’69 Vikings: Remembered 50 Years Later

40 for 60. That was the mantra for what could be argued as the best Vikings squad to ever take the field.

Bud Grant, finishing his third season coaching with the young franchise, led the talented, yet tough Vikings to a franchise best 12-2 record and their first appearance in the big game: Super Bowl IV.

Although considered a contemporary problem for the franchise, getting to the big game proved to be an impossible effort for the talented squad in the ‘60s.

The Vikings, after stumbling through their franchise’s infancy dating back to 1961, began to build their roster with their newly appointed head coach, Bud Grant, in 1967 after the coaching tenure of former NFL star, Norm Van Brocklin (also known as the “Dutchman”).

What most people do not realize about the 1969 Minnesota Vikings is that they had a real shot at making it to the Super Bowl the previous year.

In 1968, the Vikings were playoff contenders and advanced to face the eventual representative of the NFL in the Super Bowl: the Baltimore Colts. It was a game in which the Colts’ Memorial Stadium was covered in mud. Joe Kapp, the team’s rough-and-tough starting quarterback, provided a valiant effort as the game’s leading rusher with 52 yards, but was battered around all afternoon as the Vikes fell to the Colts 24-14.

Kapp in the snow

Joe Kapp under center in a snowstorm at Metropolitan Stadium.

Kapp’s journey to the purple and gold was not a traditional one, to say the least.

After leading the BC Lions to a CFL Championship appearance in 1963 and a championship victory the following year (while being an all-star in both seasons as well), he held a desire to return to the U.S. to play professional football (he went to college at Cal Berkley). Grant and General Manager, Jim Finks – needing a replacement for the newly traded legend, Fran Tarkenton – both had experienced Kapp’s success in the CFL and wanted him to be their guy.

A multi-player trade occurred between the Vikings and the BC Lions that allowed Kapp to switch leagues in order for numerous Vikings players to switch over to the CFL.

After a rough start to his NFL career statistically, Kapp bounced back in 1969 to career highs with 19 TDs and 1,072 yards through the air, earning him a Pro Bowl selection. He also broke an NFL record by throwing for 7 TDs in one game against the Colts, the team that knocked him and the Vikings out of the playoffs the year before.

The other aspect likely incorporated into the decision of his Pro Bowl honor was his leadership. He was a fierce competitor that was the ultimate team player, often rallying the troops on the sidelines, commanding respect in the huddle, and never being afraid of putting his body out on the line to help the team.

Kapp is also famous for choosing not to accept the team MVP award given to him that season, stating that they win and lose as a team and he could not accomplish the feats he did without his teammates.

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The defensive linemen, known as the “Purple People Eaters,” sit together on the bench.

The real MVP of the Vikings, though, was their defense.

Stars like Alan Page and Paul Krause joined forces with the likes of Carl Eller and Jim Marshall to form the famous defensive nickname, “Purple People Eaters.”

The smashmouth-style defense, mostly known for their legendary defensive line, dominated opponents in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. They led the NFL in least amount of points allowed with 133 points, ranked as the number one team in pass defense with 116.5 yards allowed per game, and number two in rush defense with 77.8 yards allowed per game.

The “Purple People Eaters” invoked fear in the hearts and minds of opposing offenses, stopping them in every facet imaginable.

As explained in the episode of America’s Game: The Missing Rings about the team, Kapp was injured before the start of the season and did not start in the opener. Gary Cuozzo, the popular backup quarterback formerly under Johnny Unitas with the Colts, took the reigns and did a solid job, but the Vikes fell short of their former star quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, of the New York Giants: 24-23.

Kapp would return the following week and break the passing touchdown record vs. the Colts.

You also have to keep in mind that the NFL back then was quite a different landscape than it is today. It is often referred to as the “Dead Ball Era,” meaning that the rules of the game and the style of which it was played does not compare statistically in the slightest to the NFL today.

The rules did not favor the offense, including the quarterback position. The defense could body slam the ball carrier and not get penalized for it. In fact, it would be encouraged. Offensive lineman were limited with how they could pass block and pass interference did not exist like in the way it does today.

Most games were low scoring because of the ground-and-pound approach most teams used. The phrase “offense sells tickets, defense wins championships” was even more prevalent in the ‘60s.

In a way, this Vikings team benefited from the rules of that era.

Their defense would demolish opposing offenses and their run-heavy mentality made life easier for that vaunted defense.

Considering the bitter cold location of the team and their strong demeanor, the cold weather only played to their strengths even more. Offenses struggled with footing and speed was taken out of the equation. With how tough the Vikings defense was, adding the fact that the heart of their defense was on the defensive line, teams could not run or move the ball against them.

The Vikings embraced the cold – Coach Grant would not even allow heaters to be on their sideline during the game – as they would let the opposition take themselves out of the game.


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Jim Marshall reaches out to grab Rams quarterback, Roman Gabriel. Image rights go to getty images.

The Vikings first two playoff games in 1969 (and technically 1970) were indicative of that notion.

Their first of two home playoff games saw them hosting the Los Angeles Rams.

They were led by their All-Pro QB Roman Gabriel, whom won the NFL MVP award that season by throwing 24 TDs compared to only 7 INTS.

They also had a staunch defense of their own, known as the “Fearsome Foursome.”

The Rams had quite an interesting season, to say the least. They started off winning their first 11 games (still a team record to this day), but found a way to lose their final 3 games of the regular season. That is what helped the Vikings secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The cold, steam-breath Rams gave the Vikings everything they could handle.

The usually dependable and solid halfback Bill Brown fumbled early in the 1st quarter and an offsides call against our defense nullified a pick-six by DE Carl Eller. Gabriel took advantage of the miscue and led the Rams down the field and into the endzone to take the lead.

