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John Shipley: Did Bashaud Breeland give Vikings fans the shaft?



John Shipley: Did Bashaud Breeland give Vikings fans the shaft?

It isn’t easy for an NFL team to overshadow its own last-second victory on a 54-yard field goal, but let’s not put anything past the 2021 Minnesota Vikings. It had already been a weird season, and it got weirder on Sunday.

What happened in the immediate wake of the Vikings’ 19-17 victory over the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium wasn’t necessarily more interesting than the game — the Vikings blew a 10-point lead in the final 3:17, then erased a one-point deficit in the final 37 seconds — but it was more curious.

First, quarterback Kirk Cousins got in the face of Mike Zimmer, grabbed him by the sweatshirt and shoved him so hard it seemed to take the head coach by surprise. Zimmer gave it right back.

Not much later, cornerback Bashaud Breeland used Twitter to tell Vikings fans they should shut the front door, a post that landed — according to screenshots — at 3:40 p.m., about 43 minutes after Greg Joseph drilled a 54-yard field goal to lift the Vikings past winless Detroit. The tweet was quickly deleted.

The video of the awkward exchange between Cousins and Zimmer circulating online was fascinating; the more one watched it, the odder it became. Why did Cousins punch his coach in the chest? Was Zimmer frowning? Why did that assistant pull Zimmer away?

Block or charge? Targeting or good, hard play?

Later, a different angle and closer shot seemed to reveal a smile on Zimmer’s face, and asked about it during Monday’s regular media session, the coach explained it was just Cousins “doing exactly what I want him to do.”

“He’s being a leader, he’s being vocal, he’s showing emotion,” Zimmer said. “I’ve been talking to him about it all year.”

He likened it to former quarterback Sam Bradford, who could make the often sedate Cousins seem ebullient, tackling him during an August 2017 preseason practice in Mankato.

“No different,” Zimmer said, “… because I was trying to get him to be the same thing. So you know, (Cousins) came over and said, ‘You like that?’ And kind of gave me a shove, and I shoved him back, and it was all good.”

So, no harm, no foul. Mystery solved. The Breeland incident isn’t so easily explained away. If you haven’t seen the since-deleted tweet, suffice to say that had you posted it, you would have been fired Monday morning.

Asked if Breeland would be disciplined, Zimmer said, “We’ll handle it.”

If the Vikings weren’t so thin at cornerback — Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Hand missed the Lions game while on the COVID-19 injured list — maybe they would release Breeland. A vulgar tweet insulting a team’s fans isn’t a good look for any team, but especially one trying to recover from a 1-3 start, and especially from a player who hasn’t been very good.

Breeland agreed to talk to reporters ahead of Sunday’s game last Friday and immediately was peppered with questions about his erratic play. At one point, he was asked bluntly whether he was embarrassed to be ranked the NFL’s worst cornerback by Pro Football Focus. He didn’t take it well and immediately indicated his displeasure with that question, and later with others.

“We need some better questions,” he said.

Zimmer said he thought Breeland played well on Sunday, and that the free agent acquisition’s unfortunate tweet was aimed at a specific reporter.

“I think if I was asked the question by that reporter that he was asked the other day, (about) being embarrassed and 103rd of PFF, I might go off on him too,” he said.

When it was suggested Breeland’s tweet was aimed at fans who booed the team on Sunday — he used the second-person plural — Zimmer disagreed.

“Yeah,” the coach said. “I don’t think it was.”

Unfortunately, many Vikings fans think it was. At any rate, can’t wait to see what’s next.

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Homicide investigation underway after man stabbed to death in Westminster home Monday



100-year-old Longmont man assaulted along Main Street has died

Jefferson County authorities are investigating a homicide after a man was found stabbed to death early Monday inside a Westminster home.

Sheriff’s deputies responded at 4 a.m. to the 10400 block of Ammons Street to reports of a break-in, and upon arrival found the unidentified man dead, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

A witness who lives at the house told police that “the male had forced entry into the home and was stabbed by another female resident during a physical altercation between the male and the witness,” authorities said in the release.

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Lionel Messi and Alexia Putellas win Ballon d’Or awards



Lionel Messi and Alexia Putellas win Ballon d’Or awards

PARIS — Lionel Messi won the men’s Ballon d’Or for a record-extending seventh time on Monday, ending the year in style after a brilliant final season with Barcelona and earning his first major international trophy with Argentina.

Alexia Putellas became the third winner of the women’s award for an outstanding season with Barcelona and Spain.

The 34-year-old Messi led Argentina to the Copa America title in July after losing in four major international finals.

“I’m very happy to be here, happy to keep fighting for new trophies,” he said through a translator. “I don’t know how many years I have left, but I hope many more. I’d like to thank all my (former) teammates at Barcelona and Argentina.”

Messi finished with 613 points to top prolific Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski on 580.

“I would like to say to Robert that it’s an honor to be your rival, and everyone would say you deserved to win it last year,” Messi said.

Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d’Or has been given out to men every year since 1956 when Stanley Matthews won.

Both 2020 awards were canceled because the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season.

The 33-year-old Lewandowski set a new single-season scoring record for the Bundesliga with 41 goals — one more than late Germany great Gerd Müller — when he scored in the last minute of the last game.

Lewandowski netted in 19 consecutive games in all competitions for Bayern from February to September and he just missed out on equaling the record of scoring in 16 Bundesliga games in a row. Overall, he already has 25 goals in 20 games for Bayern this season.

His 11 goals in 12 games for Poland this year took his international tally to 74 in 128 games, just six less than Messi.

Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho was third with 460 points after helping the London club win the Champions League and his nation win the European Championship. Real Madrid and France forward Karim Benzema was fourth on 239.

Putellas helped Barca win the treble and scored 26 goals in 42 games overall. The midfielder netted in the Champions League final against Chelsea, and in August she was named UEFA women’s player of the year.

“I’m very emotional, it’s a very special moment,” she said at the Paris ceremony through a translator. “I would like to start by thanking all my teammates, especially my current (Barcelona) teammates. For me it’s a collective success.”

The only previous women’s award winners are Norway striker Ada Hegerberg in 2018, and U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe in 2019.

Putellas tallied 186 points to finish far ahead of club and country teammate Jenni Hermoso on 84.

Hermoso netted 31 goals to top the Spanish first division scoring charts for a third straight season. Hermoso was joint-top scorer in the Champions League with Chelsea’s Fran Kirby on six goals.

Chelsea and Australia striker Sam Kerr placed third in the voting after 21 goals in the English Women’s Super League and six for Australia at the Tokyo Games. Kerr has maintained her excellent form with 13 goals in 12 games this season.

Messi, meanwhile, counts two more Ballon d’Or awards than longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who was sixth in the voting.

Messi’s staggering tally of 672 goals for Barcelona included an extraordinary 50-goal league season in 2012; 96 league goals across 2012 and 2013; eight Spanish league and six Champions League scoring titles.

In his final season with the Spanish giant he netted 38 overall, winning his last trophy with a superb performance in the Copa del Rey final. At the Copa America, Messi was inspirational, finishing joint-top scorer with four goals and leading with five assists.

Then he stunned the soccer world by joining Paris Saint-Germain.

He has made a modest start with four goals in nine games. But he remains a constant threat, even when he’s not in top form, as he showed on Sunday in a 3-1 win at Saint-Etienne where he set up all three goals.

In other awards, the Kopa Trophy for the best under 21 player went to 19-year-old Spain and Barcelona midfielder Pedri. He caught the eye at Euro 2020 and reached the Olympic final.

The Lev Yashin for best goalkeeper was won by Gianluigi Donnarumma, who helped Italy win the Euros.

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Editorial: Since Boebert seems incapable, we’ll apologize to Omar for her



Editorial: Since Boebert seems incapable, we’ll apologize to Omar for her

The Denver Post editorial board has mostly tried to ignore U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s antics because they add so little to the public discourse. Since the Western Slope representative was elected in November 2020, we’ve published two editorials about her. The first urged an investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and whether her words and actions helped former President Donald Trump spark the insurrection; the other editorial defended Boebert from sexist and elitist attacks targeting her on social media for her physical appearance and her lack of a college education.

But last week, Boebert crossed a line and now we must stand up for common decency. Boebert is intentionally using her platform to peddle a gross and false narrative about Muslim Americans. We cannot fathom what evil intent drives this behavior, but after first apologizing, Boebert now has made matters worse.

In a video that was circulated widely last week after being tweeted out by Patriot Takes — a group that describes its mission as “to research, monitor and expose the extremism and radicalization of the far-right across the darkest parts of the Internet” — Boebert told supporters a story about getting on an elevator and seeing a security guard rush toward her as the doors were closing:

“I look to my left and there she is: Ilhan Omar. And I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine,’” Boebert said in the video to cheers from the audience. “I looked over and I said, ‘Oh look, the jihad squad decided to show up for work today.’ ”

Making a joke about suicide bombers and suggesting that a congresswoman is a threat to safety and security because she is a Muslim is both racist and a form of religious bigotry. Boebert did apologize to “anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar,” and she pledged to call Omar directly, however, Boebert reported in a strange video on Monday that that phone call went poorly, and it’s no wonder given that she prefaces the conversation by once again raising the scepter of concern about Omar and threats to American security.

“Make no mistake. I will continue to fearlessly put America first. Never sympathizing with terrorists. Unfortunately, Ilhan can’t say the same thing, and our country is worse off for it,” she said.

Rep. Ilhan Omar deserved nothing short of a full apology. Instead, Boebert used the phone call as a publicity stunt and further insulted Omar. Boebert is clearly incapable of remorse or reflection, so as her fellow Coloradans — a beautiful place of tolerance and respect, diversity and freedom — we will help her.

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