bears, and will this Super Bowl loss be remembered in history merely as a stepping stone? There are teams that made multiple Super Bowls but always lost--the Vikings (69, 73, 74, 76) and the Bills (90,91, 92, 93) most notably. And then there are the teams that lost one Super Bowl but were never closer to a championship than the year they lost (at least not with the same nucleus, like the 72 Redskins, the 80 Eagles, or the 94 Chargers). We don't know who to compare the Bears to. So much depends upon what they do at quarterback, because they've got the great defensive personnel and a great scouting front office that always finds more great defensive players to add.

post-Super Bowl (4)

Around the web, it seems people are quite enamored with Prince's halftime performance. I'll just say what inevitably needs to be said:

At least one purple-clad Minnesotan was on the field at a Super Bowl. I hope we don't have to wait too long to see another one.

post-Super Bowl (3)

Michael Irvin's career was FAR superior to Art Monk's career

Art Monk
Michael Irvin

On the surface, Irvin and Monk seem remarkably comparable. Both were WRs for 3 Super Bowl champions. Their cumulative numbers are similar, with Monk far superior in receptions (Irvin: 750, 11,904, 65; Monk: 940, 12,721, 68). Their playoff numbers are both good, with Irvin holding a slight edge (Irvin: 16 games, 87-1,314-8; Monk: 15 games, 69-1,062-7).

But we have to look closer.

Monk's cumulative numbers came in 16 seasons, while Irvin's came in 12 seasons. For Monk, that's 224 games; for Irvin, that's 159 games. Monk accumulated great numbers, but Irvin did as much in less amount of time (he also did more with each catch: a 15.9 average to a 13.5 average). It's almost stupid to compare the cumulative numbers when Monk played in 65 more games than Irvin.

It's clear that season by season, Irvin was better. Monk's career high for receiving yards was 1,372; Michael Irvin passed that number 3 times. Irvin made 5 Pro Bowls to Monk's 3. Irvin led the Cowboys in receiving yards 8 times; Monk led the Redskins in receiving yards 4 times.

Irvin was more often among the league leaders than Monk.

Monk was in the top ten in receptions 4 times, in yards 3 times, in receiving TDs 1 time, and in yards from scrimmage 0 times.

Irvin was in the top ten in receptions 4 times, in yards 6 times, in receiving TDs 5 times, and in yards from scrimmage 4 times.

I see no way to suggest that Monk was a better WR than Irvin, nor that Monk had a better career than Irvin. Monk had 190 more receptions--which he caught in 65 more games. Irvin did much more with his 190 fewer receptions--he's less than 1,000 yards and only 3 TDs away from what Monk did in those 65 more games.

Michael Irvin deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Perhaps Art Monk does too, but he doesn't deserve it more than, or even as much as, Michael Irvin.

post-Super Bowl (2)

This photo shows Christ driving the Bears out of the Colts' way for Tony Dungy. It is also suitable for this post because it includes El Greco's Hall of Fame in the bottom corner (the real reason I picked it here).

The guys I liked (Michael Irvin and Thurman Thomas) made the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Read about it at the HOF website and at SI. Dr. Z also chimes in with a few comments.

And if anybody wishes, I can write the extended commentary on why Michael Irvin is better than Art Monk. Basically, you must look closer than cumulative numbers.

This isn't the sort of post usually has in it's blog, but it's good.

The WBRS Sports Blog wonders if Rex Grossman's reign in Chicago is over. We hope not. We want Rex's craziness in Chicago for years to come.

The Big Picture wonders who the next big choker is.

Outsports has its Super Bowl commentary. And Outsports isn't enamored of Tony Dungy (but I am--while I agree with the scoffing at his comments, he does have a consistent belief system, he lives by it seriously, and he desires to share this belief system. That's not an inherently bad thing. I'm also not convinced that Dungy's work with this organization means he doesn't like gay people. Though that may be the case, this organization's values probably match up with a lot of other real pro-family issues that Dungy often champions. I've never heard Dungy trash gay people, though I've often heard of his work promoting responsible fatherhood).

PETA never gets to run Super Bowl commercials.

