Matt Birk By Tim Yotter
Date: Feb 23, 2006
Updates on the health of Pro Bowl center Matt Birk, word about negotiations with a potential free agent, the continuing saga of quarterback Daunte Culpepper and wishes of running back Michael Bennett, along with educational news on several current and former Vikings and a former Viking who received a new contract down south.
Vikings Pro Bowl center Matt Birk told Viking Update that he is feeling the best he has in a long time. He is approaching his recovery from hip surgery with Ã¢â‚¬Å“some reserveÃ¢â‚¬Â because he hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t had football contact in over six months and has had setbacks after previous surgeries, but Birk is confident that he is ready for the VikingsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ first minicamp.
The Vikings get an additional mandatory minicamp for veteran players because they have a new head coach, Brad Childress. That is expected to take place April 7-9, which will give the Vikings a better idea on their needs after spending five weeks in free agency before entering NFL draft weekend three weeks later.
Birk had surgery in September to repair a torn labrum in his left hip, which was thought to cause some sports hernias previously. He had previously undergone three operations for sports hernias and another to repair a torn labrum in his right hip in a 13-month time span.
A person close to Vikings guard Toniu Fonoti, who is scheduled to be a free agent March 3, said the Vikings are negotiating with him. The team has told four others of their potential free agents that they wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be re-signing them. Other teams that might have an interest in the massive guard are the Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints, but the Vikings have exclusive negotiating rights until March 3.
While running back Michael Bennett has been informed that he will not be re-signed by the Vikings, he did say that two good fits for him would be in Green Bay or Arizona. Green Bay would be close to BennettÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s high school hometown of Milwaukee, and Arizona would be nice for Bennett because it would reunite him Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green, who drafted Bennett in the first round when he was with the Vikings.
However, a league source tells Viking Update that BennettÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s name has not even been mentioned in Arizona.
Quarterback Daunte Culpepper has been a source of trade rumors in recent weeks, and one team rumored to possibly have an interest in Culpepper was the Arizona CardinalsÃ¢â‚¬â€for the same reasons as stated with Bennett. However, after signing Kurt Warner to a three-year, $18 million contract, that same NFL source told Viking Update that CulpepperÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s name hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been brought up within the Cardinals organization either and that anyone speculating about his reunion with Dennis Green isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t thinking about it logically. With CulpepperÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s serious injury, in which he tore three ligaments in his knee on Oct. 30, and the re-signing of Warner, it wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make sense for Arizona to acquire Culpepper in a trade.
Several current and former Vikings are among the 120 players who have enrolled in the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program at Harvard Business School, the Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University), the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
The program is part of an ongoing NFL-NFL Players Association initiative to assist players in preparing for their post-playing careers. Last year, in the programÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first season, 66 NFL players participated at Harvard Business School and the Wharton School, including Vikings defensive end Lance Johnstone and middle linebacker Sam Cowart, both of whom are back for more this year.
The four schools will offer executive education activities in their respective areas of expertise (see complete descriptions below). Harvard Business School and the Wharton School will hold three-day programs for players starting February 27 and conduct an additional three-day session in early April. The Kellogg School of Management and Stanford Graduate School of Business will run three-day sessions beginning March 6.
Player enrollment criteria include level of education, professional business experience, interest in starting, owning, or managing a business, leadership and community involvement. Under the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, players may be reimbursed up to $15,000 this year for education expenses at an accredited institution of higher learning.
Vikings guard Chris Liwienski, tight end Jeff Dugan and Johnstone, along with former Viking and most recently Philadelphia Eagles safety Jack Brewer and former Vikings and current Houston Texans linebacker Kailee Wong are enrolled in the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, whose program will run Feb. 27-March 1 and April 3-5. The Wharton program focuses on a broad range of business topics, including financial analysis, entrepreneurship, real estate development, stock market investing, negotiation skills, risk management and community reinvestment. Attendees work on directed as well as individual real estate, entrepreneurial and personal finance projects during the month between the programÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s two sessions.
Vikings free agent Sam Cowart and former Vikings guard Lewis Kelly, now with the New York Giants, and former Vikings tackle Todd Steussie, now with the Tampa Bay Bucs, are enrolled in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, which runs from March 6-8. The Kellogg program focuses on developing and selling a brand and evaluating franchise opportunities. This program provides a foundation for recognizing sound marketing plans and preparing players to ask key questions when analyzing opportunities.
Former Vikings center Ben Lynch, now retired, and former Viking and current Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Troy Walters are enrolled at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which runs March 6-8. The Stanford program seeks to broaden a playerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s understanding of how to evaluate business opportunities in general and in the sports industry specifically. The program consists of lectures, case studies, and discussion groups to illustrate the broad opportunities in the sporting industry and other industries (including real estate, entertainment, and investment).
Former Vikings defensive end Chuck Wiley, now with the New York Giants, is enrolled at the Harvard Business School, which runs Feb. 27-March 1 and April 3-5. The HBS program emphasizes entrepreneurial opportunities and business management. Content includes financial analysis, marketing strategies, selected general business skills and legal, contractual and tax considerations. Using the case method, participants learn how to work together to resolve problems similar to the ones they face in business.
Birk, a Harvard alumnus, is opening a restaurant with two of his business partners called Matty BÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Supper Club in downtown St. Paul. The club will open in March and is located at 354 North Wabasha.
Former Vikings linebacker Jack Del Rio, the fourth-year head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, signed a contract extension with the team. Del Rio's initial contract with the team was through the 2007 season. His new three-year contract covers the 2006-2008 seasons. Terms are undisclosed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Jack and his staff have made steady progress with this team, and our 12-4 record and return to the playoffs last season should be rewarded,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I told Jack that if he outperformed his contract we would work out a new deal, and both of those things have now happened. We are on the right track and we want to continue on that path, and Jack Del Rio is the coach to lead this team.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Former Vikings tight end, offensive line coach and head coach Mike Tice joined Del RioÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Jacksonville staff as an offensive line coach after being fired by the Vikings.
Re: Vikings Notebook
Although 23 didn't do anything it still kinda of stings that he will no longer be in the horns this coming season. Is it just me or does the gi-aints sign damn nearly everyone we cut?
Re: Vikings Notebook
I'm glad that Bennett will be gone. He has been worthless and a first round bust as far as I'm concerned. Sure he had his moments but so did Spergon Wynn (wait a minute no he didn't). Good riddance Bennett.