Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010
1:56 PM Updated 4:06 PM
By John Mullin
The Minnesota Vikings are determined to have their game against the Bears next Monday in Minneapolis. It is still not a stone-cold lock.
Defensive end Israel Idonije said Wednesday that players have not been told where the game will be played. The choices are the University of Minnesotas TCF Bank Stadium or Ford Field in Detroit, because the Metrodome cannot be repaired in time after its disastrous tear last weekend due to snow.
The Vikings and the NFL will cover the expenses of re-opening TCF Bank Stadium, for which costs could reach as high as 700,000. But the call went out Wednesday that the university needed more volunteers to clear the snow from TCF Banks grounds, meaning this is not a certainty until there is an official announcement that its game-on, and that hasnt been made.
Theres also a forecast of 3-6 inches of snow. The target area was south and west of the metropolitan area but if there is certainty with weather, it is just thatwell, its...umm...well, something. Ill get back to you on that.
Generally the location of a game is only marginally part of game planning vs. the specifics of an opponent. But for special teams in particular, whether the game is at an outdoor stadium or indoors will materially affect planning.
On the kick return game we have to decide and figure out where were going to make our double teams if its outside, said special teams coordinator Dave Toub. The kicks are shorter. Everything moves up. We have a different plan for outdoors than we would for indoors. Wherever they want to kick it, itll be there if its indoors. If its not, we have to plan for the other. For us on special teams it is a big difference so the sooner we find out, the better.
As weve been saying at CSNChicago.com for the last day-plus, the Bears and Minnesota Vikings are going to play Monday night but it is also increasingly less likely that theyll be playing in Minneapolis and the Vikings themselves are describing things as this fluid situation.
Repairing the Metrodome is out and now the Vikings confirm that NFL officials are touring the University of Minnesotas TCF Bank Stadium Wednesday to assess its workability as the alternative site. Notably as well, the team is noting in the second sentence of its statement that the decision ultimately is the NFLs, so the Vikings arent ducking the decision but making sure it doesnt reflect badly back on the organization when the second straight home game is shipped off to Detroit.
Lets see how you read the Vikings statement:
At this time, NFL officials are touring TCF Bank Stadium to ensure its safety for our fans and its ability to meet the primary technical requirements for an NFL game. Ultimately the decision to re-locate a game is the league's in consultation with the two teams. The NFL supports the plan to play Monday night's game at TCF Bank Stadium but is currently ensuring viability of this plan.
At the same time, the Vikings and the University of Minnesota are diligently working through all of the issues associated with moving a game such as tickets, parking, and operations. The organization is working to accommodate our fans questions, and we will continue to inform them on this fluid situation as soon as more information is available.
The brouhaha over the game venue didnt command all of the attention Wednesday.
Bears long snapper Pat Mannelly was picked, by USA Football and the NFL players association, as one of 26 players on the 2010 All-Fundamentals Team. And it couldnt happen to a classier, more deserving individual. More on that later.
The award is given to 11 offensive, 11 defensive and 4 special-teams players based on consistency with the fundamentals of their positions and for making a positive impact on their communities. Pat is not only a 13-year veteran who is among the true elite at his position, but also he is a spokesman for the American Lung Associations Athletes and Asthma Program as well as operator of longsnapper.com, a website he started as a means of instructing young players at the position.
Its a great honor for Pat, very well deserved, said special-teams coordinator Dave Toub. His technique is second to none. The fact that he has a website called longsnapper.com where thousands of young kids go to pretty much every year to find out how to long snap tells you a lot about Pat and how important he feels that technique and proper fundamentals are.
The reason behind the website was boredom, Mannelly said, laughing. No, actually, it was. It was during an offseason when I was bored, and I was looking on the Internet and I noticed there was nothing out there about long snapping. In high school, fortunately I had a brother who was 5 years older who went to Notre Dame, and he wanted to learn how to long snap and he was handed a pamphlet of how to long snap, so he got his information through a pamphlet.
Looking on the Internet, there was nothing out there on how to long snap, so I just wanted to put the information out there: how to hold the ball, how to snap it, all that stuff, so hopefully a kid like me who wanted to learn how to do it could just type up something and get the information.
But the lessons from Pat reach far, far beyond the fundamentals of long snapping.
Ive had the good fortune of covering the Bears through Pats entire career and have repeated and re-told something he once told me. Pat was one of the most sought-after high school offensive linemen in the nation coming out of high school in Georgia. USC, Notre Dame, Georgia, pick a power, Pat heard from them.
He chose Duke, about as far from a football power as there was at the time.
Pats reasoning was simple. He looked very critically at chances of reaching the NFL, even for a top lineman like himself, and he realized that if youre good enough to play in the NFL, they will find you. It really didnt matter where you played. Given that the Bears have starters from West Texas A&M, two from Abilene Christian, two from Louisiana-Lafayette all of them drafted. Pat went to Duke. They found him; he was drafted, in 1998, same year as Olin Kreutz.
What that translated into for Pat was a decision to use his athletic skill as a lottery ticket to cash in for the best education he felt suited him. That was in history and also with the economics foundation he wanted.
If youre good enough, the NFL indeed will find you. If youre smart enough, youll make the kind of decision Pat did.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.