Thursday, March 5, 2015
Blog Page 81

As camp begins, a few football-related stories have emerged that help clarify the situation for the Vikings as they head into their first preseason with head coach Mike Zimmer.

Like any football team, there are concerns about heading into camp (and out of the preseason) with injuries that severely limit the team or end careers. In this case, there were concerns about those who had been held out of participation in OTAs and minicamps as a result of injuries: Matt Kalil’s knee surgery, Andrew Sendejo’s back operation, Josh Robinson and Jamarca Sanfard’s pulled muscles and Linval Joseph’s shoulder surgery.

When asked today before camp started, Zimmer told gathered media that one player would start camp out on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but wouldn’t say who. It turned out that it was Chase Ford who would most likely end up PUP’d—he has a stress fracture in his left foot and had surgery on it recently, and shouldn’t be able to participate in practices for some time.

This was the reason they chose to sign tight end Mike Higgins, formerly of the New Orleans Saints and release Spencer Nealy, who Spielman said was not released because of his looming suspension.

Matt Kalil says he’s been 100% cleared for three weeks now, and is ready to go. He acknowledged his “average” season last year and said he didn’t like the way he moved or prepared in the offseason going into last year. He says he’s trained better this year.

Matt Cassel is currently the number one quarterback, but it is still a three-way competition to be the starting quarterback come opening day. That competition will extend into the early preseason.

The Chris Kluwe/Mike Priefer situation rolls on. The Vikings have confirmed that he will be suspended for three weeks to begin the season. Like player suspensions, this means that Priefer will not be in the building, nor be allowed to contact the team, for three weeks, beginning Monday before the first game.

There were some other clarifications to be made before becoming tight-lipped.

  • Mike Priefer apologized again (specifically in regards to how the distraction affected the team and family). He said he failed the standard he sets for himself. He will not change how he coaches, but will be cognizant of sensitivity.
  • The Vikings would be hiring an external firm to conduct sensitivity training (with whom they’ll discuss progress in order to determine whether or not to reduce the suspension by one game)
  • The team mentioned that they are still determining how to handle the practices and games during the suspension, going so far as to say bringing and interim special teams coach from outside is a possibility (which means that Ryan Ficken, the assistant special teams coach, is not a lock to take over during the suspension).
  • The thread throughout the team pressers on this issue has been “he’s made a mistake and has owned up to it.”
  • There has been no comment regarding whether or not Les Pico shared details with Rick Spielman of the incident.
  • The Vikings would not discuss whether or not they considered firing Mike Priefer.
  • The team would not indicate why it is not releasing the full report or summary.
  • Chris Kluwe tweeted out that he and the team have resumed discussions.
  • Cullen Loeffler said he and Chris Kluwe both laughed at the comment, and never thought it was serious.

There are rumors that Harrison Smith will build a blanket fort in the dorms. As of this moment they have not been denied (or, if we’re getting technical, confirmed).

Those who donated to my camp fundraiser expecting a training camp guide: my apologies on the delay. The final pieces should come together tonight and it will be compiled tomorrow. Those who requested a PDF should receive it some time then, while the print copies should arrive slightly later.

Training camp is oh-so-close now and we are all excited about the new heights our coverage will reach this year, but first let’s do some house cleaning and see what others are saying around the web:

 

 

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[NOTE FROM ADAM:  Brent Butler approached me with some questions regarding the media coverage of the Vikings linebacker spot and the lack of respect shown to Audie Cole.  I thought his email to me was coherent enough, and on a topic worthy of discussion, so I encouraged him to reformat his email into an article and send it my way.  This is the result.  Enjoy!]

By Brent Butler

Why isn’t Audie Cole a leading candidate for one of the three starting linebacker spots by the media?

I know he’s been mentioned as a competing candidate, but I don’t hear anyone saying he’s a leading candidate. Regardless of all the chatter around the Vikings linebacker competition; Chad Greenway, Anthony Barr and Audie Cole are the leading candidates for  the three starting spots coming into training camp this year. Few people question Greenway as a starter, and most people think Barr will start, but no one is talking about Audie Cole as a leading candidate in the media and I don’t know why.

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Alright, alright, alright… you came here to read about something other than Chris Kluwe and were majorly disappointed by what you found on our front page? I understand, I do.

Please let me redirect your attention to a number of our fine articles from all of our fine writers (and me) from the last week or so that don’t involve the end of humanity as we know it:

TRANSITION TO THE OUTDOORS – Brent

WOMEN IN SPORTS MEDIA – Lindsey

VIKINGS GOING FROM WORST TO FIRST – Carl

PROFILE OF ROOKIE ANTONE EXUM – Darren

RANKING MATT CASSEL AS A STARTER – Arif

EPISODE ONE OF “VT TALKERS” – Brett

Okay, I lied, I couldn’t find anything good at all written by me lately. I will say, though, that we are incredibly close to meeting our goal when it comes to our “Mission 2014″ fundraiser hoping to come together as a community and make a difference where one is needed.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about then please CLICK HERE and give it a read.

In case you didn’t notice, the Minnesota Vikings and ex-punter Chris Kluwe are engaged in an ugly public relations battle that will soon evolve to an even uglier legal battle. Kluwe threw the first punch with his hefty accusations published at Deadspin back in January.

It took a while, but the Vikings organization has circled the wagons, and now thrown a few jabs back at Kluwe. Their summary of the investigation findings was released last night and then Chris Kluwe proceeded to, quite frankly, punch himself in the face on Twitter a few times last night.

