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GDG rundown for the week of Sept. 22nd-24th

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There’s a lot of “big happenings” when it comes to the Twin Cities.  And it’s not just because we’re months away from hosting Super Bowl LII.  Eric and Larry are in the Downtown Minneapolis studio to spread the love.  The Lynx are looking for an historic WNBA title.  The Twins are seeking a spot in the MLB playoffs.  Gopher football has made it through the non-conference schedule unscathed.  Meanwhile, the Vikings are searching for answers with their starting QB struggling to get back on the field.  Our hosts cover all of those topics.  And there’s a special event happening at Target Field this Saturday.  Michelle Morgan from the University of St. Thomas tells us what went into making a Division III rivalry a national story.

Vikings’ Panel & Quarterback Placement

Segment 1: The city of Minneapolis is giddy about hosting this upcoming Super Bowl.  But are there some concerns regarding the outside of U.S. Bank Stadium?  The guys discuss falling zinc panels.  Then, which QB holds the title of “2nd Best in Vikings History”?  And what will Tampa Bay bring to the Purple on Sunday?

 

More Headlines From the NFL

Segment 2: A quarter of the NFL sports a 2-0 record.  Which of those teams could miss the postseason?  Our hosts pontificate.  After that, Ezekiel Elliott has had his name in the news for negative off-field transgressions.  But what’s the on-field mistake that some are screaming about this week?

 

A Playoff Berth’s So Close for the Twins

Segment 3: The Twins are clawing their way to a potential postseason berth.  Can they keep hold of this opportunity?  Eric and Larry dive into what we should expect over the last handful of days in the regular season.  Plus, they begrudgingly look back at the team getting swept at the hands of the Yankees.

 

Randy Moss Gets His Honor

Segment 4: It might have happened a couple of weeks back, but it’s still great to hear Randy Moss’ speech as he was being inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor.  We hear that speech from the opening Monday Night game of the NFL season.  The fellas also wonder if the football head coaching circle is starting younger than it used to.

 

No Other Rival: GDG Talks with Michelle Morgan About a New D-III Feat

Segment 5: A unique event takes place this Saturday in downtown Minneapolis.  The NCAA Division III football rivalry that is St. Thomas and St. John’s will take place on a grand stage.  UST associate athletic director Michelle Morgan joins the program to discuss this special renewal of the series that is taking place at Target Field.

 

Lynx Look for Redemption & Gopher FB Sets a High Bar

Segment 6: The WNBA Finals is set.  The Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks will seek to become the second team in WNBA history to win four championships.  Which team has the edge in the rematch?  Gopher football has the week off before starting their new nine-game Big Ten campaign.  What can we make of the 3-0 start for P.J. Fleck’s guys?

 

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Gophers ‘rowing the boat’ at 3-0

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By Larry Fitzgerald
September 19, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@FitzBeatSr

 

Little did I know about the name P.J. Fleck until recently. My time might be drawing to an end.

Back in 1992, while doing talk radio on KFAN, the Gophers’ flagship station, I told my broadcast partner Eric Nelson and our listening audience that things were so bad here in the culture of the program at Minnesota that the football program would not go to the Rose Bowl in my lifetime. Here it is 2017 and the team has not won a Big Ten title since 1967 and has not been to the Rose Bowl since 1961.

Imagine three Gopher head football coaches in three years. That sounds as if the program is drifting away in trouble, right? Last year’s sexual harassment issues led to big change for both players and coaches. P.J. Fleck is the new big man on campus; he was hired shortly after Tracy Claeys was fired after going 9-4 and winning back-to-back Bowl games.

Not many Gopher head football coaches over the last 50 years can say that. Fleck was hired by Mark Coyle, the new Minnesota athletic director. “When I was athletic director at Syracuse,” said Coyle, “that’s when I first had a coaching search, and that’s when his name came up. I talked to a couple of coaches, and his name kept coming up.
“When I came to Minnesota a year later,” Coyle continued, “I saw what he did at Western Michigan University, starting 1-11 and then the next year going 13-1. That was awesome, but what really impressed me was [that] academically that team went from a 2.5 to a 3.0.

“I knew that he would take care of things on the field and off the field academically. We had a sense of urgency, so we thought he would be good for our program.”

It is early, but after three weeks the Gophers under Fleck are 3-0, winning 17-7 over Buffalo. At Oregon State the next week the Gophers dominated 48-14. And last Saturday I witnessed at TCF a complete domination of Middle Tennessee 34-3.

Some have been critical of Fleck and his methods. He is very confident when he talks. It’s about faith a lot and about the culture of a program. And “rowing the boat.”

Proof has been in the fast start and what the players are saying, and more importantly what they are doing and the changes. Not many head coaches across this country have won 16 of their last 17 games. P.J. Fleck talks the talk.

