At halftime on the permafrost at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis there was a ceremony to honor the 50 greatest Vikings of all time. Fran Tarkenton, Chris Carter, Ahmad Rashad, and Alan Page were there. But 83-year-old former Vikings coach Bud Grant stole the show.
With general-admission seating, customers braved the cold in parkas, snowmobile suits, fur, and sleeping bags.
But Grant was too cool. Just like he used to do on those Sundays at Metropolitan Stadium when men were men and legends strode the face of the Earth, Grant stood on the field in a short-sleeve purple shirt without looking a bit uncomfortable. After the ceremony, he jogged around the field to cheers and then got the best tribute of all: He was hoisted onto the shoulders of his former players and carried off the field.
Make room on your Kindles. William Faulkner's Snopes Trilogy, Shakespeare's dramas centering on Henry VI, and Tolkien's Ring have new competition. Ryan Leaf, one of the biggest draft busts of all time, has signed a deal to write three books: One about his time at Washington State, one about his time in the NFL, and one about his time spent battling addiction.
When team owners voted to change the overtime rules for playoff games - both teams get a possession if the team that has possession first does not score a touchdown - the move irked coaches. They wanted a uniform rule for the regular season and the postseason.
Now we know why. Coaches would have had plenty of opportunities to analyze strategy for the new overtime rules this season. When the Detroit Lions needed overtime to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, it was the 18th overtime game of the season. There has been at least one overtime game in 14 of the 15 weeks this season, the first time that has happened since overtime was instituted in 1984. The NFL is on a pace to have 21 overtime games this season, which would tie for third most. (The most was 25 in 2002.)
It's the most wonderful time of the year, unless you're a struggling NFL coach. Even if Giants coach Tom Coughlin is safe, the final two weeks of the regular season will be an exercise in coaches' scrambling to hold on to their paychecks. This season has taken an odd toll - three coaches were fired during the season, unusual in a league that plays 16 games and in which conventional wisdom is that there is little time for a midseason turnaround.
But the success of the interim coaches Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys and Leslie Frazier of the Vikings might make the ground beneath struggling coaches even shakier next season. So brush up those resumes. There could be job openings at Denver, Carolina, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Tennessee, and Houston.
"Coming out of college, coaches told me I wasn't gonna be nothing but a kickoff and punt return dude."
- The Bears' Devin Hester, who now holds the record as the greatest punt-return dude of all time.