Sid Hartman has been a major voice on the Minnesota sports scene for several decades. He writes a column four days a week, and has a weekly radio program on WCCO830 at 9:30 a.m. Sundays. He also can be heard at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. on weekdays.

Bears should not fire Trestman

Posted by: Sid Hartman under Vikings off the field Updated: December 28, 2014 - 6:46 PM

Changing coaches in Chicago is not going to be the answer for the Bears. They’ve got a coach who Bud Grant called “the smartest young football brain I have ever met,” and that’s why Grant hired Marc Trestman for his first coaching job.

Trestman has not lost that brain, but the Vikings found out that without a good quarterback early in the season, they didn’t beat anybody.  And when the quarterback improved, they became competitive.

Chicago hasn’t had a quarterback all year. Jay Cutler is done. And when you agree to bench Jay Cutler, like certainly all the Bears brass agreed, you know he’s done.  So don’t blame Trestman for Cutler’s poor performance this year, and give the coach a chance beyond two years.

I’m prejudiced because I’ve known the young man since he was growing up, and know he’s capable of winning like he has in the past. The Bears should keep Trestman.

Vikings face interesting offseason

Posted by: Sid Hartman under Vikings off the field Updated: December 23, 2014 - 2:52 PM

The Vikings blew a chance to at least have a .500 record this season, and I think if they had gotten to .500, there would be a different attitude about the team in the offseason.

The loss in Miami made the defense look bad. I’m guessing that before the game, the coaches and executives thought the defense had been repaired, and that as soon as they got everyone healthy, it would be fine headed into next season. Now you have to think they will feel the need to upgrade at a few defensive positions, which isn’t easy to do.

If the team had been able to finish 8-8, people would have looked at it as a positive step in Mike Zimmer’s first season as a coach, especially without Adrian Peterson.  But having a losing record causes a lot more concern.

I think the Vikings need better depth on the offensive line which was hit hard by injury.  If Peterson doesn’t come back, they will have to sign or draft a running back. And there is some question whether backup quarterback Matt Cassel will return; he is owed $4.5 million next season, and that isn’t guaranteed.

This will be an interesting offseason for the Vikings.

Vikings blow another 14-0 lead, lose to Miami

Posted by: Sid Hartman Updated: December 21, 2014 - 7:01 PM

The loss to Miami on Sunday takes away a lot of the glamour of the Bears game next Sunday.

The game doesn’t mean anything, because the Vikings can’t make the playoffs, but with victories over the Dolphins and the Bears, the Vikings would have finished 8-8 for the season and the fans would have had a little more interest in Vikings football.

Now Sunday’s battle will be for one of those teams to stay out of last place in the NFC North.

This Vikings team has just got to find a way to maintain leads and add to leads instead of letting teams just walk all over them after they get ahead.

When you take a 14-0 lead against the Lions at home, and you take a 14-0 lead against a Dolphins team that had given up 63 points in two previous losses, you expect to win the game.

Coach Zimmer and his staff are going to have to find a way to cure this weakness, something that Coach Leslie Frazier encountered last year as well.

Despite loss, Harvin and Decker played well for Jets

Posted by: Sid Hartman Updated: December 7, 2014 - 6:16 PM

Percy Harvin had a good day with the New York Jets in their loss on Sunday, with six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. He also returned four kickoffs for an average of 27.3 yards.

But the former Vikings standout did most of his damage early in the game, and nothing late in the game when everything was at stake because he was out because of an injured ankle.

Harvin’s injury was a big break for the Vikings, who won 30-24 in overtime.

Afterwards, Harvin said: “I’m not looking at it any different than a loss or any other loss. This one doesn’t hit harder than any other one. It was disappointing we couldn’t come out with a victory.”

What was it like going against his old teammates?

“It was fun,” he said. “I got to see a lot of familiar faces. We all gave each other hugs. It was good to see some of the coaches and some of the staff that worked at the stadium. I got to see all of them. It was all love.”

As far as the fans booing him, Harvin said, “The fans are going to be fans. I expected it. I wouldn’t expect anything different.

“So, to hear the boos and finally get that score, staring was a pretty good feeling. But like I said, it’s just disappointing we couldn’t get that win.”

Former Gophers receiver Eric Decker almost turned the game around late in the fourth quarter for the Jets when he made a nice 29-yard reception. Decker had six catches for 89 yards.

When asked how it felt to be back in his old college stadium, Decker said, “It’s always fun to get back. Very cold, I forgot how cold it is here. It’s good to be back on campus. You get to see a lot of friends and family after the game.”

Interviewing Joe Namath ... in a shower

Posted by: Sid Hartman Updated: December 5, 2014 - 12:16 PM

Whenever the Vikings play the Jets, I’m reminded of the time I had to go into a shower to interview Joe Namath.

I noticed recently that Namath, the Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Jets to a victory in Super Bowl III, is not happy with the operation of his current team, from top to bottom – owner, coach, GM, players, you name it.

Namath recently told ESPN, “There are some things that need to be addressed. I think most fans that are knowledgeable see this as not working.”

I met Namath through my friendship with former Gophers football star Clayton Tonnemaker, who introduced me to coach Clive Rush; the two played together in the early 1950s for the Green Bay Packers. Rush was the offensive coordinator for the Jets in the late 1960s under coach Weeb Ewbank. I knew Ewbank from when he was on Paul Brown’s staff with the Cleveland Browns.  Because of all that, I got to know Joe Namath. I could call him anytime I wanted and interview him for this newspaper and also for my “Today’s Sports Hero” show on WCCO.

So, I’m in New York, after Fran Tarkenton was traded to the Giants.  He is facing Joe Namath and the Jets in a big preseason game in 1969, shortly after the Jets won the Super Bowl. It was the first time the teams ever met and, at the time, Namath is not talking to the press after the games. I’m in the Jets locker room and he tells me, “I’m going to take a shower … If you want an interview, you got to get in there and get wet.”

To make a long story short, I get the only interview from Namath.  And in my lake house, on the St. Croix, thanks to former Star Tribune publisher Keith Moyer, I’ve got a six-foot drawing of me sticking my microphone into the shower and getting all wet interviewing Namath.

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