Staff Directory 10644686

Mark Craig

Reporter/Columnist | Vikings/NFL
Phone: 612-673-7011
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None
A native of Northeast Ohio, Craig covered the Cleveland Browns from 1991 until they left for Baltimore in 1995. When they returned as an expansion team in 1999, Craig left to cover Gophers football for the Star Tribune. He co-authored two books on the Browns and is the author of the Vikings book "100 Things Vikings Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die."
Recent content from Mark Craig
Bills linebacker Matt Milano (58) celebrates his third quarter interception against the Vikings on Sunday

Ex-Vikings coach Frazier gets game ball after horrid previous week

Vikings Insider: Leslie Frazier said he didn't like having his play-calling duties stripped from him after the Bills trailed San Diego 28-6 at halftime last week.
A Vikings sack by Eric Wilson on Bills quarterback Josh Allen was nullified by a helmet-to-helmet penalty called on Linval Joseph.

Joseph's mistake set the tone for rest of Vikings' day

Mark Craig's Five Extra Points: There were enough mistakes to go around in the Vikings' 27-6 loss to the Bills, but it started with one by Linval Joseph.
ELIZABETH FLORES • liz.flores@startribune.com
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer doubles as the team’s defensive play-caller.

Could Zimmer ever give up his defensive play-calling duties?

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is also in charge of the defenseive play calls.
Everson Griffen included, the Vikings wanted to throw their hands up after their game against the Packers ended in a 29-29 tie.

Tie game, new OT rule leave Vikings unsettled

Settling for a tie finish 10 minutes into overtime might be safer — maybe — but it isn't satisfying. ­
Receiver Aldrick Robinson caught 19 passes for the San Francisco 49ers in 2017, including this 45-yard touchdown from C.J. Beathard in a 26-24 loss at

Vikings reach into Cousins' past, sign receiver Aldrick Robinson

The 29-year-old speedster, who played in Washington with Kirk Cousins, joins a Vikings receiving corps shaken by Laquon Treadwell's costly drops.
JERRY HOLT • jerry.holt@startribune.com.
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen could flex after sacking Aaron Rodgers, but in the end, the

Vikings slip in power rankings, but next opponent is at rock bottom

Going into Week 3, who's up, who's down and who's almost out in Mark Craig's NFL power rankings?
Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) was called for roughing as he tackled Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Richardson welcomes Kendricks to 'fine' club after roughing penalty

Sheldon Richardson welcomed both friend and foe to the growing list of defensive players who have or will be fined thousands of dollars for hits they believe were legal.
Minnesota Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson missed a game-wining 35 yard field goal in overtime to force a 29-29 tie with the Green Bay Packers.

Zimmer baffled by Carlson's misses: 'Guys are supposed to do their jobs'

After one of the worst days for special teams in franchise history, It would be shocking if the Vikings didn't spend Sunday night strongly considering a move at kicker.
Josh Jackson celebrated with fans in the stands after returning a blocked punt for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Blunder behind the blocked punt: Mark Craig's Five Extra Points

Takeaways from Sunday's 29-29 tie at Lambeau Field from NFL writer Mark Craig.
Kirk Cousins will get his first taste of NFC North action on Sunday vs. the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Welcome to the rivalry: Cousins gets NFC North debut at Lambeau

In just his second game as Vikings QB, Kirk Cousins makes his Lambeau Field debut
Does Sendejo scare his own teammates?

Does Sendejo scare his own teammates?

A weekly offbeat look at the Vikings.
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had plenty of reasons to both applaud and critique his team after the win against San Fra

Imperfect Vikings avoid Week 1 problems that plagued other playoff teams

On the NFL: Coach Mike Zimmer gets to be 1-0 and unsatisfied for legitimate reasons after his team won while showing there's still a lot to work on.
CARLOS GONZALEZ •cgonzalez@startribune.com
Everson Griffen and the Vikings defense again showed signs of dominance in the win over the 49ers.

Week 1 NFL power rankings: Vikings have room to improve

The Vikings showed they can be dominant, but they aren't there yet.
Harrison Smith charged in from the secondary and sacked 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the fourth quarter as the Vikings amped up their blitzing

Five things: Blitzing Garoppolo leads to big plays in Vikings' win

A look back at Sunday's Vikings game vs. San Francisco from NFL writer Mark Craig.
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
Minnesota Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson, center, celebrates with teammates after kicking a 48-yard field goal, one of several

Quiet day is a good day for embattled Vikings special teams

Insider: Special teams play, a trouble-spot in the preseason, was a strong point for the Vikings against San Francisco.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer

Zimmer opens up: 'We were so dang close. I felt I let people down.'

