Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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When I first saw that Tony Dungy and Jimmy Johnson were Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists, my gut told me neither would make it, that neither had built enough of a resume to warrant induction.
Then I looked at the 22 head coaches in the Hall, and looked at the resumes of Dungy and Johnson. Now I think both should make it.
Dungy took over Tampa Bay when the Bucs were perhaps the worst organization in pro sports. After going 6-10 while installing his systems, he went 48-32 and made the playoffs in four of five seasons. He also built the team with which Jon Gruden won the Super Bowl the year after Dungy was fired.
Dungy went to the Colts when they were, like the Bucs, noncompetitive. This time operating with a good young quarterback in Peyton Manning, Dungy went 85-27 in Indy, winning one Super Bowl and making the playoffs in all of his seven seasons there.
Should his failure to win more than one Super Bowl with Manning harm his candidacy?
Well, George Allen, Bud Grant, Marv Levy and Hank Stram coached during the Super Bowl era and combined for one Super Bowl victory, and they’re all in the Hall. Dungy did exceptional work with two previously inept franchises. I think he deserves to be inducted.
Jimmy Johnson is an interesting case. He took over a Cowboys franchise depleted in talent and went 1-15 his first year and 7-9 his second.
The next three years, almost exclusively with players he drafted and developed, he went 36-12, made the playoffs three times and won two Super Bowls. The team he built won a third Super Bowl with caretaking coach Barry Switzer.
Had Jerry Jones allowed Jimmy to hang around, he might have become one of the most accomplished coaches (and de facto general managers) in football history. As it was, he produced a dominant franchise from nothing, with help from the Vikings.
Three years after being forced out in Dallas, Jimmy coached the Dolphins for four years. He made the playoffs three times but failed to win a playoff game. Instead of building from scratch, as he did in Dallas, he tried to build around Dan Marino, which proved more difficult.
Jimmy’s final record was an unspectacular 80-64. To elect him to the Hall, you’d have to look at the work he did in Dallas.
I’m OK with that. John Madden and Bill Walsh were NFL head coaches for just 10 years; Allen for 12; Joe Gibbs for 11. The Hall has rewarded coaches as often for brilliance as longevity.
I was lucky enough to cover Dungy as an assistant and Jimmy as a head coach. They were opposites in terms of personality. Jimmy would scream when it suited his purposes; Dungy never raised his voice. Each, in his own way, was a brilliant and dominant coach.
Spent much of my podcast with Strib hockey writer MIchael Russo yesterday talking about J.P. Parise. Wednesday night at Kieran's Irish Pub, I had Twins' GM Terry Ryan on, and he was remarkably open while talking about his life as a player and his battle with cancer. All podcasts can be found at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
Andrew Wiggins still doesn't show much emotion on court. He still doesn't look like he's always passionately engaged with playing in the NBA. But let's stop looking at body language and look at results. The kid is playing at a remarkably high level for a rookie, especially one at his age.
He's scored 20 points or more in five straight games. Last night, against Phoenix, he was remarkably efficient, scoring 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting and making four of his five free throws.
He's increasingly willing to drive into the heart of a defense, and to be the Wolves' go-to scorer.
Yes, the Wolves have lost 13 straight, and yes, Ricky Rubio may take two or three more years to come back from an ankle sprain, but the most important person in the Wolves' organization is Wiggins, and he's starting to perform like a budding star.
The Wolves drew a small crowd for an 8:30 start on a freezing night, but at least a few fans were there to chant ``R-O-Y'' - meaning rookie of the year - when Wiggins went to the line late in the game.
While my appreciation of Wiggins grows, I'm having trouble watching Thad Young play. He's Kevin Love Lite - he can amass a certain number of points and rebounds, but his defense is horrid.
At 3 p.m. today Strib hockey writer Michael Russo and I will run a live podcast from the XCel Energy Center press box. We'll talk about the passing of J.P. Parise, and the predicament in which the Wild finds itself, plus the usual music, pop-culture and other-sport nonsense. You can listen live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
Here's our conversation:
Parise, retired and living in his son's old house in Prior Lake, played and coached for the North Stars. He married the woman honored as the 2-millionth fan to pass through the Met Center's turnstiles. He recently visited Moscow as a member of Team Canada that played in the Summit Series in 1972, and dined with Vladmir Putin.
His hockey life gave him a son, Zach, who became a star at North Dakota and in the NHL, and brought him into contact with half of the Minnesota sports Hall of Fame. The man can tell stories about Lou Nanne, Bud Grant, Herb Brooks, John Mariucci, Bill Goldsworthy and the days when the NHL featured six teams, and on a recent weekday at a restaurant near his home, he did just that.
He remembered his buddies making fun of a slow-witted North Stars teammate, saying, "He's strong like bull, and smart like tractor.'' So one day Brooks called for "Deere" to take the ice, and the players gave him a funny look. "Deere?" Parise remembers thinking. To which Brooks said: "Yeah -- John Deere.''
He remembered Mariucci running a Stars practice, and telling players to "work on what you're good at.'' So one of Parise's teammates skated to the bench, sat down, and practiced opening the door.
