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Now that the NFL season is down to the Super Bowl, the offseason has arrived for the other 30 teams. A major part of the NFL offseason, if there is such a thing anymore, is Senior Bowl week. The past few years, scouting was best broken down into sections, starting with the college football season, followed by the minor bowls, followed by the BCS games. Next up after that is the Blue-Gray Game, the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL, the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, IN, then the top prospects’ pro days at their college. This Saturday, they’ll play the Senior Bowl.

In addition to scouts descending on Mobile, lots of people who cover the draft converge to watch the workouts and report on who’s creating positive buzz for themselves. One of the people covering the Senior Bowl, as he’s done for years, is Scott Wright of DraftCountdown.com. Follow this link to read Scott’s daily reports from the practices. They’re some of the best in the business. Scott does a daily podcast from Mobile, too.

Thus far, Scott’s reported that Derek Carr, the top QB at the game, has stood out during the South squad’s practices and that Ra’Shede Hageman of the University of Minnesota has stood out defensively for the North squad. The reason I mention these players is because the Vikings need a new QB, just like they need to start restocking the talent on their defensive line. While it’s unlikely that they could get both of these players, rest assured that new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer will be paying extra attention to these players this week.

Another sportswriter who’s covering the Senior Bowl is Viking.com’s Mike Wobschall. Follow this link to read Mike’s reporting from Mobile. Hint: Carr has stood out for Mr. Wobschall, too.

Finally, the Vikings are perfectly positioned for a quick turnaround. Whether that happens still remains to be seen. Still, they’ve got high draft picks in each round of the draft, plus a third round pick they got in the Percy Harvin trade with the Seahawks. Couple that with GM Rick Spielman’s stellar draft record recently and there’s reason for optimism for Vikings fans. (Yes, he made a mistake with Christian Ponder but he’s more than made up for that since by drafting Pro Bowl LT Matt Kalil, FS Harrison Smith, and Pro Bowl PK Blair Walsh in the 2012 draft, followed by drafting Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and KR/WR extraordinare Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round of last year’s draft.

Other standouts from the Spielman draft classes include former Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph, DEs Brian Robison and Everson Griffen and RB Toby Gerhart. While it’s true that Griffen and Gerhart are eligible to become free agents this year, there’s no denying the fact that they’re top talents that Spielman found the last day of the draft.

That’s what separates good drafts from great drafts.

If you’re a football fanatic like I am, you won’t want to miss Scott’s and Mike’s reporting from Mobile.

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According to this article, Gov. Dayton insists that he didn’t learn of MNsure’s problems and contract changes until after the launch:

Gov. Mark Dayton said Friday that he first learned at least six months later of controversial contract changes made by the state’s health exchange. He said he also didn’t know about the serious technical issues plaguing MNsure until after the exchange’s Oct. 1 launch.

First, it’s painfully obvious that Gov. Dayton floats through life oblivious to what’s happening around him. This crisis, Gov. Dayton insists that he didn’t know about the technical issues tormenting potential MNsure users or that significant changes of responsibilities had been made through new contracts with vendors.

This fits Gov. Dayton’s pattern of being ignorant of what’s happening around him. Gov. Dayton said he didn’t know that the Tax Bill he signed and negotiated included expanding the sales tax to farm equipment repairs:

He certainly didn’t mind signing the farm equipment repair sales tax increase into law. It wasn’t until he got to FarmFest that he reversed course.

That’s nothing compared with Gov. Dayton’s supposed surprise that the Vikings Stadium bill had a provision in it for the Vikings to sell personal seat licenses, aka PSLs:

“I strongly oppose shifting any part of the team’s responsibility for those costs onto Minnesota Vikings fans,” he said in his letter. “This private contribution is your responsibility, not theirs. I said this new stadium would be a ‘People’s Stadium,’ not a ‘Rich People’s Stadium.’ I meant it then, and I mean it now.”

By contract, seat licenses would be sold by the public stadium authority, which is run by one of Dayton’s former top staffers. Dayton said he would ask the authority not to sell seat licenses, and he plans to ask the Legislature, if necessary, to press his case and block their sale.

Nothing happened in terms of blocking the sale of the Vikings PSLs because Gov. Dayton didn’t have a political or legal leg to stand on:

The Vikings said in a statement Tuesday, Nov. 13, that they were disappointed with Dayton’s letter. The team said the letter “does not recognize a key component of the stadium agreement struck by the Vikings, state and local leaders this past spring.”

