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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I'm finishing up my work for the paper in the press box at the Superdome, and I'm afraid to outside.
Local TV is showing shots of Saints fans partying all over town. I don't expect this to be like Detroit or Chicago - I'm not expecting anyone to set fire to cars - but Saints fans have no experience dealing with this kind of success, so I don't know what to expect.
This was the best atmosphere for a game I've ever experienced. It wasn't just loud - it was loud and festive and people were enjoying themselves. Too often, for me, NFL fans look enraged. Considering the plight of this city and the history of this team, this was a joyful experience for the New Orleanians.
I generally dismiss all talk of sports curses, but this one made me wonder. For the Vikings to handle the crowd noise as well as they did all game, and then get penalized for too many men in the huddle when they were within range of a game-winning field goal...that's a bit bizarre.
Favre said it was a ``communication issue,'' and nobody I talked to was willing to call out the player who made the mistake.
My prediction for the game was 31-28, Vikings, with Favre driving the Vikings into position for a game-winning Ryan Longwell field goal. I almost nailed it.
After the game, Favre looked like he had been beaten with tire irons. He said he isn't ready to decide whether he'll return next year. My prediction: He'll take about a month, then announce he's coming back. I think he had a blast this year, and likes working with Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell, and feels like he might be able to win a championship next year.
I tend to agree. Maybe Favre will prove to be too old next year, but I thought he was too old going into this year, and he put together the best statistical season of his career.
I think the Vikings need to find a play-making safety or two, and need to cure Adrian Peterson's fumbling. Take care of those problems and get Favre to return, and I would make the Vikings the favorites to win next year's Super Bowl.
I'll be on with Reusse at 6:40 a.m. on am-1500, then on WJON at 7:14. I'll write a column wrapping up the Vikings' season for the Tuesday paper. I'm heading to Vancouver for the Olympics on Feb. 10.
You can follow me on Twitter at SouhanStrib.
I'm in New Orleans, staying in the Warehouse District, an arts-and-industrial area a bit away from the French Quarter.
I spent much of this week traveling back and forth between New Orleans and Kiln, Ms., home of Brett Favre. In today's paper, I wrote about New Orleans, the Saints, and the recovery from Hurricane Katrina through the eyes of local legend Angus Lind, the longtime columnist for the Times-Picayune.
In the Sunday paper, I have a long piece on the characters who populate Kiln - most notably, Bonita Favre, Brett's mother. At one point on Friday, as her friends were erecting a sign honoring Brett, she was juggling two MIller Lites and a Marlboro. Skills run in the family.
The Kiln story will be on 1A, and I'll have a lengthy story in the sports section based on a candid conversation I had with Vikings coach Brad Childress earlier this week.
New Orleans is one of my favorite towns to visit - friendly people, great food, great atmosphere, warm weather. Everywhere I go I hear people saying ``Who dat?'', short for the Saints rallying cry, ``Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?'' I went to dinner at Emeril's on Thursday night, and the entire Saints defense was dining there at a long table, with Darren Sharper at the head.
I'm picking the Vikings on Sunday, but I'm not very confident. I think Percy Harvin's status could be the key factor in the game. Either way, I expect a big game from Adrian Peterson. He's due, he's motivated, and the Saints' defense is not strong against the run.
Of course, all this prediction stuff is just fun nonsense. None of us know how the games will play out. If we did, we wouldn't need to watch.
I think I'm more interested in this game than any game I've ever covered. When I cover the Twins in the playoffs, I really don't expect them to go on and win a World Series. When I've covered the Vikings in the playoffs, I either haven't expected them to win a Super Bowl, or I've found them to be an uninteresting bunch.
This team, with Favre playing his best season and a group of professional people in the lockerroom, is much more fun to watch, and to talk to.
-I still can't believe Tim Brewster would keep the offensive scheme that caused his offense to bottom-out in the Big Ten, even as he hires a coach who has no track record as a coordinator. Jeff Horton? Really? You're going to keep a scheme that failed and hire someone without a track record to fix it?
I have nothing new to add about the morass that is the Gophers' athletic department.
-I plan to have Brad Childress on Sunday Morning Sports talk, 10-noon on KSTP, am-1500. I also plan to have a national guest and a New Orleans writer on to talk about the big weekend. We'll also do picks with Reusse and The Biltz.
-I contributed an essay to the FSN North Hockey Day program. I know the people at FSN have been working like crazy putting the show together.
-Scrimmages at the Gophers basketball practices are simple these days: Active players vs. suspended players, make it-take it.
You can follow me on Twitter at SouhanStrib. I'll post another blog tomorrow from the Superdome.
I was lucky enough to land a lengthy one-on-one interview with Brett Favre that will run in the Friday paper, as part of a bigger subject for our sports section. I spoke with him before his sideline spat with Brad Childress, so the story touches on broader topics, and what it's like for Favre to live in Minnesota as a 40-year-old icon.
I'll be taking the next few days off. Sunday I have the radio show from 10-noon on am-1500, and I'm working to line up a few guests. Sunday afternoon I fly to Chicago for what I think might be the most interesting game of the season since the Packer games. Not because the Bears are good. Because the Bears are horrible.
In other words, if the Vikings can't beat this collection of mutts, then they really are in trouble. And a victory could quiet a lot of the negative buzz around them.
