Diatribe of a Mad Sports Fan

02/23/2005
Gone.
Unreplaceable.
Today the Minnesota Vikings, not to be outdone by...themselves, set the new gold standard in stupid trades. The Vikings got a second Darwin award to proudly display in the halls of Winter Park where, oddly enough, no Lombardi Trophies reside.

Randy Moss wonít be finishing his career as a Viking. Iím sure everyone has heard by now he will be traded to Oakland on March 2nd, the start of the NFLís fiscal year. Exacerbating the stomach punch is the fact that the Vikings got almost nothing in return: The #7 pick in the draft, Napolean Harris, and a late round pick. Donít worry, I never heard of Harris either.

Letís break down the facts and see what any group of people not shrouded in idiocy and failure would come up with.

The Vikings need a better defense to complement their offense.

Moss wanted to stay.

Despite a widely used out of context quote Daunte ďhatesĒ the trade and is very sad he and Randy canít finish what they started.

The Vikings are 30 million under the cap.

The Vikings offense revolves around Randy Moss. As gaudy as his numbers are Randy has a major impact on the game without even catching a pass.

The Vikings are a revenue strapped team, Moss put butts in the seats and purple on peoplesí backs.

Napolean Harris has been considered a bust in Oakland and is only a minor upgrade over current Viking MLB Henderson. Harris started only 9 games last year after struggling in Oaklands 3-4 scheme. He also apparently has an attitude problem.

The Vikings will have to pay the #7 pick almost as much as Randy makes before the player even sees one down of NFL football.

So to sum things up Oakland drafted a hall of famer with the #7 pick, since Harris was basically expendable to them.

The Vikings on the other hand went from a few defensive players away to the same number of defensive players and an all world wide receiver away.

There are a couple things that give me hope.

#1 The trade canít be put in writing until March, 2nd

#2 Something about Oaklandís situation doesnít add up. The person who leaked the deal (Mossís agent) really would have no idea what the trade involved. The Raiders are already over the cap. Then they signed Jerry Porter (5 years 30 mil), then franchised Woodson (10 mil), then get Moss (7 mil). All totaled it puts them at least 20 million over. Those numbers donít seem to add up, so maybe the deal is more than people are saying. Also it was stressed in multiple places that Atlanta and Baltimore, two teams with well documented needs for a WR ďcouldnít come closeĒ to matching what the Raiders did.

My favorite team had the best player of this era and we gave him away for a $1.27 and a half eaten sandwich. When the Vikings signed him to what was a blockbuster deal for its time I remember making the comment that we get to have the most exciting player in the league on our side until Iím almost 30. Looks like I was wrong.

Itís awfully hard to root for teams when you end up rooting for laundry. I had been used to seeing a new quarterback every year for the longest time, I was ecstatic when Daunte was signed long term, I thought I would get to see him and Randy hooking up for a very long time. Looks like I was wrong.

It makes me sad though, Randy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the the place you live in is that much more drab and empty now they are gone. I guess I just miss my wide receiver.

I have a new second favorite team, and I hope Randy gets his ring now that heís with a team committed to winning.

This will not be one of those hindsight is 20/20 deals should the Vikings win a Super Bowl in the not to distant future without Moss. The Vikings absorb all the risk in this deal. BEST CASE SENEREO they parlay that #7 pick into a player that is 70% adequate to hold Randyís jock.

Trades are for teams that have a surplus of good players at a position (like the Vikings RB situation) and they have their backs against the salary cap. Not teams that can have their cake and eat it too with umpteen million dollars under the salary cap.

I wonder how Plexico Burress looks in purple?
jeremy.jpgJeremy - 1.21 Gigawatts!?!?
02/23/2005 @ 11:46:44 PM
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Alex and I did this in about half an hour, so forgive any incoherentness or my usual "need of Mavis Beacon".
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matt.jpgMatt - 3354 Posts
02/24/2005 @ 07:31:29 AM
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scenario
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reign_of_fire.jpgMicah - Bring down the Beast!!!
02/24/2005 @ 09:50:12 AM
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Randy Moss Raiders jerseys are going to rule
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
02/24/2005 @ 01:47:28 PM
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There was actually an article somewhere on that Micah. Despite their suckiness Raiders apparel is top 5 in sales every year. Moss's jersey in terms of per player is right up there.

Combining the two should make it hands down the best selling jersey next year.
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jon.jpgJon - infinity + 1 posts
02/24/2005 @ 03:12:53 PM
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Rumor has it that when Denny Green heard about the trade he said, "Well, it looks like Jimmy Kleinsasser's just going to have to step up."

And when I say, "rumor has it," I mean that I made it up.
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scott.jpgScott - Get Up! Get outta here! Gone!
02/24/2005 @ 04:09:26 PM
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But, if the vikings receiving Corps is indeed better without moss than the Packers Receiving Corps, you guys should be completely fine, right?
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question_mark.gifJosh
02/24/2005 @ 04:15:58 PM
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I think all the Vikings fans out there need to settle down. The viks aren't gonna just throw away Randy Moss like a certain somebody threw away chemical waste from his/her treating plant; no, they are building a better team here and have a few more moves in mind before all is said and done.

Heres my prediction...

