Vikings QB Sage Rosenfels addresses Brett Favre speculation

June 25, 2009
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sage Rosenfels works with young football players at Tim Dwight Football Camp at Iowa City High on Thursday, June 25, 2009, in Iowa City.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sage Rosenfels works with young football players at Tim Dwight Football Camp at Iowa City High on Thursday, June 25, 2009, in Iowa City.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sage Rosenfels almost seems resigned that his team eventually will sign longtime quarterback Brett Favre.

“Well, it hasn’t happened yet, so I don’t know how I’m going to feel at the time,” Rosenfels said Thursday morning at the annual Tim Dwight Football Camp at Iowa City High.

There’s nothing I can do about it. (The Favre speculation is) not helping me get better for the season, so it’s something I try not to pay attention to. It’s not going to help me throw any touchdown passes this year, by me reading the paper every day or being on the Internet every day. I’m just focused on getting myself ready the best I can for the season.”

Minnesota traded a fourth-round pick to Houston this year for Rosenfels, who was expected to compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the Vikings’ starting quarterback position. Speculation has swirled this offseason that Minnesota will sign Favre, which would shift Rosenfels back to reserve status.

 “Tavaris and I — as of right now — are competing for the starting job, and I’m excited for that,” Rosenfels said. “Obviously, I feel like I’m capable of meeting that challenge.”

Rosenfels, a Maquoketa native and former Iowa State quarterback, said Vikings coaches briefly addressed the Favre rumors with the team’s quarterbacks this offseason.

“Just a small discussion that Coach (Brad) Childress discussed with all four quarterbacks,” Rosenfels said. ” But it lasted about a minute and nothing significant.

“There’s only so many things I can control, and I can’t control what coaches and GMs are always doing. All I can really control is how I perform when I’m out there, and how the group around me performs when they’re out there. So that’s my focus is and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Rosenfels, who’s entering his ninth NFL season, has started five games in each of the last two seasons for Houston. Last year he threw for 1,431 yards, six touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He lost two fumbles as well. In 2007, he played in nine games throwing for 1,684 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He has started 12 games in his career and thrown for 4,156 yards, 30 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. The Vikings are his fourth NFL team.

Rosenfels often travels between Minneapolis and Houston, where he’s selling his home, and Iowa. It’s kept him busy this offsesason.

“I’ve been back and forth to Iowa a lot and flying back to Houston to see my family a lot,” he said. “It doesn’t give you much time to sit around and mess around online all afternoon. That’s actually a good thing. Keeping busy has been a good thing for me.”

 


Ex-Hawk Greenway enters Favre debate

May 12, 2009
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway (52) celebrates after the Vikings stopped the Chicago Bears on four downs from the 1-yard line during the second quarter Nov. 30, 2008, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid)

Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway (52) celebrates after the Vikings stopped the Chicago Bears on four downs from the 1-yard line during the second quarter Nov. 30, 2008, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Tom Olmscheid)

Former Iowa All-American and current Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway told the Star-Tribune that he wonders about the loyalties of “retired” quarterback Brett Favre.

“[Favre has] retired a couple of times, so you wonder where his loyalties lie,” Greenway told the newspaper. “For us, it’s about we’re moving forward with what we’ve got here. We have a team that can obviously win at a high level and we have a team that, moving forward, we think can really compete for an NFC North title again and get to the championship game and hopefully further. As good as something may sound, we have a great team to play with right now, and there is no sense in looking outside of what we have within our 53 [-man roster].”

Here’s a link to the article: Greenway


2009 NFL Mock Draft, 1st 2 rounds; Iowa draftee predictions

April 24, 2009

Here’s a look at Saturday’s first two rounds of the NFL draft. Along with the annual infusion of new blood into the NFL, the most intriguing part will include trades.

I anticipate Washington will get antsy for USC QB Mark Sanchez and will give away the farm to Kansas City to get him. That will include a No. 1 this year and next year, and their own No. 2 next year. Washington will trade starting QB Jason Campbell to the New York Jets for the Jet’s second-round pick, which then will be dealt to the Chiefs.

I expect Cleveland to deal WR Braylon Edwards to the New York Giants for a first-round pick.

At the bottom are Iowa’s draft hopefuls and where I think they could land.