Despite Kapp coming out of the gate throwing after the Rams touchdown and leading the Vikings down the field to score a touchdown of their own (a run up-the-gut to Dave Osborne), the Rams would go on to score 10 unanswered points, leading 17-7 at halftime.

A wake-up call to a team destined to reach the Super Bowl.

Despite two poor interceptions in the early stages of the second half, Kapp led the team down the field and scored two TDs – the first being a run by Osborne and the second being an outside keeper by Kapp – which gave the Vikings a 21-20 lead.

A sack for a safety by Carl Eller and an interception by fellow lineman Alan Page secured a 23-20 comeback victory for the Vikings and an opportunity to compete for the NFL Championship and Super Bowl (remember, those were two completely different games back then since the NFL champion and AFL champion competed for the Super Bowl).

Kapp vs the Browns

         Joe Kapp under center yelling the snap count. Image rights go to getty images.

The Browns stood in the Vikings path, but did not stand a chance against the purple gang. The Vikings were led out of the tunnel by their All-Pro center, Mick Tingelhoff, and they did not look back.

The Browns took a beating as the Vikings earned their NFL Championship by winning the game 27-7.

There were three iconic moments during the game at Metropolitan Stadium (back when the Vikings and Twins shared an outdoor stadium built for baseball).

The first of which occurred in the first half when the Vikings had the ball down inside the 5-yard line. Kapp turned to hand the ball off to Brown and instead they collided with one another. Kapp turned, held onto the ball, and fought his way through Browns defenders to score a touchdown. Talk about toughness.

The second big moment occurred late in the 3rd quarter when Kapp scrambled out to the right and took off upfield. He collided with Browns Pro Bowl linebacker, Jim Houston, and to everyone’s surprise, Kapp was the one that was able to get up from the hit.

The final iconic moment involved the fans overrunning the field and taking down the goal posts in celebration. The Vikings were going to the Super Bowl.

January 11, 1970. New Orleans, Louisiana. Tulane Stadium. The biggest moment in the franchise’s history as the Vikings are set to take on the AFL Champion, Kansas City Chiefs.

Everyone predicted the Vikings to win. In fact, they were 14-point favorites.

The NFL had just lost its first Super Bowl the year before in stunning fashion after winning the first two handily – the first one against the same Chiefs team – and, in the eyes of the NFL, the Vikings were supposed to show the world that the previous Super Bowl was only a fluke. The NFL had always been the superior league and were supposed to prove that theory true again.

Chiefs Super Bowl IV

Chiefs quarterback, Len Dawson, drops back to pass in Super Bowl IV. Image rights go to Roy Iman Photographics.

Everyone was in for another huge surprise on that afternoon – even the Vikings fan involved with the hot air balloon debacle on the field before the game.

The Chiefs head coach, Hank Stram, utilized a confusing offense to defend, known as: “Hank Stram’s Wild West Variety Show.”

The AFL in general was known for being more of a wide-open, high-octane league with lost of points (and even introduced the two-point conversion).

This gave the Vikings some problems in terms of defensive assignments. When watching highlights of the game, you can see moments where even the Vikings star-studded defensive linemen do not know where to lineup against the Chiefs underrated offensive line, which performed phenomenally that day.

That is just it, though. The Chiefs were an underrated football team from top-to-bottom.

They had a visionary head coach for that era in Stram – whom is also well-remembered for being an entertaining person to have mic’d up.

They had a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Len Dawson. They also had other future Hall of Famers on their roster, such as wide receiver, Otis Taylor, linebacker, Willie Lanier, and safety, Johnny Robinson.

Don’t forget that they also had to take on the likes of the previous powerhouse AFL Champions: the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets – which one could argue was a tougher road to the Super Bowl than the Vikings taking on the Rams and the Browns.

Needless to say, the Chiefs and the AFL were for-real and the entire football world were sleeping on them.

Super Bowl IV was a game remembered for plays like the infamous “65 Toss Power Trap” and the quick hitch pass to Taylor that he took to the house for a game-sealing touchdown.

It was also remembered for the lack of a Vikings running game and the beating that Kapp took at the hands of the Chiefs defense.

Late in the game, Kapp threw two INTs – one to Lanier over the middle and the other to Johnny Robinson on a deep ball – effectively ending any hope for the Vikings, but it was the hit he took on the following possession that sums up his afternoon.

In what has since become known straight from the sources as a difference of opinion in terms of play-calling, Kapp called a bootleg to the left. As he did so, he was slammed to the ground and fumbled in the process, turning it over one last time.

The image of Kapp, perhaps the toughest Viking, staying on the ground around the Vikings’ 13-yard line and favoring his left side – officially diagnosed as a dislocated shoulder – is the moment that everyone knew that the Chiefs and the AFL were for real.

Outside of a possession on offense and defense to open the second half, the Chiefs were in complete domination of the game.

Bud Grant

Bud Grant on the Vikings sideline.

The entirety of that game changed everything moving forward.

The following season in 1970 saw the NFL and AFL merge together into one professional football league, the NFL, with two conferences: the NFC and the AFC.

The Vikings’ loss to the Chiefs would ultimately foreshadow the following three Super Bowl losses in the ensuing decade under Grant.

Kapp would fight through a contract dispute and never play for the Vikings again. He wound up being traded to the New England Patriots. After one lackluster season, he was out of the league.

The defensive stars would remain and dominate for many years to come, but even bringing back Tarkenton and drafting Hall of Fame halfback, Chuck Foreman, wouldn’t help the Vikings overcome their Super Bowl woes.

