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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse: My friend Linnemann adds surviving Raiders' 'Black Hole' to his adventures

My friend Tom Linnemann grew up in north Melrose and an adventure was to get on a bike and check out what the roughnecks were doing on the south side. He played quarterback successfully at St. John’s and then set out to continue an interesting existence.

Fortunately, he found a bride named Danica who should be beatified by now on the way to sainthood. She wasn’t on the trip with Tom and a friend as they visited areas of the Philippines, including an evening of watching small-person boxing matches.

“It seemed to be a very popular activity, with much wagering within the crowd,’’ Linnemann said. "I didn’t have the money figured out, so I didn’t know if I was winning or losing bets.’’

Danica was the companion for my favorite yarn from the Linnemann travels:

They were visiting Vietnam and Cambodia in January 2010. They were at Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world, in northwestern Cambodia on the weekend of Jan. 23-24. Tom was aware the Vikings would be playing the Saints in the NFC title game on Sunday, the 24th, in New Orleans.

Tom told Danica: “We have to find a place to see the game.’’

The people at the religious shrine were asked the closest place to fulfill that wish, and the answer was: Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital that was 314 kilometers southeast … by bus.

“Danica wasn’t thrilled about taking a six-hour bus ride – commercial, not a tourist charter – to watch the game, but she understood,’’ Linnemann said. “In my lifetime, I’ve seen the corners of the world, I was at Game 6 with my dad to see Kirby, I’ve seen my two children born. I’ve still never seen the Vikings in the Super Bowl.’’

On the bus, the future St. Danica settled in and bounced along the roads to Phnom Penh. There was alleged to be a Cambodian version of a sports bar in the city of 1.6 million, and the Linnemanns were able to find it. The Vikings-Saints was indeed going to be shown, but on a delayed basis.

“We were in there with about eight ex-pats, and none of us knew what had happened,’’ Linnemann said. “Unfortunately, there was cell service. I got a text from my dad. It said, ‘The Vikings lost in overtime.’ I didn’t have the heart to tell the others, so I sat there cheering for the Vikings, knowing what was going to happen.’’

The few times I’ve heard that tale of fandom woe from Linnemann, I’ve thought of the Angelica Huston character in Buffalo 66, Vincent Gallo’s small, wonderful film on the complications caused when Scott Norwood missed the field goal and the Bills lost the Super Bowl after the 1990 season.

The Norwood character in the movie is “Scott Wood,’’ who is retired and owns a strip joint in Buffalo and revels in his image as the city’s football villain. And the Huston (Gallo’s mother) character: She sits in front of the television all day, watching a tape of the game, and cheering for the field goal to be good this time, thus providing a Super Bowl win for the Bills.

In the Linnemann movie, Gallo’s playing him, and he’s still in the bar in Phnom Penh years later, watching a tape of the Saints-Vikings and hoping that Dad’s text was inaccurate, and Brett Favre is going to complete that pass over the middle, and Ryan Longwell is going to kick a game-winning field goal to send the Vikings to a Super Bowl.

The real-life Linnemann celebrated a birthday on Wednesday in San Francisco, where the family has moved for his position with a start-up company. There are new adventures right at hand in the Bay Area.

The latest wasn’t quite the equal of a six-hour bus ride through Cambodia to watch a heart-breaking loss for his beloved Vikings, but it was close: Sitting in the “Black Hole’’ at the coliseum in Oakland for last Sunday’s game between the Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs.

“If you’re a football fan, you have to sit in the Black Hole with Raiders’ fans at least once, don’t you?’’ Linnemann said. “To add to the atmosphere, it was raining buckets. If you think those Raiders fans look dangerous on TV, you should be sitting with them when they have garbage bags over their heads trying to keep out the rain.’’

Linnemann convinced a couple of co-workers to go to the game for the “Black Hole experience.’’ They paid $160 apiece for the tickets, met a couple of Black Holers on the BART, and went to the rain-soaked tailgate before the rain-soaked game.

“Ninety percent of the people in the Black Hole are Hispanic,’’ Linnemann said. “You don’t have anyone preparing beef bourguignon at their tailgates. It’s beer, tequila and chips.’’

Linnemann and his partners made the strategic decision to arrive in newly purchased Raiders gear, including jerseys.

“I didn’t see one person all day wearing something red (the Chiefs color),’’ he said. “Raider fans don’t approve of that. The Black Hole was great. They became our buddies.

“I did learn one thing sitting there: Don’t bring up the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. I would call not mentioning that possibility in the Black Hole a safety precaution.’’

Reusse blog: Tommies, Johnnies could draw 25,000 (and there will be beer)

There was an official announcement made on Monday morning at Target Field that St. John’s and St. Thomas will play their annual football game at the ballpark on Sept. 23, 2017.

This is a St. Thomas home game that was imagined by Twins president Dave St. Peter several years ago, when he ran into Tommies coach Glenn Caruso at a concert.

The schedule had to break in a proper fashion for all parties to make this game possible, and that’s what happened in 2017 with both the MIAC and major league baseball.

