QB1 - A brief history of QB's taken in the first round.

posted Apr 30, 2021, 10:00 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Apr 30, 2021, 2:28 PM ]

Last night, there was a lot of grumbling on social media about the Vikings not trading up to select Ohio State QB Justin Fields.  Especially when the Chicago Bears traded up to select Fields at #11.  It was the 2nd time in the last 5 years the Bears had traded up to draft a QB in the first round.  The last time they did it, in 2017, they took Mitchell Trubisky, which clearly hasn’t worked out for them.  It’s important to note as well, that Fields was the 4th QB taken in that first round.  Mac Jones was the 5th QB taken, at #15 by New England.  Some Vikings fans were upset about not taking him as well. 

Historically, 1983 is widely considered the best class of QB’s ever in an NFL draft.  Three Hall of Fame QBs were chosen in the first round of that draft; John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.  Having said that, there were 3 other QB’s taken in that first round as well.  Some names you may not be familiar with.  The Chiefs took Todd Blackledge at #7 ahead of Jim Kelly who was chosen by Buffalo at #14.  The Patriots chose Tony Eason at #15 and the Jets chose Ken O’Brien at #24.  Both were taken ahead of Dan Marino at #27.   

1983 NFL Draft

1 – John Elway DEN (HOF, SB)

7 – Todd Blackledge KC

14 – Jim Kelly BUF (HOF)

15 - Tony Eason NE

24 - Ken Obrien NYJ

27 - Dan Marino MIA (HOF)


Since that 1983 draft, 92 QBs have been chosen in the first round of the NFL draft. (Not including 2021).  Of those 92 QB’s, 8 have led their first team to a Super Bowl title.  (First team = the team that drafted them OR the team they were traded to before ever playing an NFL game.  I’m wording it that way because the onus is on the team that initially puts the investment into the player. For example, Elway was traded to Denver after being drafted by Baltimore & Eli Manning was traded to Giants after being drafted by San Diego).  Even though I will Include Bledsoe here, I’m not sure we should.  We all know that Tom Brady led that team to their first Super Bowl victory.  Anyway, of those 8 QB’s that have led their first teams to Super Bowl victories, 4 of them were selected at #1 overall.  The other 4 were selected later in the first round. Below are the actual picks.

1989 Troy Aikman - pick #1

1993 Drew Bledsoe - pick #1

1998 Peyton Manning - pick #1

2004 Eli Manning - pick #1

2004 Ben Roethlisberger - pick #11

2005 Aaron Rodgers – pick #24

2008 Joe Flacco – pick #18

2017 Patrick Mahomes - pick #10


Admittedly, I’d be a terrible GM and hindsight is 20/20.   But according to WAFR-metrics (Whenesota American Football Research), drafting a QB in the first round is a losing proposition.  Statistically, 8 out of 92 = .086, Meaning… teams who select QBs in the first round have an 8.6% chance of that QB leading their team to a Super Bowl victory.  And…if it’s not a #1 overall pick, it’s even less.  There were 21 QB’s taken at #1 since 1983.  4/21 = .019 = 19.0 % chance of that QB leading your team to a SB victory.  If they were taken after the first pick, its 4/92 = .043 =  4.34 %.

It begs the question then, why do so many teams continue to select QB’s in the first round, especially if it’s not a #1 overall pick?  Not only that, some teams are repeat offenders (I'm looking at you Chicago)!!!!   I don’t often defend Spielman.  But remember, he's been fooled once already when he drafted Ponder.  Is it possible we look back in a few years and regret it?  Yes.  Mahomes was passed over a few times.  Rodgers was passed over by the Vikings TWICE.  It’s just not very likely its going to pan out.  First round picks are extremely valuable.  Why wouldn't you invest in building up the other parts of your team (like offensive line)?   

Some of you are probably thinking, “Where is a team supposed to find their QB?”  We all know the story of Tom Brady being drafted in the 6th round.  Look at where these other Super Bowl winning QB’s were drafted. 

Russel Wilson 2nd round

Nick Foles 3rd round

Drew Brees 2nd round

Brad Johnson 9th round

Brett Favre 2nd round

etc etc......

And guess what?  Many of those QB's didn’t win Super Bowls with the team that originally drafted them.


Below is the full list of QB’s taken in the first round since 1983.  Take a look at some of the names.  Not all of them were busts.  Some of them turned out to be serviceable QB's.  But there are a lot of bad ones.  How many of you were clamoring for the Vikings to move up and take Tua Tagovailoa last year?  How do you feel about that now?  Remember when some wanted the Vikings to take Manziel?  As you look through the list, pay attention to the QB’s the Vikings drafted in the first round.  But also pay attention to how many of the QBs drafted by other teams eventually became Vikings.  (facepalm)   




3 Jim Everett - HOU
12 Chuck Long - DET

1 Vinny Testaverde – TB
6 Kelly Stouffer – STL
13 Chris Miller ATL
26 Jim Harbaugh - CHI


1 Troy Aikman - DAL (HOF) (SB)

1 Jeff George - IND
7 Andre Ware - DET

16 Dan McGwire - SEA
24 Todd Marinovich - OAK

6 David Klingler - CIN
25 Tommy Maddox - DEN

1 Drew Bledsoe - NE (SB)
2 Rick Mirer - SEA

3 Heath Shuler - WSH
6 Trent Dilfer - TB

3 Steve McNair - HOU
5 Kerry Collins - CAR


26 Jim Druckenmiller - SF

1 Peyton Manning - IND (HOF) (SB)
2 Ryan Leaf - SD

1 Tim Couch - CLE
2 Donovan McNabb - PHI
3 Akili Smith - CIN
11 Daunte Culpepper - MIN
12 Cade McNown - CHI

18 Chad Pennington - NYJ

1 Michael Vick - ATL

1 David Carr - HOU
3 Joey Harrington - DET
32 Patrick Ramsey - WSH

1 Carson Palmer - CIN
7 Byron Leftwich - JAX
19 Kyle Boller - BAL
22 Rex Grossman - CHI

1 Eli Manning - SD (SB)
4 Philip Rivers - NYG
11 Ben Roethlisberger - PIT (SB)
22 JP Losman - BUF

1 Alex Smith - SF
24 Aaron Rodgers - GB (SB)
25 Jason Campbell - WAS
3 Vince Young - TEN
10 Matt Leinart - ARI
11 Jay Cutler - DEN

1 JaMarcus Russell - OAK
22 Brady Quinn - CLE

3 Matt Ryan - ATL
18 Joe Flacco - BAL (SB)

1 Matthew Stafford - DET
5 Mark Sanchez - NYJ
17 Josh Freeman - TB

1 Sam Bradford - STL
25 Tim Tebow - DEN

1 Cam Newton - CAR
8 Jake Locker - TEN
10 Blaine Gabbert - JAX
12 Christian Ponder - MIN

1 Andrew Luck - IND
2 Robert Griffin III - WSH
8 Ryan Tannahill - MIA
22 Brandon Weeden - CLE

16 EJ Manuel - BUF

3 Blake Bortles - JAX
22 Johnny Manziel - CLE

1 Jameis Winston - TB
2 Marcus Mariota - TEN

1 Jared Goff - LAR
2 Carson Wentz - PHI
26 Paxton Lynch - DEN

2 Mitchell Trubisky - CHI
10 Patrick Mahomes - KC (SB)
12 DeShaun Watson - HOU

1 Baker Mayfield - CLE
3 Sam Darnold - NYJ
7 Josh Allen - BUF
10 Josh Rosen - AZ
32 Lamar Jackson - BAL

1 Kyler Murray - AZ
6 Daniel Jones - NYG
15 Dwayne Haskins - WSH

1 Joe Burrow - CIN
5 Tua Tagovailoa - MIA
6 Justin Hebert - LAC
26 Jordan Love - GB

1 Trevor Lawrence - JAX
2 Zach Wilson - NYJ
3 Trey Lance - SF
11 Justin Fields - CHI
15 Mac Jones - NE


Metropolitan Stadium excerpt

posted Apr 24, 2021, 3:28 PM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Apr 24, 2021, 3:47 PM ]

On June 16, 1953, a group of civic leaders from both Minneapolis and St. Paul called the ‘Twin Cities Major League Baseball Committee’, got approval as a potential site for a future MLB team.  The first obstacle would be constructing a stadium.  After considering different locations including a site on the University of Minnesota St Paul campus, the Minneapolis City Council approved the purchase of farm land in the village of Bloomington on August 13, 1954.  The land was located in the SE corner of Cedar Avenue and what was then known as highway 100 (eventually 494).  The construction would be overseen by a group known as the Metropolitan Sports Area Commission and led by chairman Gerald Moore, who was also a part of the Major League Baseball Committee.  Groundbreaking for the stadium was held on June 20, 1955, but was almost delayed because the owner of the primary portion of the farm land, Paul Gerhardt, had not been paid.  He had barricaded his land with a wall of tractors to prevent any construction equipment from coming on his land.  A settlement was reached the day prior to the groundbreaking ceremony. 

