College Football

Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Colin Kaepernick takes a stand by taking a seat

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By Eric Nelson
August 30, 2016
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the sports-centric Twin Cities…

•Rip city: From coast to coast and all across the USA, critics are banging on Colin Kaepernick like a piñata. The 49ers QB is being ripped for not standing during the national anthem at Friday night’s Green Bay-San Francisco game in Santa Clara, CA. The haters are entitled to their opinions and I understand some of their venom, but they are also missing the point…

•Taking a stand: By taking a seat Kaepernick has taken a stand – and it is perfectly legal. The Constitution gives him that right and the NFL does not mandate a player standing while the Star Spangled Banner is being played. Kaepernick won’t stand because he says the US historically has oppressed African-Americans and other minorities. Hard to argue with that. It’s a fact. Hard to argue that a certain segment of the population feels like the system is stacked against them. That’s a fact too…

•Chill out: I am not sure why some people are so freaked out by this. It’s okay to disagree with Kaepernick, and maybe there is a better way to get his point across. But, he has the right to sit. I applaud Kaepernick for taking a huge PR risk and standing up for his beliefs. There will be repercussions, but Kaepernick doesn’t care. He wants to get his message across. What’s popular isn’t always right and what’s right isn’t always popular…

•Sports gridlock: Minnesota fans have plenty of sporting choices this Thursday. Winnipeg takes on St. Paul at CHS Field (7:05 pm). The Chicago White Sox and Twins battle at Target Field (7:10 pm). The LA Rams and Vikings play the first ever NFL night game at US Bank Stadium (7 pm). And Oregon State goes against the U of M at TCF Bank Stadium (8 pm)…

•Game train: Each of those venues is connected by the Light Rail green line. Technically it is possible to take the train from event to event, and sample parts of each game…

•Choices, choices: This sports cluster forces fans to make choices on which event to attend. The Vikings pre-season contest will command the most attention – especially with Tuesday’s unfortunate injury to QB Teddy Bridgewater. But don’t ignore the Beavers-Gophers game, which kicks off the U of M football season that is filled with hope and promise. The Saints, of course, are a first place team, while the Twins are irrelevant…

•Raising the bar: U of M fans are hoping that their team can finally have a break through season and win 9 or 10 games. If it doesn’t happen this year, it might never happen. The Gophers don’t play Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State – three of the top teams in the Big Ten. Minnesota has a favorable schedule and needs to pounce on this opportunity. The Gophers goal should be winning the Big Ten West…

•Trending down: Oregon State is one team Minnesota better beat. The Beavers were 2-10 last season and lost their last nine games. Oregon State’s only wins were against Weber State and San Jose State…

•Tundra showdown: Unranked Wisconsin has a tough challenge in week 1. The Badgers play 5th ranked LSU at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field on Saturday…

•Dak does Dallas: Tough break for star-crossed Cowboys QB Tony Romo who is out with a back injury. Rookie Dak Prescott now gets his chance sooner than expected. Prescott was outstanding at Mississippi State and has Cowpoke fans excited because of his pre-season success…

•Trending down: The Twins continue to spiral downward. Minnesota has dropped 11 straight games after Monday night’s loss at Cleveland. The last place Twins trail the first place Indians by 25 1/2 games in the AL Central…

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SPORTS NUGGETS: Jose Altuve and Brian Dozier are little giants

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By Eric Nelson
August 16, 2016
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the home of Scotch Tape…

•Second to none: Last week fans in Minneapolis got to see two of the top 2B in MLB. Houston’s Jose Altuve and Minnesota’s Brian Dozier treated Target Field crowds to some impressive baseball. Both guys are solid with the bat and the glove, and are proof that size does not matter in sports…

•Little giants: Altuve had a couple of four hit games for the Astros against the Twins and leads the majors with a .362 batting average. Despite being a smallish 5-6, Altuve has 19 home runs, 73 RBI and has scored 86 runs. Altuve is a legitimate MVP candidate. Meanwhile, Dozier has plenty of pop in his bat too. Dozier is only 5-11, but has become one of MLB’s top power guys in the second half of the season. Dozier has 26 home runs and has hit a tater in three straight games. Dozier already has 101 career home runs in four seasons…

•Bad idea: There has been recent speculation that the Twins might peddle Dozier, because he has value on the trade market. Let’s hope the Twins are not that foolish. Dealing Dozier would be a major mistake and send the wrong signal to a fan base that has seen too many stars leave Minnesota and excel in other cities…

