Louis Villaume

Louis Villaume, a lifelong Minnesotan, has been a Vikings fan since the late 1960s. He's also the seventh grade football coach in Rockford and works with the school's varsity team.

Posts about AFC

Favre's Swan Song?

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: August 21, 2010 - 12:55 PM

Joe Montana was phenomenal. He won four Super Bowls (XVI,XIX,XXIII,XXIV) and is considered among the greatest quarterbacks to have ever played the game. Others on the elite list include: Dan Marino, John Elway, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw. Most of these QBs played their entire careers with one team, Unitas' brief stint in San Diego notwithstanding. Favre and Montana are different in that they led new teams to the Conference Championship games in the twilight of their careers.

Montana joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993, along with Marcus Allen. They were hyped in the media and instantly produced. In 1993 Montana led the Chiefs to a 13-3 record and the AFC Championship, which they lost to the Buffalo Bills. But Montana came back for a second year. In 1994 he played in fourteen games as a thirty-eight year old. He faced his old team the 49ers with their reason to let him go: Steve Young. Montana beat his old team and Young in an NFL Classic. He got them back to the playoffs where his final game turned out to be a 27-17 loss to Miami and Dan Marino, despite 314 yards and two tds and an early lead. He retired before the 1995 season.

Brett Favre is back for his second stint with the Vikings. In his first year the Vikings finished the two seed and he took Minnesota back to the NFC Championship, where they lost an OT affair, despite 310 yards and a td. Now he will play his last season for Minnesota in 2010. He will face his former team at least twice, and the reason they could let him go: Aaron Rodgers. Last year Favre tore up his former team and swept them in the home-home series. How will he fare in his final year?

Joe Montana, the four-time Super Bowl winner is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever don a uniform. So too is Brett Favre. If this is Favre's final finale, can he bring Minnesota back to the playoffs again? Will he go farther than Montana did in his last season? Can he add a 2nd Super Bowl win to his resume?

One thing is certain. His contests with Rodgers and Green Bay will be fun to watch.

 

 

 

 

Old and Not in the Way

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: August 18, 2010 - 3:57 PM

I am thinking about trying out for the Vikings or Twins pretty soon. I still throw hard and I am in my forties. Isn't that enough? I wouldn't have thought so last week, but August 17th has rekindled my desire to become the pro athlete I dreamed of being in the 1970s. I think I can.

The news of Brett Favre's return after three teammates tracked him down was blasted in the media by some. How could the Vikings grovel like this? Offering millions more to a forty year-old to rejoin the team after his umpteenth retirement. Have we no backbone? Letting the old man skip training camp, again. Treating Tarvaris Jackson like he is a wicked step-child. Certainly now, as a forty-something, teams will simply copy the Saints plan of violently attacking him and he will not make it through the season. Minnesota is grasping at straws.

To that I say Jim Thome. Last night Thome rocked a home run to win a dramatic event against the White Sox. Thome is at that forty year level. Thome was basically let go by teams because all he could do is hit. As a matter of fact, he can hit. And the last team to tell him goodbye found that out last night. It was old-timer's day yesterday, what with the Return of the Favre and Thome's blast. It was the kind of night that makes forty-somethings like me reconsider their career paths.

Is it crazy that these old guys want to keep playing a young man's sport? How can they remain successful? They cannot last an entire season, can they? What fools these elderly be, right?

Wrong.

Let me introduce the greatest of oldies: Gordie Howe. Gordie played a violent sport (hockey) full of collisions and injuries. He started at sixteen in the minors and finished as a fifty-one year old in 1980 for the Hartford Whalers. He played in all eighty games that year. Gordie's best year scoring wise came in the 1968-69 season, when at the age of forty he topped 100 points for the only time in his career. This guy was so tough he survived a fractured skull in the 1950 playoffs, returning the next year at the start of the season. He also knocked out Maurice "Rocket" Richard with one punch as a rookie. Sounds a lot like a quarterback I know. As a side note, Howe did play a shift in the minors for the Detroit Vipers in 1997, at the age of seventy.

