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Vikings Adrian Peterson Needs Counseling

September 15, 2014 - 1 Comment


Adrian Peterson needs help and here’s what I think he should do:

He should first recognize the need for change in his life and be determined to accept the counsel of professionals.  Then he must find the best self-help advisors and meet with them in the coming months to set him on a better course.

Before going further, let’s get this on the record:  I am not apologizing for Peterson or defending him in this column.

If allegations that he injured his four-year-old son by beating him with a tree branch stripped of its leaves are true, then he has no acceptable defense.  What can a four-year-old ever do to deserve a beating from anyone?  Over the weekend the Vikings running back was charged with one count of injury to a child in Montgomery County, Texas.  A trial date hasn’t been determined.

Peterson has fathered several children out of wedlock, according to media reports, with estimates totaling up to seven.  The four-year-old in Texas is among those children, and not the child of Peterson’s wife Ashley whom he married earlier this year.

Fathering children without willingness to make a parenting commitment is epidemic in America.  It has much to do with the emotional turmoil in many homes, the academic failure seen in schools and the life of crime that begins for many kids before they reach adulthood.

A child fathered by Peterson died in South Dakota last year, a victim of abuse by another man.  Media reports in 2013 said Peterson learned only a couple of months before the baby’s death that he was the father.  Now the alleged incident in Texas is yet another worrisome development in the story of the 29-year-old football hero.

Peterson’s father, Nelson Peterson, served prison time for money laundering.  Although his father was absent for part of Adrian’s youth, Peterson’s lawyer stated his client disciplined his Texas four-year-old in a manner similar to what Peterson experienced.  If true, who knows how such an experience impacts Peterson as an adult and father?

As first a high school and college football superstar, and now for several years one of the gods of the NFL, Peterson has known a life of privilege with wealth and adulation.  But how accountable is he in his personal life?  What anguish may churn inside him?

If Peterson wants to self-examine he needs to make that commitment now. Thinking and behavior can be modified.  To do so he needs to apply the same kind of determination that he used in making a nearly miraculous recovery from his ACL injury a couple of years ago.

With professional counseling, people do make changes in their thought processes and how they live their lives.  Counseling requires honesty and willingness to accept changes that will help the recipient and others.  And that help doesn’t have to come just from a psychologist or other professional.  It can be provided by advisors who know what they are talking about.

Maybe one advisor could even be Jim Brown, considered by many authorities to be the greatest running back in NFL history.  The two men already know each other, and perhaps the 78-year-old Brown has the wisdom and willingness to help.  Brown’s own past includes allegations of domestic violence, and jail time.

Football should be secondary to Peterson as he contemplates the future. He is positioned at the proverbial fork in the road.  The high ground is a place where he can not only help himself but also his family and the loved ones who need his support.  He may achieve results more meaningful than anything he ever accomplished on the football field.

Maybe a different-thinking Peterson can even enlighten some of the idiots who have surfaced on social media applauding use of a switch as appropriate discipline.  Society needs that kind of punishment to make for better kids, they write.

No, beating up defenseless children just makes this a scarier world than it already is, and reminds us again the real heroes on the planet are often those who have to pick up the pieces from someone else’s mistakes.


Kill May Land Best Recruiting Class Yet

September 12, 2014 - (0) comments


National Signing Day for college football programs isn’t until next February but Ryan Burns told Sports Headliners he will be surprised if the Gophers’ 2015 class of recruits isn’t the best of the Jerry Kill era.  Burns manages the GopherIllustrated.com website that tracks Gophers recruiting.

Burns is optimistic because he believes multiple members of the 2015 class will be talented enough to play as true freshmen, and also the Rivals.com star rating system values these recruits more than past Gophers groups.

And there are other reasons for his optimism about Minnesota signing a lot of quality players to National Letters of Intent on Signing Day.

Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns

Burns, who played high school football at Tartan and then at St. Olaf, is impressed that the Gophers staff is chasing what he calls “plan A” recruits—and more so than in the past.  “They’re not going to be going down the list to the B’s and C’s, I don’t think, in this class.  They’re just in on too many of the plan A guys,” he said.

The 2015 recruiting class, which eventually could total about 25 scholarship players, will be Kill’s fifth at Minnesota.  Expecting it will be the best isn’t downgrading the 2014 group that is already contributing to the Gophers including when as many as six true defensive freshmen have been on the field together.  “I wouldn’t say by far (the best group in 2015) because the 2014 class is very good, but I think they’re going to take another step up in this class for sure,” Burns said.

