Who’s Greedier: Gordon Gekko or Brett Favre?

The classics in any genre are timeless.

That is why the Minnesota Vikings’ Brett Favre still resonates with two generations of football fans.

It is exactly the same reason why Gordon Gekko’s character in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is also relevant today. Market observers noted that the averages on the Dow Jones, Nasdaq, and Standard & Poor’s indexes all demonstrated steep increases on Friday, the same day that Oliver Stone’s new movie premiered nationwide.

Is this merely a coincidence? Or a message sent from the traders and investors who watch financial tickers the much like a suburban husband watches ESPN score tickers (when he should be out blowing leaves onto his neighbor’s lawn)?

By Patrick Herbert

[Read more…]

50 Years of Heartache for Minnesota Vikings’ Fans

Brett Favre-vikings

While perusing the official site of the Minnesota Vikings, I came across a timeline of the team’s history. The newfound bandwagon jumpers of Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson have no recollection of the lean years and near misses in the playoffs of this sometimes proud franchise. Favre changes his mind about playing more than a middle school girl switches her best friend forever. It is quite certain that his recent bout with uncertainty had everything to do with restructuring his contract in order to receive a substantial raise for the upcoming season.

But Favre will have to achieve a lot of glory in order to overcome the failures of the past.

By Patrick Herbert

[Read more…]

Favre, Peyton bring Midwest Sports into National Focus Part 1

brentfavre

By Paul M. Banks

Brett Favre’s incessant media circus and Peyton Manning’s undefeated Colts have put national spotlight on the Midwest, I discuss this and the future of sports media with Midwest Sports Fans.com’s Jerod Morris.

(PMB) Last weekend, I was at a party and referred to ESPN as Eastern Seaboard Programming Network, as I always do. Someone said to me non-jokingly, “Is that what it really stands for?” And with the non-stop emphasis on New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox, Duke-North Carolina and the unhealthy man-crush that they (along with seemingly every other journalist in this country) seems to have on Florida QB Tim Tebow, I do wonder if it’s literally true.

Of course, they also unjustifiably blanket teams like USC and Notre Dame which appeal to large numbers of frat boy front-runner types who don’t really like sports, but pretend to. Your thoughts on bias, East Coast or otherwise?duke_vitale

(JM) By now I think it is pretty clear to everyone that a strong bias exists not just at ESPN but at all major television networks; and the bias can be boiled down into one nice, neat, tidy word: ratings.

ESPN is no longer just the upstart underdog from Bristol. They are now a Disney-owned, worldwide conglomerate with serious stakeholders to answer to. No longer can they be “every sports persons’ network”; rather, they must be “every sports plurality’s network”, and by this I mean that they must, in the majority of cases, broadcast whatever they can get their hands on in each time slot that will drive the highest ratings.

We can bitch about it all we want (and we do!) but Yankees-Red Sox will always drive more viewers than White Sox-Twins, no matter how good the teams are. Duke-North Carolina will always drive more visitors than a game for first place in the Big Ten between Michigan State and Purdue. It is what it is. And it just so happens that most of the ratings drivers are East Coast-based teams and the majority of the country is on Central or Eastern time.

I would think that by now sports fans would be conditioned to the reality that sports is a business. We hear the athletes say it all the time, and I think that despite our frustrations we have to understand that the same is true for those who broadcast them.

And if we don’t like it, there’s always the Big Ten Network!erinandrewswis

(PMB) As polarizing a figure as Brett Favre is, and he’s certainly done a few things to warrant that hatred people have of him, he made the 1600lb. gorilla in the sports media room ESPN focus on the upper midwest, Wisconsin and Minnesota particularly, and that never happens. Was this a good thing for Midwestern sports fans? Not just for your site, but also actual people who can legitimately be described with this designation?

(JM) I guess it depends on whether you were in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

It has been great for Minnesota. Not only has Brett Favre’s arrival created more excitement in the city, but the team has a serious shot to be playing playoff games at home and possibly even go to a Super Bowl. And think about how much revenue was generated just from the reporters being dispatched to the Twin Cities to cover the Favre saga. I may stereotyping here, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most sports reporters can eat; the restaurants were no doubt pleased.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, lost one of their favorite sports idols to a rival. So they couldn’t be too happy and it’s doubtful they see it as a “good thing”.

In all seriousness, I’m not sure what the Favre story really does for the Midwest per se because anything involving Favre is such a national story now. I’m sure that Vikings and Packers blogs, plus the papers that cover the two teams, enjoyed a nice spike in eyeballs but the real winner was the NFL. Favre = ratings, jersey sales, and ticket sales. Cha-ching.

(PMB) You became somewhat of a sports media star this past summer, even appearing on ESPN Outside the Lines. I know you’ve likely told the story a million times, so I apologize, but please tell us what you learned from the experience and how you use those lessons today…

(JM) I learned more than anything that I’m not just writing in my own little personal sports diary at MSF. Every word I write is open to be consumed by anyone on the web, and that includes the possibility that my meaning could be misunderstood as well as the chance that real lives can be affected by what I write.