Besides Thome, baseball boasts many present forty-something. Jamie Moyer and Omar Vizquel to name a few. Baseball has had players like Satchell Paige (59 years old), Hoyt Wilhelm (49), Phil Niekro (48), and Jesse Orosco (46). Others whom have pitched into their forties include: Nolan Ryan, Tommy John, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens. But these are pitchers in baseball. These are not QBs in an NFL game, where opponents aim to knock you out of the game. Pitching in the MLB is not the same thing.

True. Maybe Gordie Howe was the exception and pitchers are not comparable?

George Blanda was a place kicker and quarterback who started in the NFL in 1949. He retired in 1958. Then he came back again in 1960. Familiar? Blanda starred as a quarterback/kicker in the AFL for the Houston Oilers. He was the leading passer in the league many times. In 1967 he switched teams, joining the Oakland Raiders as a thirty-nine year old. He was released in 1970 but came back again in his forties. Where have I heard that before? Blanda won two games in relief of an injured QB that season. Blanda went on to start an AFC Championship Game at the age of forty-eight, nearly winning until two late interceptions (yes, heard that before, too).

But George Blanda was far from the only QB to be active in his forties. Other quarterbacks at the same age range included: Doug Flutie, Steve DeBerg,  and Vinny Testaverde. Even linebacker Junior Seau has neared this level. It can be done.

I am happy that Favre has returned. I laugh at those who laugh at us. I know there is a great history of we old people doing tremendous things throughout sports. Jim Thome reminded over forty thousand people first-hand last night. I have a feeling Favre will convince more than that. Old people are no different than you and me. Or was that short people?

Anyway, I am stretching out right now in lieu of the 2011-12 NFL season. Or maybe the 2011 MLB season?

Call me.

 

 

 

 

 

Winless in Seattle

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: November 22, 2009 - 12:57 AM

Seattle was an expansion team that started in 1976. They were seemingly cursed before they ever started, as the expanion soon-to-be owner Lloyd W Nordstrom died in the months before their innagural season. In their second season, the Seahawks traded their early draft selection (Tony Dorsett) of the first round for three second rounders. WR Steve Largent became their first memorable player in the early years.

They eventually made their first playoffs in 1983, and won their first playoff game, and the next, before losing in the AFC Championship to the Raiders. After a wild-card playoff win in 1984 they would wait twenty-one years for their next win, and subsequently their only Super Bowl appearance in the 2005 season, a 21-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It had been a good stretch of football for the Seahawks a year after they returned to the NFC West, from 2003 to 2007. They went 51-29 in those five years in a weak division. From 2005 to the 2007 season, Seattle was 4-3 in post-season, winning at least one playoff game each year. Then came the 2007 loss to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers and times have quickly changed.

Last year Seattle was 4-12, and many pointed to life without All-Pro RB Shaun Alexander as the main reason. This year they are 3-6, with five losses double digit. The offense with Julius Jones (3.7 yards per carry) performed poorly, and now the Seahawks have turned to Justin Forsett (6.6 yards per carry) to revive the lost running game. Matt Hasselbeck has been decent, but hasn't been able to get many points. Seattle has scored more than twenty points only three times, all wins. However, their three wins include victories over the St. Louis Rams and the Detroit Lions.

The Minnesota Vikings with Brett Favre are a clear favorite. These are two franchises going in opposite directions. Minnesota will have locked up another winning season after Sunday's game, while the Seahawks will most likely improve their chance to finish their thirty-fourth season with their twentieth non-winning campaign.

And feel like they are suddenly winless in Seattle.

Ravens sliding?

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: October 15, 2009 - 9:46 PM

In the 2008 draft the Baltimore Ravens selected Joe Flacco, the Delaware quarterback who had transferred from Pittsburgh. That season he started all sixteen games. He became the eighth rookie QB to start a playoff game and then went on to win two playoff games, the first rookie to ever accomplish that feat.