Burns pointed out that prep players sometimes use schools as safety nets by verbally committing to programs before Signing Day but knowing if more desirable scholarship offers come along they will switch loyalties.  With players who have already verbally committed to the Gophers for 2015, Burns sees a group that wants to be in Minneapolis.

“They’re not using Minnesota as a reservation place, or they’re looking around for bigger offers,” Burns said.  “They’ve come to (Minnesota’s) campus.  They’ve seen it.  They’ve talked to the coaching staff.  They really like them and they stick.  That’s why you’re only probably going to see one or two kids compared to…six or seven (flip commitments) come Signing Day.”

GopherIllustrated.com lists 13 players who have verbally committed to Minnesota’s 2015 class.  They are Almonzo Brown, wide receiver from Suwanee, Georgia; Shannon Brooks, running back, Jasper, Georgia; Ray Buford, athlete, Southfield, Michigan; Nick Connelly, offensive line, Red Wing; Demry Croft, quarterback, Rockford, Illinois; Bronson Dovich, offensive line, Chaska; Jonathan Femi-Cole, running back, Aurora, Ontario; Jacob Huff, defensive back, Bolingbrook, Illinois; Julian Huff, linebacker, Bolingbrook, Illinois; James Johannesson, running back, Fargo; Quinn Oseland, offensive line, Springfield, Illinois; Ted Stieber, offensive line, Akron, Ohio; and Jaylen Waters, linebacker, Copperas Cove, Texas.  All are Rivals.com three-star players except for Brooks, Connelly, Johannesson and Julian Huff who are rated two stars.

Speed, length and wingspan are defining characteristics among the potential 2015 class. “That’s what everybody is looking for nowadays,” Burns said. “You look at Eric Murray (the Gophers outstanding junior cornerback).  He had no offers coming out of high school.  But what did he have?  He had great length and he had great speed.

“Look at guys (among the 2015 commits) like Jaylen Waters—his arm’s extremely long and he runs well.”

Major college programs have been chasing Gophers commits like Brown, who has offers from Florida, Kentucky and Missouri. “You see a lot more of that (than other years),” Burns said.  “You’re seeing Kill win more battles and it’s just something that hasn’t happened.  Usually (in the past) it’s coming against teams like Middle Tennessee State.

“Probably one of the crown jewels of this class so far is Quinn Oseland. He has all the connections in the world to go to Illinois.  He had Oklahoma State, he had Michigan State, Oregon (after him).  But he came up here on a visit…in July.  He really didn’t’ even want to come.  His coach kind of like was, ‘Hey, you should take a visit.’  His eyes were opened to it (becoming a Gopher).”

Burns is enthusiastic, too, about Croft, the 6-4 quarterback, and cousin of Minnesota sophomore wide receiver Donovahn Jones.  “I think his ceiling may be the highest of (all) the Big Ten quarterbacks so far committed.  He has so many physical tools. If he can learn the system, if he can develop, he is an ideal dual-threat quarterback for what Kill wants to do.”

Even two-star recruits like Dovich and Johannesson have Burns curious about what they will be like in college.  He said Dovich could have the “highest celing”among the offensive linemen who have committed. “His athleticism is off the charts (and)…I think he will probably be bumped to three stars.”

Burns said Johannseon ran for 40 touchdowns and 2,600 yards as a junior, and he has seen the 6-2, 212-pound North Dakotan run a 4.5 forty.   “You don’t have a lot of athletes like that,” Burns said.

Kill and his staff are trying to build a winner at Minnesota by sometimes identifying talent others don’t see.  The Gophers aren’t among the glamour programs in college football and that partially explains why the 2015 class is only ranked No. 60 in the nation by Rivals.com.  But other Kill classes have been ranked low and probably undervalued so Gophers fans are advised not to worry too much about the players’ real potential.

“I would be shocked if Jerry Kill ever got a top 25 class in Rivals rankings,” Burns said.  “I mean he’ll even tell you he doesn’t look at it.  Just for the perception of the fans he would love to (have a highly ranked class) but I think if Minnesota gets to the point where they’re signing a class that’s between 30 and 45 in the nation I think they will be extremely happy.  Anything above that I think is just gravy.”

Worth Noting 

The Gophers had 67 yards passing in last week’s victory against Middle Tennessee State. Can they win tomorrow at TCU with similar production against the Horned Frogs?

“I don’t think so. …I would imagine they will open it up this week and they’ll throw the ball a little bit more,” Gophers radio analyst Darrell Thompson told Sports Headliners.

