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Bloody and bruising, Gophers tight end Ko Kieft is the poster boy for ‘the attitude of this team’



Bloody and bruising, Gophers tight end Ko Kieft is the poster boy for ‘the attitude of this team’

Soon after Ko Kieft had eight knockdown blocks of Colorado defenders in the Gophers’ dominating 30-0 victory Saturday, the U tight end tweeted out a startling selfie. It showed blood dripping from his nose, running down his face and into his thick beard.

The photo was presumed to have been taken after a shower in the visiting locker room at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo., but it actually originated from a training camp practice in Minnesota in August. “It’s a picture, I think, all the guys kind of have and float around to each other, which is even better,” quarterback Tanner Morgan said.

For U players, that photo has become part inside joke, part homage to the way the sixth-year, primarily-blocking tight end goes about his business. “It’s just a mindset or a mentality kind of joke,” Morgan added. “This is the reality of who Ko is. The way that he plays the game of football, and over time you see it, it kind of makes you laugh. It’s who Ko is, but even in the practice when his nose was bleeding. He was still doing his thing, or in the game, when he gets a bloody nose or whatever it is. It’s no excuses. He is always going, playing … at 100 percent. Full tilt. It’s a pretty elite picture, I think.”

Gophers tight end Ko Kieft tweeted out a photo of his bloody nose after a preseason practice in August. (Courtesy of Ko Kieft)

Kieft has tallied 23 knockdown blocks through three games this season, according to the U. He had a season-high nine pancakes against Ohio State in the season opener, including one that got the attention of former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz.

“Good googly moogly Minnesota’s TE with an amazing pancake!!!!!!,” tweeted Schwartz, who played six years in the NFL, including 2012 with the Vikings. Schwartz included two wide-eyed emojis with a clip of Kieft driving a Buckeye backwards and sideways before throttling him into the turf.

Kieft, who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, has begun to turn heads in the NFL draft community. Ryan Roberts of tweeted: “Ko Kieft … might be the best blocking tight end in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Dude can overwhelm at the (point of attack).”

Kieft has a degree in kinesiology and is working on a masters in sports and exercise science, with a goal to be a strength coach someday. The last part might have to wait.

“I think he’s going to play in the NFL,” Fleck said on his KFAN radio show Tuesday. “People forget — you don’t have to go out there and catch 50 balls to do that. There is NFL teams looking for people that can do what he does. That’s literally put people on their backs over and over and over.”

Kieft has only six career receptions for 69 yards and one touchdown. His only catch this season came against the Buffaloes, a nifty 4-yard reception that went for a first down.

Kieft’s nosebleeds aren’t necessarily from contact on the field; he has a history of them due to his deviated septum. But they sure do look tough and fit in alongside his roommate, former U linebacker turned mixed martial arts fighter Bailey Schoenfelder, who is 2-0 in his nascent cage-fighting career.

Kieft feels rule and style changes have taken out some of the physical elements of the game, but he wants to keep that tough edge around. “(I) really try to bring that into my game, especially in run blocking,” he said. “It’s something that I enjoy, and it helps our offense a lot.”

The Gophers are 24th in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 218 yards per game. They have kept plugging along after losing Big Ten running back of the year Mo Ibrahim to injury during the season opener. Minnesota will use seven or eight offensive linemen on a play and have had a O-lineman line up at fullback for an even bigger jumbo rushing package.

“He is really the attitude of this team,” Fleck said. “That is what you want to be able to have, put the ball down and let’s go. Ko Kieft is somebody who directly reflects it.”

Kieft’s catch against the Buffaloes came on second and 4 in the third quarter, he caught a pass after three yards and cut it upfield for the first down. It’s part of Kieft’s goal to be more of a “complete tight end” this season.

“Way more difficult than it looks,” Morgan shared. And the grab gave Kieft confidence, with Fleck sharing Kieft’s response: “He said, ‘Keep throwing me the ball.’ ” That could happen more this season, but Kieft’s real value is his dominating run blocking.

Morgan described Kieft succinctly after the Ohio State game: “Violent. I mean, he’s violent. He’s a guy that loves to play football.”

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Sunday Bulletin Board: Did she really say she’d bought some Yogi Bear stamps? Or was that her husband’s Boo Boo?



Sunday Bulletin Board: Did she really say she’d bought some Yogi Bear stamps? Or was that her husband’s Boo Boo?

Come again?

Another episode of creative hearing, reported by The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Not smarter than . . .

