Online Buzz – Vikings vs. Cowboys

This week’s Online Buzz finds the Cowboys trouncing the Vikings in team-related searches with a whopping 11,459 for the Cowboys and 1,906 for the Vikings. (Read my methodology here.)

Click for Large Chart
Click for larger version of Most popular searches - Minnesota Vikings vs. Dallas Cowboys

In the quarterback matchups, Daunte Culpepper (161) beats out the Cowboys starting quarterback Vinny Testaverde (46) but, unforturnately, gets outsearched by the Cowboys’ backup signal-caller, the relatively obscure Drew Henson (172). The reason Henson is such a draw is most-likely due to the fact that even before the season was underway, they had a full-blown quarterback controversy on their hands when last year’s starter Quincy Carter allegedly failed drug tests and was subsequently cut by Coach Parcells. (Carter alone garnered 364 searches). Chris Hovan (50) gets trounced by Cowboys safety Darren Woodson (186); Michael Bennett (106) gets smothered by Eddie George (536); and among top picks, the 11 searches for Kenechie Udeze are a faint whisper to Julius Jones‘ 186. Among coaches, third-year guy Mike Tice (26) is overmatched against the legendary Bill Parcells (204). The only match up that favors the Vikes, is–you guessed it–among wide recievers: Randy Moss dominates here, of course. The freak gets 739 searches compared to Keyshawn Johnson (130) and Terry Glenn (19).

Click for Large Chart
Click for larger version of Most popular player searches - Minnesota Vikings vs. Dallas Cowboys

Clinton Speaks

God, it’s fun to be a state in play. When you’re in play, you can watch the presidential race unfold from your doorstep.

Such was the case yesterday, when both vice presidential candidates dropped in for Labor Day: Dick Cheney visited the State Fair on the last day of the fair and John Kerry‘s running mate, John Edwards, addressed the annual Labor Day rally on St. Paul’s Harriet Island.

Campaign Strategist Clinton

Did President Bill Clinton plan the timing of his clogged arteries? You gotta smile because it sure seemed like the news of his heart bypass surgery was designed to try and flatten some of President Bush’s post-convention bounce. Bush gives his convention speech Thursday night and by midday Friday, the news is not the deconstruction of Bush’s performance, but instead the TV is filled with hilarious pictures of Clinton chowing down on fast food with the talking heads commenting on his weakness for junk food.

But that’s not the only way the former president dominated the news. His name increasingly popped up in coverage of John Kerry the campaign brought on Clintonites, most notably former Clinton press secretary, Joe Lockhart. The talent the Kerry campaign most glaringly lacked, was a quick-response artist and as Clinton’s former spokesman, Lockhart fits the bill.

Though Kerry has tried to downplay the Clinton influence in his campaign, it was most obviously on display yesterday through both the Democratic presidential candidate himself, and during his running mate’s speech in St. Paul.

Clinton called Kerry to offer campaign advice (from his hospital bed!!, reporters noted) and suggested that he focus not on Iraq but on domestic issues, specifically the economy (stupid) and health care.

In St. Paul, Edwards told his audience of 12,000: "If you believe in millions of Americans losing their health care, millions of Americans falling into poverty, millions of Americans who are struggling every day just to pay their bills, family incomes down, if you believe that that’s the right track for America, you ought to vote for George Bush. But if you don’t, we have to have President John Kerry."

That is exactly the spin that Clinton consistently used throughout his political career: Focus on issues that directly effect ordinary individuals, say if you’re for all the bad things, vote for the other guy. If you don’t like bad things, vote for me.

But Edwards is clearly the more accomplished speaker of the two running mates and many people believe he is also the most accomplished retail politician. So maybe my point is a bit of a stretch?

Consider this: In West Virginia yesterday, John Kerry equated the W of GW with a moral value: Wrong. "The ‘W’ stands for wrong. Wrong choices, wrong judgment, wrong priorities, wrong direction for our country," Kerry said.