Mike Zimmer says he has unfinished business this year after last season's painful playoff loss to the Eagles.
Back Judge Rich Martinez picked up one of the many penalty flags thrown as the Vikings took on the Jaguars in a preseason game.

Optimism and concerns collide as NFL season kicks off tonight

NFL Insider: An assortment of issues face the league as the season opens, including the thin line between preserving the game's violence and protecting player safety.
Terence Newman addressed his retirement and new role, that of coaching young men with whom he recently worked.

Vikings' Newman says time was right to retire, coach

On the NFL: Fresh rapport with players is an asset as he retires to join Mike Zimmer's staff.
The first athletic trainer for the Vikings, Fred Zamberletti (center) died from complications from a toxic infection. He is pictured with equipment ma

Zamberletti, Vikings' first and beloved ex-athletic trainer, dies at 86

Zamberletti was the team's head athletic trainer from its inception in 1961 until 1998, coordinator of medical services from 1999-2001 and senior consultant and team historian the rest of his life.
The 1972 Vikings season started with Fran Tarkenton on the run during a 24-21 loss to the Redskins in Metropolitan Stadium.

2018 expectations for Vikings call to mind the failure of 1972

The fall of 1972 was a missed opportunity for a Vikings team that had gone 35-7 the previous three seasons and was adding an elite passer.
AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks is praised by Mike Zimmer for his football IQ.

Football IQ: Physical tools are fine, but Zimmer seeks out the smart guys

Vikings Insider: Physical tools mean a lot in the NFL, but intelligence separates the good from the great. "We want intelligent players," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson missed a field goal attempt in the second quarter — one of his two misses.

Kicking concerns return for Vikings after Carlson misses twice

Rookie kicker Daniel Carlson, who made both field goal attempts in a preseason-opening win at Denver, was handed the starting job over Kai Forbath but turned in a dud Friday.
Terrell Owens had his own Hall of Fame ceremony at Tennessee-Chattanooga on Aug. 4.

Vikings Hall of Famer Krause rips Owens, officials over ceremony no-show

Paul Krause is miffed that Terrell Owens conducted his own induction ceremony, and said that Hall of Fame officials shouldn't have given him the gold jacket and ring that goes with the honor.

NFL career interception leaders

They're all chasing Paul Krause's 81 picks.
There were no penalties involved on this play when Vikings safety Anthony Harris, right, and cornerback Horace Richardson broke up a pass intended for

NFL dilemma: New tackling rules 'leading to less aggressive play'

NFL Insider: If the new player safety rules sound confusing, they are — for all involved. Will things get sorted out by the start of the regular season?
Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) hears the individual evaluations and comparisons but says the team is focusing solely on advancing one game fart

Pressure? Vikings' Xavier Rhodes has an answer for that: 'We ignore it'

The view from the corner: Rhodes exudes confidence, about his team and himself.
According to NFL scouting combine records, Jaguars cornerback and former Gopher Jalen Myrick ran one of the 10 fastest 40-yard dashes in combine histo

Former U standout Myrick says he's fastest guy at joint practices

According to NFL scouting combine records, Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Myrick ran one of the 10 fastest 40-yard dashes in combine history.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he won’t tolerate his players fighting with the Jaguars during their joint-venture practices.

Zimmer taking steps to keep Vikings' joint practice with Jaguars clean

"We're here to get better," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "Hopefully our guys will know that, and [Jacksonville] will have the same thing. Coach [Doug] Marrone and I have talked about it."
The comparisons between Kirk Cousins, left, and Case Keenum will begin almost immediately.

Cousins vs. Keenum comparisons to begin. But winning all that matters

Vikings Insider: Kirk Cousins knows the bottom line. He'd better win with the Vikings, especially if Case Keenum finds ways to win in Denver with a weaker arm -- the way he did in Minnesota.
Former NFL player Randy Moss gives his speech during an induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018, in Canton, Ohio.