They now realize that may need to get a big reciever bc moss was pretty good. Ok, no problem, they'll draft him. Only problem is that the 7th pick may be a bit late to pick up a Williams/Edwards. No big deal, the Viks trade trade Dante and their 7th pick to Miami for Miami's 2nd pick and Reggie Howard, one of Miami's nickel defenders. Beautiful!! Now they have an big untested reciever and two new "excellent" defenders to go along with the rest of the old viks (minus dante and randy). Ahhh, all is well in Vikingland again.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
02/24/2005 @ 08:52:04 PM
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First of all I was being somewhat facetious about the better than Packers without Moss. However, the fact that it was even a statistical argument is pretty sad.

Also I'm very pissed off that I missed out on the fairly obvious "Jimmy Kleinsasser will have to step up" line.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
02/28/2005 @ 02:11:15 PM
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Ok, I missed it the first time, But Jeremy, excellent use of the Shawshank Redemption reference. It almost brings a tear to my eye, until I remember who indeed you are talking about. But cheers anyway.
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hoochpage.JPGSarah - So's your face
02/28/2005 @ 09:12:40 PM
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He uses that quote at any semi appropriate time. Kudos to Freeman for finally getting an Oscar. A bit overdue though
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Pie Racist
03/01/2005 @ 06:17:02 PM
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Whoops
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - No one's gay for Moleman
03/01/2005 @ 06:24:15 PM
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Should all be ok now.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
03/03/2005 @ 06:37:25 PM
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Well Wahle and Rivera are officially gone. Some sources think this is the kind of news Favre is waiting for.

How ape-shit-nuts will the lions and Bears go after we lose Moss and you lose half the offense.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
03/03/2005 @ 09:30:54 PM
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wahle and rivera hurt a lot. that's probably 2 of the better olinemen in the league, and now the packers have to find a way to replace them. I was thinking the same thing about the news Favre was waiting for. I really hope things work out.
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newalex.jpgicbeast - I was too weak to give in Too strong to lose
03/04/2005 @ 12:58:19 AM
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Hasn't everyone pretty much known for a while that those guys were gone? It's not like the Packers didn't want to keep them, they just have no salary cap room. Which I should look into sometime, because I don't know who they are wasting it all on. I still don't think the Lions have really put the pieces together, but if the Bears get a QB they could real good. And the Packers losing those 2 and the Vikings losing Moss doesn't automatically mean those teams are going to drop off. Teams lose good players all the time, that just means you bring in someone else or a backup becomes a starter. Since the Packers have no cap room though they'll need a good draft, both for some defense and maybe some oline help. Favre will play this year. The longer he waits the closer the season gets and he's still got too much of a competitive drive to walk away.

I don't know what the schedule is like, but I'm ready to guarentee that the AFC West goes undeafted against the NFC West. Chargers, Broncos, Chiefs, and a powered up Raiders offense. Quite the division.

How do the Timberwolves not win more? KG ranks in the top 20 in pretty much every statistical category. Points, FG%, Assists, Steals, Rebounds (1st), Blocks maybe like top 30, and Minutes. He also has the most double-dubs, yet their under .500.

Let the Madness begin! Badgers need to win a few in the conference tourney to boost their seed up a few notches. I guess they probably should win Saturday first. However, there's no way Illinois doesn't run the table all the way to a national championship.
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newalex.jpgicbeast - I don't need to get steady I know just how I feel
03/04/2005 @ 01:27:49 PM
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Does anyone else think that Skip Bayless is the worst sportswriter currently employed by ESPN?
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matt.jpgMatt - Nutcan.com's MBL
03/04/2005 @ 03:06:00 PM
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Possibly, but he's right about Moss.

The Joke Is On The Vikings
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thumbnailCAW1I0O3.gifMatt - 3354 Posts
03/04/2005 @ 03:07:45 PM
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And by "right about Moss", I mean right about the whole Moss trade situation.
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newalex.jpgicbeast - 3618 Posts
03/04/2005 @ 07:06:12 PM
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I agree that he is right about Moss, but he totally ripped on Garnett. "Yet Garnett, last year's MVP, also is pro basketball's most overhyped and overpaid player." How is it possible to be overhyped less than a year after being the MVP, when the NBA headlines have been dominated by Kobe, Shaq and the Heat, the surprise Sonics and Suns, and Lebron? The only reason I knew that Garnett is having just as good a season this year as last is because I check the TWolves box scores regularly. Bayless is too busy dissing on everything in sight to actually have a clue. That's what prompted my comment in the first place. He's always off if his own little world. If anyone has ever watched any Dream Job you know what I mean. The other judges hardly ever agree with him. Plus, his writing style is just harsh. I think I might start a SportsNation petition to have him dethroned.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
03/08/2005 @ 07:04:38 PM
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Pat Williams...Fred Smoot....pull the trigger on a Darius trade and I like where this bus is headed...since we'll score 7 points a game we'll need the D.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Cube Phenomenoligist
03/10/2005 @ 01:51:58 PM
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I'm going on record now to say that my hatred of Darren Sharper knows no jersey color.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Super Chocolate Bear
03/10/2005 @ 04:08:38 PM
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Favre will play next season. That's a shame.
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sarah.jpgSarah - 4091 Posts
03/10/2005 @ 08:04:15 PM
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I was at work doing some research online when I went to yahoo. Front page news: Favre will return in 2005. I perked up and was happy all day. I was giddy and felt like crying tears of joy. I had to keep myself in check for the rest of the day. The Packers are always in contention with Favre at the helm. Sharper who? ha, he never lived up to Butler.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
03/11/2005 @ 09:04:19 AM
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I'm personally upset with Darren Sharper. As much as I wanted him to be, he is no LeRoy Butler, who took a pay cut late in his career to finish as a Packer, and so that the Packers could fit him under the cap with room to sign other players. Darren Sharper said he wanted to retire a Packer, but that he deserves not to have to take a pay cut. The Packer defense now has some gaping holes in it that need to be filled. In a way, I'm glad to see Sharper leave, although I did like him.