1. DETROIT - Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia

2. ST. LOUIS - Jason Smith, T, Baylor

3. WASHINGTON (from Kansas City in a draft-day trade) – Mark Sanchez, QB, USC

4. SEATTLE - Eugene Monroe, T, Virginia

5. CLEVELAND - Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest

6. CINCINNATI - B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College

7. OAKLAND - Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri

8. JACKSONVILLE - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

9. GREEN BAY – Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU

10. SAN FRANCISCO – Aaron Maybin, DE/LB, Penn State

11. BUFFALO - Everette Brown, DE/LB, Florida State

12. DENVER - Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas

13. KANSAS CITY (from Washington in a draft-day trade) – Andre Smith, T, Alabama

14. NEW ORLEANS - Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State

15. HOUSTON - Brian Cushing, LB, USC

16. SAN DIEGO - Michael Oher, T, Ole Miss

17. N.Y. Jets – Robert Ayers, DE/LB, Tennessee

18. DENVER (from Chicago) – Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss

19. TAMPA BAY – Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State

20. DETROIT (from Dallas) – James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State

21. PHILADELPHIA - Alex Mack, C, California

22. MINNESOTA - Eben Britton, T, Arizona

23. NEW ENGLAND – Connor Barwin, LB/DE, Cincinnati

24. ATLANTA - Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois

25. MIAMI - Rey Maualuga, LB, USC

26. BALTIMORE - Darrius Bulter, CB, UConn

27. INDIANAPOLIS - Ron Brace, DT, Boston College

28. BUFFALO (from Carolina through Philadelphia) - Max Unger, C/G, Oregon

29. CLEVELAND (from NY Giants in a draft-day trade) - Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State

30. TENNESSEE - Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest

31. ARIZONA - Clay Matthews, LB, USC

32. PITTSBURGH - Jamon Meredith, G/T, South Carolina

SECOND ROUND

33. DETROIT - Ziggy Hood, DT, Missouri

34. NEW ENGLAND (from Kansas City) – Donald Brown, RB, UConn

35. ST. LOUIS – Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

36. CLEVELAND - Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State

37. SEATTLE - Jarius Byrd, CB, Oregon

38. CINCINNATI - Paul Kruger, DE, Utah

39. JACKSONVILLE - Eric Wood, C, Louisville

40. OAKLAND - William Beatty, T, UConn

41. GREEN BAY - Craig Urbik, G, Wisconsin

42. BUFFALO - Duke Robinson, G, Oklahoma

43. SAN FRANCISCO – Antoine Caldwell, C, Alabama

44. MIAMI - Hakeen Nicks, WR, North Carolina

45. NY GIANTS – Scott McKillop, LB, Pittsburgh

46. HOUSTON - Shonn Greene, RB, Iowa

47. NEW ENGLANDBradley Fletcher, CB, Iowa

48. DENVER - Jasper Brinkley, LB, South Carolina

49. CHICAGO - Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State

50. CLEVELAND - Larry English, DE/LB, Northern Illinois

51. DALLAS - William Moore, S, Missouri

52. KANSAS CITY (from NY Jets through Washington in a draft-day trade) – Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia

53. PHILADELPHIA - LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh

54. MINNESOTA - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

55. ATLANTA - Marcus Freeman, LB, Ohio State

56. MIAMI - Patrick Chung, S, Oregon

57. BALTIMORE - Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers

58. NEW ENGLAND – Gerald Cadogan, T, Penn State

59. CAROLINA - Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati

60. NY GIANTS – Phil Loadholt, T, Oklahoma

61. INDIANAPOLIS - Kenny McKinley, WR, South Carolina

62. TENNESSEE - Dorell Scott, DT, Clemson

63. ARIZONA - Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan

64. PITTSBURGH - Fili Moala, DE, USC

IOWA DRAFTEES

2. Shonn Greene, RB, Houston (46)
Perfect tandem back with Houston’s Steve Slaton
2. Bradley Fletcher, CB, New England (47)
Ascending player with good size, speed; perfect for Belichick
3. Mitch King, DT, Washington (80)
Will make a great combination with hulking Albert Haynesworth
4. Seth Olsen, G, Indianapolis (127)
A solid, dependable player on team with Iowa ties
6. Rob Bruggeman, C, Chicago (190)
Eventual replacement for Olin Kreutz?
7. Matt Kroul, DT, Minnesota (221)
Could make a good back-up this year behind Kevin Williams and Pat Williams
7. Brandon Myers, TE, Cincinnati (252)
Only way Bengals can get Myers in their camp
F/A Andy Brodell, WR, Minnesota
Vikings like to snag Iowa players as free agents


Vikings QB raised by hippies? In Iowa?

