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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Speaking with writers who have covered him and various NFL people this week in New York, I’ve heard great things about new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
The consensus: Zimmer is a tough, genuine guy, demanding but likeable, and forthright with the public and press. And that he’s also an excellent coach.
As the Vikings found with Leslie Frazier, having a likeable, respected head coach is a great organizational asset.
So why are the Vikings screwing up Zimmer’s first few weeks as head coach?
Zimmer has already hired all, or nearly all, of his assistant coaches, but the Vikings haven’t announced the moves. By the time the Vikings holds a press conference to introduce the staff, the news will be old, the Vikings will look silly, and the introductions will seem stilted.
By delaying the announcements, the Vikings look hopelessly slow and obtuse.
Zimmer’s success and failure will depend on wins and losses, but it doesn’t hurt to make a good first impression, and the Vikings are making no impression at all right now.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. tomorrow, and on 1500ESPN in the Twin Cities at noon. We'll run Sunday Sports Talk on 1500ESPN from 10-noon Sunday.
As I sit on a boat docked off Jersey City, waiting for the Broncos to speak this morning, I'm contemplating the Seahawks' divergent approaches to the demands of Super Bowl week.
Richard Sherman, the master marketer, has capitalized on the profile he raised with his post-game rant at the NFC title game by being accomodating, funny, glib. His teammate Marshawn Lynch has reluctantly answered a few questions each day before departing, risking a large fine from the NFL.
In my younger days, I believed that athletes should be forced to cooperate with interviewers. I still believe it's part of their job. But there is no effective way to make someone forthcoming, or interesting, or engaging. There are a lot of athletes I've covered I wish never conducted interviews, because the interviews are a waste of time if the interviewee has nothing to say.
Yesterday, Lynch had a teammate field questions. The teammate would then forward the question to Lynch, who was sitting next to him. Lynch would offer a one-word answer, then the teammate would offer an interpretation, attempting at humor, and sometimes succeeding in being funny.
if that's the best you're going to get from Lynch, that's the best you're going to get from Lynch.
Some people aren't cut out for mass media. They're naturally private, or quiet, or introverted. Lynch being uncooperative is actually much more interesting than Lynch using the more common approach of recycling cliches until everyone leaves him alone.
I'll be on WJON IN St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. and on 1500ESPN at noon. Mark Craig and I will be writing stories, columns, notes and blog posts from the Super Bowl all week. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
Got mired in a traffic jam in New York while hearing that Fred Smoot is trying to organized a Love Boat party and the Twins have signed Matt Guerrier.
In other news from the mid-2000s: Don't worry, Kevin McHale just assured me that the Timberwolves would never consider trading Kevin Garnett.
Even with a police escort, traffic in Manhattan is terrible. Not a complaint. I love New York. Just a fact.
What is surprising is how nice Jersey City is. We were in the refurbished Newport area, and it sparkles.
Anyway, after talking to a bunch of Seahawks with Minnesota connections, I dropped in to talk with Seahawks star safety Earl Thomas.
He was not shy. ``This matchup is everything that I want.''
``Peyton Manning. Future Hall of Famer. I want to prove everybody wrong, that he's just a man.''
Then he paused, and said, deadpan, ``Omaha,'' a reference to Manning's most-used signal at the line of scrimmage.
This is classic NFL behavior: A player working himself into a lather for no particular reason. There's no reason to hate Manning. There's no reason to dismiss his accomplishments. So Thomas is making himself believe that Manning is getting too much credit or attention.
I'll be on 1500ESPN all week from New York, and will be doing Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on Sunday, from here as well. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
I'll be posting about my conversation with Tarvaris Jackson and my thoughts on Marshawn Lynch's behaviour later today.
Last time the Vikings played a Monday night game at Met Life Stadium in Jersey, the Vikings were in the middle of another lost season, but the personalities and circumstances were dramatically different.
Brad Childress was the coach, and fighting for power within the organization. Tonight, the Vikings' coach will be Leslie Frazier, whose job may be in as much jeopardy today as Childress' was in 2010, but who plays his role with more diplomacy.
