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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Coaching pals put their friendship on hold in this week’s Cincinnati-Minnesota game

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By Eric Nelson
December 14, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the home of the Pillsbury Doughboy…

 

•NFL Reunion: The friendship between Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer is on hold this week when Cincinnati plays Minnesota in Minneapolis. From 2009-2013 Zimmer was the Bengals DC under Lewis and was the architect of some outstanding Bengal defenses. Zimmer parlayed that success into his current job as the Vikings HC…

•All Business: Don’t look for Lewis and Zimmer to exchange holiday gifts or reminisce about their past in the Queen City on Sunday. They are focused on winning. Cincinnati (5-8) is on a downward spiral and desperate for some success, while Minnesota (10-3) is trying to wrap up the NFC North and garner a high playoff seed. When you are on opposite sidelines coaching different teams, friendship is not the top priority…

•Blizzard Bowl: There is nothing better than an NFL game in a snowstorm. Last week’s Indianapolis-Buffalo duel was four-wheel drive football at its best and made for great theater. New Era Field looked like a giant snow globe as the Colts and Bills plowed their way through the powder. Buffalo won 13-7 in a winter wonderland-like setting…

•NFLements: Today’s NFL has become homogeneous and sanitized because of domes and retractable roof facilities that are usually closed. Indoor football is studio football. Thankfully, there are some open air venues – such as Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Green Bay, Kansas City, New England, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Washington – where the weather can be frightful. Weather games garner high ratings and are curiosity events – especially for fans in places like Palm Springs or West Palm Beach…

•Collision Course: It’s a clash of superpowers this week in Pennsylvania as New England (10-3) plays Pittsburgh (11-2) at Heinz Field. Despite a 27-20 loss in Miami on Monday night, New England has the AFC’s second best record, while Pittsburgh has won eight straight games. The winner will likely be the top seed in the AFC playoffs…

•Shield Spin: Hey Roger Goodell! Just because you signed a lucrative 5-year contract extension to continue being the NFL’s commissioner/dictator doesn’t mean you can insult our intelligence. Claiming that Colin Kaepernick is not being blackballed is comical…

•Persona Non Grata: With quarterbacks going down like bowling pins on a weekly basis, it is baffling that Kaepernick is still unemployed. Philadelphia just lost Carson Wentz for the season and signing Kaepernick makes sense. Just like it did in Green Bay, Houston and other cities. But, it hasn’t happened. Kap has been airbrushed out of the sport…

•Overdue: Congrats to Jack Morris on being voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. For Morris this is delayed gratification because he should have been inducted into the HOF a lot sooner…

•Family Affair: Minnesota United has signed midfielder Harrison Heath, who is the son of HC Adrian Heath. Heath played in one match for Atlanta United in 2017…

•Grow Up: All the haters who went rip city on skier Lindsey Vonn need to get a clue. So what if Vonn is not a fan of President Donald Trump – she is entitled to her opinion. Last time I checked this is the USA and freedom of speech is a guaranteed right…

•Dixie Delight: The Golden State Warriors were thrilled to see Doug Jones win the Alabama senate seat against Roy Moore. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, HC Steve Kerr tweeted “Roll Tide!” and “War Eagle!” — the popular chants heard at Alabama and Auburn games, and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” was played at a recent Warriors’ practice…

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College system exploits amateurism!

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By Larry Fitzgerald
November 27, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@FitzBeatSr

 

I have had issues over many years with the NCAA. They are headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, and they answer to no one. They run college athletics, and the millions and billions of dollars generated annually are earned on the backs of amateur athletes.

The recent scandal that hit college basketball brought down one of the biggest names in college basketball history, Louisville’s Rick Pitino. This should be a lesson to all that the NCAA gives all the authority and power in college athletics to the coaches.

It varies in football, but it’s the head coaches who make the really big money, four to six million dollar contracts per year. And the players are all amateurs, student athletes; the four-year scholarship rides are the rewards or compensation for the players. But that’s where the exploitation of the athlete begins.

The athletic programs are built to generate revenue from donors, alumni, ticket and game sales, and marketing of sports apparel — hats, shirts, jerseys, etc. There is also the sale and marketing of games on radio and network TV. This is pure exploitation managed by a corrupt NCAA with no oversight.

The stronger the school’s brand and athletic programs, the larger the following. The sports organizations like FOX, ESPN, Turner, Learfield Sports and others build their businesses around the conferences and bowl games and tournaments, and before you know it they are generating hundreds of millions of dollars on the major sports like baseball, football and basketball. This concept works and has for many decades because the schools never have to worry about unions or labor costs.

