It’s less than four minutes long, which I guess is what happens when your team goes 3-9 and the coach gets canned.Read More
In about a week, Minnesota Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer has gone from seeing his name on a watch list for NFL head-coaching jobs published by a newspaper of note to seeing it on the wrong end of what could be career-killing allegations.
Priefer, a Naval Academy grad who reportedly flew helicopters as part of SEAL missions in the early 1990s, stands accused by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe of “using homophobic language in my presence” in a response to Kluwe’s outspoken support of gay rights — outspokenness that, the punter says, cost him his job last May.
Kluwe gave his side in an article he penned for the sports blog Deadspin, titled “I was an NFL Player Until I was Fired by Two Cowards and a Bigot.” Priefer’s labeled “The Bigot” in an image atop the piece. Published Thursday, it’s been read nearly 4 million times.
Kluwe offers multiple reasons for telling his story in this fashion and so long after his dismissal. One of them is fairly straightforward: “If there’s one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it’s to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL, and ideally never coaches at any level.”
Priefer’s response, which came hours after Kluwe’s article went up, was just as straightforward, reading in part: “I vehemently deny today’s allegations made by Chris Kluwe.” A Vikings response was also fairly clear, reading in part: “Any notion that Chris was released from our football team due to his stance on marriage equality is entirely inaccurate and inconsistent with team policy.”
The Vikings have begun an investigation into Kluwe’s claims and have not disciplined Priefer. They fired his boss, head coach Leslie Frazier, days before Kluwe’s claims went public. There are no indications that firing is related to this individual player transaction — it is much more likely to be related to the team’s last-place finish in the NFC North — but new coaches often mean new staffs, and it’s possible Priefer’s job could be in jeopardy regardless of how this incident plays out.
A number of Vikings players have come out in support of Priefer, including kicker Blair Walsh. Kluwe, in an interview with USA Today, said he has “multiple witnesses” to Priefer’s statements, but didn’t name them and said he has no recordings of any of the alleged conversations. No players have publicly confirmed Kluwe’s allegations.
Priefer graduated from the academy in 1989 after playing on the sprint football team. He earned a Navy Achievement Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal during his time in service, according to an alumni register published by the Naval Academy Alumni Association, and left as a lieutenant; personnel records were not immediately available.
He returned to Annapolis as an assistant coach in 1994, then made several more stops in the collegiate ranks before catching on with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a special teams assistant. He ran the special teams for the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos before taking the Vikings job in 2011. Much of the press he’d earned as an NFL assistant coach centered on his Navy experience.Read More
A winter wonderland became a frigid mess. A defensive struggle became a rout. A packed stadium became a ghost town long before the final gun.
And an 11-game win streak became a dirty dozen.
Behind three touchdown runs from quarterback Keenan Reynolds — the first tying the NCAA single-season record for QBs at 27, the last setting a new record at 29 — the Navy Midshipmen used a punishing ground game to hand the Army Black Knights a 34-7 loss Saturday at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field.
Navy hasn’t lost to Army since 2001 and now leads the all-time series 58-49-7. Reynolds, a sophomore, led the Mids to victory with a 30-carry, 136-yard performance. He also threw seven passes, completing two, for 10 yards; Army’s Angel Santiago added 50 yards in the air on a windy, cold afternoon — the lowest passing total all season in top-tier college football.
The Midshipmen (8-4) rattled off 17 straight points in the first half, with second-quarter touchdown runs by Noah Copeland and Reynolds breaking what had been a defensive stalemate. Freshman Brendon Clements did the damage on defense for Navy, forcing a fumble in the early going and snaring the game’s only interception.
Navy’s defense cracked only once, as Santiago led the Black Knights (3-9) on a third-quarter scoring drive keyed by a 29-yard pass to freshman Xavier Moss, who had all five of Army’s catches on the day. Santiago looked for Moss on the next play but couldn’t find him, instead scrambling for a 4-yard touchdown.
Down just two scores with about six minutes to play in the third quarter, Army needed a quick stop to capitalize on its momentum. Instead, Reynolds led Navy on an 11-play, 51-yard march that ate up almost the entire quarter and ended with Nick Sloan’s second field goal of the day, a 34-yarder that made it 20-7.