The first game at the stadium was held on April 24, 1956.  A crowd of 18,366 watched the Minneapolis Millers lose to the Wichita Braves 5-4.  Even though it was already being referred to as ‘Metropolitan Stadium’ in the newspapers, it was officially given the name on July 19, 1956 and would commonly be referred to as ‘The Met’ or ‘Met Stadium’. 

The Vikings, Lamar Hunt and the AFL Curse

posted Dec 20, 2020, 10:25 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Feb 3, 2021, 5:37 PM ]

The curse of the Bambino.  The Billy Goat curse.  The S.I. cover jinx.  The Madden cover curse.  All of these superstitious beliefs are famous for potentially bringing misery to sports fans around the country.    

I would argue that Minnesota sports fans have suffered more than any other fan base (Cleveland is a close second).  The greatest source of our sports heartbreak?  The Minnesota Vikings.  With all the bad things that have happened in the past, and continue to happen, it begs the question, “Are the Vikings cursed?”

I get asked that question a lot.  As a matter of fact, I was asked that question again in an interview this week.  My usual answer is about the Vikings original owners passing over Bud Grant. 

In January 1961, the Vikings were looking for their first coach.  The decision came down to 2 candidates: Harry Peter Bud Grant Jr, a former Minnesota Gopher- 3 sport athlete, and current coach of the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  The Blue Bombers had won the Grey Cup (CFL Championship) twice under Grant’s leadership.  Grant even played professional basketball with the Minneapolis Lakers (#OneOfUs) 

The other candidate was Norm Van Brocklin.  Van Brocklin was a former quarterback who had led the Philadelphia Eagles to the NFL championship the previous season.  After the season, he retired and wanted to get into coaching. 

News reports state that 3 of the 5 Vikings owners wanted Van Brocklin, and 2 wanted Grant.  Grant apparently didn’t feel like playing second fiddle, and withdrew his name from consideration.  Later that same day, the Vikings hired Norm Van Brocklin as their first coach. [1] [2] [3] 

In November 1965, a frustrated Van Brocklin tried to resign saying he had taken the team as far as he could.  But he would be talked into returning the next day. [4] [5]

Van Brocklin had a stormy relationship with quarterback Fran Tarkenton.  Sir Francis was a scrambling quarterback and Van Brocklin (who was a pocket passer when he played) was very much against “scrambling”.  A scrambling quarterback had never won a championship at that point. [6] 

Van Brocklin went so far as to bench Tarkenton twice at the end of the 1966 season.  The first time he started Ron Vander Kelen against the Rams.  The second time he started Bob Berry against the Falcons in Atlanta, claiming he owed it to the backups to give them a chance.  Tarkenton was originally from Georgia and had family and friends coming to the game.  This didn’t sit well with Tarkenton. [7] [8] [9]

In the offseason rumors began to swirl that Tarkenton would be traded.  He asked to have a meeting with Van Brocklin in January 1967.  By all accounts the meeting went well and the two had mended the fences. [10] [11]

A week and half after that meeting, on February 10, 1967, the Vikings received a letter from Tarkenton saying he would never play for them again and asked to be traded.  The very next day, Van Brocklin resigned.  This time nobody talked him into returning and the Vikings accepted his resignation. [12] [13]

Even though Van Brocklin was gone, Tarkenton never rescinded his trade demand and was traded to the Giants on March 7, 1967. [14]

 If you’re looking for the origins of a “curse”, passing over one of the greatest coaches in NFL history is a decent candidate.  The fact that decision ended up causing the Vikings to trade away one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, makes it even worse.  But, the Vikings ownership would eventually “right the ship” so to speak.   

3 days after trading Tarkenton, Bud Grant was hired as the 2nd coach in franchise history.  And In 1972, the Vikings traded to get Tarkenton back. [15] [16]

From a superstitious perspective, the Vikings made amends for passing over Grant, and trading away their franchise quarterback.  They recognized the mistake and fixed it.  Therefore, the more I think about it, this cant be the source of all our pain. 

I know you’ll find this hard to believe (sarcasm) but that wasn’t the only time in those early years the Vikings ownership made a decision that may have angered the football Gods.  Let’s rewind to 1959. 


The Lamar Hunt "AFL" Curse

On August 14, 1959, a group of Twin Cities businessmen, namely Max Winter and Bill Boyer, received a bid from the newly formed American Football league (AFL) as one of the league’s 6 charter franchises.  The AFL was conceived as a competitor league to the NFL by Lamar Hunt and some other businessmen who were denied ownership of an NFL franchise as the NFL was opposed to expansion. [17]

This new league held its first draft on November 22, 1959, in Minneapolis at the Park Nicollet hotel.  The Minnesota contingent drafted Wisconsin quarterback Dale Hackbart as their #1 overall choice.  They also drafted future hall of fame center Jim Otto from the University of Miami with their 2nd pick. [18] [19]

Photo of owners at first AFL draft [19]

Even during that draft there were rumors the Minneapolis group might leave the AFL and join the NFL.  The NFL wasn’t very happy about having to compete with another league.  In response, they decided to reverse their decision on expansion and promised franchises to some of the AFL teams if they would leave the new league.  Bears owner George Halas even wired Max Winter the morning of the AFL draft trying to lure Minnesota away.  Lamar Hunt denied the rumors of Minnesota leaving saying they were “unfounded”. [20]

The NFL was the big dog at that time so the thought of bringing Major League football to Minnesota was very enticing.  Especially with the uncertainty that the AFL league would even happen.  Of all the AFL teams, only one group took the NFL up on their offer.  Guess which one?  In the first week of January, 1960 the Minnesota group withdrew their AFL bid.  That bid, and all the draft picks would eventually be awarded to Oakland and that franchise would eventually become known as the Raiders.  [21] [22]

On January 28, 1960 the Minnesota group was awarded an NFL franchise that would begin play in the 1961 season. [23]


As the AFL grew and began to compete with the NFL for players, it became more apparent that the two leagues would eventually merge.  In June of 1966 they agreed on a plan.  The merger would take place before the 1970 season.  Until then, the two leagues stayed separate but agreed to play a game after the season ended.  That game was called the AFL-NFL Championship game, and played by the winner of each league. [24]

The last AFL-NFL championship was played on January 11, 1970.  By this time, the game had become known as the Super Bowl.  Super Bowl IV featured the heavily favored NFL champion Minnesota Vikings facing off against the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs.  The Chiefs were owned by none other than Lamar Hunt.  You know… the guy that started the AFL, the fledgling league that the Vikings had left behind. 

As a glimpse of what was to come, a Vikings hot air balloon crashed in the bleachers and started on fire in the pregame ceremony.  Talk about a bad omen. 

The Chiefs won that game 23-7.  It’s considered one of the greatest upsets in NFL/AFL history.  Vikings quarterback Joe Kapp said after the game that the Chiefs defenders looked like a redwood forest.  To add insult to injury, that “redwood forest” boasted some former Minnesota Gophers as members, most notably Bobby Bell. Interestingly, the Vikings drafted Bobby Bell in 1963, but he chose Kansas City instead. 

Remember, the Super Bowl is played between the conference champions of the NFC and the AFC.  The AFC is named for the AFL, and all the original AFL teams are members of the AFC.  If the Vikings “curse” originated by turning their backs on the AFL and joining the NFL, it would explain a lot.  It explains every Super Bowl loss because they were lost to AFL or AFC teams.  As a matter of fact, the last Super Bowl the Vikings played in, Super Bowl XI, was played against…..the Oakland Raiders.  And they didn’t just lose.  They got destroyed.  The 32-14 score is a bit deceiving.  Oakland set 21 different records in that game including most yards gained on offense (429).  Fran Tarkenton got benched near the end of the game.  You heard that right - the greatest quarterback in Minnesota Vikings history was benched, in a Super Bowl. 

This curse also explains all the NFC championship losses and any other playoff disasters.  The only thing more heart breaking than losing a championship is getting your hopes up and tripping up just short of the finish line.  And how many of those games are some of our worst memories?  Gary Anderson, 41-donut.  Blair Walsh, Darrin Nelson. Bounty Gate etc etc etc. 

Other Strange Coincidences

Not only does the curse explain every stumble the Vikings have had in trying to win a Super Bowl.  There are quite a few other coincidences that might make more sense when viewed through this lens.  For the record, I am fully aware I am reaching on some of these, but I still thought it was interesting to see if there were any connections.  Have you ever heard of “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon”?  If not, Google it, and just go with it.