Gov. Dayton, that’s three strikes. Hopefully, this time next year, you’ll be out of office and a real leader will be in office, one who actually pays attention to the things he’s signing.

It’s pretty pathetic that Gov. Dayton signed the exchange into law, then ignored it after that. He wasn’t aware that data security wasn’t a priority with the MNsure board. He defintely wasn’t aware that changes had been made to the contracts involving the building of the MNsure portal.

Here’s the first thing I’m reminded of in reading the article:

Minnesota needs a leader, not a well-known figurehead. We definitely don’t need a modern day Sgt. Schultz. Unfortunately, we’ve got the latter, not the former.

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Sunday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions in the final game in Metrodome history. In a game that only meant something in terms of draft positioning and, possibly, the head coaches’ fate, Cordarrelle Patterson stole the show, scoring a pair of touchdowns. Patterson’s first touchdown came after he chose not to throw a wide receiver option pass, instead finding his way through the Detroit Lions’ defense for a 50-yard TD run. Patterson’s other touchdown was the game winner in the fourth quarter. It came on a back shoulder throw from Matt Cassel with just under 10 minutes left in the game.

It was a fitting game for the Metrodome’s finale because the Metrodome wasn’t a great sporting venue. People have great memories of the Metrodome because of the events, not the facility.

What’s memorable about today’s game was that Cordarrelle Patterson’s play today told defensive coordinators across the NFL that they’d better know where he’s at on every play. Simply put, he’s the bigger-and-faster version of Percy Harvin. That and he doesn’t have Percy’s migraines.

Matt Asiata, who started in place of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, rushed for 115 yards on just 14 carries. Should Gerhart leave after the season as a free agent, Asiata seems like a more-than-adequate back-up for Adrian Peterson.

Another bright spot for the Vikings was TE Chase Ford. Ford’s play might’ve pushed Litchfield’s John Carlson off the Vikings roster. Carlson has battled injuries throughout his career. He signed an expensive contract 2 years ago, coming from Seattle through free agency. The Vikings might just cut him and free up cap space to shore up other positions of need.

Today was likely the last games in a Vikings uniform for Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Erin Henderson, Charlie Johnson, Chris Cook, Toby Gerhart and possibly Eversen Griffin.

Jay Glazer is reporting that Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier will be fired Monday morning:

Frazier will be fired as the Vikings’ head coach Monday, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. Frazier is in his fourth year as the head man in Minnesota, after taking over on an interim basis in Week 11 in 2010. He led the Vikings to a 3-3 finish that season before receiving the job full time.

That’s bittersweet news. In his 3 full seasons, Frazier’s records have been 5-10-1, 10-6 and 3-13. Winning 18 of 48 games means winning less than 40% of the games he coached. That said, though, razier’s players played hard most of the time. Unfortunately, NFL head coaches aren’t judged by whether they’re men of integrity or whether their players play hard. NFL head coaches are judged on wins and losses.

That’s why the Metrodome’s finale was likely Leslie Frazier’s Vikings finale.

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Today’s Vikings-Cincinnati game wasn’t as much a contest as it was a pummeling. Cincinnati looked like a formidable team capable of making a strong playoff push from the start. Meanwhile, the Vikings looked like a team that can’t wait for the Leslie Frazier era, and the season, to be over.

If there was any doubt that the Vikings need a major overhaul this offseason, this game put that question to rest almost instantly. On the game’s first series, Matt Cassel fumbled. Cincinnati returned the fumble to the Vikings 4 yard line, where the Bengals scored 2 plays later. Cassel is the best of the Vikings QBs, which says everything about the state of the Vikings’ QB situation.

Of the impending free agents on the defensive line, only Eversen Griffin is worth bringing back. Jared Allen will want too much for the production he’s got left. KWill has been a stud but he’s getting to the end of his career. Letroy Guion and Fred Evans never were productive players. That’s why it was a gift to have Sharif Floyd drop into the Vikings’ lap last year.

Of the linebackers, Chad Greenway is the only player on the roster who’s worth bringing back. Erratic is the kindest adjective for Erin Henderson’s play this year. Worthless might be the most accurate adjective for Henderson’s play.

In the secondary, you’ve got 2 players you can absolutely build around. Safety Harrison Smith is someone to build around, as is corner Xavier Rhodes. Josh Robinson needs to be moved outside, which is his natural position. He clearly isn’t a fit as the nickel. He’s fast, athletic and young. It’s too early to give up on a player like that.

