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Posts about People

A mom, a dog, a walk: Russo's family pays tribute in the Atlanta snow

Posted by: Brian Stensaas Updated: January 30, 2014 - 6:35 PM

Often when those who tell the news become the news story it doesn't have a positive spin. But that wasn't the case this week for our Michael Russo.

Russo took a brief leave from covering the Wild to be in the Georgia with family for the final days of his stepfather, Lenny. A day after the funeral Russo, his mother and little dog Oliver were caught en route to a celebration of Lenny's life in the crippling traffic that choked Metro Atlanta. They faced a decision: Wait in the gridlock or walk the more than three miles to the gathering.

The decision was simple: Lenny deserved to be properly remembered.

So they scooped Oliver into a shopping bag and began to walk. Soon after, Russo snapped a pic for his nearly 53,000 Twitter followers.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution picked up on the adventure, and J. Scott Trubey penned the tale.

Their journey, Trubey wrote, carried the weight of life and love.

Should Kevin Williams play more nose tackle?

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: November 8, 2013 - 11:07 AM

Kevin Williams had 2.5 sacks last night in the Vikings' 34-27 victory over Washington, and most of his success came when he lined up over center.

Fred Evans was sidelined for the game, so Williams moved over from his three-technique spot.

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus breaks down why Williams playing nose tackle -- which he prefers not to do, by the way -- makes sense.

Remembering when: Local video from the 1985 All-Star Game

Posted by: Brian Stensaas Updated: July 16, 2013 - 6:12 PM

From the deep part of the vault: We found an un-cut (with commercials!) video from of a local pre-All-Star Game report on WUSA (now KARE).

So before tonight's game gets underway sit back, relax and maybe laugh a little at how things were covered locally nearly three decades ago.

You know you'll nod along to the Tears for Fears tunes ...

Former Gophers TE Utecht awarded remainder of 2009 NFL salary

Posted by: Brian Stensaas Updated: July 10, 2013 - 7:22 PM

Ben Utecht's football career is still over. But there is a somewhat happy ending to it all, which included ups (a Super Bowl ring with the Colts in 2007) and downs (multiple concussions).

Utecht won his injury grievance case against the Cincinnati Bengals, an arbitrator ruled on Wednesday.

Utecht, the former Gophers football tight end from Hastings, sustained a career-ending concussion during training camp in 2009 while with the Bengals. He was released later that fall, and retired soon after.


"The arbitrator ruled Utecht should not have been cleared by the Bengals given that he "had not been sufficiently tested, both in his aerobic and strength reconditioning program, nor had he been tested in sport-specific activities, which would be a more accurate means of determining whether the damage caused by the concussion had 'cleared.' "

The NFL Players Association filed an injury grievance and argued Utecht should have been paid his salary for the period of time he remained injured and unable to play as a result of the concussion.

"This decision upholds our players' rights to continued salary payments while injured and should provide important guidance for players and clubs in determining when it is appropriate to return to play after a player suffers a severe concussion," Tim English, the NFLPA attorney who handled Utecht's case, said in a statement released by the players' union.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello released the following statement: "The decision demonstrates that our collective bargaining agreements provide players with comprehensive remedies for football-related injuries, including injuries related to concussions."

Utecht, who still experiences concussion symptoms, sounded relieved that the dispute has come to a close.

"Three years later, my family and I have closure with the successful conclusion of my contract dispute," Utecht said in a statement released on his behalf by the NFLPA. "We are grateful for the support we have received from all of our friends in professional football and beyond. I will continue to help the NFL in any way I can to educate people about brain safety and the seriousness of this issue."

USA Today reported the remainder of Utecht's 2009 salary to be $926,471.


June 7 blog post: Birk skips White House trip to protest President Obama's support of Planned Parenthood

Posted by: Chris Miller Updated: June 7, 2013 - 10:53 AM

When the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens visited the White House on Wednesday, one of their key players did not attend.

Matt Birk, who has since retired, said he boycotted the trip because he did not agree with President Obama's support of Planned Parenthood.

The former Minnesota Vikings center told KFAN (100.3 FM) Radio on Thursday that "I have great respect for the office of the presidency, but about five or six weeks ago, our president made a comment in a speech and he said, 'God bless Planned Parenthood.'

"Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year. I am Catholic, I am active in the pro-life movement and I just felt like I couldn't deal with that. I couldn't endorse that in any way."

Obama concluded a speech to Planned Parenthood's convention in April by saying, "Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you. God bless America."

During the NFL season, Birk wrote an opinion piece for the Star Tribune in opposition to same-sex marriage, which has since been legalized in Minnesota.

Birk, 36, went to high school at Cretin Derham Hall before graduating from Harvard.  He was drafted by the Vikings in 1998 and played 11 seasons for the Vikings before signing with Baltimore in 2009. The Ravens won the Super Bowl in January.

Birk, a six-time Pro Bowler, and his wife have six children.




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