The storied career of the Star Tribune's Sid Hartman includes countless milestones, but Minnesota's hosting of Oakland at 7 p.m. Saturday makes it a good time to revisit Hartman's coverage of events that led to the founding of both franchises.
Hartman takes us back more than 55 years to 1959 when the upstart American Football League was trying to establish eight teams in Minnesota, Boston, Buffalo, New York, Houston, Dallas, Denver and Los Angeles to challenge the NFL.
*At the time I had a great relationship with George Halas, owner and coach of the Chicago Bears. Halas wanted the local owners to withdraw from the AFL and wait for an NFL franchise, but couldn't personally contact them for fear of a lawsuit — which later was filed after the local group did withdraw — so I was his go-between. *
*In fact, somewhere in my home I have copies of Halas' testimony after my involvement in the withdrawal was brought up at the trial. *
*The owners of the local AFL franchise, except for Winter, were satisfied to stay in the AFL, but Winter finally convinced his partners to have a final meeting to decide whether to stay or wait for an NFL franchise. *
*The meeting was held at (H.P.) Skoglund's insurance office and it wasn't until 4 a.m. that Winter finally convinced the group to withdraw. I was there with promises from Halas to eventually get an NFL franchise for the Twin Cities. *
The Minnesota group did withdraw from the AFL, causing the league to turn to Oakland, in part to have two teams in California at the influence of Chargers owner Barron Hilton, Hartman noted.
Oakland debuted in 1960, and Minnesota followed with its first season in 1961. The leagues agreed to merge in 1966 and completed the transition in 1970. Despite the deep history of both franchises and their intertwined pasts, they've only met 14 times in the regular season or playoffs, including Super Bowl XI.
Hartman closed by pondering, if it wasn't for a last-minute decision in Minnesota, who knows how the courses of the two franchises' history might have changed?
Waynes at outside corner this week
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Thursday that the Vikings plan to play first-round pick Trae Waynes exclusively at the outside cornerback position this week instead of that and covering the slot in the nickel.
Tim Yotter of Viking Update noted that Zimmer wanted to test Waynes in a variety of settings to see all that he could do. Yotter wrote:
*Now that he's seen Waynes covering receivers and defending the run from the nickel cornerback position, Zimmer wants to taper back on Waynes' responsibilities. *
*"I actually sat down and watched tape with him myself two days ago, we had a little film session," Zimmer said. "I'm not letting him play nickel this week, just so he can concentrate on one thing. Maybe I was too overzealous in trying to get him to do too many things." *
Third-year pro Xavier Rhodes and 13-year veteran Terence Newman, who are also first-round picks, have been starting at the outside corner positions.
Mark Craig of the Star Tribune noted that the Vikings are exercising patience with Waynes, and Defensive Coordinator George Edwards said he's "right on course."
*Patience — something rarely discovered on Twitter — has been a preaching point for the coaching staff when it comes to their new corner. *
"Everybody is looking for an immediate impact out of him, but … there are a lot of different things that go mentally with the corner position other than just lining up and playing man coverage on a guy," *Edwards said during his media session this week. *
"So the adjustment from pro to college, the different rules, how far you can put your hands on him down the field, all those different things weigh into the equation. So where he's at right now, we're just going to keep building through the preseason and look to continue to get better. I think he went out the first game and learned something; I think he went out this past week, he learned something. As long as he keeps learning and keeps competing to get better, we think he's right where we need him to be."
Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press with a look at the Vikings efforts to fill gaps* *on the offensive line caused by injuries.
1500ESPN.com's Andrew Krammer on how "natural" things feel for Teddy Bridgewater a year removed from his NFL debut.
ESPN.com's Ben Goessling on reserve defensive tackle Chigbo Anunoby's past and plans for his future after football.
Lindsey Young's feature for Vikings.com and this week's* Playbook* on Matt Asiata, who tied for third last season in rushing TDs (nine), details how one loop has been particularly important during his roller coaster ride.