In professional sports, the team owners place values on franchises. Then rich owners buy in, and that allows each organization the chance to succeed. Each league has a talent pool of players and athletes that comes from the college draft and free agency. The Pitino scandal was created by coaches doing shoe deals with players who project to be stars or high draft picks after one, maybe two years of school and who have contracts with the shoe company agents.
The contracts that the sports shoe companies make with the schools always go through the head coaches. The players never see any of the shoe contract money until they become professional players.

The coaches get the compensation from the shoe companies because the NCAA does not allow amateur athletes to receive funds. Only the member schools and their coaches and the NCAA can benefit from the generation of revenue from games, gifts, tickets, shoes and other apparel, etc.

In recent weeks Georgia Tech and UCLA made huge financial deals with China to stage games in China and expose the programs to Chinese culture. Three UCLA basketball players were arrested and charged with shoplifting.
As bad as that is to have three American players caught stealing in a communist country, both schools after the games decided to leave the players accused of shoplifting in China, abandoning them to the hands of Chinese authorities. This exposes why this system of corruption is out of control and wrong and has to stop. It took President Donald Trump, who just happened to be in China at the time, to intervene.

 

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: The Minnesota Vikings are now among the NFL’s elite

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By Eric Nelson
November 22, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the Purple Nation…

 

•Purple Power: The Minnesota Vikings have cemented themselves as an elite team after their impressive 24-7 win over the LA Rams on Sunday in Minneapolis.

Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen makes a reception

Vikings WR Adam Thielen has become a dangerous weapon for Minnesota’s offense

The Vikings (8-2) have won six straight games and bottled up the Rams high-powered offense. Rams QB Jared Goff threw for just 225 yards and no touchdowns, and RB Todd Gurley gained only 37 yards on the ground…

•Salute to Jared: The outstanding defensive effort no doubt made former Vikings DE Jared Allen happy. Allen was Minnesota’s honorary captain for the Rams game and received a loud a cheer from the crowd of 66,809 at US Bank Stadium…

Former Vikings DE Jared Allen on the sidelines at USBank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Vikings great Jared Allen

•Poll Climbing: Minnesota continues to move up in the NFL power rankings as the Vikings are fourth this week. The Eagles are number one, followed by the Patriots and Steelers…

•Trending Up: Minnesota isn’t the only NFL team on a roll. Philadelphia and New Orleans have both won eight consecutive games, New England has ripped off six straight wins and Pittsburgh has won five in a row…

•Super Start: Super Bowl Opening Night is Monday, January 29 at 7 pm CT at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Fans can buy tickets for $32 to sit in the arena and watch a scrum of media battle to interview players and coaches…

•Holiday Greetings: Just a hunch, but I am guessing that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas owner Jerry Jones won’t be exchanging Christmas gifts this year. Same for President Donald Trump and LaVar Ball

•Evanston Debacle: There is no way the U of M can sugarcoat the Gopher football fiasco – this season has been a huge step back for Minnesota. Losing 39-0 at Northwestern is embarrassing. The Gophers (5-6) don’t have one impressive win and now have to knock off Wisconsin this week to become bowl eligible…

•Trophy Game: This is Minnesota’s last chance to win a rivalry game in 2017. The Gophers have already lost to Iowa and Michigan, which means the pig and the jug are in Iowa City and Ann Arbor. If Minnesota doesn’t knock off Wisconsin – which would be a seismic upset – the axe will remain in Madison. The Badgers have won 13 straight games against the Gophers and have not lost to Minnesota since 2003…

•No Debate: If Wisconsin runs the table and finishes 13-0, the Badgers should be in the NCAA’s fab four. The Badgers will have earned the right to be among the quartet of teams playing for an NCAA title. Excluding a perfect team from a power conference would be a miscarriage of college football justice…

•Just Asking: If the charges against 3M are true will the Gophers look for a new naming rights partner for their hockey venue? 3M Arena at Mariucci isn’t exactly good branding for the U of M these days…

•Soccer Steel: Minnesota United hosted a steel column raising ceremony this week at the Allianz Field site in St. Paul. The arrival of structural steel is a major milestone in the construction process for the soccer-specific stadium that will have a capacity of 19,400. Allianz Field is scheduled to open in the Spring of 2019…

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Thomas U. Tuttle

Flags of Our Fathers…

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by Thomas U. Tuttle

 

For a while now, the NFL has been the Titan of Sport, at least in this country, surpassing our National Pastime of baseball in terms of fan intensity, TV money, fantasy leagues, and of course various troubles.