Moss on Hall of Fame induction: 'This is for us'

The former Vikings standout turned inclusive as he took his spot in the pro football pantheon.
Randy Moss was introduced to the crowd during the Hall of Fame football game Thursday night in Canton, Ohio.

Randy Moss: 'Why couldn't I have gotten all this love when I played?'

During a Hall of Fame press conference, Randy Moss said reporters weren't fair with him during his career with the Vikings and four other teams. He also talked about the racism he endured as a young man.
Randy Moss will have his bronzed moment Saturday evening in Canton, Ohio, when he enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Best ever? Randy Moss knows who's the boss

After off-the-field mistakes that allowed him to unexpectedly drop to Minnesota in the NFL draft 20 years ago, Randy Moss put together a career that leaves no doubt, in his strong opinion, about who's the greatest wide receiver ever to play professional football:
Matt Nagy earned his first NFL head coaching job with the Bears at age 40 after spending a decade as an assistant with the Eagles and Chiefs under And

Bears don't reveal much in Nagy's first exhibition game

On the NFL: The new Bears coach elected not to play any offensive starters.­
Mark Craig's NFL Mount Rushmore: Jim Brown, Alan Page, George Halas and Tom Brady.

Vikings players, coaches try to build their NFL 'Mount Rushmores'

The Vikings were all over the NFL landscape, in both eras and positions, when they were asked to name the four people who would best symbolize the best of pro football.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and owners Mark Wilf and Zygi Wilf stood with players including Harrison Smith (22) during the national anthem b

Vikings officials meeting with players to form social justice initiatives

Owner Mark Wilf said he's encouraged that the NFL and its players union continue having discussions to resolve the issue of player protests during the national anthem.
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Brett Taylor.

Fear of injury isn't enough to pull Vikings' rookie LB Taylor away

Young players are retiring from football more regularly, but that's the last thing on Brett Taylor's mind. "I love the game, and I'll do whatever I can to play," he said.
Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray

Vikings' Murray living life the way Sparano would have wanted

Vikings running back Latavius Murray, who had known the late Tony Sparano since his days in Oakland, is engaged and nearing his MBA from Syracuse.
Tony Sparano made nine stops during his NFL coaching career beginning in 1999, the last with the Vikings.

Sparano brought 'Wildcat' to NFL to stun Belichick's Patriots

NFL Insider: Legend has it that Tony Sparano solicited ideas from outside the box on the flight home from a loss 10 years ago ... and that brought the Wildcat formation to pro football.
Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano died of natural causes resulting from heart disease, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office reveale

Sparano's cause of death released by medical examiner

Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano died of natural causes from arteriosclerotic heart disease, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office said in a release Monday evening.
The crowd around Hole No. 1 at the 3M Championship in Blaine last August.

PGA Tour event could be coming to Minnesota in 2019

If Houston can't lock in a tournament sponsor by June 1, it could lose its PGA Tour stop. Will Minnesota finally swoop in to secure a long-term spot on the calendar?
Chad Beebe was 5-1 and 107 pounds as a prep freshman, but that didn’t deter him from his NFL dream. He's now with the Vikings after a rookie minicam

Vikings give undrafted receiver Chad Beebe a chance

He was one of four tryout players signed by the Vikings.
Running back Mike Boone improved his athletic prowess at a performance center.

Undrafted Boone seized helping hand in making the jump to Vikings

Vikings Insider: With modest college stats and no NFL scouting combine invite, running back Mike Boone needed a head-turning performance to get a pro tryout.
First-round draft choice Saquon Barkley, flanked by coach Pat Shurmur (left) and General Manager Dave Gettleman, should do wonders for the Giants’ r

Ex-Vikings coordinator Shurmur gets dealt nice hand with Giants

NFL Insider: Upgraded talent, stronger coaching and better luck with injuries would put Pat Shurmur much closer to the 11-5 team in 2016 than the 2017 Giants.
South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert was selected 49th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles, who leapfrogged the Dallas Cowboys via trade for the oppor

South Dakota State's Goedert caught in middle of trade-happy draft

NFL insider: Dallas Goedert's surprise rise took another twist as teams became aggressive dealmakers during the three-day event.
Before formally being introduced to local media members Vikings first round pick Mike Hughes from the University of Central Florida is directed toward

Vikings' top pick Hughes got needed reboot at 'Opportunity U.S.A.'