The Dallas Cowboys joined the NFL the same year the Vikings did.  But they were never an AFL franchise.   Because they didn’t scorn the AFL like the Vikings did, this could explain any event that Dallas has gotten one over on us - Drew Pearson’s push off, Herschel Walker, maybe even DAN BAILEY for crying out loud!   #NormStillSucks   [26]  In addition, Lamar Hunt's Chiefs were originally in Dallas and named the Texans.  When the Cowboys joined the NFL, it forced Hunt to move the team to Kansas City.

Early in the 1977 season Fran Tarkenton broke his leg against…Cincinnati (an AFC team). The Vikings would lose the NFC championship that season to the Dallas Cowboys. [27] 

We all remember Darrin Nelson's dropped pass at the goal line at the end of 1987 NFC Championship game.  Did you know that Darrin Nelson didn’t even want to play with the Vikings?   He wrote the Vikings a letter before the draft, asking them NOT to draft him.  Not only did they draft him anyway, they drafted him ahead of….Marcus Allen, the HOF running back for ….the Oakland Raiders.  Oh, and Wade Wilson?  He was from Dallas and played college football near Dallas in Commerce, TX.    


Did you know that Gary Anderson played his first 13 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers?  The Steelers were originally an NFL team, but were somewhat forced to join the AFC in its first season.  After 13 season with the Steelers, Anderson wanted more money and asked for $750,000 per year.  The Steelers reportedly offered somewhere between $525,000 to 550,000.  Anderson turned them down, and signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia (an NFC team) for $700,000.   [28] [29]


In the 2000 NFC championship game (AKA, 41-donut) the Giants led 34-0 at half.  A nightmare scenario for both the Viking's offense and defense.  Both our Offensive Coordinator and Defensive Coordinator started their careers with AFC teams.  Our DC, Emmitt Thomas, played for the Kansas City Chiefs. Our OC, Sherm Lewis, played for the New York Jets. 

Bounty Gate was masterminded by Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams.  Williams started his career in Houston with the Oilers (AFC Team, AND Texas Team). 


In the 2018 NFC Championship, the tide turned for the Eagles in the 2nd quarter.  The Vikings were down 14-7 and were driving.  It was 3rd and 5 from the Philadelphia 16-yard line.  Rookie Defensive End Derek Barnett strip sacked Vikings quarterback Case Keenum.  The Eagles recovered the fumble, took momentum and never looked back. 

The Eagles drafted Barnett with Minnesota’s pick.  When Teddy Bridgewater suffered a near life threatening leg injury at the beginning of the 2016 season, the Vikings traded for Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford.  The Eagles used the first round pick they received from the Vikings on Derek Barnett.  Talk about things coming back to haunt you.  Who was in charge of that decision for the Vikings?  Rick Spielman.  Spielman started his NFL career playing for the San Diego Chargers and worked for the Miami Dolphins before coming to Minnesota. 


Breaking the curse?

So what now?  If the “Lamar Hunt Curse” is legit, what do we do?  How do we break it?  Lamar Hunt died in 2006.  Maybe we need to make some sort of sacrifice?  We could sprinkle the ashes of each original Vikings owner on Hunt's grave?  Might be a bit extreme, and gross, and illegal.  Somehow, we have to find a way to pay penance for our offense to Mr. Hunt and the football Gods.  I also think that breaking the curse might have something to do with the Raiders.  Maybe we need to sprinkle some of those ashes on the 50 yard line of Kezar stadium too. 

Anyway, I'm open to ideas and look forward to your suggestions. Get creative WHENESOTANS!  Just like I tell my students, there are no wrong answers when you're brainstorming.

UPDATE:  Ive been thinking a lot about what would break the curse.  When the Vikings played the Steelers in Super Bowl IX, the Steelers had only made the playoffs 4 times in their 40 year history and that was their first Super Bowl.  Winning that game was the beginning of their dynasty.  As a matter of fact, that was Terry Bradshaw's 5th season and they weren't all that impressed with him.  After that season he went on to become the HOF quarterback we all know.  So what broke the Steelers curse?  It was playing the Vikings, who had scorned the AFL.  Remember, the Steelers were originally an NFL team and when the leagues merged, they agreed to join the AFC. 

Therefore, maybe the solution to breaking our curse lies not only with making amends to the AFL/AFC, but somehow playing and beating a team who has scorned the NFL/NFC?  Who could that be? 


Side Note:

At one time there were reports of a Viking's curse called “The Curse of the Ed Thorpe Trophy”.  The Ed Thorpe Trophy was given to the winner of the NFL championship before the NFL/AFL merger.  According to legend, the Vikings were the last team to win the trophy in 1969 when they beat the Cleveland Browns and advanced to the AFL/NFL championship game (aka Super Bowl IV).  The Vikings then lost the trophy and it has cursed them ever since. 

That story has been debunked.  Apparently, the league stopped passing the trophy from team to team in the early 60’s.  It isn't clear why.  Maybe it was by choice. Maybe the teams were forgetful, or maybe they just lost interest sensing the merger was coming.  The last team to be presented the trophy was the Green Bay Packers.  It currently sits in their trophy case at Lambeau Field where it has stayed since 1962.  Meaning, it was never lost, and the Vikings never even received it.  Neither did a few other teams (Bears, Browns and Colts) [30] [31]


Thanks to frequent contributor Keith Grinde for assisting on this one. 

1. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53513120/ St. Cloud Times 1-18-61

2. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53512972/ Minneapolis Star 1-18-61

3. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53513482/ Minneapolis Star 1-19-61

4. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53515702/ Minneapolis Star 11-15-65

5. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53515920/ Minneapolis Tribune 11-17-65

6. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53516554/ Minneapolis Tribune 5-5-64

7. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53518455/  The Times Recorder 11-21-66

8. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53519530/ Minneapolis Tribune 12-5-66

9. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53519693/ Minneapolis Tribune 12-6-66

10. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53524904/ Minneapolis Tribune 1-29-67

11. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53526022/ Minneapolis Tribune 2-1-67

12. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/43969619/ Minneapolis Tribune 2-11-67

13. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/44018343/  Minneapolis Tribune 2-12-67

14. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46265738/  Minneapolis Tribune 3-8-67

15. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/44039070/ Minneapolis Tribune 3-12-67

16. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53623434/  Minneapolis Tribune 1-28-72

17. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/28276718/  Minneapolis Tribune 8-15-59

18. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65552509/  Minneapolis Tribune 11-23-59

19. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65552842/  Minneapolis Tribune  11-24-59

20. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65553585/  Minneapolis Tribune 11-23-59

21. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/41483768/  Minneapolis Tribune 1-3-60

22. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65554328/  Minneapolis Tribune 1-31-60

23. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/53618690/  Minneapolis Tribune 1-29-60

24. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65556590/  Minneapolis Tribune 6-8-66

25. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOrY23eZQ38

26. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65565390/ The Manhattan Mercury 5-23-63

27. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65565025/  Minneapolis Tribune 11-14-77

28. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65542499/  Indiana Gazette 6-8-95

29. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65542855/  Philadelphia Enquirer 7-23-95

30. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65594150/  Green Bay Press-Gazette 9-15-62

31. https://www.packers.com/news/mystery-of-the-ed-thorp-memorial-trophy-solved

The Myth of Paul Bunyan’s Axe - A Short Story of a Tall Tale.

posted Dec 11, 2020, 6:44 PM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Dec 20, 2020, 10:32 AM ]

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since starting this project, its that you should never assume the "interwebs" are correct.  Especially with older sporting events.  As a matter of fact, the farther back you go, the more likely it is that the internet is wrong. 

For example.  The internet claims the first University of Minnesota Football game took place on September 29, 1882, a 4-0 victory over Hamline. [1] [2]

Upon further review, the Minneapolis Tribune states that a game between Minnesota and Hamline was scheduled to take place on September 30, 1882 (not the 29th).  The game was to be a part of a celebration of athletics being held at the state fairgrounds with The University of Minnesota, Hamline and Carleton all participating. [3]

However, in the next day's Minneapolis Tribune, it says that game was postponed. [4]

That doesn’t mean it never happened.  It just means it probably happened on a different date.  Point is, the internet isn’t always correct.       

That brings us to the reason I’m writing this blog. 

I often have fellow WHENESOTAN’s that submit events for the Calamity Calendar.  A few months back, a frequent contributor, Keith Grinde, sent me something about the Minnesota/Wisconsin football “Slab of Bacon” trophy getting lost.  I had never heard of it.  Down the rabbit hole I went.   

The first football game between the University of Minnesota and Wisconsin took place on November 15, 1890.  This was Wisconsin’s second year of football.  According to most sources, they played 2 games in 1889 which is considered their first official season.  Minnesota had a bit more experience, having played since, well, 1882 apparently.  On that day, November 15, 1890, the University of Minnesota beat Wisconsin 63-0. [5] [6]

Thus, the Minnesota/Wisconsin football rivalry was born.  Following that first game, the two teams played 128 more times in consecutive years, with the exception of 1906.  According to Wikipedia, and the Gopher sports archive page, the 1906 game was cancelled by Teddy Roosevelt as a response to an increase in college football related deaths in 1905. [7] [8]

Wait, what? 