As if finding out that some 90 percent of former players have brain injury from concussions related to playing the game wasn’t enough, lately it has been under real threat from a national anthem controversy that has escalated into a political football of considerable proportion.

While quarterback Colin Kaepernick initiated things last year by deciding not to stand for the anthem (in fact taking a knee) the situation has been escalated by president Donald Trump’s decision to involve himself in the controversy and make some political hay with his core supporters.

This, of course, does not sit well (no pun intended) with many players in the league, particularly African Americans, and has given the controversy distinctly racial  overtones.

Various demonstrations of kneeling, sitting, crossing arms, etc…are now taking place on a weekly basis in various NFL cities, with the rallying cry among black and minority players being a unified protest of various social ills in America, and police brutality in particular. Sunday afternoons have become a platform for protest of perceived American inequities.

Before Trump opened his mouth the controversy was centered on Kaepernick and whether he was a victim of collusion between the owners to keep him out of the NFL. There are those, including associates of GDG, who have thrown around the word “blackball” to describe the QB’s predicament.

On that score, it seems to me there are two sides; Kaepernick is a one-time Super Bowl QB for San Francisco, whose exceptional performance against Green Bay in the NFL championship game stands out in my mind. Of course, that was five years ago, a long time past in football years. And, SF went 1-15 last year, before jettisoning CK and his $14 million dollar contract after the season. Despite a decent QB rating (90+) during that horrific season, no one has picked him up for 2017.

(…and now it is likely that no one will, given that he has hired celebrity attorney Mark Gerragos, who usually does criminal work but apparently couldn’t pass this one up. He has helped accused pedophile Michael Jackson, shoplifter Winona Ryder, woman wacker Chris Brown and murderer Scott Peterson – well, the latter not so much…)

Probably the last straw for Kaepernick was when the Tennessee Titans signed QB Brandon Weeden on October 3rd, a player who CK no doubt feels is inferior to him. So he decided that it was time to pull the trigger on a private effort to seek recompense for his perception of being ostracized.

That is his belief, not mine. I do not think that the owners have colluded to keep him out of football, and the onus is on him to prove it. That is because the collective bargaining agreement dictates there must be clear evidence of nefarious action and I’ll be darned  if anyone, Geragos included, is going to prove that accusation.

Of course, the situation has grown much larger than one man. The owners are meeting in New York this week to try and find a way to move past a controversy that Commish Roger Goodell believes is alienating many fans from the NFL game. This situation has grown into a big deal and is threatening to cost the most financially successful league on the planet giant money. Time for serious meeting, indeed!

And whichever side you are on, it is causing a divide. My friend in Michigan is a serious Detroit Lions fan, but also a veteran who has strong words for the wealthy protesters on the sidelines.

John says, “do you think that the men who died for this country would take a knee to protest the few renegade cops who commit a hate crime? If you want to show your contempt for Trump or bad cops, continue to demand justice, start petitions, and mobilize voters. How can you shun the flag that gave birth to rights and freedoms people around the world can only dream about?”

He continued: “In spite of their disrespect, they can continue to receive their big salaries for playing a game on Sunday, while in many other countries, like North Korea, all they would receive is a bullet. What makes the difference is the American flag that flies over their stadiums.”

I can’t help but have empathy with a black community that has known suffering throughout American history. I’m not blind.

But I also know the pride my World War Two veteran father had for his flag. I’m glad that we decided on cremation years ago, because he would be spinning in his grave.

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Donald Trump assaults NFL players

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By Larry Fitzgerald
September 27, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@FitzBeatSr

 

America, the Land of the Free, has become the land of confrontations. Now the sports world has taken center stage in these confrontations. Sunday it was one silent protest after another across the NFL, including in London, where Jacksonville played Baltimore. In Minneapolis (Vikings vs. Tampa Bay), Vikings players, coaches, general manager and owners locked arms in unity, then went out and dominated Tampa Bay 34-17.

It’s been about a year now since former star quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to protest during the playing of the national anthem by taking a knee. He did it because as an American he has the right to protest. His decision has put him in the spotlight, and he has been targeted nationally.

He no longer plays for the San Francisco 49ers and has been an unrestricted free agent since March 2017. One problem is that he can’t seem to get a job. The phone is not ringing — no calls from any NFL teams.

Brooklyn rapper Jay Z recently kicked off his first concert in years. During his 90 minute performance in New York, he dedicated a song to Kaepernick, who has become a polarizing figure among NFL fans for his decision to sit last year and then kneel to protest police brutality in our country.

