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From the Press Box—Pee Wee Championships, Vikings Collapsing & Stupid Forbes Lists

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From the Press Box—Pee Wee Championships, Vikings Collapsing & Stupid Forbes Lists

It's a big week at the Garda Mansion (by mansion I mean, apartment) as my older son's Pop Warner team heads to Newark for the Pee Wee Championship of their league.

It's bittersweet because my son broke his foot about three weeks ago, so he can't play. Bittersweet because I know how much he wants to.

What's good is, he's there for his team, on the sidelines encouraging, being a good teammate and cheering them on.

I get asked—a lot—about how I feel with a child playing tackle football given that I cover the NFL and have close-up knowledge of the toll it can take on players, even from a young age.

It's a hard question to answer. Do I worry? Yes. But as any parent of a young player can tell you, you do what you can to mitigate the potential injuries and hold your breath a lot.

Do I worry about concussions? Sure. However you can get one in any sport. The brother of my son's friend got a pretty big concussion playing soccer a couple of weeks ago. My son broke his foot in gym. Running in circles. A few years ago he broke his arm on the monkey bars (actually the rings, but you know what I mean).

My point is, I would worry—and any parent should worry—regardless of circumstance. Kids get hurt. Kids can get concussions, broken bones and other injuries doing just about anything.

And when I see the young man my son is becoming—the way he conducts himself, the confidence he has gained, the pure joy of doing something he loves and how all of that and more spreads across every aspect of his life?

Well the risk is a concern. The rewards thus far have been tremendous for him.

All that being said I will be crossing my fingers for his team tomorrow at 3pm EST.

Let's talk some big boy football now.


It's going to be really easy to dismiss the Vikings after they were decimated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night.

And just like the previous weeks when we knew they were playing a little over their heads but people were looking towards the playoffs, that would be silly.

This team is basically what we thought it would be—a young team with a young quarterback which has to win with good defense, Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson.

When you have to shift away from Peterson—and I'll tell you why they shouldn't have last night—you put the game in Christian Ponder's hands. One day, that will be fine, I truly believe that.

This day is not that day. Frankly, the next day is probably not that day either.

Nagler wrote a good piece on what we should think of Ponder, and I've broken down his play as well in a few places.

He's making some boneheaded plays as most young quarterbacks do. He's also made some beauties, as he did on the throw to Harvin for a touchdown.

It's going to take a while.

The real problem here is twofold: one, the defense can't do everything and has forgotten how to tackle running backs. Second, there is no vertical threat at this point. Jerome Simpson is also who we thought he was—and OK receiver who was never as good as he looked in 2011.

At the end of the day, are the Vikings an elite team? No, they're too young and too raw.

They are who we thought they were—a rebuilding team. They're also not who we thought they were—they're not the pushover people expected.

What that means remains to be seen.

Pull in the Tents, Douse the Cookfire—the Chiefs are Done

What has been on the verge of happening for years has finally happened—the Chiefs are imploding at quarterback.

They aren't the only ones to be sure (hello Jets, I see you there) however it was probably the most preventable.

At some point Kansas City convinced itself that Matt Cassel was a franchise quarterback. For a while, it sorta, kinda worked.

But it was never really more than smoke and mirrors, though no matter how many analysts said it, KC didn't want to hear it.

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.

The second greatest trick might have been convincing Kansas City that Cassel was any good.

Cassel could set this franchise back years—worse though it knowing he has been hurt and mediocre, KC had Brady Quinn as his backup.

Brady. Quinn.

You start to see that maybe, just maybe this isn't an issue with coaching or players so much as it is in the ranks above those guys. For all Scott Pioli's alleged genius, what has be done in Kansas City? He drafts OK. The offensive firepower there was already there when he arrived. Hell, he let Tony Gonzalez go and Gonzo is still playing at a high level.

It's a disaster, make no mistake. The only thing keeping it from being a situation where you burn it down and salt the earth is a mostly solid defense and Jamaal Charles.

Aside from that, it's a mess and will be until Pioli is gone.


They shouldn't but popularity lists fascinate me.

Forbes' Top Ten Disliked Players fascinates me more than most.

First of all the fact that so many backups is crazy. Really folks? Brady Quinn, Matt Leinart, Kyle Orton? You HATE them?

I get Jay Cutler, I get Ndamukong Suh, I get Mike Vick.

I may not agree, but I get them.

But backups? How do they even register?

I don't think Quinn or Leinert are good quarterbacks. Sanchez doesn't appear to be either (sorry, Jets fan holding on by a thread here).

But hate-able? What the heck Forbes?

Where is Cortland Finnegan? James Harrison? Philip Rivers? Hell, Brett Favre should make the list before a bevy of back-up QBs.

Maybe it's that they (save Orton) were high draft picks who have failed. Maybe Orton was unlucky in that he didn't much enjoy being replaced by Tim Tebow.

There are lists, and there are lists. And then there are stupid lists like this.

Come on Forbes. You can do better.

That's it for this week, join me Tuesday for another Hard Count and circle back here each and every Friday for another From the Press Box.


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"The Bears still suck!"
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