Roderick Williams – From North Of The Border To The NFC North

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 13, 2013 – 7:42 am

The Vikings have reached into the CFL with success in the past. Bud Grant became the second head coach in franchise history after leading the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to 4 Grey Cup titles over 10 seasons. Grant’s success with the Vikings is well-chronicled, so we won’t take the time or space to detail it here. Suffice it to say, he’s perhaps the most revered figure in franchise history.

Earlier this week the Vikings reached across the border once again by signing CB Roderick Williams. The point here is not to compare what Grant accomplished with the Vikings from 1967-83 and in 1985 to what Williams could do for the Vikings now. The Grant part was just an opportunity to spice up an offseason blog entry with a Hall of Fame name. Rather, the signing of a player in mid-February who was an all-star in another professional football league further illustrates the point Vikings GM Rick Spielman makes frequently – that building and maintaining an NFL roster is truly a year-round, never-ending process.

Williams may be just a training camp body who is discarded before the 2013 regular season commences. Or he may be a member of the 53-man roster when the Vikings suit up in Week 1. Or he may be somewhere in between, we don’t know yet. What we do know is that Williams measures in at 5-10, 180 pounds. He’s 26 years old and is technically an undrafted rookie because this is his first NFL contact. But he’s played at a high level in the CFL for 3 seasons, collecting 11 INTs and one all-star honor for the Edmonton Eskimos in that time.

Edmonton released Williams, who attended the same school as Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier (Alcorn State), from his contract specifically so he could pursue an opportunity in the NFL. That opportunity will be with Frazier and the Vikings.

NFL teams signing standout players from the CFL is nothing new. Of late, players such as DE Cameron Wake and CB Brandon Browner have successfully made the transition. Wake has 43.0 sacks and has missed just 2 games in 4 seasons with the Dolphins while Browner has 28 starts and 9 INTs for the Seahawks in 2 seasons. Just this offseason, the New England Patriots have signed 2 former CFL players – DE/OLB Jason Vega and DE Armond Armstead.

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Fellow Hall Of Famers, Peers Respond To Carter’s HOF Induction

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 2, 2013 – 5:16 pm

Professional athletes will tell you there’s no greater honor than to earn the respect of your peers. Vikings legend Cris Carter officially became an NFL legend on Saturday when he was named a part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013, and it’s apparent based on the reaction of his fellow Hall of Famers that Carter did indeed earn the respect of his peers.

Here’s a sampling of what some of Carter’s fellow Hall of Famers and other peers have stated in reaction to Carter being inducted as part of the Class of 2013.

“Scouts can’t measure instinct. All the great players have great instinct, and Cris Carter had as great of receiver instincts as any to ever play the game. He was an exceptional football player that knew how to adjust to the ball from the instant the ball left the quarterback’s hand. Cris had some of the greatest hands in the history of the NFL, and I personally never remember him dropping a ball.” — Bud Grant, Pro Football Hall of Fame 1994

“I played with a lot of prominent receivers but Cris Carter was by far the most talented and competitive. Having Cris was like having another quarterback on the field. He was such a great student of the game and knew defenses and routes better than anyone I played with. He was able to take advantage of opponents because of how much work he put in during the week. He wanted the ball in clutch situations and made big plays when they counted most.” — Warren Moon, Pro Football Hall of Fame 2006

“Cris Carter was as productive as any receiver in the mid-90s and his numbers prove that. He played the slot position as well as anyone. In terms of purely catching the football, I haven’t seen anybody in my time better than Cris Carter.” — Tony Dungy, former Tampa Bay and Indianapolis Head Coach and Vikings Defensive Coordinator

“When you needed a clutch catch to keep the drive alive, there was no one better than Cris Carter. And when the game was on the line, you wanted the play called to #80. As they said, all he did was catch touchdowns.” — Randall McDaniel, Pro Football Hall of Fame 2009

“Cris is one of the best receivers to ever play our game. His hands, route running and big play ability separated him from others at his position. It was always a challenge physically and mentally to play against him.” — Deion Sanders, Pro Football Hall of Fame 2011

“I’ve been around the NFL a long time, and know an elite receiver when I see one. Cris certainly fits that mold and deserves a place in Canton.” — Dan Marino, Pro Football Hall of Fame 2005

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This Day In Vikings History: Miracle At The Met

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 14, 2012 – 11:51 am

It was 32 years ago today – December 14, 1980 – when the Vikings pulled off what is perhaps one of the great finishes in NFL history and is most certainly one of the best finishes in franchise history. You know an event has a significant place in history when it’s given a nickname that forever lives in lore, and that’s what happened with the Vikings victory.