NFL Insider: Vikings first-round draft pick Mike Hughes wouldn't have reached his highest point as a football player if a longtime junior college coach named Jeff Sims
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is selected by the Cleveland Browns with the first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft

First-round reactions: Browns botch both No. 1 and No. 4 picks

NFL Insider: Proving the worthlessness of months of NFL mock drafts, the Browns stunned everyone by selecting Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield with the first pick.
In their final six quarters — the 29-24 "Minneapolis Miracle" victory over the Saints and the 38-7 NFC Championship Game loss at Philadelphia — th

'We're no Wall of America.' Vikings know they must learn from collapse

Vikings Insider: In their final six quarters — the 29-24 "Minneapolis Miracle" victory over the Saints and the 38-7 NFC Championship Game loss at Philadelphia — the Vikings gave up 62 points.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold

Mock, mock. (Who's there?) Our quarterback-centric mock draft

Star Tribune pro football writer Mark Craig sees an NFL draft in which the first round is dominated by the selection of quarterbacks, both in numbers and where they'll pick, So what's the Vikings' angle?
Draft board? Try blackboard. NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle stood chalk in hand at the NFL-AFL draft March 14, 1967, in New York City. With three of

Travel back in time to a simpler NFL draft

Landmark football draft of 1967 barely made a ripple.
Through the Banks of the Red Cedar is finally making its world premiere. It will show here in Minnesota on Sunday during the Minneapolis St. Paul Inte

Segregation to stardom: Ex-Vikings receiver's life chronicled by daughter

A film about Gene Washington's journey through the "underground railroad" of college football recruiting in the 1960s is showing Sunday as part of a Twin Cities film festival.
Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph (98) forced Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) to get rid of the ball in the endzone, for a Vikin

NFL strength of schedule almost never predictor of team's outcome

NFL Insider: Yes, the Vikings' 2018 schedule is "tough." But the team with the 10th toughest strength of schedule has won the Super Bowl three of the past four years.
Second from the left in the rear, PGA of America President Paul Levy was given an honorary jersey as he joined the American Marshalls, a group of dieh

Ryder Cup's return to Hazeltine testament to course's pedigree

The club's willingness to grow with the sport of golf has allowed it to host eight professional major championships since 1966, including the 2016 Ryder Cup
Kai Forbath and holder Ryan Quigley

Vikings feel safe with kicker Kai Forbath after weighing their options

The Vikings and Kai Forbath settled on a deal before each side looked around any further.

Craig: Rest of NFC North has work to do after free agency

With determination and deep pockets, the Vikings cast a large shadow over their NFC North counterparts during the first wave of free agency.
Sheldon Richardson signed a one year contract with the Minnesota Vikings. credit: Andrew Krammer

Vikings go big, sign defensive tackle Richardson

Sheldon Richardson, the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, is coming to Minnesota in hopes of jump starting his promising and still-young career as a starting tackle.
Kirk Cousins played through two years of franchise tags in Washington to reach Thursday’s historic moment.

Don't expect Cousins contract to become an NFL trend

A QB of this caliber, still in his prime, reaching the open market before his 30th birthday is pretty much the NFL equivalent of spotting Bigfoot reeling in the Loch Ness Monster.
Nick Foles and Case Keenum stepped in after injuries to lead their teams in 2017.

Of all teams, Vikings know value of a good backup plan

The key to winning in the NFL these days might be a team's depth at backup quarterback. The Vikings know that from their own success -- and end-of-season failure.
Kirk Cousins

Wherever Cousins signs, he's about to enter the salary stratosphere

So, what's Kirk Cousins worth, you ask? The answer here is very similar to the go-to response when called upon in algebra class a few decades ago: "Um, ah … no idea."
(Clockwise), Atlanta's Dontari Poe (No. 92), Seattle's Jimmy Graham, Cincinnati's A.J. McCarron and Seattle's Paul Richardson all made Mark Craig's fr

Four NFL free agents worth the money and four free agents to avoid

Star Tribune NFL writer Mark Craig takes a swing through the mall to assess which NFL free agents he'd buy and which ones he'd stay away from.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Eagles quarterback Nick Foles posed with his MVP trophy during a news conference after Super Bowl LII on Monday. Th

As Eagles look back, Vikings fans can finally look forward again

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles may not be looking ahead. But that's the only sensible direction for Vikings fans to look after watching the last couple of weeks.
Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham knocked the ball out of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's hands. The loose ball was recovered by Derek Barnett.