The 1969 Minnesota Vikings are not universally thought of as the best Super Bowl team under Grant, but it is a widely conceived notion that this game not only had the most importance for the team moving forward (much like the Buffalo Bills in the ‘90s), but was also the Vikings’ best chance at winning a Super Bowl.

Despite not ending the season they way they would have hoped, they proved themselves as a legitimate contender and paved the way for many great years ahead for the franchise.

Even 50 years later, this team is still quite memorable in the eyes of Vikings fans and for those interested, there is an excellent book about the team, titled The Last Kings of the Old NFL: The 1969 Minnesota Vikings by Pat Duncan.

Even though the Vikings couldn’t finish they way they would have hoped, their legacy will live on forever.

Pro Athlete Retrospective: Tarvaris Jackson

Every great young athlete’s dream is to play a professional sport. The ability to play such a fun game and make millions of dollars doing so is a privilege few get to experience. While most sports fans remember the stars and legends that live on for decades to come, a lot of them forget some of the other players lost in the mix. Some athletes make it to the professional level, but don’t enjoy the same kind of success that the legends do. Some experience a short lived career, while some show flashes of excellence and cannot sustain consistency doing so. Others are simply good, but not necessarily great. One of those athletes lost in the mix of time for his 10 seasons in the NFL (and is either underappreciated or hated by most depending upon whom you ask) is a quarterback named Tarvaris Jackson.

Jackson, nicknamed either “Action Jackson” or “T-Jack,” grew up in Montgomery, Alabama and entered the collegiate football scene in the fall of 2001. The dual-threat quarterback spent his freshman and sophomore years at the University of Arkansas before suffering a season-ending injury and coming back to find out he had been demoted on the depth chart for Matt Jones, whom became a future 1st round pick in the NFL Draft. Jackson then transferred to Alabama State, a Division I-AA school, and led them to an 8-5 record, which garnered them a berth in the SWAC championship game. The following year he would become the MVP of the SWAC championship game after finishing the season throwing for 20 TDs, only 9 INTs, and rushing for 3 TDs. His senior year saw slightly improved passing statistics (25 TDs and 5 INTs) while being named 2nd-team all-SWAC.

T-Jack college

Before the 2006 NFL Draft, Tarvaris Jackson was not on most people’s radar. Some talent evaluators did not even have him in their top 10 quarterbacks of that draft class. Jackson did also admit he didn’t envision himself going any higher than the back half of the 3rd round. As fate would have it, he was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the final pick of the 2nd round (64th overall) – a shocker to most. That made him the 5th quarterback taken in the draft as he gained higher expectations than he probably expected (or deserved). The Vikings’ then new head coach coach, Brad Childress, expressed his desire to draft someone to mold into a solid starter in his west coast offense and claimed Jackson to be a “diamond in the rough” with immense physical talent. Childress had recent success at the time grooming quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb and A.J. Feeley in Philadelphia under the Andy Reid regime and wanted to bring that coaching ability to Minnesota.

Jackson did not play much his rookie season in the NFL for the Vikings, but that was by design. The goal was for him to spend time working on his mechanics and footwork while learning and developing under the Vikings’ veteran starter, Brad Johnson. In the preseason, Jackson had the 15th highest quarterback rating in the NFL and 2nd in his rookie class only to the Broncos’ Jay Cutler, completing 22 of 34 passes for 249 yards and 2 TDs (while also rushing for 45 yards on 4 attempts). His impressive performance led to him easily beating out J.T. O’Sullivan and Mike McMahon to claim the 3rd string role on the depth chart behind backup Brooks Bollinger.

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It was a rough season for the team – especially for starting quarterback Brad Johnson. Due to having arthroscopic knee surgery early in the regular season, Jackson failed to get into game action until week 13 vs. the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. After Johnson’s horrible performance (including 4 INTs on a day when the Bears’ Rex Grossman threw for only 34 yards and 3 INTs) and an injury to Bollinger, Jackson was inserted into the game late in the 4th quarter. He completed 3 of 4 passes on one drive to close out the 23-13 loss. His next appearance came two weeks later after Johnson was booed out of a home game vs. the New York Jets. Losing 28-7, Tarvaris Jackson entered the game at the start of the 4th quarter and put together a very solid performance that energized the Vikings’ crowd. He finished throwing for 177 yards, his first career TD to halfback Mewelde Moore (while being taken to the ground for a potential sack), an interception, and 20 yards rushing. He was named the starting quarterback for the following week’s night game at Lambeau Field vs. the Green Bay Packers. In miserable field conditions that consisted of endless rain and temperatures hovering around freezing (32-degrees Fahrenheit), Jackson had a night to forget. The Vikings only gained 3 first downs on offense and he finished the game completing 10 of 20 passes for 50 yards. To his credit, the offense around him provided zero help for the young, inexperienced quarterback. Jackson also started the final regular season game for a lowly Vikings team at home vs. the St. Louis Rams, which saw him run for his first career TD on the ground and complete 20 of 34 passes for 213 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs.

Labeled as the “quarterback-of-the-future” within the Vikings’ organization (nowadays called the “franchise quarterback”) after the season, he had to try and live up to the hype and pressure that came along with that title. Sometimes a young player in his position (2nd-round pick and future of the franchise) gets the short end of the stick because they have almost the same amount of pressure as a 1st-round pick, but can get benched, traded, or released much quicker than a 1st round pick if they don’t perform well on the field. Although not a fan favorite by any stretch of the imagination, he was the named the incumbent starter in the offseason. With a now re-tooled and revamped roster filled with much more talent than the year before, Jackson had some better pieces around him to work with – such as electric halfback Adrian Peterson, deep-threat wideout Sidney Rice, slot receiver Bobby Wade, and reliable tight end Visanthe Shiancoe while retaining solid starters in shifty halfback Chester Taylor and a dominant interior offensive lineman in Steve Hutchinson.

