Harrison Smith Mr Nice guy in TC

Harrison Smith Mr Nice guy in TC
Hardest hitting safety in the NFL

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A change in the Preseason

The Vikings have announced a change when airing preseason games and I for one love it. The change has to do with the new play by play callers on TV.They are the voice of the Minnesota Vikings,Paul Allen and his mate will be Pete Bercich.

The aweome feature of this is that it will be simulcast so the radio listeners will hear Paul and Pete as well. I can not think of a better feature than have what I consider the best radio voice in Paul Allen to be on TV as well. He is so fun to listen. It is only for preseason. The Vikings are only the 2nd team in the NFL to do this and the only NFC team to try it. I am really looking for good things to come out of this preason.

"PA" puts his heart into these games. When I listen to him I can feel the pain or the excitement depending on the play that was just run. This guy in my mind really creates listening excitement

The next addition announced today was the hiring of former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber to do sideline interviews during these games. Ben just announced his retirement recently this year. In having a guy leaving the NFL just recently I think will really add a bonus. There are still guys on the Vikings that Ben played with. What a great way for Ben to enter a new profession. I wish Ben nothing but the best. The times I met Ben in Mankato he came across as a player who cared about the fans and took the time to stop. I am not saying he always stopped but when he could he did.

The other sideline reporter remains the same with former Vikings punter Greg Coleman. I believe Greg calls it like he sees it. His post game interviews are often tremendous even in losses.

In summary you have Paul Allen who is so energetic in play calling and 3 former Vikings players in Bercich, Coleman and Leber. If this is not true Vikings coverage I do not know what is.

The game just got better by the decision to make this foursome happen. As a Vikings fan it is awesome and I wish them all the best and hope it is a view of the future.

Thank for reading

A day of exciting news

The news has finally come to Vikings fans and that news was the release of training camp schedule. This just means the season is that much closer.

I print the schedule of training camp each year and have it laminated and save them. I like to look at the year before and see any differences from previous years. 2011 is hard to judge because of the lockout and the shortness of training camp. I got out other years to compare.

I find this year is very different as far as practice times scheduled. It is so weird not to see morning practices 9-11:30 or so. This 2012 campaign is very different as I look at it. There are 15 morning practices and all but 1 go from 10:30-11:30. The one different is 10:55-11:30.

The years and time I have spent over there I got use to watching 2 and a half hour morning practices usually starting around 9 am. The spirited practices I have seen at times including small skirmishes with guys fighting to make the team will be different.

My day every year is pretty routine where I leave my house by 6:30am to get to Mankato by 7:30 to get ready to watch some football. This year I am not sure with practice starting later. The atmosphere on campus with the players riding bikes,fans mingling and of course the summer heat is all part of camp. I just might stay the course and pull in with the same schedule. It is the best 2-3 weeks of football every day a fan can get.

In staying with the theme of differences of morning practice shorter times comes the walk through instead of years past afternoon walk through.

A popular event with the fans comes after morning practice has different positions on the team come to an area and sign autographs for 20 minutes. There is a timer and when 20 minutes is up a horn sounds and the players leave. It is so fun to see fans making their way through the lines and seeing how many players they can meet. There also comes repsect of other fans as not to be rude when going through lines. The one difference on the schedule I noticed and a small one is the defensive line has been broken into 2 days. One day will be the defensive ends and another day the defensive tackles.

The afternoon practices are very consistent this year for times as well. The 15 afternoon practices, 14 of them are 3-5:30 and the other 1 comes on a  Saturday with 7-9:30. The other item noticed is 13 practices has the team in full pads. If you want to hear some pads popping this is your opportuinity. The other 2 practices has the team in helmets and no pads.

The one reminder in all this is the schedule is subject to change so if you are coming from a distance and not sure maybe with the weather make the call.

One of my favorite days over there is called family day. This one occurs on Saturday Aug 4th. The team is introduced at night after practice followed by some of the best fire works I have ever seen in my life.

Camp is 3 weeks with 15 practice days, also camp is closed 4 days in this period. A preseason game is also during these 3 weeks as the team plays at San Francisco

Camp is free however there may be a parking fee depending on where you park. There are signs posted so keep your eye out.

This is the 47th consecutive year in Mankato and my 19th year of traveling to Mankato. As I tell people in town just come once and see if you like it. It is something for a football fan to be part of. It is a great family experience as well. I believe there is things for all ages at Training Camp. Hope to see you there.

