Vikings Roundup

Erasamus James has finally agreed to a contract and will make nearly $7 million in guaranteed money. But his status as a number one pick will not help him overcome the frustration of his teammates over his holdout:

"We stopped caring whether he was coming or not," nose tackle Pat Williams said. "If he came, he came. If he didn’t, he didn’t. He’s here now, but he’s late and we’re not waiting for him. We’re not going to go backwards waiting for him."

The good news, though, is that James appears to be in good shape:

James had to run four 106-yard dashes, each in less than 18 seconds, through a gauntlet of players who spurred him on.

"He did what he had to do," Tice said. "I told him, ‘Pass your conditioning test now, and tomorrow morning join the team.’ So … he got that out of the way."

The veterans have held off their tradition of hazing rookies until James arrived in camp.

The linebacking depth continues to evolve, with E.J. Henderson taking Dontarrious Thomas‘ weakside spot with the first team, with Thomas going to the second team, Rod Davis moving to the second team Mike position, which forces the swift but luckless Raonall Smith to the Wil position on the third team. Former Pro Bowl linebacker Bryan Cox joins former Viking offensive lineman Corbin Lacina an intern with the coaching fellowship program.

The defense continues to look good in practice, dominating at the goal line during a passing scrimmage, the Pioneer Press reports.

I had a feeling Travis Taylor would thrive with the Vikings and it looks like that’s panning out. It appears he’s beating out the enigmatic Marcus Robinson for the number two receiver spot. The Pioneer Press reports:

Taylor was expected to spend this season operating out of the slot as the No. 3 wide receiver, but after watching him catch a team-high seven passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns in Friday night’s intrasquad scrimmage, coach Mike Tice said the new guy is pushing Robinson for the starting outside job.

The Viking’s PR department has done a good job of lowering expectations for the 7th pick in the draft, Troy Williamson: Every time he drops passes in practice, which sounds like it’s happening all too often, the report is buried in the newspaper.

The Star Tribune Viking beat writers continue to blog from Mankato. It’s a great read.

Madden 2006 Is Out

The media blitz has begun.

Actually, it began quite some time ago but it has stepped up now that Madden NFL 06 is in stores. I unfolded my Star Tribune this morning and saw on the top banner of the front page a Madden-generated Ken Irvin (why Ken Irvin, I don’t know) next to a headline of "Madden ’06 – One thing’s for certain–it’s got game."

Inside the paper, on the front page, below the fold of the Metro section, was the article "Twin Cities mad for Madden"

Last night, the NFL Network aired a show called the Making of Madden. It was an absolutely fascinating look at how video games such as Madden are made and how they produce the stunning realism for which they are known. Fortunately, you don’t have to get the NFL Network in order to see them because they are online at NFL.com: Watch it online in parts 1 and 2.

The reviews are in and, as you might expect, they are all pretty favorable. IGN.com says the game is great but that EA hasn’t outdone themselves this time. GameSpot gives the game an 8.2 rating largely because they’re not sold on the addition of the Quarterback Vision feature. But the leading video game publication, the Minneapolis-based Game Informer, gave Madden NFL 06 a thumbs-up, saying "Many questioned the fact that EA may lighten up on the innovation factor since they’ve wiped out the competition, and they’ve got the next generation creeping up on them, but fortunately this is not the case." 

The EA Tiburon team even released a special video featuring Florida Governor Jeb Bush laying a wicked hit on his brother, President Bush, on route to a touchdown. The video was produced as a surprise for the Florida Governor when he visited the Electronic Arts studios in Maitland, Florida.

Madden has also become a launching pad for new music and this year’s soundtrack features such bands as the Foo Fighters, Hot Hot Heat, and Godsmack. You can listen to the soundtrack at the Madden 06 site.

Yesterday, KFAN had an Electronic Arts representative on the P.A. & Dubay show talking about Madden 06 and he claimed that the Vikings would be one of the top teams to play this year because of their improved defense. Sweet.

Speaking of which, I’d be remiss if I did not point out that the updated Vikings 2005 Roster I made after free agency and the draft to reflect the Vikings current roster, was…disastrously wrong. I clearly don’t know what ratings formula EA uses, because I gave my rookies far too high player ratings, as many of you astute readers pointed out. Check out IGN.com for the 06 player ratings.

About This TwinCitiesMinnesotaBlog.com

I am using this blog to experiement with the the format, keep my writing skills honed to a razor sharp edge, to tell stories, and to share with perfect strangers some of my life and thoughts and places and things that I find interesting.