T-Jack Vikings 2

Overall, the 2007 campaign for Tarvaris Jackson was a rocky one at best. On opening day, he gave a solid performance in a 24-3 win at home vs. the Atlanta Falcons – throwing for 163 yards and both a touchdown and interception. However, the following week at the Detroit Lions, Jackson threw zero TDs and 4 INTs in a 20-17 loss in OT while managing to injure his groin late in the game. He wouldn’t appear again until week 9 at the Chicago Bears in a game best remembered as the day Adrian Peterson rushed for over 200 yards in a 34-31 victory. Jackson’s inconsistency – particularly with his accuracy – led to some mighty poor performances over a stretch of games while battling injuries, most notably a 72-yard passing game at the Dallas Cowboys in which he was getting into arguments with players and coaches on the sidelines (plus an awesome spin-move on DeMarcus Ware) and getting knocked unconscious early in a game at home vs. the San Diego Chargers in which Adrian Peterson broke the record for most rushing yards in a game with 296.

Jackson did eventually get back on track with a string of good games, featuring a 29-22 win at home vs. the Oakland Raiders (and former Vikings’ quarterback, Daunte Culpepper) in which he threw for 171 yards and completed 77% of his passes, a big-time win (41-17) over the eventual Super Bowl champs, New York Giants, which saw him complete 10 of 12 passes, 1 TD, and rush for 38 yards, and another big win at home vs. the Detroit Lions in which he threw for 204 yards and 2 TDs (while having another solid outing vs. the San Francisco 49ers). He did struggle in the Monday Night Football game at home vs. the Chicago Bears, but did help the team win five straight games. They needed to win their final game of the season at the Denver Broncos to make the playoffs. Although Jackson did play a tremendous game leading a late comeback – throwing two late TDs, converting both 2-point conversions, and overcoming two benched starters in wideout Troy Williamson and halfback Adrian Peterson to tie the game – he fumbled in overtime as the Broncos kicked a game-winning field goal. Jackson would finish the season completing 58% of his passes for 9 TDs, 12 INTs, and 3 rushing TDs.

T-Jack Vikings 7

The 2008 season, his third in the league, was another challenging season for Tarvaris Jackson. He had to compete against veteran journeyman Gus Frerotte to become the starter – a challenge he won during a great preseason and training camp. Having said that, he sprained his MCL halfway through the preseason and did not return until opening day at the Packers on Monday Night Football – the first career start for Aaron Rodgers. Jackson gave a mediocre performance and was upstaged by Rodgers in a 24-19 loss. Feeling the pressure of a tight leash from the Vikings’ organization and fans, he couldn’t overcome the adversity in a losing effort, 18-15, at home vs. Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. The confidence he gained and exuded in the preseason was nowhere to be found in those first two games – although he was not afforded much help from his receivers around him at the time. He was benched following the Colts game and demoted to backup under Gus Frerotte, whom had the opposite skill-set to Jackson – immobile, less arm strength, more consistently accurate as a pocket-passer, and made better decisions with the football.

Jackson made a brief cameo at the Tennessee Titans a few weeks later (completing his only pass for 8 yards), but didn’t appear again until week 14 at the Lions. He entered the game for an injured Frerotte and completed 8 of 10 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. With Frerotte still unable to play the following week, Jackson got the start at the Arizona Cardinals. He sure made the most of his opportunity. Jackson finished the game with only 163 yards, but threw 4 TDs (three coming in the first half) in a 35-14 blowout – earning him NFC Offensive Player of the Week. Despite Frerotte fully recovering from his injury and able to play the next game vs. the Atlanta Falcons, Jackson got the nod from Childress. Although the Vikings lost 24-17, Jackson threw for 233 yards, 2 TDs, and rushed for 82 yards. His confidence level was soaring through the roof at this point. The final game of the season saw him complete 16 of 26 passes for 239 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and capping off a tight 20-19 victory over the Giants to win the NFC North title. Jackson would finish the season throwing 9 TDs and only 2 INTs. Unfortunately, the fairytale comeback story ended there as he struggled in a 26-14 loss facing the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFC Wildcard Round of the playoffs – completing only 42% of his passes and forever remembered for getting body slammed by the Eagles’ Chris Clemons while unsuccessfully trying to prevent an interception from getting returned for a touchdown.

T-Jack Vikings 10

At the start of the 2009 season, the Vikings, feeling the need to address their starting quarterback position with the best player possible in order to give their talented roster a real chance for a Super Bowl run, body slammed Jackson down the depth chart to make room for one of the most legendary quarterbacks of all-time: Brett Favre. It was rumored that Jackson would not have been the starter even if Favre had not signed with the Vikings; they also signed veteran journeyman Sage Rosenfels during the offseason, whom had a similar skill-set to then former Vikings’ quarterback Gus Frerotte. Jackson responded by putting together a tremendous preseason performance after the Favre signing at home vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, throwing for 202 yards, 2 TDs, and completing 12 of his 15 passes – cementing his status as the backup over Rosenfels.

As you might imagine, 2009 was a magical season for Brett Favre and the Vikings. With miracle victories and blowouts in abundance, it was Favre’s year to shine – not Jackson’s. Favre had one of his best seasons as a pro at age 39, throwing for over 4,200 yards, 33 TDs, and only 7 INTs. Meanwhile, Jackson only got to come in during mop-up duty late in games that were already decided. He finished the season completing 14 of 21 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings finished the season with a 13-3 record and the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs.