Thanks for reading

Monday, June 25, 2012

Staying strong despite disappointments

As you may know I had a chance of a lifetime given to me by my town's paper starting in 2009. They had found out my passion and asked me to write a blog from a fan's persepective. The last 3 seasons were awesome.

I find in life sometimes there comes a time that is not always easy to take as this year my blog would not continue. I did go to college, but not to be a writer so it was challenging in making my blogs attempt to be professional.  This writing did come without being paid and I had to buy my own paper which I knew and accepted.As a joke I have told people I was fired for a job I did not get paid for. Can any of you claim that? I try to keep a sense of humor because I knew in my heart it would not last forever. I am thankful for the opportunity the paper did give me. I tell people I am not a bigger fan than anyone else, I just got a chance of a lifetime and I had to run with.

I am not a quitter as I sent samples of my work around the surrounding areas. I got a taker and worked with this person through email. He liked my work and told me he would talk to his publisher. He said give me a week or 2 and I will get back to you. It is sometimes hard in life to wait. I made it the full 2 weeks. I had not got an email from him so I thought I would call the paper. I asked to talk to the man I had been emailing when I called. I got a shock as they said he no longer is with us as far as employment goes. I asked for a contact name which they gave me and I never heard back. It is time to move on, disappointed, but also understand. I am offereing to do free service and can not find a taker.

This blog I have started I absoluelty love.I had hopes to write for a paper and keep the blog purplestick.blogpsot.com going. I will work hard at this blog to give you the readers updates. I can say one month from tomorrow the 26th Training camp will be here.

I take 3 weeks off work and will do a daily blog from camp and let you the readers who are unable to make it read what I am seeing. The players who are doing well. It will be the sights without sound.

I am in contact with the Vikings PR department and they have said they thought there would be 1 to 2 days I could be involved with the other media. I am excited even  for a maybe.

My wish for Vikings fans is to try to get down to Mankato and show your Vikings support. The last 2 seasons have been tough, but true fans will always bleed purple. The way the stadium went I know there are awesome numbers of fans that will make the difference.

Remember every NFL team is 0-0 and if the Vikings can come out of the gate strong who knows? A home game against Jacksonville and then week 2 going to Indianapolis (1-15) in 2011. These are must wins. A little confidence can really make a difference.

Please feel free to make comments as what you would like to see me look for in Mankato when the team suits up. I read there is an 80 percent turnover from last years roster so I too will really need to focus on many areas. It will be a challenge but well worth it.

I believe in Coach Frazier and his staff that they will bring back the Vikings out of the cellar in the NFC North and give Vikings fans hope again.

I was at the 1998 NFC Championship game against Atlanta and flew down to the NFC Championship game against New Orleans. My heart was ripped out but you know I am faithful and will bleed purple to the day I die.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

getting defensive

The year Jared Allen had last year will never be forgotten. This 2012 season will be interesting to watch
 how teams will handle Jared differently if possible. The man has an engine with no low gear or neutral it is full speed ahead 110 percent. It was such a pleasure to be in attendence at the last game against the Bears and watch Jared break the Vikings sack record. In all the low's of 2011 Jared really brought some much needed excitement. Records are made to be broken and I for one believe last year is just the beginning for Jared.

Congrats to Jared Allen for being named the 11th best player in 2011. What an honor and so well deserved by a guy who never quits. Whether single or double team he does not give up.

The defensive line aside from Jared has the potential for young players to come through and contribute immediately. Brian Robison is a great compliment to Jared as he too brings speed on the opposite edge.
I am real eager for two players to see what they can bring to 2012. Christian Ballard, 2011 draft choice along with Everson Griffen are 2 players I really believe are up and comers.

The linebackers with tackling machine Chad Greenway along with Erin Henderson return from last year. Erin is a player who has proved hard work pays off. As undrafted rookie free agent Henderson made it all the way to a starter. Erin has proven he did not get down not being drafted rather his hard work now puts him on the field with the 10 other starers. Erin may be one of the nicest guys on the roster to talk to. The man who has an opportunity of a lifetime and that is Jasper Brinkley. The chance to be the starting middle linebacker is within reach as long as he can stay healthy. I love the play of EJ Henderson but now it is time to see if we have a future long term answer in Brinkley. As for EJ I will always be grateful to watch a man play with so much intensity. The way he threw his body around often made me wonder how bad he had to hurt on Monday mornings. Football is already a violent sport so to see an athlete compete this hard is truly appreciated.

