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Randall Cunningham talks first time to Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, ‘flattered’ Vikings GM long has admired him

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Minnesota Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Talks About The Team'S First-Round Draft Pick, Lewis Cine During A News Conference At Tco Performance Center In Eagan On Friday, April 29, 2022.
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When Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was growing up outside of Philadelphia in the late 1980s and early 1990s, his favorite player was Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham. In fact, Adofo-Mensah has said he provided the inspiration to become a football fan.

But it goes even deeper than that. Adolfo-Mensah, who was born in 1981, has said he admired Cunningham, who played for Philadelphia from 1985-95 and also for the Vikings from 1997-99, because he excelled at a time when there weren’t a lot of Black quarterbacks in the NFL. And he has given a nod to Cunningham in Adofo-Mensah’s road to earlier this year becoming the first Black general manager in Vikings history.

On Wednesday, Adofo-Mensah and Cunningham spoke for the first time. And the former quarterback was thrilled by it.

“That was a wonderful opportunity receiving a phone call from a person whom I influenced in my past at the age of about 7 years old,’’ Cunningham, now a pastor in Las Vegas, said Thursday in a phone interview. “The conversation with him was just so amazing.’’

“I LOVED WATCHING HIM ON SUNDAYS”

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah photographed on Friday, April 29, 2022. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Adofo-Mensah’s longtime respect for Cunningham became much better known when the Vikings put out a video in March that included an interview with Adofo-Mensah and clips of him coming into his office after having been hired in January.

Adofo-Mensah was shown being thrilled about a painting that had been done for him and hung on his office wall of Cunningham during his Vikings tenure. Adofo-Mensah, a native of the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill, N.J., talked about growing up following Cunningham.

“He was an incredible player, exciting, the ultimate weapon, won MVP (by the Pro Football Writers of America) in 1990,’’ Adofo-Mensah said in the video, which has been viewed about 11,000 times on YouTube. “I loved watching him on Sundays. It’s probably why I’m such a passionate football fan.’’

Adofo-Mensah then spoke in the video about Cunningham being a pioneer as a Black quarterback.

“That was a time where people used to call the radio station saying that, ‘You know, I don’t think Black people are smart enough to play quarterback,’’’ Adofo-Mensah said. “And you grow up in that environment. Thinking back, now that’s kind of odd.

“I found myself in a lot of rooms being the only one. That’s why I always kind of saw in Randall something that I sort of saw in myself. This person who was driving against convention, doing this great thing. Just connected to him in a lot of different ways.’’

Adofo-Mensah declined an interview request this week to talk about Cunningham and about returning to his home area when the Vikings play at Philadelphia on Monday night.

“IT’S JUST A BLESSING”

Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Randall Cunningham Throws A Pass In 1990.
Philadelphia quarterback Randall Cunningham in 1990. (Getty Images photo)

In an interview with the Pioneer Press on Aug. 14, Cunningham said he had heard about Adofo-Mensah admiring him when he was growing up but did not know many details about it. On Tuesday, the Pioneer Press sent Cunningham the video the Vikings put out in March and he watched it for the first time.

“After seeing the video, that was great,’’ said Cunningham, who said he does not follow sports that closely anymore and devotes most of his time to the church he founded in 2006, Remnant Ministries. “For him to talk about my life like that, that’s pretty amazing. I’m just basically flattered that somebody would even speak of me in that light. It’s just a blessing.”

Then on Wednesday, Cunningham heard from a Vikings public-relations official, who said Adofo-Mensah wanted to speak with him. Adofo-Mensah then called, and Cunningham said they had a “detailed” conversation.

“It was just mutual respect,” Cunningham said. “I think I probably did most of the talking. … I mentioned that painting that was in his office. My office looks just like that but it doesn’t have a Randall Cunningham picture in it.’’

Cunningham then joked that he should put a painting of Adofo-Mensah on his wall.

“YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN PEOPLE ARE WATCHING”

Former Nfl Quarterback Randall Cunningham Speaks To The Congregation From The Pulpit At Remnant Ministries In Las Vegas, Dec. 27, 2020. The Reality Of Cunningham'S First Season As Raiders Chaplain Has Been Plenty Different From The Hands-On Pastoring And Locker Room Camaraderie That Have Been Made Impossible This Season Because Of The Nfl'S Covid-19 Protocol. (Saeed Rahbaran/The New York Times)
Former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham speaks to the congregation from the pulpit at Remnant Ministries in Las Vegas, Dec. 27, 2020. (Saeed Rahbaran/The New York Times)

Cunningham has three sermons at his church on Sunday mornings and also has a Wednesday night service. Following his talk with Adofo-Mensah, he mentioned it later that day to his congregation.

