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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Sights and Sounds of the Vikings at the London Play 60

A collection of photos from today's Play 60 event

Eric Perkins, Sports Director for KARE 11, NBC affiliate for Minneapolis-St. Paul

On the perceived hostility towards the International Series from some American fans, and on the loss of a home game:

EP: That's their main issue with it. With seven home games instead of eight, it robs fans, and especially season ticket holders, of that opportunity of having one extra game. I think for the most part, though, people are fine with the NFL trying to expand the brand, I don't think they feel threatened by it by any means. I do think that... hostility is a little harsh, I don't think people are that upset about it, but the season ticket holders are probably a little more bent out of shape [over the loss of a home game] than most.

On putting a permanent NFL team in London:

EP: I think it would be fabulous. It would be great to get it to that global level. I don't see it happening any time in the immediate future because of logistics and the nightmares that accompany that, but I don't think anybody would be too adverse to it. In a way, a lot of our national sports organisations already are going elsewhere, we have a lot of teams in canada, so it's not out of the realms of our thinking, but logistically and travel-wise, it would be an absolute nightmare. The Vikings actually have a bye week next week just to rest up from this, as do the Steelers, so you would have to consider that too, that would be one of the major hurdles.

On the players' reaction to finding out they would be playing in London:

EP: I think a lot of them were excited. A lot of them see the schedule and they see places like Detroit and Chicago and Green Bay, and frankly those aren't the most exotic of locations but I think London has that international mystique and allure to it that definitely makes it attractive. I know that a lot of the guys I spoke to were quite excited about coming across the pond.

On the Vikings' decision to come to London sooner rather than later in the week:

EP: I think that normally it would be pretty disruptive, but with the way they played their last game and how unbelievably disappoint it was, I think it was rather fortuitous for them to come now and get away and erase what just happened, the debacle and the backlash they were getting within the state. People were so upset, and, honestly, calling for the heads of some people, it was that bad of a loss.

On Christian Ponder:

EP: I think he's on an incredibly short leash. The problem that's in place is that the backup quarterback isn't entirely equipped to handle [the situation] either. Ponder has been given a lot of leeway and tolerance, and last year when they were 6-6 after their loss at Lambeau Field to the Packers, people were in this same mode of frustration. Then all of a sudden, he rallied the team to four straight victories and got them into the playoffs, and was injured and didn't even play in the playoff loss, so I think people were like, “OK, let's give this guy a chance, maybe there's some progress made”, although so much of that success had to do with Adrian Peterson's monster season and now, in the offseason, so much was spent to give him the receivers he needs, as that was a big knock last year, that they had a lot of injured players and that the receivers were incompetent at best. But now they've boosted that all up and bolstered so much of that, and it's still not really working out. I think you're gonna see an increased level of disdain, and I think if he doesn't come through this week, you might see him hooked after the first quarter of the season if he doesn't produce and come through with a victory, you might see Matt Cassell.

On the team being 0-3:

EP: I think they're too professional to throw in the towel and start pointing fingers. They're all so competitive, and the 0-3 start is completely discouraging, and yeah the last team to start 0-3 and make the playoffs were 1998 so the odds are certainly stacked against them, but they do have the MVP on the team, and as long as you have an MVP on your team you at least have a chance. I think that what bodes against them is the schedule from here on out is remarkably hard and challenging. Even though you get on a little hot streak because the next three teams you play are 0-3, 1-2 and 0-3, even though there's that, what comes after that is mind-blowingly difficult and I think it's an uphill climb at this point. But I don't think the players will quite say that yet.

On whether the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 is currently on their roster:

EP: No. I think they would have to do something to figure that out. I don't see Christian developing to a point much beyond where he's at now. I think part of that is he's a really smart quarterback, and I think his cerebral mindset plays against him because he thinks too much. I think long-term, he may not be the answer, but I'd love to see him prove me wrong.

Adrian Peterson

On whether a win at Wembley could change the momentum of the season.

AP: It's another game on the schedule, for us it's definitely time to get a W if possible, so that's our focus, to come in. It's not a vacation for us, we came here to get a job done.

On whether having to deal with the time change and travel before a must-win game is challenging:

AP: It can be challenging but the other team have to deal with it as well.

On the team's general mood:

AP: We're OK. We just got off the plane so we're adjusting to the jetlag and time change, but we're here and getting it done

On whether it was tough to make that flight knowing that the team is at 0-3.

AP: For me? A little bit it was. You want to relax and get ready on the flight, but I'm here now and feel good, the flight's over with.

Interviewer: Have you dealt with any of the fans or public yet?

Kyle Rudolph

On whether it's beneficial, given the circumstances, that this week is not a 'normal' week:

KR: I think that people in our organisation have done a great job. They've prepared since last spring to make this as normal of a week as possible so that we could just come in and have a normal week. I also think it is nice, especially at this time in our season, to be able to get away and be out here in a hotel together, have a bonding experience that will hopefully springboard us to a bunch of wins this season.