And a college chancellor comments on the Bowl system in college at Inside Higher Ed. There are some thoughtful takes.

post-Super Bowl

Even Keel in Celebration
Tony Dungy is well-publicized for his even keel approach to coaching. You never allow yourself to get too up or too down; you maintain a calm attitude in any type of performance in order maintain consistency in performance. In any sport, you're going to have great performances and lousy performances; if you let the emotions of highs and lows get to you, the lows can linger and harm future performance. It's an approach to coaching and sports that I think is effective and practical.

However, the Colts were a little too mellow in victory. Did they realize what had just happened? Tony Dungy is now probably a Hall of Fame coach. Peyton Manning now has no asterisks in his legacy and everything he needs to lay claim to the greatest ever title (just wait--in a few years, you're going to hear it constantly). The Colts of the 00s are no longer the great offensive juggernaut that always came up short in the playoffs and could never get over the hump; they're now champions and their legacy in history is secure. I expected them to be jumping around like fools.

Of course, CBS limited their camera coverage almost exclusively to Dungy and Manning. When they showed other Colt players, there was a lot of cheering and smiling like goofuses and unabashed euphoria. I'm of the opinion that when postgame celebration starts, there should be no commercial interruptions for about 30 minutes. We're seeing the culmination of everything the football season is supposed to be about; it's almost as important to see the celebrating as it is to see the game (almost). And without the extensive commercial interruptions at this point, there would be time to show more of the players celebrating like gomers.

We also learned in the postgame that God hates the Bears. He was on the Colts' side during in this one. Who knew?

The First Quarter Was Like a Video Game
Here are a few things the first quarter featured:

--a 92 yard kickoff return for TD
--a 53 yard TD reception (and Reggie Wayne was Tecmo Super Bowl open on that play)
--a 52 yard run
--four turnovers
--a bobbled snap on an extra point

Basically, we got a full game's worth of big plays in the first fifteen minutes. Almost literally, since after the first quarter the game settled down into a bit of a mundane contest.

Peyton Manning as Super Bowl MVP
If I could vote, I would make Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes co-MVPs (Harvey Martin and Randy White are the only co-MVPs, for Super Bowl 12). But if one player is to be Super Bowl MVP, Manning was the most deserving in Super Bowl 41. He controlled the game, dominating the first half (after a slow start) and then slowing things down to allow the running game to dominate the second half. He did more for his team than some other Super Bowl MVP QBs, such as Len Dawson, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana (in 16), and Tom Brady (in 36). When there's a good team victory and the QB performs well enough, he's the easiest guy to give the MVP award to, and if one guy is to get such an award, he's usually the most deserving.

Rex Grossman
He gave us everything we could have wished for and more in Super Bowl 41. Fumbles, running around in chaos, chucking inevitable crazy interceptions, and generally doing little to nothing to help the Bears win the game. In some ways, it's a shame the Bears didn't win; if they had, it's almost assured we'd have Rex Grossman's madness hindering the Bears for years. Instead, Chicago might look for another option soon. His craziness is good for entertainment value and good for NFC North opponents.

Quick Thoughts

Who got John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy together for one massive uber-buddy picture?

Prince is a weirdo, but he's our weirdo. And I wish he'd have sung "Pussy Control" at halftime.

The Twin Cities never got above zero degrees this weekend. I just thought you should know. Mostly it was around 10 below. A lot of the state's high schools are already announcing cancellations for tomorrow because bus companies don't know if the buses will start tomorrow. Also, about six months ago it was 101 degrees. We live in the utterly stupidest climate in the world.

Kelvin Hayden? I watch a ton of football, and I find it delightful when a player I have never heard of scores a Super Bowl touchdown.

I am going to do my best to make this next sentence true. I will now see how long I can go without mentioning Brett Favre's name in this blog. After that sentence, anyway. Just one question, #4: if those batteries are "guaranteed to last as long or your money back," just how in the hell is the typical consumer supposed to know or test that the batteries did last as long?

Did you notice that this game featured two back-to-back fumble recoveries?

Marvin Harrison: still not in Jerry Rice's league. And will 2007 be the first season that Reggie Wayne is recognized as Indy's #1 WR?