As far as who should be the Vikings next coach, Paul Charchian threw out a name during the Vikings’ Postgame Show on Fox9 that I think is worth looking into: Ken Whisenhunt. He’s coached on 2 Super Bowl teams, which is amazing considering one of those teams was the Arizona Cardinals.

Prior to the Whisenhunt era, I’d argue that the Cardinals were the Chicago Cubs of the NFL. The Bidwill family was the cheapest family in the NFL by far. The joke at league meetings was that the way to make copper wire was to try pulling a penny from Bill Bidwill’s fingers.

Despite the Bidwills’ cheapskate ways, Whisenhunt won. The first thing he did in Arizona was resurrect Kurt Warner’s career. After getting fired in Arizona, San Diego hired him. Now Philip Rivers’ once-dead career is showing signs again.

If you want to strengthen the Vikings quickly, one way is to trade a third-round pick to the Redskins in exchange for Kirk Cousins. The Vikings have Seattle’s third rounder so they can afford trading one of their picks. With Cousins in place to become the Vikings’ QB, the Vikings could then use their first round pick to get a linebacker like UCLA’s Anthony Barr or a dominant NT like Notre Dame’s Louis Nix. At least the Vikings will have started rebuilding 2 defensive units that badly need rebuilding.

The Vikings should keep Rick Spielman as GM, though. It’s true that he drafted Christian Ponder, which is a strike against him. That being said, he also drafted Adrian Peterson, Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, Sharif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph and DEs Eversen Griffen and Brian Robison. He’s also drafted Pro Bowl placekicker Blair Walsh and punter Jeff Locke. In short, he’s done more than enough to earn his return.

The Vikings offseason unofficially started today. The coaching staff shouldn’t return, with the exception of George Stewart. Rick Spielman and the scouts need another strong draft to turn this team around.

One of my favorite Vikings writers is Mike Wobschall. His Monday Morning Mailbag report is essential reading for all Vikings fanatics. For quite awhile, there’s been a debate raging amongst Vikings fans on whether to win as many games as possible each year or whether to tank and get a franchise QB. This Q & A from this morning’s MMMB tees things up perfectly:

Q: After a rough start to the year, I was hoping to get the best draft picks, which unfortunately means losing. Watching the way we are playing right now, it is impossible to hope for losses. Adrian Peterson’s strong finish last week that willed us to that win set the tone for everyone in the organization. It was also great to see Matt Cassel’s fire and leadership today, as well as improved secondary play. You can’t help but love the team dynamic that is showing up this late in the season, despite a tough year. Skol Vikes. — Zach S.

A: One thing to consider on the topic of losing draft positioning with wins in a “lost season” is that when you win games it means certain and various aspects of your team are performing well. Most likely, and in the Vikings case this season, those aspects that play well and thus help yield wins are going to be core members of the team in future years. You have to balance the value of having slightly higher picks with additional losses against having slightly worse picks with a few extra wins.

I’ll take the wins every time, no questions asked.

This is where I disagree with Mike Wobschall from a theoretical standpoint. After yesterday’s games, the Vikings likely won’t get a Top-3 pick, which is what’s needed to get a franchise QB or South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney.

Yesterday, Matt Cassel played ok for the first three quarters before lighting things up in the 4th quarter. He has an opt-out clause in his contract, which would allow him to become a free agent after the end of this season. I have nothing against Cassel. It’s just clear that he isn’t a long-term solution to the Vikings’ QB problems.

There’s nothing wrong with losing lots of games one season so you can get that long-term solution at QB. From a tactical standpoint, it’s saying ‘We won’t win this year but we’re setting ourselves up for Super Bowl runs for a decade.’ That isn’t surrender. It’s a tactical retreat to regroup and restock.

The Vikings did that two seasons ago. Their reward was drafting Matt Kalil with the 4th overall pick, then using the pick they got from Cleveland to trade back into the first round and drafting Harrison Smith. They’re Vikings cornerstones for the next decade, with Kalil anchoring the offensive line and Smith co-anchoring the secondary with Xavier Rhodes for the next 8-10 years.

Getting a franchise QB would be huge, especially in light of Cordarrelle Patterson’s monster game yesterday. CP, as his teammates call him, is a total beast. He’s big, athletic, fast and willing to dish out punishment to defensive backs. With a franchise QB, they could become annual threats to win a Super Bowl championship.