The most interesting position in my opinion to keep an eye on is the defensive secondary. The retirement of Asher Allen and Cedric Griffen leaving via free agency really opens things up. Antoine Winfield I believe this will be his most important year. The chance these young players have to watch one of the best tackling defensive back in the NFL can only be viewed as positive. This group will have it work cut out with the talented NFC North receivers. The term team has a true meaning with this group. They will all learn together.

Like the offense the defense is young and will learn together. The turnover from last years roster really makes competition in Mankato huge. I look forward to watching practices and seeing these guys fight it out. The potential depth with young starters and young backups is exciting.

It is time to move on and forget the last 2 seasons. Youth movement is here and I for one stand behind the organization as I watch a young team develop into a competive squad

Hope to see you in Mankato
Thanks for reading

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Getting Closer

Today being Tuesday June 19 and the first day of the Vikings mandatory mini camp really gets me extra pumped . I looked at my Vikings app on my phone. It showed the following, 37 days until Training Camp, 52 days until the Preseason opener, 59 until preseason home opener and finally 82 days until the season opener against Jacksonville.

The heat we have felt the last few days in Minnesota really makes me think of training camp.The heat we unsually get to experience seemingly stays while camp is going. The vendors that sell water during practice got to be loving it.

The stories of Bounty gate have been interesting to read but now it is time to think of the future which no one knows. The team has had two rough years however, I do not believe it can be any worse. I see and feel nothing but positive with this team this upcoming season.The turnover of last years roster and bringing in the youth movement has me excited to see a new chapter in this organization.

I will admit last year I was disappointed in one specific area and that was the tight end position lack of production. I was shocked to not see Visanthe Shiancoe more involved. I feel part of it was the lack of protection the quarterback had as he did not have the time to find specific routes. Shiancoe is now gone and now the youth in this area will take over.

Kyle Rudolph showed glimpses of excellence his rookie season and now in his second year should be real intriguing. The addition of John Carlson is exciting.There has been no football played obviously yet but just the thought of a 6'6" and 6'5" as tight ends should be a huge advantage against defenders.

The offense is headed in the right direction and they will all learn together as a young unit. It starts with Christian Ponder. The offseason everything I have read has been encouraging. The leadership he is trying to show in the offseason with team activities. I also read he got into the weight room. The hits he took last year and still got up was simply amazing.

The receiver group I am as excited as I have been in quite some time. I would really like to see Devin Aromashodu have a great year. Percy is Percy tough through and through. I think of him as the human pin ball. Jerome Simpson I know is suspended the first 3 games but then watch out. I hope he comes out like gang busters and show his value. I like the experience Michael Jenkins brings to this young group.

The running backs with Adrian Peterson leading the way and Toby Gerhart who showed his value last year when Peterson went down. I wish these 2 men good luck in coming back from the surgeries. The dark horse running back I am most excited to see in camp is Jordan Todman who played his college ball at Connecticuti. I watch alot of college football so I got to see him a few times on tv and was he impressive. He is only 5'9 and 193 but size does not always mean anything it is how you can move once you get the ball.

Finally the offensive line will be one of the most watched areas by many people. In losing Steve Hutchinson, Anthony Herrera as starters and now needing to retool. It was a great start with the drafting of Matt Kalil. I know he is not proven on the field so we will see. I for one believe the left side will only be better and with veteran Charlie Johnson next to Kalil should be a huge help.The right side will be a battle at right guard and finally right tackle Phil Loadholt now being around a couple of years needs to prove he is the Vikings long term answer at this spot. I believe he will be dominant. If you have ever met him he is just a monster. It is amazing a guy this big can move so quickly.

If you watch a game on tv or read the paper the talk of how big these guys are is not so easy to unsterstand until you get next to one of these players. I encourage strongly for you to make a trip to Mankato and meet these players who will be wearing purple this season.

I will give my thoughts on the defense in my next blog.

Thank you

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The game from a different view

I had been asked to write a Vikings blog for my city paper 3 years ago and it lasted until this season. The subject given me as a season ticket holder was to write a blog from a fan perspective. The stats that are easy to find was not the issue rather it was what did I see at the game. The sights, the sounds, and anything unsusual I would see that people may not find in their own local paper when they read it.
I had so much fun and then a bonus for myself occured. The paper worked with the Vikings organization and I was given a press pass to sit with the media and see what this side of the game was like to take in.

