Archive for December, 2009


Seantrel Wins USA Today’s Offensive Player of the Year

Cretin-Derham Hall offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson was named the USA Today Offensive Football Player of the Year today, the first time in the 27-year history of the award a lineman has ever won the honor. As a caveat, Seantrel’s picture ran in the upper left corner of the paper, two inches away from a photo of Michael Jackson, even in death the most famous guy on the planet.
Seantrel had a great quote in the article, one one with some intelectual punch but that’s humble at the same time. He showed why when gets a little more mature and a little more comfortable in front of a microphone he’ll be a lot of fun to listen to:

 “A lot of people don’t understand that everything starts at the front line… The offensive line, we’re protecting all those all those other offensive guys that are getting the ball and are getting those awards.”

He’s right. The offensive line is the engine of a football team. If you can’t run the ball, you can’t control the clock. If you can’t pass protect, you won’t be able to defend the de facto leader of your team, the quarterback. Good luck hearing that on ESPN or FOX or any other network when they show football highlights. Most of that stuff is for fantasy football players, not for those wanting to understand the nuances of the game. Perhaps the movie “The Blind Side” will change all that in the future. Let’s hope.


I’m a Star SMUGgle?!

Thanks to Lee Aase, the Director of Social Media and Syndication at the Mayo Clinic, for highlighting me and my project with Seantrel Henderson in his blog post for Social Media University, Global, or SMUG as we students (known as SMUGgles) refer to it. SMUG is a tongue-and-cheek name for Lee’s web site where anyone can go and learn from Lee’s expertise. There’s no tuition and the learning never stops! 

We are living amidst revolutionary times, and Lee is one of those on the edge, using new technology to communicate. To get a grasp on Lee’s importance, understand this: A worldwide, leading institution like the Mayo Clinic turned to one guy and said, “If you have this figured out, go do it.” That’s kind of unusual and you have to be very competent to get that sort of responsibility. That’s Lee.


Minnesota Guy Andy Bischoff, Canadian Football Champion

For 14 years Andy Bischoff held various positions at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, including a two-time stint as Dean of Students and the assistant football coach of one of most powerful programs in the state. In the spring of 2008 he took up Marc Trestman’s offer to join his coaching staff of the Montreal Alouettes. A native Minnesotan, Trestman had compiled an impressive career resume as an NFL assistant after starting his career with the Miami Hurricanes where he coached a Cretin-Derham Hall alum, quarterback Steve Walsh. “Always a bride’s maid never a bride” when it came to head coaching jobs, Trestman finally got his shot in the Canadian Football League in Montreal — and Bischoff took the leap of faith and headed to Canada.

In their first season, their team made it all the way to the Grey Cup Championship game, but lost. This year, their second season in Montreal, they prevailed in the Grey Cup last Sunday night (Nov. 29) by the most dramatic of means. Down 27-11 with 11 minutes to go in the game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, their team won on a last-second 33-yard field goal. Actually, it was their second try. The previous play their kicker missed a 43-yard field goal, but Saskatchewan was flagged for too many men on the field. With a second chance, kicker Damon Duval put it right through the uprights. Game over, Alouettes champs.

Here’s a little Q & A with Andy:

Describe what being a member of the Alouettes has been like since winning the Grey Cup?

It’s been unbelievable. Amazing. The city has been incredible. From what I understand, although I’m leaving in a few days, there will be a different organization that wants to throw us a party or have our organization over for something for the foreseeable future to celebrate. I’m very humbled by it; It almost didn’t happen for us.

Your team was down 27-11 with 11 minutes to go in the game. What was the mood of your team?

Our guys just kept playing. There was no visible display of panic. When we got down by 16 points, we knew we had to use our time well. We were able to move the ball down the field relatively quickly. The defense came up big. When we needed a stop, they made a stop. We got a touchdown which made the game an eight-point game. Then our defense got a turnover, we got another score and were able to cut it to 27-25. We just kept composed and our guys just kept playing until there was no time left on the clock.

Coaching had to play a part in that? You can’t just turn on your team’s composure in the fourth quarter of a championship game if it hasn’t been there before.