Throughout this blog, you’ll find hyperlinked references to the people or places that populate TwinCitiesMinnesotaBlog.com. I’ve approached the blog in this fashion for simple reasons of efficiency; it is far easier, for example, to describe a person once and refer to their profile thereafter than to describe them every time I mention them. To that end, I’ve compiled a list of the people and places you’ll find in this blog:

NFL Hall Of Fame Game

God bless America! I finally got my fix of real NFL football. It was the Hall of Fame game, a pre-season tradition that started I don’t know how many years ago but they’ve been broadcasting it for maybe a decade now, maybe less, but it has always been this early. As much as I love baseball, it has definitely lost the title of America’s game to football.

There is now a 24-hour NFL Network on cable; the NFL draft has become a huge media event; the Madden NFL football video game is a phenomenal success, far outselling it’s baseball counterparts, which, again, builds generations of fans. The NFL also does a far better job of marketing itself–especially to black youth. Major League Baseball has seen a steady decline in the number of black players. Finally, the NFL has structured their economics and draft so that at the beginning of any given season, any team has a legitimate chance of making it to the Super Bowl. That’s in glaring contrast to MLB, where teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox with their massive payrolls that allow them to buy all the talent they need to win a championship. That leave fans like those of the Twins despairing when they have to face large-market teams in the playoffs and their pitchers have to face All Star after All Star up and down their lineups.

So there’s just as much as a reason why the Yankees and the Red Sox are always in the playoffs as there is that I always feel the Vikings have decent chance of making the playoffs year in and year out.

Onterrio Smith’s Webmaster

This is too hilarous.

The VIkings fan site Purple Dawgs has posted a series of email exchanges with the Webmaster for OnterrioSmith.com. In short, Smith’s Webmaster emailed the Purple Dawgs site asking for a link to OnterrioSmith.com and offering graphics they could use for the link.

The Purple Dawgs are no dummies, so they asked for a link back–a simple quid pro quo link exchange. Fair enough, right?

Not so fast. It seems apparent from the email that the Webmaster went back to Smith and his lawyers found something objectionable. The webmaster replied to the link request by saying they couldn’t do a link exhange because Smith’s lawyers weren’t comfortable linking because of some objectionable material on Purple Dawgs, that may include "references to illegal substances or activities."

The webmaster closed by saying, "If you would like us to bring any of this specific content to your attention, please let us know."

Smart Asses of the highest and most entertaining order, the owners of Purple Dawgs responded by saying they wouldn’t be linking to OnterrioSmith.com because due to certain activites they didn’t want their image associated with such a site and therefore would not be comfortable linking to it.

They closed  with this beautiful zinger: "If you would like us to these activites to your attention, please let us know."

The activities they refer to, of course, were those that requried the use of Onterrio Smith‘s Whizzinator.

Sweet.

The Phalluses Of Tori Amos

Since I got my new iPod I’ve been converting my CD collection to MP3s and it’s taking a bloody long time.

Anyway, today I hit my Tori Amos collection and burned her first album, Little Earthquakes, which is brilliant. I must confess that I only have that and Under The Pink because after that album it seemed to me that she was going to be one of those artists that continues to produce the same sound and when that happens, their best stuff is really their early stuff when their vision has not yet become formulaic.

I remember listening to Little Earthquakes at a job once and a woman I worked with–who had obviously never heard of Tori Amos–asked me how I could listen to her. “It’s sooo saaaaad,” she said. And she was right; but then, the best art is usually sad.

Seeing that CD brought back a very amusing memory. The CD was published in 1991, so it had to have been that year. I bought the CD and loved it immediately and my girlfriend and I played it to death.

I remember commenting to her with great amusement about the raging mushroom phalli on the back cover of her album. My girlfriend, of course, didn’t notice them as such until I pointed it out but then it was too obvious to ignore.

[DIGRESSION: I often use Thesaurus.com and Dictionary.com when blogging to find just the right word for you, my gentle readers. That is the kind of dedication and craftsmanship you get with this lovingly hand-carved blog. So, I’m looking for alternative words for “penis.” Oddly, Thesaurus.com returns no results for the word penis and even no results for the word phallus. There are dictionary entries, yes, but nothing from the Thesaurus. Really? Anyone who has watched just a small taste of Monty Python would know that there are plenty of alternatives to the word penis.] 

So sometime later, her parents were over visiting and we stated talking about this great new musician named Tori Amos. My girlfriend handed her mother the CD and was explaining how great Amos was when her mother flipped the CD over to look at the back. My girlfriend, obviously embarrassed and flustered, blurted out, “Of course, I don’t agree with the back cover.” And that comment only served to highlight the fact that there were a couple of symbolically erect penii on the back cover:

Image: Back cover of Tori Amos' album, Little Earthquakes
Back cover of Tori Amos’ album, Little Earthquakes

I doubt she’d agree, but it was one of the most endearing things that girlfriend had ever done. Obviously, I’m still laughing about it today.

