Sunday, March 29, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "antoine winfield"

antoine winfield

by -
0

It’s a long offseason. So it makes sense to go beyond the borders of the US to cultivate additional Minnesota Vikings awesomeness. I had the good fortune to be joined by The Daily Norseman founder Christopher Gates from Germany to talk about our favorite professional football team.

We chatted about Adrian Peterson’s future with the Purple (mandatory nowadays) and what the latest statements from ownership and the front office could really mean. Reminisced about Chris’ three favorite Vikings of all time: an o-lineman sized QB from Central Florida, some kid from the mountains of West Virginia, and a pint-sized CB who started the ‘private plane watching’ trend among Vikings fans (and always had 2 pair playing 30/60 at Canterbury).

Additionally, we covered the beauty of Teddy, the leadership of Zimmer and how why he’s a rarity in NFL coaches, I call Rick Spielman a top-3 GM, and I put Chris through the tried and true Gauntlet.

All that and other “the New Vikings Stadium will kill a bald eagle” conversations on Episode 101 of the Purple FTW! Podcast.

Full episode after the jump!

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.

Antoine Winfield is not retiring after all.

At least not yet.

Winfield’s agent, Ashanti Webb, said the 36-year-old free agent cornerback has yet to file retirement papers. On the same note, Webb said he hasn’t “heard anything substantive from (Vikings) to bring back to Antoine.”

Before the season opener, shortly after reports came out that Seattle would release the veteran corner, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said that he would “welcome” a chance to reunite with the Winfield.

“You know, I have a ton of respect for Antoine,” Frazier said. “He did a lot of good things for us here, had a great career here in Minnesota and really helped me look good at times with some of the plays he made. I have a deep affection for him.

“But if he wanted to play, I’d welcome the opportunity to work with Antoine again if that’s what he wanted to do. But if he’s retired, I wish him nothing but the best. He’s been a great player, a great person, and he’s going to enjoy retirement. But he was a tremendous player for a long time in our league.”

Minnesota’s defense struggled against Detroit on Sunday. While some of the blame should be attributed to the game planning against the Lion’s potent passing attack, the team’s secondary allowed many unnecessary plays for long yards.

One would assume the Vikings would welcome Winfield back, but apparently little conversation has happened between Winfield and Minnesota since his release from the Seahawks. Familiarity with the Vikings’ defense would make it appealing for both sides, but many other teams in the NFL employ some form of the tampa-2 scheme that Winfield could smoothly transition to.

Chris Cook hasn’t exactly been Mr. Reliable in his first three NFL seasons.  Multiple injuries and multiple off-field troubles have kept him out of action all too often.  These problems are really the only reasons to consider this to possibly be Cook’s last season in Minnesota, because he has otherwise been a very solid contributor on Sundays, and even more is expected of him during his contract year in 2013.

Cook may not be able to control his medical status as the season wears on, but it sounds like he is trying to keep from letting another knucklehead incident off the field keep him from cashing in on a second contract, as he is distracting himself by continuing his studies at the University of Virginia.

“I just felt like it was something that would keep me grounded, just to keep me from doing too much partying — too much of stuff that I didn’t need to be doing,” Cook told 1500 ESPN. “It’s definitely helped me focus, kept me in one place, not traveling all over the place, having something to focus on definitely helped me out.”

Cook is probably wise to stay out of trouble this offseason if he wants his next contract to be with the Vikings, and that sounds like the case, as another incident would surely be enough reason to show him the door despite his talent.

“I’m looking forward to coming back if that’s in the cards, and I definitely would love to stay here,” he said of his future with the team. “It’s a contract year, but I’m not playing for a contract. I’m just playing for a good year and playing for this team.”

The VIkings created a large duo of cornerbacks when they drafted Xavier Rhodes to play across from Cook, and that is a good thing considering the receivers in the NFC North, but Cook joked that the rookie should let him do the heavy listing when the season rolls around.