Frankly, I'm not sure right now whether the Vikings are in decline, or whether in the modern NFL it's just difficult to maintain a high level of play for 16 games. I mean, they haven't felt stress entering a game since they beat the Packers for the second time, and they looked flat in two Sunday night road games.
I will also remind newer Vikings fans that, ever since moving into the Metrodome, the Vikings have not been a good team on grass, and all three of their losses this year are on grass. Which would make the Bears problematic if they weren't so pathetic.
After the Bears game, the Vikings (assuming they hold onto the No. 2 seed) wouldn't have to play on grass again unless they made it to the Super Bowl, and that would be a good problem to have.
We were also reminded Sunday night that this team needs Antoine Winfield playing well to be an elite team.
I still wish Steve Smith would have reprised the rowboat move he made in 2005 when he whipped Fred Smoot after the Love Boat scandal.
And one more time on the sideline spat: I don't think it's unique, or a problem, unless Childress is determined to bench Favre the next time he disobeys orders. Because we all know Favre will free-lance again at some point this season. I think if you're Childress you've got to bite your lip and accept it. Favre isn't going to undergo a personality transplant at the age of 40.
-Here, to me, is what the BCS has wrought: I have never cared less about college football.
I may not watch a single bowl game. Maybe I"ll watch the Alabama-Texas game just so I can discuss it, but to me it's not a national championship game, and the current system has turned every bowl game into a silly exhibition. This system isn't even as good as the last system.
If run properly, college football, with an 8-team playoff, would be the most popular sport in the country. But it isn't.
-So I won't be back on the radio until Sunday morning at 10, and I may not blog for a few days. I'll be on with Reusse at 6:40 on Monday to preview the Bears game.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter at SouhanStrib.
I was feeling generous this week, so I bought Sid a gift. It was a book: English as a Second Language.
-I'm at Wolves-Hawks tonight. I'll be on pregame on FSN debating Jim Petersen at about 6:35-6:40, then on again for the postgame show.
-To summarize the column I wrote for the Monday paper on the Favre-Childress sideline spat: Although I've come to like and respect Brad Childress greatly, I believe in seeing the big picture, and the big picture is you don't recruit (read: beg) a Hall of Fame quarterback to join your team, then start benching him when he's healthy and playing well, even if he does change a play or two.
Would you rather have a full season of Tarvaris Jackson running exactly the plays that are called in, or a full season of Favre, replete with his foibles? I'll take Favre. Childress obviously would take Favre, too. So Chilly is just going to have to loosen up and let Favre be Favre the rest of the season. There are no worthwhile alternatives.
-My happy thought for the day: I got stuck in a snowbank (because I keep putting off putting on my snow tires), and a random stranger stopped to push me out.
And that man was Tim Brewster! Joy to the world.
-You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib. I'll blog after the game, if there's anything worth writing about.
When Vikings coach Brad Childress was asked about the ``heated discussion'' between himself and quarterback Brett Favre during the third quarter, he didn't deny it took place, but he didn't elaborate much.
My column for the Monday paper (not the early column that some of you got, the one without quotes, but the one I wrote for our later deadline) contains all of the quotes Favre offered on the subject on Sunday night. To summarize: He wasn't happy that Childress considered benching him, for whatever reason.
Again, my column on the subject delves into the subject and contains all of Favre's quotes on the topic. It's in the Monday paper.
My short take: Favre wasn't the problem Sunday night. His offensive line (particularly Bryant McKinnie) was awful. The Vikings' defense got ripped in the fourth quarter, but even when it was limiting the Panthers in the first three quarters, it wasn't making enough big plays. As a couple of defensive starters said after the game, there's nothing wrong with a defense scoring some points, too.
Steve Hutchinson and Jared Allen, in particular, sounded mildly disgusted by the team's performance, although they didn't say anything too harsh.
My short take No. 2: The Vikings have lost three of their last four games on grass, with the only victory in that stretch coming at Green Bay, in a game Favre was desperate to win, a game that the team wanted to win for Favre.
Since they moved into the Metrodome, the Vikings have struggled on grass. Even their good teams have struggled on grass. Their lone regular-season loss in 1998 came at Tampa, on grass.
I wouldn't be surprised if the last two losses, at Arizona and Carolina, are the product of an overconfident team playing on an unfamiliar surface.
Here are the two real problems with the loss:
1) Favre is incredibly strong-willed, for better and worse. If he senses a lack of trust on the part of Childress, their relationship could go south in a hurry, and with it the season. I don't think that will happen, but that possibility was raised Sunday night.
2) The Vikings no longer are assured of a first-round bye, because they are only one game ahead of the Eagles, and neither of their remaining games look like gimmes. The Bears stink, but the Vikings just lost a cold-weather game on grass to a mediocre team, so they shouldn't exactly be cocky about this one. And the Giants, for all of their problems, are talented and well-coached.
To me, the elite teams in the conference _ the Saints and Vikings _ no longer look all that much stronger than the teams they may have to face in the playoffs _ the surging Eagles, the talented Cowboys, the mercurial Cardinals, the intriguing-if-flawed Packers.
This is going to be quite interesting the rest of the way.
Upcoming: I'll be on with Reusse at 6:40 on am-1500 to recap the Vikings game. I'm on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:14. Flying home tomorrow, taking a few vacation days from the paper, although I'll continue to do the radio spots.
I have a big piece running in the Friday paper on the Star Tribune Sports Person of the Year.
You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib.
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