But let's not kid ourselves, it was the Ravens' defense that was their biggest weapon. Flacco averaged only 185.7 yards per game his first season. He threw only fourteen touchdown passes. In the three playoff games he was 33 of 75 for 424 yards. They won the first two games in part to Flacco's not turning the ball over, and the defense holding two opponents to nineteen total points. In the loss to the Steelers, Joe was intercepted three times.

This year has seen a quick increase in Flacco's numbers. He is averaging 36.4 passes per game, compared to 26.8 last year. His percentage completed has risen from 60 to 64.3. Yards per game is up from last season's 185.7 to an average of 257.8 this year. Already he has 9 touchdown passes, and is on pace to double last year's output.

One would think that this kind of improvement would mean even greater things from Baltimore in 2009. And they started out making believers of most. After three games, they were 3-0, scoring 103 points, with an average win margin of nearly seventeen points per game. Flacco set career highs in yardage twice, while throwing three touchdowns in the opener versus the Chiefs. The AFC North saw the Super Bowl Champion Steelers two games behind the Ravens three weeks into the season.

Then something changed. Maybe it was due to the next two opponents being the Patriots and the Bengals? Whatever the cause, the offense suddenly began to slow down. They were held to twenty-one versus New England, and then fourteen by Cincinnati. Now 3-2, they find themselves tied with the Steelers and behind the Bengals. The glory of the first three successes tempered by the realization that the Chiefs and Browns are both very bad. And now they come to Minneapolis.

Minnesota is 5-0, coming off a convincing win over yet another poor opponent in the Rams. But they have also defeated the 49ers and the Packers. Critics point to both of these games being home games and that the 49ers game was a last-second win.

But then this is a home game. The Ravens could be sliding into town at just the right time.

 

 

Ravens sliding?

Posted by: Louis Villaume Updated: October 15, 2009 - 9:46 PM

In the 2008 draft the Baltimore Ravens selected Joe Flacco, the Delaware quarterback who had transferred from Pittsburgh. That season he started all sixteen games. He became the eighth rookie QB to start a playoff game and then went on to win two playoff games, the first rookie to ever accomplish that feat.

But let's not kid ourselves, it was the Ravens' defense that was their biggest weapon. Flacco averaged only 185.7 yards per game his first season. He threw only fourteen touchdown passes. In the three playoff games he was 33 of 75 for 424 yards. They won the first two games in part to Flacco's not turning the ball over, and the defense holding two opponents to nineteen total points. In the loss to the Steelers, Joe was intercepted three times.

This year has seen a quick increase in Flacco's numbers. He is averaging 36.4 passes per game, compared to 26.8 last year. His percentage completed has risen from 60 to 64.3. Yards per game is up from last season's 185.7 to an average of 257.8 this year. Already he has 9 touchdown passes, and is on pace to double last year's output.

One would think that this kind of improvement would mean even greater things from Baltimore in 2009. And they started out making believers of most. After three games, they were 3-0, scoring 103 points, with an average win margin of nearly seventeen points per game. Flacco set career highs in yardage twice, while throwing three touchdowns in the opener versus the Chiefs. The AFC North saw the Super Bowl Champion Steelers two games behind the Ravens three weeks into the season.

Then something changed. Maybe it was due to the next two opponents being the Patriots and the Bengals? Whatever the cause, the offense suddenly began to slow down. They were held to twenty-one versus New England, and then fourteen by Cincinnati. Now 3-2, they find themselves tied with the Steelers and behind the Bengals. The glory of the first three successes tempered by the realization that the Chiefs and Browns are both very bad. And now they come to Minneapolis.

Minnesota is 5-0, coming off a convincing win over yet another poor opponent in the Rams. But they have also defeated the 49ers and the Packers. Critics point to both of these games being home games and that the 49ers game was a last-second win.

But then this is a home game. The Ravens could be sliding into town at just the right time.

 

 

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