Wilf Talks Spending And New Stadium

Posted by cjsiewert on March 8, 2010 – 12:59 pm

While speaking publicly for the first time since the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 24, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf proclaimed that the team is not cutting back on spending on players this year.  Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune reports that Wilf wanted to make this clear to fans, especially after the loss of RB Chester Taylor and OL Artis Hicks to free agency.

“We spend when it’s appropriate,” Wilf said.  “I work with my guys.  When we want somebody, we go after them; that’s the way we’ve been doing it, and we’ll continue to do so when the time comes.  When the opportunity arises and when the time comes, we will go out and get that person, but right now we’re really working on the draft.”

The Vikings owner has been known to not hold back when it comes to getting players that he, team executives and coaches feel will make their team into a championship-caliber team, regardless of the cost.  Big-name players that have been brought to Minnesota since the Wilfs bought the team include DE Jared Allen, G Steve Hutchinson and QB Brett Favre.

Wilf also spoke of his hopes that the Legislature will get a Vikings stadium bill passed this year.

“I feel like we’re coming into what’s really needed to get this thing done, from the standpoint of the type of stadium that we want and the location that we want, and we’re right now working on the finance package,” Wilf said.  “I think there’s a way to get this thing done this year, so I’m excited on that front.”

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2011 Pro Bowl Moves Back To Hawaii

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 3, 2010 – 8:49 am

The Vikings had 10 players earn Pro Bowl berths after the 2009 season and 4 of them – Jared Allen, Heath Farwell, Steve Hutchinson and Adrian Peterson – were healthy enough to make the trip to South Florida the week prior to the Super Bowl and play in the all-star game.

After next season, though, any Vikings who earn Pro Bowl berths and elect to play in the game will have a different itinerary.

The NFL announced on Tuesday that the 2011 Pro Bowl, which will be played a week before Super Bowl XLV, is returning to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii after leaving the island for the 2010 version. The decision to play the NFL’s All-Star Game the week before the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year follows a significant increase in viewership for the 2010 Pro Bowl, the first Pro Bowl to precede the Super Bowl.

According to the NFL’s release, the 2010 Pro Bowl on ESPN was watched by an average of 12.3 million viewers, the most for a Pro Bowl since 2000 (13.2 million viewers) and a 40 percent increase from the 2009 game (8.8 million viewers). The 12.3 million viewers also marked the largest viewership for an All-Star game in any sport on cable television. The game at Sun Life Stadium in South Florida also attracted the largest Pro Bowl attendance (70,697) in 50 years.

“Playing the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl generated more excitement and interest in the event and also kicked off Super Bowl week in an innovative new way,” said Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president of events. “We are pleased to return to the State of Hawaii, which has embraced the Pro Bowl for 30 years.”

The Pro Bowl’s return to Hawaii, where it had been held consecutively from 1980 to 2009, is part of a two-year agreement between the NFL and the state of Hawaii to play the 2011 and 2012 games there.

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Debating The Vikings Offensive Line And The NFL Draft

Posted by cjsiewert on February 26, 2010 – 8:48 am

The NFL Scouting Combine is now in full swing and the event allows us the opportunity to begin speculating how NFL teams will use the draft to improve their roster.

No position on any team is exempt from being addressed via draft picks, including the left side of the Vikings offensive line. On one hand, the Purple featured 2 Pro Bowlers in that spot during 2009 season. On the other hand, though, one could raise concern in light of LG Steve Hutchinson’s nagging injuries last season and the choices LT Bryant McKinnie made in the week leading up to the Pro Bowl.

If your focus tends to drift toward the negative, perhaps you view OL as a need for the Vikings heading into the 2010 NFL Draft.

But I don’t see the need at all.

Admittedly, McKinnie has dealt with off-field transgressions, but on the field the mammoth LT has been an effective player for the Vikings during his entire career. McKinnie has paved the way for All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson to rush for over 1,000 yards in each of the last 3 seasons and he did the same for Chester Taylor back in 2006.

