Analysis of the Vikings Offseason (so far)

The Minnesota Vikings are coming off a successful season where they finished 1st in the NFC North. Their regular season record was 13-3 and they made it to the NFC Championship game. They ultimately lost to the Philadelphia Eagles but it was a season Vikings fans can be proud of. This is a key offseason in order to get over the hump and win a Super Bowl.

Notable Offseason Additions

The most notable free-agent signing has been Kirk Cousins. Many analysts believe he was one of the top free-agents this offseason. The Vikings made it a priority to get a franchise quarterback. Despite the success that Case Keenum had last season, the Vikings felt that Cousins was too good to pass up. Cousins was previously the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins where he threw for 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. The Redskins had moderate success under Cousins but that’s due to the fact that he never had significant talent around him. That’s why this signing is so intriguing. Pairing Cousins up with two elite receivers in Diggs and Thielen, and a talented running back in Dalvin Cook could be exactly what the Vikings need to finally win a Super Bowl.

Depth on the defensive line was also a priority this offseason, specifically at defensive tackle. Outside of Linval Joseph, the Vikings lacked talent on an otherwise elite defensive line. That’s why Zimmer and the Vikings went out and signed Sheldon Richardson.  Richardson was picked by the New York Jets in the first round of the NFL draft.  His rookie year he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He was also a pro-bowler in 2014. Richardson joins pro-bowlers Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen on the defensive line and will be a key contributor to one of the best defenses in the league.

A more under-the-radar acquisition was wide receiver Kendall Wright. Wright was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. He spent last season on the Chicago Bears. He hasn’t been an impactful starter on the Titans and Bears but will be utilized as a solid slot receiver and reliable backup if former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell doesn’t pan out.

Notable Offseason Departures

Case Keenum was one of the biggest names to change teams. He will be the quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2018. The decision to sign Cousins over keeping Keenum was debatable. Many believed that the money we paid Cousins was too much versus keeping Keenum on a smaller, restructured deal. Part of the Vikings rationale for letting Keenum go was that while he had a successful season, it was too small of a sample size to trust him as the starting quarterback for many years.

Noteworthy departures at quarterback included Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford. It was expected that Sam Bradford was going to be let go after losing the starting job to Keenum in 2017 due to injury issues. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Teddy Bridgewater, a fan favorite, was a tougher decision. After not playing for the majority of 2017 due to a torn ACL and structural damage in his knee, he appeared to be working towards a full recovery to compete for the starting job in 2018. However, in contract negotiations, he asked for starting quarterback money. With many expiring contracts looming for stars including Anthony Barr and Stefon Diggs in the upcoming season, the Vikings weren’t prepared to give Teddy that kind of money. He signed a one-year $15 million contract with the Jets.

At running back, the Vikings let Jerrick McKinnon go. McKinnon served as a shifty scat-back for the Vikings since 2014. After Dalvin Cook suffered a torn ACL in 2017, McKinnon got a much larger workload splitting time with Latavius Murray. Both Murray and McKinnon impressed in Cook’s absence. The decision to not resign McKinnon was a financial decision. He wanted to be paid like a starter and he wasn’t going to be paid or utilized as a starter in Minnesota. He signed a 4-year $36.9 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

What’s next?

Overall the Vikings have been very smart with their money. They had to sign Cousins to a large contract (3 years $84 million) because that’s where the market is for a quarterback with a proven track record. The decision to let Keenum, McKinnon, Bridgewater, and Bradford go helped make the Cousins deal possible. These moves also made it possible to re-sign important players to long-term deals including Eric Kendricks.

After all the offseason moves the Vikings still have $15.7 million in cap space. They should use that money and the draft to bolster offensive line depth, add competition at wide-receiver, and bring in a cornerback to compete with Trae Waynes.

The future is bright in Minnesota. There’s still time to join the bandwagon. Skol.

 

 

 

Dealing With Stress

Activities for stress relief

Managing stress is a crucial skill to develop. Stress will always be prevalent, regardless of your major, career, or life situation. It’s impossible to avoid, but there are ways to put yourself in a positive mindset and not let stress control your life.

These are various activities that I do to manage and suppress my stress.