Miracle at the Met is the nickname, and it describes an improbable comeback by the Vikings over the Cleveland Browns to capture a division championship.

Trailing 23-22 with 14 seconds to play in the game, legendary Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant called for a hook-and-ladder play, which was executed to perfection and resulted in RB Ted Brown advancing the ball to the Cleveland 46. On the next snap, with 5 seconds remaining, QB Tommy Kramer dropped back and launched pass down the right sideline. The pass was tipped and then caught by Ahmad Rashad in the end zone, giving the Vikings the win and the NFC Central Division title.

Current Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell made a key play for the Vikings defense on the series prior to the game-winning drive, tackling a Browns offensive player just short of the 1st down marker on 3rd and 9, resulting in the Cleveland punt that gave the Vikings possession at the 20 with just 14 seconds to play.

The embedded video clip above will help you relive the moment – a moment that will live forever in Vikings and NFL history, and will always be known as the Miracle at the Met.

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Former Vikings DL Paul Dickson Passes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 10, 2011 – 9:53 am

Paul Dickson, an original member of the Minnesota Vikings with an important tie to the Purple People Eaters, passed away on Tuesday. He was 74.

A 13-year NFL veteran and Texas native, Dickson spent 10 seasons (1961-70) with the Vikings after being drafted 9th overall by the Rams in 1959. It took a couple of trades, but Dickson eventually found his way onto the inaugural Vikings team after he came to Minnesota via trade from Cleveland with legendary DT Jim Marshall.

“He was a great person and an excellent player,” Jim Marshall said to Phil Miller of the Star Tribune in this piece summarizing Dickson’s life.

Miller writes that Dickson started alongside Marshall for 6 seasons in the Vikings early years, with Marshall playing right end and Dickson playing right tackle. Dickson and Marshall were close friends largely because they shared similar interests off the field and a similar style of play on the field.

“He would play like he was angry, but he really wasn’t. It scared the rookies,” Marshall said. “But he was a great guy, a practical joker. A good teammate.”

Dickson, who earned the nickname “The Growler,” was drafted as an offensive lineman in ’59 but the Vikings moved him to DT in ’61. Eventually the Vikings had Marshall, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen and Alan Page as starters along the defensive line, a unit known as the Purple People Eaters. But Dickson remained a valuable part of the defense and of the defensive line as a backup. In his piece for the Star Tribune, Miller also spoke with legendary Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant about his former player.

“He accepted that role, and made sure he was a really valuable member of that team,” said Grant. “I don’t know if we could have found a better player behind those guys. He practiced so hard every day, and got some important minutes in. Good under pressure.”

For more on Dickson and the details of his funeral arrangements, check out Miller’s piece by clicking here.

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Tarkenton In His Own Words

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 11, 2010 – 10:11 am

The 2010 season constitutes the Vikings 50th in franchise history and the organization has embarked on a season-long celebration to honor this moment, with the pinnacle moment of the celebration being an awards ceremony on Sunday, December 19 where the organization will unveil its 50 Greatest Players and also recognize other valuable members and aspects of 50 years of Vikings football.

One of the greatest Vikings of all-time – QB Fran Tarkenton – has committed to attending the event. And he’s also gone a step further by creating a video in which he speaks about his excitement for the upcoming event, the first-ever Vikings team and also the relationship he has with his former head coach, Bud Grant.

We encourage you to click the link in the paragraph above this one to watch and listen to Tarkenton. It’s a treat to hear him speak about his time with the Vikings and a recent conversation he had with his former head coach. If this video is any indication of the kind of night December 19 will be, those who’ve purchased tickets to be in the building for this once-in-a-lifetime event will have a time they’ll never forget.

The Vikings anticipate tremendous attendance among its alumni, with players such as Anthony Carter, Cris Carter, Chris Doleman, Tommy Kramer, Jim Marshall, Randall McDaniel, Ahmad Rashad and Robert Smith all confirming their participation.