Minnesota only had 156 yards passing in its opening win against Eastern Illinois.  The Gophers rank No. 13 in passing among 14 Big Ten teams, and may not have starting quarterback Mitch Leidner (knee injury) available tomorrowIf backup Chris Streveler takes over, will the Gophers throw frequently despite his limited experience?

Darrell Thompson

Darrell Thompson

“I think they have to,” Thompson said.  “I think it’s just at a point now where if we don’t, we’re limiting ourselves, just becoming a little too predictable.”

TCU (1-0) will certainly be the best defense the 2-0 Gophers have seen so far.  Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson is on a short list of college football’s best defensive minds.  “He’s as good a defensive coach as there is in the country, and I think everybody knows that,” Gophers coach Jerry Kill said.

The temperature for tomorrow’s game in Fort Worth will probably be in the low to mid-70s by kickoff at 3 p.m.  The Gophers could have faced a warmer welcome to Texas in September but will still be prepared with liquids—even pickle juice for replenishing sodium.

Gophers’ tight end Maxx Williams talks with former teammate and ex-Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson who is in Mankato awaiting trial for a fight incident earlier this year. The two have known each other since ninth grade and were football rivals in high school, Williams at Waconia and Nelson at Mankato West.   “He’s still one of my friends,” Williams said.

Big Ten football hasn’t been impressive in nonconference matchups for years and the conference’s image is ready-made for critics to pile on again.  Big Ten teams have lost every major test to nonconference powers during the first two weeks of the season and the highest ranked league team now is Michigan State at No. 13 in the AP poll.  Other top 25 Big Ten teams are Wisconsin at No. 18 and Ohio State, No. 22.

Sunday’s Vikings-Patriots game at TCF Bank Stadium will not be the first for New England on the University of Minnesota campus.  In 1971 the two teams met in an August preseason game.  The Patriots will become the first NFL team to have played the Vikings in four Minnesota stadiums, TCF Bank and Memorial Stadium on the U campus, Met Stadium in Bloomington and the Metrodome downtown.

The Vikings’ Adrian Peterson needs 78 yards to break Cris Carter’s career club record for combined net yards, 12,410.  With two more touchdowns Peterson can tie Randy Moss for second place in career TD’s, 93.  Carter holds the Vikings record with 110.

Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson rushed for 102 yards on only three carries in the win over the Rams last Sunday, including a 67-yard touchdown run, but offensive coordinator Norv Turner said it was the other runs that impressed him the most.  “The two other runs were more impressive to me because they were challenged runs at the line of scrimmage, they were physical runs. Our guys did a good job up front (blocking).”

No. 7 nationally-ranked Bethel plays at No. 15 Wartburg tomorrow in Waverly, Iowa.  Wartburg defeated Augsburg, 40-3, in Minneapolis last week.  Tomorrow will be Bethel’s opening game.  The rankings are by D3football.com.

The Wild will hold a practice open to the public on Saturday, September 20 at Xcel Energy Center from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  Fans can enter Gate 1 starting at 8:45 a.m.  Admission will be free with concessions for purchase.  That morning single game tickets will be on sale.


Did TCU Football Coach Consider Gophers?

September 10, 2014 - (0) comments


Saturday’s Gophers game in Fort Worth against TCU would probably never have been scheduled if Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson had come to Dinkytown years ago.

Before Tim Brewster took over as Gophers coach in January of 2007 it’s believed that Patterson was interested in the Minnesota job.  If Patterson had been hired here it’s doubtful the Horned Frogs would have wanted to play against the man who left them.

Patterson, who had been the defensive coordinator at TCU before succeeding Dennis Franchione in late 2000, was turning heads in the college football world back in 2006 with his revival work at TCU—a private school and like Minnesota not the easiest place to win.  In 2006 TCU was 11-2 and had the second-ranked total defense in the country, and the season before upset No. 5 ranked Oklahoma in Norman.

Word is Patterson had interest in possibly coaching the Gophers starting in 2007 and succeeding Glen Mason as Minnesota head coach.  “I had no part of that but that’s my understanding,” said Dave Mona.

Dave Mona

Dave Mona

Mona, however, was a consultant to Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi in late 2010 when a replacement for Brewster was sought.  That season Patterson coached the Horned Frogs to a 13-0 record, No. 2 national ranking and Rose Bowl win in January of 2011.  “His name was on the (candidates) list but he let it be known he was very happy where he was,” Mona said.  “He was quickly on and off the list.”