“I used it as testimony where it’s like you never know when people are watching and we never know how much we influence people whether it’s good or bad,’’ Cunningham said. “And then (with Adofo-Mensah saying) how he grew up in New Jersey and how he just really saw someone that he could relate to and it allowed him to have hope, that’s kind of what part of life is about.

“I can’t say I completely influenced his life but I can tell you one thing. It’s something in me that he liked. It probably was God using me at that moment to talk to him.”

Randall Cunningham
Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback Randall Cunningham, left, with receiver Cris Carter, watches from the sideline during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions at the Metrodome in Minneapolis on Oct. 17, 1999. (Joe Rossi / Pioneer Press)

In addition to his stints with the Eagles and the Vikings, Cunningham played with Dallas in 2000 and Baltimore in 2001. He made four career Pro Bowls, three with Philadelphia and one with Minnesota in 1998. That season, when he helped lead the Vikings to a 15-1 record, he also earned his only career first-team All-Pro nod.

Following his talk with Adofo-Mensah, Cunningham wants to become more involved with the Vikings.

“He’s really a very wise young man and he’s someone I want to develop a relationship with as a fellow brother,’’ Cunningham said. “I mean, he’s GM of the Minnesota Vikings. He’s doing big things. … I do plan on getting to a game and getting back involved with the Vikings and just supporting them.’’

Cunningham won’t attend Monday’s game at Philadelphia but will be watching on television.

“That’s going to be an awesome game,’’ he said.

But as flattered as Cunningham has been to learn of his influence on Adofo-Mensah and as much as he enjoyed Wednesday’s conversation, there are limits to what he will do. Cunningham, who signed a one-day contract to retire with the Eagles in 2002, won’t be cheering for the Vikings on Monday.

“The thing is, I retired as a Philadelphia Eagle, so I would never turn my back on the Philadelphia Eagles,’’ he said. “I mean, that’s my roots, but I have respect for Minnesota. (Adofo-Mensah is) my Philly-Jersey brother.”

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Vikings bring back linebacker Ryan Connelly on practice squad

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Vikings Bring Back Linebacker Ryan Connelly On Practice Squad
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It was an eventful week for Ryan Connelly.

The Vikings on Thursday signed the linebacker to the practice squad. That came after Connelly, an Eden Prairie native, was activated off the physical unable to perform list Tuesday and then waived Wednesday. He rejoined the Vikings immediately after clearing waivers.

Connelly, in his fourth NFL season, first joined the Vikings in 2020 after being waived by the New York Giants. He got into 14 games in 2020 and 12 in 2021 for Minnesota before suffering a torn ACL last December.

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Youth is served: Heat’s Nikola Jovic still awaiting his . . . high school final exam

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Youth Is Served: Heat’s Nikola Jovic Still Awaiting His . . . High School Final Exam
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Nikola Jovic had the Miami Heat locker room abuzz after Thursday night’s 109-80 exhibition victory over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center, and for more than the first-round pick out of Serbia closing with 10 rebounds and five assists.

Instead, it was the reaction to what coach Erik Spoelstra had revealed moments earlier about the skilled 6-foot-10 19-year-old.

“He’s extremely unique,” Spoelstra said, before turning his attention to Friday night’s exhibition against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. “And he’s so young. To put it in perspective, he’s still waiting to do his final exam to graduate from high school, and doing that over Zoom.”

Wait? What?

That essentially was the reaction from teammates, once Spoelstra’s revelation circulated.

Backup center Dewayne Dedmon was taken aback, with the 33-year-old big man incredulous about a teammate young enough to have yet to complete high school.

Jovic: “I was supposed to finish it this summer.”

Dedmon: “Supposed to?”

Jovic: “I’m finishing.”

Dedmon: “So you not even graduated high school?”

Jovic: “I’m finishing it right now.”

Dedmon: “And you in the NBA?”

Jovic: “Yeah.”

Dedmon: “You know you can’t go from high school to the pros?”

Jovic: “You can do it from Europe.”

Dedmon: “Apparently.”

With that, head shaking, Dedmon headed for the team bus, leaving his Serbian teammate to explain.

“They were doing it when I was doing the draft workouts,” he said of his high-school finals while he was working in Miami ahead of the June draft, “so I didn’t have time, especially because of the time difference.”

There will, Jovic said, be a diploma.

“It’s not that hard,” he said of his lone remaining test. “I need to take it. I don’t have time to take it right now.”

But he has reason to make sure it is completed sooner rather than later.

“My mom,” he said, “she wants me to finish school.”

While the NBA draft rule is written with high school in mind, it actually requires a player to be at least 19 in his draft year. Jovic was born June 9, 2003.

