NFC North: Randall McDaniel
Adrian Peterson said he wanted to run for 2,500 yards in 2013, and the reigning NFL MVP's goal immediately turned into sports talk radio fodder. People wanted to know, in almost every Peterson interview after that, whether the running back was serious or delusional, whether his prediction was an achievable goal or a baseless boast.
Peterson said several times in training camp that the goal had a deeper meaning -- that it was fuel to motivate him to top his 2,097-yard season in 2012. And in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Dan Wiederer, Peterson shed some additional light on his thinking.
"Listen,” Peterson said. “If I don’t hear that number mentioned to me again, I’ll be all good. … People hear that 2,500 and it’s ‘Oh wow. That’s not possible. What was he thinking?’ They kind of focus on [the number] too much. In my mind, I’m not looking at it like that at all.”
Here are today's other Vikings stories of note:
- We looked at the Vikings' most significant cuts as they finalized their 53-man roster, and revisited how the actual roster compared to the prediction we'd made the night before.
- Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson are in Minnesota to try and balance out an offense that finished 31st in the league in passing last season, writes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.
- The biggest difference between the Vikings and the Green Bay Packers -- the team they are chasing in the division -- comes down to the quarterback position, Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune says.
- Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press profiles Chris Donley, a lifelong Vikings fan who is dying from cancer and who watched the team's practice last Tuesday as a guest of Vikings Hall of Famer Randall McDaniel.
- The Vikings' cuts on Saturday took a bite out of their 2011 draft class, which hasn't panned out the way the team hoped, writes Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com.
Plenty has been written and said about former Minnesota guard Randall McDaniel in the months since he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You'll read nothing better than Mark Craig's piece in the Star Tribune, which also includes an extensive video interview. All of which is ironic considering McDaniel's career-long reticence to speak with the media.
During his 14-year career, McDaniel was named to 12 Pro Bowls and was selected a first-team All-Pro nine times. He blocked for six 1,000-yard rushers and five 3,000-yard passers.
But as McDaniel prepares for enshrinement this weekend, I wanted to use this space to pass along the explanation behind McDaniel's bizarre stance at the line of scrimmage.
|Kevin Terrell/Getty Images|
|Randall McDaniel believes his unorthodox stance gave him an advantage over opposing linemen.|
In fact, as McDaniel recalled shortly after his election, the stance was the result of an injury and an unwitting assist from an opposing defensive lineman. To this day, McDaniel believes it played a critical role in his success.
In 1990, Minnesota lineman Todd Kalis rolled up on McDaniel's right leg and forced him to miss two games. He returned wearing a knee brace.
"So I go in with that brace on," McDaniel said, "and it's stiff. It wasn't comfortable, and the only way I could get down in a stance was to turn my other leg out. So I started doing that. During the game, a defensive lineman made a comment like, 'I have no clue what you're doing. I can't tell if you're pulling, passing [or] coming at me.' And I thought, 'That wasn't very smart to say.' And I kept the stance. I thought, 'If you can't read it, then that gives me an advantage right there.'
"That's where it all came from: One little brace, one little accident along the way."
Sometimes, that's all it takes.
Here's one you won't read every day: Detroit receiver Bryant Johnson ended up on the non-football injury list because of ... a golf cart accident.
As Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com writes, residents of Johnson's Atlanta neighborhood in Atlanta typically drive golf carts for short trips. In early July, Johnson's cart tipped over on the driver's side. He slid down a hill and suffered mostly superficial cuts and bruises. No word on the cause of the accident.
Coach Jim Schwartz said there were no serious injuries, but Johnson isn't ready to practice yet. In the meantime, Dennis Northcutt is taking most of the repetitions as the Lions' No. 2 receiver in training camp.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Lions receiver Calvin Johnson set the tone in camp by making a diving, 50-yard catch from Daunte Culpepper on his first pass. Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News recounts the Lions' first day of camp.
- Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press lays out his requirements for Matthew Stafford to be inserted as the Lions' starting quarterback.
- With Jay Cutler throwing lasers all over training camp, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times remembers the best passing offense in the history of the Bears. In 1995, Erik Kramer threw for 3,838 yards.
- Cornerback Zack Bowman is making a good early impression in Bears camp, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago. Saturday night, he intercepted a Cutler pass intended for Devin Hester.
- Green Bay safety Nick Collins said he is "up to speed on everything" after missing most of the offseason program. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel chronicles the first day of Packers camp.
- Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has a fun nugget: This spring, Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk took a cab from the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to Green Bay in order to make an organized team activity on time. The fare? $1,000.
- Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune on Minnesota's quarterback situation: "Just in case you thought the Brett Favre Saga had a chance of ending any time in the next five years, the first three practices of Vikings training camp reminded everyone that this is a good team without a trustworthy quarterback, and that no matter how much he doth protest, Favre, like a crazy ex-girlfriend, remains one phone call and one more emotional flip-flop away."
- Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press profiles former Vikings guard Randall McDaniel, who will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I admit it. I clicked on this podcast to see if there were any hints of bitterness from former Minnesota receiver Cris Carter, who was excluded Saturday from the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame class for the second consecutive year.
I listened closely to a guy who doesn't usually have a problem speaking his mind. But Carter's reaction was classy, genuine and confident at the same time. Here's the full transcript of what he said this week on ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" radio show (emphasis is mine):
(Asked his feelings now that two years have gone by without getting into the Hall)
"Well, I ain't going to get no better next year, either [laughing]. I don't plan on having a big year. So it might be tough next year. Man, at this stage, I've been hanging out with [Mike] Golic and eating and everything. The thing about the Hall of Fame is, really, the news is not me not getting in. The news is the class that is going in -- all guys that did deserve to go in.
"I would probably start with my teammate Randall McDaniel, who was a dominant, consistent player. Undersized. Phenomenal teammate. He's everything you want in a teammate. He's everything you want in a Hall of Famer. ... I played with him for 10 years. He made the Pro Bowl every year. There was no down that I played with him that I didn't know I was playing with a Hall of Famer. Just like when you play with Reggie White.
"And Ralph Wilson Jr., him getting in, 90 years old. Give the man a chance to enjoy it. He should have been in. He's one of the pioneers and why we have success in the National Football League. The story is not me not getting in. The story is celebrating these guys: Bruce Smith, Rod Woodson, who I competed again. Bob Hayes, who finally got in. His sister was there. Big Derrick Thomas -- we saw him, Golic, unbelievable player.
"The story is not me. It's really not. I've done all I can do. Whenever the Hall of Fame calls, I'm pretty certain I'm going to answer."
Randall McDaniel didn't travel to Tampa, Fla., this weekend in anticipation of Saturday's Pro Football Hall of Fame vote. He couldn't.
|Manny Rubio-US PRESSWIRE|
|Randall McDaniel was voted to the Pro Bowl 12 times during his 14-season NFL career.|
McDaniel works as a teaching assistant at a public elementary school in suburban Minneapolis. Friday was a school day, and so is Monday. Saturday was forecast to be a beautiful day by Minnesota standards. (It is. As I type this, it's a balmy 41 degrees outside.) That schedule made a trip halfway across the country a bit excessive by McDaniel's standards.
But that's McDaniel in a nutshell. He is one of the greatest guards in NFL history, one whose athleticism might never be exceeded. Yet he kept a low public profile as a player, rarely agreeing to interviews even as he racked up Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl, and since retirement has settled into an everyman's life as a teacher, father and citizen.
(How regular of a guy is he? As he spoke on a conference call Saturday, a phone near him -- possibly his cell -- started ringing. The ring tone? The theme from the television show "Sanford and Son.")
McDaniel knew he was a finalist but was completely convinced he would be eliminated from contention on Saturday.
"I'm still in a little bit of shock and very humbled," he said. "I never thought this would happen, for some reason."
He's got another 36 hours or so to get over it. School starts back on Monday.
Eric Allen and Qadry Ismail analyze the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009.
This year's Hall of Fame ballot includes four players with NFC North ties, a list headed by former Minnesota receiver Cris Carter. What are the chances of a Black and Blue representative heading to Canton this summer? Let's take a look at each player:
Wide receiver Cris Carter
- Pros: Retired in 2002 with the second-most receptions (1,101) in NFL history. Only player in NFL history with two seasons of 120-plus receptions.
- Cons: Not many. His exclusion last year was a surprise and attributed to some voters' desire to protect "first-ballot" designations.
- Chances in 2009: High.
Defensive end Richard Dent
- Pros: Retired in 1997 with 137.5 sacks, which at the time ranked third in NFL history. Won two Super Bowls, including the MVP in Super Bowl XX. Was one of the key elements in the "46" defense that dominated the game in the mid 1980's.
- Cons: Named to the Pro Bowl in only four of 13 seasons, raising the question of the longevity of his dominance. Has been eligible since 2003 and is competing with a shoo-in, all-time sacks leader Bruce Smith.
- Chances in 2009: Moderate.
Guard Randall McDaniel
- Pros: Nine-time All-Pro and 12-time Pro Bowler. Technique and athleticism made him one of the best guards of his era.
- Cons: Quiet demeanor and distaste for campaigning has made him easy to overlook. This year, competing with two other guards on the final ballot: Russ Grimm and Bob Kuechenberg.
- Chances in 2009: Moderate.
Defensive lineman John Randle
- Pros: Coincidentally finished career with Dent's exact sack total of 137.5 sacks. Six-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler. Played tackle and end during his career.
- Cons: Competing with Smith, who finished career with 63 more sacks during the same approximate era. First appearance on ballot.
- Chances in 2009: Unlikely.