Roosevelt’s son played college football at Harvard during that time.  There were quite a few football related deaths the previous season, but Roosevelt only wanted to reform the rules.  A concerned group of universities that would eventually become the NCAA, proposed new rules and equipment changes in the early part of 1906.  Some Colleges and Universities decided to abandon football, but Minnesota decided to play on and accept the new rules. [9]

According to the Wisconsin State Journal and the Minneapolis Tribune, the Wisconsin faculty (not Roosevelt) voted to suspend football for one year, thus cancelling the 1906 game with Minnesota. [10] [11]

University of Wisconsin President Charles Van Hise even sent a request to Minnesota’s President Cyrus Northrup asking to be “relieved from liability” on their contractual obligations for the season. [12]

Wisconsin was allowed to play some games that season but they were considered second class games and were not allowed to play any “big” teams like Minnesota, Chicago or Michigan. [13] [14] [15]

In February 1907, Wisconsin faculty allowed the return to a full conference schedule with the approval of the “Big Four” pact.  It was an agreement between Chicago, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin that outlined a 4-year schedule. It also detailed finances, game rules, and called for the home team to provide a banquet for alumni and undergrads of both teams the night before the game. [16] [17]

On November 23 of that year, the border rivalry began anew when Wisconsin battled heavily favored Minnesota to a 17-17 tie.  It was the first of 8 ties in the history of the rivalry. [18]  

The Slab of Bacon

In 1930, Minnesota and Wisconsin started playing for a rivalry trophy.  It was called the “Slab of Bacon”.  It was created by a local Minnesota alumnus, Dr. R.R. Fouch and was publicly introduced on November 12, 1930.  The Gophers challenged Wisconsin to take it from them in their upcoming game on November 22. [19]

Photo of Trophy [19]

It's important to note here that news of the trophy was IN PRINT... in BOTH states…  BEFORE the first  bacon trophy game.  This crucial detail will come into play later in the story.  [20] [21] [22]

The first “Slab of Bacon” game went off with a bang.  Literally.  With less than a minute left and Wisconsin leading 14-0, someone in the Madison crowd fired a pistol causing the stands to empty and fans to rush on to the field.  The referees, unable to control the crowd, ended the game early and Wisconsin “brought home the bacon” for the first time. [23] [24]

The Gopher Sports history page states that the “Slab of Bacon” trophy got lost in the early 1940’s following a game where Gopher fans rushed the field after a win and this was the reason for creating a new trophy called Paul Bunyan’s Axe. [8]

But according to the Minneapolis Tribune, the last game played for the “Slab of Bacon” was November 20, 1943.  On that day, the Gophers beat the Badgers 25-13 at Memorial Stadium.  After the game, a Wisconsin emissary brought the trophy to the Gopher locker room but was turned away by Minnesota coach George Hauser.  Hauser felt it was improper to take the “Slab of Bacon” trophy out of respect for war rationing and felt teams shouldn’t be playing for trophies during that time. [25]  The "Slab of Bacon" returned home with Wisconsin and was never played for again.  Its possible the trophy got lost after that game, but it wasn't the reason they stopped playing for it. 

That same article from the Gopher Sports website (as well as Wikipedia, and every other website on the internet) claims that Paul Bunyan’s Axe was then created in 1948 to replace the lost “Slab of Bacon” as the new trophy for the winner of the Minnesota/Wisconsin game.  Minnesota won the first game 16-0 on November 20, 1948.  That score and “1948” were written on the Axe to commemorate the first game ever played for the trophy.  Right?

To quote College Gameday’s Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend.” 


Paul Bunyan’s Axe

The Axe wasn’t introduced as the trophy until January 1949 - almost 2 months after the supposed first game took place.  It's first public appearance? (wait for it)…A basketball game.   January 10, 1949 the Wisconsin “W” club’s Chuck Fenske presented the new trophy to Cliff Sommer, president of the University “M” club at halftime of the Gopher/Badger basketball game at Williams Arena. [26]

Photo of Axe presentation [26]

The score of the 1948 football game was written on the Axe RETROACTIVELY.  Meaning, when they played that game in November 1948, they weren’t playing for the Axe, because it didn't exist yet. There is no mention of the Axe or any trophy in any Minnesota or Wisconsin newspaper in November 1948.  The first mention of Paul Bunyan’s Axe is in January 1949 when it was announced the trophy would be presented a few days later at the previously mentioned basketball game.   [27]

That article states the Axe, “was to have been presented prior to the Gopher-Badger football game last fall, but plans for the ceremony were interrupted by unavoidable circumstances.”

That doesn't sound vague at all, does it?  It sounds like something someone says when they’re hiding something.  Unavoidable circumstances?  You mean, circumstances like the Axe didn’t exist yet? 

If the trophy had existed in November 1948, wouldn’t you think there would've been some publicity about this new trophy leading up to the game?  Or on the day of the game?  Or even the day after?  Just like there was pregame publicity for the “Slab of Bacon” 18 years earlier?  But there isn’t any mention of the Axe prior to January 1949. 

Maybe they had plans for a new trophy and didn’t get it finished in time?  But even if something like that happened, how can you play for something that didn’t exist?

I'm not sure why this happened.  I don't believe there was any malicious intent.  Im definitely not accusing anyone of any wrong doing.  I think the 1948 Axe myth is just one of those stories that has gotten passed along generation after generation and eventually got accepted as truth.  People probably said, “Hey look!  It even says the date of the first game right on it… 1948!”  

The fact is, that 1948 game was NOT played for the Axe.  The first game actually played “for” the Axe was on November 19, 1949.   Minnesota won that game 14-6. [28] [29]

In 1994, the lost  “Slab of Bacon” turned up in a storage room at the University of Wisconsin and now resides at Camp Randall in a trophy case. [30]

Paul Bunyan’s Axe eventually began to fall apart due to age and was replaced in 2000 with a new Axe.   The original Axe was donated to the College Football Hall of fame in 2003. [31]

As of right now, 2020 will be the first year since 1906 that the Minnesota/Wisconsin game will not have been played.

UPDATE: On Sunday December 13th, 2020 it was announced that the Minnesota/Wisconsin game will be played on Saturday Dec 19th and the rivalry will continue uninterrupted.  This will be the 130th meeting of the two teams.  It will also be the 72nd time they will play for Paul Bunyan's Axe (NOT 73rd as is commonly thought). 

UPDATE to the update: On December 19, 2020 Minnesota lost to Wisconsin 20-17 in OT. Records below are updated as well. 

Minnesota/Wisconsin Rivalry Stats

Years played: 130 (Minnesota wins: 60, Wisconsin wins: 62, Ties: 8)

Years played for the “Slab of Bacon”:  14 (Minnesota wins: 11, Wisconsin wins: 3)

Years played for Paul Bunyan’s Axe: 72 - NOT 73!  (Minnesota wins: 24, Wisconsin wins: 45, Ties: 3)

*****Personal note.  I may not write another blog before the holidays, so I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you.  I say it all the time, but I’m just a rube.  A nobody.  The fact that I can do this in my spare time and a few of you actually read it?  Man, you have no idea how good that feels.  Thank you for being WHENESOTANs.  I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful holiday season and it’s filled with as much joy as you’ve given me this year. 

Cheers to a better year in 2021. This might be the one time that the motto of the Minnesota sports fan holds true, “There’s always next year.” 

Speaking of holidays, I fully admit that I ripped off the subtitle of this blog (A Short Story of a Tall Tale) from the movie "Elf".  However, I like to view it more as a tip of the cap to my favorite Christmas movie rather than copyright infringement. 