Bloggers may not be journalists, nor ever aspire to be, but the platform – especially if you are actively promoting yourself to drive traffic – should compel us all to be accountable for what we say. I don’t believe that means that bloggers should necessarily be held to the same standards and “rules” as the mainstream media, but I do believe that there is a minimum level of accountability that any person publishing work for public consumption should adhere to.favre02_600

Fortunately, I felt no need to back down from or apologize for the spirit of my post, and that is one thing I always make sure of now before I hit “publish”: am I prepared to defend these words if necessary? If I believe in what I am saying and am writing without malice, I am confident in the final result.

The whole Ibanez situation helped me to realize this.

(PMB) One thing that was sort of lost in the experience was your personal story, as well as that of your site, Midwest Sports Fans

(JM) It’s pretty simple really. I grew up in Indiana, lived in the Midwest my entire life save for a few years down in Miami after graduating college, and am a devoted fan of the Hoosiers, White Sox, and Browns…an eclectic mix to be sure.

Once I moved to Dallas in April in 2008, I wanted a way to stay connected to my Midwestern roots. I started working for a social media and online reputation management firm and starting MSF ended up being a great way to get hands-on experience with what we were doing.

It’s been a labor of love that I’ve truly enjoyed ever since.


(PMB) So you must truly know a lot about SEO then. Everyone has been beaten over the head with the story of newspapers dying out. But what do you see as the future of sports media? What might the next apparatus to die out after print? And also, no a brighter note, what do you envision as the future of the industry to be? Beyond “blogging” of course.

(JM) The future is that we are going to continue to see the lines blurred…between everything.

National writers put things into national perspectives. Local writers obviously localize the perspective. The local papers are already on thin ice as it is; if the ESPNs continue stealing their readers, how will they survive?

And, of course, blogs are a part of that. But I don’t see it as a zero sum game. If the MSM sees blogs as a threat, rather than an opportunity, they will get killed. The same is true for blogs with the MSM and other blogs. More synergy will lead to better, more intertwined, richer content. If the user experience is enhanced, the time spent will increase.benetton

I think this is a formula still to be unlocked.

In general, I think we are going to continue to see fragmentation of coverage with more and more specialization, which I think will ultimately lead to a better product for consumers. Those who are forward-thinking and strategic enough to build strong revenue models around the content will prosper. Others will fall by the wayside, and it should be clear by now to everyone that clinging to the status quo is a recipe for doom.

(PMB) Very true, less than 100% of sportswriters today have the luxury of making a living with the old “just write your story and send it in” approach that I was trained with in the newspaper industry. Those days are dinosaur.

Readers, be sure to check out Midwest Sports Fans.com early and often!

What if Packer fans graded the Vikings’ performance, and vice versa?

Packers Vikings Football

By Jake McCormick and Andy Weise

How do you force objectivity out of football fans? Our answer is simply to have them grade the team they love to hate. That’s what Packer fan Jake McCormick and Viking fan Andy Weise did as a follow up to Monday’s record-setting showdown between Green Bay and Minnesota. As it turns out, the only man with cameras on him, other than Ted Thompson and Mark Murphy, ended up living up to the highly anticipated hype as Brett Favre orchestrated possibly one of his best games ever. The Vikings left the Metrodome with more answers and the Packers left with more questions. Here are some of those inquiries we had about our respective nemesis’s:

Jake McCormick
Packer fan

Minnesota Vikings positional grades:

Packers Vikings FootballQuarterback
Grade: A
As much as I hate to say it, you can’t downgrade a guy one bit when he has recently had problems in big games, but goes 24-31 for 271 yards and three TDs against a team that two years ago considered him Jesus reincarnate. Oh yeah, he took home the NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors too. It was the first game with an opened up passing offense for Minnesota, which makes me wonder if this was promised to Favre before he signed…

Running back
Grade: C+
Adrian Peterson easily had his worst game of the season, but give credit to the Green Bay defense for game planning against him effectively. Peterson still had 25 carries and indirectly helped Favre throw the ball all over the field like a kid again. Have I heard that somewhere before?

Wide receiver/tight end
Grade: B
Also give credit to the Packer defense for only looking at Viking running plays during the week’s preparation. The Viking receivers did their jobs of catching balls in wide open space as the Packers blew their coverage assignments like it was a pickup game. As long as the ghost of Troy Williamson doesn’t return, the unit as a whole should continue to improve in their abilities and chemistry with Favre.

Offensive line
Grade: B+
According to ESPN, Favre had one pass play where he was given 7.34 seconds to throw the ball. The line didn’t allow a sack all game and Favre was sitting in his impenetrable space bubble all night. The usually dependable run blocking line did look overpowered at times as the Packers ran numerous run blitzes and sniper shots at AP. But eight men against five or six is a fair fight, isn’t it?