It is a label that President Clinton used to describe Bush’s tax credit when he was on Larry King on February 6, 2003. Discussing Bush’s tax cuts with King and Tom Joyner, host of the Tom Joyner Morning Show:

KING: He keeps including us [King and Joyner], i’m not affected by tax cuts.
You’re not effected by the tax cuts, you don’t need it.
CLINTON: Joyner, shouldn’t get one either.
KING: Joyner, don’t need it either.
CLINTON: We shouldn’t. We should spend it to send these
kids to school. Put police on the street. It’s wrong. [My emphasis]

Clinton speaks, and the words come out of Kerry and Edwards’ mouths. Beautiful.

Atari Games

Atari is going to reissue their old arcade games on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 platforms. Not surprisingly, they’re going after the nostalgia market and I’m quite sure it will be plenty successful for them.

There are certain cultural touchstones that mark a generation and Atari games is one of the Xer touchstones. I recently bought an Xbox and, of course, I needed the expert advice of two of my teenage gamer nephews.

I was already aware of Electronic Arts as one of the market leaders in game titles but that was about it, so I asked my nephews what other companies made games. Among those that they rattled off was, to my surprise, Atari.

Hearing the name sent me on down memory lane as I told them about how when I was their age, my friends and I would burn rolls of quarters and hours playing a huge box called a video arcade game with monochrome screens and two-D graphics and that my favorite was a game called Asteroids. And, of course, that these games would be completely boring to them.

Yeah, the nostalgia marketing angle will work. Don’t take my word for it. Two TV commercials for SUVs feature 80s arcade video game sounds (Hummer uses Asteroids sounds and Saturn Vue uses Pacman) to target Xers. Sure, I’ll buy that for 20 bucks.

The Best Swiss Cheese

My turkey sandwiches got infinitely more tasty about two months ago when I discovered Nelson Cheese and Deli on Como and just off Snelling Avenue in St. Paul.

They sell aged swiss cheese that absolutely makes the sandwich. When you cut open the wrapper, the cheese is often swimming in water and when you cut it, water seeps from the holes onto the cutting board. It is much more pungent than the ordinary swiss cheese you’ll find in the grocery store. As you cut slices off, it will flake off on your knife like slate will when chipped with a hammer. The taste is much sharper and just far more interesting than your garden variety swiss cheese. I have bought no other type of swiss cheese since I found the stuff.

Num, num, num, num.

Jermaine Wiggins & Brett Conway

Jermaine Wiggins

Our big offseason offensive pickup was TE Jermaine Wiggins, who was supposed to serve the Byron Chamberlain role of a big, soft-handed tight end who would stretch the middle of the field. Wiggins has plenty of swagger but he hadn’t backed it up on the field, until last night.

As the Strib‘s Kevin Seifert reported, Tice acknowledged that Wiggins would have been cut were it not for his six catch, 50 yard and one touchdown performance yesterday. Still, after watching him last night, I remain wary. I’ll be perfectly happy to be proven wrong, but I think he looks a bit too thick to be much of a recieving threat.

Speaking of tight ends…maybe Tice should have added another player to his list of those he wouldn’t play last night: Richard Angulo. He looked extremely impressive–more impressive than Wiggins–and he’s a huge target at six foot eight. But he sprained his knee last night. I hope we keep him.

Brett Conway

As the Pioneer PressJason Williams points out, the jury is still out on new Vikings kicker Brett Conway. His first kick0ff landed at the 17, his second kickoff went two yards further to the 15, and it was only on his third kickoff that the ball reached beyond the five, to the three yard line. But he did make his PATs, which was an improvement over Aaron Elling.

I just had to shake my head when we first signed him. The book on him was that he was injury prone. A kicker? Injury prone? How can a kicker possibly be injury prone? And how slick are we for signing one?!?

Online Buzz – Vikings vs. Seahawks

The latest edition of Online Buzz shows that people are far more interested in the Vikings than this week’s competition, the Seattle Seahawks, with more people doing Viking-related searches (1,906) than Seahawks-related searches (784). (Read my methodology here.)