1.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Golden_Gophers_football

2. https://americanfootballdatabase.fandom.com/wiki/Early_history_of_Minnesota_Golden_Gophers_football#1882_season

3. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65071318/ Minneapolis Tribune 9-30-1882

4. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65070535/  Minneapolis Tribune 10-1-1882

5. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/64894779/  Minneapolis Tribune 11-16-1890

6. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65074561/  Wisconsin State Journal 11-18-1890

7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota%E2%80%93Wisconsin_football_rivalry

8. https://gophersports.com/sports/2018/5/21/sports-m-footbl-spec-rel-bunyan-axe-html.aspx

9. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65082091/  Minneapolis Tribune 2-11-06

10. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65079811/  Minneapolis Tribune 4-7-06

11. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65086116/  Wisconsin State Journal 4-6-06

12. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65087161/  Minneapolis Tribune 5-29-06

13. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65089513/ Wisconsin State Journal 4-21-06

14. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65090001/  Wisconsin State Journal 9-11-06

15. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65088054/  Minneapolis Tribune 10-11-06

16. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65099175/  Minneapolis Tribune 2-5-07

17. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65099674/ Minneapolis Tribune 1-27-07

18. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65096531/  Minneapolis Tribune 11-24-07

19. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/63606081/   Minneapolis Tribune 11-14-30

20. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/64893435/  The Capital Times (Madison) 11- 13-30

21. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/64893555/  Eau Claire Leader- Telegram 11-13-30

22. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65102418/  Minneapolis Tribune 11-13-30

23. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65101474/  Minneapolis Tribune 11-23-30

24. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65101889/  Nashville Banner 11-23-30

25. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/63605590/  Minneapolis Tribune 11-21-43

26. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/63607261/star-tribune/ Minneapolis Tribune 1-11-49

27. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/63606938Wisconsin Wisconsin State Journal 1-7-49

28. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65104858/  Janesville Daily Gazette 11-18-49

29. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65105484/ Minneapolis Tribune 11-20-49

30. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65105755/  Wisconsin State Journal 7-7-94

31. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/65108515/ The Capital Times 11-18-03

The Blizzard of Westwood

posted Nov 27, 2020, 11:22 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Apr 17, 2021, 7:35 AM ]

April, 1948.  John Wooden, a basketball coach at Indiana Teacher’s College, was a candidate for the head coach position of the University of Minnesota basketball team. He was also a candidate for the same job at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA).  Wooden and his wife Nellie were both from Indiana and she preferred to stay in the Midwest. The job at Minnesota seemed like a better fit.  But when Wooden was offered the job at Minnesota, there was a catch.  Athletic Director Frank McCormick asked Wooden if he would keep current head coach Dave MacMillan as an assistant, because MacMillan was still under contract.  Wooden wanted to bring his own assistants.  McCormick was unsure he could agree to that (and the salaries involved) without getting approval from University officials. The two agreed that McCormick would get permission and then call Wooden back at an agreed upon time. 

But McCormick didn’t call back by that time.  Thinking that Minnesota had changed their mind, Wooden agreed to take the job at UCLA.  When McCormick finally did call, Wooden told him he had already come to an agreement with UCLA, and couldn’t go back on his word.  By all accounts, Wooden was a man of great integrity.   

Minnesota then hired Osborne “Ozzie” Cowles as their next coach.  Cowles had coached Michigan to the conference championship the previous season.

John Wooden went on to become the greatest coach in the history of college basketball and built UCLA into a dynasty.  “The Wizard of Westwood” as he would come to be known, coached at UCLA for 28 years, compiling a 620-147 record. His teams won 10 National championships, the most of any coach in NCAA history. (Second place is currently occupied by Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski at 5).  Wooden coached players like Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Bill Walton and Gail Goodrich.

Ozzie Cowles coached at Minnesota for 11 seasons, compiling a 147-93 record, but never won a conference championship.  In the time that Wooden was at UCLA, Minnesota went though 5 different head coaches (Cowles, John Kundla, Bill Fitch, George Hanson, and Bill Musselman) ending that era with a scandal and an NCAA investigation into the basketball program that led to Musselman fleeing to take an ABA job with the San Diego Sails.  During those 28 seasons that Wooden was at UCLA, Minnesota won the conference championship only once, in 1972.  That was the same season they made their only NCAA tournament appearance of that era, winning a game against Marquette.  But that victory would be vacated due to the NCAA violations. 

Minnesota hiring Wooden could have changed the entire history and future of the basketball program.  So why didn’t McCormick return the phone call to Wooden?   The story, as legend goes, is that a "torrential snow had shut down phone lines in Minneapolis" and prevented McCormick from getting the call through to Wooden.  As we all know, winters in Minnesota are tough.  Only the heartiest and truest Minnesotan’s can handle the below zero temperatures and snow.  We're very familiar with snowstorms canceling school, ruining Halloween or deflating our Dome (5 times!).

Aw shucks!  A snowstorm prevented the greatest basketball coach of all time from coming here and taking us to the promised land.  It’s so “Minnesota Sports”.  It’s just our luck.  Right? 

The problem is, “The Blizzard” part of the story isn’t true.  Let me rephrase that. It’s probably not true.  I can’t prove that it isn’t, but I also can’t prove that it is. 

Here’s what we can prove.

-Wooden was a candidate for the job at Minnesota.

-He accepted the job at UCLA on April 20, 1948  [6]. 

That’s it.

Fast forward to April 2019.  I had recently created the “Minnesota Sports Disappointment Calendar”.  KFAN's Dan Barreiro began to use it on his show “Bumper to Bumper”, and called it the “Calendar of Calamity”.  As it started to become a regular bit, listeners and friends started offering suggestions of events to add to the Calendar.  One day, a coworker suggested “The Blizzard” story about Minnesota missing out on Wooden.  I looked it up and found documentation on the interwebs.  A “Daily Bruin” article claiming that the day “The Blizzard” caused the missed phone call, was April 17th, 1948.  [10]

When April 17th came around, I sent the event to Barreiro.  About 45 minutes before his show, was set to go on air, Barreiro messaged me asking me where I got the date (April 17) from, because he couldn’t corroborate it.  I sent him the Daily Bruin article but Barreiro suggested on air that he couldn’t find any weather data to back up the snowstorm.  This sent me down a rabbit hole and taught me a very valuable lesson about sources. 

You’ve heard people say you can’t trust everything you read on the internet?  It's true.  This wasn't the only Calendar event I had gotten incorrect by using certain web pages.  That led me to begin using the newspapers site (Not an advertisement).  As I started to regularly incorporate newspaper clips in the daily calendar posting, I often thought back to April’s Wooden event, so I began to dig into it further. 

The Daily Bruin article I originally cited said the missed phone call was on April 17, 1948, a Saturday.  In Wooden’s book, “A game Plan for Life”, he says the missed call was on a Sunday (not a Saturday) AND said that “The Blizzard” was in the Twin Cities.  I researched Minneapolis weather data for a two-week period surrounding that weekend, there were no blizzards or snow storms. Temperatures that weekend were a low of 38 and a high of 72.  Temperatures that are definitely not conducive to snow, let alone a blizzard.  Here are links to the Minneapolis Tribune weather maps from April 16-20, 1948.

April 16      April 17       April 18      April 19       April 20

Regardless of which day the missed phone call was, we know Wooden's decision was made that weekend of the 17th/18th.  On April 12th, Wooden was in LA meeting with UCLA athletic director Wilbur Johns. The next day the LA times reported the meeting took place, and that Wooden was a candidate for the UCLA job. [11]  On April 13th, the Minneapolis Tribune reported that McCormick and Wooden were meeting in Chicago that upcoming weekend to discuss the Minnesota job. [12]  If Wooden signed his UCLA contract on the 20th, the missed phone call had to happen Saturday the 17th  or Sunday the 18th after the Chicago meeting.   

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/75636244/  LA Times 4-13-48

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/75634831/  Minneapolis Tribune 4-13-48

In a 2010 Star Tribune article, Sid Hartman wrote that “The Blizzard” was in South Dakota and that McCormick had been traveling to visit a friend when the phone lines went down. [9]  I researched the weather information in South Dakota newspapers for that same weekend.  Again, no blizzards.  I did find a note in several papers that Watertown, South Dakota received 7.5” of snow on the evening of April 12/13th [15] .  But the snow melted right away and there was no mention of downed phone lines.  That was also the same day Wooden was in LA meeting with Johns, and 4 days before the missed phone call.  I also found an article that snow had knocked out phone lines in Deadwood, South Dakota on April 25th, but that was 5 days after Wooden had signed his contract with UCLA. [13] According to that story, most of those lines were repaired within a day. 

If McCormick went to visit a friend in South Dakota, it had to be after the Chicago meeting with Wooden.  If that's true, and that friend lived near Watertown, AND snow had knocked down the phone lines on the 12th/13th (which there is no documentation of), its not very likely those phone lines would still be down 4-5 days later.  Even if they were, (lots of if's here) wouldn't McCormick have known that before going there?  Its not like he was already there and was stuck when the storm hit.  It would have been well after.  The whole scenario is just not very likely.     

