Wednesday, May 4, 2016

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Vikings fan invaded Detroit for Sunday's victory.

Last week, it was rookie Stefon Diggs that swiped this heralded (by me) award in his first career start by getting more than 70% of your votes. This week, he might be in for a repeat performance here at VT, but first I want to give a few quick thoughts on my very first game experience at Ford Field in Detroit:

  1. You Vikings fans are awesome! You guys were everywhere! There were scores of Vikings fans tailgating outside of the stadium, filling seats everywhere from the front row all the way to nose bleeds, and showing their pride all day long by sporting that purple and gold. It was great to see how well represented the fan base was on Sunday and a big “Skol!” to those of you VT readers that stopped me to say “hi” (I was rocking a VT shirt).
  2. I’m looking forward to attending my first game at U.S. Bank Stadium and seeing just how better that “fan experience” will be compared to the decade(ish)-old Ford Field. You hear a lot about the “fan experience” in relation to NFL stadiums these days, as fans are finding it far more comfortable and convenient (and cheaper) to stay home and watch the game. With zero cell reception or wi-fi options, minimal updates from other games being played, and underwhelming screens… I mean, it was better than the Metrodome and it was incredibly clean, but I did come away fairly underwhelmed.
  3. I feel bad for the Detroit Lions fan base. They are clearly defeated as a whole and I’ve never been to an NFL game that was so, well… calm. I mean, I was glad to see the fans were classy and considerate compared to their NFC North counterparts in Chicago and Green Bay, but they also seemed void of any excitement about their team at all. Even when the Lions were leading, the reaction was quite tame relative to other games I’ve been to.

Okay, enough about that, onto the nominations for this week’s award.

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(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

Babatunde Aiyegbusi may not have panned out as a long-term NFL option, but that doesn’t mean he won’t make an impact in the United States sports arena. In fact, the 6’9″ Polish athlete that most know affectionately as “Babs” is on to his next endeavor: the WWE.

Aiyegbusi’s marketing agent Adam Bair said that the World Wrestling Entertainment organization showed serious interest in the former football player following his release from the Vikings’ roster.

Interestingly, the opportunity came through a connection Bair and Babs made in August when Jimmy Kimmel hosted Aiyegbusi on Jimmy Kimmel Live for an entertaining segment called “Can Babatunde Move It.” During the LA visit, Bair met talent scout John Carlin. A former long-time employee of ESPN, Carlin offered to introduce Bair to a few former associates, which quickly led to a correspondence with WWE Vice President of Talent Acquisition Canyon Ceman.

“Canyon was very excited,” Bair said. “They had been following Babs from the start of [Vikings] training camp because of his size and had been trying to reach him.”

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(photo courtesy of Vikings.com)

In Monday’s 2 p.m. press conference, head coach Mike Zimmer addressed the media and announced that center John Sullivan underwent another surgery and is “unlikely” to return during the 2015 season.

In early September, the Vikings placed Sullivan on Injured Reserve after he underwent back surgery; the team announced he was designated to return but would likely miss at least eight weeks. Sullivan hadn’t practiced since mid August due to back spasms, and it now seems the problems will be more long term than originally thought.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Locker room chemistry in the NFL is underrated. Look at Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, who yesterday confronted teammates and nearly fought a special teams coach during . Dez Bryant, his fiery teammate, stepped in to stop Hardy from taking the tirade too far, but the damage was already done. Reporters are questioning Jerry Jones for signing a player with a history of domestic violence, and Ian O’ Connor of ESPN believes the Cowboys should suspend Hardy for his actions.

Incidents like that will only divide locker rooms, and the tension’s building outside of Dallas, too. In Philadelphia, one player entered the locker room after last night’s loss to the Carolina Panthers screaming, specifically telling his teammates to catch the football. Eagles receivers dropped seven passes last night, some of which may have kept the team competitive in an important conference game. It’s a problem that’s affecting teams negatively, on and off the field. The Cowboys have lost four straight, the Eagles are 3-4, and they’re losing ground on the division-leading New York Giants.

For the Vikings, it’s a much different story. They’re 4-2 after an impressive comeback victory on the road against the Lions and look like a team that enjoys playing football together. They’re young —with a number of rookies contributing on both sides of the ball — and the mix of veteran leadership and Mike Zimmer’s coaching mentality is creating an environment players want to be a part of. Just look at this clip after Stefon Diggs’s electrifying 36-yard touchdown grab:

Image courtesy of NFL Game Pass
Image courtesy of NFL Game Pass

Mike Wallace appears fired up as he speaks to Joe Berger and Matt Kalil, likely as a result of their sound blocking on the Diggs touchdown. Diggs overhears the excitement and rushes over to give Berger a hug. It was a candid moment caught by the Fox cameras and one that shows the connection at every level of this roster, from the veteran starters to the rookie sensations. Teddy Bridgewater, not unaccustomed to these interactions, spoke to the “Diggs Effect” after the game:

“You have to love that guy because he’s so energetic and so excited about playing in the NFL,” Bridgewater said. “Even (Saturday) at our walkthrough, when everyone was at walking tempo, he was running at full speed. That’s just how he is.”

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The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings got their second divisional road win since 2009 Sunday afternoon at Ford Field, rebounding from a slow start to top the Motor City Kitties 28-19. The Zimmer Hellfire Defense sacked Matthew Stafford seven times en route to a 2nd half defensive shutout as the Purple roll to 4-2 and hope to catch playoff momentum as we barrel along the 2015 campaign.

Other “I Still Think It Was Shellfish” Talkers Include
• #SnuffGate
• Stefon F. Diggs
• Teddy is Tougher Than a $2 Steak
• The Zimmer Hellfire Defense Rebounded Well
• Adrian is Feast or Famine. Like he always has been
• Harrison Smith is the Best Safety in the League. Period.
• Get Sendejo the Hell Out of There (#FreeVereen)
• Cordarrelle Patterson is Done
• Kyle Rudolph. No Comment
• Points on the Table – Redzone Playcalling
• Playoffs? Don’t Talk About Playoffs
• Can Diggs go back-to-back for Pepsi Rookie of the Week?
• Hai, Blair Walsh
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All that and other “Vikings…. Come out and play-ayyyyyy” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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