The first activity that I do when I’m overwhelmed with school and everyday pressures is to listen to relaxing music and practice deep breathing exercises. Usually, our stress comes from external forces. If you can tune out the noise, you can focus on your thoughts without distraction. This can help you re-align your thinking and put things in perspective. The music helps clear your mind and the deep breathing exercises physically calm your body.

Another activity that I do frequently when I’m stressed is hanging out with friends and being social. I recommend doing this if you can afford to spare some time. Spending time with friends is a distraction mechanism. It can take your mind off of the source of your stress. Depending on your friend group, the activities that you do will vary. My friends and I keep things lighthearted. Joking around with my friends lightens the mood and gives me a break from the weight of my stress.

The most effective technique that I’ve used to manage my stress is running.  I started running at a young age. For most of my life, it was just exercise. In middle school and high school, I ran to train for soccer. When I got to college and my stresses increased I found that running was a good way to escape. Instead of focusing on my problems, I would focus on my breathing and the physical strain.

Another aspect of running that is very therapeutic is the solitude. While it’s fun to run with a friend, it’s also very beneficial to run alone. You’re able to be alone with your thoughts.

Running also releases endorphins. This can reduce immediate anxiety. After running long distances, I feel relaxed and I can think more clearly. This is my favorite benefit of running.

These are just a few techniques that I used to manage stress. Everyone has different activities that make them happy. It’s important to do these things when you can. This seems simple but many people don’t take time out of their day to do this. By doing the things you like, it puts things in perspective and mitigates stress.

 

 

 

Being in a social fraternity in the 21st century

Why I Joined SigEp

When I came to Drake, I had no intention of joining a fraternity. I grew up in Minneapolis near the University of Minnesota. I understood the culture of Greek life at larger state schools and I knew it wasn’t for me.

At the beginning of freshman year, I had a close group of friends from my hall. I didn’t feel the need to socially branch out any more than I already had.

However, I quickly realized the impact that Fraternity and Sorority life had on the campus and community. My PMAC was in Greek life and most of the Orientation Leaders were as well.  If I wanted to get involved on campus, the best way to do that would be to go through the rush process.

I had some reservations because of the negative perceptions. I wanted to go in with an open mind but I was worried about the hazing and drinking culture.

As I went from house to house, I became increasingly surprised by the quality people that were in fraternities. During rush, the people that I talked to were genuinely interested in getting to know me. They wanted to know what I was studying and my professional aspirations. There weren’t any discussions on drinking or partying.

After having a great initial impression of fraternity life at Drake, it came down to what house would be the best fit. I visited every house during rush week but, early in the process, I knew what house I wanted to be in. That was Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp).

There was something different about the people in SigEp. They were exceptional. These men were motivated in the classroom, serious about their future careers, and could maintain a strong social presence on campus.

I wanted to surround myself with these people. I knew they would push me to be the best version of myself. The men in SigEp also cared about each other. I didn’t see that at every fraternity. SigEp had fostered a close community and family environment. The brothers really cared about each other. This was important to me.

Since I joined SigEp, the quality brothers have not changed and the mutual respect has not changed. In the current climate of greek life, it’s important to highlight these positive characteristics. A lot of the negativity in the news about fraternities is warranted, but we don’t always acknowledge the good things that come out of fraternities, especially here at Drake.

Many people are hesitant about joining a fraternity because they are worried that their grades will suffer. In SigEp this is not the case. By surrounding myself with people who excel in the classroom, it has pushed me to become more disciplined and diligent in my studies. Academics has always been a strength of SigEp. In a fraternity of 100+ members, we consistently have one of the highest GPA’s on campus.

Another common reason people don’t join fraternities is because of the pledge process and hazing culture. SigEp is one of the only fraternities that does not have a pledge process. This means that as soon as a brother joins SigEp they are treated equally.

In SigEp, it’s important to give back to the community. Our primary philanthropy is Queen of Hearts which raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This year we raised $15,500.

I currently serve on the Executive Council. I am the Communications Chair. I’m in charge of our social media accounts, any relevant public relations, and secretarial duties including recording minutes at our meetings. My role is important. I communicate the positive events (philanthropy events, house speakers, etc.) that our chapter puts on. Positive publicity is very important for fraternities, especially when schools are looking for a way to kick them off. We regularly document our events and brothers on Instagram. I also had the responsibility of creating our rush video for 2017 fall recruitment.  The social media accounts and video provide positive marketing for SigEp that attracts potential new members in the right way.