You can be there, too. A limited number of tickets are available for this exclusive event.

To purchase your tickets, click here.

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Local High School Team To Play Games In Canada

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 3, 2010 – 8:36 am

The Vikings wrapped up their preseason on Thursday night with a 31-24 victory over the Denver Broncos and will wait until next Thursday night to open the regular season. In the meantime, though, another Minnesota football team with Vikings ties will hit the gridiron – in Canada.

The Eden Prairie Eagles football team, coached by Mike Grant, son of legendary Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant, will play a pair of games today in Winnipeg, Canada as part of the Can-Am Challenge. The Cam-Am Challenge is being presented by Football Manitoba in association with Canad Inns and will feature Eden Prairie along with the Vincent Massey Trojans and Oak Park Raiders of Winnipeg.

“We are extremely excited about hosting this event and welcoming Coach Mike Grant and the Eden Prairie Eagles to Winnipeg,” said Canad Inns spokesperson Paul Robson. “Mike has always hoped to one day coach a game in the same stadium as his famous father and Canad Inns is delighted to be a supporting partner in the delivery of this special initiative.

Robson added that all proceeds generated from ticket sales will be donated to the Winnipeg High School Football League (WHSFL).

Before taking the reins of the Vikings, Bud Grant was the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Grant led the Bombers to 6 Grey Cup appearances and 4 Grey Cup titles. Many years later, Mike Grant will patrol the same sidelines as his father.

Eden Prairie High School has enjoyed great success over the past 18 seasons under the direction of coach Mike Grant. His teams have amassed an impressive regular season mark of 136-7 and have won the Lake Conference 15 times. Under Grant, the Eagles have participated in 43 section playoff games (35-5) and advanced to 14 section championship games, winning 12 times to advance to the state tournament. The Eagles have played in 30 state tournament games with an overall record of 23-7, winning 6 of the large-school state championship games.

“Vincent Massey and Oak Park are looking forward to the challenge of taking on this perennial powerhouse from Minnesota,” said WHSFL Commissioner Ron Gustafson. “There is no question that this will be a challenge but I have great confidence that both WHSFL programs will provide competitive opposition.”

The CAN-Am Challenge will kickoff at 3:00 p.m. with the Vincent Massey Trojans taking on the Eagles. That game will be followed by the Eagles challenging the Oak Park Raiders 5:30 p.m.

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Bud Grant, E.J. Henderson Make Trip To New Orleans

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 24, 2010 – 12:11 pm

The man largely responsible for guiding the Vikings to 4 NFC championships and 4 Super Bowl appearances, as well as an NFL title in 1969, has made the trip to New Orleans with the team as they try to capture another NFC championship and Super Bowl appearance.

Legendary head coach Bud Grant, who ruled the sidelines in Minnesota for 18 seasons (1967-1983, 1985), will be the Vikings Honorary Captain in today’s game and will be on hand to watch Brett Favre and Co. try to advance to Super Bowl XLIV.

And the man who had a large role in the Vikings suffocating defense over the past 3 seasons, LB E.J. Henderson, has also made the trip with the team. Henderson was lost for the season in Week 13 at Arizona when he suffered a leg injury. While the Vikings have since advanced through the playoffs and to the NFC Championship Game with rookie LB Jasper Brinkley in Henderson’s place, there’s no denying Henderson was a major factor for the Vikings defense during the first 12 games of the season.

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Bud Grant To Serve As Honorary Captain

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 22, 2010 – 7:32 am

The last time the Vikings won an NFC Championship Game to advance on and play in a Super Bowl, legendary head coach Bud Grant was on the sidelines.

On Sunday in New Orleans, the Vikings will try to win another NFC Championship Game and advance on to Super Bowl XLIV. And Grant will be there, serving as the Vikings Honorary Captain.

A Vikings legend who coached the team from 1967-1983 and in 1985, Grant remains to this day one of the most respected and endeared figures in franchise history. He had an NFL regular season coaching record of 158-96-5, including a 10-12 mark in postseason play that led to 4 Super Bowl appearances and an NFL title in 1969.

The Vikings won 11 NFC/NFL divisional championships under Grant.

Grant was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Vikings Ring of Honor in 1998.

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