As far as the LG position goes, the Vikings haven’t had a worry since Hutchinson arrived in 2006 and they likely won’t have to worry about that spot for another 4-5 seasons.

Hutchinson has been arguably the best player at his position in the NFL since he entered the league in 2001. He’s a 7-time Pro Bowler who has blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his 9 NFL seasons – Shaun Alexander from 2001-05, Taylor in 2006 and Peterson from 2007-09.

After talking with fellow writer Mike Wobschall, it’s agreed that McKinnie and Hutchinson are still playing very well and aren’t soon approaching a drop-off.

As a result, don’t count on the Vikings using an early-round pick to address either position along the left side of their offensive line.

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Hutchinson, Kevin Williams Named To All-Decade Team

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 1, 2010 – 1:38 pm

Both G Steve Hutchinson and DT Kevin Williams were named to the NFC’s Pro Bowl squad this year, an honor that recognizes them as among the conference’s best players in 2009.

But this week Hutchinson and Williams were also named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team, an honor that distinguishes them as among the NFL’s best players at their position over the past 10 years.

A couple of former Vikings – WR Randy Moss and S Darren Sharper – were also included on the 2000s All-Decade Team.

The NFL All-Decade teams are chosen every 10 years by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee members.  The 2000s will mark the 9th All-Decade team to be selected in NFL history.

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Peterson, 4 Other Vikings Preparing For Pro Bowl

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 29, 2010 – 11:04 am

For those of you who have sufficiently recovered from last Sunday’s disheartening NFC Championship Game loss or for those of you who just can’t get enough football, this Sunday presents yet another chance to watch some of your favorite Vikings perform on the field.

The Pro Bowl will be played this Sunday in South Florida – site of Super Bowl XLIV – and will feature 5 Vikings. The Vikings had 10 players named to the NFC’s roster, but only 5 of them will appear in the game. The 5 players are DE Jared Allen, special teams ace Heath Farwell, G Steve Hutchinson, T Bryant McKinnie and RB Adrian Peterson.

Because my goal is to objectively cover the Vikings on a year-round basis to give fans an inside look at their favorite team, I stay away from picking favorites or displaying any personal sentiments. But I can’t hide the fact that I’m excited to watch Peterson play on Sunday.

This will be Peterson’s 3rd Pro Bowl appearance in as many seasons, and when you consider the success he’s had in his first 2 all-star games, you’ll see why I’m excited to see him play in his 3rd game. As a rookie in the 2008 Pro Bowl (after the 2007 season), Peterson destroyed the AFC defense to the tune of 129 yards and 2 TDs on 16 carries. The NFC won the game 42-30 and Peterson was named the game’s MVP. Last year, Peterson carried the ball 8 times and gained 48 yards while finding the endzone once.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Peterson have another monster game on Sunday. He runs with more intensity than any other RB in the league and I think he’ll have that intensity ratcheted up on Sunday.

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Vikings Lead NFL In All-Pro Nods With 4

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 14, 2010 – 11:19 am

The Associated Press has announced its 2009 All-Pro Team and the Vikings led all NFL squads with 4 selections.

The Vikings had 2 offensive players honored – G Steve Hutchinson and RB Adrian Peterson – as well as 2 defensive players – DE Jared Allen and DT Kevin Williams.

An All-Pro distinction is more prestigious than a Pro Bowl berth because the All-Pro team is reserved for a smaller portion of elite players. They are the best of the best. Pro Bowl rosters consist of several players at each position, while the All-Pro team is made up of just 12 offensive players, 12 defensive players and 3 specialists.

The quartet of Vikings named to this year’s All-Pro team have an impressive number of 1st-team selections. Together they have 16 first-team selections. The breakdown is as follows: Hutchinson (6), Williams (5), Allen (3) and Peterson (2).

