Follow Childress’ Journey On NFL-USO Coaches Tour

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 30, 2010 – 2:55 pm

This summer the NFL is continuing  its legacy of visiting U.S. military troops overseas, and Vikings fans can follow along as Head Coach Brad Childress takes part in this year’s NFL-USO Coaches Tour. David Krichavsky, the NFL’s Director of Community Affiars, will be blogging during the tour and we’ll be sure to post those blogs on

Krichavsky’s 1st entry is already posted and you can read it by clicking here; there are also photos for you to view.

This year’s tour has already had some excitement and adversity, so be sure to click on that link and check it out.

Background Info On NFL-USO Coaches Tour
In 1966, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle conceived of the idea of sending NFL players on “goodwill” tours to visit US troops then fighting in Vietnam.  Four future Hall of Fame players – Johnny Unitas, Willie Davis, Sam Huff, and Frank Gifford – participated on that first NFL-USO tour in 1966.  In the years that followed, many NFL players including Bart Starr, Jack Kemp, Dick Butkus, Gene Upshaw, Archie Manning, Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, Jerome Bettis, Warrick Dunn, and Drew Brees have visited our fighting forces stationed in every corner of the globe.  Commissioner Roger Goodell traveled on a USO tour to Iraq and Afghanistan in the summer of 2008, becoming the first pro sports commissioner to participate in a USO tour abroad.

Despite the NFL’s long and successful partnership with the USO, it was not until last summer that the two organizations came together for their first Coaches tour.  As part of that inaugural NFL-USO Coaches tour, Bill Cowher, Tom Coughlin, Jeff Fisher, Jon Gruden, and John Harbaugh traveled to Iraq over the July 4 holiday.  The 5 coaches visited with thousands of troops in Iraq and significantly boosted morale.  They signed autographs and took pictures with the troops – and created memories that will last a lifetime.
The coaches also came back changed.  They had a new appreciation for the dedication and sacrifice of our troops, after seeing those qualities firsthand.  The coaches discussed their USO tour experiences with their peers – other NFL coaches.  It became inevitable that the first NFL-USO Coaches tour would not be the last.  It just might become an annual tradition.

Forty-four years after the first trip, with more than 160 active and former players having traveled to more than 20 countries on USO tours, the NFL-USO partnership is continuing to break new ground.  This current summer tour to Afghanistan represents the second time the NFL has brought a group of coaches overseas to visit the troops.

The NFL’s Director of Community Affairs David Krichavsky is accompanying 4 current NFL coaches – Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress, Carolina Panthers Head Coach John Fox, Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis and Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid – on a tour of U.S. military bases in the Persian Gulf.

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Gaining The Extra Edge: WR Bernard Berrian

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 30, 2010 – 10:38 am

#5 – CB Lito Sheppard
#4 – WR Bernard Berrian

We kicked off our “Gaining The Extra Edge” series on Tuesday by presenting CB Lito Sheppard as a player (not including obvious stars such as Jared Allen or Brett Favre) who holds the key to the Vikings gaining the extra edge in 2010. Today we introduce #4 on the list and he is WR Bernard Berrian.

With the emergence of WRs Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice last year, one might question the inclusion of Berrian on this list. I don’t doubt that Harvin and Rice will be pillars in the Vikings passing game again in 2010, but I also know that opposing teams will be zeroed in on them. And that’s where the 7th year pro out of Fresno State comes in.

Berrian was a 3rd round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2004, but the 6-1, 185-pound WR signed with the Vikings as a free agent prior to the 2008 season and then delivered on expectations. Coming off a 2006 season in which he helped lead the Bears to the Super Bowl, Berrian followed up that effort by registering career highs in receptions (71) and receiving yards (951) in 2007, which made him the best free agent WR available prior to the 2008 season. In his 1st season with the Vikings, Berrian led the NFL with a 20.1 yards per catch average.

The speedy, big-play WR had the Vikings 5 longest receptions of the 2008 season and led the club in receiving yards 8 times. Berrian also had 4 of the Vikings longest 5 TD catches (99t, 86t, 54t, 49t) and he put up his 3 highest single-game receiving yardage days of his career – 131 vs. Detroit, 122 vs. Chicago and 110 at New Orleans. And no one will forget the 99-yard TD reception he had against the Bears in a significant Week 13 Sunday Night Football win – it was a play that personified the element #87 brings to every snap.

The 2009 season was not quite as grand for Berrian. I believe a preseason injury he suffered in Indianapolis prevented him from developing an early rapport with QB Brett Favre and the results lingered throughout the season. But now with a full season of Favre under his belt and because he was at Winter Park for much of the team’s offseason program, Berrian is poised to regain his 2008 form and add yet another lethal weapon to a Vikings offense that ranked 2nd in points per game in 2009.

With Berrian at his best, the Vikings pass offense improved from 28th in 2007 to 25th in 2008. With Favre at his best, the Vikings pass offense jumped from 25th in 2008 to 8th in 2009. And now with Berrian at his best and playing with Favre, the Vikings offense may very well make another leap forward and help the club gain that extra edge in 2010.

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Vikings, Shiancoe Talking Contract?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 30, 2010 – 7:32 am

LB Chad Greenway and RB Adrian Peterson have been at the center of contract talk and speculation this offseason. Although both players have been at Winter Park during the team’s offseason program, both players also missed the team’s mandatory minicamp, prompting speculation that the absence was a result of displeasure with their current contracts.

Both players have downplayed the minicamp absence since that speculation first arose and there is no building tension between either player and the club regarding their contract.

Earlier this week there was more contract talk regarding the Vikings, but it didn’t involve Greenway or Peterson. According to this Pro Football Weekly report, TE Visanthe Shiancoe has been talking contract with the Vikings. Shiancoe, who signed a 5-year deal with the Vikings in 2007 and has since become one of the league’s most productive TEs, is now represented by the well-known Drew Rosenhaus.

The Pro Football Weekly report says nothing is imminent but that the sides have been talking and that Shiancoe would like to be paid among the top 5 TEs in the NFL.

Shiancoe finished the season tied for 4th in the NFL with 11 TD receptions on the year, setting a team record for the most TDs in a single season by a Vikings TE. He had 56 receptions for 566 yards in 2009 and now has 18 TDs over the last 2 seasons, which is 1st among all TEs during that time and tied for 3rd-most among all players.

Shiancoe has caught 14 TD passes in the last 20 regular season games, and with his 11 TDs this past season, he moved into 2nd place
among Vikings TEs with 19 career TDs.

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