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Minnesota sports, as seen elsewhere

You can quote me on that ... T-shirt

We're not sure when the world's wit and wisdom began being captured on apparel -- perhaps Johannes Gutenberg cranked out "Well-behaved women seldom make history" shirts on the side during slow times in the Bible-printing season -- but these days, a sports utterance today can be launched from a T-shirt cannon at a stadium or arena near you tomorrow.

Consider the newfound marketability of Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, for example. After a Game 2 playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, Fizdale's 90-second postgame rant pointed out the free-throw discrepancy and roasted the officials for being "unprofessional." He punctuated his remarks by slamming down his pen and, referring to the stat sheet, exclaiming "Take that for data!"  

After the NBA fined Fizdale $30,000 for such freedom of expression, the Grizzlies' PR machine sprung into action. They printed up "TAKE THAT FOR DATA" T-shirts and placed them on FedExForum seats before Game 3 (and available, for $20, at, with the proceeds going to charity). And lo and behold, fans took turns roaring for Fizdale and savaging the refs Thursday night, and the inspired Grizzlies beat the Spurs 105-94, Memphis' first playoff victory over San Antonio since April 2011.

Which got us to thinking: What local merchandising moments have we missed? Minnesota sports figures have forever been throwing out quotes and slogans, from the insightful to the delusional. We're not worried about marketing-savvy coaches such as Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck, who already has received more coverage for his #RowTheBoat mantra than most small college sports teams get in a year. But here's a few ideas that should have been on more XXLs at Target:

Sales opportunity No. 1
The quote/slogan: "Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat."
The target market: Military leaders, CEOs, Type A personalities, Bob Knight
The royalties go to: Bill Musselman, former Gophers (1971-75) and Wolves coach (1989-91)
Let's start with something upbeat, shall we? Mussy was off-the-scale intense, a drill sergeant in sweats. The infamous Gophers-Ohio State brawl cast a shadow over much of his career -- and it's hard to sell T-shirts after PR disasters -- but he was a marketer at heart, too. The Gophers' "Sweet Georgia Brown" pregame extravaganza always packed Williams Arena well before tipoff.

Sales opportunity No. 2
 The quote/slogan: "Aren't all coaches interim coaches?"
The target market: Interim coaches (duh), interns, any employee given a "vote of confidence" by the boss 
The royalties go to: Wren Blair, North Stars coach/general manager (1968-74)
Blair had an eye for talent -- he found and signed a 14-year-old named Bobby Orr, who went on to become BOBBY ORR -- and an air of unpredictability. He once depicted a Stars crowd as a "bunch of phlegmatic Swedes," which is another T-shirt for another day.

Sales opportunity No. 3
The quote/slogan: "The Soul Patrol"
The target market: Folks who love baseball and Motown music. Think Kirby Puckett meets Wilson Pickett. 
The royalties go to: Star Tribune Twins beat writer La Velle E. Neal III and Twins player/broadcaster Dan Gladden
This moniker actually did become a T-shirt back in 2002, when Gladden prodded Neal about giving Twins outfielders Torii Hunter, Jacques Jones and Matt Lawton the nickname. Neal wrote it, and they adopted it. Special mention also should be given to a spinoff group on that team, "The Pole Patrol," comprised of Doug Mientkiewicz, Corey Koskie, A.J. Pierzynski and Rick Stelmaszek, which could have sold T-shirts to the underserved exotic dancer market.

Sales opportunity No. 4
The quote/slogan: "Straight cash, homie."
The target market: Landlords, income tax evaders, debt consolidation agents
The royalties go to: Randy Moss, former Vikings receiver (1998-2005)
This T-shirt is still out there on eBay and other online retailers and, ironically, you can charge it. You remember the scenario: Moss had been fined $10,000 by the NFL for celebrating a touchdown catch against the Packers by pretending to "moon" the Lambeau Field crowd and offending announcer Joe Buck's tender sensibilities. When KARE-TV field producer Dana Thiede later caught up with Moss in the Winter Park parking lot, Thiede asked if he'd written the No Fun League a check yet. Moss replied, "When you're rich, you don't write checks," thereby setting up the (literally) money quote.

Sales opportunity No. 5
The quote/slogan: "Wrestling is ballet with violence."
The target market: "Mad Dog" Vachon fans, conspiracy theorists, movie-goers who thought "Black Swan" needed more blind-side hits.
The royalties go to: Jesse Ventura, former pro wrestler (1974-86) and Minnesota governor (1999-2003)
Remember Ventura's "Jesse the Mind" gubernatorial campaign spot, a spoof of Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker"? Superimpose his quote over the image, airbrush a tutu over his gym shorts and start printing. Just make sure Jesse gets his cut of the proceeds, or he might put you in a sleeper hold.

You amateur marketers out there, think of any other legendary Minnesota sports quotes/slogans that are T-shirt ready? Just list them here in the comments with the hashtag #wordsintodollars.

Minnesota football fans: you're 'busy' (wink, wink) on this weekend ...

Here’s the football weekend you can circle with a thick red marker on that giant Minnesota sports calendar you have on the wall of your TV watchin’ den: Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

We already know what’s going to happen leading up to that weekend. (That’s a lie, but hang with us a sec) …

By that Saturday morning, Sept. 30, P.J. Fleck will be yelling and screaming and rowin’ boats and, more importantly, his Gophers will be 3-0 and feeling good about their start. It’ll go like this: crush Buffalo at home in the opener, beat Oregon State in overtime at their place, crush Middle Tennessee (REVENGE FOR THAT NCAA TOURNEY BEATDOWN!) at the Bank. That’s 3-0, and even more fuel for Fleck.

The Vikings will be 2-1, coming off a nice home victory over the up-and-coming Buccaneers, knowing they need to put some Ws on the board in the early fall before a tough finish.

Two teams riding high, heading into the last day of September. Then: The Weekend That Will Tell Us Everything We Need To Know About These Football Seasons will be upon us.

The Gophers play host to Maryland that Saturday, Sept. 30, their Big Ten opener. Maryland’s on the rise. Fleck’s first big test. Lots of pressure to get this one done in front of the revved up maroon and gold sweaters. Do the Gophers have a functional QB? Is the defense still slamming doors on drives? The Gophers have a real chance to be 7-0 heading to Iowa on Oct. 28 – after Maryland, it’s at Purdue, vs. Michigan State, vs. Illinois – but the Sept. 30 game against the Terps sets the tone.

The Lions come to town the following day. Here is the one truth about every Vikings schedule since the invention of cable television: If the Vikings are going to have a successful season, they have to win their home game against Detroit. We’re too lazy to go look that up, but we’re sure history agrees with that. All the optimism is crushed on the first day of October if there’s an L here – they’d need to win four in a row to change the vibe. Yes, the Lions home game isn’t the gimmie putt it used to be, but still: gotta have this one.

Newsroom editors hate the “must win” cliche. The Wild Game 5 on Saturday is a must win. All these other “must wins” you hear about, that’s bad labeling and lazy language. So no “must-win” nonsense here, but by late Sunday afternoon on Oct. 1, we’ll know whether to be excited about two football teams, one football team, or the baseball playoffs.  

If you’re looking for a football weekend to block off on the family calendar, there it is.