Sunday, November 29, 2015

jared allen

A season that is all but suffocated.  A star receiver on the mend.  A quarterback under immense pressure to perform.  A group of coaches whose seats have to feel a bit toasty.  A linebacker calling for more drunks to attend games.  A divisional home game fast approaching.

The drama has reached heights we have yet to see in 2012, which means there are plenty of great articles floating around the internet, and I am here to bring them all your way:

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If I win the $550 million jackpot tonight I will buy a suite for all of us to share next season.  As a millionaire, the amount of that would be nothing but a drop in the bucket.

Which is exactly what $21,000 is to Jared Allen.

Nevertheless, Jared Allen was only fined that amount for his launch block that ended the season for Bears guard Lance Louis.  While Allen hit him from a blind angle, the knee of Louis got stuck in the grass at Soldier Field, causing the damage that landed him on the injured reserve.

Some would argue that Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears was the end of the Vikings season in terms of participating in any week 18 games.  What we know for sure is that Jared Allen’s blind side block ended Lance Louis’s season.

On an Antoine Winfield interception, Allen launched his body at the offensive lineman in an attempt to block during the return, but the result was a knee injury that has brought more criticism Allen’s way than he has seen since he did this to Matt Schaub in 2008.

The hits to Schaub resulted in the NFL making a rule change the following offseason, but this time around Allen’s hit on Louis was one that is already illegal despite the fact that he wasn’t penalized for it.  Allen can expect a hefty fine from the NFL and plenty of jabs from the team that currently leads the NFC North but now has to finish out the regular season without their best offensive lineman.

Head Coach Lovie Smith offered up his take on Monday.

“Jared Allen plays the game a certain way, a good player in our league,” said Smith.  “I think there are some plays when you look at them again, you say, ‘Hey, we could have done without that.’ I think our game could do without that play. We have an injured player right now based on it. I think he could have gotten blocked a little bit differently, but that’s about all I can probably say about it. I’m sure the league will look at it and give another opinion about what they think.”

I can’t honestly say that I believe Allen is a dirty player that intentionally hurt Louis, and he echoed that in his post-game comments about the play and his apology to Louis and his family, but I also think the play is one that the NFL could indeed do without and that Allen will (and should) hear from the league office.

What do you think Allen should expect provided the evidence and testimony mounting against him on this one?

Local beat writers, perhaps in the spirit of election season, couldn’t wait to pounce on Chris Kluwe and Leslie Frazier this week in an attempt to generate interesting quotes about how Kluwe’s recent struggles on the field can, or cannot, be linked to his endeavors off the field.

Kluwe and Frazier predictably answered the questions appropriately, despite the media’s best attempts to use the phrase “child’s game” in provocative fashion, and everyone seems willing to move on with the only goal being to get better production out of the punt game.

I know that gay marriage is a hot button issue in the nation right now and Kluwe’s choice to take a stance is unpopular with about 50% of the population, but I can’t help but think that the extra attention being paid to this is strictly a result of the subject matter.  It is because people oppose his cause that this is drawing so much criticism as I am confident that nobody would be saying a word if his “cause” were raising money and awareness for cancer, fighting to save the rainforests from destruction, or supporting military members and their families.

We have a defensive end that trained to be an Olympian.  We have another that holds a golf tournament, published his own cook book, hunts whenever he gets the chance, appeared on MTV’s “Cribs,” and was willing to campaign on behalf of the Vikings controversial stadium efforts.  Our star running back filmed an episode of “Entourage,” has missed part of a training camp due to Adrian Peterson Day in Texas, and just yesterday visited a classroom of school children.  Christian Ponder and Chad Greenway have been spokesman for a program regarding financial literacy.

NFL players are people with lives, families, hobbies, beliefs, passions, and flaws.  Just like the rest of us, their personal lives probably do spill into their professional output but it is quite the stretch, in my opinion, to conclude that Kluwe’s recent activism has resulted in poor punting.  Unlike the rest of us, they have crazy schedules including TV appearances, endorsement deals, photo shoots, and so on and so on.

Did Peyton Manning’s recent purchasing of a piece of the pizza pie impact his production?  How about Matt Birk’s taping of an ad speaking out against gay marriage?  The list goes on and on and I won’t bore you by going through them all, but I will say this:

I have already talked with one person that swears up and down that Kluwe is distracted.  That very same person argued emphatically with me a couple of years back that there was no way, no how that Brett Favre could have possibly been distracted by the alleged claims of sexual harassment and sexting scandal.  Double standard much?

So, the point I am trying (and failing miserably) to get to is that Chris Kluwe needs to punt better.  I know it.  You know it.  He knows it.  The coaches know it.  However, trying to proclaim his personal time is the reason for his professional struggles, without any sort of proof, is just an oddly lazy route to take, whether it is by the media or the fans.

The bigger issue here is whether or not his punting is just experiencing a bad run, or if this will become a trend.  Kluwe is in the second-to-last year of his seven year contract and is set to make $1.3 million this season and $1.4 million next season, both of which are very high for a punter.

If his production doesn’t match his pay pretty soon he may not even reside in Minnesota any longer, let alone impact the political landscape.  He may have to figure out how to attend band practice via Skype, and he probably won’t be employed by the local radio station very long.

Football is far more likely to impact his personal life, rather than the other way around.

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In conducting live chats, reading comments from readers, and just generally gauging the reaction to recent games I have noticed that Vikings fans are torn on whether negativity, or positivity in some cases, is appropriate following poor performances.

I have given it a lot of thought in the last 24 hours and have decided that this is a rebuilding year, no matter how much success we have, and that whether they are contrived as positive or negative lessons, the most important thing to keep in mind is that this young team is learning the lessons they need to be learning.

So, for the rest of this season, you can expect to see my new weekly segment entitled “Lessons Learned” as I fully intend to focus on what this team has done, will do, and needs to do in order to create a brighter future.

Strangely enough, the first “lesson” I took away from Thursday Night’s debacle is not so much for the players, but rather for the Hoard.

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