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.


Posts about Super Bowl

Improving game-day weather forecast a plus for Minneapolis Super Bowl bid?

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: January 31, 2014 - 12:58 PM

NEW YORK – With the weather forecast improving by the day, the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather venue isn’t even expected to produce the coldest on-field starting temperature in Super Bowl history.

According to The Weather Channel, Sunday’s forecast for East Rutherford, N.J., home of MetLife Stadium and Super Bowl XLVIII, calls for a high of 49, a low of 29, minimal to no wind and up to only a 20 percent chance of precipitation. The coldest on-field temperature at kickoff was 39 degrees at Tulane Stadium when the Cowboys beat the Dolphins 24-3 in Super Bowl VI.

That’s good news for a league that was concerned about the possibility of a blizzard affecting a game that includes great, but less than strong-armed quarterback Peyton Manning trying to lead Denver’s record-setting offense to a legacy-stamping victory over Seattle’s No. 1-ranked defense.

It’s also potentially good for Minneapolis, which is among three finalists for Super Bowl LII, which will be played in February 2018.

Yes, the new Vikings stadium will have a roof, so the elements would be controlled. But a blizzard on game day with the entire world watching the game and then snarled up traffic outside the stadium might not be the fresh image that would benefit Minneapolis when its detailed sales pitch is presented to the league’s owners in March. Owners will then vote on the bids by Minneapolis, Indianapolis and New Orleans in May.

This morning, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had fun with all the focus that’s been placed on the weather this week. As he opened his annual Super Bowl press conference, fake snow began to fall from above him.

"I told you we were going to embrace the weather," Goodell said with a smile.

As usual, Goodell was asked several questions about future Super Bowl sites. And, as usual, Goodell answered the questions without really answering the questions.

“We know there’s interest in other communities hosting the Super Bowl,” he said. “I think the ownership will sit back and review that when we’re done, but we have a very aggressive process in how we select cities.

“The ability to host the Super Bowl is more and more complicated, more and more complex because of the size and number of events. The infrastructure is very important. There are over 30,000 hotel rooms needed even to host the Super Bowl so there are some communities that may not be able to do it from an infrastructure standpoint, but we know the passion’s there.”

Next year’s Super Bowl is in Glendale, Ariz. The new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., is up after that, followed by a return to Houston for the first time since 2004.

Minnesota hasn’t played host to a Super Bowl since its one and only time in 1992, 10 years after the Metrodome opened. The outdoor temperature that day was 26 degrees, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s website.

New Orleans hosted last year’s Super Bowl. Indianapolis hosted two years ago.

Another Minnesota Grant has his day at the Super Bowl

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: January 31, 2014 - 10:18 AM
NEW YORK -- These Grant fellas sure have a way of showing up at Super Bowls.
 
Mike Grant, the son of Hall of Fame Vikings coach and four-time Super Bowl participant Bud Grant, was named the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year during a presentation in New York City today.
Here is the press release:
 
Eden Prairie High School Head Football Coach MIKE GRANT was named the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year, it was announced today.  As the national Shula Award winner, Grant will receive $25,000, $15,000 of which will go to his high school’s football program. He also is a guest of the NFL during Super Bowl.
 
Nominated by the Minnesota Vikings, Grant, of Eden Prairie, MN, was one of three high school football coaches from across the country named as a finalist for the award, which was created to honor exemplary high school football coaches who demonstrate a commitment to player health and safety, and to the integrity, achievement, and leadership exemplified by the winningest coach in NFL history, Don Shula. Grant is a 35 year coaching veteran and the son of Vikings Hall of Fame Coach Bud Grant.
 
The other finalists were Tri-Central High School Head Football Coach GEORGE GILBERT of Kirklin, IN and Katy High School Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach GARY JOSEPH from Katy, TX.  Each finalist receives a $2,500 cash award and a $5,000 grant for their high school football programs. A full list of all nominees for this year’s award is below.
 