I just realized that there won't be another meaningful football game to watch for about seven months. It's time to walk outside and learn to live an authentic life. For seven months, anyway.

Is that all?
This is the Monday after the Super Bowl: we're going to blog the crap out of this. I'll be back later with links, various commentaries, HOF analysis, etc., and Blue Viking Devil and What was that bang? may be around to chime in, too.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The PV Super Bowl Post

They had the Super
Super Bowl 25 was held in the Twin Cities (Roman numerals are for philistines, by the way). Here's a few fun facts about the Twin Cities on this, the weekend of Super Bowl 41. According to NPR, it's -8 degrees out there, with a -25 degree windchill. Much of the state is going to struggle to even reach 0, and it's going to be like this ALL WEEKEND.

This is not the climate for everybody, and I can't believe the NFL ever made people come here for the Super Bowl.

Hello, all you Super Bowl watchers. Oh, by the way: you suck.
For those of us who watched just about every football game we could every weekend since September, the Super Bowl can be a trying time for our devotion. All the hype about the commercials. All the mainstream non-sports news coverage. All the inanity of pregame. All the spectacle before and during the game. Any concern whatsoever about singers. All the non-football fans who either act like they care and watch or watch but make it clear that they don't care. All the people making predictions that might not have watched a Bear or Colt game this season.

For the diehards, nothing beats Week 1 of the regular season.

Hall of Fame
The two players I'm pulling for to make the Hall of Fame are Thurman Thomas and Michael Irvin. Irvin was one of the top 2-4 WRs of his era, a dominant player and personality and key to three Super Bowl championships. He elevated his game when his team needed it. His cumulative numbers aren't spectacular, but cumulative numbers are overrated--look at a player's numbers season by season to see his impact. Thomas should have made the HOF last year; I can barely understand how Jim Kelly was a first-ballot HOFer and Thomas was not.

Marvin Harrison
Marvin Harrison has played in 13 playoff games; he's failed to score a touchdown in 12 of those playoff games. We're not talking about small sample anymore--Harrison has played nearly a full season's worth of playoff games. And if they are combined into one season, it's one of the worst seasons of his career. Since 1999, he's been one of the top WRs in the game with spectacular regular season numbers--and in all but one of those years, his team has made the playoffs. And he's had little impact.

When comparing Harrison to Jerry Rice, let's not forget that Rice had some of the all-time great playoff performances. He twice scored 3 TDs in the Super Bowl, and was MVP in another Super Bowl in which he had 11 receptions for 215 yards (he's got a record 8 Super Bowl TDs). Rice has 22 playoff TDs to Harrison's 2, and Rice has 5 multiple TD games in the playoffs to Harrison's 1.

Harrison is not in Rice's league--though he can do a lot to improve his playoff reputation with a big game against the Bears. But he'll need a couple more great Super Bowl performances to belong in discussions with Jerry Rice.

Should we hate the Bears?
I hate the Packers and watch every game they play rooting for them to lose. But when I watch the Bears, I only hate them when they play the Vikings and only root for them to lose to the extent that it affects the Vikings. Should Viking fans be hating the Bears?

Bear fans have never bothered me like Packer fans (I'm sure if I went to college in Illinois, I'd say otherwise). They seem like good folk--I hope they enjoy it.

I do hate Brian Urlacher--even my sister, who doesn't understand why teams just run up the middle for no gain all the time, dislikes Urlacher and thinks he's a bully (I tried explaining he's a MLB and it's his job to tackle the guy with the ball, but she thinks he's a little too violent and mean when he does it. At this point I stopped trying to explain anything and just said, "Yeah, I hate him too"). I would like to see him fail miserably and have the Colt offense confuse him and run all over him.

I like the Colts--big. And then the Bears can come back next year and suck and the Vikings can...well, they'll probably suck too.

Viking fans
Would it be worse to be in the last generation of Viking fans--to see the team go to four Super Bowls and lose them all badly--or is it worse to be cheering for them now and to have never seen them play in a Super Bowl? I'm going to say it's worse to be in the last generation, because those guys got to experience seeing their team lose four Super Bowls, AND they've experienced this 31 year Super Bowl drought. That's just not really fair.