Joining SigEp was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. It has significantly impacted my college experience. I’ve become a better person academically, professionally, and socially because of my experiences in a social fraternity and specifically in SigEp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Road to my Vikings Obsession

How I Became a Vikings Fan

I’ve always been a football fan. It’s in my blood. My great-grandfather played professionally (back in the days of leather helmets and no knowledge of CTE). My dad grew up in Odessa, Texas—home of the Permian Panthers (the school in Friday Night Lights). Growing up in Texas, it was expected that he played and watched football. His favorite team was the Dallas Cowboys. He loved to reminisce about the good ole’ days of Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Emmit Smith, and Deion Sanders.

This passion for football was passed on to me.

My dad never forced the Dallas Cowboys on me. In fact, when I was younger he would watch football by himself. He probably didn’t want me to see him curse at the TV. I had casually watched football on my own starting with the 2007-2008 NFL season.

*Disclaimer—I was young and naive at the time, so don’t judge my sports allegiance.

The 2007 NFL season was the year the New England Patriots went 18-1. I was intrigued by the dominance of Tom Brady and Randy Moss. This was the first sports team that I consistently followed week to week. Following the disappointing ending to that season, I started watching other teams in the NFL and I began playing Madden. Playing Madden helped me understand who these players were that I was watching on TV. I began developing favorite players, including an exciting rookie at the time by the name of Adrian Peterson. Racking up 150+ yards per game in Madden with this player was very exciting for an 11-year-old boy.

Andy and Chad Greenway

This marks the shift from becoming a casual NFL fan to a Minnesota Vikings fan.

There was a tough stretch when the Vikings seemed destined for mediocrity. But then came the 2009 season. We had just come off another subpar year with Coach Brad Childress and an incapable Tarvaris Jackson. Heading into the offseason before the 2009 season, the Minnesota Vikings made one of the boldest moves in franchise history….they signed Brett Favre out of retirement. If you don’t know, Brett Favre made his career playing for the bad guys (Green Bay Packers). This was the most savage move any player could make.

That 2009 season was my first taste of success as a Vikings fan. That team meshed very well together. Adrian Peterson was a superstar in the making, Percy Harvin was the most electric player in the NFL, Jared Allen was leading the league in sacks, and Brett Favre was cementing his legacy as a future hall of famer. This was a fun team to watch. They finished the regular season at 12-4, first in the NFC North, and beat the Packers in both games. In the Divisional round of the playoffs we crushed Tony Romo and the Cowboys 34-3. That’s when everyone started talking about how this Vikings squad could be Super Bowl contenders.

Following the Divisional round, the Vikings had to travel to play Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship game. The game was excruciatingly close through its entirety. With a minute left in regulation the score was tied 28-28. Vikings had the ball deep in Saints territory. It looked like Favre was going to do what he does best—lead another game-winning drive.  Twenty seconds were left on the clock and the Vikings were on the Saints 38 yard-line. Favre rolled out of the pocket (he was facing immense pressure all game). He tried to throw off his back foot into the middle of the field. Tracy Porter, a Saints Defensive Back, read it and intercepted the ball. Saints then got the ball in overtime, drove down the field and kicked a field goal to win the game.

Sadly, this feeling of dissappointment would be one I would become all too familiar with.

The Vikings fell back into their ways of mediocrity during the Christian Ponder era. It wasn’t until we drafted Teddy Bridgewater that we felt a sense of hope. But as the Vikings tend to do, in 2015 they broke my heart again. In the Wildcard round, the Vikings played the Seahawks in a -6 degree game in Minneapolis. It was a very defensive game. With 22 second left, the Seahawks were winning 10-9. Blair Walsh needed to hit a 27-yard field goal to win the game. But as a Vikings fan, we’re not allowed to have happiness. Walsh hooked the kick left. More dissappointment followed.

Our next chance at a Super Bowl would come last season. I’ll get into that in a separate post but it follows the similar theme.

Overall, my path to becoming a Vikings fan was long and difficult. Despite the pain, I’m proud to be a loyal Minnesota Vikings supporter. The community of fans are unique to Minnesota and the players have been influential role models in my life and many others.

Skol.