Favre coming back is a good thing. Altough, with some of the recent moves (o line dismantling, and sharper leaving) things could be shaky. Although with one of the best 1-2 receivers tandoms in the league and still one of the better qbs in the league (4th in touchdowns last year), the packers have a chance to make another run at the north title. Plus, the competition in the North is slowly becoming more balanced and less.....um.....competitive. Go Brewers.
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scott.jpgScott - Ma'am, can you make sure your computer is turned on?
03/11/2005 @ 09:05:35 AM
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Oh and get this, we're all going to love this. Sharper is going to meet with the Vikings today.
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newalex.jpgicbeast - I was too weak to give in Too strong to lose
03/11/2005 @ 01:23:55 PM
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Sharper has been overrated and was no longer worth his salary, so I'm glad he's gone. He was decent yes, but many of his picks were insignificant (garbage time, thrown right too him, against the worst QBs) and he seems to possess 0% leadership skills. He's one of those guys who goes out does his job mostly and that's about it. He was never going to help take the defense to the next level. So give him the boot and let someone else have that opportunity.

What does, "the competition in the North is slowly becoming more balanced and less.....um.....competitive" mean? Wouldn't becoming more balanced imply increased competitiveness?
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
03/11/2005 @ 11:02:52 PM
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I commented on Darren and the Vikes a couple days ago. He wants to stick it to the Packers and stay in the division. Apparently he's all but told the Vikings he will be a Viking come hell or high water and, unfortunately, the Vikings are interested.

They are having a film review sesson as I type and it is all but a done deal.
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newalex.jpgicbeast - I was too weak to give in Too strong to lose
03/11/2005 @ 11:08:44 PM
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lol
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
03/12/2005 @ 10:11:39 AM
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Here's the thing I don't understand about people talking about players. You very often here as a knock on someone that "they aren't a good leader". However, if EVERY player is expected to be a leader then who is being led?
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2887.gificbeast - Who controls the past now controls the future
03/12/2005 @ 11:48:07 AM
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Not every player is expected is to be a good leader, but there are certain positions that are usually more likely to be leaders. For instance QBs are probably the most likely on offense, while MLB are probably the most likely on defense, because these are the guys that call the plays. The situation with Sharper was this: Butler was clearly a leader on that defense when he retired, Sharper was an up-and-coming early round draft pick and I think the Packers and a lot of fans expected him to kind of fill in that same role. He didn't and for a couple seasons the defense didn't really have a leader on the field. If those expectations hadn't been placed upon him it probably would never come up. Plus it's not that EVERY player has to be a leader all the time, but it's a plus if they have the ability to step up in critical situations (read 4th and 26).
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sarah.jpgSarah - How do you use these things?
03/12/2005 @ 01:06:14 PM
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Butler said that Sharper had to fill the position of leader on the defense. He was even helping him with it. But, Sharper just cares about himself on the field and that's not what it's about.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - I believe virtually everything I read.
03/12/2005 @ 01:47:27 PM
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Execution and being a good leader are two different things. Basically you're saying he's a bad leader becuase before that play he didn't say "Guys, we do not want to give this up"?
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
03/12/2005 @ 01:48:38 PM
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ps It's a done deal 4 years, he's a Viking
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2887.gificbeast - 3618 Posts
03/12/2005 @ 05:15:27 PM
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I don't know if it's so much that he only cares about himself, but that he doesn't "make others around him better". He's not the worst safety ever, he just didn't live up to the oringal expectations when he became the starter and the increased expectations after his first ProBowl year, therefore it's probably for the best that he's no longer a Packer. I don't remember whose fault that play really was, but it was down the middle of the field so I just assume that Sharper should have done something about it.
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newalex.jpgicbeast - But let history remember, that as free men, we chose to make it so!
03/12/2005 @ 05:20:13 PM
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He lets it go...off the glass and good!!!!!!! The Badgers were not exactly impressive today, but come March only the final score mattters. I hope I'm not the only one here who has watched at least 2 hours of college hoops a day for the last week. Stupid company holiday party tonight and I can't turn down free food and beer. Arizona and Washington should be a good game though. I guess that's what SC is for.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
03/12/2005 @ 09:06:35 PM
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This is funny and depressing
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newalex.jpgicbeast - But let history remember, that as free men, we chose to make it so!
03/13/2005 @ 01:02:55 AM
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Although I still say TO is the best, there are some catches on there that no one else in the game right now could make. Worst trade ever.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - As Seen On The Internet
03/13/2005 @ 10:11:36 AM
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I know...and keep in mind that's not a career highlight reel. All those clips are from the like 7 games he was healthy this season.
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scott.jpgScott - On your mark...get set...Terrible!
03/13/2005 @ 01:14:47 PM
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I'm not one for actually blaming players, but I give Sharper most of the blame, or at least he missed an assignment, on the OWENS OWENS OWENS play. Owens caught the ball in the endzone, exactly where Sharper was supposed to have stepped up when a player came into that area. Had Sharper stepped up even just about 1 yard further, he would have been in a perfect position to knock the ball away before Owens caught it. Overall, I think Sharper is a good football player, and I think the Packers took a hit in talent now that he has left. The Vikings did get a good football player. And the thing that hurt the most was that I actually liked Darren. He had his faults and his share of bad plays, but overall, I thought he was a good guy. Not really anymore. He's as bad as the rest of them. I agree with some of the consensous stirring around Packer Nation: people wanted him to be LeRoy Butler, but he never could live up to that name.

