Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.
Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.
Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.
I covered Cris Carter's arrival in Minnesota. He had earned his dismissal from the Eagles, abusing drugs and alcohol. The Vikings picked him up on waivers because Jerry Burns thought he could turn into a great receiver. Burnsie was right.
Carter was your classic underperforming diva wide receiver when he arrived. He and I hit it off the following training camp. He agreed to a long sit-down interview. He told me if I told his story honestly, we'd get along fine, and if I didn't, he'd punch me in the eye.
I didn't pull any punches, and he didn't throw any. He wanted to make his story public, and he was my go-to guy in the lockerrom until I left the Vikiings beat to cover baseball following the 1992 season.
When I began covering football again, in 1998, Carter and I didn't have the same relationship, but I loved watching him play. Dennis Green gave perhaps the quiintessential quote on Carter: He said Carter expanded the field. It was an early version of the ``catch-radius'' idea. Green meant that with Carter, a quarterback could throw the ball three feet out of bounds, or five feet over his head, or at his toes, and Carter would catch it.
Near the end of his career, I asked Carter how he played so long, as a guy who was willing to go over the middle to make catches. He began listing the people he employed: Nutritionist, physical therapist, chiropractor, chef, personal trainer...the list went on for a while.
I'm not sure I ever covered a more dedicated athlete.
His downside was linked to his greatest strength: He put so much into playing football that he couldn't stomach those who didn't match his commitment.
I think he was deserving of the Hall of Fame. He was elected to the Hall on Saturday in New Orleans.
I'm at the NFL Awards Ceremony, awaiting word on whether Adrian Peterson will win the MVP award.
Carter and Peterson have very different personalities. They have this in common: There is or has been any doubt about their desire to be great.
I stopped Vikings coach Leslie Frazier on the red carpet and asked if he's talked with Peterson about the award. ``Oh, yeah,'' Frazier said. ``He's still upset that he didn't win the Heisman. He'll be the first to tell you he should win this.''
Mark Craig and I will have all the Hall of Fame and NFL award coverage from New Orleans in tomorrow's paper and at startribune.com.
Larry Bowie, a guard who played for the Vikings for eight seasons in the 1960s, has died.
Bowie's career with the Vikings ended in 1968 when he had a blood clot removed from his brain during the season.
Bowie, 73, was taken by the Vikings in the sixth round of the 1962 draft out of Purdue. He was a starter in five of his eight seasons.
A memorial service for Bowie is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. at Sandberg Funeral Home in North St. Paul.
John Henry Ward, who was the Vikings' first-round selection (25th overall) in the 1970 NFL draft and played as an offensive lineman with the team for six seasons, has died.
Ward, 64, was a businessman in Oklahoma City.
Here is a story from the Daily Oklahoman's Berry Tramel.
John Henry Ward, a two-sport all-American at Oklahoma State and a lineman on Bud Grant’s grand Minnesota Viking teams in the 1970s, died of cancer Tuesday in Oklahoma City. He was 64.
“He was much more than an amazing football player and wrestler,” said Ross Powell, who played little league football on a team coached by Ward. “His post-NFL career is every bit as impressive as his football career. He was a mentor to hundreds of kids, not only as a football coach but a life coach as well.”
Ward came to OSU from Tulsa Rogers and became a 1969 all-American tackle in football and a 1969 all-American in wrestling, with a third place finish at heavyweight in the NCAA Championships.
Ward played on two Viking Super Bowl teams.
“One of the most likable guys there,” said Terry Brown, a teammate of Ward with both OSU and the Vikings. “Everybody liked to be around him. He was an ultimate teammate. Would go to battle for anybody.”
Ward loved to hunt. He suffered a broken leg in a Viking game. Two weeks later, his cast came off. Turns out Ward would go hunting with his broken leg. So doctors put him in an L-shaped cast so he couldn’t walk.
“Bud Grant would come to Oklahoma and go hunting with him,” Brown said of the iconicMinnesota coach. “They spent a lot of time hunting together.”
After football, Ward ran a cattle ranch, managed a farm/ranch retail store, was elected a county commissioner and eventually became executive director for the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma.
In 2002, Ward became vice president of The Poultry Federation and director of its Oklahoma City operations.
Cris Carter will take another run at making the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The ex-Vikings receiver was among the 27 semifinalists named today for the Hall. The list will be narrowed to 15 in early January for the group of selectors, who will meet and vote Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl, to elect five modern inductees and vote on the two senior candidates.
First-time eligible players among the candidates are: guard/tackle Larry Allen, kicker Morten Andersen, safety John Lynch, tackle Jonathan Ogden, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, and defensive end Michael Strahan.
Cornerback Albert Lewis, who was previously eligible, is also a first-time candidate.
Andersen played one season for the Vikings, as running back Roger Craig, who was a star with the 49ers, played two with the Vikings.
The others have all been semifinalists before. The complete list:
• Larry Allen, G/T – 1994-2005 Dallas Cowboys, 2006-07 San Francisco 49ers
• Morten Andersen, K – 1982-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-2000, 2006-07 Atlanta Falcons, 2001 New York Giants, 2002-03 Kansas City Chiefs, 2004 Minnesota Vikings
• Steve Atwater, S – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets
• Jerome Bettis, RB – 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
• Tim Brown, WR/KR – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
• Cris Carter, WR – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
• Don Coryell, Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers
• Roger Craig, RB – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings
• Terrell Davis, RB – 1995-2001 Denver Broncos
• Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Owner – 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers
• Kevin Greene, LB/DE – 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers
• Charles Haley, DE/LB – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
• Joe Jacoby, T – 1981-1993 Washington Redskins
• Albert Lewis, CB – 1983-1993 Kansas City Chiefs, 1994-98 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders
• John Lynch, FS – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos
• Karl Mecklenburg, LB – 1983-1994 Denver Broncos
• Art Modell, Owner – 1961-1995 Cleveland Browns, 1996-2011 Baltimore Ravens
• Jonathan Ogden, T – 1996-2007 Baltimore Ravens
• Bill Parcells, Coach – 1983-1990 New York Giants, 1993-96 New England Patriots, 1997-99 New York Jets, 2003-06 Dallas Cowboys
• Andre Reed, WR – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
• Warren Sapp, DT – 1995-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Oakland Raiders
• Will Shields, G – 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs
• Michael Strahan, DE – 1993-2007 New York Giants
• Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 National Football League
• Steve Tasker, ST/WR – 1985-86 Houston Oilers, 1986-1997 Buffalo Bills
• Aeneas Williams, CB/S – 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, 2001-04 St. Louis Rams
• George Young, Contributor – 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League
The Seniors Committee nominees, who were announced in August, are defensive tackle Curley Culp, (1968-1974 Kansas City Chiefs, 1974-1980 Houston Oilers, 1980-81 Detroit Lions) and linebacker Dave Robinson, (1963-1972 Green Bay Packers, 1973-74 Washington Redskins).
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