After the Vikings dominated the Cowboys in the divisional round 34-3, they advanced to the NFC Championship game at the New Orleans Saints, the #1 seed in the NFC. In a crazy game that saw the Vikings gain almost twice as many yards as the Saints, nearly 10 more minutes in time-of-possession, and four less penalties for 50 less yards, they also committed five turnovers (while narrowly avoiding more) – including the infamous Favre interception late in regulation – that led to the overtime loss that ended their magical season. However, as I was watching the game and seeing the beating that Favre took (which clearly had an impact not only during that particular game, but the following season), part of me was hoping Jackson would get to enter the game and help them pull off the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. Look back to the second half in that game; Favre took a nasty cheap shot from two Saints’ defenders (McCrary and Ayodele) that left Favre on the ground in pain and limping over to the trainer’s table on the sideline. On that infamous interception to the Saints’ Tracy Porter, Favre could have limped forward for potentially five yards or so to set up a better field goal opportunity for reliable kicker Ryan Longwell. Instead, he threw across his body into double coverage. Would Tarvaris Jackson have made that passing attempt? My gut tells me no. He would have followed direct orders by likely utilizing his mobility on that play out of the pocket and run for maybe 10 yards just knowing his athletic ability. It clearly does not matter now, since nothing can change the outcome, but it is still fascinating to think about.

T-Jack and Favre

After the will he / won’t he come back coverage of Brett Favre, he was convinced to return for the 2010 season at age 40. However, things never happen the same way twice. The Vikings were without a few key players that season, such as Favre’s favorite deep-threat receiver Sidney Rice and the often injured speed demon named Percy Harvin. Things fell apart quickly. Favre was simply not the same player he was the year prior and the team chemistry was obliterated – likely from the previous year’s playoff loss (not to mention the Randy Moss fiasco). Childress was fired after suffering an embarrassing 31-3 loss at home vs. the Packers in week 11 and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was promoted to the interim head coaching position. A few weeks earlier, Jackson came in during the 4th quarter for an injured Favre and completed 4 of 6 passes for a touchdown and a 2-point conversion in a loss to the New England Patriots. As fate would have it, Favre sustained a concussion a few weeks later at home vs. the Bills on his first pass attempt and Jackson entered the game. This was his opportunity to steal the spotlight like he had done a few years earlier for an injured Gus Frerotte. For a while, it seemed that way. Jackson lit up the Bills secondary in the first half by throwing for 2 TDs. He fell back down to Earth in the 2nd half as he threw 3 INTs, but did manage to finish the game completing 68% of his passes and throwing for 187 yards in a 38-14 win. The following week he got to start for the still-concussed Favre in a strange home game played in Ford Field (the home stadium of the Detroit Lions) due to the Metrodome roof collapsing late in the week. It was another game to forget for Jackson and the Vikings. They lost 21-3 to the Giants and Jackson did not put together a good game whatsoever. He completed 15 of 30 passes for a measly 118 yards and an interception. To add injury to insult, in this scenario, Jackson also managed to run into halfback Adrian Peterson on a hand-off and sustained a turf toe injury, which effectively ended his season. The Vikings would end their season 3-13, which was last in the division and the opposite of their record the previous year.

T-Jack Seahawks 6

After a tumultuous five seasons in Minnesota, Jackson became a free agent and both parties decided a change was for the best. Both Tarvaris Jackson and Sidney Rice decided to follow offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to the Seattle Seahawks under head coach Pete Carroll for the 2011 season. People in Seattle and Minnesota were shocked to learn that Jackson was immediately named the starter. Carroll explained the decision was due to Jackson’s background in the offense while others on the roster, presumably Charlie Whitehurst, needed time to catch up.

Jackson never relinquished his starting duties that season. He played solid enough to win the job outright during the preseason, including facing his former team, the Vikings. Although the Seahawks only went 7-9 that season and missed out on the playoffs, Jackson performed better than most expected. He began the season with a few good performances, but the team could not find a way to win, dropping three of their first four games as well as Jackson getting sacked 14 times in the first three games. Jackson’s season statistically was up and down, but not nearly as dramatic as his tenure with the Vikings. His only bad game was in a 23-13 loss at the Cowboys as he completed 56% of his passes and threw 3 INTs. A few of his best performances consisted of a close loss to the Falcons in which he threw for 319 yards and 3 TDs as well as a string of four consecutive games in which he threw for at least one touchdown, zero interceptions, averaged a completion percentage of 65% and just over 200 yards per game. He won three of those four games. Jackson finished the season throwing for 3,091 yards, 14 TDs, 13 INTs, and completing 60% of his passes while playing through a pectoral injury for a good portion of the season and becoming a locker room favorite during the process.

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The 2012 season was one of misfortune for Jackson. After the Seahawks signed Matt Flynn to a big contract and drafted Russell Wilson in the offseason, Jackson became the odd man out in Seattle. He was traded before the start of the regular season to the Buffalo Bills for a 7th-round pick as they were releasing an inconsistent Vince Young. The plan was for Jackson to learn the playbook as quickly as possible to see if he could compete for the backup job to Ryan Fitzpatrick with former Vikings’ draftee, Tyler Thigpen. It turned out that Jackson never truly had the opportunity. He spent the duration of the 2012 season unable to crack the active roster and then venturing into free agency once again after the season.

