The Madness of March is on, and so are the memories.
Star Tribune columnist Sid Hartman, who celebrated his 96th birthday this week, talked hoops with Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, particularly his recollection of memories on campus at Louisville and friendship with Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng.
"I watched him at Louisville and he and I were very close," Bridgewater told Hartman. "He showed flashes there and he showed that he could be a dominant player. He has a great midrange shot and he can get rebounds and he's great on the defensive side of the ball. So, I mean, I was aware that he was going to be as good as he is right now."
*Dieng reached the Final Four with Louisville in 2012 and won the NCAA championship in 2013. Bridgewater recalled one of the great games Dieng played that championship season, when Louisville won at Syracuse 58-53 that championship season and Dieng finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. *
"They used to have rivalry games against Syracuse, and Gorgui would always show up in those games," Bridgewater recalled. "Syracuse used to run a 2-3 defense and Louisville would get the ball to Gorgui right in the midrange by the free-throw line and he would turn around and hit that midrange shot every time. There was one of those games that he stepped up multiple times when they played Syracuse. Those were just some of the facets he showed at Louisville."
Bridgewater and Vikings teammates are scheduled to begin their offseason workout program on April 18. As he prepares for his third season, Bridgewater said he's bounced back and forth between his hometown of Miami and Minnesota this offseason.
"I have been up there quite a bit, actually," he said. "Each month this offseason, I have been up there for about a week. It's great to be around the city, talk with the coaches. They miss us and we miss those guys. It's great being back up there and having a good time."
Challenge rules to be considered
The NFL Competition Committee announced a total of 19 proposed rule changes to be considered at the NFL Annual Meeting next week.
Andrew Krammer of 1500ESPN.com noted that the Vikings are one of several teams who proposed altering procedures for challenge flags. The Vikings have requested that coaches be allowed a third challenge if a team is proven correct on at least one challenge. Currently, the rule limits coaches to two challenges unless both calls are overturned.
*In 33 games for the Vikings, Zimmer has only thrown both challenge flags once — in last year's Week 2 win over Detroit, in which he used two, both challenging the ball spot, in a four-play span. First, he successfully lobbied for a 3rd-and-8 completion to be changed for a first down. Then Teddy Bridgewater fell a yard short on a 3rd-and-7 run, and that call was upheld. *
*However, in five other games Zimmer threw his first challenge flag and lost. When that happens, even an aggressive coach like Zimmer has to be cautious when throwing the next red flag, knowing no matter what happens he can't challenge another call. Overall, the Vikings have successfully overturned calls on three of nine challenges under Zimmer. *
Washington, Baltimore and Buffalo also offered proposals for changing the procedure and seek to make more expansive changes than the Vikings.
The proposals will be presented to and voted on by NFL Ownership during the meeting.