Tag Archives: football

The Battle for The Axe

And the Big Ten West Title

The longest running rivalry in college football.


Freddie the Foot

Fred Cox attempts to put one through the uprights at The Met, Paul Krause holding

Fred Cox, the long time kicker for the Minnesota Vikings, passed away this week. He was 80, just three weeks shy of his 81st birthday.

Cox was drafted by the Cleveland Browns as a fullback out of the University of Pittsburgh. The plan was for Cox to block for the future Hall of Famer, Jim Brown. A back injury had legendary coach Paul Brown telling Cox to switch to kicker. Unfortunately, another Hall of Famer, Lou Groza was still kicking for Cleveland. Cox was traded to Minnesota, and became their full time kicker in 1963.

Cox would play 15 seasons for the Vikings, never missing a game. He retired as the franchise leading scorer with 1365 points. Still the franchise record.

Cox was named All-Pro for the 1969-1971 seasons, playing in the 1970 Pro Bowl. He is one of 11 Vikings to have played in all four of their Super Bowl appearances. Cox was also named to the squad of the Top 50 Vikings when the team hit their 50th Anniversary.

While playing for the Vikings, Cox and Minneapolis resident John Mattox teamed up to invent the NERF football. While Mattox wanted a heavy ball that “kids couldn’t kick out of their yards”, Cox suggested a foam ball to “prevent a bunch of sore legged kids.” After making a mold, and injecting it with foam, Cox & Mattox took the ball to Parker Bros. The rest is back yard history. Not to mention a few living rooms.

As a young kid, my Dad would take me out to the old Met, and I saw Freddie the Foot kick many, many times, and I can’t tell you how many NERF footballs I owned when I was growing up. Rest In Peace, Freddie; you were in the middle of a lot of very good memories.


9-0

A sellout crowd saw the Golden Gophers top the Nittany Lions in a match of previously unbeaten teams.

A happy group at TCF Bank Stadium

You better grease that pig, Iowa.


The Return of The Axe

Minnesota 37, Wisconsin 15

The Minnesota/Wisconsin rivalry is the most played in FBS football. They first met in Minneapolis in 1890, with Minnesota winning 63-0.

On Saturday, the two teams met up for the 128th time. On the line, just like every year since 1948, was Paul Bunyan’s Axe. With a solid win at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, The Axe returns to the University of Minnesota campus for the first time since 2003.

The overall record between the two teams in the border rivalry is 60-60-8.


Golden Gopher Football players with The Axe; Photo credit:(AP/Andy Manis)


Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe, PA


Jim Thorpe competing in the Stockholm Olympics, 1912

Jim Thorpe is considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern times. After winning gold in both the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, King Gustav V of Sweden said to Thorpe, “You sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.”

Thorpe was a collegiate All-American, NFL All-Pro & charter member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame, and played baseball with three different MLB teams. He also played for a traveling professional basketball team.


Jim Thorpe Olympic statue near Jim Thorpe, PA

When in Pennsylvania for hockey, we traveled through Jim Thorpe, PA. Originally founded as Mauch Chunk, the community made a deal with Jim Thorpe’s widow in 1953. After Thorpe’s funeral in Shawnee, OK, city officials of Mauch Chunk bought his remains from his third wife, and Thorpe’s body was shipped to Pennsylvania without the rest of the family’s knowledge.


Jim Thorpe’s tomb

I had mixed feelings about the monument to Thorpe in Penn. On one hand, the tribute, if a bit dated and weather-worn, was well done and seemed sincere. On the other hand, it was hard to get past the fact that Thorpe has become a road side attraction. Of all the turn-offs I’ve taken traveling, this one was as surreal as any.


Thorpe’s football statue at the turnout/monument

Upon receiving Thorpe’s body, the communities of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk merged and were renamed Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. His tomb was built on a mound of dirt from his native Oklahoma and from the Stockholm Olympic Stadium, where he earned international fame.

In 2010, son Jack Thorpe sued in Federal Court to have his father’s remains returned to Oklahoma. After several court rulings favoring both sides, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 refused to hear the case, effectively ending the suit and leaving Thorpe’s remains in Pennsylvania. Jack Thorpe died in 2011.


“… And it’s pandemonium”


Photo Credit: Minnesota Vikings

There were four lead changes in the final 3 minutes, but Case Keenum hit Stefon Diggs for a 61 yard TD pass as time expired, for the final change.

That was emotionally draining, but a ton of fun. Thanks Diggs.

#BringItHome


The Golden Voice of the Gophers

ray-christensen-2

Hall of Fame radio broadcaster, Ray Christensen, passed away this week. He was the voice of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers for 50 years.

Christensen, who served in Europe with the U.S. Army in WWII, graduated from Minnesota in 1949. He had started his radio career at KUOM in 1946. Two years after graduating, the University hired Christensen to call play-by-play for Gopher football. In 1963, Christensen joined WCCO Radio.

Ray Christensen would go on to call 510 Gopher football games and 1309 Gopher Men’s basketball games over his five decade career with Minnesota. He also called hockey games, golf, Minnesota Viking and Twins games over the course of his career. He retired in 2001, but returned for the first game in the new TCF Bank Stadium on campus in 2009.

Ray Christensen was 92.


US Bank Stadium

Minnesota State High School All Star Game

US Bank Stadium exterior

During my visit to Minnesota, I attended the State’s High School All Star Football game at the new US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

US Bank Stadium interior

My cousin’s daughter was cheering for one of the squads, which allowed us all a wonderful reason to check out the new stadium. I attended many games at Met Stadium and the Metrodome in my youth, but this was my first time at US Bank. The place is huge, absolutely huge. The Metrodome could easily fit inside of US Bank.

First impression: A well designed football stadium, with a truly unique (for now) roof. The clear roof panels make you feel as if you are sitting outside, and I love the large, clear doors at the end of the building. Even though it was a nice day, the large doors were not open. What a great place to watch the Vikings beat Green Bay.

ASG half time

North played South in the game. I was with a group of North supporters, and we were sitting in the middle of a group of Elk River fans. Elk River won the state title this year. As it turns out, historic ties won out, and I cheered for the South team.
North scored first on a 7 yard touchdown pass from QB Jaran Roste of Alexandria to WR Michael Wandmaker of Andover.
The defensive game continued until the fourth quarter when South finally struck back. RB Christopher Bain of Grand Meadow scored on a 1 yard run, and OL Eric Wilson of Benilde-St. Margaret’s, lined up as fullback and converted the two-point attempt.
South would go on to win 15-7.


It’s Axe Week

axe-paul-bunyan


It’s Pig Weekend in Minneapolis

Floyd of Rosedale

Minnesota host Iowa for Floyd of Rosedale