One QB who hasn’t attracted much attention is San Jose State quarterback David Fales. CBSSports’ Rob Rang sang his praises in this article.

The Vikings will surely finish with a top-10 pick. That might be enough to get Fales, a QB that Rang describes as being able to make all the throws, is accurate, has good touch and awarenesss.

One thing that Mr. Wobschall and I agree on is that Rick Spielman is the right man making the draft day decisions. In the last 2 drafts, Spielman has picked 6 Pro Bowl-caliber players in Kalil, Harrison Smith, Blair Walsh, Sharif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Spielman has put some impressive pieces of a championship puzzle together on this team. What they need is a QB who doesn’t just manage games but a QB who wins games by putting the team on his back. That certainly isn’t Christian Ponder. Long-term, that isn’t Matt Cassel. Long-term, the solution might be David Fales.

Finally, the Vikings need a new head coach. As much as I respect Leslie Frazier as a man of integrity, he isn’t the man to put a championship-caliber system together.

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To say that today’s Baltimore-Vikings game was exciting is understatement. For the last 2 minutes and 30 seconds, Baltimore and the Vikings scored at a clip that made the Missouri-Auburn SEC Championship Game look like they were standing still. Here’s the box score…of the final 2 minutes:

2:05 Bal TD Joe Flacco passed to Dennis Pitta to the left for 1 yard gain (2pt attempt converted, Joe Flacco pass to Torrey Smith)MIN 12 – BAL 15
1:27 Min TD Toby Gerhart rushed up the middle for 41 yard gain (Blair Walsh made PAT)MIN 19 – BAL 15
1:16 Bal TD Minnesota kicked off, Jacoby Jones returned kickoff for 77 yards (Justin Tucker made PAT)MIN 19 – BAL 22
0:45 Min TD Matt Cassel passed to Cordarrelle Patterson to the right for 79 yard gain (Blair Walsh made PAT)MIN 26 – BAL 22
0:04 Bal TD Joe Flacco passed to Marlon Brown down the middle for 9 yard gain MIN 26 – BAL 28

Congratulations to the Ravens. They kept their composure throughout the game. Their offense sputtered most of the game. They came alive at the right time.

Congratulations to the Vikings for not throwing in the towel…ever. They could’ve done that but they didn’t. They’re now 3-9-1. Today, the Vikings played with the urgency of a team fighting for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. What’s becoming totally apparent to Vikings fans is that Cordarrelle Patterson is a beast. His toughness, his running ability, his physical play and his ability to either outrun opponents or to make them miss makes it likely that he’ll be the next dominant receiver in the NFL. (Follow this link to watch Patterson’s TD catch and run. CP, as his coaches call him, has now scored twice on pass receptions, twice on kickoff returns and once as a runner lined up in the backfield.

Saying CP is special is understatement by orders of magnitude.

It’s apparent that Xavier Rhodes is turning into a shutdown corner. Today, he took Torrey Smith away from Joe Flacco until he got injured late in the game. It isn’t coincidence that Baltimore’s passing attack took off immediately after that.

Matt Cassel played well considering the field conditions, too. He finished 17-for-38 with 265 yards passing with 2 TD passes and no interceptions thrown or sacks.

The only thing the Vikings are missing is a franchise QB. Their defense needs to be restocked but it’s manageable. Mostly, they need a QB who can take them to the next level. With Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson in important skilled positions, the Vikings have some gamechangers.

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Joe Soucheray’s column is this morning’s must reading because it exposes the Dayton administration as being sloppy with the taxpayers’ money:

Having learned that the Wilfs were found to be being less than charitable to former partners in a 20-year-old New Jersey real estate deal, our governor now wonders if the fine print of a new stadium contract has been thoroughly examined. Presumably, he means for loopholes through which the Wilfs, not necessarily distinguishing them from a variety of other real estate developers, might crawl.

It isn’t terribly reassuring to learn that the fine print had apparently not been previously examined. Wasn’t the deal big enough in the first place to have called in a law firm or forensic accountants or maybe somebody from the cast of “The Sopranos” to say these guys are on the up and up? I threw in the Sopranos only to make a New Jersey reference and do not at all intend to infer that the Wilfs hang out at the Bada Bing club.

