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Charley Walters: Cousins has respect of Vikings O-line

August 27, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — Maybe Kirk Cousins can make up for the Minnesota Vikings’ shaky offensive line.

“It’s up to the quarterback to get all the distance he can out of his line,” Ron Yary said last week. “I mean, if your quarterback has a good rapport with your offensive line, they’ll play up to snuff. But if you don’t like the quarterback because he’s smug and arrogant, and he becomes a coach, you’ve got problems.”

During his brief time in Minnesota, Cousins, the Vikings’ $84 million QB, seems to have gained the respect of his injury-disrupted offensive line.

Yary, 72, the hall of fame offensive lineman who played in each of the Vikings’ four Super Bowls, has strong feelings about the importance of the quarterback-offensive line relationship.

“Your quarterback’s got to have a passion to play the game,” Yary said from his home in Murrieta, Calif. “It’s got to be blood for him. If you can’t see it in his eyes — I mean, you see a lot in that huddle when you look guys in the eyes. I’ve seen a couple guys afraid in there before that almost made me furious. I saw fear.

“When you’re in a huddle, you look in each other’s soul.”

For instance, Yary loved playing for QB Joe Kapp with the Vikings.

“When Joe Kapp was there, football was no better than having Joe Kapp as your quarterback,” he said. “He’d be in the huddle and he’d laugh, he’d talk to the guys, and you knew that there’s no other place in the world that he would rather be than in a huddle with you.

“He’d look you in the eyes and say, ‘Listen, we’re going to run a 27 power, can you block that guy?’ He’d look right at you in the huddle and ask you that question. And what are you going to say, no?

“But the reason he’d do it is because he knew that yes was going to be yes. Now he’s putting the focus on you and everybody’s counting on you, so you’re going to get the best expectation out of

the guy.”

Yary, by the way, said he no longer watches NFL games.

“Because of the taking-the-knee issue — I’m vehemently against what they (some players) are doing,” he said.

The Vikings and the Packers will tie in the NFC North Division with 11-5 records, Sports Illustrated predicts. Then the Vikings will defeat the Rams in a wild card game, then defeat the Packers in a division playoff, then lose to the Falcons in the NFC championship. Atlanta then defeats the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

The Vikings and Steelers are 19-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, behind the favored Patriots (6-to-1) and Rams (17-to-2), according to Bovada-Las Vegas. The Packers are 11-to-1.

Wishing the best for beloved Vikings iconic trainer emeritus Fred Zamberletti, who is experiencing health concerns.

At age 31, Adam Weber is making a life change. For just the second time in 18 years, the former Gophers record-setting quarterback from Mounds View is not in a football camp this fall.

Weber, fired twice in the past three years from college football assistant coaching jobs, has decided he wants more stability in his life and has taken a job in the insurance business in Chicago.

“Looking for more of a normal, for lack of a better word, life,” he said.

Weber lost football jobs at his alma mater and at UCLA when head coaches, Tracy Claeys and Jim Mora, respectively, were fired.

“I was seeing kind of a pattern there,” he said.

So now it’s life in a different world.

“For right now, it gives you a little more stability,” Weber said. “Football will still be a part of my life in some capacity. But you think about settling down and having a family.”

Tony Levine, the former Gophers wide receiver from Highland Park, after a long, nomadic coaching career, recently walked away at age 45 from a top assistant job at Purdue to open a Chick-fil-A franchise near Houston and spend more time with family.

Levine, as was Weber, was regarded as excellent at his craft, also having been a head coach at the University of Houston.

“You can be a very, very dedicated coach who’s doing a heck of a job, but in this day and age things can happen so quickly, and there’s such a demand to win, especially at the collegiate level, it’s tough,” Weber said. “If you’re going to be good at recruiting, you’re doing that 24-7.

“(Coaching) was great, awesome, and I know I’m going to miss Saturdays, but (now) I get to go home at night and eat dinner with friends and family and I have weekends off,” Weber said. “So there’s give and take.

“Ultimately, you start thinking about what’s important, about being able to share with the people you love. For right now, this is the best decision for me at this point in my life.”

Coaching in major programs, Weber said, “works for some people and not for others. There are so many things about the job that I really love. But ultimately, you have to stay true to that voice inside you. For me, I’d rather be around for my family and in the future have kids and be there for them and not miss those important moments.

“To be at the highest level (of coaching), to really pursue it, and that’s what I would do, you have to sacrifice. And I just didn’t want to have to make that decision.”

John Gagliardi, 91, the legendary former St. John’s football coach, is doing fine, wife Peggy said last week. He still attends Johnnies games when he can, and misses all the fanfare associated with coaching.

“He used to say he hated it, but he loved it,” Peggy said.

Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, asked about pass rushers coming from college to the NFL: “The hardest thing for them is that everybody’s good now in the NFL. You’re going up against a guy who is very good, that’s studying him, knows him. The biggest thing they have to do is learn technique — whoever’s going to be the better technician that day is going to win that play.

“In college, you could be the best player at the position going up really against not so good of a player. And when you get to the NFL, you have to adapt and master your craft.”

Mike Antonovich, 66, the flashy former Gopher, North Star and Fighting Saint, knocked in a 131-yard pitching wedge on hole No. 17 at Eagle Ridge in Coleraine.

It was his 11th career ace. He’s a four-handicap golfer.

“Just lucky, I guess,” said Antonovich, who scouts for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Meanwhile, Antonovich, the former three-term mayor of his hometown Coleraine, plans to run again in the November election.

“I think some stuff needs to get done, and I think I can get it done; I work hard, so I’m going to give it a go,” he said.

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