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Nice B-Day Present for Linval Joseph

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October 8, 2018

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Enjoy a Monday notes column:

Not a bad birthday present. Yesterday 6-4, 329-pound Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph ran 64 yards for a touchdown on a fumble return that might have saved the season for his team. Wednesday he turns 30 years old.

Somebody said it was the first touchdown Joseph has scored in his nine-year NFL career, including five seasons with the Vikings. Teammate Stephen Weatherly caused a fumble by Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and Joseph snared the ball, running to the end zone for the Vikings’ first touchdown. “I just tipped it to my self and told myself to run by people,” Joseph said about the career highlight play.

The Vikings went on to win the game, 23-21. A welcome victory after the much hyped Vikings went to Philadelphia stumbling with a 1-2-1 record. “We needed some points, we needed a big play,” Joseph said. “I felt like that jump-started us to go out there and get the win.”

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer knew it was important, too. After the win over the Eagles he awarded Joseph with a game ball.

Joseph has been a rock on the defensive line for the Vikings and after the last two seasons was named to the Pro Bowl. He has a four-year contract of $50,350,000 that pays out an annual average of $12,587,500, according to Spotrac.com.

There were multiple reminders in the last few days about how precious life is including remembering Tony Sparano who died last summer. The former Vikings’ offensive line coach would have been 57 yesterday.

Zimmer’s wife of 27 years, Vikki, died on this day nine years ago at age 50.

Tom Sakal

Tom Sakal, captain of the Golden Gophers’ last Big Ten title team in 1967, lost his fight against cancer and passed away on Saturday in Florida. “Sake” was an All-Big Ten first team defensive back in 1967 and terrific captain who remained popular with former teammates all his life.

Condolences to the family and the long list of admirers of former St. John’s football coach John Gagliardi who also passed over the weekend in Minnesota. The legendary Gagliardi was perhaps the most quietly confident coach I ever met.

According to financial figures provided by the University of Minnesota, the Golden Gophers paid their 2018 nonconference football opponents the following amounts for games at TCF Bank Stadium: $1,250,000, Miami (Ohio); $800,000, New Mexico State; $250,000, Fresno State. Minnesota plays a return game at Fresno State next season.

Too much praise? Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was asked Saturday on the Minnesota football pregame radio show heard on KFAN for his evaluation of the Golden Gophers. He immediately praised the special teams, but at times Minnesota faltered in its 48-31 loss to the Hawkeyes. The Gophers looked unprepared in giving up a touchdown on a fake Iowa field goal attempt. Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck gambled and lost when punter Jacob Herbers threw a poor pass on a fake punt. Iowa capitalized on a short field and drove for a touchdown.

Ed Cohen, 86, has been part of the Gophers’ home football stats crew for 61 years, and is also a passionate golfer. He shot under his age this summer at Bluff Creek Golf Course in Chaska, recording a score of 84.

The Lakeville North and Prior Lake prep football teams play Friday night (October 12) at the Twin Cities Orthopedic Stadium in Eagan. The event is part of a high school football series that started September 28 with a sell-out of more than 6,000 fans who watched Eagan and Farmington.

The Vikings’ newly-constructed Twin Cities Orthopedic Performance Center and TCO Stadium is being utilized to continue the club’s commitment to youth football. Home teams in the Vikings Prep Spotlight series receive an amount equal to the average of their highest game revenue during the past three seasons. They are also reimbursed for team transportation. The Vikings retain gate and concessions revenue to pay expenses for game production, staffing, security and technology.

Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson said via email the Vikings are working under the assumption of incurring financial losses for the series but will not know the amount until after the games take place and final expenses are calculated against revenue.

Defending Class 6A champion Eden Prairie likely will know a lot more about its chances of winning yet another state title after games at Minnetonka and home against Edina next Friday and a week from Wednesday. The Eagles have one loss this season (against Lakeville North) while the Skippers have two losses and the Hornets one.

Congratulations to high school football coaches Carl Lemke of St. Croix Lutheran on career win No. 300, and to Troy Hendricks from Bemidji, Matt Lundeen of Redwood Valley and Bill Magnuson of Pequot Lakes on career 100 victories.

The latest issue of Sports Illustrated predicts who will be the 2019 NHL playoff teams and leaves out the Minnesota Wild. The magazine forecasts the Predators will defeat the Maple Leafs in the playoff finals. S.I. said the Jets, the Wild’s nemesis in the Central Division, will have the best coach in Paul Maurice.

Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s commissioner Bill Robertson speaks to the CORES lunch group November 8 at the Bloomington Event Center (formerly the Knights of Columbus building), 1114 American Blvd. Robertson, a longtime sports executive with experiences in the NBA, NHL and MLB, is in his fifth season leading the historic WCHA. For lunch reservations and other information, contact Jim Dotseth, dotsethj@comcast.net. CORES is an acronym for coaches, officials, reporters, educators and sports fans.

Mike Veeck’s Fun Is Good Seminar will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. October 19 at CHS Field. The St. Paul Saints owner is one of sports’ more famous creative thinkers, and his seminar will offer instruction on personal development and building a work environment with high morale. More at Funisgoodteam.com/seminars.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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