The Vikings still contend that Chris Kluwe was not fired from his job for his activism, but rather released from his contract for football reasons, and I believe them (always have thought that, if you’ve been here for a while). Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer has also finally stopped lying and apologized for making inappropriate comments and the Vikings are reprimanding him with a suspension. Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier seem to be non-issues, essentially, despite the title of Kluwe’s initial article.

In many cases like this there are never any clear winners, just losers, outside of the legal team being paid to play prevent defense within the confines of the judicial system. This is a high profile case, however, so you can probably put “media outlets” right up there with the lawyers when it comes to people that stand to benefit from this mess.

Now comes the mud, however.

In an obvious attempt to attack Kluwe’s character the Vikings have included in their release a tidbit that turned into a social media bombshell. They say that Kluwe made light of the Penn State molestation situation in a lewd and offensive manner, and he admits that he did.

He also attempted to threaten the organization by claiming to have knowledge of a situation involving two well-known Vikings players being caught in a compromising situation with an underage girl. That admission backfired a bit, as people immediately wondered why Kluwe has again sat on his hands and done nothing with this information about his former employers.

This morning, before leaving for a long Saturday (yes, Saturday, dang it) of work at my real job, I read a number of articles from fine writers questioning Kluwe’s intent.  Some were more harsh than others.

One of those articles came from Gregg Doyel at CBS Sports, and this evening Kluwe felt compelled to respond to Mr. Doyel, who called Kluwe out as being disgusting and hypocritical. You can read the whole thing here, but I want to focus on something Kluwe has said a few times over the past 24 hours, and said it again in his response to Doyel.

If it comes to speaking truth to power, standing up to blind fanaticism, that’s what I’m going to do.

This is the type of well-planned rhetoric that I have grown accustomed to in all things Kluwe. The guy is a wordsmith and a talented one. Still, I’m calling bulls*** on this one, and his other versions of the same sentiment, and feel like it is an attack on myself and many other Vikings fans.

I used to think this case that Kluwe had against Priefer and the Vikings was bigger than football. That is what was annoying about it as a hack football blogger, to be honest, because it wasn’t an X’s and O’s type of storyline, but it was important enough that it couldn’t be ignored. Regardless of how your politics are oriented, social justice is something we can’t simply ignore in favor of a sporting event or else we all lose, plain and simple.

Still, Kluwe’s decision to bring this back down to the level of football fandom and attack those that have “sided” with his “opponents” smells of desperation and is an insult to a fanbase that once showed him plenty of love.

Having covered the Vikings for quite a while now I can tell you that a majority of fans do not blindly support the Vikings organization. I’ve seen them criticize the organization for plenty, and I’m not just talking about on the field productivity.

I’ve seen fans call for the Wilf family to be run out of town for their demand for public funds. I’ve seen fans point to the arrests up and down rosters of Vikings past and demand change. I’ve seen fans upset over the release of a player on Christmas, over the team’s support of a player that allegedly choked his girlfriend, and over the lewd conduct of the players on that boat.

I’ve seen fans declare their fandom to be finished over how the organization treated specific players, with Antoine Winfield being the most recent example that comes to mind.

Chris Kluwe needs to understand that fans, myself included, are individuals that are capable of deciding things for ourselves. Many, albeit not all, are even intelligent enough to make coherent and intelligent decisions (or assumptions, as he might call them) about a subject being presented. We are even able to put our excitement over Vikings football to the side in order to form our opinions, whether he believes it or not.

I’m not saying Kluwe isn’t on the other end of some unfair and uninformed venom, especially considering he chooses to be plugged into social media as a public figure, I’m sure he sees more than his fair share of it. Conversely, he and the equality movement also have blind followers that will defend and attack on cue without considering the opposing viewpoint.

However, some of his own assumptions are way off base, starting with the one where he thinks any Vikings fan that disagrees with his approach to these issues are simply blind followers of some colors on a jersey.

At the other end of a disagreement is not always a blind follower of a football team, or a religion, or a political platform. At the other end of those arguments are often someone who just flat out thinks he is wrong, or thinks he is partially wrong, or is maybe even still trying to sort this mess out in their mind and has their doubts.

What Mike Priefer did was wrong and that has been admitted. I’ve never agreed with Kluwe’s reasoning for why he thinks he was released, but I’ve never questioned his integrity, until last night’s Twitter rant. I still don’t think Kluwe was wronged when he was released, but now I’m wondering about his character as a person willing to harass a coach about their affiliation to an organization facing the worst kind of scandal and also his willingness to sit idle while the Vikings allegedly sweep their own scandal under the rug.

Mike Priefer needs to be accountable for what he did. Now, however, Chris Kluwe has some explaining to do. According to Kluwe’s Twitter account, we will have to wait until he’s in court to get that explanation, because that way it will be “more fun.”

Call it blind faith in a football team if you want to be that ignorant about it, but I’m starting to have some serious doubts about the punter who thinks he can do no wrong and his willingness to belittle the rest of us.

Out of fairness to Kluwe, I offered him a chance to respond to this article before I posted it, and here is what he had to say:

So you know, that reference was to Penn State, not to people who support the Vikings. That’s your assumption to make, not what I stated. My issue is with people who blindly support something no matter what evidence comes out (i.e. Penn State), and something you may want to consider is that the Vikings released a version of the report they carefully combed for what they wanted to present, not the entire thing. If you’re truly for informed conversation, the Vikings releasing the full report will allow us to have that. What they currently put out? Nothing more than the opening salvo from a company getting ready for a protracted legal battle.
Ask yourself this. In a 29 page summary of a 150 page report with 1600 pages of footnotes and sources, why were only 3 pages devoted to the actual subject of the report, and 26 devoted to the person who raised the complaint.
Just something to think about.

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