Several players have followed Kaepernick’s actions both last year and many this season as well, like Michael Bennett of Seattle who last month was assaulted by Las Vegas police. Many of Kaepernick’s supporters believe he is being singled out or blackballed for his advocacy, while others say he’s not been hired because his talent and performance have fallen off.

President Donald Trump, while speaking to his supporters at a rally in Alabama on Friday, said of player protests: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!”

Saturday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL is at its best “when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelmingly force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”

Never has there been an NFL Sunday like the one we just witnessed. Head Coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in the locker room in Chicago at Soldier’s Field until after the playing of the national anthem, as did the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans prior to their game.

As a former player and journalist who has covered this league for 39 years with a son active in the NFL, I can tell you the words of our president have fired up the NFL. It just might be enough to bring the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) a little closer.

I said weeks ago we are headed towards a national debate on race relations in this country. It hurts that those who don’t understand won’t take the time to try and learn about the issues that exist. This is so much deeper than the playing of the national anthem. And it never has been about disrespecting the flag.

The division can only lead to a harmful result. There is a thin line between love and hate. It’s a shame that the president has chosen to stoke the fires and fuel his base — many of whom don’t care and won’t change — with hatred and violence. But that is who he is.

Stay tuned. I hope the best is yet to come.

 

 

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Case Keenum makes his case for the Minnesota Vikings

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By Eric Nelson
September 27, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the Bold North...

•Case Closed: Minnesota QB Case Keenum proved his skeptics wrong on Sunday with an outstanding performance against Tampa Bay. Keenum threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings convincing 34-17 win. Keenum was given plenty of time to throw by his purple people protectors on the offensive line, and was in sync with wideouts Steffan Diggs (8 receptions, 173 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Adam Thielen (5 catches for 98 yards). Keenum deserves all the accolades he is getting this week…

Vikings QB Case Keenum surveys the defense

Case Keenum surveys the Buccaneers defense

•Key Game: On Sunday Detroit (2-1) comes to Minnesota (2-1) for a crucial NFC North match up. The Lions swept the Vikings last season, which essentially kept the Purple out of the playoffs…

•Closed Doors: What’s the point of having pivoting doors at US Bank Stadium if they are rarely open? For Sunday’s Tampa Bay-Minnesota game at USBS the gigantic glass doors were shut. So what if it’s 90 degrees outside, let some natural air in the dome. The pivoting doors are a gimmick…

•Cowboy Unity: Of all the snapshots from the NFL’s week 3 protests, my favorite came on Monday night in Glendale, AZ before the Cowboys-Cardinals game. Dallas owner Jerry Jones took a knee with the Cowboys and then the entire team rose as one for the Star Spangled banner. It was a great show of unity and a remarkable pivot for Jones, who according to the Dallas Morning News, donated $1 million to President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January…

•Pop’s View: San Antonio Spurs HC Gregg Popovich went rip city on the POTUS this week, criticizing his recent comments about the National Anthem and not inviting Golden State to Washington DC to celebrate their NBA title. My response: You go Pop. This is one guy who gets it…

•Epic Day: Kudos to the University of St. John’s, St. Thomas and the Minnesota Twins for putting on a great show Saturday at Target Field. A whopping 37,355 fans showed up for Johnnies-Tommies – a single game NCAA D3 attendance record. There was plenty of energy in the venue and the game had a big-time feel…

•Dirt Ball: One of the cool visuals was seeing a gridiron with infield dirt and green grass. That used to be a common site when MLB and NFL teams shared facilities, but now is only seen in Oakland with the A’s and Raiders. This looked like a throwback game…

•Gotham Showdown: The Minnesota Twins are close to clinching the AL’s final wild card spot. If/when that happens, the Twins will face the NY Yankees in a one-game playoff play-in at Yankee Stadium. Historically the Yankees have been kryptonite for the Twins and have dominated them in the regular season and post-season. But, a one-game winner-take-all scenario is different than a best-of-five, or best-of-seven series. With Ervin Santana on the mound Minnesota has a legitimate chance to spring the upset…

•Evil Empire: Minnesota and New York have met four times in the playoffs (2003, 2004, 2009 and 2010) and the Yankees won each series. The Twins were swept twice and lost the other match ups 3 games to 1. New York has also whipped up on Minnesota in the regular season, posting a 78-31 record since 2002…

•Twins Turnaround: Minnesota’s remarkable rebound is one of the top story lines in MLB this season. Going from 59-103 in 2016 to a possible playoff berth in 2017 is amazing. Paul Molitor could be AL manager of the year, and 1B Joe Mauer and CF Byron Buxton could win gold gloves…

•Flash Back: In 1987 the Twins stunned all of MLB by winning the World Series. Now, 30 years later, the 2017 Twins are trying to do the same thing. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No. Could be an interesting October in the Land of Lakes…

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Peyton Manning can golf with President Trump if he wants and other sports stars can criticize the POTUS if they want

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By Eric Nelson
June 7, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the North Star State...