Jackson opted to go back to the Seahawks for the 2013 season since they had an opening for their backup quarterback spot behind a surprise breakout rookie sensation in Russell Wilson since Matt Flynn was no longer a member of the club. He was also reunited with former Viking teammates Percy Harvin and Antoine Winfield (although Winfield never lasted with the team). Jackson put together a remarkable preseason. In fact, it was his best as a pro. He finished the preseason completing 72% of his passes for 357 yards and 3 TDs. In limited regular season action, he completed 10 of 13 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. The Seahawks rode their young star quarterback, Wilson, and “legion of boom” defense all the way to the Super Bowl against the historically great Denver Broncos. In the midst of destroying the Broncos 43-8, Jackson got his opportunity to play on the final offensive drive for the Seahawks. After a couple run plays, Jackson was awarded the opportunity to throw a rollout pass to his right. No receiver was open on the play, so he made the correct read and simply threw the ball away. He also earned a nice compliment from FOX color commentator Troy Aikman after the play, stating how happy the Seahawks had been with Jackson for his effort and improvement.

T-Jack Seahawks 2

Jackson’s final two seasons in the NFL, 2014 and 2015, were spent in a similar role as Russell Wilson’s backup for the Seahawks. Much like 2013, he only made brief cameo appearances in one or two regular season games. He attempted free agency in 2014 to see if a team was willing to offer him a chance to compete for a starting job, but found no luck. The only team that expressed interest in a workout was the Miami Dolphins, but no deal was ever discussed.

Before the 2016 season, the Seahawks opted to draft Trevone Boykin from TCU and move on from Jackson. He failed to find a suitor and spent the entire season without a team. A big reason why teams likely avoided him was due to the his June 2016 arrest in Florida in which he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. It was reported that he allegedly pulled a gun on his wife, but was then taunted by his wife, stating: “You better be accurate, because you ain’t accurate on the field.” He refuted the majority of the information in the police report and a few months later the Florida Assistant State Attorney decided against prosecuting him in the case (and he remains married with three kids). At that point, however, his NFL career was still in serious jeopardy. Although no team would ever sign him again, the Seahawks did contemplate bringing him back when at one point they felt unsure of Boykin as the backup since Wilson had recently sustained an ankle injury. However, they decided not to bring back Jackson and keep Boykin holding the clipboard on the sideline while Wilson played through the injury.

Buffalo Bills v Minnesota Vikings

So what is Tarvaris Jackson doing now that his playing career is over? In a recent Twin Cities Pioneer Press article, it was revealed that he has moved on from playing the game and instead throwing his hat into the coaching ring. Jackson, 34, has spent the past two seasons working as an assistant at his high school alma mater, Sidney Lanier High School, and has recently accepted a job as a graduate assistant at his collegiate alma mater, Alabama State, with an emphasis on quarterbacks. His aspirations for coaching, however, go much further than a graduate assistant. Jackson stated: “I do want to coach on a professional level . . . In the back of my head, I do want to be a head coach one day, but right now I want to be the best quarterback, grad assistant coach that I can be . . . I want to just focus as much as I can on learning the coaching side.” Jackson has 10 years of NFL experience to bring to coaching and continues by adding: “From my playing experience and my knowledge added over the years, just everything, I think I’ve got so much to give on the coaching end.’’ He did also admit that he was cheering for Case Keenum and the Vikings last season during their magical run that fell just short of the Super Bowl and still praises and advocates for Darrell Bevell, his former offensive coordinator in Minnesota and Seattle.

So what can we make of Tarvaris Jackson’s career? He endured a massive storm of hate as a starting quarterback in Minnesota and stumbled at times when his team needed him the most. He might not have had a glamorous career with records and championships, but he was the backup quarterback for a team that made two Super Bowl appearances in three years and even got to throw a pass in one. He managed to play 10 seasons in the league and threw more career touchdowns than interceptions (39:35). It is fair to say that he did not live up to the hype and excitement that was bestowed upon him early in his professional playing career, but it is also fair to say that he hung in there and made the most out of a wild ride of a career. He got to play with some incredible players that he has likely learned an abundance of information from, such as Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre, Russell Wilson, and Marshawn Lynch. Not only that, but he and his family have endured the situation from the summer of 2016 and are still together today. The sun may have set on Tarvaris Jackson’s playing career, but his coaching career may just be on the brink of rising up above the horizon.


Why The Vikings Should NOT Start Keenum Going Forward

Allow me to preface my statement by saying this: I like Case Keenum. I’ve been a fan of his since he was slinging touchdowns left and right at the University of Houston. He came from an era in which quarterbacks like Colt Brennan, Graham Harrell, Dan LeFevour, and Kellen Moore were putting up, as the phrase goes, “video game” type of stats on a regular basis. All of them are among the all-time leaders in career touchdowns in college football history, but Keenum is still the NCAA all-time leader for most career touchdowns, passing yards, and completions.

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As he transitioned into the NFL, he surpassed the long odds and achieved some success despite going undrafted and now playing for his 3rd NFL team. He stepped in for a Houston Texans team that was near the end of the Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub era and provided a spark for a team that was once thought of being a good quarterback away from becoming a championship contending team – including throwing for 3 TDs in the first half of a game vs. the Colts and finishing with 350 passing yards.

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However, the Texans didn’t view him as their future signal-caller (since his record as a starter was 0-8) and long story short, let him walk to the St. Louis Rams (while swapping him back and forth for a season). In limited action after replacing an underperforming Nick Foles, he finished his first season with the Rams totaling 4 TDs and 1 INT, but the only thing most people remember about this season in regards to Keenum is the concussion he sustained during a game at the Ravens and was questionably allowed to stay in the game (fumbling the game away shortly thereafter). After a rough start to the following season with 9 TDs and 11 INTs (the first as the L.A. Rams), he was benched for rookie QB Jared Goff, who was the first overall pick of the previous NFL Draft.

