So we came across this Craigslist ad the other day thanks to a tweet from the folks at On the Fly.
Per the ad, you can buy a game-used Vikings “helmet cart car” for $4,000, and now we’re pretty much obsessed. Per the ad:
This is a one of a kind item that was actually used by the Minnesota Vikings on the field during gamedays for promotions and to cart players off the field. This cart was 1/28 made for the NFL (one for each team at that time). This is the ONLY Minnesota Vikings one available and in existence. The Minnesota Vikings used this for many years at Met Stadium and the Metrodome until it became unproductive at the Dome due to it bottoming out and too big for the tight corners. … The cart unfortunately does not run but would only take a little bit to get it going. It does not run right now as the 16 car batteries have been removed and the small motor was blown that it had in it.
Anyone good with cars? Who wants to pool some money? We’re only half-joking.
The Vikings practiced today before heading off for the bye week. Among those out on the field was tight end Kyle Rudolph, who is nearing a return after his September surgery for a sports hernia.
Today was the first time since Rudolph exacerbated his injury in Week 3 and needed to have the surgery that he practiced with the team. He was limited to just individual drills, but still, it is another step in the right direction.
“It’s good to be back out there running around a little bit. Finally get involved a little bit, not be on the side,” Rudolph said. “It felt good.”
Rudolph is still shooting to return Week 11, when the Vikings travel to play the Bears after the bye week, though he isn’t going to overdo it just to play right after the bye. He said that head coach Mike Zimmer and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman will ultimately make the determination on whether he plays.
“It would be horrible if we caused a setback to try to get that one game,” Rudolph said. “The direction that this team is headed right now, we’ve got to have our focus and our goal for the long term this season.”
Rudolph said he isn’t “limited in anything” right now and that it’s all about getting the rust off and again doing things at a high level. For example, he has to get re-adjusted to catching passes from NFL quarterbacks after being on the receiving end of passes from Sugarman the past couple of weeks.
“Although Sugs is a heck of quarterback, going out there and catching ball from those guys is a little different,” he said.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman just conducted his annual midseason Q&A session with reporters, though to the surprise of no one he wanted to limit his comments to the 4-5 Vikings without saying anything meaningful about running back Adrian Peterson’s legal situation.
“All I’m going to say is basically at the appropriate time, and I know you guys can appreciate this, we’ll keep all of our comments under the Adrian situation until it’s appropriate to speak,” Spielman said. “And I’ll just leave it at that. I know Coach [Mike] Zimmer talked to you guys yesterday. I’m probably not going to go any further on the Adrian situation.”
Asked when the appropriate time would be — after all, there were rumblings that Peterson was about to agree to a plea deal down in Texas that would allow him to avoid jail time — Spielman responded, “We’ll let everybody know.”
Pressed again on Peterson, he said, “We’ll make the appropriate comments when the time comes.”
Now onto football, and how the 4-5 Vikings are starting to get it right on the field. Spielman praised Zimmer for how he has helped the Vikings navigate some early-season adversity, which included losing Peterson in Week 2 after he was charged with child abuse.
“I think just watching Coach Zim, we’ve dealt with a lot of adversity through the first part of the season,” Spielman said. “And to see his leadership and to see this team take his mental approach to the game, where there’s no excuses and resiliency, you’re seeing this young team with a lot of young guys stepping up and growing. I know we’re nowhere yet near where we need to be. … We’ve still got a long way to go and a lot of things to work on, but it’s nice to see the direction we’re headed.”
Spielman is pleased with the progress that rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has made.
“Teddy is continuing to grow each week. He had a pretty good start when he got the opportunity to play against Atlanta. Then all the sudden he started to see some different things and had to grow through that process,” Spielman said. “Even talking about this past week, I know you guys were all over him about the deep ball accuracy and things like that, but that all comes. … He’s 3-2 as a starter but all three games we were down in the fourth quarter and he brought us from behind. What he’s doing on third down. What he’s doing against the blitz. All those things, there were signs of that in college and that’s what he did well in college. I think the more he learns, the more he progresses. It’s just going to continue to grow.”
Spielman chalked the struggles of the offensive line up to a new pass protection scheme and injuries at right guard. He feels they have played better the past couple of weeks, especially left tackle Matt Kalil.
“I know you guys beat the heck out of him in the press and I know you guys love Pro Football Focus and read that. But a couple of the sacks that you guys are digging him on are not always his fault,” Spielman said. “And because you guys don’t know what the pass protection was or where the slide was. I know Matt was inconsistent early but I think over the last two or three weeks he has really gotten a lot better and got back to being focused. I really think Matt is going to be a heck of a left tackle in this league.”
He also defended wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who has been held to two or fewer receptions in five out of the past six games. Zimmer, of course, said yesterday that Patterson needs to be more precise.
“He’s a very unique athlete. I think the one thing that you have to remember with Cordarrelle — I know you guys are killing him as well — this is another junior that came out that played six months at a major college then he learned a new system last year and he’s learning a new system this year,” Spielman said. “And he is a unique athlete and I know Norv [Turner] and I know George Stewart are putting in extra time working extremely hard and Cordarrelle is doing his part putting into it. But it’s just that these young guys just have to learn the nuances of the game.”
Finally, Spielman talked about outside linebacker Anthony Barr, the No. 9 overall pick in May’s NFL draft. Barr continues to make game-changing plays for the Vikings, making Spielman look good.
“Anthony, like a lot of our guys I think, was a pretty unique athlete,” Spielman said. “When I talked to you guys after the draft and Coach Zim is up there drawing stuff — Xs and Os on how he was going to utilize the skills he saw on tape and how he was going to fit in the scheme. They’re doing a lot more things with him now maybe than they were doing in the early part of the season. And he’s continuing to grow as well. He has made some pretty impact plays for us so far and I think that will continue to progress.”
We just finished up from the news conference introducing Paul Molitor as the 13th manager in Twins franchise history and just the third since 1986. Here are five takeaways from the presser:
1) Molitor has clear expectations that he wants to be competitive immediately. He talked on multiple occasions about teams making quick turnarounds and talked about things on the 2014 Twins — despite their 92 losses, the fourth consecutive season with at least that many — that he liked. The money quote: “I’m coming here to win.” He said that while he’s excited like many fans are about the potential for some of the prospects in the pipeline, he is more concerned with the here and now. Terry Ryan echoed that sentiment. “We’re ready to win here,” the GM said. “We’ve got to get going.” Whether that happens will likely be a function of how much the pitching improves more than the hiring of Molitor, but a new approach can influence change.
2) Ryan was emphatic that he spoke with Joe Maddon and that he even told Molitor about it as the process was unfolding. We’re not entirely sure how serious those talks got, but Ryan said it three times so there you have it.
3) Molitor was asked how much he will incorporate advanced statistics and the kind of modern information that is readily available. He talked favorably of defensive shifts — he was credited last year with moving the Twins in that direction as a coach — and said he will use as much information as he finds useful while also being cautious not to overburden players with too much data.
4) One thing that gets mentioned a lot is that great players have a hard time being successful managers because they haven’t done the little things to be successful. Twins closer Glen Perkins, who was in attendance along with Joe Mauer, had this to say on that front: “I think what made Paul Molitor a Hall of Famer was not just the raw ability. … He did all those little things that added up to a lot more. … He worked at a lot of things. I think those are traits that will make him a good manager, and in this case I don’t think it’s a huge concern.”
5) The biggest intrigue now, of course, is who winds up on Molitor’s staff. Both he and Ryan indicated there have already been discussions and that they will intensify as quickly as this afternoon. So stay tuned on that.