•Playing Politics:NFL legend Peyton Manning is taking heat for golfing with President Donald Trump recently in Virginia. Many Manning fans are upset that he associated himself with a divisive guy like Trump. I am not a Trump fan and believe he has polarized the USA by sewing the seeds of hate. But, Manning did nothing wrong and does not deserve venom from the left just because he golfed with the POTUS…

•Two-way Street: Manning, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Bobby Knight and others can align themselves with Trump if they want. It’s their prerogative. Of course, it’s okay for LeBron James, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and others to criticize Trump if they want. It is their prerogative too and they don’t deserve criticism from the right…

•Just Asking: What will happen first?… The Golden State Warriors losing a playoff game or Colin Kaepernick getting an NFL job…

•Kevin Can’t Wait: When it comes to chasing NBA championship rings superstars named Kevin have had plenty of success. First it was Kevin Garnett going from Minnesota to Boston and winning a title. Then it was the Timberwolves peddling Kevin Love to Cleveland where he won a championship. Now it looks like Kevin Durant will find Kevin heaven with Golden State after leaving Oklahoma City for Oakland…

•Rod’s Return: Minnesota Twins legend Rod Carew and his wife Rhonda return to Target Field on July 3 for the LA Angels-Minnesota game. It will be the Carew’s first trip to the Twin Cities since Rod had a heart transplant on December 16, 2016. The Carew’s will also be in Minneapolis on August 18 for Twins Hall of Fame Weekend and Donor Day against Arizona…

•Flashbacks: The Twins will salute Carew by remembering the 40th Anniversary of his magical 1977 MVP year when he batted .388, and the 50th Anniversary of his 1967 AL Rookie of the Year season…

•Party-Time: The Twins host their first-ever MLB Draft Party at Target Field on Monday. Gates open at 5:30 pm and Minnesota has the number one pick in the draft for the third time in club history. The last time the Twins had the top pick was 2001 when they chose Joe Mauer. Minnesota plays Seattle that night at 7:10 pm…

•Domination: The Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are running away with their respective divisions. The Astros (42-17) lead the LA Angels and Seattle by 13 games in the AL West, and the Nationals (37-20) have a 12 1/2 game cushion over Atlanta and the NY Mets in the NL East…

•Title Starved: Btw, Houston and Washington have never won a World Series, so there is a chance that another baseball championship drought ends this season…

•Bar Brawl: According to USA Today Rex and Rob Ryan were involved in a bar fight in Nashville on Saturday. Too bad Rex Ryan’s Buffalo teams did not have that much fight when he was coaching the Bills…

•Puck Power: The NHL is on a roll as Nashville and Pittsburgh cap off a wonderful post season in the Stanley Cup Final. Hockey is also getting an assist from NBA icon Charles Barkley, who has been gushing about the sport. Barkley’s pro-hockey stance is definitely good for the game…

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Podcast

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Gameday Gold Radio – September 28, 2017 – s.2

NFL Protests Grab the Headlines

Segment 2: It’s the hot-button issue of the week.  The NFL player protests during the national anthem caught the interest of President Donald Trump, and then it blossomed.  Our hosts look into everything that went on last Sunday and Monday.  Did this also leak into which championship teams will be showing up at the White House?  And do the Vikings have something in Case Keenum?

Gameday Gold logo

Gameday Gold Radio – November 10, 2016 – s.1

It’s sports with a twist this week.  Eric and Larry use this episode of the show (taped in the Twin Cities suburbs) to take a breather from athletics and recap Tuesday’s historic election.  What are their thoughts?  Then, it’s back to the games, with a deep look into the Vikings defeat versus Detroit.  The guys weigh in and get reactions from all corners (Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph, and Brian Robison of MIN; Eric Ebron of DET; Darryl Johnston of FOX Sports).  Plus, the Gophers, Timberwolves, and the rest of the NFL were all making headlines this week.

Describing History at the Top

Segment 1: This week went well beyond the world of Sports.  Our hosts start this week off by talking about the stunning upset in the 2016 Presidential election.  Where do we go from here now that Donald Trump has become the President-Elect?  And is it a good idea for athletes to publicly say their political stances?