He remembers leaving a North Stars luncheon and being stopped by Grant, who praised Parise's gritty style. "That, I can tell you, was the greatest compliment of my life,'' Parise said.
He remembers his friend Tom Reid, then a North Stars defenseman and now a Wild broadcaster, listening to the National Anthem before a game and telling Parise, "You know, every time I hear that song I have a bad game.''
Parise can tell stories about the time he was arrested when a teammate got into a late-night fight at a Philadelphia Denny's, and the time he locked himself, naked, out of a Pittsburgh hotel room, but he also thinks deeply about how hockey changed his life.
He grew up in Ontario, and at 16 was playing for a men's team when an opponent smashed Parise's skull with a stick during the playoffs. The next game would decide the series, and Parise's coach begged him not to retaliate. "We won, 6-5,'' Parise said. "I had four goals and two assists. There was a Boston scout in the stands. If I had gone after that guy, I don't know what would have happened.''
During expansion, Parise was drafted by the Oakland Seals. When his coach upbraided him for a mistake, Parise popped off. The next morning he was traded to Rochester, which later traded him to the North Stars. He would become a two-time All-Star and eventually an assistant coach in Minnesota before working as the hockey director at Shattuck-St. Mary's, where he'd oversee the likes of his son and Sidney Crosby.
His most powerful memory involves not a goal but a conversation. Early in his North Stars career, he boarded a team flight with teammate Ray Cullen. The flight attendant asked if they wanted anything to drink.
"I gave her some wise answer,'' Parise said. "She leaves and Ray says to me, 'Who do you think you are? Why do you have to be such a jerk all the time?' I was like, 'Whoops.' This is my best friend. So I swallowed it, and it totally changed my life.
"I started being nice to people. I learned it really doesn't take much to be nice.''
Parise's manners might have paid off a few years later. The Stars were in Boston, and Parise entered a restaurant to find a teammate sitting at a table with two sisters, one of whom had won a trip with the team by becoming the North Stars' "2-millionth fan.'' Parise was invited to join them, and four years later he and Donna were married. They're still together.
At 70, reunions are not all beer and giggles. Parise misses Goldsworthy and others who have passed. He also fondly remembers the days of old-time hockey.
"We should call these Wild the North Stars, shouldn't we?'' he said. "I remember our team being a bunch of guys who were happy to be there. There was no jealousy. Money was never an issue because we never made any. Now it's kind of changed. It's, 'After me, you're first.'
"Zach wasn't brought up like that. He's a team player. Hey, I was a team player because I had to be a team player. I depended on my guys.''
Thursday, he'll get to see them again.
Doing a live podcast with Strib hockey writer Michael Russo from the Xcel Energy press box at 3 p.m. today. We'll talk about Zach, JP and Mike Yeo's meltdown.
Last night, I did a podcast with Terry Ryan at Kieran's Irish Pub downtown, and Terry talked about the managerial search, his formerly long hair, his battle with cancer and his rambunctious youth. All podcasts can be heard live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com. Thanks.
Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • email@example.com
Had Twins general manager Terry Ryan on my podcast last night, and, when he wasn't talking about his long red hair or his rambunctious days as a failed Twins prospect, he offered a final perspective on his managerial search.
Molitor was always a top, and perhaps the top, candidate, but he wanted to do due diligence with outside candidates, and was highly impressed with Torey Lovullo.
Ryan said Gene Glynn, who managed Triple-A Rochester last year and will be the Twins' third-base coach this year, finished second in the search. He ranked Lovullo third and Doug Mientkiewicz fourth.
On Mientkiewicz, Ryan said, ``I just didn't think he was quite ready. I do believe that Doug Mientkiewicz is going to be a very good major league manager in the very near future.''
As for Glynn, Ryan said, ``Gene was in the final three and it wasn't because it was just a charitable situation. Gene was very impressive. He's got a good feel for everything we do and believe in.''
Ryan told some great stories and talked about his upbringing and his battle with cancer, as well.
That and all of my other podcasts can be found at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
According to Bovada of Las Vegas, the two teams favored to win the NBA championship are the Chicago Bulls and the Golden State Warriors. Both are listed at 5-to-1 odds.
What do they have in common?
Both considered trading for Kevin Love, and decided against it.
The Bulls are 25-10, even with Derrick Rose struggling to overcome injuries.
The Warriors are an NBA-best 27-5, and are the most entertaining team in the league as well as the best.
The Cavaliers, who added LeBron James and Love, are 19-16 and currently in the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
If there are lessons to be learned here, I think they are these:
1. Love is proving again that he is capable of accumulating numbers without dramatically affecting the outcome of games. He went for 30 points and 18 rebounds last night...and the Cavs lost again.
2. Those who argued against the Wolves trading Love for Klay Thompson said that Thompson was a one-dimensional player, a pure shooter and little else. They ignored the fact that he's a driven young player who was bound to improve, and has.
3. The Wolves probably made the right decision, trading Love for Andrew Wiggins. Despite a remarkably optimistic view from inside the Wolves' organization before this season started - there were key decision-makers who thought this team could make the playoffs - this roster is nowhere ready to win. So Thompson would have been frustrated, even if he had helped the Wolves win a ffew more games.
If you're going to lose big, you might as well do it with young players.
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