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Since he became expendable to the Rams, he left Los Angeles and decided to compete with Taylor Heinicke for the backup job in Minnesota behind starter Sam Bradford. After playing spectacularly in the preseason and winning the backup job until Teddy Bridgewater’s return (more on that later), he was forced to step into action week 2 with Bradford experiencing knee pain and soreness. For the most part, he has played better than most have expected. As of right now, he has 5 TDs and 1 INT while leading the Vikings to a 3-2 record if you count the game he played at the Chicago Bears.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers

Having said that, I’m not ready to jump on the Keenum bandwagon that most in the sports media world seem to be doing. Most point out how the team is rallying behind him right now and that his mobility helps out the Vikings’ offense in a way that Bradford obviously cannot do. It isn’t that their viewpoint is wrong, because it is true to an extent, but please do not fall for what the situation appears to be.

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When looking at the teams he has played against, only two of them have a competent defense (Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions) and did not perform well in either game – both of the Vikings’ losses. In those losses, the Vikings have averaged 8 points-per-game. If you take a look at his skill-set, he is essentially a rich man’s version of what the Vikings were hoping to get when they drafted Christian Ponder with the 12th overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. I like to call Keenum the definition of an NFL QB “tweener.” By that, I mean that he is a great, quality backup QB for an NFL team, but is not the type of guy a team would like to start over a long stretch of games. The media keeps making a big deal about his lack of turnovers, but they must not be watching all of the games since he has gone multiple games, including the most recent game vs. the Green Bay Packers, having thrown numerous dropped interceptions. This is where the lack of tough competition comes into play. He also couldn’t make a play almost the entire 2nd half at home against the Lions when the team needed a play – especially in the 4th quarter.

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Think about it: Keenum is the 3rd best QB on the Vikings’ roster. Obviously Sam Bradford’s injury is worse than the Vikings have been leading the public to believe. I’m not accusing anyone of lying or not doing their job, but the reality is that Bradford might not be back this season. Conversely, Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings’ 1st round pick from 2014, is finally practicing for the first time since August 2016. As a close friend and fellow Vikings’ fan recently told me, the best plan of action for the Vikings (if Bradford cannot return from injury) is having Bridgewater continue to get first team reps in practice and be inactive this upcoming weekend against the Baltimore Ravens, then serving as the #2 QB the following game against the Cleveland Browns (since both teams are not exactly the toughest opponents on our schedule), and finally having him take over the starting job after the bye week at the Washington Redskins.

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Things could obviously go much different as it usually does in the NFL on a week-to-week basis. The best thing that could happen for the Vikings is having Sam Bradford fully recovered from his injury since he is the most talented passer of the three (although Bridgewater has the most potential), but it should be interesting to see how it all unfolds. If the Vikings do decide to stick with Keenum for the remainder of the season as the starter, no amount of mobility (which has also been talked about and praised way too much) or team spirit will turn him into a savior and, ultimately, save him from facing the tougher teams remaining on our schedule, such as the Lions, Atlanta Falcons, and Carolina Panthers. Like I said at the beginning, I like Keenum’s ability, so I hope that he continues to find success and does whatever is necessary for the Vikings to continue to win games. I’m just not sure that continuing to start him will be the solution. 

The Great Madden Idea!

Xbox One and PS4

Are you a gamer? Do you enjoy playing the Madden video game franchise? Well, then this is the article for you. I have an idea for them that will hopefully intrigue them into bringing back a certain feature they used to have. Would you like to know what that is?

Madden NFL 06

Football is my favorite sport. I’ve been playing Madden back since I was a kid and just gotten my first PS2 (I feel old, who else does?). Among the ones I most enjoyed playing are Madden NFL ’06 – having Donovan McNabb on the cover was really cool since I was a fan of him, and the new QB vision feature that put emphasis on the awareness attribute, and was also dubbed (gaming-wise) “year of the quarterback.” Being a quarterback myself, I love that thought. I also played Madden NFL ’08, but probably put my most hours into Madden NFL ’10. That game was awesome! From there, I’ve played Madden NFL ’12, ’13, 25 – with all of them not really changing much and making me start losing faith in the future of the quality for the Madden gaming franchise. Having said that, the newest installment in the game really pleasantly surprised not only myself, but many others as well. IGN rated it an 8.7/10, which was at least a whole one point higher than they rated it the year before. It was now much easier to progress players on what they call connected career/franchise mode, where it contains player, coach, and owner modes. I mostly play for that particular part, but I’ve also played online and ultimate team. They’re fun, but don’t intrigue me as much as playing through a career and building a team/progressing a player. Madden NFL ’15 also has a new feature called “chew clock” where you can turn it on at the end of games (or right in the middle of them) to automatically work as accelerated clock and have it skip right to 12 seconds on the clock to snap the ball. It really speeds up the end of a game and saves time. Another great feature it has: the best, realistic graphics and presentation that the game has ever seen. It seems – at least for now – Madden is going in the right direction.

Madden NFL 15

So the Madden franchise is definitely an improvement in the game’s series, but what are they going to do for this coming year? So far they haven’t released any new information lately about it. All they’ve said publicly is their release date, which is August 25, 2015. Speculation is that Madden game developers will be releasing more details come May, but who knows if that is true or not. One thing that is true though is the announcement of Joe Montana Football 16, and much like Madden, not much for details is known about the game. The only time Madden’s franchise has been rivaled was back when ESPN NFL 2K5 came out, and is still considered to this day one of the best football games ever made. It knocked Madden NFL 2005‘s price down from the $50-$60 price range to about $29.99. EA then got the exclusive rights for the NFL, and haven’t been in competition since. Yes, games like NFL Head Coach, NFL Head Coach ’09, and All-Pro Football 2K8 (the only 2K game since EA gained their exclusive rights), but none of them even came close to competing with the iconic Madden games. Montana has said that Madden games are like “roster updates,” and his game would change that idea.