So if the story isn't true, where did it originate?  As far as I can tell, the story first appears in print around the time that Wooden was planning to retire in 1975.  For the record, the newspapers site doesn’t have access to every newspaper in the country.  In other words, there may have been information in other newspapers that I don’t have access to, but that seems unlikely.  When you find articles about “The Blizzard” from that time, they all have the exact same story.  Almost word-for-word in some cases, as they probably all used the same wire story as a source.  Since then, the story has become canon and part of the Wooden legend.  Its been told and retold so many times, its just accepted as true.  When Wooden died in 2010, the story resurfaced and Sports Illustrated even did a famous photo showing the juxtaposition of Wooden in a UCLA warmup and what he would’ve looked like in a Minnesota Warmup. [14]


If “The Blizzard” story isn’t true, why would someone make it up?  WARNING:  Speculation ahead.  If the story originated when Wooden was about to retire, it would make sense that media were digging back through his life attempting to document and celebrate his legendary career.  It’s likely that they came across the “almost” Minnesota story.  Maybe “The Blizzard” was conjured up to protect Minnesota or someone from the University from looking bad.  April snowstorms in Minnesota are not uncommon.  What better excuse than Minnesota weather to blame it on?  Seems like an easy target and prevents anyone from being responsible for one of the biggest HR disasters in Minnesota sports history.

It's unlikely we'll ever know the truth because there isn’t anyone we can ask about it.  Sid Hartman was the only person who was around and involved in Minnesota athletics at the time.  Unfortunately, he recently passed away in October at the age of 100, after a long and legendary career covering Minnesota sports. 

In addition to the mystery of the “The Blizzard”, the Wooden story is also one of the greatest “what if's” in Minnesota sports.  There’s no way of knowing what would have happened had Wooden come to Minnesota.  We can’t assume Minnesota would’ve been as successful as UCLA was.  Let’s be honest, it's Minnesota sports.  The Star Tribune headline for Sid's article said , "Wooden missed chance to coach at U."  That headline reminds me of a quote from the movie "Office Space" when 'The Bobs' tell Peter he's been missing a lot of work lately.  Peter replies, "Well, I wouldn't say Ive been missing it, Bob."  To put it another way, one of my snarkier coworkers joked, “That snowstorm is probably the best thing to ever happen to John Wooden.”  

In case you were wondering if Ozzie Cowles, (the guy Minnesota hired after the Wooden miss), kept Dave MacMillan as an assistant coach?   He didn’t.  MacMillan retired in June of 1948 (a few months after “The Blizzard”) and was “given a full-time appointment at the University in another capacity.”  Another position within the organization....also very "Minnesota sports".



1. Wooden, John and Yaeger, Don. “A Game Plan for Life”

2. Hartman, Sid. “Vancisin, Herkal in as Aids” The Minneapolis Tribune (Newspapers.com) June 30, 1948

3. Gordon, Dick. “’Felt I Belonged Here, ‘ Explains Cowles; Ambition Realized” The Minneapolis Tribune (Newspapers.com) May 15, 1948

4. Gordon, Dick. “Crisler: Will Not Stand in Cowles’ Way” The Minneapolis Tribune (Newspapers.com) April 28, 1948

5. Hartman, Sid with Rippel, Joel A. “Sid Hartman’s Great Minnesota Sports Moments”

6. Unnamed Writer. “Wooden to UCLA; Off Minnesota List” The Minneapolis Star (Newspapers.com) April 20, 1948


7. Perry, Dwight. “Just Like the Lakers, Minnesota lost John Wooden to Los Angeles” The Seattle Times (SeattleTimes.com) October 8, 2009.

8. Harvey, Randy. “Thanks to a Blizzard, Gophers Missed a Wizard” The Los Angeles Times (Newspapers.com) March 24, 1997

9. Hartman, Sid. “Wooden missed chance to coach at U” Star Tribune (Newspapers.com) June 6, 2010

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/48905208/  Star Tribune 6-6-10

10. Fahy, Claire. “Remembering John Wooden’s legacy” Daily Bruin (DailyBruin.com) February 25, 2015


11. Unnamed Writer. "New Candidate Enters Bruin Cage Picture" LA Times (Newspapers.com) April 13, 1948


12. Unnamed Writer. "Indiana Coach in "U" Picture " Minneapolis Tribune (Newspapers.com) April 13, 1948


13. Unnamed Writer. "Telephone Service Cut By Storm" Lead Daily Call (Newspapers.com) April 26, 1948

14. Sports Illustrated


15. Unknown AP writer. "Heavy Snow Falls In Eastern End of S.D." Rapid City Journal (Newspapers.com) April 13, 1948

16. Newspapers.com

17. College Basketball Reference

A Letter to Dave St. Peter and the Minnesota Twins

posted Aug 8, 2020, 10:07 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Aug 8, 2020, 7:15 PM ]

Dear Mr. St. Peter and the Minnesota Twins Baseball Club,

Although we are saddened that fans can’t attend Twins games in person, we understand the situation and the use of “cut-outs” to make the games as real as possible.  Some teams are starting to be creative and have fun with the cut outs.  On Thursday night, the Kansas City Royals had a cut-out of the character ‘Bernie Lomax’ from the 1989 movie “Weekend at Bernies” behind home plate.  It was a wonderful tribute to pay homage to Twins alumni in the first homestand, but maybe it would be fun to show the league that Minnesota can also enjoy some levity during these difficult times.  

We’d like to offer up some suggestions* for cut-outs that not only Twins fans would enjoy, but that baseball  fans around the country might find entertaining as well.  Having said that, here at WHENESOTA, we often find ways to laugh at ourselves.  Some of these suggestions might reflect that sense of humor.  Showing the world that you can laugh at yourself would not only create a buzz and be a potential PR win, but could possibly improve the collective health of Minnesotans by giving them something to smile about.  We could all use a laugh right now. 

If anything, maybe this list will trigger some ideas for your PR people.

*These suggestions were put together by myself and other social media users (credited in parentheses)

Minneapolis Millerettes: Annabelle Lee, Lorraine Borg
Billy Martin sitting with Hubert Humphrey and Dave Boswell
Phil Cuzzi sitting by the left field line/foul pole
Hrbek and Ron Gant by first base (@cherryboy1988)
Ron Davis and Joe Niekro sitting near the Bull Pen
Wally the Beerman (@cherryboy1988)
Chuck Knoblauch in right field (@Plouffe24Fan)
Rally Squirrel (@OutsiderTwins)
Butch Wynegar (@wildroadtripper)
Hrbek and Brunansky dressed as the Bruise Brothers (Plouffe24Fan)
Kirby the Kestral perched somewhere high (Plouffe24Fan)
Jim Thome dressed as Paul Bunyan (Plouffe24Fan)
A smiling Tom Kelly (@FrPaulKammen)
Tom Kelly with a cigar
The entire 2002 Twins roster sitting with the Rally Monkey (@EALEsDad)
Bill Smith sitting with Tsuyoshi Nishioka (@Kennnyll)
Terry Ryan sitting with David Ortiz
Dan Gladden sitting with Steve Lombardozzi (@Jeannie0753 and @slab12)

Norm Green sitting all by himself somewhere.  (@boringbuildr and @MurphfromMidway)
Jim Bowers and Al Shaver (@Maiers_luke)
The Carlson Brothers in Fighting Saints Jerseys
Dino Ciccarelli (@Wardminny10 and @realizzypresley)
Brian Lawton (@cherryboy1988)
Lou Nanne sitting with a bunch of northern Minnesota hockey players (@WilliamSpelts)

Bruce Smith  and Bronko Nagurski - Gophers
Christian and Sam Ponder
Les Steckel sitting next to Greg Coleman in military fatigues
Brett Favre sitting with Greg Lewis
Stefon Diggs and Case Keenum
Blair Walsh and Gary Anderson sitting in the upper corner of the stadium just left of the foul pole (@MOKOV62 & @JunkWaxTwins) and Daniel Carlson in the upper right.
Keith Millard with some Hardees – advertising opportunity (@binger1rules)
Tommy Kramer and Ahmad Rashad (@cherryboy1988)
Randal Cunningham (@MOKOV62)
Boo Boo Rouse (@theunrealjonny5)
Fran Foley (@theunrealjonny5)
Troy Williamson sitting with Erasmus James (@SKOL_Vikes_1473)
Nate Wright and Drew Pearson (@johnwil08956134)

George Mikan, John Kundla
Bud Grant in a Lakers uniform
Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn
Dennis Rodman sitting near an actual TV Camera person
Glen Taylor sitting with Kevin Garnett (@cherryboy1988)
Cheryl Reeve, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore and other Lynx players sitting with their 4 trophies
Christian Laettner and JR Rider (@sdrahota)
Ndudi Ebi (@theunrealjonny5)
David Kahn (@theunrealjonny5)
Fran ‘Red Faced’ McCaffery
Garnett sitting with Marbury (@Jeannie0753)

Greg Gagne and Bobby Heenan (@_2244)
An entire section of AWA cutouts (@_2244)
Jessie Ventura, Mean Gene Okerlund, The Crusher, Mad Dog Vachon and Baron Von Raschke (@thetuse)
Nick Bockwinkel (@theunrealjonny5)
Verne Gagne, Curt Hennig, Brian Pillman (@thetuse)