Packers Vikings FootballDefensive line
Grade: A
I think eight sacks speak for themselves. Granted the Packer offensive line nearly escorted the Viking pass rush to Aaron Rodgers, but Jared Allen looked like he would’ve gotten 4.5 sacks against any left tackle. The biggest strength of the Minnesota defense continued to shine, and will be crucial to its future success. As if that last statement was some sort of revelation; I sound like a Monday Night Football announcer.

Linebackers
Grade: B
Chad Greenway recovered a fumble and made a huge tackle on a goalline run by Packer fullback John Kuhn, and Ben Leber recorded a sack. EJ Henderson played well through the pain, and the unit did a good job of keeping Ryan Grant from getting to the next level. But the Packer tight ends were responsible for a good chunk of Aaron Rodgers’ 384 passing yards, and although he dropped the ball, Donald Lee was wide open for a touchdown on the Viking goalline.

Secondary
Grade: C-
This was the unit that was going to face the biggest test against the Packers, and it didn’t fail, but it barely passed. Antoine Winfield is the only consistent piece of the Minnesota secondary, and got credit for an interception that killed the Packers’ opening drive in Viking territory. Giving up 384 passing yards is never a good thing to put on a team’s resume, especially when the defensive line is severely pressuring the quarterback.

Overall, this was the first high pressure game of the year for Minnesota, and they won it with the typically strong defense and not so typical high octane passing game. The team will be riding on a golden chariot of confidence heading into this week’s matchup against the lowly St. Louis Rams. But the biggest tests this season come in the following weeks, before Favre’s just as highly anticipated return to Lambeau Field. I’ll bet that game becomes the highest rated Sunday game in league history if it’s broadcast nationally.

Andy Weise
Viking fan

Green Bay Packer grades:

Quarterback
Grade: A-
Aaron Rodgers is going to be a special player in the NFL for awhile. This wasn’t news to me but Rodgers proved himself as a franchise QB and the guy who deserved to take over the Packers over a year ago. He remained calm for much of the game even though his offensive line continued to crumble. He was most effective in the three step drop getting the ball quickly out of his hands but if he couldn’t find his first couple targets, he was generally getting hurried by some Viking.

Running back
Grade: C
Ryan Grant had an average game for a slightly above average running back against an above average run defense. Grant didn’t get the ball much once the Vikings took a two touchdown lead but he seemed to be doing OK when he was in before that. The Packers seem to have a drop off on third downs when Wynn goes in too.

Packers Vikings FootballWide receiver/tight end
Grade: B+
For the second week in a row the tight ends ran wild against the Vikings in the center of the field. Jordy Nelson also made it look easy down the middle when he scored on his touchdown. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver were relatively quiet being held under 100 yards combined with eight catches. The Vikings corners seemed to hold those two down but that’s when it opened things up for Jermichael Finley who went for 128 and a touchdown.

Offensive line
Grade: F
I knew this would be the difference in the game and it was. In four games the Packers have given up 20 sacks and Rodgers was brought down 8 times alone in the Vikings game. With Clifton out, Colledge struggled and T.J. Lang replaced him later because of injury only to look like a practice dummy as Jared Allen blew by him a few times (not always for a sack). Allen Barbre, who got a lot of flack earlier in the season, actually seemed to hold down a decent game but Jared Allen was attached to Rodgers for much of the game.

Defensive line
Grade: C-
Minnesota’s offensive line had given up sacks just like the Packers in the previous three games but somehow here they were able to block Green Bay from getting to Favre minus a couple of hits after the throw. Maybe the grade should be higher because they were able to stop Peterson in the running game but the lack of pressure on Favre was a big reason the Packers lost.

Packers Vikings FootballLinebackers
Grade: B
This unit was very active in the game, produced a big turnover that led to a touchdown and seemed to cover the field well when Peterson ran outside of the tackles. This was my first real chance to see how Aaron Kampman is transitioning and I have to say I was disappointed. While he does line up on the line sometimes, he’s not the same dangerous player he was when the Packers ran the 4-3.

Secondary
Grade: C
We all know Al Harris and Charles Woodson are probably the best duo in the league. They’re physical guys who battle every single play but didn’t come away with a good game. Harris was beaten badly on the Berrian touchdown though he ended up getting no help from the safety. He bit badly on Favre’s pump fake (how many times did I see that when he was in Green Bay, too many) and Woodson had a couple of costly penalties. The safeties didn’t factor in too much to the game.

The biggest thing I take away from this game is Aaron Rodgers really played a great game despite the horrible offensive line play. Packers’ fans have to be satisfied with that guy under center because the offensive line cannot get worse at this point. I’ve read Mark Tauscher might be coming back to take over at the right tackle spot he previously took care of and once Clifton is back they should be fine. It will be exciting to see Favre at Lambeau Field in a few weeks but I’m sure for now he is just happy to come away with the first win over his former team.