April 12, 2009

New Vikings QB Sage Rosenfels and former Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney talk about Rosenfels’ upbringing, including the rumor that his parents were hippies. Here’s the article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

http://www.twincities.com/sports/ci_12120925?source=rss

And here’s his most unforgettable moment, which featured a helicopter hit and a fumble against the Indianapolis Colts last year:


’98 Vikings’ woes leave viewers stunned

October 15, 2008
Former Minnesota Vikings kicker Gary Anderson reacts to his first miss of the 1998 football season in the 1999 NFL Championship Game. The miss prevented Minnesota from clinching a Super Bowl berth.

Former Minnesota Vikings kicker Gary Anderson reacts to his first miss of the 1998 football season in the 1999 NFC Championship Game. The miss prevented Minnesota from clinching a Super Bowl berth.

The final episode of “America’s Game: Missing Rings” spotlights the 1998 Minnesota Vikings, which finished the regular season 15-1 only to lose the NFC title to Atlanta in overtime.

This series perhaps is stronger than its predecessor “America’s Game,” in that it explores the valleys of failure along with the joy of victory. This episode (which debuts 9 p.m. Thursday on NFL Network) joins the series’ other four — the 1990 Buffalo Bills, the 1988 Cincinnati Bengals, 1969 Vikings and the 1981 San Diego Chargers — in that formula. In the other episodes, you always had the feeling those teams were very good, memorable but not the best. This one feels different.

Interviews with wide receiver Cris Carter, Coach Dennis Green (a former Iowa football player) and defensive tackle John Randle show a depth of pain previously unseen in this series. Maybe it’s because none of them have gotten over the loss to Atlanta. It appears they all have unresolved issues with the conclusion.

“Walking off that field and losing like that … I didn’t know if I wanted to play football anymore,” Carter said. “I felt like I’d never win after that.”

“I think if we would have beaten Atlanta and if we would have gone on and beaten the Denver Broncos that we would have called the greatest team in the National Football League the last 25 years,” Green said.

The Vikings set an NFL record (since exceeded by the 2007 New England Patriots) by scoring 556 points, an average of nearly 35 points a game. The Vikings’ only regular-season loss was by three points at Tampa Bay. The offense featured the future Hall of Famer Carter making his usual circus catches for touchdowns. It had a solid offensive line, a talented running back in Robert Smith and a reinvigorated Randall Cunningham. But rookie wide receiver Randy Moss set the Vikings apart.

Moss caught 69 passes for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns that season. He was named first-team All-Pro and shocked everyone with his athletic ability.

“I told Dennis Green that (Moss) is the most unbelievable athlete I have ever seen,” Carter said.

I covered the Kansas City Chiefs for five years and saw Moss compete against the Chiefs annually in training camp. I asked former Chiefs cornerback Eric Warfield if he looked forward to a two-day scrimmage against the Vikings. “Yeah, right,” was about all he said and then rolled his eyes. The next few days I understood why. Moss combines speed and athletic ability better than any other player ever. He’s deceptively strong, taller than most defenders and faster than all of them. He routinely beat Chiefs defenders in everything from drills to live contact.

“They call me The Freak … ’cause I’m a freak of nature,” Moss said in the episode.

The episode’s final segment is the only football parallel I can find with the Chicago Cubs’ Bartman incident in 2003. The Vikings led 27-20 with only a few minutes left. A 38-yard field goal by Gary Anderson would have virtually iced the win. Anderson hadn’t missed all season … until that kick. Teams with fragile egos often feel the elements while the players try to collect their breath. That’s what happened in both cases.

“It was like somebody punched me in my stomach,” Randle said about the kick. “Oh, my goodness … oh, my God.”

The Falcons scored a touchdown to send the game into overtime. Falcons kicker Morten Andersen sent the ’98 Vikings into also-ran status with a 38-yard field goal.