The Johnnies and the Tommies were again scheduled to play on the second Saturday of the conference schedule. The Twins were on a nine-game road trip from Sept. 18 to Sept. 28, before returning home for the final series of the season.

What about the field condition for baseball after a football game?

The Twins played baseball games after Vikings games at Met Stadium in August, September and early Octobers for 21 years. And with modern knowledge of agronomy and equipment to maintain fields, even a football game played in rain would not prevent Target Field from being ready to go five days later.

There are a couple of other advantages with this being the date for the Johnnies and the Tommies to play the first-ever football game at Target Field:

One, the Gophers have a bye on Sept. 23, limiting the competition for drawing a crowd for the 1 p.m. kickoff.

Two, the MIAC presidents passed a special one-time permit for beer to be sold at a conference event for this game.

(Note: When word of this game did leak out last week, I went to Twitter to warn Johnnies fans that they should be ready for beer prices considerably higher than what they pay at the LaPlayette in St. Joseph before and after games.)

The Johnnies and Tommies did play at the Metrodome when the MIAC had a weekend of football scheduled in 1996 and 1997. Gene McGivern, the Tommies sports information director, also found games between the two schools at Lexington Park (St. Paul's minor league ballpark) in 1901 and 1908.

The Johnnies also played twice at Met Stadium. It was early in coach John Gagliardi’s dynastic run at St. John’s, and his 1963 and 1965 teams played NAIA playoff semifinals in our big-league stadium.

The NAIA became the first organization for four-year schools to hold an official national championship for football in 1956. Two teams were selected for the two games in 1956 and 1957, and then it was expanded to a four-team playoff in 1958.

The NCAA had a university and a college division in those days, and did not create Divisions I, II and III until the early ‘70s. The first Division III football playoff was in 1973.

Until then, most current Division III schools – and many Division IIs – competed in the NAIA.

Gustavus was selected for the first NAIA four-team playoff in 1958 and lost in the semifinals. St. John’s was the next MIAC team to get an opportunity in 1963.

The Johnnies played Emporia [Kan.] State at Met Stadium on Nov. 30. There was a gloom over the land due the assassination of President Kennedy eight days earlier. It also was freezing cold. A crowd of over 10,000 showed up to watch the Johnnies hammer Emporia 54-0.

One week later, at the Camellia Bowl in Sacramento, the Johnnies scored a 33-27 upset of mighty Prairie View A&M (does the name Otis Taylor ring a bell?) to win the NAIA title.

Two years later, the Johnnies defeated Fairmont [W.Va.] State 28-7 in semifinal game at Met Stadium. They followed that with a 33-0 shellacking of Linfield [Ore]. in the NAIA title game in Augusta, Ga.

Concordia (Moorhead) also was in a pair of NAIA playoffs, tying Sam Houston State 7-7 to share the title in 1964, and losing to Texas A&I 32-7 in the championship game in 1968.

The MIAC switched its main allegiance to NCAA Division III in 1973. There’s now a 32-team playoff, in which the Tommies defeated the Johnnies in the second round last season – the schools’ first-ever playoff meeting.

The top football level of Division III is now blessed with much-improved facilities and an impressive quality of athletes. The Tommies and Johnnies are both competing at that level today, and if they get a great autumn day, 25,000 would be a reasonable expectation for next September’s renewal of the rivalry.

Bob Alpers, the St. John’s athletic director, said once word of the game spread last weekend, he started getting calls from alums asking how to secure tickets – 11 months in advance.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Toronto at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Los Angeles at Lynx

    7 pm on ESPN2, 106.1-FM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Ohio State

    5 pm

  • Charlotte at Timberwolves (preseason)

    7 pm on FSN/NBATV, 830-AM

  • St. Cloud State at Gophers men's hockey

    8 pm on FSN PLUS, 1500-AM

  • Rutgers at Gophers football

    11 am on ESPNU, 100.3-FM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Ohio State

    2 pm

  • Wild at New Jersey

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at Carolina

    6:30 pm on Ch. 29

  • Gophers men's hockey at St. Cloud State

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 1500-AM

  • Vikings at Philadelphia

    12 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Wild at N.Y. Islanders

    5 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Wild at Boston

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Memphis

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

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  • Chicago Cubs

    LA Dodgers

    7:08 PM


  • Chicago

    Green Bay

    7:25 PM

    CBS, NFL

  • Miami


    6:00 PM

  • New Orleans


    6:00 PM

  • New York


    6:30 PM

  • Atlanta


    7:00 PM

  • New Jersey


    6:00 PM

  • Anaheim


    6:00 PM

  • San Jose


    6:00 PM

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    6:30 PM

  • Arizona


    6:30 PM

  • Colorado

    Tampa Bay

    6:30 PM

  • Toronto


    7:00 PM


  • Los Angeles


    7:30 PM

  • Carolina


    8:00 PM

  • St. Louis


    8:00 PM

  • Buffalo


    9:00 PM

No MLS games today