At the very least, that illustration adds meaning to the title track of the album.

POSTSCRIPT: We eventually saw Amos in concert at the State Theatre in Minneapolis. It was a great show but I was a bit taken aback because when she addressed the audience between songs, it was mostly to rip men.

Whatever.

She sure seems to like their mushrooms enough.

Two Touchdowns, An Interception & 3 Drops

That was my production for the two games we played on Saturday with the pick-up football guys.

We had five on five or six on six–I can’t remember–but the field we laid out was a bit too narrow for the number of people who showed up, so the first game was all about defense. There were a lot of interceptions because there wasn’t as much room for receivers to get open.

As a result, the game lasted forever. Since we had an odd number of guys, I played all time defense for the first game. That was fine with me. I figured I’d save my energy that way and thus have more in the tank for the second game, when everyone else would be tired. It was all right with me, that is, until I realized just how long the game would last. During one of our numerous water breaks about halfway through the game, by way of commenting on the length of the game, I said it didn’t look like I was going to play on offense today. Delicious was nice enough to notice and offered to switch with me so I could play some offense, which I did.

During the first game I didn’t do much at all except tweak my shoulder. Two weeks ago, I broke up a pass and my hand was gabbed and pulled by the receiver I was defending and it sure felt like my shoulder dislocated and then immediately popped back in; either that, or it was hyper-extended. I am, it must be pointed out, notoriously inaccurate in diagnosing my own sports injuries. Whatever the case, it hurt like hell. The shoulder felt a lot better on Saturday but early in the game I knocked away a hard-thrown ball and tweaked it real bad–damn it hurt.

So that’s what my performance amounted to during the first game.

The Second Game

I fared much better during the second game but halfway through it, I started feeling dizzy. It was clear I needed something to eat. During a water break I scoured my bag for an energy bar I knew was in there with no small amount of trepidation because I bought the bar probably two years ago. But it was either eat it, or stop playing, and that wasn’t an option. So I ate it.

My fears were quickly confirmed, as I started to get sick shortly thereafter. Not throwing up or anything, but definitely feeling really crappy. That and my throbbing shoulder. Ugh.

The Drops

But despite all that, I was much more productive during the second game. I did drop three passes that I should have caught. And it’s driving me nuts because I’ve been doing too much of that lately. Especially as I’m getting older, I can’t afford to drop the passes I should make if I want to keep up with the younger guys. One was a low pass on a crossing route that wasn’t all that easy, but I should have caught none-the-less. Another was a high and outside pass at the sideline that was a little awkward but I got two hands on it, so I should have pulled it in. The third drop was a pass that needed to be low to keep it away from defenders. I was doing a crossing route just over the end zone and my QB got the ball to me about shin-high. I got both hands on it but simply dropped the ball. It’s never an excuse, but I wasn’t expecting the ball. It would have been a score.

Two Touchdowns & An Interception

Halfway through the game, I was pretty exhausted and was not running as fast as I probably should have been running. But on one play, I made up my mind to make a move on my defender and score on a long bomb. Lucky for me, my defender hasn’t been playing as regularly as I have, so he might have been a bit tired. Anyway, I ran a seam route heading toward the middle of the field and once I got him turned inside, I broke slightly outside to create some separation. My quarterback saw the play lofted a perfect strike that I brought in just over my defender’s outstretched arms and with just enough room to get two feet in in the back of the end zone.

My interception came on the following drive. The other team drove relentlessly and efficiently down the field with a well-run set of short plays. They were five yards away from a score and I was playing in the middle. I had a feeling their quarterback was going to try toss one over my head to one of his tall receivers and he did but he didn’t get the ball up quite high enough and I went up and got it.

The following drive, we marched down the field and got to about the ten when I did a crossing route in the back of the end zone and camped out in the middle of the field. My QB fired a bullet between two defenders that I caught (but not before bobbling) for the game winning TD.

Funny, I didn’t feel sick anymore.

New Blog

I’ve decided to abandon my Blogger.com blog in favor of this, new, and improved TypePad blog because I wanted more flexibility and TypePad definitely give me that.

If you’re interested, I wrote a post on TypePad vs. Radio Userland software at my e-strategy.com Internet marketing blog.

The one big drawback I’ve discovered for TypePad, though, is that their importing function doesn’t work for Blogger.com. I’ve put in a request to help me out and though TypePad was quick to respond, they didn’t know what was causing the problem.

The short of it is for the moment I cannot import my previous blog’s posts. You’ll have to bear with me.