“After her trip to the post office, my wife informed me: ‘I bought some Yogi Bear stamps.’

“I replied ‘That’s nice’ and looked forward to seeing the cartoon character (and possibly Boo Boo) the next time I needed postage.

“The need arose a few days later, and as I located the stamps — much to my surprise — there was Lawrence Peter Berra in his Yankee pinstripes.

“As Yogi would say . . .”

BULLETIN BOARD YOGIFIES: Hey, hey, hey, Boo Boo! Nobody goes to the post office anymore. It’s too crowded!

Gee, our old La Salle ran great!

eBay Division

GREGORY J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Subject: Remember the Embers.

“Once again I bought something interesting, at least to me, on eBay. It was a laminated Embers menu from around 1970, when I, my family, and friends used to eat there quite often. The front was fake wood grain with just ‘Embers’ in script on it.

“Inside was the slogan ‘Remember the Embers for real good food.’ It was catchy if not exactly grammatically correct. A variation of this on the back cover read ‘Welcome to the Embers for real good food.’ [Bulletin Board muses: Put a comma between “real” and “good,” and you’d have what Embers could offer. Even Embers’ ad agency might have found fault with “really good food.”]

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“If a picture is worth a thousand words, the Embers menu made up for its minimal food descriptions with plenty of photos.

“Embers offered Steak, Fish, Seafood and Chicken Dinners, not to mention Steak and Seafood Sandwiches, Diet Delights, Franks and Country Ham sandwiches. (For some reason, all of the Franks were called ‘Mr. K,’ and the Country Ham sandwiches, ‘Mr. B,’ with multiple versions of each.)

“Of course Embers was best known for its Embergers and Jumbo Embergers. They both came in standard, with Melted Cheese, California Style, Royal, Combo and Royal Combo versions, which featured various combinations of lettuce, cheese, bacon strips and fries. A Jumbo Royal Combo cost $2.55, while the standard Emberger was only 95 cents.

“No meal was complete without dessert, for which coupons could be found almost constantly in the local newspapers. The most popular dessert was pie. There were apple, blueberry, strawberry and pecan fruit pies, with or without ice cream, and banana coconut, strawberry, apple, blueberry and hot fudge cream pies. All pies cost 65 or 75 cents.

“Embers was great in its heyday, but it started to slowly fade away in the 1980s. An attempt to bring it back to its former glory took place in the late 1990s, with limited success. The final Embers, located in Fridley, closed in March 2021 . . . but we’ll always ‘Remember the Embers.’

“P.S. These are probably way too many photos to use, but a scanner is a terrible thing to waste.”

MIKE: USE WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. ALL OF THEM, IF YOU HAVE A BIG SPACE! Fine with me if they dominate the page and you have to trim a bunch of other stuff. MAN, I HOPE YOU HAVE COLOR THIS SUNDAY.

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Life (and death) as we know it

Irish Division

JOHN IN HIGHLAND: “Subject: ‘It’s Time You Were Learning the Miner’s Job.’

“Those of us of Irish descent have heard stories of our forebears who fled the potato famine in the mid-1800s and came to America. In large U.S. cities, many of the men became policemen. Many others became coal miners. Recently I became aware of a song written by Ewan MacColl, ‘Schoolday’s Over,’ that describes a collier’s (coal miner’s) life.

“My great-grandfather, Cornelius (Con), left Killimor, County Tipperary, Ireland for the U.S. in 1848 at age 22. Con settled in St. Paul, where he met and married an Irish girl named Margaret Cregan. They lived in St. Paul in the 1850s, at Sixth and Minnesota Streets. Reports of newly discovered coal veins and need for laborers caused them to eventually relocate to Streator, Illinois.

“Con worked as a miner in the ‘Peanut Hill’ coal mine in Streator. He was described as a man well educated and thoroughly posted in historical events. According to the local newspaper, few men read more or were better versed on passing events. His family included eight children, five boys and three girls.

“In the spring of 1878, thunderstorms caused the Coal Run creek to overflow its banks, flooding the mine. Most of the 75 miners were able to escape the torrent, but Con delayed, trying to find his son, who had already escaped through an air shaft. Con was swept away. His body was not found until weeks later.

“My grandfather, John, was born on the night before Con died. As the Irish are known to say: ‘Sooner or later, life will break your heart.’”

Our pets, ourselves (responsorial)

Leading to: Out of the mouths of babes (Great Comebacks Division)

SMILIN’ SUE “Subject: Smart Animals and Smart Kids.