Brett Favre was the quarterback, and fighting off tabloid stories about his texting habits. Tonight, the quarterback will be Josh Freeman, who, unlike Favre in 2010, is hoping to play another 10 years in the NFL.
Randy Moss was the supposed midseason saviour. Tonight, Freeman plays that role, trying to prove that Greg Schiano really is who we think he is.
The Jets beat the Vikings on that rainy Monday night in 2010, but what I really remember was dealing with Moss and Favre after the game.
Moss was difficult, parrying interview requests until Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press challenged him to talk, and Moss did. That night, you could not have imagined that a television network would ever hire Moss and pay him for his thoughts.
Favre was masterful. Not on the field, but in the cramped, overcrowded postgame interview room. If Anthony Weiner could handle negative press and difficult questions about his personal life the way Favre did, Weiner could be president, instead of out of politics.
The Minnesota media had already asked Favre plenty of questions about his texting habits and relationship with Jenn Sterger. This was the New York media's chance to go after him. Favre calmly turned every question towards football without getting angry or offering any new information.
I think Favre would have made the perfect politician. He looks and acts like a leader. He is a master at manipulating the national media. He has fame and money on his side. And he is the best press-conference manager I've ever interviewed.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 9:30 instead of noon today so I can catch my flght to New York. I'll also be on KFGO in Fargo with Mike McFeely, probably around 3:30 Central time. I'll also be on 1500ESPN at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday before heading back to Minnesota.
My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib. Thanks for reading.
My column in Thursday's paper recreates the way I think the conversation between Leslie Frazier and Christian Ponder might have gone.
Here I'll put things more plainly.
Ponder coming down with a mysterious rib injury is perfect for the Vikings. They can take a look at Matt Cassel in a must-win game heading into the bye week, then make a more full-informed decision on the quarterback position. If Cassel plays brilliantly, he keeps the job. If he plays poorly, the Vikings can go back to Ponder and hope he has cleared his head, and they never would have actually benched him.
Of course, this is only speculation. The Vikings aren't about to tip their hand on this one.
For those wondering why, given all of the Vikings' problems, Ponder is the only one facing a potential benching, I go back to what Jerry Burns always said: Changing left guards doesn't send a jolt of electricity through your team. Changing your quarterback does.
Also, remember how much the Vikings invested in their passing game during the offseason. They signed Greg Jennings. They traded into the first round to draft Cordarrelle Patterson. Having a quarterback willing to hang in the pocket long enough for those players to get open (assuming Bill Musgrave actually puts Patterson on the field) might be a good idea.
I keep waiting for some sign of the NFL's popularity in London.
Haven't seen any indication in London proper that there is an NFL game this Sunday. Haven't seen a word in the major newspapers or on the morning TV shows. Or on the evening TV shows. I'm sure there has been media coverage, because there are plenty of reporters covering the Vikings' appearances and practices. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places.
The NFL chose well when it chose the Vikings to play here and spend the week promoting the game. They're a willing group of interviewees and ambassadors. When I spoke with Jared Allen yesterday, he used the phrase ``bangers and mash'' about 12 times, saying he loves the food in London.
During the Olympics, I often made fun of London's food, but Allen's right. You can find great restaurants in London, just not where I was staying during the Olympics. The Strib's traveling entourage has particularly enjoyed the Grazing Goat Pub. Mark Craig even tried a dark beer before switching back to something resembling his traditional Bud Lights.
I thought the highlight of the press conferences was Rick Spielman saying he called home to tell his wife to bring her bathing suit, the weather was so nice here.
Not so fast, Rick. It's overcast and threatening today.
I'm spending today with photojournalist Carlos Gonzalez in London, looking for some local color. I mean, colour. Thanks for reading. Remember, we have Mark Craig, Chip Scoggins, Carlos and myself covering all angles of the Vikings' trip to London, including the game. Please check back on Startribune.com for columns, stories, notes, blog posts, photos and videos.
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