Of the five “Missing Rings” episodes about teams who didn’t win the Super Bowl, this Vikings’ version was clearly the best team. Outside of last year’s 16-0 Patriots that lost the Super Bowl, the 1998 Vikings were the best team not to win the Super Bowl. The Vikings’ loss robbed the public of perhaps the best matchup in Super Bowl history of the Vikings facing against 14-2 Denver. The Broncos won their first 13 games that season en route to a second straight championship. Denver nearly missed the Super Bowl because of the Vikings. Denver Coach Mike Shanahan and the rest of the Broncos were in shock of the Vikings’ loss that they nearly were upset by the New York Jets. That incident is recalled in “America’s Game: 1998 Denver Broncos.”

Even if you support another franchise, such as the Bears or Packers, you can understand the regret and loss Carter, Randle and Green still feel to this day. This five-episode series is the best NFL Films has created in its illustrious history. There are plenty more stories to share out there, and I hope the company decides to continue down this path.


NFL Films’ “America’s Game” encore includes Vikings

July 10, 2008

Perhaps the 41 best sports documentaries ever made came from NFL Films in its “America’s Game” series featuring the NFL’s Super Bowl champions. Now, according to the Houston Chronicle, NFL Films plans to profile five non-champions in similar fashion.

According to the Chronicle, a five-episode series called “Missing Rings” will highlight five teams that couldn’t win the big one. Those include two Minnesota Vikings’ squads — the 1969 NFL champs which lost to Kansas City in Super Bowl IV — and the 1998 Vikings which finished the regular season 15-1 but lost the NFC title to Atlanta in OT. Other teams profiled include the 1990 Buffalo Bills, which lost to the N.Y. Giants on a last-second field goal; the 1981 San Diego Chargers, which lost in the AFC title game at frigid Cincinnati; and the 1988 Cincinnati Bengals that lost to San Francisco on a last-second drive.

It’s possible that those documentaries set to air this fall will be even better than the “America’s Game” series. History books are written by the winners. The same holds true for NFL highlight films. Often, the better stories come from the losers.

The upcoming series also got me thinking about the 12 best teams never to win the Super Bowl. Here are my choices:

12. 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers — After finishing 15-1 during the regular season, the Steelers needed OT to beat the Jets in the divisional round before stumbling to New England at home in the AFC title game. The Steelers had it all, including rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger, but he was no match for New England’s defensive experience.

11. 1986 Chicago Bears — The Bears finished 14-2 in the regular season, a not-too-shabby follow-up from its 18-1 Super Bowl season. But in-fighting and a major quarterback controversy kept the team from reaching its potential. It boiled over after QB Jim McMahon and his right shoulder were KO’d on a cheap shot from Packers defensive lineman Charles Martin. Coach Mike Ditka inexplicably chose rookie Doug Flutie to start a playoff game against Washington, which the Bears lost 27-13. Flutie threw three interceptions.

10. 2006 San Diego Chargers — The Chargers were the NFL’s most complete team that season, finishing the regular season 14-2. But in a monumental slugfest against New England, bad luck struck when a fourth-down interception by Marlon McCree appeared to seal the win. McCree was stripped by New England’s Troy Brown, who recovered the fumble, giving the Patriots a first down. New England later scored twice to win the game and knock out the league’s top scoring team.

9. 1990 Buffalo Bills — Three teams dominated the 1990 season (the 13-3 Bills, the 13-3 Super Bowl champion Giants and the 14-2 49ers). The Bills had the best team of the three and entered the Super Bowl off a 51-3 blitzkrieg of the Los Angeles Raiders in the AFC title game. Had Scott Norwood’s 47-yard FG attempt moved slightly to the left with a 22-20 Bills’ win, the Giants might hold this position instead.

8. 2005 Indianapolis Colts — After a 13-0 start, the Colts were threatening the 1972 Dolphins’ hold as the only unbeaten team in history. But the Colts put their season in overdrive in December, losing two of their final three regular-season games. Then the Steelers’ ferocious defense backhanded the Colts in their AFC playoff matchup, 21-18.