All nominees are active or retired high school football coaches nominated by NFL teams or players for their character and integrity, inspirational leadership, commitment to the community and on-field success.
 
As part of his nomination, Grant wrote of his responsibility as a coach: “You have to make great decisions. We talk about thoughtfully deciding who you are going to run with in your group of friends. What is your story going to be when you are done here? Will people think of you as an outstanding person or as someone who never achieved what they could have? We provide support through our school and coaches for kids struggling with family issues and let them know that they have a family here with our football team that will have their back!” Grant coached San Francisco 49ers OT CARTER BYKOWSKI along with former NFL players JAY FOREMAN and MARK LEVOIR.
 
“The Vikings have enjoyed a strong connection to the Grant family over several decades,” said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf. “Like his father Bud, Mike has been an outstanding representative of the state of Minnesota. His advocacy for the Vikings youth football efforts is appreciated and we are extremely proud of Mike’s well-deserved accomplishment.”
 
The Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award selection panel is comprised of Coach Shula; former Dallas Cowboys Personnel Director and NFL.com contributor GIL BRANDT; former Indianapolis Colts Coach and current NBC analyst TONY DUNGY; veteran sportswriter JACK FLEISCHER; Executive Director of USA Football SCOTT HALLENBECK; Former Raiders Coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHN MADDEN; General RAYMOND ODIERNO, Army Chief of Staff; SAM PALMISANO, Retired Chairman of the Board, IBM Corporation; Former Secretary of State, Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution and faculty member at the Stanford Graduate School of Business CONDOLEEZA RICE; Executive Director of the American Football Coaches Association GRANT TEAFF; and AARON THOMAS, Athletic Director at Aplington-Parkersburg High School in Parkersburg, IA.

Meet Peyton Manning's idea of the `perfect' quarterback

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: January 30, 2014 - 5:14 PM

JERSEY CITY -- Too much time has been spent worrying about what surly Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch won't say than appreciating the pure maestro that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is during his Super Bowl media sessions.

Today was the final access day for assistant coaches and quarterbacks. Manning was asked who he lists as his top three quarterbacks of all time, and was told he couldn't pick his dad (Archie) or his little brother (Eli).

Manning didn't skip a beat. He look the question and figuratively ran with it.

"Me and my buddies don’t discuss that," Manning said. "We have other things to talk about.

" don’t have a list, but I think I could describe the perfect quarterback. Take a little piece of everybody. Take John Elway’s arm, Dan Marino’s release, maybe Troy Aikman’s dropback, Brett Favre’s scrambling ability, Joe Montana’s two-minute poise and, naturally, my speed in there."

The last part was delivered with the kind of subtle humor that makes Manning the perfect TV commercial pitchman.

"I could take a piece of everyone, of some of my favorite quarterbacks, and I could take 30 traits from different guys, and put them in that perfect quarterback," Manning said. "That is how I like to look at it. I don’t have the list. I know a lot of people have lists. ‘Anytime,’ as John Elway once said, ‘you might be kind of in the conversation of someone talking about some of their favorite quarterbacks, that’s a nice compliment in itself.’”

Hauschka has come a long way since Mankato '08

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: January 30, 2014 - 9:36 AM

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Like a lot of NFL kickers, Steven Hauschka has been, putting it nicely, well-traveled during a six-year career that has seen him suit up for six NFL teams and one UFL team.

He got his start as an undrafted Viking in 2008 and has wound his way through Baltimore, Atlanta, Detroit, the Las Vegas Locomotives, Denver and finally Seattle, where he'll play for the NFC champion Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

"It's been an interesting journey," he said. "I've learned a lot along the way."

In 2008, then-Vikings coach Brad Childress was looking exploring the possibility of having a young leg take over kickoffs from the aging, but still highly accurate Ryan Longwell. The Vikings didn't draft a kicker, but did sign Hauschka after the draft.

The idea of sharing the kicking duties with a rookie never set well with Longwell. But Hauschka said Longwell kept their brief relationship professional. Longwell also stepped up his kickoffs enough that the Vikings released Hauschka before the regular season.