Ok, so maybe with balance in the North the competition will increase, but it's not that the Bears and Lions are getting that much better, it seems that it's because the Packers and Vikings are coming down to their level.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - Always thinking of, but never about, the children.
03/13/2005 @ 08:58:18 PM
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The Vikings had the #2 offense last year without Moss for most of it and have upgraded ther d line and now have arguably the best secondary in the league. I wouldn't say we stepped down, it's just going to be different without Moss, and we could have done everything we've done so far and had Moss.

The lions have made improvements and the Bears are close to getting Edgerine James.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
03/13/2005 @ 09:08:10 PM
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Interesting post by a Packer Fan on the ESPN Board. This must have taken forever to do....

Many a Packer fan (not me) will incorrectly conclude that the queens are dead in the water without Moss. It is easy to make this assumption based off of Moss's history of torching the Pack game in-game out, year in-year out. Viking fans too have fallen prey to the illusion of Moss's invaluableness because we have paid such close attention to Packer games and have seen Moss do his best stuff (remember 98?). Anyway, Ramstein Inc. has done a thorough analysis of the last four years and have concluded, just as Tice has, that their offense shouldn't miss a beat.

Clearly Moss's most dominant years were his first three, when he had Carter and defenses didn't bottle him up. He has earned the right to be regarded as the most dominant receiver, based in large part from his exploitations of a weak NFC central...particularly in 1998-2000. However now consider this:

1) In his first 3 seasons, Moss scored 43 TDs and averaged 18.4 yd/catch. He had 30 receptions over 40 yards and 71 over 20 yards. He did this averaging just 75 receptions per year. Remember that in 98 he wasn't the starter all year. During this span the queens went to two NFC championships.

In his last 4 (he missed five games) years, he has had 47 TDs and averaged 14.5 yd/catch. He had only 22 receptions over 40 yards and 71 over 20 despite averaging 87 receptions per year. During this span, they went to the playoffs just once.

2) His best individual year statistically (2003) was also a year in which the Vikes LOST more games in which he scored than won. In fact, Moss didn't score in four of the nine games the queens won but scored in six of the seven games they lost. 2003 was the year the Vikings lead the NFL in total offense yet Moss only exceeded 100 yards in 5 of the 16 games he played in. Moss had 31 more receptions than in any of his first 3 seasons but averaged 3 fewer yards/catch. This was the Randy Ratio.....result? Tons of opportunities...good numbers.....didn't help the team win

3) In the past four years, Moss has played in a total of 62 games. The queens were 27-35 during these games, which we know had more to do with their defense than offense. However, during this span, Moss has only had 2 more 100 yard games (22) than he has had less than 60 (20). In other words, he hits 100+ yards every 3rd game and gets less than 60 every 3rd game. Of the 27 wins, he scored TDs in 17 of those games. In their 35 losses, he scored in 18 games.

4) As mentioned, Moss has had a history of putting up big numbers against the Pack. Did you know that he didn't score against Detroit between 12/2001 - 12/2004? In 6 of his last 8 games against the Lions, Moss has been held out of the end zone. The Vikings were 7-1 in those games.

5) Last year, with 1/2 of their starting offensive line (including Kleinsasser) out and without a regular running back during Moss's five game injury, the queens averaged only 3 points less a game than when Moss (and others) were healthy. It was during his time out that the queens had two tough road games (Indy/GB) in a six day period and came up short by a FG. Without Moss they put up 31 & 28 points, proving without a doubt that Culpepper was the catalyst behind their offense. They beat Detroit/Tenn during this span and beat Jacksonville when Moss came back and played decoy for a quarter.

6) 9 of Moss's 13 TDs last year occurred within the opponents 20 yard line. Only twice all year did he score from Viking's territory. I believe the same applied in 2003. Essentially Moss has become a red zone receiver (a very good one), but Marcus Robinson (playing 1/2 the time of Moss) scored 8 TDs and 5 red zone himself; Burleson scored 6 from within the 20 yard line. While Moss missed some games, how many more times was he thrown to within the opponents 20 yard line than Burleson and Robinson combined? No doubt Plaxico Burress would grab double digit TD's in that offense and no doubt Tice wants to employ his TE's in the red zone more.

7) Moss's notorious unwillingness to not take the middle put the passing game at a disadvantage at times. With Moss as the hot read, Culpepper needed to first look sideline then mid-field. I don't doubt that he was handcuffed because of this a few years ago and now that they have opted to use the TE in the passing game (fat Wiggins had 700+ yards) as well as very good receiving backs, the Viking's offense will be much less inclined to stahl. Moss's injury and Culpepper's maturation during the injury are evidence of this.

