Tiny play card is big enough for Vikings offensive coordinator

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 25, 2013 - 12:23 AM

Bill Musgrave says his play card contains as many plays as a regular-sized one but is shrunk so that it takes up less space.

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Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave at training camp in July 2012 in Mankato.

Photo: Genevieve Ross • Associated Press,

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The laminated card has become a punch line and even has a Twitter account dedicated to it. Mostly, Vikings fans want to know why offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s play card is so darn small compared to those of other NFL coaches.

“It’s a normal game plan sheet,” he said. “It’s just reduced [in size].”

Musgrave showed a before-and-after look at the play card he uses on the sidelines during games. Musgrave’s game plan is printed on a play card similar in size to what other offensive coordinators use. But he shrinks his card around 50 percent so that he is able to communicate hand signals more conveniently. Even put it in his pocket, if needed.

“At times our offense requires me to do some signals and sometimes those signals require two hands,” he said. “If I was up in the box, [the normal-size card] is what I would use. But on the sideline I just want to have my hands free at times.”

Musgrave said he is unaware of the attention his play card has received.

“I’ve never really been asked about it,” he said.

It’s certainly a popular topic on Internet message boards, radio airwaves and in the Twitterverse. Fans who are critical of Musgrave’s offense have joked that his play card holds a limited number of plays.

“There’s plenty [of plays],” he said. “There’s probably too many.”

How many in general in a typical game?

“Well, close to 20 runs and close to 60 to 70 passes,” he said.

Musgrave said he actually switched to his regular-sized play card in the second half of the Chicago Bears game this season because rain ruined the laminate on his smaller card.

Musgrave’s card draws so much attention because most coaches have larger cards — some the size of a restaurant menu — that they also use to cover their faces to prevent opponents from lip-reading. Former Vikings coach Brad Childress’ play card inspired its share of parody.

Musgrave stressed that his card holds a normal amount of plays, just written in smaller type. That’s a minor trade-off, he said.

“It would be easier to read,” he joked.

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
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Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
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