Thursday, February 11, 2016

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The NFL is entering a significant season in 2015, as the league welcomes its first female official and its first female coach. In April, the NFL hired Sarah Thomas as one of eight new referees on staff. In July, Jen Walter joined the Arizona Cardinals staff as an intern coaching middle linebackers. Although the internship did not end in a long-term position, I would not be surprised if she finds a role soon.

Since the news about Thomas broke, I’ve had a number of people ask me my opinion on these two women pioneering their field. The question is natural, as I am pursuing a career in sports journalism, a field that tends to be more heavily dominated by men. There are certainly more and more women appearing in sports media every day, however, so I cannot draw an equal comparison.

In asking my thoughts, I think many people assumed I would be ecstatic about the decision. I think many people were surprised at my hesitation and mixed feelings.

When it comes to knowing her trade, Thomas cannot be accused of being under-qualified or under-experienced. She’s also no stranger to being the first in her field.

Thomas comes to the NFL with experience officiating at the high school level in Mississippi—she was the first woman in the Gulf Coast Football Officials Association—and 10 years later was selected as the first female referee for a major college football game. Thomas was the first woman to referee at a college Bowl game and the first to officiate in a Big Ten stadium.

Thomas, who played basketball at the University of Mobile, found herself drawn to the industry when she followed her brother to an officials meeting.

“It was life-changing for me when I saw that officials took time and pride to make the game better,” Thomas said. “That is what drew me in, especially being a former athlete. And I couldn’t have asked for better training (than in my time as a high school official in Mississippi).”

Fifteen cuts to come before 3 pm on Saturday

Image courtesy of Vikings.com
After five preseason games and countless practices through July and August, the Minnesota Vikings have one final task to complete before the regular season begins on September 14 — cutting the active roster to 53 players. On Friday, Rick Spielman and the front office began the process, trimming the roster to 68 players after waiving seven Vikings (listed in order of announcement):
  • CB Shaun Prater
  • WR Donte Foster
  • DE Leon Mackey
  • DT Chigbo Anunoby
  • RB DuJuan Harris
  • G Bobby Vardaro
  • CB Josh Thomas

Although none of the moves were officially listed on the team’s website, various reporters (Chris Tomasson, Darren Wolfson, Matt Vensel) cited league sources with the leaked information. Per the NFL’s rules, all teams must meet Saturday’s 3 pm CT deadline to trim the roster to 53 players, meaning the Vikings still need to — if they haven’t already — release 15 players today.

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Never is the business of the NFL more evident, and harsh, than these two days as hundreds of NFL players will lose their jobs and possibly their football careers.

The dream will end for 21 players for the Minnesota Vikings as they make their roster decisions to make Saturday’s 53-man roster limit. Cornerback Jabari Price will go on the suspended list, delaying any decision on his future and leaving one spot for another player.

Mike Zimmer, Norv Turner and Minnesota’s coaches and personnel staff will have some tough decisions. I believe there are about 45 players who can be considered set on the roster, leaving 29 players for eight spots. Here’s a look at what I believe the Vikings roster might look at, come Saturday afternoon before any potential additions from other teams:

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(photo used with permission)

When the 2015 NFL schedule came out, I found myself frustrated and complaining because the Vikings’ season opener doesn’t start until after 9:00 p.m. Which means I will be awake until after midnight. On a Monday. I couldn’t believe this level of inconvenience.

And then I met Erik Sandgren.

Sandgren lives in Täby, a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. There is a seven-hour time difference between Minneapolis and Täby. When the Vikings play the 49ers on Sept. 14, Sandgren will be tuning in at 4 a.m. And suddenly, just like that, I feel like a much less dedicated fan.

Sandgren’s story is a good one. Now 35 and loving life with his wife and daughter, Sandgren first became a Vikings fan almost 20 years ago when he lived in Boise, Idaho as an exchange student. His host family, the Fends, provided Sandgren with plenty of rich experiences and helped integrate him into the U.S. culture.

As Idaho has no NFL team of its own, John Fend adopted the Denver Broncos as his team years ago. His son, Kyle, supports the Green Bay Packers (but we won’t talk much about that). Sandgren was a big fan of European soccer, and he was disappointed that the U.S. did not have a big emphasis on the sport at the time. Both being big American football fans, John and Kyle introduced the sport to Sandgren. At first, he was less than fascinated.

“I enjoyed watching the games, but I really had no tooting interest,” Sandgren recalls.

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The 2015 Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings preseason is in the books and now we are only 10 long days away from actually FOOTBALL football when the boys in Purple head out to Santa Clara to take on the San Francisco Shells of Their Former Selves next Monday night.

Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) stops in for his weekly spot to touch on the upcoming season, who’s in/out for the final 53 man roster, and we make fun of RG3.

Other “We’re Lucky We Got Kalil Instead of RG3” Talkers Include
• Andy The Yellow
• New Rating System – The #AndySnorkel Rating
• Minnesota State Fair Food PFF Ratings
• The Washington Dumpster Fire
• What has Arif done for a scoop?
• Will RG3 get cut?
• Brady Free. What does this mean for Goodell?
• Movement on the 53 Man Roster projections? (Spoiler: Nah)
• Tyrus Thompson vs David Yankey at backup LT
• Dominique Williams vs Matt Asiata
• Fullback or Taylor Heinicke on the 53???
• Will Matt Kalil & Mike Harris’ decent preseason play translate?
• Arif: Bad signs in Clemmings play
• Robert Blanton is Denny’s… I explain why
• Heinicke love & analysis
• What to expect from Adrian Peterson
ESPN Top 100 Rankings. ONLY ONE VIKING? Who got snubbed?
• Adrian is #11. Too high?
• 2015 Season W/L Predictions Week-By-Week
• Weekly Hypothetical – NFL Players as Presidential Candidates – Who Be Who?
• Donald Trump is Cordarrelle/RG3
• Visit our new sponsor Victiv for Daily Fantasy Sports!
Support us on Amazon!

All that and other “See You In Santa Clara!” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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