“BILL OF THE RIVER LAKE mentioned a smart dog which seemed to be a talented back-seat driver, looking both ways at an intersection while waiting for the traffic to clear [Sunday BB, 10/17/2021].

“This reminded me of another smart-animal story. My 8-year-old granddaughter, Little Miss LL, is a keen observer who enjoys viewing the street out of my front picture window. A week ago, we were highly amused by a big, black crow which strutted smartly across the street while looking both ways many times during its safe trip from curb to curb. That same day as we were driving through our small-town college campus, a student totally engrossed with texting stepped into oncoming traffic without even looking up. Little Miss LL commented that maybe the crow could teach the college student how to safely cross the street.”

The verbing of America

DONALD reports: “Brian Williams used this one twice in the same week: ‘The Democrats have been Charlie-Browned by the Republicans.’”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We presume that Mr. Williams was referring to poor Charlie’s belief that, contrary to all experience, Lucy Van Pelt wouldn’t pull back the football just before he could kick it.

So haven’t the Democrats been Van Pelted?

This ’n’ that

From AL B of Hartland: (1) “I hiked in Colorado and heard the sounds of Canada jays (also called gray jays, whiskey jacks and camp robbers). I placed a bit of fiber bar on my palm, and a jay landed on my paw and grabbed the morsel.

“I’d offered a helping hand to another and was thrilled at what I’d received in return.”

(2) “It’s OK to feed uncooked rice to birds. A myth was promulgated by advice columnist Ann Landers in 1988 when she published a letter from a reader warning against the practice of throwing rice at weddings. Internet stories warned of birds exploding after eating rice.

“Many birds eat uncooked rice in the wild. Bobolinks are called ‘rice birds’ because of their appetite for the grain.

“Rice is fine for birds, but some wedding parties throw birdseed instead.”

Then & Now

Including: Fifteen Nanoseconds of Fame


“Back in the Fifties, when we lived in our cottage at Lake Minnetonka, the night skies were so dark, they were perfect for star gazing, and we spent many hours watching the skies during meteor showers. We splurged and bought a 60-power telescope and enjoyed seeing the craters on the moon, the rings of Saturn and four of Jupiter’s moons. My kids all grew up with an interest in ‘what’s up there.’

“So when I received a photo from Down Under of my oldest grandson crouching down in their chilly early-spring evening with his almost-5-year-old son as they watched a satellite streaking across their sky, it brought back memories of a morning long ago.

“It was 64 years ago this October when Sputnik made its surprise appearance soaring across our sky. The breaking news was astounding. They gave us timetables to tell us when we might be able to see it. I bundled up our two little kids and went outside before sunrise that chilly morning to catch a glimpse of it. It didn’t matter that our son was only 3 and our daughter 19 months; this was History, and they were going to know someday that they had seen Earth’s first artificial satellite. My husband was already on duty at the broadcasting station when I called him up to boast. He called me back a few minutes later and said he had a radio announcer on the line. They wanted to interview me, with the first reported local sighting. Ahh, fame.”

Band Name of the Day: The Camp Robbers

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Prince William and Kate Are Taking a Family Staycation With Their Children



Prince William and Kate Are Taking a Family Staycation With Their Children
Prince William and Kate Middleton are taking a break from royal duties this week.

Ever since Prince William and Kate Middleton returned to London from their summer vacation, they’ve kept busy with official work engagements. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are likely going to lighten up their workload this week, though, so they can spend time with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis during their children’s half-term break from school.

The three Cambridge kids’ half-term break started on Thursday, October 21 and continues through Friday, October 29. Prince George and Princess Charlotte both attend Thomas’s Battersea, while Prince Louis is now enrolled at Willcocks Nursery School; both of the schools are located just a short ways away from Kensington Palace, the Cambridges’ official London residence.

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The three Cambridge children are now on half-term break from school. Matt Porteous/The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge/Kensington Palace via Getty Images

The family was spotted at Heathrow airport over the weekend, but if they end up staying more local, Prince William and Duchess Kate often take George, Charlotte and Louis to Anmer Hall, the family’s Norfolk country home, during school vacations. While it’s not certain where the Cambridges will spend the week, it’s possible they’ll travel to the 10-bedroom Sandringham estate for a short getaway from the city.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge reportedly feel most at home when they’re at Anmer Hall, and can give their children a sense of normalcy. The family stays low-key and casual while at the Norfolk estate, and make sure to spend plenty of time outside in their truly palatial backyard.