I learned a ton and it was so rewarding. The Vikings media heads were so helpful. They made this experience truly memorable.

The pregame I was invited along with other media to have a breakfast and at halftime I would go down and eat some lunch. It was so interesting to listen to stories and just talk football.

I went in the locker rooms with the other Vikings media and conducted player interviews. I sat in on press conferences after the games with the likes of Sid Hartman, Mark Rosen, Joe Schmit to name a few. It was so much to take in. It is their profession while I was in their learning what goes on in this different side of watching football.

 A noon game I could be there by 10 and go to the press box and get set up. As the game would go on after each quarter stats from the previous quarter would be delivered to each of us so we could write our articles if desired.

A typical Sunday noon game would last for me from 10 am to around 4:30 by the time the last press conference was done. I was given a media credential so I could get in the locker room. Each person is checked before they enter. The players I found in the interviews I did do were wonderful to talk to. The majority of the media carries tape recorders where as I took notes.

I was also put on the Vikings email so I could get the schedule of Winter Park press conferences during the week. I did go to a few and met some tremendous media personalities who showed me the ropes. I tell you there are so many nice and willing people to help me.

I also went to Winter Park practices and took pictures when allowed. They are very clear when you can and can not take pictures or tape practice.

It is so structured so there simply can not be mistakes made. They are honest and open with all rules.
The paper I wrote for gave me an opportunity of a life time.

I commend the Vikings media leaders for making me feel comfortable and were a tremendous help. It is a side of football I really had very little idea what it really is like. I am hopeful one day someone finds me and allows me to continue with a media outlet to write from a fan perspective.

In reading as much as I do from some very talented Vikings media, it gave me a thought to sit down and write my feelings about the last 3 seasons with the media.

Football is so much bigger than just the game and I am here to tesify to that.

Thanks for reading


Sunday, June 3, 2012

NFL jerseys changes through the years

I have 68 jerseys in my collection  hanging on hangers on a portable clothing rack. They are all replicas with one exception  and that is Randy Moss's.

I started in 1994 with the first one I got was Warren Moon and the last one I just got as a gift in 2011 was Christian Ponders'.

The price was 35.00 when I started. It seems each year like anything the price goes up and now close to 100.00 if not a little over for replicas.

It seems back in the early 90's the variety of jerseys put out was not that many. The change I have seen the last 5-10 years is more players jerseys are available. Yes, you can have player's jerseys customized for whoever you want, but the fun challenge is to go to different sporting shops and see what you can find.

The other fact to look at is the different makers of the jersey's through the years. I have Puma, Rebok and Starter jerseys in my collection. The 2012 season has once again brought change and that is going from Rebok to Nike Uniforms.

I know going to games it is fun to see so many fans wearing a jersey. The most popular in my opinion is Adrian Peterson. The fun I have at games is if I can find different player's jerseys worn by fans. The sight of purple is a beautiful at a game no matter what the jersey number is.

The cost to me is not of the importance, rather I look at the jerseys hanging reminding me of who wore that jersey. It seems each player jersey I look at has a story I can remember about that player.

I am proud of this collection and the memories I have watching that particular player current or past. I have black hangers for ex players and white hangers for current player's jerseys.


Hard to believe

My wife and I flew down to New Orleans for the Vikings-Saints NFC Championship. It was our first time ever going to this city. The people were so nice to us in pregame but then when the game time game it was a little different. It was an eerie feeling as the overtime came and fans were on edge. It is a feeling like I have never been a part of. If the Vikings win, do we get out unharmed? If the Saints win, we should be ok. As you know the Saints did win and it was fairly easy to get out as the celebration was going fast and furious. It was almost like the fans did not noitce us leaving.

The reason I bring this up is because of a fastenating fact I just came upon. I read the paper everyday and follow the team with a passion but still to stop and think about this fact kind of blew my mind.

The 22 Vikings 2009 Championship team starters they had, we are now down to 7 total in this upcoming season. There are 3 on offense with Adrian Peterson, John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt. The defense has 4 left. They are Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Chad Greenway and Antoine Winfield.

In 3 years to go down to this few of staters in truly remarkable. The team has stated they want to go young and this fact of 7 starters left really summarizes the goal to get younger.

Vikings fans, we are seeing change right in front of our eyes. We stayed strong for a stadium. We now need to stay strong and support the team as we will see these young men mature football wise right in front of our eyes.