No, I guess our governor and his supporters thought it was a good deal, and then compounded their indifference to the vetting process by insisting that the state’s share of the tab could be fulfilled by the great masses of us playing electronic gambling games. Only to discover that grandma doesn’t like playing electronic pulltabs or bingo and the state’s funding had to fall on the shoulders of the always available smokers, who are now paying about $54.76 a pack for American Spirits.

Now we are on hold and a law firm, Dorsey & Whitney, has been brought in at about $400 an hour to study as much of the Wilfs’ books as they can get their hands on.

After Gov. Dayton signed the Vikings stadium deal, DFL pundits said that this was a great accomplishment for Dayton, something he could hang his hat on. Apparently, they thought that Gov. Dayton did his due diligence. Just like with his tax increases, it’s apparent that Gov. Dayton didn’t think the Vikings stadium deal through. It’s apparent that he got dazzled by the bright lights.

We now know that the funding mechanism is a joke. The state needed to contribute $35,000,000 a year for its obligation. The latest report on the e-tabs revenues shows that e-tabs revenue collected thus far falls $33,000,000 short of what’s needed. I ridiculed the package back in February of 2011.

Mr. Soucheray has a great idea:

What Dayton really needs to do is stop the deal and restructure it in such a way that the Wilfs have a personal stake. Too bad if that disappoints them. They aren’t going anywhere. No other city in the country would have them under similar terms.

I have a better idea. Fire Gov. Dayton in 2014. He’s failed with his biggest initiatives. He’s already admitting that parts of his tax increase have to be repealed. Apparently, he didn’t know the warehouse tax and the farm equipment repair sales tax were part of the bill he signed into law.

Gov. Dayton’s other signature issue, the Vikings stadium, is being exposed as a collapsing house of cards. Nothing about Gov. Dayton’s initiatives suggests he’s thought his agenda through. Nothing about Gov. Dayton’s initiatives suggests he pays attention to details.

In 2010, the DFL wouldn’t let Dayton onto the floor of their state convention. That August, when Dayton won the DFL primary, the DFL embraced him.

They should’ve stuck with their first instinct.

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This morning on At Issue With Tom Hauser, former DFL gubernatorial candidate Matt Entenza did his best to spin away the terrible Vikings stadium financing plan. When asked about the funding shortfall, Entenza said that “it shows that these stadium financing deals are complicated, don’t work the way that they hoped that they would and that the legislature will have to go back to work and find a non-general revenue fund.”

Earlier in the show, Jay Kohls said that e-tab revenue through June was $2.4 million, far short of the $35,000,000 that’s needed for the state portion of the $975,000,000 stadium cost. According to Kohls’ report, the state gambling board was hoping to have 2,800 establishments selling e-tabs. At the end of June, 300 establishments were selling the e-tabs.

Entenza is tapdancing. He should be ashamed of himself for that spin. Other cities and other states have built stadiums for their teams. I’ve watched them built in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City and St. Louis in addition to the Metrodome and Target Field. This is the only stadium funding mechanism that’s been this woefully short. In fact, it’s the only funding mechanism that didn’t come off without a hitch.

Gov. Dayton pushed the Vikings stadium so hard that he didn’t care whether the funding mechanism worked. He worried more about schmoozing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell than he worried about the funding mechanism.

Friday night, Michele Kelm-Helgen of the MSFA admitted that e-tab revenues likely will never produce the revenue required to pay off the stadium bonds. Then she admitted that the DFL legislature passed a tax increase by closing an income tax ‘loophole’ which is projected to generate $20,000,000 a year.

That’s right. She admitted that Gov. Dayton broke his promise that the state general fund wouldn’t be used to pay for the stadium. Gov. Dayton was foolish enough to buy the state gambling board’s revenue projections. Thanks to his pushing this project, Minnesota taxpayers will be paying for Zygi’s palace.

While pushing the Vikings stadium, Gov. Dayton said he wanted the new stadium to be known as “the People’s Stadium.” Thanks to Dayton’s funding mechanism, it’ll be the people’s stadium because they’ll be paying for it through higher taxes for the next 30 years.

Stadium financing isn’t complicated. It’s just that it was too complicated for Gov. Dayton.

Cordarrelle Patterson, aka CP to his coaches and teammates, apparently is off to a fast start with the Vikings. This is the part that stood out for me:

Two days into his first NFL training camp, Patterson has impressed the staff with his ability to retain information and execute pro plays despite his only having one year of Division I college experience.