Perhaps most telling to me is that last year (as in years before) Moss scored only four times when the Vikings trailed during the season. He did not score a TD in the first quarter of any game they played last year. Burleson scored six TDs when behind and scored twice in the first quarter. Granted, defenses clearly choose to take him out of the game early...and they did. Moss's value may be in the pressure he took off others but I maintain that as a "game breaker" he needed to step up early and when behind. He can't anymore.

In the final analysis I have concluded, as the Viking's brain trusts has that Moss's abilities are no longer the difference maker (for the queens) that they once were. It may be said he is poorly utilized but the reality is that teams have opted to take the home run away and make him beat them another way. This is not what you predicate an offense around and Culpepper has proven that Moss isn't needed in order for him to thrive. Looking at the raw data, it is clear that Moss has had some games where he blew apart defenses but wasn't a difference maker more times than not. The queens fully realize that they can't replace the deep threat but they can score with a wider variety of options; particularly running. With Burress and Burleson (and Robinson) the queens still possess plenty of "stretchability" so don't expect too many in the box.

In 2002 (Moss's lowest TD year) the queens scored 46 TDs (Moss had 7) while in 2003 (Moss's best year; 17 TDs) they scored 51 TDs. Last year they scored 50 TDs with Moss missing five games and lame for 1/3 the season. Gentleman the truth of the matter is that Culpepper is infinitely more important to this team's success than Moss and this team will create great offensive production...with or without Randy Moss. He no longer can stretch the field like he first did and the queens will be much less predictable and much better positioned to dictate the flow of the game with a 2x better defense and an offense predicated on winning....not scoring.
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jon.jpgJon - Nutcan.com's kitten expert
03/13/2005 @ 11:04:19 PM
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Wow. Darren Sharper is off the packers for a minute and all the true feelings come out. Did you guys ever like him? Wasn't he like a rookie when owens made that catch? I guess he needed to be a leader back then too?

Seriously though, I understand what you guys are talking about with the leader thing in a sense, but just cause Butler said he was going to be a leader, does that mean that he has to be.? Butler the prophet?

And I don't know the situation and the money and all that on this particular deal, but just in the abstract sense, I 'd like to bring up that it's ok to overpay for a player if the onlly other option is to fill that hole with a reasonably priced player that also makes your team a lot worse. I just thought I'd bring that up. Again, not because it necessarily applies, but just cause I was thinking about it.

Also, my favorite part about the randy video was watching him ride his wheelchair past al harris to catch that ball.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
03/13/2005 @ 11:08:10 PM
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Plus I'd like to point out the only reason his number was so unmanageable this year was because he restructured his deal for the packers like 4 times and they pushed it all to this season, then when the time came to finally get his $ they stuck it to him.
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newalex.jpgicbeast - Refactor Mercilessly
03/13/2005 @ 11:51:58 PM
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The fact that Moss' seemingly most productive years were when he had Carter lined up on the other side hardly seems like a good reason to get rid of him. Since history tends to repeat itself, I think that Burleson and Robinson will have a MUCH tougher time now that they don't have Moss on the other side. This year defensive coordinaters will lose no sleep and spend no time worrying about Moss, so they will come up with better gameplans against the Vikings ariel attack. Obviously Moss' number went down once teams started double teaming him EVERY FREAKING PLAY. Less longballs because there was always a safety over the top. Pretty much nothing in that entire argument really supports getting rid of Moss, except possibly the fact that he stunk against Detroit.
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newalex.jpgicbeast - Refactor Mercilessly
03/13/2005 @ 11:57:10 PM
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I've been disappointed with Sharper for a long time, and I don't feel bad about him having his contract restructed the supposed 4 times. If he felt he was worth his full contract he could have pulled a McKenzie, but obviously even he knew he was underachieving.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
03/14/2005 @ 12:14:03 AM
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I never really thought the Vikings were that worse off without Moss. I actually think they'll be better off without him. That's my opinion. I hate the fact that Sharper is now on the Vikings. Brett Favre is coming back for another year, and to show he's a real sport about it he's decided to play without an offensive line.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - Cube Phenomenoligist
03/24/2005 @ 10:31:58 PM
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I Enjoy any list that has the Vikings as the best and the Packers as the worst.

Philadelphia, PA -- The NFL offseason is not yet a fully formed being, but it has a heartbeat, discernable appendages, and some noticeable kicking ability. That introduction is dedicated to all of my friends with wives either currently or recently pregnant, which at the moment, seems to be most of them.

The point is that now is not the time to grade the league's offseason winners and losers. We'll all be wearing shorts and flip-flops when we have enough of the picture to begin anointing the next NFL dynasties and assigning blame to the mismanaged and downtrodden.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the most recent sonogram, with a spotlight upon those setting themselves up best for either success or failure in 2005:

ON THE RISE 1. Minnesota - Lament the departure of Randy Moss all you want, but the Vikings have just become THE legitimate contender to the Eagles in the NFC. Minnesota's biggest weaknesses were on defense, so what did it do? Went out and plucked four outstanding defensive players - free safety Darren Sharper, cornerback Fred Smoot, defensive tackle Pat Williams, and linebacker Sam Cowart - that will transform the unit overnight. Moss is gone, but the Vikings took some steps to overcome his absence, re-signing tight end Jermaine Wiggins and snaring former Raven disappointment Travis Taylor to complement Nate Burleson and whatever receiver the team gets with the No. 7 pick in next month's draft (Braylon Edwards or Mike Williams). Mike Tice's team may have lost Moss' style, but they could get to Detroit for Super Bowl XL based on their new-found substance.