Click for Large Chart
Click for larger version of Most popular searches - Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks

Searches for individuals again show Brock Lesnar kicking everyone’s ass with 1,651 Lesnar-related searches, more than twice as many as Seahawks-related searches and ab-so-LUTE-ly towering over his defensive-line "competition" on the opposite team, Grant Wistrom, who had only 40 searches on his name. Sadly (well, not really), I will no longer track Lesnar searches since he was cut. Daunte Culpepper (161 searches) walks all over both Seahawks quaterbacks starter Matt Hasselbeck (36) and backup Trent Dilfer (51). Randy Moss-related searches remain high with 739, far more the all of the individual Seahawks players I tracked combined (209). From the No Respect Department: Again, Vikings first-round pick Kenechi Udeze gets trounced by the opposition’s first-round pick. Udeze got 11 searches on his name compared to Seahawks rookie DT Marcus Tubbs‘ 31.

Click for Large Chart
Click for larger version of Most popular player searches - Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks

Former Vikings/Seahawks: For fun, I decided to see how former Vikings who had played for the Seahawks fared online. Former Purple People Eater, Viking DE Carl Eller had 74 searches on his name but that number is likely artificially high because of his recent Hall of Fame induction. Eller played for the Seahawks in 1979, the last year of his career.

John Randall, another former Viking defensive lineman who played the last three years of his career for the Seahawks (2001-2003) had 21 searches on his name.

Former 4-time Pro Bowl wide reciver Ahmad Rashad had 121 searches on his name. That popularity, however, couldn’t keep him from getting a 60-plus percent rating at for the past three years.

Finally, the man the Vikings traded to the Seahawks for Rashad (clearly among the best trades in Vikings history) and local celebrity, Benchwarmer Bob Lurtsema had a paltry 3 searches on his name. The Benchwarmer moniker is something of a misnomer, however, because he was actually a pretty decent defensive lineman. Lurtsema had the misfortune of playing behind Eller, Page, Marshall and Larsen/Sutherland. After being traded to the Hawks, Lurts actually started 25 games for the two years he spent there.

Finally, a little treat:


NFL Network

About a week ago I got one of those oversized envelopes from the cable company that mean either the rates are going up or the channel lineup is changing, or both. This one delayed the inevitable for a while by dropping the bad news of rate increases in favor of channel lineup news. (I’m sure the rate increases will come later, they always do).

Much to my delight, the contents of my oversized envelope informed me that I would soon enjoy the NFL Network as a part of my digital tier lineup.

Damn! NFL football 24 hours a day.
What could be better than that?
Thank you, Comcast.

So naturally, the first thing I did this morning was tune in to my new favorite channel. And…the jury is still out. The first program I watched was NFL Total Access, NFL Network’s signature show that actually airs in the evening and was obviously being replayed this morning.

It’s a pretty good show. The Total Access crew includes Rich Eisen, Terrell Davis, and Lincoln Kennedy. It’s an NFL Live-type program with player and coach interviews and action footage. It looks like they’ve got web cams installed in ever team’s complex because the remote interviews have that Live from Iraq stutter-motion quality.

After that was a very good Inside Training Camp program called Jaguars Summer that, obviously, takes you inside an NFL training camp. It was a fascinating account of player progress and the coaches deliberation. The episode I saw was also surprisingly timely, as it discussed the troubles former Pro Bowl sackmaster Hugh Douglas was having making the team and the coaches discussions about whether or not they should cut him. Douglas was cut August 30th; I was watching September 1.

Next they replayed the program I’d just watched.

After that….drum roll, please: NFL Films Presents…Pop Warner Football! They had the dramatic background music, the professional crew, but it was little league!

They’ve obviously got more time to fill than useable content.

They have some programs I’ve yet to watch but am looking forward to. Playbook is an Xs and Os show that breaks down the game using teams’ own video.

During the season, they will also replay selected games using camera angles you don’t get on the TV broadcasts.

I’m sure I’ll talk more about the NFL Network in the future.