Jon Gruden, a great NFL coach who guided Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl victory after the 2002 season, was here Saturday to watch over the Vikings, who face Houston in a preseason game Monday.
Gruden, who was fired after last season and is now on the ESPN "Monday Night Football" crew that will televise the game, made it clear that if he were in the shoes of Vikings coach Brad Childress, he would have gone after Brett Favre, too.
"He's a great player, and he's going to help this football team in a lot more ways. He's a winner, and still has a lot of talent," said Gruden, who was a Packers assistant under Mike Holmgren from 1992 to '94, Favre's first three years with Green Bay.
The Buccaneers tried to acquire Favre from the Packers a year ago, but Green Bay traded the veteran quarterback to the Jets instead. Favre had interest in joining Tampa Bay because of his familiarity with Gruden and his offense. Instead, with Jeff Garcia as the primary starting quarterback, the Buccaneers went 9-7 and Gruden lost his job.
"I tried to get Favre last year," Gruden said. "That's probably a big reason why I'm not coaching. I didn't get him."
Gruden said the fact that Favre would have reported late for training camp -- he signed with the Vikings on Aug. 18 -- would not have affected his interest in the three-time NFL MVP.
"Brad has relationship with Brett that goes way back," said Gruden, who is enjoying his new job. "He's familiar with the system. I think they have been on top of the situation. I think it's a prefect fit for Minnesota."
Gruden said that it's important that Favre knows the Vikings system, adding: "That's huge. And he's got a background with coach [Darrell] Bevell, the offensive coordinator. He knows a little bit about the NFC North. Beating Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit is right up his alley."
Asked what he thought of the Vikings club as a whole, Gruden said: "I like this team. We saw them last year [the Buccaneers beat the Vikings 19-13 in Tampa]. ... You know about the highly touted players, the Pro Bowl players. Their defense is outstanding, and getting Percy Harvin and Brett Favre to go with the running game and the veteran offense line they have makes them a very good football team."
Asked if they can go a long way, Gruden said: "I'm pulling for them. I think they will. I think they've got what to takes to be right in this thing until the end."Big show
Twins President David St. Peter said a one-hour postgame program will follow the final regular-season at the Metrodome on Oct. 4, where many former players will be honored. The Twins' All-Metrodome team will be feted on Oct. 3 with a big banquet. The final game against Kansas City is a sellout.
Potential free agents after the season on the Twins roster include pitcher Carl Pavano, shortstop Orlando Cabrera, third baseman Joe Crede and catcher Mike Redmond. General Manager Bill Smith said there will be no negotiations with them until after the season.
Smith added that first-round draft choice Kyle Gibson, recovering from a fractured forearm, will be ready to pitch in the instructional league.
Since the beginning of 2006, new Twins relief pitcher Jon Rauch has made 305 appearances, most in the major leagues. During that span, he had a 3.75 ERA in 304 2/3 innings with Washington and Arizona, giving up 279 hits and 90 walks with 258 strikeouts, and an opponents' batting average of .243. In seven seasons, he has a career record of 26-25 with a 3.87 ERA and 26 saves.New coaches help
What could help the Gophers football team this year is the addition of three veteran coaches with winning backgrounds plus a young wide receivers coach in Richard Hightower, who doesn't have anywhere near the experience of the other three.
New Gophers defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove coached at Wisconsin for 14 seasons under Barry Alvarez, a period when the Badgers won three Rose Bowls. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch was described by former Vikings coordinator Brian Billick as one of the great minds in the game; Fisch worked for Billick with the Ravens for four seasons. And offensive line coach and running game coordinator Tim Davis spent three years with USC when the Trojans were beating everybody.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the guys that we've added to our staff," Gophers coach Tim Brewster said. "Some veteran experience, some young guys. Some youthfulness that I think is really positive for our staff. But again, I think all the additions that we made have really made a quick imprint on our football team."
Cosgrove, Fisch and Davis have been winners, and if this Gophers program needs something, it is coaches who have won with big-time programs.Jottings
Depending on the collective bargaining agreement, Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson might not be a true free agent at the end of this year but instead will be a restricted free agent, meaning that if another team makes him an offer, the Vikings would have the right to match it to keep him.
If you want to figure out how much money the Gophers will lose by not selling alcohol in TCF Bank Stadium, gross beer sales in the Metrodome last season during Gophers games was almost $825,000, with the university's share about $330,000, according to Bill Lester of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission. The school didn't get any money from the sale of alcohol in suites during Gophers games. Lester added that the Metrodome will lose $1.8 million in overall revenue with the Gophers and Twins moving out.
Jeff Sagarin's NCAA football computer ratings has the Gophers 69th out of 245 Division I teams. Among Big Ten schools the Gophers are 10th, ahead of only No. 95 Indiana. You want my opinion? I think the Gophers will finish the season with a better record than Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Former California tight end John Beasley, who had a great career with the Vikings, said he and possibly Joe Kapp, the former Vikings quarterback who played and coached at Cal, will be at TCF Bank Stadium for the Gophers' game vs. the Golden Bears. Beasley reports that Kapp's son Will is a Cal fullback. ... Former Gophers defensive coordinator David Gibbs is now defensive backs coach of the Houston Texans, whom the Vikings visit Monday. One of the players Gibbs coaches is second-year safety Dominique Barber, the ex-Gopher who is making a strong bid for a starting job. ... Glenn Holt, the wide receiver released by the Vikings last week, is a nephew of former Gophers quarterback Alan Holt.