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MINNEAPOLIS… The Minnesota Vikings are officially done for this season. After today’s 34-6 waxing at the hands of the not-that-great either Indianapolis Colts, any post season hopes are pretty much ov-ah. Of course they have been over for a few weeks now, but there is no doubt now that the NFL post-season will not include the Vikes. A scant few years back this would have caused me some internal stress requiring moderate dosages of Pepto Bismol and the like, but that was then, this is now. The business practices of the league have driven me off coupled with a product that has been ruined by television and the commercialization required to keep the river of green money flowing into the league coffers.
When the club was driving to that 5-0 start I have to admit I was somewhat enthused. And since I was on a 5 week medical leave from work that coincided with that stretch I even watched a little bit here and there. It got somewhat interesting for a bit as some fans and even some “expert” analysts had elevated the team onto quite a few top 5 power rank lists. Even my favorite, The Sagarin, had the Vikes on that early season rocket to fame and fortune, with playoff success, poms poms and parades in the crystal ball. I must say I was a bit revved up at the prospect of it all. The realities were being revealed though one by one. The star QB goes down. The star Running back follows. The offensive line suffers injuries too, and becomes, well, offensive.
The rock steady defense starts to incur some injuries too. A savior QB flies into town on a magic carpet, but…. people keep getting hurt and the replacements are inadequate and stuff starts to unravel. Soon the hope of the young campaign dwindles and now it has disappeared like flatulence in a hurricane. The offense is terrible, but when you don’t have a line you can’t have an offense. So, 24th in passing yards, 32nd in rushing yards, and 31st in total yards per game are the markers on this club. I recall Bud Grant saying years back that the run sets up the pass and the pass sets up the run. He was right of course. Today’s defenses can shutdown a one dimensional offense in a heartbeat. The Colts and the Vikes are both now 7-7, and after going 5-0 to kick off the year, the Purple have gone 2-7 since. It must be noted that the entire division stinks and the future Super Bowl winner will not be coming out of the NFC North this year….
SOMEWHERE AROUND 1600 A.D. SHAKESPEARE wrote “Hamlet” and within that play was perhaps the most famous Shakespeare quote of all time “to be or not to be, that is the question”. Somewhere around December 15th, 2018 the Minnesota Golden Gopher football team was saying “to play or not to play, that is the question”. In the wake of the announcement that U of M Athletic Director Mark Coyle was suspending 10 players from the football team with the possibility that 5 of those players may be permanently expelled, the team rebelled and went public with their proclamation that they were going to boycott the upcoming Holiday Bowl game versus Washington State. The suspensions stem from an incident after the Gophers season opening game whereby at a party that night a young woman has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by several of the teams
After the incident occurred and the alleged victim went to law enforcement with it, the school responded by suspending 4 players. After an investigation, no charges were filed, no arrests made and the young woman, who works at the football venue on game days filed a restraining order to prevent these players from being at the stadium whenever she was present. After 3 games the suspensions were lifted and some sort of a settlement was forged to get the restraining order nullified. End of story? No. The schools Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action conducted an investigation and the new suspensions and possible expulsions were the result of the findings of their report.
As always, these types of incidents are fairly sensitive and hard to determine what might have actually happened. And believe me, as a guy with one daughter and two granddaughters I want to see justice served but with due process and rights observed for all involved. A law enforcement document was published last Friday and the details are fairly sordid. What that document says is that the young woman had a variety of sex acts with up to 9 or 10 different young men, with at least one of them videotaping it on his phone. The tape may have been the most damning thing preventing law enforcement from entering into a legal case against the young men. Even though the young woman was somewhat intoxicated, she appeared to be cognizant of what was occurring and fully participating in the events. Given all the statements taken and reviews of the videos provided, the police did not believe they could build a case and get any convictions even if the entire event was about as distasteful as it gets.
And that’s where the school comes in. Even without arrests and so on, the school has a code of conduct for all school athletes, the players involved were found to be in violation of it and the school had no choice but to enforce their policy. The team announced their boycott apparently due to what they said was a lack of communication from Coyle and that their teammates were suspended unfairly, but upon seeing the report after it’s release came to the conclusion that the school was acting within it’s rights and announced that they were ready to resume preparations for the Bowl game. I think I could go on a mini-crusade here, but I’ll hold off for a bit….
WHAT CAN YOU SAY about the great sports reporter Craig Sager? He lost his battle to leukemia and tributes came in from all over the sporting world. My dad and I first observed him on the night in 1973 when Hank Aaron took over the MLB Homerun title. Go to youtube for this; Kevin Garnett tells Craig Sager to burn his clothes. RIP Sags. You were a trailblazer and one of a kind. PEACE
Happy Holidays to one and all, be safe and enjoy!