Sid Hartman sitting with some ‘close personal friends’ like George Steinbrenner or Bob Knight (@jmkind24 and @thetuse)
Dark Star (@KellyBEaton)
The Cabal -Dan Barreiro, Patrick Reusse and Bob Sansevere sitting with Denny Green
Joe Buck sitting with Randy Moss (@cherryboy1988)
Bob Uecker in the worst seat in the stadium (@RealIzzyPresley)

Other Minnesota related
Mary Tyler Moore, Lou Grant and Ted Baxter (@TwinsWild16, @BigPdaddy and @Clintster76)
Marge Gunderson and Jerry Lundegaard from the movie “Fargo” (@cherryboy1988)
John Gustafson and Max Goldman from “Grumpy Old Men” (@randallevee)
Prince Rogers Nelson (@stades44)
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox (@1_nra and @bigPdaddy)
Hayden Fox, Dauber Dybinski and Luther Van Dam from the TV show “Coach” (@Clintster76 and @cwillaert)
The Andrews Sisters (Clintster76)
Billy Heywood from the movie "Little Big League" (@Maiers_luke)

The Minnesota Sports Infamy Tournament

posted Mar 16, 2020, 11:24 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Apr 7, 2020, 10:58 AM ]

                Last year I thought about doing an NCAA bracket style showdown between all the events on the Calendar.  However, the idea came too late in March and I didn’t have enough time to plan it all out.  With my book deadline fast approaching I didn’t think I would have time to do it this year either, but so much has changed in the past week.  The NCAA cancelled this year’s tourney, and yesterday the Governor closed schools because we’re all facing a different kind of “March Madness”.   Many of us are stuck at home, and let’s face it, we need a laugh.  Therefore, I thought it might be fun to revive the idea and give it a try.

                I present to you the Minnesota Sports Infamy Tournament (#MnSIT).  68 events that have been deemed the most infamous, scandalous, embarrassing, and face palming in Minnesota Sports History.  These events will face off in a showdown that mirrors what would have been the schedule for the NCAA basketball tournament.  The 68 events were chosen by my dedicated but limited and quarantined writing staff (Me and my teacher co-workers Matt and Kyle).  The Selection Committee practiced safe social distancing and submitted their rankings via email.  Those rankings were compiled and the seedings have been placed in the brackets/match-ups below.  PLEASE DO (yes DO) complain in the comments if you feel certain ‘bubble’ events that you are passionate about, didn’t make the cut.  The more social interaction the better. Please use the hashtag #MnSIT

DISCLAIMER: the committee has always ruled out certain events that are deemed distasteful, or involve abuse of any kind.  Its not ok to laugh about those events.  There are a few in our history (we all know which ones), and they will never be a part of the WHENESOTA project. 

                The 'First Four' will be play-in match-ups held on March 17 & 18 and the first round of the tournament will be held on Thursday March 19, & Friday March 20.  The match-ups will also be held in accordance with MDH and CDC Social Distancing policies, with no fans in attendance.  A poll will be placed on Twitter for each match up that will last 24 hours deciding which event advances. 

Entire schedule
Play in match-ups: March 17 & 18
Round of 64: March 19 & 20
Round of 32: March 21 & 22
Sweet 16: March 26 & 27
Elite 8: March 28 & 29
Final 4: Saturday April 4th - I was looking forward to The Eagles concert that day :-( 
Championship: Monday April 6th

Remember this is for fun, and done with a big heart and good intentions.  My goal is to make you laugh or smile and help us all get through this unsettling time with some sanity.  Sports are so far away from what’s truly important.  I’m hoping that this crisis will unite us again, much like 9/11 did, even if just for a little while.  Survive and advance.

Maybe by the time we have crowned the champion of the MnSIT the crisis will have died down and we can return to some level of normalcy.  As self-appointed Commissioner of Minnesota Sports Infamy, I declare this tournament OPEN!   

 Printable Bracket      Excel Version

The first 4
#16 Moss Catering outburst
#16 Mike Legg Puck life

#16 Dallas Stars exhibition game
#16 Garnett-Taylor don’t know Sh*t

#11 Pohlad’s Letter of Intent to sell
#11 Dino Ciccarelli’s Pants

#11 Marv/Harv Sell Wolves to N.O.
#11 Twins release David Ortiz

Mike Lynn Region

#1 Herschel Walker Trade
#16 Moss Catering/Mike Legg puck Lift

#8 Tim Brewster hired
#9 Cardinals 4th down Noooooo!

#5 Burseys post game rant
#12 Disco Darrin drafted

#4 Joe Niekro Sandpaper
#13 JR Rider goes after referee

#6 Gophers leave WCHA
#11 Pohlad LOI/Ciccarelli Pants

#3 Favre throws across the body for int
#14 Boston Brawl Bruins/North Stars

#7 Steve Young’s 49 yard Run
#10 Nebraska 84-13

#2  Gopher Academic scandal
#15 Dick Allen’s 2 inside park HR’s off Blyleven

Fred Smoot Region
#1  Take a Knee
#16  Blyleven Middle Finger

#8  Jim Marshall runs wrong way
#9 Sprewell family to feed

#5 Rubio + Flynn over Curry
#12 Randy Moss Moon

#4  Love Boat
#13  Moss squirts ref

#6 Cassell’s big balls dance
#11 Fans tear apart Met Stadium

#3 Pohlad Admits volunteering contraction
#14 Bradford/Barnett Stripsack Keenum

#7 Notre Dame Clause
#10 Nishioka returns salary in shame

#2 Bounty Gate
#15 Gophers lose to Holy Cross

Norm Green Region
#1 North Stars Move
#16  Randy Moss-Play when I want to play

#8 41-donut
#9 Bi lateral Leg Weakness

#5 Les Steckel hired
#12 Dimitrius Underwood walks out of practice

#4 John Wooden Snowstorm
#13 Phil Cuzzies blown call on Mauer Double

#6 Ndudi Ebi drafted
#11 Herb Brooks not return North Stars Coach

#3 Drew Pearson Pushoff   
#14 Staubach shows Norm around Dallas

#7 Gopher football move to Dome
#10 Gophers OSU Barn Brawl

#2 12 Men in the huddle
#15 Griffith-never want 1st round again

Glen Taylor Region
#1 Gary Anderson missed FG
#16 Stars Return/Garnett Taylor

#8 Ciccarelli swing stick - assault
#9 Garnett Traded-not appreciated

#5 Whizzinator
#12 Jimmy Butler crashes practice

#4 Gophers blow lead Michigan
#13 Calvin Griffith racist remarks

#6 Darrin Nelson dropped pass
#11 Marv & Harv/Ortiz

#3 Illegal Joe Smith deal
#14 Killebrew hurt in All Star game

#7 Vikings Draft card to podium
#10 Lakers Move

#2 Blair Walsh missed kick
#15 Gophers insight bowl meltdown


The Minnesota Professional Sports “All-Hair” Team.

posted Mar 8, 2020, 6:23 PM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Mar 8, 2020, 7:18 PM ]

The Minnesota Professional Sports “All-Hair” Team.

Last year, John King, the creator of the extremely popular State Tournament “All Hockey Hair Team” videos, announced he would retire and the videos would be no more.  Last night a 2020 video appeared. 

Much like Brett Favre was talked out of retirement by the 3 wisemen who flew to Hattiesburg to bring him back, King was talked out of retirement by Great Clips who donated money to the Hendrickson Foundation, a charity that provides opportunities for disabled individuals to play hockey.  

This got me thinking.  If Minnesota pro sports had an “All-Hair” team, who would be on the roster?  So I made a list.  To be clear, I’m just riffing off John King’s bit.  This is a tip of the cap to him, @GameOnMinnesota and what he’s doing with the Hendrickson Foundation.  So full credit to them and long live the All Hockey Hair Team!

Let's have some fun.

Football is king, so we're starting with the purple. My first thoughts were Jared Allen's Mullet Militia or Brian Robison with his hunter’s mane.  But my choice is Randy Moss. ‘Fro’ rhymes with Flow.
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46373283/ via @_newspapers
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46340899/ via @_newspapers

Speaking of kings, former Timberwolf Jimmy Butler literally wore a crown.  But our choice is Alexey Shved.  Shveded lettuce.
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46373557/ via @_newspapers
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46341180/ via @_newspapers

New Twins slugger Josh Donaldson seems to have a perfectly coifed ‘do’ and we love Sergio Romo’s free flowing attitude and beard, but were going with Scott Erickson's mullet here.  
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46374077/ via @_newspapers
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46341475/ via @_newspapers

I might be biased with my soccer choice.  I’ve always been a huge fan of Tino Lettieri.  Plus, he’s married to Minnesota hockey royalty and his son played for the #Gophers.
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46341894/ via @_newspapers

Saving the best for last: Pro Hockey Hair.  At first, the North Stars Willi Plett popped into my head.  But then another name surfaced.  The Fighting Saints Bill Goldthorpe.
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46373166/ via @_newspapers
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/46342165/ via @_newspapers

As always with my blogs and lists, feel free to agree, disagree or submit other nominations.  