•Peachtree showdown: Next up for Minnesota is a two-game series against Atlanta at Turner Field beginning Tuesday night. The Twins (47-71) have the worst record in the AL and the Braves (44-74) have the worst record in MLB…

•Party-time: Get ready for the MLS in Minnesota. On Friday night Minnesota United is throwing a party at CHS Field to formally announce that the MLS is coming to the Twin Cities next season. A new soccer-specific stadium will be built in St. Paul and the team will play at TCF Bank Stadium or Target Field before it opens…

•Ram-packed: Even the suits who run the shield had to be blown away by the turnout for the first NFL game in Los Angeles in 22 years. The Dallas-LA Rams game at the Coliseum drew 89,140 fans. The game even had a Hollywood ending as the Rams rallied for a 28-24 win…

•Win with flair: Because they are a novelty, the Rams are currently the trendy team in LA. But, they better win games, and do it with a Tinsletown flair, or the honeymoon will be quicker than a Kim Kardashian marriage. Losing does not go over well in So Cal…

•Show Me State support: Meanwhile, St. Louis is still coming to grips with losing the Rams. KMOX Radio in St. Louis is trying to ease the sting by broadcasting Kansas City Chiefs games this season. The Chiefs and Rams play Saturday night at the LA Coliseum…

•Double defections: As odd as it seems, LA and St. Louis do have one thing in common – both cities have lost two NFL teams. The Raiders and Rams both left Los Angeles and the Cardinals and Rams bolted St. Louis…

•Borton’s book: Former U of M women’s basketball coach Pam Borton has written a new book titled, “On Point.” It is a motivational book designed to give readers a game plan for success in business, sports or anything else. Borton coached the Gophers for 12 seasons and took the team to the NCAA Final Four in 2003-04…

•Golden sendoffs: If this really is the last time we see Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt perform in the Olympics, then we should all give thanks for being able to witness their greatness. From Beijing to London to Rio de Janeiro, these superstars have wowed fans across the globe…

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Former Gopher Jack Brewer Discusses How He Hopes to Affect Change

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Segment 5: Sports and social action do intertwine at points in history.  Today appears to be another one of those moments.  Former Gopher and NFL safety Jack Brewer is looking to help the conversation about racial tension and community policing with a new initiative.  He takes some time to explain what’s behind the “Trust 2 Protect” campaign.

Gameday Gold Part 5 / 7-14-16

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SPORTS NUGGETS: Kudos to the Minnesota Lynx for taking a stance

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By Eric Nelson
July 12, 2016
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the North Star State…

•Courageous stance: If you don’t take a stand, you take a fall. The Minnesota Lynx took a stand before Saturday night’s game against the Dallas Wings when they sported black warmup jerseys that said, “Change starts with us. Justice & Accountability.” On the back of the shirts were the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling – two African-Americans shot by police in Falcon Heights, MN and Baton Rouge, LA – a Dallas police symbol and the phrase “Black Lives Matter. The Lynx have taken some heat for this, but that is to be expected. I applaud the Lynx for standing up and making a statement. They had every right to voice their opinions on an explosive topic. Their message will hopefully get the ball rolling on positive change that is long overdue between police and African-Americans in the United States…

•Learning lessons: In the department of global affairs, sports is the toy department. But, these games that we passionately follow, also offer us valuable insight into teamwork and how to get along. In these incredibly polarized times, the USA can learn something from sports. Athletes of all races and backgrounds find a way to come together in the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS and other sports. They rely on each other for success or failure. Color, religion or sexuality rarely comes into play. They are links in a chain with one common objective – winning games. Let’s hope the real world can take a cue from the toy department…

•Model of success: Sports is definitely not perfect when it comes to race relations and there are things that need to get better to foster more harmony and fairness. But, sports is far ahead of other things in the US when it comes to equality and learning to co-exist…

•New hire: The Timberwolves and Lynx have hired Ethan Casson as the franchise’s new CEO. Casson begins his duties with the organization on August 8. Casson comes from the San Francisco 49ers where he was their COO. Before that Casson was with the Wolves and Lynx for 11 years…

•Trending up: It’s been mostly gloom and doom for the Minnesota Twins this season. However, there have been some bright spots recently. The Twins just took three of four in Texas, and have won 7 of their last 10 games going into the All-Star break. Minnesota (32-56) is still a last place team in the AL Central, but the Twins are 5-2 against the Rangers (54-36), who lead the AL West…