His style is different. He came on campus and right away threw away some prized football trophies. That has upset some alumni players. Not everyone is buying what he’s selling, but so far he’s “rowing the boat.”

 

 

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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Vikings’ Bradford stars in 29-19 win

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By Larry Fitzgerald
September 14, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@FitzBeatSr

 

It does not get much better than this for the Vikings. With questions everywhere, the Vikings sent a prime-time message to the rest of the NFL and their fans that they are better.

Quarterback Sam Bradford out-dueled one of the NFL’s all-time greats, Drew Brees, with a sterling performance. Bradford looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Bradford was 27-32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings’ 29-19 win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football, spoiling the return of the Vikings’ all-time leading rusher Adrian Peterson to Minnesota. Peterson was not much of a factor; in fact, he was seldom used. He had only six carries for 18 yards and was not at all happy about the way he was used by Saints Coach Sean Payton.

The Vikings did not miss Peterson. Rookie sensation Dalvin Cook was brilliant, setting a Vikings rookie debut mark with 127 yards rushing on 22 carries. His explosive ability to get outside with a burst reminded us of Peterson.

The Vikings and Saints were locked in a tight battle at U.S. Bank Stadium, Saints up 6-3 late in the second quarter when the Vikings opened up the offense. Bradford suddenly started winging it, throwing the ball down the field to receivers Adam Thielen, with nine catches for 157 yards, and Stefon Diggs showing the fight and spirit with seven catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns.

Bradford and the Vikings, with back-to-back TD passes, both to Diggs, took a 16-6 lead at halftime and never looked back. The Vikings seized control because their defense never let Brees and the Saints offense establish the running game. The Saints were held to just 60 yards rushing, and they committed a couple of unsportsmanlike penalties that helped the Vikings keep drives alive.

Brees threw for 291 yards and one touchdown. The Vikings had 470 yards in total offense, great balance, and the offensive line punched holes in the Saints defense, giving Bradford the time to stay in the pocket and hit his receivers.

The Saints are certainly not the 1985 Chicago Bears on defense. They allowed 454 points last year, but the measuring stick is to pass the test with each opponent. Next for the Vikings are the 1-0 Pittsburgh Steelers, the Vikings’ first road test of the season against a 2016 playoff team listed among the best in the league.

Randy Moss, the ex-Vikings great, was honored by the organization by being inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor. Moss delivered a spirited and passionate speech about his career, thanking the Vikings and fans and Dennis Green and his teammates. He invited as his guests Marie Green and Patti Green, Coach Green’s widow and daughter, to return to Monday Night Football and share in his Ring of Honor induction.

The NFL has seven owners who gave President Donald Trump $1 million each for his presidential run. I wonder if the Wilf ownership was one of the seven. Protest continued around the NFL over quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s failure to be offered a contract by owners.

Randy Moss is honored in Minneapolis

Randy Moss enters the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor -September 11, 2017

 

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 opening act was an impressive one

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By Eric Nelson
September 12, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the Purple Nation...

•Fast Start: The Minnesota Vikings made quite a splash in their NFL opener on 9/11 against the New Orleans Saints. The Purple’s offensive line was solid, the running game productive, the aerial attack sensational and the defense was lights out. The result was a 29-19 Vikings win as they sparkled under the Monday Night Football spotlight…

•Dalvin’s Debut: In the much-hyped showdown between Dalvin Cook and Adrian Peterson, Cook was the superior running back. The Minnesota rookie gained 127 yards on the ground and caught three passes for 10 yards. Meanwhile, AP had just 18 yards on six carries and was rarely used by Saints HC Sean Payton. One of the greatest Vikings ever, became a bit player in his return to the Twin Cities…

•Different Roles: One game is a small sample size, but it appears that Cook is Minnesota’s go-to back, while AP will get limited touches with New Orleans. That’s exactly why the Vikings cut the cord with their all-time leading ground gainer and turned the page. The Purple believe AP’s days as a stallion runner are in the rear view mirror…

•Sam Shines: Minnesota QB Sam Bradford out-dueled New Orleans gunslinger Drew Brees. Bradford threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns, while Brees was limited to 291 yards and a cosmetic TD toss late in the game. It was an impressive win for Minnesota before a charged up crowd of 66,606 at the Glass House…

•Trench Success: The Vikings offensive line deserves plenty of credit too. The Purple People Protectors kept Bradford upright most of the game – allowing just one sack and providing Cook with daylight and running lanes. Good stuff for a unit that has been banged on like a pinata by fans and media…

•Dominant D: Minnesota’s defense bottled up the Saints most of the night and was very stingy in the red zone. Brees – who will someday be in the HOF – never looked comfortable…