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Trio Of Vikings On Sporting News Offensive All-Pro Team

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 12, 2010 – 12:34 pm

Sporting News has named and announced its annual All-Pro Offensive team and a trio of Vikings have made the cut. The magazine will announce its defensive awards later in the week.

The 3 Vikings named to the All-Pro Offensive team are RB Adrian Peterson, G Steve Hutchinson and Percy Harvin, who made the squad as a returner.

The Vikings had the most players on the team, while the New Orleans Saints had the 2nd-most with 2 players – SN’s Offensive Player of the Year Drew Brees and G Jahri Evans.

The complete NFL awards package can be found in the new Sporting News Magazine, which arrives later this week at all Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets. SN will announce other award winners throughout the week.

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This Week’s Silver Lining – Pro Bowl Selections

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 29, 2009 – 6:14 pm

Individual accolades certainly don’t take precedent over team success. But as we go through the negativity involved with losing 3 of 4 games at the end of a season, it’s nice to sprinkle in some positivity, too.

And that positivity is represented by the fact that 8 Vikings were honored late this afternoon by being named to the NFC Pro Bowl roster. That is the most Pro Bowlers for a Vikings team since the 1998 squad sent 10 players to the annual NFL all-star game.

Five Vikings were named starters on the NFC – DE Jared Allen, G Steve Hutchinson, T Bryant McKinnie, RB Adrian Peterson and DT Kevin Williams. Three others – LB Heath Farwell, QB Brett Favre and WR Sidney Rice – will be backups.

Since 2006, the Vikings have had 13 different players recognized with 25 Pro Bowl honors. Hutchinson has earned his 7th straight honor, Favre has been named to the Pro Bowl 11 times in 19 seasons and Allen becomes the 1st Vikings DE to go to consecutive Pro Bowls since Chris Doleman did it in 1989 and 1990.

Farwell, McKinnie and Rice are being honored as Pro Bowlers for the 1st time.

This year’s Pro Bowl will be played the week prior to the Super Bowl in Miami, also the site of this year’s Super Bowl. This is a changeup from the normal set up, of course, because the Pro Bowl has been played in Hawaii the week after the Super Bowl on a regular basis since 1980.

So while these 8 Vikings players are surely honored to be named Pro Bowlers, they’d like nothing better than to be unable to play in the game because of a more important “bowl” game they’d have to play the following week.

Note: Check out the blog early tomorrow morning, as we’ll have reaction from several of the Vikings Pro Bowlers, including Farwell, McKinnie and Rice.

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Hutchinsons To Host Holiday Party At Children’s Hospital

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 22, 2009 – 9:18 am

Since All- Pro G Steve Hutchinson signed with the Vikings in 2006, he’s made a significant impact on the team’s running game and overall success.

But the football field is not the only place Hutchinson can make a difference.

Hutchinson has been one of the team’s most-active members in community outreach, and he comes up especially big during the Holiday season. Over the past couple of years, Hutchinson and his wife, Landyn, have hosted an early Thanksgiving meal at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

The Thanksgiving meals were so successful and impactful that the Hutchinson’s decided to have a Holiday Party every year, too.

Later today at the Children’s Hospital, Steve and Landyn will host their Holiday Party for young patients and their families – roughly 100 people.

The visit will take place in the Bridges Cafeteria and he Hutchinsons have purchased gifts for every young patient staying in the hospital.

A few of Hutchinson’s teammates – OT Pat Brown, DE Fred Evans and C John Sullivan – will be joining the Hutchinsons this afternoon.

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Hutchinson Added To Injury Report; Sapp Practices

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 3, 2009 – 3:27 pm

The Vikings and Cardinals have released their Thursday injury reports. And there are a couple of things to report.

All-Pro G Steve Hutchinson was added to the report and is listed with a shoulder ailment. He was a limited participant today. The only other change for the Vikings on Thursday is that Benny Sap (thumb/ribs) was limited after sitting out on Wednesday.

There were no other changes on the report.

For the Cardinals, there were no changes to their report from Wednesday’s information.

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