"Ryan was a great, great kicker who had been through it all and had a great career," Hauschka said. "I learned a lot from him, especially the mental part of the game. Just how much it takes as a professional to perform at this level, all year round. You have to be constantly preparing yourself."

Hauschka wasn't sure what to expect when cutdown day arrived that summer. He knew he wasn't going to beat Longwell out for the place-kicking chores.

"I was young," he said. "I didn't really know any better. I was just trying to kick the ball as far as I could and hope someone saw me. I had nothing to lose and wasn't expecting anything. Sometimes, that's a good place to be."

The Ravens signed Hauschka to their practice squad in September of 2008 and made him active for kickoffs and long field goal attempts as a partner with another aging vet, Matt Stover. Hauschka's first professional field goal attempt was a successful 54-yarder, which remains his career long.

Hauschka played in Baltimore for parts of two seasons, Atlanta for part of one and Detroit for the 2010 preseason. He also played for the Locomotives in 2010.

Late in the 2010 NFL season, Denver needed a kicker when Matt Prater went down with an injury. So the Broncos signed Hauschka to finish out that season. Sunday, Prater and Hauschka will square off in the first outdoor Super Bowl played in a cold-weather city.

The weather is supposed to be mild, in the upper 30s to low 40s with no snow expected at this point.

"The weather shouldn't be a factor," Hauschka said. "I think we'll be fine."

Seattle signed Hauschka in 2011 and has leaned on him ever since. This year, he was nearly perfect, connecting on a career-high 33 of 35 field goals for a career-high 94.3 percent.

Being deaf didn't crush former Vikings RB Coleman's Super Bowl dreams

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: January 29, 2014 - 3:41 PM

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Man, is it me or is it impossible to take two steps around the Big Apple without tripping over a former Viking getting ready to play or coach in Sunday's Super Bowl XLVIII.

We've brought you multiple posts and stories on Darrell Bevell, Jack Del Rio, Percy Harvin and Randy Moss' "brah-mance" and Heath Farwell, whom one of us called Keith Harwell back when he was an undrafted rookie in Mankato. Jim Souhan chipped on the purple connections and brought you this blog post on Tarvaris Jackson.

Now we'll bring you another guy who spent the 2012 training camp with the Vikings. His name is Derrick Coleman, who was a running back when he came to the Vikings as an undrafted rookie out of UCLA in 2012. He was cut in training camp because, as you may have noticed, the Vikings were in pretty good shape at RB.

Coleman is now a fullback with the Seahawks. He played in 12 games, starting three of them. He's caught eight passes for 62 yards and run the ball twice for three yards.

Coleman, as you may remember, also is deaf. He's also become an international story because of it.

“I just became aware of that a couple of days ago," Coleman said. "My agent’s always telling me how many views I have on YouTube. It’s funny, because I was looking on Twitter and I saw a lady from Australia and I said, ‘How did it get way over there?’ Like I said, I’m really just targeting one group of kids and the fact that it went all over is a blessing. I’m doing something right. I’m helping.”

Asked if getting cut from the Vikings was a motivating factor in his life, Coleman said, "Oh, absolutely. You only get so many opportunities in this world and however many you have, you can’t just squander it. You have to manage every chance you have. I wasn’t just sitting at home just hanging out playing video games. I was still, either early in the morning or late at night working out, because you never know when that next opportunity will come. If it never came, I knew I was prepared regardless.”

As for his lip-reading skills, they seem amazing, but Coleman says they aren't perfect.

“I’m not saying I’m perfect at it," he said. "If we’re talking right now I’m good at reading. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. But when it comes to some guy way over there, that may get kind of hard to do. I remember I had an interview one time and they had a clip of Russell (Wilson) and Doug Baldwin saying things and they wanted to see how good I was. I think I got like 85, 90 percent at it. It was pretty good, but you’re not always perfect at it.”

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