•Randy Ratio: At halftime the Vikings inducted WR Randy Moss into their Ring of Honor. Moss is one of the most electrifying players in Minnesota history and received loud cheers from the fans…

•Throwback Games: Today’s NFL has morphed into video game football. Cartoon-like scores are now common as the shield has tried to phase out defense. But, if week 1 is any indication, low-scoring games could be vogue again. Check out these results: Green Bay 17, Seattle 9. Dallas 19, NY Giants 3. Jacksonville 29, Houston 7. Baltimore 20, Cincinnati 0. Buffalo 21, NY Jets, 12. Carolina 23, San Francisco 3. Pittsburgh 21, Cleveland 18…

•Trending Up: Oklahoma and USC were the big winners in college football last week. The Sooners are now ranked second in the AP Top 25 and third in the coaches poll after their 31-16 thumping of Ohio State in Columbus. The Trojans moved up to fourth in both rankings after crushing Stanford, 42-24 at the LA Coliseum…

•Sports-Centric: Fans in the Twin Cities have plenty of options this week. Washington and Minnesota play in the WNBA semifinals on Tuesday and Thursday at The Barn. The Twins pursuit of an AL wild card spot continues as they host San Diego and Toronto Tuesday through Sunday. On Saturday it’s Middle Tennessee against the U of M in NCAA football action at TCF Bank Stadium…

•A Tale of Two Teams: The sizzling Cleveland Indians have won 19 straight MLB games. To put that in perspective the NFL Browns have won a grand total of 20 games since 2012…

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: The Minnesota Twins are MLB’s most unlikely success story this season

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By Eric Nelson
July 7, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@Ericinminny44

 

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

•On the Rebound: The marathon MLB season has hit the halfway point. The surprise team so far is Minnesota. The Twins are 44-41 and just 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central. This is an epic turnaround from 2016 when the Twins finished with a 59-103 record and couldn’t see the first place Indians with a telescope…

•Tater Time: Monday’s home run derby in Miami has the potential to be a great show. With guys like Miguel Sano, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton swinging for the fences, baseballs will be flying into orbit all night long…

•Ball Hawk: Twins broadcaster Dan Gladden was the LF ball boy for the LA Angels-Minnesota game on July 4 at Target Field. Gladden, who played on two World Series title teams for the Twins, is 60-years old…

•Changing of the Guard: I am not surprised Minnesota peddled Ricky Rubio to Utah. This was bound to happen. The Timberwolves were looking for greener grass in the PG pasture which is why they immediately signed Jeff Teague

•Playoffs or Bust: The future is now for the T-Wolves who look a lot better with the additions of Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Teague. Minnesota hasn’t been to the NBA playoffs since 2004 and that has to change this season. The Wolves can only expect their loyal fan base to wait so long…

•Money Ball: This just in – Steph Curry now has more money than the San Francisco mint….

•Cashing In: Last week Curry signed a 5-year, $201 million contract with Golden State – the largest deal in NBA history. Truth is, the Warriors got Curry for a bargain. Golden State can’t pay the two-time NBA champ and two-time MVP enough. Curry is the new face of the NBA – an incredibly popular superstar who fills up arenas. Curry has raised the value of the Golden State franchise and his presence is one reason why the Warriors are getting a new waterfront arena in downtown San Francisco in 2019…

•Coast-to-Coast Popularity: Forget about the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Cubs or New York Yankees, Golden State is America’s team. Thanks to Curry and his superstar cast, the Warriors are ultra-popular across the US…

•Off-Season Bounce: The NBA Draft and free agency has been more exciting than the just completed regular season and playoffs. The Association has been NFL-like with a knack for staying in the news cycle and garnering media attention…

•Purple Stars: My top five all-time Minnesota Vikings based on impact and production are – Alan Page, Chuck Foreman, Fran Tarkenton, Randall McDaniel and Randy Moss

•Oh My: ESPN the magazine has come out with its 2017 body issue. The group shot of the US women’s Olympic hockey team is my favorite photo…

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GDG rundown for the weekend of June 16th-18th

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The skies cleared up to provide beautiful conditions for a ballgame.  Eric and Larry took advantage of that to broadcast this week’s show from Target Field.  Of course, the Twins are front and center right now.  We hear about their continued success and the odd way they’ve sustained it.  Which teams were crowned Stanley Cup and NBA champions?  Then, Vikings mode kicks into gear.  We hear from QB Sam Bradford, WR Stefon Diggs, and DE Everson Griffen as the team gets back on the field.  Then, Viking legends will soon be honored and Lynx stars are piling up the recognitions.

