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Thielen, Mahomes Return on Sunday?


Enjoy a Tuesday notes column:

It could be that top playmakers Adam Thielen and Patrick Mahomes return for Sunday’s game in Kansas City between the Vikings and Chiefs.

Wide receiver Thielen, recovering from a right hamstring injury, didn’t play last Thursday in Minnesota’s win over the Redskins. By Sunday he will have both rested and undergone treatment, making a return to the lineup perhaps likely.

Mahomes, the Chiefs’ starting quarterback and 2018 NFL MVP, dislocated his right knee cap more than 10 days ago and he didn’t play Sunday night against the Packers. But that evening NBC TV reporter Michele Tafoya said Mahomes told her that if the Chiefs were facing a playoff game he would have played against the Packers.

The 6-2 Vikings and 5-3 Chiefs have postseason ambitions just like 50 years ago in 1969. Minnesota and Kansas City played in Super Bowl IV on January 11, 1970. The Vikings were about a two touchdown favorite but lost 23-7.

Chiefs coach Hank Stram loved the limelight and was “miked for sound” during the game. He is famous for this quote about a Vikings defensive back: “(Karl) Kassulke: was running around there like it was a Chinese fire drill.”

Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall played in that Super Bowl but many fans remember him for a gaffe 55 years ago this month. Playing against the 49ers, he scooped up a fumble and ran 66 yards the wrong way and into the end zone. The 49ers were rewarded with a safety.

Former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber, now a sideline reporter on the team’s radio broadcasts and TV analyst for college football games, speaks to the CORES lunch group Thursday, November 14 at the Bloomington Event Center, 1114 American Blvd. Reservations are accepted until Monday, November 11 by contacting Jim Dotseth, CORES is an acronym for coaches, officials, reporters, educators and sports fans.

Ben Utecht, the Hastings native and former Gophers star tight end now a brain health advocate, speaker and entertainer, is the latest guest on the “Behind the Game” Twin Cities cable TV showed hosted by Patrick Klinger and Bill Robertson. The Utecht episode is also on YouTube.

In the latest A.P. and Coaches polls the Gophers are ranked No. 13 nationally, while Penn State is No. 5. The last time Minnesota was ranked in the top 25 and played another ranked team was in October of 2004 when the No. 13 ranked Gophers lost to No. 14 Michigan.

If Minnesota defeats Penn State a week from Saturday the Gophers will almost certainly be ranked in the top 10 in polls. The Gophers haven’t finished a season in the top 10 since 1962,

Minnesota connections: An October 19-20 Wall Street Journal article lists the five best sports scandals books ever and includes Foul: The Connie Hawkins Story, and The Last Temptation of Rick Pitino. The Hawkins biography details how the former ABA Minnesota Pipers star was blacklisted for years from the NBA following gambling allegations while in college. Pitino, the former Louisville basketball coach and father of Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino, fell from grace after two sex scandals.

Jim Dutcher

Willie Burton, the former Gophers basketball player who will have a banner raised in Williams Arena to honor his legacy January 26, was recruited out of high school in Detroit by Minnesota head coach Jim Dutcher who said Burton turned down Michigan and Michigan State. “He could have gone wherever,” Dutcher told Sports Headliners.

Dutcher resigned as Minnesota coach before Burton enrolled in 1986 and he played four seasons for coach Clem Haskins. The third-leading career scorer in program history, Burton played on two NCAA Tournament teams including a group that made the Elite Eight.

Dutcher’s son Brian Dutcher, head coach at San Diego State, has a team that is picked by the media to finish second in the Mountain West Conference behind Utah State.

The 3-0 Timberwolves have shown unity and hustle in their early regular season games, but face their biggest challenge so far Wednesday night in Philadelphia against a 76ers team that could win the NBA title. Give Wolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns credit for organizing a team bonding trip to the Bahamas prior to training camp.

Towns is the Western Conference Player of the Week for NBA games played October 22-27. As of Monday afternoon Towns ranked third in the NBA in scoring (32 points per game), sixth in rebounds (13.3), second in steals (3.00) and second in three-pointers made (5.0).

Gorgui Dieng, the Wolves backup center, speaks five languages.

An S.I. online story last week listing baseball’s top 50 free agents ranked Astros’ starting pitcher Wade Miley at No. 40 and suggested the best fit for him could be the Twins. The October 24 article ranked Twins pitchers Serio Romo No. 44, Kyle Gibson No. 42, Michael Pineda No. 27 and Jake Odorizzi No. 14. S.I. said best fits for them are with other teams.

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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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