Five Minnesota sports saviors who fell short
Ricky Rubio has arrived in Minnesota with all the fanfare of a rock star, and now has the not-so-enviable task of trying to help the Minnesota Timberwolves earn the respect of their fans rather than ridicule.
So in honor of Rubio's arrival, let's look back at five other notoriously under-performing saviors in the sports history of the Twin Cities, just as a cautionary tale.
Randy Moss, circa 2010
As a Viking from 1998-2004, Moss was brilliant, perhaps the brightest beginning to a receiving career in NFL history. He also pushed a traffic cop down a street with his Lexus and responded to a fine for his infamous "fake moon" Packers fines by saying, "What's ten grand to me? It ain't shit. Next time I might shake my dick."
When the Vikes brought Moss back for a second chance last season, the on-field brilliance was missing; the off-field malfeasance wasn't. First he was fined $25,000 for skipping a press conference. (Bad.) Then after playing against his former team the New England Patriots, he denounced his Vikings coaches and said of the Patriots, "I miss them guys."(Worse.) Finally Moss insulted the locker room catering by longtime local deli Tinucci's, announcing within earshot of owner Gus Tinucci that he "wouldn't feed this [expletive] to his [expletive] dog." (Worst.) The Vikings waived Moss after less than a month with the team. Of course Moss' problematic return was overshadowed by another savior-turned-scourge...
After years as Public Enemy No. 1 among Vikings fans, all was forgiven when the stubble-faced gunslinger was brought out of retirement before the 2009 season. Favre gaveth: 4,200 yards, 33 touchdowns, 12 wins, and nine "aw shucks, we're just havin' fun out there" press conferences. And then Favre tooketh away: After leading the Vikes to the NFC Championship against the New Orleans Saints, he threw the inevitable backbreaking interception in overtime.
After the season,
Favre tortured the team with his "will I or won't I retire" act before finally deciding to return for 2010. Last year Favre's on-field production plummeted, the team floundered and his all-time record of 297 consecutive games ended. And then there was something of a sexting scandal. Mercifully, Favre retired at season's end. For good, this time. (Right, Brett?)
White looked like a dream recruit for Tubby Smith. Not only was he a blue-chip prospect, the 6-foot-8 forward was a local, hailing from Hopkins High School. Minnesota's reining Mr. Basketball brought a lot of attention to the Gophers. The only problem was, he never actually reached the court.
As a first semester freshman, White was nailed for theft and disorderly conduct in a shoplifting incident at the Mall of America. And then, only weeks later, charged with trespassing due to his involvement with a laptop theft in a U of M dorm. When White was suspended by the team, he produced a bizarre Youtube video which claimed to preview a "documentary" about him. (The documentary seemed to consist of Royce White shooting hoops with background music.)
White quit the team twice, first via Youtube, explaining that he was "ridding people of the burden," and then again after a meeting with school officials. He later pleaded guilty to all the charges against him, and left the school altogether. Our hearts, like Royce's Youtube links, were left broken. White has resurfaced on the forgiving shores of Iowa State, where he'll play next season, at least in theory. Gophers fans can always remember the good times. Uh, time.
When an unknown Tim Brewster, a career tight ends coach, was brought in to resurrect the U's football team in 2007, hardly anyone saw him as a "savior." One person who did? Tim Brewster. "We're going to win the Big Ten championship and we're going to take the Gopher Nation to Pasadena," Brewster regrettably said upon his hiring. It soon became clear the only way he'd get the team to Pasadena was if he sprung for plane tickets.
The 1-11 record the Gophers posted in Brewster's first year was the worst in school history. The next two years showed slight improvement, but the team was still light years away from his promised Rose Bowl berth. When Minnesota started the 2010 season 1-6, Brewster got the boot. With a 0-10 record in trophy games (against Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn St.) Brewster didn't win a single pig, jug, axe or bell, proving him useless as both coach and backwoods farmer.
In 1990, Minnesota North Stars owners George and Gordon Gund considered moving the franchise, with its slumping team and sluggish ticket sales, to San Jose. That's when Norm Green, a Canadian real estate baron, swooped in to rescue the team. Green was an instant lightning rod: some liked that he showed up to games in a Rolls-Royce; others disliked that his first order of business was firing most of the North Stars' staff. Either in spite of or because of Green, the North Stars made a shock run to the 1991 Stanley Cup Finals, which they lost to Mario Lemieux's Pittsburgh Penguins. After that it was all bad.
Rumors circulated of Green inappropriately kissing female employees and commenting on their appearance, which he didn't deny, but instead blamed on his being Canadian. Other rumors surfaced that Green was moving the team to Anaheim, which he denied... because instead, they were moving to Dallas, which they did in 1993.
But Green didn't exactly get away with it: he was sued for harassment, twice, by women who worked for him, and, badly in debt, was forced to sell his stake in the Dallas Stars in 1995. Hockey returned to Minnesota with the Wild, but the North Stars exist now only in the memory and in online fight videos.
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