7. 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers — After starting 1-4, the Steelers won their final nine regular-season games. The Steel Curtain defense was astounding, allowing only 28 points and two touchdowns during their win streak. The Steelers blasted Baltimore 40-14 in the divisional playoffs before losing to eventual Super Bowl champion Oakland 24-7 when their three top running backs were injured.

6. 1994 Dallas Cowboys — It’s easy to forget how good the early 1990s battles were between San Francisco and Dallas. The 12-4 Cowboys were the two-time champs and had beaten the 49ers twice en route to Super Bowl titles. This time, Dallas fell behind 21-0 to San Francisco in the NFC title game. The Cowboys fought in vain before losing their three-peat chances, 38-28. It was the third straight season the teams had met in the NFC championship with the victor also winning the Super Bowl. Dallas rallied to win the Super Bowl the following season.

5. 1968 Baltimore Colts — The 13-1 Colts scored 28 points and gave up 10 on average that season. The Colts avenged their only loss to Cleveland with a 34-0 win in the NFL title game. So what happened? The heavily favored Colts ran into the supremely confident Joe Namath and the N.Y. Jets in Super Bowl III and fell apart. It was the greatest upset in NFL history.

4. 1983 Washington Redskins — The Redskins’ (14-2) only losses came by a combined two points. They led the league with nearly 34 points a game. John Riggins scored a then-NFL record 24 touchdowns. But they played flat against the Los Angeles Raiders in the Super Bowl and committed errors of every kind in a 38-9 loss. But if you still ask Coach Joe Gibbs or quarterback Joe Theismann about their best team, it’s always the 1983 version, not the 1982 Super Bowl Redskins.

3. 1978 Dallas Cowboys — The greatest Super Bowl matchup in NFL history pitted the defending champion Cowboys (12-4) against the 14-2 Pittsburgh Steelers. The game ultimately ended the argument about the decade’s greatest team and possibly history’s best dynasty. After trading touchdowns through the third quarter, tight end Jackie Smith’s dropped touchdown pass cost Dallas four points (the Cowboys kicked a field goal instead), which proved fatal in a 35-31 loss. Five Cowboys from that game (QB Roger Staubach, RB Tony Dorsett, OT Rayfield Wright, DT Randy White and Smith) are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. It’s a shame a few others like safety Cliff Harris or wide receiver Drew Pearson aren’t there with them.

2. 1998 Minnesota Vikings — Nobody stopped the 15-1 Vikings during the regular season. The Vikings set an NFL record 556 points and scored at least 24 points in every game. The Vikings were led by rookie wide receiver Randy Moss, who scored 17 touchdowns. But the Vikings couldn’t put away the 14-2 Atlanta Falcons in the NFC title game. Late in the fourth quarter, Minnesota led 27-20 and kicker Gary Anderson attempted a field goal. Anderson shanked the field goal, his only miss the entire season. Atlanta regrouped and scored to force the game into OT, which it eventually won. The loss shocked everyone in the NFL, including the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. In NFL Films’ “America’s Game,” Denver Coach Mike Shanahan couldn’t help but giggling relay to his coaches that the Falcons had won. Denver nearly lost its own title game and trailed by 10 points at halftime, in part because of Minnesota’s shocking loss.

1. 2007 New England Patriots — The best team ever … until 30 seconds left in the final game. The 18-0 Patriots simply ran out of steam and answers against the N.Y. Giants. The Patriots had immortality on the line and blew it. New England scored a whopping 589 points, winning every game but four by double digits. QB Tom Brady threw 50 TDs; Randy Moss caught 23 TDs. But New York’s front four kept the Patriots’ offense off-guard, and the Patriots never adjusted. When a late touchdown pass from Brady to Moss seemed to put New England ahead to stay, the Patriots defense couldn’t stop Giants QB Eli Manning. Manning’s touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress with 30 seconds left sealed the Pats’ fate as the best team to never win the Super Bowl. Had the Pats held a 14-10 lead, they’d be No. 1 on the real list.

Others worth mentioning: 1987 San Francisco 49ers (13-2 in strike year); 1990 San Francisco 49ers (14-2); 1984 Miami Dolphins (14-2); 1996 Denver Broncos (13-3); 1974 Oakland Raiders (12-2); 1975 Minnesota Vikings (12-2); 1988 Cincinnati Bengals (12-4); 2001 St. Louis Rams (14-2)


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