2011 turned out to be a pretty rough year for Adrian Peterson. Well, signing a seven-year, $100 million contract extension wasn’t too bad, but it was all downhill from there for the Minnesota Vikings running back.
Instead of studying his playbook or playing video games in the hotel room the night before the Vikings season finale against the Chicago Bears, the four-time Pro Bowl selection spent New Years Eve in a hospital room.
Peterson kicked off 2012 wearing a paper gown and party hat while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, an injury he suffered during the third quarter of the Vikings 33-26 victory over the Redskins in week 16.
Between a horrendous 3-13 record and a shredded knee, there is nowhere to go but up for Peterson in 2012, thus making the best out of a crappy situation is a good start and a testament to his character.
Peterson tweeted the pictures above with captions reading, “My time bringing in the New Year was great! Thanks to family & a lil Blue Bell country ice cream” and “HAPPY NEW YEAR FANS & FAMIlY!!!”
Every year growing up, I spent one week of winter break at sleep-away camp in the mountains of Malibu, CA. In the 8th grade, I fell during the New Years Eve activity, tearing a ligament in my hand. Instead of counting down with my friends at the camp dance, I spent the final hours of 1996 quietly watching Dick Clark on the TV in my hospital room for an anticlimactic celebration with Robbo, the camp song leader and a doctor.
I wonder which NYE show Peterson watched. I’d like to think of him as an Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin kind of guy, but I digress.
At around 1:30 a.m., I arrived back at camp to find my entire cabin of hyper teenage girls and a group of counselors waiting up to greet me and hear all about my New Years hospital adventure. I had a cast on, so luckily there were plenty of people to help me get up to my top bunk. I’m short, so it took a village, believe me.
As Peterson’s tweets proved, some things aren’t as bad as they seem. The Vikings expect Peterson to be fully recovered from the torn ACL and MCL injury right around the start of next season. By all accounts, Peterson is one of the “good guys” in the league so here’s to 2012 treating him (and the rest of us) well. L’Chaim!
We can choose our picks for most disappointing team of 2011 once the NFL regular season wraps up Sunday, but I’ve already cast my unofficial ballot for the Minnesota Vikings.
Heading into the 2011 season free of Favre, Moss, Childress and any other drama from last season, the Vikings showed promise in signing Adrian Peterson to a contract extension, drafting a talented quarterback in Christian Ponder and signing Donovan McNabb, a proven veteran.
While the Vikings looked decent on paper, they were awful in reality, resulting in McNabb being cut, the misfortune of Peterson tearing his ACL and MCL in week 16 and a dreadful 3-12 record with one game against the Chicago Bears remaining on the schedule.
In his first full season as a head coach, Leslie Frazier said that he speak with the Wilf Ownership group every day and acknowledged that despite his team’s struggles, he expects to be back on the Vikings sideline next season.
Take a look at Frazier’s comments from Scout.com:
"I’ve got great bosses, and they’ve been very supportive. Write that. Very supportive. Even in the midst of … a 3-12 season. They’ve been very supportive, which I’m thankful for."
Laying it on a bit thick there, ‘eh Leslie?
"…they’ve been very supportive. Write that." Does that strike anybody else as odd? You can kiss your boss’ butt without actually directing the media to help you do so. But wait…it gets better!
"I haven’t been told I’m back for sure. It never has been an issue. I’m being completely honest with you," he said. "My job security has never been an issue other than when I’m talking to you guys (reporters). That’s the truth. We’re going to get this thing turned eventually. We’ll get it done."
Now I feel bad for our guy Leslie. He seems like a smart, genuine and nice person. I don’t think he should be fired after one bad year (yes, he went 3-3 as the Vikings interim coach last season after Brad Childress was fired, thus he inherited a hot mess), but going through a positive self-talk therapy session in the press looks pretty desperate.
I’m sure he’s right; Frazier’s job is probably safe but it looks like he needs more convincing of that than anyone else. Barring extenuating circumstances, I think most coaches should keep their job after one bad season. For example, I think Jim Caldwell should remain the Colts head coach . The team was successful under Caldwell after Tony Dungy left, but who knew Peyton Manning was the real offensive coordinator in Indianapolis? It’s not Caldwell’s fault that Manning was handed all the cards in the deck over a long period of time. With Manning, Luck, or whomever under center, Caldwell deserves another shot.