Road-Dog Twins Look for More Bite at Home

Segment 1:  The Twins are back in town after another successful road trip.  But did the home woes continue?  The guys talk about the team’s perplexing home/road splits, including an offensive showcase from Tuesday night.

 

Title-Worthy Teams

Segment 2: The NHL and NBA finished their respective seasons earlier this week.  Our hosts recap Pittsburgh’s repeat as Stanley Cup champions.  Then, they wrap up Golden State’s return to the top of the NBA mountain.  Could the Finals trilogy have a fourth installment next year?

 

A Diss?  A Taste.  An Anxious Feeling?

Segment 3: Now that the Warriors are NBA champs, will they make that annual trip to the White House?  After that, the fellas explain the growth and impact of the Taste of the NFL.  And is Minneapolis ready to host their second Super Bowl?

 

Back in the Swing: GDG Talks with Members of the Vikings

Segment 4: Speaking of the NFL, the smell of Mini Camp is in the air.  Larry sat down with a trio of Vikings (Sam Bradford, Stefon Diggs, and Everson Griffen) as they get the wheels in motion preparing for the 2017 season.

 

Purple Pride for the Newest Ring of Honor Inductees

Segment 5: There will be two new members of the Vikings Ring of Honor.  Randy Moss and Ahmad Rashad will be inducted this season.  Eric and Larry describe the impact of these two legends on the field.

 

Lynx Keep on Rollin’

Segment 6: The Lynx continue their torrid start.  The guys tell us about the team’s motivation, as well as some well-earned accolades for a couple of team members.  Plus, the Twins host their first-ever Draft Party.

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Target Field has become a launching pad

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By Eric Nelson
June 14, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS -Sports Nuggets from the Twin Towns...

•Band Box: Target Field is turning into a launching pad. The last six games in Minneapolis have been high scoring affairs. On May 28 Tampa Bay won 8-6 over the Twins in a 15-inning contest. Houston then swept Minnesota, 16-8, 7-2 and 17-6. So far this week it has been Seattle 14, Minnesota 3 and Twins 20, Mariners 7…

•Hit Parade: The Twins had a team-record 28 hits in their 20-7 win on Tuesday night. Eddie Rosario slugged three home runs in the 90 degree heat as Minnesota put on an offensive fireworks show…

•Royce’s Reaction: There was plenty of shock and awe Monday when the Twins selected prep SS Royce Lewis with the first pick of the MLB Draft. According to the Orange County Register, Lewis was caught totally off guard and thought he would be chosen fifth by Atlanta. Even Lewis’ mom Cindy was floored by the selection. Lewis plays for JSerra HS in San Juan Capistrano, CA…

•Purple Props: Good move by the Minnesota Vikings to put Ahmad Rashad and Randy Moss into the team’s ring of honor. This is an overdue honor for Rashad and Moss is one of the most electrifying players in Viking history…

•Minnesota Impact: The Pittsburgh Penguins path to a second straight Stanley Cup title came with major contributions from two Minnesotans. 22-year old C Jake Guentzel (who grew up in Woodbury) was spectacular in the post-season with 13 goals, 8 assists and 21 points. Meanwhile, 40-year old C Matt Cullen (who played for Moorhead HS) was savvy and solid for the Penguins with 2 goals, 7 assists and 9 points in the playoffs…

•Rare Air: Go ahead and put Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby on the NHL’s Mt. Rushmore. With three Cup championships and Hall of Fame stats, Crosby deserves all the accolades he gets…

•Two Titles in Two Days: For those of you keeping score at home, Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup on a Sunday night and Golden State won the Larry O’Brien Trophy on Monday. Two major pro sports champions crowned in a 24 hour span is pretty cool and very unusual…

•Just a Hunch: I am guessing that Kevin Durant and Rihanna won’t be exchanging Christmas cards this year…

•Finals Foursome: Btw, I will be stunned if Cleveland and Golden State don’t play in the NBA Finals again next season. A fourth straight meeting seems inevitable…

•Bonus Soccer: On July 15 Atlas FC faces Minnesota United in a friendly at TCF Bank Stadium. Atlas FC is based in Guadalajara and plays in Mexico’s top division, Liga MX…

•Impressive Record: Congrats to Minnesota Lynx G Lindsay Whalen, who is now the WNBA’s winningest player. In 14 seasons Whalen has 295 wins on her resume. Whalen has won three WNBA titles with the Lynx and two Olympic gold medals…

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Gameday Gold Radio – September 21, 2017 – s.4

Randy Moss Gets His Honor

Segment 4: It might have happened a couple of weeks back, but it’s still great to hear Randy Moss’ speech as he was being inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor.  We hear that speech from the opening Monday Night game of the NFL season.  The fellas also wonder if the football head coaching circle is starting younger than it used to.