•Power ball: Two guys who have fueled the Twins recent run are Max Kepler and Kennys Vargas. Both Kepler and Vargas began the season at Triple A Rochester, but since getting called up have made an impact. In 46 games, Kepler has eight home runs, 11 doubles and 33 RBI . In six games, Vargas is batting .471 with 3 taters and 4 RBI…

•Mid-season vacay: Except for Twins All-Star Eduardo Nunez, the rest of the team has a few days off. Minnesota’s next game is Friday against Cleveland at Target Field. The Indians (52-36) are on top of the AL Central…

•Homecoming: NY Jets CB Marcus Williams conducted his youth football camps last week in the Twin Cities. Williams, who played for Hopkins HS, had six interceptions for the Jets in 2015. Williams also was a star at North Dakota State…

•Mr. Dependable: Of all the qualities Tim Duncan had in his remarkable NBA career, the most impressive was durability. Duncan, who retired on Monday, played 19 seasons and was as much of a fixture in San Antonio as The Alamo. Duncan did not have a lot of flash and dash, but he could play. Game in and game out, Duncan showed up and performed at a high level. He is a two-time MVP and three-time NBA Finals MVP, who was a pillar on the Spurs’ 5 title teams…

•Low-key star: Duncan was the polar opposite of Kobe Bryant. Duncan played off the grid in central Texas, while Bryant achieved his greatness in Los Angeles – the entertainment capital of the USA. Duncan goes into retirement without any fanfare, while Bryant had going away parties in every city the Lakers played in last season. Duncan stayed out of the spotlight, while Bryant was always in it. They were two superduperstars who played at the same time, spent their entire career with the same team and won the same amount of championships. Both guys will be missed a lot…

•HOF-bound: Next stop for Duncan is the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. Duncan is one of the NBA’s all-time greats and deserves every accolade he gets…

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Some Gopher Sports Have the Wrong Kind of Sizzle

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Segment 3: Larry does a mea culpa over the airwaves.  That might not be on the mind of Gopher wrestling coach J Robinson.  Will the U of M dismiss their legendary coach despite no criminal charges being brought for suspicion of a number of athletes selling Xanax?  And what other messes does new AD Mark Coyle need to clean up over at the U?

Gameday Gold Part 3 / 7-1-16

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Diamond Luster & A New Lead Gopher

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Segment 2: The rest of the AL Central is a bit topsy-turvy from where it was last season.  Our hosts ponder whether the Royals’ run is already over.  How have the White Sox turned it around so quickly?  How big of an accomplishment did Max Scherzer match this week?  After that, we hear about the Gophers’ new athletic director.

Gameday Gold Part 2 / 5-12-16

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SPORTS NUGGETS: Lequon Treadwell is more proof that speed is overrated in the NFL

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By Eric Nelson
May 3, 2016
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the home of Bisquick…

•Block party: Lequon Treadwell does not have blazing speed and will never win Olympic gold in the 100 meters. But, who cares? The Minnesota Vikings top draft choice runs precise routes, has a good catch radius and is physical. Oh yeah, Treadwell is an excellent downfield blocker, which should make Adrian Peterson happy. Treadwell’s 4.64 40-yard dash time should be the least of anyone’s concerns…

•High character: Those who know Treadwell say he has a solid work ethic and can catch balls in traffic because of his size (6-2, 210 pounds). Treadwell had 82 receptions for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns last season for Ole Miss…

•Speed-obsessed. Too many NFL scouts are enamored with a prospect’s 40-yard dash time – especially wide outs. Speed is the most overrated stat there is. Cris Carter, Jerry Rice, Steve Largent and other stars had average NFL speed, but excelled at the position because of route-running, great hands and a high football IQ. Larry Fitzgerald Jr., one of the top receivers in the game today, does not run like the wind either – but has football speed, which is good enough to put him on the Hall of Fame fast track…

•Pure speculation: Btw, anyone who hands out grades immediately after a draft is just guessing. No one knows how things are going to turn out and true draft evaluation and grading can’t happen until at least three years after the fact. Anything now is just huffing and puffing. Let me know in 2019 how this draft class fares…

•May day: The Minnesota Twins are off to a sputtering 8-18 start and are last in the AL Central, 10 games behind the Chicago White Sox. Minnesota started slow last season too, but bounced back with a 20-7 record in May. The Twins are going to need another monster May to become relevant again. If not, this could be a long baseball summer in the Twin Cities…