There is good news for Frazier though; Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said, “Leslie will definitely be back next year,” according to startribune.com. Surely that quote has made its way to Frazier since the article was published on Dec. 5, but it sounds like Wilf has yet to deliver the news to Frazier directly. Perhaps Vikings ownership should put Frazier’s mind at ease, officially, once and for all.
All things being possible for Tim Tebow, he probably could’ve sniffed cocaine on Sam Hurd during last week’s game against the Bears, if only the quarterback played on special teams.
Instead, the canine version of Tebow gets the credit in this case, as the drug-sniffing dog named after the former Florida Gator and current folk hero helped bust a guy at Orlando International Airport on Dec. 8.
The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation said agents approached Weslie Jadier Morales Castro after they noticed the 20-year-old checking the tags on all of the luggage on the carousel, indicating that he was looking for a bag he had never seen before, which is mighty mysterious. When the agents stopped Morales Castro, Tebow the trusty pooch’s reaction to the suitcase was no bueno, prompting an inspection. Turns out, Tebow hit his target as the bag had a kilogram of cocaine inside.
"A cocaine-stuffed children’s toy was found inside," according to an article on FoxSports.com. "Morales Castro claimed that the suitcase, which was tagged for a Jose Garcia, did not belong to him — but later admitted that he was paid to take it to people at a nearby fast-food eatery. Morales Castro now faces a federal charge of selling or distributing a controlled substance, according to a criminal complaint filed last week. He was released from jail on $25,000 bond."
Clearly, there is no task a Tebow can’t tackle. Mark that down that as another score for the good guys, aka Team Tebow.
We’ll see if the human Tebow and his fellow Broncos can match the canine’s precision in Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots in Denver.
For more details, click here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2075560/Tebow-wins-Drug-sniffing-dog-named-football-star-makes-cocaine-bust.html
News of Puerto Rican officials seizing nearly 500 pounds of Cocaine worth more than $4 million from a home owned by professional boxer Ivan Calderon reminded me of something.
First thing that came to mind was a scandal in Tuscon, a 2-for-1 scandal of sorts, involving the Arizona Wildcats football team.
For starters, the Puerto Rican boxer has denied any knowledge of the cocaine found in his home, which he cited as one of many investment properties.
Now back to Tuscon… I was a sophomore, the year was 2002, circa mid-November when some of my buddies from the football team stopped by my dorm room for a little chat one evening.
The players told me that then-head coach John Mackovic had dished out verbal lashings to some players after an ugly 37-7 loss to UCLA all hell had broken loose since.
Athletes are used to being yelled at by coaches, right? Well apparently everyone has a breaking point, even big, tough football players. According to the players, verbal abuse was Mackovic’s every-day-way, and after the UCLA loss, the coach crossed the line when he hurled expletives at junior tight end Justin Levasseur and told him he was an embarrassment to the team and a disgrace to his family.
Didn’t anyone ever tell Coach Mack you DO NOT bring up mamas and families when trash talking? It’s a rule.
Anyway, the incident prompted more than 40 players, led by then-senior linebacker Lance Briggs, to head over to university President Pete Likins’ office for a chat where the players voiced their concerns and complaints about the 59-year-old coach, in his second year at Arizona at the time.
The meeting with President Likins led to Mackovic apologizing publicly and privately for his actions, but the team remained divided. The Wildcats went on to win only one more game and finished the season 4-8 overall with only one Pac10 victory.
In a strange twist of fate, only a few weeks later Levasseur was arrested on drug trafficking charges after he was stopped while driving through Illinois with 87 pounds of marijuana in his truck.
Perhaps Coach Mack was on to something… but both men would be punished in the end.
Mackovic was unable to regain the trust or respect of his players and was fired 5 games into the 2003 football season. He has not coached at the collegiate level since.
As for Levasseur, he pleaded guilty to a Class 1 felony charge (while two others were dropped), saying that he got mixed up with the wrong crowd in college, and low on cash, made a terrible decision. Levasseur’s father publicly claimed that his son’s actions were spurred by greed. While Levasseur’s football career was over at age 22, he was lucky to avoid serving jail time as he was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay more than $275,000 in fines.
It looks like Levasseur is doing just fine these days, as he is “in a relationship” and living in Phoenix, according to his Facebook page
The last major character in this story is Lance Briggs. In reading his quotes from the Arizona Daily Wildcat back in 2002 ( http://wc.arizona.edu/papers/96/57/02_1.html ), one can see that Briggs was well on his way to bigger and better things on the football field and as a leader.