Marc (Trestman, the head coach) does a great job of practicing situational football. A lot of teams do it, but I don’t know if as many do it as diverse and thoroughly as we do. Overtime, down by two, two-minute drills — it runs the gamut. Our last drive in the Grey Cup started at our own 30 yard line, down by two with no timeouts remaining. We did that before during the season. We scored a ton of points in that same situation throughout the year. Those things don’t happen by being lucky. Players and coaches make that happen together.

I was in the box for the game. On the field goal that won the game, we were holding onto each other for dear life. I didn’t collapse emotionally on the first kick because I saw the flag right away. It came from the part of the field where the only possible call was going to be against the defense. Our kicker had a tough game. This guy set a CFL record for points this year, but had his toughest game of the year in the championship. In the end he got a chance at redemption — and he did it. I couldn’t have been happier for him.

I got on the elevator to the field as fast as I could. When I got there, the Saskatchewan fans were totally stunned, kind of like the Vikings fans were after Atlanta beat Minnesota in the ’98 NFC Championship at the Dome. They were in complete disbelief at what they had just seen. A championship was in their grasp and it got away.

This had to be a game where everyone on the team got a game ball. Your defense kept your team in the game the first half, but your offense came through in the second when you needed the points. Fair assessment?

Give our defense credit for the whole game. It could’ve easily got out of control in the first half because our offense wasn’t clicking. Our defense kept us in the game, kept us in the game long enough for our offense to get in gear and get some points. Definitely, both sides of the ball — and our kicking game — made plays when we absolutely needed it. It sounds kind of cliche-ish, but it really was a total team victory.

You sent me a text message from Molson Center when the Alouettes were introduced before the Canadiens game. I saw the video on YouTube and it sounded like you received an extremely loud ovation. What has been the biggest honor that stands out in your mind since winning the Grey Cup?

The Canadiens game was the first special moment. To be honored by the Canadiens was special because the Canadiens dominate the sports scene in hockey-crazy Montreal. After that, the parade in the city was unbelievable. The parade was down St. Catherines Street. St. Catherines Street is the Grand Avenue of Montreal. Imagine Grand Avenue as you know it, double the size of the crowd you’ve seen at a Grand Old Day celebration and then realize it’s only you they’ve come to see in the parade. We only had five floats in the parade. That’s it. It was just people as far as you could see. At the end of the parade route, there’s an arts/theater part of town where the stage was set up. I remember people running down there to fill up the grassy space at this park. It reminded me of a Who rock concert from the ’70s when they had festival seating and people would run into the stadium when the gates opened trying to get a spot for the show.

I’ve been playing or coaching football for 24 years and I’ve only finished on top twice — with Cretin-Derham Hall in ’99 and with he Alouettes this year. It’s very humbling to see those people want to spend the day with you because you are a champion.


Latest in Online Gaming? Tiger Hunting!

Thanks to a friend of mine for passing this along to me. Help Tiger Woods navigate away from his angry wife Elin in this new online game.

Poor Tiger. Anyone want to wager what sort of money Elin will get in the divorce?


You Had to See This Game: 97th Grey Cup Finish!

You could count the amount of Canadian Football League games I’ve ever seen on one hand. This particular one I watched because my friend Andy Bischoff is the running backs coach of the Montreal Alouettes and his boss, Marc Trestman, is from Minnesota and destined to be an NFL head coach in someday. Montreal went 15-3 in the regular season, clinching their division five weeks before the regular season ended. They were heavy favorites in the championship game against the Saskatchwan Roughriders but were behind by 16 points with 11 minutes to go in the game. In one of the most dramatic finishes I’ve seen in years, Montreal pulled out a 28-27 victory on a last second field goal.

Qu’est-ce qu’un jeu! Félicitations Alouettes!  (Translation: What a game! Congratulations Alouettes!)


Cleveland Plain Deals Dials My Number

Doug Lesmerises, the Ohio State beat writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, called me this early evening to inquire about the YouTube video I did on Seantrel Henderson’s official visit to Ohio State. Word has got around about Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel’s home visit to the Henderson’s home this evening. The head coach was accompanied by his brother, Dick, the running backs coach at OSU who was the head football coach at Hamline University in St. Paul for 21 years (1979-2000). Lesmerises did an update in his Buckeye blog incorporating my video. Check it out.