On whether the trip as a training camp vibe:

KR: I don't think it has a training camp vibe as we won't have the pounding we have every day but, spending the time together is definitely a positive.

On first finding out that the team will be playing in London:

KR: [I was] very excited to have the opportunity to be one of four teams to come over this year to spread the brand of the NFL, it's definitely a privelige and we're excited.

On giving up a home game during the team's final season at the Metrodome:

KR: It's something that you have to trade in. We're excited to have the opportunity to come here and play. We feel like we'll take full advantage of the seven home games we have, but we're excited to have Wembley as our home stadium for one [of them].

On the importance of the Play 60 programme:

KR: It's extremely important to teach kids at a young age to be active, espeically nowdays with all the electronics and video games kids can get a hold on at such a young age, you have to cmpete with their time, and kids' time is precious and they're gonna do what they wanna do with it and if you can get them having fun being active, then we can hopefully get these kids going out and doing things.

On whether the players were 'encouraged' to promote the league during this week:

KR: We're representatives of the league, we got chosen as one of four teams to come over here and spread the brand. We feel like we have the best sport in the world, and to be able to give that to the world is extremely important.

On any logistical difficulties:

KR: Well Pittsburgh's in the same situation so we feel like it's a great opportunity for us to have the opportunity to spread the game and take advantage of a week together, have a week together and hopefully this will be a a springboard for us into the rest of our season.

On whether there was any built-in sightseeing in their schedule:

KR: Nothing to built in, we have our normal meeting and schedule practice throughout the week and we'll just spend a week together in the hotel.

John Sullivan

On the low hit from Suh:

JS: I've moved past that now, obviously he was penalised, he apologised, I accepted it, you get caught up in moment of the game of football so I'm way beyond that now.

On dealing with the time difference:

JS: I think it's nice we flew out early in the week so we can get acclimated to the time change, I know we tried to sleep on the plane over last night, we don't want to be going to sleep today in the middle of the day and mess up our internal clocks, so we're gonna tyr and get on local time as soon as possible and go from there.

On whether it gives the team an advantage over the Steelers:

JS: I believe it does.

On blocking for Adrian Peterson:

JS: It's amazing. You just know that if you go out and do your job, he's gonna hit home runs for you. We love playing in the NFL but it's especially great playing offensive line for one of the greatest backs of all time.

On going from snapping to Brett Favre to snapping to Christian Ponder:

JS: The sky's the limit for Christian, he just needs to keep working, keep progressing. It's difficult to compare because Brett was in his 19th or 20th season when we were playing together and I was incredibly young. Now Christian's a younger player and I'm a little bit older, so it's a totally different dynamic. However they're both hard workers, both very talented guys.

On the best DT he's faced in the NFL:

JS: It's hard to pick one. Justin Smith is always very tough, Suh and Nick Fairley have both been playing very well this year and played well against us week one so you play a lot of good tackles.

On finding out the team was travelling to London:

JS: I was very excited, it's great to be a part of spreading this game of American football that we love around the globe, so we're excited to expose it to another country and be part of the growth of our sport.

Marvin Mitchell

On giving tips to his team mates about travelling to London:

MM: A lot of guys were asking me about the time difference, about the weather, asking me how the food was, so I've just been trying to give them some advice to help my team mates out.

On whether he supports the London games:

MM: Definitely. The game of American football is really big in the US, over here it's soccer so myself being a football player you want to get this game known around the world and this is one way to do it.

On sight seeing in London:

MM: This is a great trip for us but this is a business trip for us, it's just a game for us and a game that at 0-3 we need to win.

On the season so far:

MM: Definitely disappointing, but I think this is a good team. You can see the way the guys are here, no-one's moping right now, and when you've got a good group of guys like that you can go ahead and get some things done

On whether the team still believes in Christian Ponder:

MM: Definitely. He's our quarterback and we'll ride him to some wins, definitely.

On the challenges the Steelers present:

MM: Big Ben is a very good quarterback, he's cone some great things in this league, winning Super Bowls, and they present a lot of different challenges with their receivers. But it will be a good game.

On the Play 60 message:

MM: I don't know about over here, but in the US, obesity is a real big [problem], some of the schools have gotten rid of their play grounds and PE time so the Play 60 programme has been real helpful from that stand point.

On how much tougher it is, having to fly thousands of miles to try and get their first win:

MM: It's definitely much tougher, even with that team being 0-3, that's a good team and they've won in the past, so coming over on an 8 hour plane trip to try get a win [against them] is definitely much tougher.

On what a win would mean:

MM: I think it would be a huge win and I think you'll see a lot of excitement and joy, and the hunger guys will come out with this week.

And finally, Kyle Rudolph throwing some footballs.

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