“Just let me handle them,” is what Cook said he told Rhodes about Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall.

He went on to say that the duo will be asked to play more press coverage than we have seen from the Vikings secondary in the recent past.  He also says that the loss of Antoine Winfield will not cause the Vikings defensive backfield to struggle moving forward.

“I definitely know we’re going to play a lot more press coverage, because we have two big guys on the outside now,” Cook said. “Coach (Leslie) Frazier likes those type of guys on the outside. Everybody seems to like bigger guys on the outside now, and it’s because of the big receivers now.”

“We’ve got a lot of young, hungry guys. We put in a lot of extra time and we communicate very well and we spend a lot of time together bonding. … I don’t think we’ll be what people think we’ll be. I think we’ll be probably, most definitely a top secondary this year.”

That’s a pretty bold statement for a guy that has missed more games than he has played, especially with their fearless leader now in Seattle, but it isn’t too inconceivable that the Vikings secondary could be an improved unit this year.  The addition of Rhodes, and the possible improvement of young players like Harrison Smith and Josh Robinson, could indeed be a recipe for success in 2013.

At the very least, the confidence to press opposing receivers should create more opportunities for a very talented defensive line to torment quarterbacks all season long.

[Note:  Want to see a list of every player featured in our “Draft Target” segment?  Click here to visit the Offseason Tracker where there will be a list of all these players.  Check back often as there are plenty more to come!]

I know for a fact that the Vikings defense will feel the impact of Antoine Winfield’s absence, but I am not so sure that the move was really a game changer in terms of the Vikings draft plans, as the need for more quality cornerbacks is something the Vikings have struggled with since, well… forever.

Still, it couldn’t hurt to try and find someone of the same mold as Winfield, and Boise State’s Jamar Taylor seems like a natural fit for Rick Spielman to target in an effort to ease the loss of his veteran tackling corner.

Taylor (5′ 11″ and 192 pounds) played in every game as a freshman and registered 24 tackles, two for a loss, and a pick.  Then, for no other reason than Boise’s depth chart, Taylor redshirted as a sophomore before becoming a full time starter in 2010 and his ability to be a complete corner began to shine through.  That season he had 35 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, two sacks, two defended passes, and three forced fumbles.

Taylor was only able to start the first nine games of 2011 because of a leg fracture but he still managed 27 tackles, two for a loss, two picks, and six defended passes.  He was able to return for the Las Vegas Bowl where he scored on a 100 yard interception return.

After getting healthy, Taylor was able to enjoy his best season as a senior, which included starting every game, 51 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, 2.5 sacks, nine defended passes, four interceptions and three forced fumbles.  His impressive senior season continued to Indianapolis where he was a Scouting Combine standout with a 4.39 forty time.

Despite not being the biggest corner in the world, Taylor plays every bit as physical as many corners that are three or four inches taller than him, and has a reputation for being a “fighter” at the position in regards to his style of play.  He has the technique and strength to press wideouts at the line of scrimmage and the recovery speed to mask any mistakes.  He shows all the fluidity you want to see in his backpedal and hip turn, and is capable of disrupting passes with a well timed high point.

Taylor isn’t as proficient of a tackler as Winfield is, but he is no slouch either.  He plays the run very well, which is important to the Vikings, and is well disciplined in run support assignments.

Taylor is not flawless.  He needs to show more discipline in coverage, he needs to improve his tackling technique, and the guy looks like Jamarca Sanford when trying to haul in an easy interception (that isn’t a good thing) but he makes up for a lot of his shortcomings by playing football in a fearless and competitive way.

When it comes down to it, despite not being one of the highest touted prospects in this class, I view Taylor as a top-25 prospect and wouldn’t be at all disappointed if he were one of the Vikings selections in the first round.  He shouldn’t be expected, if selected, to fully fill Winfield’s void but adding a guy like this would certainly be a good start.

Get Social

2,720FansLike
4,660FollowersFollow