This was a time when young men were not afraid to stand up for themselves and speak out against something they felt was wrong. They displayed a type of bravery that has been lacking in today’s NCAA. Perhaps current students and faculty alike should borrow this page from Briggs’ old playbook.
While the Arizona football program has suffered several miserable seasons (until recently), the Chicago Bear and six time Pro Bowl selection is one of the few guys us Wildcats can brag about. So for that, I say thanks Lance, and Beardown!
When Jahvid Best went down with yet another concussion, I’m sure Detroit Lions back up running back Jerome Harrison felt ready to seize the opportunity of getting on the field and contributing, as all competitors do. Surely, Harrison’s spirits took a nose dive when shortly after, he found out he was being traded to the struggling Philadelphia Eagles (where he spent part of last season after being traded from the Browns) for Ronnie Brown. Little did Harrison know this unwelcome move by the Lions would be a blessing in disguise.
While we don’t know the details yet, a brain tumor is a brain tumor… you don’t want one, no matter what kind it is, and that, unfortunately, is what 28-year-old Harrison, in his sixth NFL season has. Eagles team doctors found the tumor while giving their new running back a physical exam which nullified the trade. Now Brown will stay put in Philly and Harrison is having the tumor treated. Hopefully we will get more information about his exact medical condition soon.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter writes, “The trade might have actually saved Harrison’s life, the sources said. Without the deal being made, Harrison would not have undergone a physical.”
If you have read my previous blog post about head injuries, concussions, depression and player suicide, you can guess where I’m headed here.
For many years, I’ve believed every player on a professional team should undergo three physical (including blood work, body scans) and psychological exams per season. Once before the season starts, again at mid-season and a third time at the end of the work year.
While I know my ideal is just that, an ideal (for many reasons such as cost, and teams surviving on “what we don’t know can’t hurt us” in regards to their players), imagine the impact such care could have in terms of both physical and mental health.
Hank Gathers. After collapsing during a game in December, 1989, the Loyola Marymount University basketball star was checked out and diagnosed with an exercise-induced abnormal heartbeat and prescribed medication. Gathers was fortunate to survive that first episode, but we all know how this story ends. Gathers had reportedly reduced his dosage of medication or perhaps stopped taking it all together because he felt it adversely affected his play on the court. Just a few months later, he collapsed at a West Coast Conference Tournament game and died shortly after.
Michigan high school basketball player Wes Leonard wasn’t as lucky as Gathers, never getting that initial second chance at life. The first collapse, which came after Leonard and his teammates celebrated his game-winning shot, would be his last. Shortly after his death in March of this year, the medical examiner said the 16-year-old died of cardiac arrest brought on by a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. According to an LA Times article by Eryn Brown, “people with dilated cardiomyopathy have enlarged and weakened hearts that cannot pump blood through the body efficiently. The American Heart Association has advised that children with dilated cardiomyopathy should not play competitive sports ‘because of the possibility of a sudden collapse or increased heart failure.’”
The last sentence suggests that such ailments, like Gathers’ condition, can be diagnosed by a doctor, certainly, before death.
Unfortunately, the idea of such screenings is a bit of a mixed bag. Famed Chicago Bears running back Brian Piccolo passed a full physical, including a chest x-ray in July heading into the 1969 football season. Four months later, the 26-year-old was diagnosed with cancer after a grapefruit-sized tumor was discovered in his chest cavity. Piccolo died less than a year later.
David Epstein provides more details on the pros and cons of screening athletes in his Sports Illustrated column:
"A study published last year by doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital reported on a program that screened 510 Harvard University athletes. That study identified 11 athletes with heart abnormalities that had not been previously identified, and three of those athletes ultimately had to be restricted from sports…At the same time, about one in every six athletes was given a false positive result that required follow-up, begging the question of whether a mandatory nationwide screening program would be effective from a financial and emotional standpoint, given current diagnostic tools."
Clearly this discussion opens up a massive can of worms and perhaps there is no easy or obvious solution to the problems faced by athletes, athletic institutions and medical providers. But it’s still a discussion worth having. Just ask Jerome Harrison.
Read more of David Epstein’s story about athletes and heart conditions: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/david_epstein/03/08/enlarged.hearts/index.html#ixzz1bLkr1kLY