Joe Montana Football 16

Thinking about this new Joe Montana Football 16 game has me really interested in what direction they are going to go and what it is going to be like. He was always one of my biggest inspirations growing up, so I’m really cheering for him to make a great game. I mean, competition only brings out the best in people (and their games), right? I sure hope so in this case! One of the things that came across my mind while pondering about the game was how when I was younger and played the older Madden games, they had all the old classic teams from the past that you could play with, and I always enjoyed that. Of course they didn’t have names, so I would go through and name the players I knew. Also recently, I’m playing a connected franchise as some NFL legends as rookies, and the combination of those thoughts led me to an idea that has been unconscious in my brain for quite a while until now. What if they made a game, or even brought back those classic teams, into their own spin-off game? EA could even include them into their next installment of the Madden franchise if they wanted to. I doubt people are commanding for former legendary teams to be included into Madden NFL ’16 though, sadly.


I used to love watching NFL Films as a kid. I would watch the classic commentary to the NFL Game of the Week (and I’m also a fan of America’s Game) and fall in love with old-school football – whether it be the Colts of the ’60s, Steelers and Cowboys of the ’70s, or the 49ers of the ’80s. With the graphics of the latest Madden and future ones coming, how awesome would it be to play with not only the Hall of Fame player (ex: Warren Moon, John Elway, Walter Payton), but the whole team? For me personally, a dream come true would be able to play with one of those teams in the connected franchise mode and change history. You could make Dan Marino, or even Barry Sanders win a Super Bowl! That is my great Madden idea, and even though the likelihood that it’ll come true is very slim to none, it’s a very entertaining thought. Oh, the joys of “what if?” What are your thoughts? Is this something that you would enjoy to play, or not? Let me know! Thanks for your time, and have a great day gamers!

Why Christian Ponder still has a future in the NFL

It hasn’t slipped by me that this is probably going to be a very controversial topic, and probably a lot of opposition to it, but it is in my firm opinion (one I’ve had for years before he was drafted into the NFL) that Christian Ponder has a future in the NFL. At this point, many are probably wondering why I think this way, and I have (Christian) pondered that as well for a while, until I came to a clear resolution recently. I’ll point out some things that most people have forgotten, which will hopefully make people open to thinking about the idea of him competing to start for whoever he might play for this next season, whether it be the Minnesota Vikings, or anybody else.


First off, remember his promising rookie campaign? He came off the bench in a blowout loss to the Chicago Bears and moved the ball pretty well, and in his first start against the Green Bay Packers at home, he nearly pulled off an upset. He played with an intensity that was missing from their offense (sorry Donovan McNabb) and gave them the spark they needed, while showing why they drafted him high. Yes, there were times when he made bad decisions and bad throws, but overall he had people excited to see what would happen in his sophomore campaign at the pro level.

Before people say he had a boring and almost horrific 2012 season, let’s just look a little more closely at it first. To start off the season, he played pretty well in the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (20-27, 270 yds), and then dazzled in the home upset vs. the San Francisco 49ers. Yes, he sort of fell off into a slump after that, but it wasn’t like he was throwing a bunch of INTs or anything. I’ll even admit, there were some games that were so boring, I found myself yelling at the TV as well. Ponder seemed to struggle on the road the most, especially at the Seahawks (63 yds, INT), Bears (58 QB Rating), and Packers (2 INT in endzone, 41 QB Rating). What goes beyond those stats are the fact that he often couldn’t find wide open receivers, and then if he did, he would be inaccurate and the ball would never get there. Most of these occurrences would happen beyond 20 yards down the field.  When we got to crunch time and had to win out to make the playoffs, Ponder showed development and won us our final four games. He scrambled to get us more first downs and settled his feet in the pocket to make good, solid throws. In the final game at home against the Green Bay Packers, he played his best game as a pro. He threw 3 TD passes and led us down the field on the final drive while being injured to set up the game-winning FG by Blair Walsh. His presence was missed in the playoffs, as the Vikings struggled on offense with Joe Webb and were blown out by none other than the Green Bay Packers. Overall, he had 18 TDs and 12 INTs, and played well at the beginning and the end of the season, and still made people optimistic as to what the future might bring for this young quarterback.

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Forget the fact that he was benched twice during his third season, I still think he played some of his best football this past season. Yeah he struggled early on in the season to get anything going, like the 3 INT game against Detroit to start out the season. When he got his second chance at becoming the starting quarterback again, he showed the upside Vikings fans had been waiting to see. He really played well at Dallas, and he even had two games of over a 100 QB rating, being against the Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers. An injury in the following game against the Bears ended his season short, but really played like a franchise quarterback the second half of the season. Yeah his record also wasn’t that great, but with a defense as bad as Minnesota’s last season, Peyton Manning would even have a tough time mustering up a better record.

From this point on, there is little I can say about stats. People can say what they want to say about Christian Ponder, but he has good mobility, can throw on the run, and when given time to throw, he has shown tremendous accuracy, even when throwing deep. Look him up on YouTube and watch the throws he makes. It is in my opinion that the Vikings will keep Ponder to compete for next season with Matt Cassel and a rookie quarterback probably not drafted in the first round. He has all the tools to succeed, it’s just a matter of time before it happens, whether it be in a Vikings uniform or a different one. I’m not saying he’ll make it to Canton one day, but he can play and probably will for a quite a while. Thanks for your time!