Wednesday, July 29, 2015

NFL

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A couple of weeks ago we debated which team was kicking butt in the offseason and most effectively building its team. Now it’s time to look at the flip side of the coin … 

VT Question of the Week: Which NFL Team is “Losing” the Offseason?

Adam: San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco is the obvious choice here, and the right choice. That team’s offseason has been mind-boggling on a lot of levels, but perhaps no loss will prove greater than that of their head coach. A regime change and unexpected retirements of prominent players create a real problem for the NFL Spin Machine that can usually renew hope for all 32 teams on an annual basis. Given the current state of the team, and the stiff competition within their division, I don’t see much reason for optimism. Oh, and we know they’re going to start out the season with a loss, right?

Arif: San Francisco 49ers
Has to be the 49ers. Sure, they had an average draft, but they didn’t just force out a great (if crazy) coach, they had their best players retire or leave in free agency with some spotty plans for backing them up—Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Justin Smith, Anthony Davis, Frank Gore and even Chris Culliver (who is being replaced by Shareece Wright). Trading their Pro Bowl punter wasn’t a great move either, given how much they’ve relied on field position in the past, and I’m not sure players like receiver Jerome Simpson or cornerback Chris Cook can make up for the rest of their offseason. Their best acquisition, Torrey Smith, was a good grab, but even their second- and third-best free agency players (Darnell Dockett and Reggie Bush) will represent a downgrade at their positions.

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The Vikings announced Tuesday morning that the team has released safety Taylor Mays.

Mays signed with Minnesota on March 24, and he has been working with the reserves during this spring’s OTA’s. Tuesday marked the kickoff of the team’s three-day mandatory mini camp.

Mays played in Cincinnati from August 2011, and he reunited with coach Mike Zimmer when he joined the Vikings. His size (6’3″) and speed combined added to his previous experience with Zimmer looked to make him a strong candidate, but he wasn’t getting many reps at safety thus far.

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John Wolfsberger is a man of many talents and interests. I initially made his acquaintance as a fellow Vikings fan, and when I came to know more about his life outside of the football, I discovered he is a husband, a father, a firefighter and a voiceover actor.

I assumed that Wolfsberger tried one career, then transitioned to something different. I was wrong. Wolfsberger navigates the schedules and atmospheres of both jobs, and he loves each of them.

Working out of Station 7 on the East Side of St. Paul, Wolfsberger is a full-time firefighter and takes great pride in his job. He has had hundreds of calls over the years, some more memorable than others, but one day that stands out clearly in his mind happened a couple years ago.

We received a call with a report of a house fire and a person still trapped inside,” Wolfsberger recalled. He explained that crews got to the fire extremely fast and were able to save the little girl. “The paramedics stabilized her and got to the hospital quickly. After her recovery, she and her family stopped by the station [to meet us]. It was so cool to see that she was doing great!

His everyday job is often rewarding, but Wolfsberger doesn’t deny the intensity of it, either—which makes it that much more fun to have such a vastly different side gig.

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    When Babatunde (“Babs”) Aiyegbusi walks into a room—or onto a football field—you’ll notice him. At 6’9″, 351 lbs, Aiyegbusi is hard to miss. When the two of us meet for an interview, my 4’11” frame next to his is comical, to say the least, and he offers a firm but friendly handshake that engulfs my hand in his own.

    But there is a lot more to Babs than just his size. He’s an incredible athlete, a hard worker, a fast learner, and one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

    When the Vikings first signed Aiyegbusi, shortly after he traveled from Poland for a workout in San Antonio, one of the main stories behind the lineman was his lack of football experience. After all, Aiyegbusi never played college football. He’s been called a number of things by scouts: “raw,” “rookie,” “project.”

    Aiyegbusi has played for a German league team since 2012; I ask him if these “newbie” labels bother him. He grins, shaking his head no.

    I’ll take whatever they call me,” he says. “It’s all true. I came here to develop. The only things I brought [were] physical ability and a heart to play football. I love this game, and I know with hard work I can achieve a lot […]. I’m here to develop, to work on my technique, to be useful for the team. That is my goal.

    Aiyegbusi speaks highly of the NFL coaches and trainers here, saying he trusts them completely to understand his abilities and his role on the team.

    “The National Football League, the Minnesota Vikings—this is more than a name, colors, a brand. These are people who have knowledge; they know me better than I do.”

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    According to the NFL.com’s Conor Orr, former Minnesota Vikings tight end John Carlson announced his retirement from the NFL. Carlson is 30 years old.

    Orr posted the following statement by Carlson:

    After much thought and consideration, my wife Danielle and I know that this is best decision for us. I was blessed to play seven seasons in the NFL for three tremendous organizations — the CardinalsVikings and Seahawks. I will always treasure the experiences and relationships made during that time but I’m also very excited about the next phase of my life and what’s ahead.

    The Minnesota native and Litchfield High star excelled in Seattle during his first three years in the NFL, and he subsequently earned a five-year, $25 million contract with the Vikings. Carlson played two seasons with the Minnesota before being cut from the team and signing a deal with Arizona.

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