Brewster was let go in mid-October of the 2010 season and that gave the Gophers a lot of time to review candidates.  One of those candidates was Jerry Kill—the last man interviewed.  “We got an early start (considering candidates) but Jerry gummed it up a little bit because he wouldn’t talk to us when his team was still playing, and so that’s when he wound up last,” Mona said.  “He was highly recommended.”

Patterson may have been among those who recommended Kill, the head coach at Northern Illinois before accepting the Gophers job.  The two men have known each other for many years.  In the late 1980s it was Patterson who succeeded Kill as linebackers coach at Pittsburgh (Kansas) State.  When Patterson married his wife Kelsey, Kill was part of the wedding party.  “I don’t know if Jerry considers he’s got a closer friend in the coaching ranks than Patterson,” Mona said.

When Patterson was taking over as head coach at TCU he thought about hiring Kill who was the boss at Emporia State but soon on his way to another head job.  “He had offered me a job as the offensive coordinator there (TCU), but I also had an opportunity to go to Southern Illinois,” Kill said.

Friendship aside, Saturday’s game in Fort Worth is important business for both programs.  The Horned Frogs, who built their major success under Patterson while a member of nonpower conferences, have struggled in 2012 and 2013—their first seasons in the Big 12.  TCU was 2-7 in league games last season, 4-8 overall, and Patterson isn’t used to those kinds of records.  His winning percentage of .733 ranks seventh nationally among active coaches.

The Gophers have improved their win total every season under Kill.  Although Minnesota is 2-0, the Horned Frogs are expected to be the most competitive of the Gophers’ four nonconference games and the only road test before going to Michigan on September 27 to open the Big Ten schedule.

TCU has only played one game, a 48-14 victory over Samford. The Horned Frogs had a bye last week and extra preparation time for the Gophers.

Worth Noting 

Gophers tight end Maxx Williams said that despite Mitch Leidner’s knee injury, he expects the redshirt sophomore quarterback to start Saturday’s game at TCU.

Kill didn’t promise Leidner will start but admires his quarterback’s toughness.  “He’s a tough son-of-a-gun, and that’s straight up,” the coach said.

Leidner talks to Jordan Lynch, another quarterback known for his courage who played for Kill at Northern Illinois.  “I don’t know what they talk about, but evidently it’s pretty good,” Kill said.  “So we’ll see how it goes.”

Steven Richardson, the Gophers 6-foot, 285-pound true freshman defensive tackle, strength tested this summer comparable to Ra’Shede Hageman when he played for Minnesota.  Hageman, a second round NFL Draft choice this past spring, was 6-6, 311 pounds when he played defensive tackle for the Gophers and probably the team’s strongest player.

Richardson is generously listed at 6-foot.  His short stature presents a problem to blockers.  “He’s just so strong and athletic,” said defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys.  “He can run (too).”

Jeff Jones, the former Washburn four-star running back and 2013 state Mr. Football winner, is enrolled in classes at Minnesota and has the full benefits of a Gophers athletic scholarship even though he isn’t academically eligible to practice or play this fall.  He needs to achieve a 2.5 GPA or better to be eligible to train with the team next winter, a source told Sports Headliners.

Joel Maturi

Joel Maturi

Former Gophers women’s cross country and track coach Gary Wilson will be inducted into SUNY Cortland’s C-Club Hall of Fame this weekend.  Ex-Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi and his wife Lois will attend the induction at Wilson’s alma mater in Cortland, New York.

Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel will see his former boss on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium.  Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who has coached New England to three Super Bowl wins, used Cassel as a quarterback replacement for the injured Tom Brady in 2008.

In the September 8 issue of Sports Illustrated Dan Patrick interviewed Cassel and asked, “What kind of things did Belichick say?”

Cassel answered: “Cassel, What in the (bleep) are we doing here?  Did you not see the three-technique?  Are we going to have to send a letter to your mother about why you’re in the hospital because you can’t see a blitz coming?”

The Vikings report the Patriots game is sold out, although some tickets could be returned from the Patriots’ visiting team allotment.  Single seats only remain for the Falcons game on September 28 and Lions October 12.

Former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff, who is a 2015 senior finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, will sign autographs at tomorrow’s CORES luncheon in Bloomington beginning at 11:15 a.m.  Lou Nanne will be the speaker at the luncheon.  Reservations are no longer being accepted.

Congratulations to McGregor High School football coach Bob Staska who won his 100th career game last Friday.  His record is 100-68 in 17 seasons.


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