You can learn more about the Hendrickson Foundation and the great work they do here:

All photos for this article were legally clipped from Newspapers.com subscription or have no copyright restrictions.

They like us, they really like us?

posted Nov 2, 2019, 11:52 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Nov 2, 2019, 12:30 PM ]

I haven’t blogged in a while.  But I have too many thoughts in my head about Gameday not coming that I had to get them down. 

#1 LSU vs #2 Bama.  Is it a better matchup?  You bet.  But the Gameday crew has made it VERY clear that this year they want to go to schools they’ve never been to.  Like going to Brookings last weekend.  Alabama/LSU is old hat for them.  I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I bet they’ve done those locations AND that matchup more than a few times. 

Speaking of Brookings, I was there.  Thanks to Dan Svobodny who took a great photo of my sign and Gopher hole for tweeting another one out.   The point is that I’ve been to 3 Gamedays now.  While you are there, they tell you to get loud and crazy from 9:30-11 because that’s when their ratings are highest. Most watchers tune in right as they get closer to the 11 am game. 

Which is also why the 11 am game decision was the death nail for Gameday coming to Dinkytown.  The last thing they want is half their crowd leaving the show to get into the stadium, right when their ratings are peaking. 

So why was the 11 am game chosen?  Pj Fleck was on Pat McAfee’s show this week and stated very clearly that the gophers DID NOT turn down a night game.  So who did?  Was it Penn State?  And what’s wrong with 2:30? Why couldn’t that game be played at 2:30 and the LSU/BAMA game go at night?  The point I’m trying to make is that whomever decided the Gopher/Penn State game was at 11 am killed the chances of Gameday coming to Dinkytown.  If it was ABC, that’s out of our hands.  But if we had a choice between 11 and 2:30 and we chose 11, we did it to ourselves. And if we did it to ourselves, that makes it so much more deserving of being on the Calendar.

One of the other things I’ve heard is that maybe they’ll still come for the Wisconsin game.  I hope that’s true, but I just don’t see them coming when its that cold.  As a matter of fact that’s another reason I’ve heard they wont come next weekend is because of the cold.  If the cold is the reason they wont come on November 9, they sure as heck aren’t going to come on November 30.

There was a moment in Brookings when Kirk Herbstriet was on the back stage doing a segment which led into a video on the main stage.  Everyone turned to watch the video monitor on the main stage.  I didn’t.  I stayed facing Herbstreit.  I was about 15 feet from him.  I stuck my head out and waved my sign at him.  It caught his eye.  He looked directly at me, gave me a nod, a wink and a thumbs up.  I felt like he and I had a moment and that was his way of saying Gameday was coming.  There’s that old Sally Field Oscar speech where she says, “You like me, you really like me.”  But I feel like today gopher football fans feel the opposite of that.  Maybe they will still come. But I doubt it. 

There’s always next year too. 

I’m really starting to hate that phrase. 

Minnesota Sports Doomsday Supply List

posted Jul 8, 2019, 6:52 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Jul 8, 2019, 8:53 PM ]

When the Vikings lost to the Saints in 2010, it hit me hard.  I was in a funk for weeks.  I was sick to my stomach.  I didn’t eat much.  I didn’t want to work.  I felt like I had gotten dumped by the love of my life.  That’s how much it affected me.  I let myself ‘believe’, and the worst possible outcome occurred.   It was basically a Minnesota sports ‘doomsday’. 

As Minnesota sports fans, we’ve experienced more than our fair share of ‘doomsday’ moments like that.  We’ve been in that dark place too many times.  Because of that, some of us (the more clairvoyant ones) can sense an impending disaster.   Right now, my Spidey senses are tingling uncontrollably.  The Twins are still leading the division, but have started to slip.  What seemed like an insurmountable 11.5 games lead a month ago is now down to 5.5 games.  Even the MNUFC soccer team is doing well.  As I write this, they have moved up to 4th in the Western Conference. 

Surely both teams must be on some collision course with disaster, right?  As always, Minnesotan’s hope for the best.  But after all the pain we’ve suffered, we instinctively prepare for the worst.  It’s just our nature. 

Ever heard of Doomsday ‘Preppers’?  These are people that build bunkers and stock up food, water, etc in order to survive a potential disaster of some sort.  There’s even a television show about it.  I thought it would be fun to ‘create’ a hypothetical doomsday shelter that had everything a Minnesota fan would need to survive after another major sports disaster.  If you’re going to be in a fetal position for a few weeks and want to hide from the world while you recover, what would you need to have in that bunker to get by?  What items will remind you of the happier times and bring you out of your funk? 



-There will be signs with arrows leading to the shelter that say “Rally Room this way”.

-The doorway is made out of goal posts.  It’s the only way in or out.  Therefore, you MUST go through them.  It’s impossible to miss.

-The floor is made of hardwood from the original Minneapolis Laker floor with throw rugs made from the Metrodome carpet. 

-The side walls would be lined with stadium seats.  On the left side would be seats from Metropolitan Stadium.  On the right would be seats from Met Center with Yellow, White, Green and Black, randomly placed.  Notice the North Stars seats are on the right, NOT the ‘left’. 



-The walls would be covered with fathead logos of all Minnesota sports teams.

-Framed page from the Vikings Playbook:  Gun buffalo right key left 7 heaven

-Photo of Jack Buck that is autographed with - “We will see you tomorrow night! – Jack Buck”

-1960 Gophers Football Pennant.

-Poster from Timberwolves 1989 inaugural season

-Photo of Bruce Smith doing Heisman pose at Memorial Stadium

-Panoramic photo of first game ever at TCF Bank with ticket stubs attached.



-2 Week supply of Dome Dogs

-Wheaties (Twins on the box)

-Whatever beer Tommy Kramer drank

-Bottles of Randy Moss’ Inta Juice Smoothies

-Emergency Snickers bars hidden in shoes stashed in random spots around the room.



-No Jackets, Bud Grant wouldn’t approve.  Gotta tough it out.  

-Stephon Diggs’ Gloves from the Miracle

-Brett Favre Jersey

-A Jersey from your High School hockey team because…Minnesota. 

-Braids and horns


-Video of:

-87 & 91 World Series – on VHS

-2004 NBA Western Conference Finals

-2003 NHL quarter final game 7 vs Avalanche

-The Minneapolis Miracle.  Not the whole game (cuz blown lead), Just the catch. On repeat.   


-Bob Showers and Lou Nanne’s book about North Stars History

-Sid Hartman’s - Great Minnesota Sports Moments

-1962 Rose Bowl Program



-Homer Hankies

-Plush "Ozzie the parrot" (Think ‘Wilson’ from Castaway.  It gets lonely down there.)



-Herb Brooks’ whistle

-The locks on the door are similar to those Lou Nanne would use when he locked the refs in their dressing room.   

-T-shirt cannon to ward off invaders trying to lure you out before you’re ready. 


Other Necessities

-Air Quality - Generator powered Furnace and AC unit from ‘Carrier’.  Why Carrier?  Kent Hrbek says so. 

-Restrooms - Urinal troughs.

-Exercise - Lynx logo basketball and hoop.  All the Lynx do is win.  They’re our motivation to get off the floor and get moving again.



When you think you’re ready to face life’s daily grind again, there will be talcum powder by the door.  Pour some in your hands, clap them together and walk through the cloud that forms.  On your way out you will climb steps that resemble those that led up to the entrances at Met Center. 

Other Ideas?

I think we're gonna be short on food and entertainment so I may need some help.  There are a lot of creative WHENESOTAN's out there, so feel free to contribute suggestions for those or anything else.  If you come up with a good idea, I will add it and credit you.  It can be general like the goal posts and seats, or something more personal.  Remember this is something you will be clinging to in your darkest hour, your ‘blankey’ if you will.  It has to be something that reminds you of the good times.  For example, I considered having Whiskey and oranges in the food category, but that would remind us of the Drew Pearson push off.  That just defeats the purpose.   Let’s build this together.  The ‘Peoples Bunker’.  Please retweet!!!


This space is reserved for ideas submitted by readers/followers. 

-Scott Studwell sweatshirt (Mom)

-1985 All Star game hat (Mom)

-Photo of herself kissing the Stanley Cup at 2004 NHL All Star Game (Mrs Whenesota)

-Ticket stubs from first Vikings game (Andar)

-Puckett and Hrbek Starting Lineup Figures-unopened (Coworker MC)

-Garnett/Marbury signed Basketball (@fightingmormons)

-Letter from Gophers backup QB Scott Eckers (@hstrytchr1984)

-Gopher team poster autographed by Lou Holtz. (Coworker PP)

1-10 of 37