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Vikings Leaders Discuss Social Issues

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August 24, 2018

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Enjoy a Friday notes column.

The Vikings organization continues to have discussions involving players, coaches, the front office and ownership regarding social issues. The talks are a response to the highly publicized past protests by NFL players in various cities who have spoken out about social justice in America.

The Vikings are one of the few NFL teams that haven’t experienced players protesting at games, including so far this preseason. An open dialogue within the organization is reflective of what’s been described as a “good culture” in the locker-room. The Vikings discussions involving various parties have been referred to as a “player-driven initiative.”

Last year the Vikings players, coaches and management locked arms on the field before a home game at U.S. Bank Stadium to show solidarity following criticism of NFL national anthem protests by president Donald Trump. Head coach Mike Zimmer has said it’s important to show respect for the American flag and stand for the national anthem.

An announcement by the Vikings could come soon regarding the outcome of the discussions by the group.

The NFL and the players’ union are presently in a “standstill agreement” situation where the two sides are trying to finalize a gameday policy regarding protests. The clock is ticking with the NFL regular season schedule starting early next month.

Ironically, the Vikings’ first regular season game is against the 49ers, the former team of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. It was Kaepernick that first put protesting in the national spotlight two years ago when the media reported him kneeling on the field prior to a 49ers’ preseason game.

The Vikings play their third preseason game tonight at home against the Seahawks. It will be a major surprise if there are any on-field protests by Minnesota players.

The NFL’s 256 game, 17-week schedule begins on Thursday night September 6 with a single game—the Eagles hosting the Falcons in Philadelphia. The Vikings are interested in playing a showcase Thursday night game at U.S. Bank Stadium in future years.

The organization also has ongoing interest in hosting the NFL Draft. Host cities for the 2022-2025 drafts have yet to be determined. The popularity and events associated with the draft would necessitate the use of two locations, U.S. Bank Stadium and the club’s training site and headquarters in Eagan.

Because the Vikings hosted the Super Bowl this year, league politics might minimize chances of holding the draft here any time soon. Green Bay, for example, is one of the many northern NFL cities that will never host a Super Bowl so the league might some day choose to award the draft to the Packers.

Although it won’t be any time soon, the Vikings and Minneapolis officials remain interested in bringing the college football national championship game to U.S. Bank Stadium.

Vikings rookie kicker Daniel Carlson, 23, said he will study his 40-year-old Seahawks kicking rival Sebastian Janikowski in warm-ups tonight. Carlson won the Vikings kicking job this week. “It really wasn’t until my second year in college that I even thought about it (an NFL career),” Carlson told Sports Headliners.

Carlson’s younger brother Anders is succeeding him as Auburn’s kicker this season. The Vikings have a bye in early November and Daniel hopes to be in Athens, Georgia on November 10 to watch his brother play against Georgia.

Kirk Cousins

Quarterback Kirk Cousins celebrated his 30th birthday last weekend with a visit to a local Portillo’s. He’s been a fan of Portillo’s for awhile and has multiple menu favorites. “The chocolate cake shake is hard to beat,” he said.

Local sports author Jim Bruton has signed a contract with Triumph Books to write a hardcover book on Twins broadcaster Dick Bremer. The book will cover Bremer’s 35-plus seasons with the Twins and be released in the spring of 2020.

Twins third baseman Miguel Sano has experienced a difficult season, although he is sometimes playing better since returning from the minor leagues in late July. Sano is perceived as not being disciplined enough with his weight and conditioning but Twins president Dave St. Peter pointed out the 25-year-old power hitter had offseason leg surgery that made it more difficult for him to train.

Sano appeared to be struggling physically and mentally when the Twins dispatched him in June to a recovery program in Florida. St. Peter sees improvement. “I think we all believe that he has an opportunity to be one of the elite players in our game, and he’s showing signs of progressing in a positive direction,” St. Peter said.

St. Peter believes the last weeks of the season will be an important time for Sano to stay healthy and be at his best. “I think that’s a really important thing for fans to watch over the course of the last six weeks,” St. Peter said.

St. Peter also said he expects Sano to arrive in shape and ready for spring training next winter.

The Twins promotional department might consider a stocking cap giveaway for next year’s opening series at Target Field. The Twins start the 2019 regular season at home on March 28, 30 and 31 against the Indians. The recorded high temps in Minneapolis on those dates this year were 52, 43 and 35 degrees, per accuweather.com.

College football coaches have said forever teams make the most improvement between the first and second games on their schedules. Minnesota opens at home against New Mexico State next Thursday but the Aggies have their first game tomorrow night (Saturday) in Las Cruces against Wyoming (ESPN 2).

Former Gopher defensive back Ray Buford, Jr. now plays for the Aggies.

Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle is friends with Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari but told Sports Headliners there are no plans for Minnesota to schedule the Wildcats. When Coyle was AD at Boise State the Broncos did play a game in Lexington.

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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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