We're Black and Blue All Over:
The state of Minnesota's government shutdown will obviously keep the Minnesota Vikings' stadium proposal on the back burner for the time being. Negotiations have continued on closing the funding gap between the team and state on a $1.057 billion proposal to build in suburban Arden Hills, but they won't be resolved in a public fashion until state leaders agree on a budget that would re-start the state government.
The best-case scenario for the Vikings: The new budget would include the Vikings' stadium bill and would be approved during a special legislative session called this summer by Gov. Mark Dayton. The worst case: The stadium issue gets lost in the political fight and the Vikings enter the 2011 season as presumptive franchise free agents.
Here is one twist we must remember: Either the Vikings or Ramsey County can now opt out of the memorandum of understanding for this project, to which they were bound until June 30. The Vikings have shown no interest in doing so, but it's already clear that some forces who would like to see the stadium built in downtown Minneapolis are already mobilizing.
Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune notes that some people still prefer the Farmers Market site near Target Field. Earlier this week the Star Tribune published an op-ed piece written by Dave Albersman, a local urban planner who wrote: "Locating the new Vikings stadium in the Farmers Market area would build on the vitality of Target Field and would begin to realize the vision described in the Downtown East/North Loop Master Plan."
Continuing around the NFC North:
The Vikings had serious interest in free agent safety O.J. Atogwe in February before he signed with the Washington Redskins, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn't worried about players' decision to work out individually rather than as a group this offseason. Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has more.
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "If Dorsey Levens' post-football acting career continues to grow the way it has on stage of late, the former Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl running back and aspiring thespian will someday be known for more than just the awful horn-rimmed glasses he wore in his uncredited role as a Xavier football coach in 'We Are Marshall.'"
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on his pairing with rookie Nick Fairley, via Doug Farrar of Yahoo! Sports: "I think we'll be able to be a great tandem. Hopefully, it can be like it was at Nebraska in my senior year, with myself and Jared Crick, and him coming and being a real impact guy. He relieved pressure off of me I relieved pressure off of him, and we became a dominant unit inside."
Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com checks in with rookie quarterback Nathan Enderle, who began working out with Bears receivers this week.
Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders if it is truly a slam dunk that center Olin Kreutz returns to the Bears.
Bears guard Roberto Garza hosted a skills camp in his hometown, notes Eladio Jaimez of the Valley Morning Star.