•Dallas loses in Houston: The Twins did have something to cheer about Monday night as they defeated Houston 6-2 at Minute Maid Park. Rookie P Jose Berrios outdueled Astros ace Dallas Keuchel to pick up his first career win. The loss snapped Keuchel’s 17-game home winning streak. Keuchel won the AL Cy Young award in 2015…

•Park power: 1B/DH Byung Ho Park has been a power source early in the season for Minnesota. Park had a two-run triple against the Astros and has six home runs and 11 RBI this season…

•Win-dy City: It’s not often when both Chicago MLB teams are relevant in the same season. But so far this year, the Cubs and White Sox are off to scorching hot starts. The Cubs (18-6) have the best record in baseball and the White Sox (18-8) have the top mark in the AL. The Chi-town rivals will play a four-game series July 25-28, with the first two games at US Cellular Field and the remaining two at Wrigley…

•Prince tribute: The LA Dodgers are the latest sports team to honor Prince. There was a post-game fireworks show at Dodger Stadium Friday night with Prince music in the background after the San Diego-Los Angeles game…

•Oh Canada: It was a good weekend for Canadian sports fans. The Toronto Raptors finally won a first round NBA playoff series, and the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets finished 1-2 in the NHL’s draft lottery…

•Lotto luck: The Maple Leafs are expected to select 18-year old C Auston Matthews with their top pick. According to the Toronto Star, the only other time the Maple Leafs had the top choice in the draft was 1985 when they selected Wendel Clark. Matthews grew up in Scottsdale, AZ and will become a Canadian sensation if he can get Toronto back on track…

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SPORTS NUGGETS: The Minnesota Twins are sputtering, but at least they have lost to quality teams

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By Eric Nelson
April 11, 2016
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the home of Wheaties…

•Spin cycle: If the Minnesota Twins (0-6) are looking for a way to sugarcoat the worst start in team history, they can point to the fact that they have lost to Baltimore (5-0) and Kansas City (4-1). The Orioles and Royals are a combined 9-1 this season. KC, of course, is the 2015 World Series champ and Baltimore won the AL East in 2014…

•Glass act: Kansas City owner David Glass has given out World Series rings like Halloween candy to anyone connected with the Royals. Over 700 members of the organization received the coveted rings. Give Glass credit for recognizing that it’s not just coaches and players who are part of a team’s championship success…

•Trending up: The Minnesota Timberwolves recent wins at Golden State, Sacramento and Portland was quite the trifecta – and easily the team’s most impressive road trip in years. The West Coast conquests are more proof that the Wolves arrow is pointing up…

•Team tinkering: Minnesota is not far away from being in playoff contention. If the Wolves can add a legitimate scoring threat (especially someone who can sink three-balls) and a physical, powerful guy who can play on the block, they will continue to get better…

•Hoops icon: Kobe Bryant’s sensational NBA career comes to a close Wednesday when the LA Lakers legend plays his final game in Phoenix against the Suns. For 19 years Kobe has dazzled fans with his play. Kobe has five championship rings and played in 15 All-Star games. Kobe belongs in the same category with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Larry Bird, or any of the other NBA greats…

•Say what? It’s hard to believe that Kobe has won only one MVP award. That does not add up considering how consistently brilliant Kobe has been…

•Kevin’s call: One of the top NBA and NCAA basketball play by play broadcasters is Kevin Calabro. I caught part of his Golden State-Memphis call Saturday night on ESPN Radio and Calabro was fabulous, painting a vivid picture over the airwaves…

•Playoff-bound: Yes, the Minnesota Wild are limping into the NHL’s Stanley cup playoffs with a five-game losing streak, and yes they are huge dogs against the top seed Dallas Stars. But, no the Wild did into back into the post-season. Minnesota finished five points ahead of Colorado and is in the playoffs because the Avalanche could not capitalize on the Wild’s late season slump…

•Star search: Game 1 of the Wild-Stars series is Thursday night in Dallas. The Stars finished with 109 points, second most in the NHL. Dallas is an offensive juggernaut, paced by Jamie Benn (89 points and 41 goals) and Tyler Seguin (73 points and 33 goals)…

•Uncharted waters: This is the first time Minnesota and Dallas have met in the playoffs. The Stars, of course, used to play in Bloomington and were known as the Minnesota North Stars before moving down I-35 to the DFW metroplex in 1993…

•Bowled out: The NCAA is banning any new bowl games for three years. This comes after there were not enough bowl-eligible teams to play in 41 bowls last season. This is a good move considering that there is a glut of meaningless post-season games and that three 5-7 schools – including Minnesota – played in bowls…

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