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Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Free Head Exam: Minnesota Vikings

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

After the Minnesota Vikings' 40-14 loss to the Chicago Bears, here are three issues that merit further examination:
  1. In the end, the much-discussed field at TCF Bank Stadium was less hazardous than feared but worse than NFL-caliber fields at other northern locales. Vikings players were ordered not to make negative comments about the field after punter Chris Kluwe called it "unplayable" via Twitter on Sunday, according to ESPN's Ed Werder, so it's difficult to put much stock in what they said about it after the game. But for what it's worth, here's what receiver Sidney Rice said: "It's probably the worst, most dangerous field I've played on ever. I've been in the league a long time. I'm from down South, but it was tough conditions. But there are no excuses. The Bears played well on it and won the football game." Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said: "There were a couple of slick spots out there. Outside the numbers, the big 'M', the end zone, they were all rock hard. They were slippery, so you had to be careful. They did a good job of getting the field ready. But without those heating coils under it there is only so much that they could do." In the end, the most dangerous thing that happened Monday night was security's failure to notice a fan jump onto the field, walk nearly 60 yards down the hashmark during a play and then begin mingling with players before finally getting dragged off the field.
  2. I will admit that there were some cool moments Monday night, including fans spontaneously throwing snow in the air after Percy Harvin's first-quarter touchdown. And to be clear, I'm all for outdoor football as long as the facility can support it adequately. TCF Bank Stadium wasn't built to be used in December. If the Vikings build a new stadium, surely it would be. But I'm guessing they will have a hard time getting an outdoor stadium publicly financed. If political leaders are going to devote some $700 million to the project, they'll want it to be used more than 10-12 times per year. A dome, or retractable roof, would be necessary for a new stadium to replace the current utility of the Metrodome.
  3. No matter what you think of quarterback Brett Favre and his decision to play Monday night, I hope we can all agree that he and wife Deanna made a wonderful gesture over the past few days. According to Werder, the Favres traveled by private plane last Friday to Milwaukee to visit five-year-old Anderson Butzine, who has terminal brain cancer. During a visit that lasted several hours, Anderson showed Favre pictures he had drawn of his favorite player. In all of the pictures, Favre's No. 4 was drawn backwards. Monday night, Deanna Favre sent down a towel for her husband to wear. It had a backwards "4" drawn on it.
And here is one issue I don't get:
Let's face it. The Vikings have absolutely tanked their past two games and lost by a combined score of 61-17. There is no debate there. But how will that performance reflect on the future of interim coach Leslie Frazier? Will he get a pass considering the unusual circumstances that have followed the Metrodome roof collapse? Or will owner Zygi Wilf hold him accountable for the way players have performed the past two weeks? Fair or otherwise, coaches are ultimately evaluated on their record.