Ring Not Money Excites Vikings Joseph
Linval Joseph has one Super Bowl ring and the Vikings’ defensive tackle wants another.
Joseph was a 23-year-old second-year pro when he started for the Giants in their 2012 Super Bowl win over the Patriots. This week he and his Vikings teammates are preparing for their playoff game against the Saints, while hoping it will be the first of three tests ending with a Super Bowl title in U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4.
Each player on the Super Bowl winning team will receive over $100,000 but that’s not Joseph’s incentive. “It’s mostly about the ring, (rather) than the money,” Joseph told Sports Headliners. “You really don’t get that much money playing extra games. It’s about the ring and that’s what’s most important right now. Minnesota has never won a Super Bowl, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done here before.”
Not only are the Vikings 0-4 in Super Bowls, but no team has ever played the big game in its home stadium. Joseph believes the Vikings are a better group than the 2012 Giants. “I think this is the top team I’ve ever played on.”
Joseph played four seasons with the Giants before signing as a free agent with the Vikings in 2014. “This team is younger than the Giants (were),” he said. “This team feels as hungry as the Giants were when I played with them in 2010, 2011.
“So this is a great team. I’ve seen the growth in the last four years of this team, and I just can’t wait to go to war with this team.”
Joseph is part of an elite defense that Vikings fans expected to excel, but there were doubts about the offense after journeyman quarterback Case Keenum replaced the injured Sam Bradford starting with the October 15 game against the Packers. Keenum has been outstanding, playing a major role in helping the Vikings to 10 wins in the next 11 games.
Joseph played for East Carolina in college and competed against Keenum who was setting NCAA records at Houston. Joseph said he isn’t surprised by Keenum’s success, although some others in football are. Keenum never established himself as a full-time starter playing for two other NFL franchises. Even coming out of college he was labeled too short to be a big time prospect (generously listed by the Vikings at 6-feet-1).
“Case is sneaky really good, and the world got to see him this year,” Joseph said about the Vikings quarterback who wasn’t drafted coming out of college. “I am happy for him… because he works his butt off to get where he is at.”
Joseph said players are labeled—often unfairly—coming out of college into the NFL but that now the Vikings have “a hell of a quarterback.” Keenum was signed as a free agent during the last offseason.
The Vikings, 13-3, are a favorite of odds-makers to win two games in the NFC playoffs and advance to the Super Bowl. What could derail the team? “Not staying focused,” Joseph said. “…We know what we gotta do and coach (Mike) Zimmer is going to make sure we…do that.”
Joseph welcomes the possibility the Vikings could play all three postseason games indoors at U.S. Bank Stadium. Two years ago the stadium hadn’t been completed and playing outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium would have been the alternative for Vikings’ home NFC playoff games.
“I feel the weather (when cold like last week) is a big difference,” Joseph said. “The ball is different; you move different.”
Joseph, 29, talking about how much longer he wants to play: “Until God tells me I can’t play no more. Right now I feel good. …I love my job. I wouldn’t trade it for any job in the world right now.”
Offensive lineman Joe Berger, 35, is a free agent after the playoffs. Berger told Sports Headliners he considered retiring prior to the 2017 season and remains undecided about his future. “If nobody (the Vikings or another team) calls the decision is easy, right? We’ll see (in) February-March, figure out what we want to do.”
Pro Football Focus tweeted that Viking All-Pro Harrison Smith graded the highest ever for a safety in the last 12 years. Smith was named to the Associated Press first team all-defense last week.
Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen made second-team AP all-pro offense. His 1,276 receiving yards and 91 receptions ranked among NFL leaders. He is only the third undrafted NFL player since 1970 to exceed 90 catches and 1,200 yards. The others are Rod Smith and Wes Welker.
With a playoff bye last weekend, the Vikings had time off and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur reportedly interviewed for NFL head coaching openings with the Bears and Giants in recent days. He has previous head coaching experience with the Browns.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph. “I think he deserves it (the interviews), and I know he’ll be a great head coach in this league again. I think it’s a testament to him and the way he’s really brought our offense to a top 10 offense in this league.”
Word is WCCO Radio and legendary Sid Hartman, who turns 98 in March, have been talking contract extension. Hartman has been part of programming at the station since the 1950s.
American singer, song writer and actress PINK will sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, the NFL announced Monday.
Don’t be surprised if an announcement is made soon that two college basketball games will be played on the same date in U.S. Bank Stadium next December. It’s been known the Golden Gophers will play one game there to help the facility and NCAA with 2019 Final Four preparations, but there could be a second game, too, so watch for more.
Nancy Lindahl, who along with her husband John Lindahl have been generous donors to University of Minnesota athletics, is the 2018 “Head Coach” of the Twin Cities Dunkers. In her role she presides over meetings, and also schedules guests for the organization that recognizes and pays tribute to athletic achievers.
The Cavs defeated the Timberwolves six consecutive times by an average of 17.7 points prior to last night’s loss at Target Center. The Wolves led by 35 points going into the fourth quarter and won the game 127-99. The Wolves have now held six straight opponents under 100 points.
Minnesota, 26-16, and leading the Northwest Division, has won as many games as the 26-14 Cavs, a team among the favorites to win the NBA title in 2018.
The best player on the floor last night was Wolves forward Jimmy Butler whose defense against LeBron James was superb, helping to hold the superstar forward to 10 points. Butler scored 21, with nine assists and eight rebounds.
The Gophers and college basketball’s elite are recruiting Rochester John Marshall power forward Matthew Hurt who is among the top players nationally in the class of 2019. Ed Rauen, the longtime Rochester radio man who has seen all the state’s best high school big men dating back to the early 1950s, told Sports Headliners the athletic Hurt can be better than any of them.
The Minnesota Football Coaches Association is helping promote the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Mini-Camps for middle and high school football players during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. The training sessions, covering various experiences, will be held at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine downtown.
The Gophers men’s tennis team is in Australia for a 10-day preseason training trip. The team left Minneapolis last Thursday for the 9,500-mile trek. Minnesota opens its season January 20 against North Carolina State at the Baseline Center.