The Black Knights failed on a fourth-down conversion on their next drive and never got any closer. As snow turned into freezing rain and fans began bailing out, Reynolds capped off his Most Valuable Player performance with two more touchdown runs — an 11-yard scamper with 6:22 left to play (he caught a two-point conversion pass from Brendan Dudeck on a trick play afterward) and a 1-yard plunge on fourth down with 46 seconds left.
A minor scuffle broke out in the end zone after the last score, and the remaining Army fans were less than pleased with Navy’s scoring drive, which included Dudeck considering another pass attempt on another trick play with the game well in hand. Sloan missed the extra point.
Junior Terry Baggett led the Black Knights with 41 yards rushing, followed by Santiago’s 40. Navy outgained Army 353-207 and benefited from 50 yards in Army penalties.
Navy will wrap up its season by facing Middle Tennessee State in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 30. Army heads home for the year; head coach Rich Ellerson is now 0-5 against the Mids, and Saturday’s loss was the worst during his tenure.
The series moves to Baltimore next year before returning to Philadelphia in 2015.Read More
Army quarterback Angel Santiago didn’t start the game, but he’s hoping to create an improbable finish.
The junior hit freshman Xavier Moss with a 29-yard strike about midway through the third quarter, then followed it with a 4-yard scoring run to give the Black Knights life.
Navy answered with a clock-eating 11-play drive and a 34-yard Nick Sloan field goal to make it 20-7 at the end of three quarters.
If Santiago and Army continue to put the ball in the air, Navy may need some more heroics from freshman cornerback Brendon Clements, who has already forced a fumble and snared an interception.
Passing remains a novelty for both sides: Santiago had five completions on nine attempts for 50 yards after three quarters, while Navy’s Keenan Reynolds was 2-for-6 for 10 yards.Read More
Army stumbles. Navy capitalizes. Mix in snow. Repeat.
A simple formula, sure, but the Arctic conditions and stingy defenses in Philadelphia are keeping both the Black Knights and Mids from doing anything too complicated.
In the first quarter, Navy followed an Army fumble with Quinton Singleton’s 58-yard run, setting up a field goal.
In the second, Navy followed an Army personal-foul penalty with a 39-yard touchdown run by Noah Copeland, leading to a 10-0 lead.
Later, the Army offense stalled and forced the Black Knights to punt from deep within their own territory. The next play, quarterback Keenan Reynolds watched his blockers cut a perfect, snow-covered running lane through the Lincoln Financial Field turf, giving him room for a 47-yard touchdown scamper; he’s one more rushing TD away from breaking the NCAA record.
That made it 17-0. And with Army’s offense showing few signs of life and the weather showing no signs of improvement, more than a few fans have left their seats — and may not return for the second half.
About that Army bright spot: That’d be the picture above, taken in happier times for fans of the Black Knights — 17 points and one snowstorm ago. That’s Army senior Colin Joy proposing to his girlfriend, Nicole Veroline. She said yes.Read More
A heavy wind, some snow and a pair of tough defenses added up to make the first quarter of Saturday’s Army-Navy game practically offense-free.
Except one play.
Following a fumble from Army quarterback A.J. Schurr caused by Navy’s Brendon Clements, Midshipman Quinton Singleton took a handoff up the middle and looked up to see … nothing. Navy blockers cleared out the middle of the Black Knights front, and 58 yards later, only Chris Carnegie’s last-grasp tackle stopped a Navy touchdown.
Army’s defense snapped back, and Navy’s offense faltered at the goal line, leaving Nick Sloan to kick a 20-yard field goal and give the Mids a 3-0 lead.
Army’s driving to start the second, with Angel Santiago taking over for Schurr under center.
March-ons are complete (check back soon for more photos). Cadets and mids are in their respective corners. The predicted “wintry mix” hasn’t shown up, replaced instead by on-again, off-again light snow.
The hype is over. Well, almost — here’s the Navy’s top officer, Adm. Jon Greenert, offering his perspective from Philadelphia.