Eagles defense still makes key plays in sea of offense

In a championship game that featured 1,151 total yards, 74 points and one punt, the Eagles made three defensive stops that were every bit as valuable as their quarterback throwing for 374 yards and three TDs.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) rolls into the end zone for the touchdown in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LII. The touchdown put the

Catch rule controversy rears its ugly head

Did the NFL take the easy way out during a replay review in Sunday's Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium?
Patriots coach Bill Belichick

Craig: Greatest pro football coach ever? Belichick part of great debate

Is Patriots coach Bill Belichick the best ever in the NFL? He's up there with such greats as George Halas and Vince Lombardi.

Super Bowl predictions from Minnesota

Patriots 27, Eagles 24Yeah, I've heard how Doug Pederson has become an RPO (run-pass option) guru. I've heard how Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is…
Randy Moss, first-ballot Hall of Famer? 'I call myself the greatest'

Randy Moss, first-ballot Hall of Famer? 'I call myself the greatest'

Randy Moss says he's the best, 'hands-down, all day.' Will Pro Football Hall of Fame voters on Saturday agree?
Vikings offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson BRIAN PETERSON brianp@startribune.com

Ex-Viking Hutchinson has high hopes for Hall of Fame induction

Steve Hutchinson, a five-time All-Pro and on the 2000s All-Decade team, is a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist.
New England Patriots' Tom Brady gets a high five during NFL football Super Bowl 52 Opening Night Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, at the Xcel Center in St. Paul

Nobody matches Patriots' Brady for sustained greatness

The 18-year veteran is expected to win his third league MVP award Saturday night on the 16th anniversary of his first Super Bowl victory. Think about that.
How many of these amazing Super Bowl moments can you identify?

The 10 greatest moments in Super Bowl history

Before Bill & Tom create their next unbelievable, where-were-you-when moment, here are Mark Craig's top 10 Super Bowl moments heading into Sunday night's game at U.S. Bank Stadium:
Minnesota’s first NFL team, the Minneapolis Marines (1923 photo), played from 1921-24. They were resurrected as the Redjackets in 1929-30 and had a

Forgotten stars: Minnesota's first NFL team wasn't the Vikings

The Vikings were predated by a Minneapolis pro football team called the Marines (1921-24) and Red Jackets (1929-30); and a Duluth team called the Kelleys (1923-25) and Eskimos (1926-27).
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady smiled after winning the AFC Championship 24-20 over the Jaguars on Sunday.

Former Vikings assistant was early Brady believer

Tom Brady's first big believer, Dick Rehbein, didn't live to see him succeed.
Corey Clement (30) broke away from Anthony Barr (55) in the second quarter.

Vikings' vaunted defense puzzled by its ineptness

What happened? The Eagles on Sunday tagged the Vikings defense with season highs in points, yards and third-down conversions (10 of 14 with two TDs).
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was surrounded by purple Vikings jerseys while throwing under pressure in the second quarter of Sunday's NFC

Who's the MVP of the Vikings' defense? Argue away

Be it Smith, Rhodes, Griffen, Joseph or someone else, the Vikings have multiple candidates. And you can make a bunch of interesting arguments.
Vikings quarterback Case Keenum took to the field for practice at Winter Park, Wednesday, January 17, 2018 in Eden Prairie, MN. ELIZABETH FLORES liz.f

Keenum, Foles: The quarterbacks crashing Tom Brady's playoff party

Tom Brady has the pedigree, rings and records. In other words, he's the opposite of Case Keenum and Nick Foles, as well as Jacksonville's Blake Bortles.
Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham sacks Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan during the second half of an NFL football NFC divisional

Craig: Eagles believe their defense on par with Vikings' - and they're not wrong

"We always have the mind-set every week that we are the best," Philadelphia defensive end and sacks leader Brandon Graham said.
Former Minnetonka High School defensive tackle Beau Allen has found a spot in the Eagles’ rotation, playing 41 percent of the snaps this season. All

Craig: Minnetonka's Allen has turned his family into Philly fanatics

Beau Allen's dad loved the Vikings and his mom the Packers. But now they're all in on the Eagles.
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