“It wasn’t like starting from zero like we thought it might be,” said Frazier. “That encourages all of us. Now take that with a grain of salt. We’ve got a lot more football to go, but we like what we see so far.”

This isn’t to say CP is Percy Harvin’s equal. That’d be foolish considering the impact Harvin made while inspired. Apparently, there are some striking similarities between Harvin and CP. Both are dynamic from multiple formations and positions. Both are fast. What’s most impressive about CP is that he’s apparently a fast learner.

When Harvin was drafted, then-Vikings coach Brad Childress threw the playbook at Harvin. Coaches were impressed with Harvin’s ability to learn multiple positions quickly. Based on Brian Murphy’s Pi-Press article, it sounds like CP is a fast study, too.

That isn’t the label he had heading into the draft. If I had a $10 bill for each newspaper article or TV segment that characterized CP as “raw”, I’d be rich.

Harvin was traded to Seattle for Seattle’s first round and seventh round picks in last April’s draft and Seattle’s third rounder in next year’s draft. The Vikings turned Seattle’s first rounder into FSU cornerback Xavier Rhodes, a 6’2″ athlete with a 4.4 time in the forty. Meanwhile, Seattle put Harvin on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. If Harvin’s hip needs surjery, his season is likely over.

Most experts, including ESPN’s Bill Polian, Mark Schlereth and Tedy Bruschi, said the Vikings got the better of the trade long-term, with Seattle winning in the short-term. If Harvin doesn’t play this year, the Vikings will likely win the trade outright.

But I digress.

CP has some unique abilities:

Frazier said Patterson will get every chance to secure the kickoff return job. Unlike Percy Harvin, whose electrifying returns and the pounding he took on kickoffs sometimes kept him on the sideline during offensive possessions, Patterson’s size (6 feet 2, 220 pounds) should allow him to work double shifts.

CP is the type of dynamic playmaker that frightens defensive coordinators. His running skills are elite level. In fact, Polian said he didn’t consider CP a wideout, that he thought of CP as a running back. Watching some of his highlight videos, I’d wholeheartedly agree with Polian’s run-after-the-catch opinion. Being 6’2″ and 220 pounds and able to run a 4.4 forty is something that must be accounted for by defenses, too.

If CP learns the Vikings playbook quickly, as Brian Murphy’s article suggests, the Vikings offense could be frightening. The Vikings offensive line is solid, with Matt Kalil anchoring the unit. GM Greg Spielman added Greg Jennings and CP to a depleted receiving corps. Kyle Rudolph was last winter’s Pro Bowl MVP. And of course, the offense is built around Adrian Peterson, the seemingly bionic running back. If Christian Ponder continues to improve, the Vikings will challenge the Packers for the NFC North championship.

More on that in another post.

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When Mark Dayton ran for governor in 2010, he criticized Tom Horner’s cigarette tax increase proposal. He constantly talked about the need for making Minnesota’s tax system more progressive. Apparently, Gov. Dayton doesn’t have the same priorities as then-Candidate Dayton:

Dayton is now backing a cigarette tax increase from $1.23 per pack now to $2.52, more than he initially proposed. The money from the stocking tax would be diverted to a stadium reserve fund. Smoking will not be allowed at the new Vikings stadium, due to open in time for the 2016 season.

Earlier this year, Dayton proposed a cigarette tax hike of 94 cents a pack. In now backing a $1.29 per pack hike, he’s moving even further from his previous opposition to cigarette tax increases of any kind. When running for governor in 2010, he called cigarette tax hikes “money out of the pockets of working people and poorer people.”

Candidate Dayton was right. Sin taxes are regressive. The devil is in the details but I’m skeptical of this proposal being the solution to the Vikings stadium mess. This post highlights the fact that past cigarette tax increases produce revenue shortfalls. How will that solve the Vikings stadium problem?

Further, this literally means that Gov. Dayton is building a stadium for billionaires on the backs of the middle class and working poor. If it isn’t bad enough to have the middle class pay for a billionaire’s football stadium, which it is, if shrinking revenues isn’t bad enough, then here’s another thing that makes this terrible: This cigarette tax increase will increase black market sales of cigarettes while eliminating customers for convenience stores.

Forget about this not being a perfect solution to a big problem. Forget about this being a less-than-perfect solution to the Vikings stadium problem. This isn’t a solution to the Vikings stadium problem. What’s worst is that it doesn’t solve that problem while creating a problem for small businesses.

That’s the definition of terrible policymaking.