OK, now the hype is over. Three quick hits as Army and Navy fans settle in:
1. In case of pass, break glass: The Mids and Black Knights finished near the top of major-college football when it comes to the ground game thanks to their use of run-heavy triple option offenses. But if the game stays close, and it often does, the first team to successfully break from the script may have the edge. Navy fans may remember Brandon Turner’s game-changing 49-yard catch last year. Army fans may rather forget it.
The Black Knights could have the edge if the game goes aerial: Freshman Xavier Moss leads both teams with 30 receptions for 418 yards this season. The former Texas track star (state runner-up in the 800 meters) has nearly double the yards of Navy starting wideouts Shawn Lynch (five catches, 75 yards) and Casey Bolena (13, 164) put together. He only has one touchdown, but it was a big one: A 75-yard bomb during an early-October loss to Boston College.
Unlike some other freshmen, Moss has some familiarity with the rivalry — his grandfather served in the Navy.
2. Facts and figures: Navy is 41-20 under head coach Ken Niumatalolo when outrushing its opponent. … Reynolds broke an NCAA quarterback record with seven touchdown runs in a 58-52 win over San Jose State, but Army sophomore signal-caller A.J. Schurr wasn’t too far off in the Black Knights’ loss at Hawaii late last month, piling up four rushing scores. … According to the Navy press guide, this is the first time the Mids have faced off with the Black Knights during final exams.
3. Defense can’t rest: Reynolds gets the headlines for Navy, but it’ll be up to the Mids’ defensive leaders to stop running back Terry Baggett and the rest of the Black Knights’ option attack.
The option brings a special brand of headache to inside linebackers, who must cut through the misdirection and either engage a bruising fullback or sprint toward the sideline to meet a halfback trying to turn the corner. Good news for Navy fans: The Mids’ middle contains seniors Cody Peterson and DJ Sargenti, first and second on the team in tackles, respectively. Sargenti’s got a team-best six tackles-for-loss, and Peterson’s 124 stops are more than double any Black Knight on Army’s roster.
Follow us here during the game for the latest updates, including photos, from Philadelphia.Read More
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert has a game-day message. (Meghann Myers / Staff)
Your spirit spot made quite a splash this year. Whose idea was that?
Well, my public affairs officer, [Capt.] Danny Hernandez, thought, “Hey, maybe we could do this.” The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy happens to be Mike. I thought it was a cute video, and Geico thought it was OK, so we did it.
Really, kudos go out to Chief Julianne Metzger and Chief Peter Lawler — they were the videographers. They took all of that and made that a 35-second spot that came together.
What are some of your favorite pregame rituals?
Getting up and kind of thinking about it, watching the pregame show. I always have oatmeal with a special sauce every Army-Navy game. It reminds me of back at the academy.
The Midshipmen went 2-2 back when you were at the academy. What are some of your favorite memories from those games?
Well, the first memory was plebe year. We came all the way back and I thought for sure we were going to win, and we lost in the last minute. And as a plebe, you know, you gotta kind of jog around, and I thought, “Oh, man.”
If you win, all that gets released. You get what’s called carry-on. You can walk, you don’t have to “square corners,” as they say. Life is just better. In the blink of an eye, that went away.*
It was really cold, kind of like today. And it rained a lot, at the end. However, senior year we won by a huge amount. I think it was 51-0 [Editor's note: It was actually 19-0, the 51-0 win came the year before ], if I remember. It was a huge amount. So those are the two memories. They’re bookends.
So who’s going to win today, and what’s your point prediction?
Navy will win today. Navy will win today because of turnovers. I think my point prediction — I think it will be more score than usual, like a 35-31 kind of a thing. That’d be my view.
The academy’s had some bad press this year. What does an event like this do to lift spirits?
Well, no matter what the year is like, this is Army-Navy. This is heritage, tradition, bringing everybody — not just the school together, they’re the Navy’s team as well. So regardless of the year. Good year, bad year. And I think the academy’s had a good year overall.
*Check out www.usna-parents.org for more on what happens to the plebes when Navy loses.Read More