Winning is part of Frerotte's act to take seriously

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 2, 2008 - 11:28 AM

That near-death experience Sunday? Laugh if you want. A key point to remember is that he is 7-3 as the starting QB.

Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte celebrated as he ran down the field after throwing a 99-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian.

Photo: Tom Olmscheid, Associated Press

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Dino Ciccarelli was watching the Vikings and the Chicago Bears play on Detroit's NBC outlet on Sunday night. There was a pregame sideline report, and Dino noted familiar faces from his North Stars days in the background, including former linebacker and now Vikings executive Scott Studwell.

Ciccarelli was asked if it also looked familiar to him when Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte flopped dramatically in an attempt to inspire referee Bill Leavy to call a roughing penalty on Chicago's Adewale Ogunleye.

The more the Metrodome's scoreboard operators showed replays on the big screens, the angrier grew the Vikings crowd. Simultaneously, the more humorous became Frerotte's histrionics to more objective types watching replays on the NBC telecast.

"So what are you saying?'' Ciccarelli said. "Are you suggesting that there were times when I tried to oversell a stick being close to me in order to draw a penalty?''

The caller had to admit that's what was being suggested -- that the Dino the Diver nickname he carried on visits to Chicago Stadium was well-earned.

"You do anything you can to help out the team,'' Ciccarelli said. "I'd say the quarterback was trying to help the Vikings and get a first down.''

Leavy ignored the fact Ogunleye gave Frerotte a mild push several seconds after an incompletion was released. The Vikings settled for a field goal, cutting a Bears lead to 7-3 in a game the home team would win 34-14.

Coach Brad Childress was incensed at Leavy over the no-call, and yet at no time after Frerotte staggered toward the sideline -- twice taking a knee in the process -- did Tarvaris Jackson start tossing a football.

Either Jackson didn't get a message to warm up, or he's seen Gus wobble off and then promptly return often enough that the backup QB has learned to ignore it.

"I think Gus gets knocked down more times than Adrian [Peterson] does,'' Bernard Berrian said with a laugh after Sundy's game.

The receiver followed with the mandatory platitude: "But he gets up and keeps ticking. It just shows the type of character and heart he has.''

Childress had watched a game tape before his Monday media session. The coach was asked if he remained as upset over the Frerotte-Ogunleye incident as was the case a night earlier.

He nodded his head and said: "[Frerotte] was on his way back to the huddle. It was two, three, four steps after he released the ball.''

So, the coach didn't agree that his quarterback appeared to be playing out a death scene in a Shakespearean play?

"He doesn't have a lot of flop in him,'' Childress said. "Being a Thespian isn't in him. ... You can't hit the quarterback. He was completely relaxed and the ball was out of his hand for a while.''

On Sunday night, Frerotte was the source of fabulous excitement (the 99-yarder to Berrian), and either outrage or chuckles depending on your view of the Ogunleye play.

Even with the Berrian bomb, he totaled only 210 yards passing. His quarterback efficiency rating remains at a subpar 76.1, 25th in the NFL.

There's also a bottom line: Frerotte is 7-3 as a starter and he has the Vikings in first place in the NFC North.

Asked if that was how Frerotte should be judged, Childress said winning is what matters with a quarterback and added: "Damn how rough the seas; did you bring the ship in?''

This eloquence sent the Star Tribune library to the LexisNexis database to find the source of this poetic refrain. There were eight references to the quote -- always from football coaches.

Childress used the quote in 2002 as a Philadelphia assistant in reference to Donovan McNabb, and then in September 2007 in reference to Jackson.

This might not be a Chilly original, but clearly he's more fond of comparing rough seas and football games than anyone else.

Childress also was committed Monday to selling Sunday's game against the winless-and-getting-worse Detroit Lions as a challenge to be taken seriously.

Detroit-area resident and business owner Ciccarelli disagrees.

"Every call I get from out of town, the first comment is a joke about the Lions,'' he said. "We have big problems in Detroit, but it's still an embarrassment have the city's name attached to the Lions.''

Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. preusse@startribune.com

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