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Super Bowl Security Puts Mpls. on Alert

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February 3, 2017

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A notes column heavy with Super Bowl information:

A sports industry friend from Minneapolis was in Houston earlier this week. He was stunned by the security in place for Sunday’s Super Bowl and the events preceding the big game. The city blocks near NRG Stadium and other facilities related to the Super Bowl are so guarded it prompted the friend to say he has never seen such a security lockdown.

“It’s crazy. It’s almost like not welcoming,” he said. “I don’t even know how to get to stuff (places).”

From “eyes in the sky” technology to bomb-sniffing dogs, all kinds of security is being used by public and private agencies to watch for suspicious characters and activities in Houston. No doubt it will be a similar scene in Minneapolis next year when the Super Bowl and its companion events come to town.

U.S. Bank Stadium

It’s expected that the area surrounding U.S. Bank Stadium will be under “Big Brother’s” watch starting about two weeks before the February 4, 2018 game. A challenge for Minneapolis security planners is that the city’s light rail system runs right by the stadium and presumably will be operational.

Super Bowl related events are expected to take place at other sites in Minnesota including the Nicollet Mall for outdoor activities and at the Minneapolis Convention Center. I am told full planning for 2018 by the NFL doesn’t start until April of this year.

Minneapolis native Prince, who died last year, would have been an obvious choice to headline the 2018 Super Bowl halftime show in his hometown. Prince’s acclaimed performance during halftime of the 2007 Super Bowl in Florida is among the most remembered entertainment ever at the big game.

Minneapolis first hosted the Super Bowl in 1992. At that time Minneapolis became the second northern city in NFL history to host the event, which began in 1967.

Minnesota connections with Sunday’s game include Patriots receiver Michael Floyd who could become the third Cretin-Derham Hall alum to play for a Super Bowl winning team, according to a Tuesday Pioneer Press story by Chris Tomasson. Center Matt Birk and offensive tackle Ryan Harris won Super Bowls playing for the Ravens and Broncos, Tomasson reported.

It’s not certain whether the 27-year-old Floyd will see action Sunday. He was released by the Cardinals in December and picked up by the Patriots who were aware of his late season incident with alcohol. He has played minimally in four games with the Patriots, catching five passes including one touchdown reception.

Former Gophers coach Jerry Kill is now the offensive coordinator at Rutgers and he told Sports Headliners six Scarlet Knight alums are on the Patriots roster but he will be rooting for the Falcons on Sunday. That’s because two of his players as Gophers coach are key contributors to the Falcon defense.

Defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman, a Minneapolis Washburn alum, is a player Kill refers to as a ”freak of nature” because of his imposing size and skills. The former Gophers All-American, 6-6, 318-pounds, was drafted by the Falcons in 2014 after a personal and football life filled with obstacles. As a child Hageman was neglected and he also struggled with academics, and although he matured with the Gophers it’s probably fair to say he still needs more consistency on and off the field.

De’Vondre Campbell, a 6-3, 234-pound linebacker who the Falcons drafted in 2016, was recruited by Kill out of Hutchinson  Community College in Kansas. “He is a kid that comes from a lower income family,” Kill said. “He worked hard. He went to Hutchinson because of adcadmics and got good grades. I always knew his best days were ahead of him.”

Kill said he will be “pulling for my guys” on Sunday and takes satisfaction in knowing Hageman and Campbell are late developers. “They will keep getting better,” Kill said.

This week ESPN Insider ranked every Falcons and Patriots player starting with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at No. 1. Hageman ranked No. 48, Campbell No. 74 and Floyd No. 82 out of 106 players.

Eden Prairie native and former Viking Carter Bykowski is on the Falcon practice squad as an offensive tackle.

It was about 40 years ago that the Vikings played in their last Super Bowl. The Vikings lost 32-14 to the Raiders on January 9, 1977 in front of 103,438 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The game was the Vikings’ third Super Bowl in four years and all were losses under head coach Bud Grant who also lost to the Chiefs in the 1970 game.

Ex-Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton had a good line as re-quoted in Ross Bernstein’s book Sixty Years & Sixty Heroes: “What we’re trying to do is run through all the American Football League clubs to see if there’s one we can beat. …”

Jim Dutcher

Former Gophers basketball coach Jim Dutcher talking about the current 3-6 Minnesota team that has lost five consecutive Big Ten games and now faces mediocre opponents against Illinois tomorrow and Iowa February 8, and then lowly Rutgers February 11: “They can’t have any hiccups.”

The Gophers hockey team, 6-2 in the Big Ten, has only league games remaining on the schedule. Minnesota is tied for first with Wisconsin in the Big Ten, just ahead of the 5-2-1 Penn State team that plays the Gophers tonight and tomorrow night at Mariucci Arena. The Nittany Lions men’s hockey program started in 2010 and like the Gophers is nationally ranked.

Minnesota is 27-5-2 all-time in home games against Big Ten opponents. This is the fourth season of Big Ten hockey.

Gary Trent Jr., who played for Apple Valley until this school year, is among those elite senior prep players who have been invited to participate in the McDonald’s All-American Game in Chicago March 29. Trent, now at Prolific Prep in Napa, California, will play for Duke next fall.

WCCO Radio newsman Al Schoch is in his sixth school year of public address announcing for University of St. Thomas football, volleyball, and men’s and women’s basketball.

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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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