2. Miami - The Dolphins made some subtle changes during the free agency period, as blowing up a team that has more talent than say, the Browns or the 49ers, was not necessary. Miami filled some needs, bringing in ex-Titan Kevin Carter to clog up the defensive interior, adding right tackle Stockar McDougle for veteran help on a thin offensive line, and quietly ushering in Gus Frerotte to run new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's system. The Fins will have their choice of running backs at No. 2 in the draft and should be able to get more offensive line help with their two third-round selections (they traded their second-round selection to the Eagles for A.J. Feeley). What's more, Nick Saban excised some baggage (WR David Boston, QB Jay Fiedler, FB Rob Konrad), and put an immediate stamp on his team in the process.

3. Cincinnati - There were no sexy offseason free agent signings in the Queen City, but the Bengals made a big step toward their first playoff berth in 16 years by keeping much of their talented young offensive core intact. Cincinnati re-signed both running back Rudi Johnson and wideout T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and continuity should be a big mark in the favor of Carson Palmer and the offensive attack. The signing of defensive tackle Bryan Robinson will help shore up the oft-suspect run-stopping unit, and the Bengals should be able to pick up an impact starter or two on the defensive side of the ball via the draft.

4. Arizona - The Cardinals were a couple of players and a couple of plays from competing for the NFC West title last season, and though they ended up a disappointing 6-10, you got the feeling that head coach Dennis Green was beginning to change the losing culture of the franchise. With that in mind, Green went out and got a few of "his kind" of players to step in and contribute on defense - strong safety Robert Griffith, linebacker Orlando Huff, and end Chike Okeafor - as well as a veteran quarterback in Kurt Warner and sturdy right tackle in Oliver Ross to chip in on the other side of the ball. If the Cardinals can add a frontline running back (likely through the draft, though Travis Henry is still on the trading block) and another defensive playmaker or two, there's no reason they can't compete with the Seahawks, Rams, and 49ers in the division.

5. Washington - Most would speak negatively of the past couple of months in Redskin Park, since the team lost two of its top defenders - linebacker Antonio Pierce and cornerback Fred Smoot - and also took a major salary cap hit just to get rid of wideout Laveranues Coles. But things are actually looking up for the Redskins, particularly on offense. Signing run-blocking center/guard Casey Rabach away from the Ravens was huge, as was reworking the deal of tackle Chris Samuels. The other tackle should be Jon Jansen, who missed all of 2004 with a torn Achilles, and the presence of three major o- line horses should greatly benefit Clinton Portis and the Skins' run-first offense. The team will likely use their No. 9 pick on a receiver (possibly Mike Williams) to complement newly acquired wideouts Santana Moss and David Patten, and shouldn't lose a great deal of sleep about replacing Smoot with Walt Harris at corner. If LaVar Arrington returns healthy, the Washington defense shouldn't miss a beat, and that spells trouble for the NFC's other wild card contenders.

ON THE DECLINE 1. Green Bay - How long can Brett Favre, who will turn 36 in October, be expected to carry this team? The Packers allowed two cornerstones of their offensive success - guards Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle - to high-tail it out of cheese country, and have done basically nothing to upgrade one of the league's worst secondary groups. In fact, Green Bay let their most credible member of the '04 secondary, Darren Sharper, slip away to NFC North rival Minnesota. With the Vikings and even the Bears and Lions counting on being better in '05, the sand in Green Bay's hourglass could be about to disappear.

2. Buffalo - Forget that late-season playoff run, the Bills have taken a step back. Either cut-rate newcomer Kelly Holcomb or the inexperienced J.P. Losman will be taking the snaps in 2005, and will be operating behind a line that just lost left tackle Jonas Jennings. On the other side of the ball, the departure of key run-stuffer Pat Williams to the Vikings will undoubtedly be felt in a big way. Don't expect the Patriots, Jets, and improving Dolphins to be very forgiving to Buffalo's plight come the fall.

3. St. Louis - The Rams entered the offseason needing lots of help on defense, and they seem to have plugged their holes with scotch tape rather than concrete. Former Viking Chris Claiborne and former Cowboy Dexter Coakley will step into starting linebacker jobs, but Claiborne has mostly underachieved as a pro and Coakley will be 33 in October. St. Louis' approach in the awful secondary was to move Pisa Tinoisamoa from linebacker to safety, meaning the team will have two converted LBs (Adam Archuleta is the other) in the defensive backfield. The offensive and defensive lines both needed addressing, and to this point, neither has been. The flag football-style offense that improbably carried the Rams to within a game of the NFC Championship in '04 will have to do the same this season.

4. Denver - The Broncos' offseason readjustments always seem to end up making sense, but this one is hard to figure. The three big signings were chronic underachiever and DT Gerard Warren as well as linebacker Ian Gold, who was a disappointment in Tampa Bay this past season. The best pass-rusher on a team that largely struggled in that regard, Reggie Hayward, is now a Jaguar, and safety Kenoy Kennedy and underrated cornerback Kelly Herndon are gone from the secondary. Combine these coming and goings with the presence of the combustible Jake Plummer at quarterback, an uncertain backfield situation, and a pretty average group of receivers and you're left with more questions than answers in the Mile High City.