It’s a true nature atmosphere; the family even has a chicken coop on the ground, and Duchess Kate takes George, Charlotte and Louis to collect eggs every morning. Over the summer, the Duchess of Cambridge also revealed that she has a beehive at Anmer Hall, when she brought local schoolchildren homemade honey from the hive in June.

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The family often spends school breaks at Anmer Hall, their country home in Norfolk. Comic Relief/BBC Children in Need/Comic Relief via Getty Images

There is, however, a chance the Cambridges will travel just a bit further away, especially after the airport spotting. Last October they headed to the Isles of Scilly during the half-term break; it’s the same locale where they enjoyed a secret family getaway over the summer.

Prince William and Kate are surely looking forward to a more relaxed week, as they’ve both kept up hectic schedules as of late, including the recent inaugural annual Earthshot Prize ceremony. They also already have a trip outside of London coming up at the beginning of November, as they’re both expected to travel to Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, along with other senior members of the royal family.

Prince William and Kate Are Taking a Family Staycation With Their Children

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New indoor golf simulator facility in RiNo rolls out the green carpet



New indoor golf simulator facility in RiNo rolls out the green carpet

Winter is coming.

But that’s all the more reason Kyle McGee wanted to get his second Denver indoor golf facility open this week. Golfers will need a place to keep playing when the fairways go dormant and the greens freeze over.

“With the boom in golf, there’s no shortage of golfers. But there is a shortage of tee times,” said McGee, who opened Optimum Golf in North Park Hill in 2019.

He is getting ready to open a second location in RiNo at 3563 Walnut St. Tuesday.

McGee first opened Optimum Golf at 5059 E. 38th Ave. with his business partners Brad Alston and Mike Tomasi.

The original location features six simulator bays, which McGee said are usually booked out one to two weeks in advance, a putting green and a retail area. There’s no bar.

“I understand that a lot of people like to drink while they play golf. But when you go to the course in a traditional setting, they happen to have a bar,” McGee said. “We’re golf professionals, teaching professionals and business professionals, and I see this like a golf course.”

Optimum Golf rents simulator bays out for $15 for 30 minutes or $30 for an hour. McGee and Alston, both members of the Professional Golf Association, also offer private lessons starting at $150. Lessons with the four other certified golf coaches start at $100. Tomasi is a club fitter and builder in the retail area. The indoor golf club has 250 students at its original location.

McGee, 42, began golfing at 26 years old.

“I used to play hockey, got hurt and couldn’t play, so my buddy suggested we go to the driving range,” McGee said. “I hit one good 3-iron, and took my entire hockey bag the next day and swapped it for a golf bag and driver. One swing, and I was hooked.”

Lily O’Neill, BusinessDen

Optimum Golf is opening its second Denver location this week.

So, he began working in food and beverage at golf courses to play golf. He was the tournament director and event coordinator at Park Hill Golf Course for seven years, where he met Tomasi, who ran the course’s own indoor golf simulator, and Alston, who ran the PGA Learning Center.

After getting into the PGA program, McGee was an assistant professional at Overland, as well as a sales rep for a couple of different golf club companies.

Andrew Feinstein, CEO of EXDO Development Group, owns the 3,500-square-foot space Optimum Golf RiNo will open in across the street from Reelworks, previously known as EXDO Event Center. After taking lessons at the North Park Hill location with McGee for a year, he noticed the increasing demand and offered up the additional space for lease.

MADEwkshp previously occupied the RiNo space before it exited for its now-closed location in LoHi at 2900 Zuni St.

“As both a student and landlord, I am thrilled to have Optimum Golf in RiNo,” Feinstein said. “We have 2,500 units either just completed or under construction within walking distance, and almost 1.5 million square feet of new office building either here or on its way. Where are they going to go play golf and get their lessons in? Right here.”

Optimum Golf RiNo features five Uneekor golf simulators, a putting green simulator and a retail shop with wedges, golf balls, gloves, hats, bags and other apparel. Rental prices are the same across both locations.

“These simulators are specifically designed to be used in an indoor setting,” McGee said. “They’re infrared and photometric. Basically, because the sensor unit is above you and in front of you, it doesn’t make any mistakes in regard to ball-tracking. It takes images and uses infrared information, so every time you take a swing you can look back at the monitor and it will show you stop motion photos of your golf club coming through impact from the front of it.”

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