5. Pittsburgh - Any team that goes 15-1 is sure to take at least a small step back the next year, and the temptation not to do much tinkering with the personnel that got you to 15-1 is certainly understandable. But the Steelers had a couple of areas they could have upgraded, cornerback most notably, and instead chose to rest on their laurels. They'll probably be back in the playoffs next year, but the Steelers haven't made the key additions necessary to be a lock to compete for a Super Bowl berth.

A grab bag of news and notes from the National Football League:

FOOTBALL FIESTA (AND WHAT IT MEANS) The long-discussed plans for a regular season NFL game outside of the U.S. were finally crystallized on Tuesday, when the league formally announced that the Cardinals and 49ers will meet on Sunday, October 2nd, in Mexico City. The ESPN-televised night game will be the first regular season contest played outside the U.S in the 86-year-history of the league.

What was not revealed was the league's future plans in the way of international competition. Arizona, which annually boasts the NFL's lowest attendance, was more than willing to give up a home game in the spirit of growing the game internationally, but when the Cardinals move into their new stadium in 2006, there's little chance they would give up what amounts to 12.5 percent of their home schedule to accommodate the NFL's marketing pursuits. The same goes for the NFL's other 31 teams, who would have to be dragged to a neutral site kicking and screaming before giving up the huge payday that a home game represents. The only way owners are likely to embrace the international idea beyond 2005 is if the regular season schedule is expanded from 16 to 18 games, a move that has been rumored to be imminent for years. Don't be shocked to see talk of extending the NFL season, either by reducing the preseason from four to two games and/or eliminating bye weeks, heat up again in the near future, with the international situation prompting the discussion.

AT THE STARTING BLOCKS Also announced this week was the NFL's opening weekend schedule, which will commence with a battle between the Super Bowl champion Patriots and the new- look Raiders on Thursday night. The 4:15 ET Sunday FOX game will feature the Chargers and Cowboys; the Sunday evening ESPN contest has the Ravens hosting the Colts; and Monday Night Football opens with a rematch of the 2004 NFC Championship game between the Falcons and the Eagles. All intriguing games, all good choices. No complaints here, except that the NFL season is still five-and-a-half months away.

ENFORCING THE LAW The free agency period is slowly careening to a halt, with just a handful of notable players still seeking homes. The most intriguing player still on the market is cornerback Ty Law, the four-time Pro Bowler who was cut by the Patriots in February. Law's broken right foot is not fully healed, which is why no team has snapped him up, but the Chiefs, Browns, Jets, Cowboys, and even the Patriots are apparently interested in his services. According to CBS Sportsline, New England gave Law and his agent, Carl Poston, a standing offer of four years, $26 million, but the Boston Globe reported the next day that the Patriots refuted that story. The teams that strike out on Law could enter the market for Miami's Patrick Surtain or Oakland's Charles Woodson, who are both on the trading block, or set their sights on a second-tier player like Andre Dyson of the Titans or Nick Harper of the Colts, both of whom are unrestricted free agents.

RANDOM THOUGHTS -There are still a few decent running backs on the market, including the disgruntled Travis Henry and free agent Anthony Thomas, and for a heftier price tag, Shaun Alexander and Edgerrin James. It's not that any are unwanted, but teams are waiting to discern how the draft shakes out first. It's a big year for running backs, and most want to see if they can get a diamond in the rough, such as N.C. State's T.A. McClendon, near the end of the first day before bringing in a veteran with some more miles on the odometer.

-Looks like the path is clear for New York City to host the Super Bowl in 2010. What a coup for the Big Apple. It should finally put that sleepy burg on the map.

-There has been discussion at the NFL meetings in Maui this week about banning the "horsecollar" tackles like the ones that the Cowboys' Roy Williams leveled on Terrell Owens, Musa Smith, and Tyrone Calico this past season. It's going to be tough to enforce, but as I wrote back on Dec. 22, the league has to do something or risk losing more stars like Owens during long stretches of the season and/or the playoffs.

-Our fan poll on sportsnetwork.com is asking readers which of the seven marquee skill players in line to be drafted in the Top 10 next month - Cedric Benson, Ronnie Brown, Braylon Edwards, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Cadillac Williams, or Mike Williams - will make the biggest impact in the NFL. I seem some irony in the fact that the likely final member of the group to be selected - Mike Williams - leads the poll by a wide margin, and the guy that could go first - Smith - is trailing everyone, including "other."

-Next week's Line of Scrimmage will feature my first stab at a full 2005 mock first round. I'm sure I'll be hearing sarcastic complaints about my efforts from all corners of the country. Guess that's why they call it a mock draft.

Copyright 2005 Courtesy of SportsNetwork.
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matt.jpgMatt - 3354 Posts
03/24/2005 @ 11:05:50 PM
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I enjoy copyright infringement.
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newalex.jpgicbeast - 3618 Posts
03/25/2005 @ 12:16:29 AM
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Ok, first of all, of those new defensive players for Minnesota I think only Smoot will make a big difference. Secondly, it's my personal opinion that they will miss Moss a lot more than seems to be the general consensous. Thirdly, they are going to have to move up in the draft to get Edwards or Williams. Neither of those guys will fall to the 7 hole, because there are enough free agent options at running back to force teams to use their top picks on WRs.

The Packers must have some Enron people managing their salary cap. Sharper I don't really care about, Harris is their best secondary player anyway. Because of their cap situation they had no chance of resigning those 2 linemen. So when people says things like, "The Packers allowed two cornerstones of their offensive success ... to high-tail it out of cheese country" I immediately dismiss everything else they have to say because they're obviously clueless. They pulled in a combined 19 million in signing bonuses alone, and I think the Pack is only 19 cents under the cap right now.

Anyway, who cares about football. I had a legit chance to win my tourney pool until tonight. I actually picked TTU vs WVU, but I had TTU winning. They completely blew it in the last 60 seconds of the game though. First they missed about 4 shots and a tip-in before losing the ball out of bounds with 30 seconds left. Then it took them 13 seconds to foul. Pittsnogle made them both, and then TTU passed the ball around for 10 seconds before bricking a 3. An even bigger loss though was OSU. I had them losing the championship game. They didn't blow it as much any, except the probably could have had a bigger lead before they end. But Stoudamire made a very tough jumper with 2.4 left, so it was more of a great play by Arizona than it was a choke by the Cowboys. Now that the pressure is off though I can just cheer for the Badgers and Big Ten instead of worrying about the best results for my bracket.

Seriously though, I find myself getting way more wrapped up in and exhilarated by a good basketball game then by any other sport. Too often football games are over by the start of the fourth quarter. Baseball can be exciting at the end, but the first 7 innings are boring. Basketball has the most and largest momentum swings, lead changes, and excitement. Oklahoma State had a last second fade away 3 point attempt to win the game and the 2 seconds the ball was in the air seemed like 2 minutes. If it drops, I jump off the couch rejoicing. If it doesn't, I pound the remote into the couch as hard as possibly can, resulting in a slight bruising of my palm. Comparatively, football and baseball games generally result in either a slow and painful realization that your team isn't going to win (at which point you might as well just have fun drinking) or a fairly confident feeling that they have the game under control followed by a slight easing of any pressure build up when the game ends. Lame.

One last comment on the Packers though. They need some help in the secondary, but they need to break the cycle of wasting 4 picks every year on secondary players that don't pan out.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - Always thinking of, but never about, the children.
03/25/2005 @ 07:22:34 AM
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I agree that to a certain extent the packers didn't have a choice about the matter. However, I think the point is that by signing average players to big deals and then not having them pan out or not cutting other players in a way they did decide.

If you want to keep a guy you can find a way to keep a guy.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - The pig says "My wife is a slut?"
03/25/2005 @ 07:25:30 AM
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I agree that to a certain extent the packers didn't have a choice about the matter. However, I think the point is that by signing average players to big deals and then not having them pan out or not cutting other players in a way they did decide. So in a sence they decided however long ago that they weren't going to be on the team when their contracts were up. Normally if you want to keep someone you plan out other peoples contracts and such around another persons ending. (The year Bennett's contract would be up Daunte makes about 1/3 or his other years salaries)

If you want to keep a guy you can find a way to keep a guy.

Basketball sucks.

How can it be copyright infringement if you include the copyright line?
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scott.jpgScott - You're going to have to call your hardware guy. It's not a software issue.
03/28/2005 @ 08:31:07 AM
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Well, sad to say, but one of the best playoff runs in the NFL might come to an end. I think it was 11 of 12 years of making the playoffs. I won't rule them out yet though. Go Brewers
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2887.gificbeast - You've got to trust your instinct, and let go of regret
03/28/2005 @ 01:51:11 PM
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"Hard not to root for Wisconsin, one of this nation's great feel-good states. Between Packers fans, the friendly bars of Madison and the endless cheese, the Badger State has it all. This much was proved when CBS revealed that the Badgers' big man, Mike Wilkinson, is engaged to the tuba player in the Badger pep band. Is that too "It's a Wonderful Life" or what? Wisconsin: America's Favorite Small Town ..." - Brian Murphy, http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=murphy/050328&num=3
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sarah.jpgSarah - So's your face
03/29/2005 @ 07:57:09 PM
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We didn't go to the playoffs when Ray Rhodes was coach. So the streak had already ended.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - Super Chocolate Bear
03/29/2005 @ 10:41:41 PM
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Denny "High Road" Green got the Vikes in the playoffs in virtually every year, which is apparently made him a bad coach. It also didn't earn him honerable mention on Matt's "Minnesota Sports" farse of a list.
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scott.jpgScott - Ma'am, can you make sure your computer is turned on?
03/30/2005 @ 09:37:08 PM
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I know the streak ended, but the Packers still have the most playoff appearances in the last 12 years.
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scott.jpgScott - If you aren't enough without it, you'll never be enough with it.
03/30/2005 @ 09:38:40 PM
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what does "virtually every year" mean? Mike Holmgren never missed the playoffs when he was with the Packers. The Packers went from 4-12 to 9-7.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
03/30/2005 @ 11:16:11 PM
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It means almost every year. 8 of his 9 full seasons. The one time they didnt make it was on a Cardinal-esq ending of the last game of the season. Damn Broncos.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
04/02/2005 @ 08:50:14 PM
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ic
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Pie Racist
04/04/2005 @ 10:55:39 PM
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Not sure why this is on a Redskins Board but it's hilarious.

As is This
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