“As soon as I get some time, I’ll do it,” he said, having been in Miami since August preparing for his inaugural NBA season after playing professionally in Europe, “as soon as I get in contact with my teachers and stuff. Like I said, the time difference.”

And there will be more.

“I”m really glad I’m finishing it now,” he said. “I’m looking forward to doing something else after this, some college or something.”

All of which made his comments about his first NBA road game all the more fascinating.

“In high school, I used to go home and watch some of those guys on TV or on YouTube,” he said, “and to play against them is different.”

As in this year in high school.

To Spoelstra, it is a whole new world with the lithe 205-pound No. 27 pick.

“We’ve had a lot of different developmental projects over the years,” he said. “He’s a little bit of a unique one. We haven’t had a European so young. But his skill set is unique. Because of his size, he’s really just starting his weight lifting program with us for the last six weeks. So we won’t even see the benefit of that until next summer.

“But his ability to handle, to shoot, to put the ball on the floor, he’s a really good passer. That’s probably, at this point, his best skill. And he’s developing all the rest of it.”

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N.D. man pleads guilty to murder charges in deliberate Minnesota crash that killed 2 teens

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N.d. Man Pleads Guilty To Murder Charges In Deliberate Minnesota Crash That Killed 2 Teens
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A Grand Forks, N.D., man pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree murder for the deaths of two teenagers in a head-on crash that occurred last year in northeastern Minnesota.

Valentin Mendoza IV, 21, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder in the third degree — perpetrating eminently dangerous act and evincing depraved mind. He used the Norgaard plea, which is used when the defendant has no recollection of the event.

Mendoza maintained not-guilty pleas for the four other charges: two counts of second-degree murder — with intent (not premediated), and two counts of criminal vehicular homicide — operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner.

If the plea agreement is accepted by the court, Mendoza will be sentenced to 180 months for one charge and 150 months for the other. He will serve the sentences consecutively, for a total of 330 months, or 27.5 years.

According to an affidavit in the case, around 3:08 p.m. June 17, 2021, the East Grand Forks Police Department was dispatched to a two-vehicle head-on collision. The crash occurred on Highway 220, about a mile north of Polk County Road 19 in Polk County, Minn.

Mendoza was located in a red 2004 Ford Ranger pickup with severe damage on the front driver’s side; the vehicle was tipped over onto the passenger’s side. Police noted the speedometer was locked at 75 miles per hour and the posted speed limit for that location is 45 miles per hour. Mendoza was transported to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks.

The other vehicle was a white 2007 GMC Envoy, which also had severe damage to the front driver’s side. The speedometer was locked at 65 miles per hour. Two male juveniles were identified; both were unresponsive and severely injured, according to the affidavit. The two boys were removed from the vehicle and transported to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks.

At the hospital, the Minnesota State Police spoke to Mendoza’s mother, who said Mendoza was bipolar and had a history of making “suicidal comments.” According to the affidavit, Mendoza’s mother received a call from his girlfriend that day, stating Mendoza sent her a Snapchat video at 3:05 p.m. In the video, Mendoza was driving and said he was going to take his own life.

After analyzing the scene of the collision, Minnesota state trooper Adam Rochlin determined the Envoy had been traveling southbound on Highway 220 and the pickup was traveling northbound at the time of the crash. The roadway was noted as straight and flat, marked with a yellow center line, dry and clear of defects or damage.

“There were no tire or brake marks near the point of impact of the collision,” the affidavit says. The pickup crossed the center line and struck the Envoy head-on.

On June 23, 2021, one of the juveniles died from his injuries after being removed from life support. On June 29, 2021, the other juvenile died from his injuries.

Mendoza’s sentencing is scheduled to take place at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14.

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Amy Klobuchar confirms she’ll see fourth Senate term in 2024

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Amy Klobuchar Confirms She’ll See Fourth Senate Term In 2024
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U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota’s senior senator, says she plans to seek a fourth term in two years.

A Klobuchar spokeswoman confirmed the Democrat’s intentions in a statement to the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis-based newspaper reported on Thursday.

“As the Senator has made clear, she loves her job serving the people of Minnesota and is planning on running for re-election,” spokeswoman Jane Meyer said in a statement, which followed a recent Politico article noting the large number of Democratic-held Senate seats on the ballot in 2024.

Klobuchar ran an unsuccessful campaign for president in 2020. With President Joe Biden planning to seek re-election in 2024, Klobuchar will back him, Meyer confirmed to the Minneapolis newspaper.

The 62-year-old senator was first elected to the Senate in 2006. A graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School, she previously served as the Hennepin County attorney.

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‘I’m coming back. Give me some time’: Ben Simmons, Nets preach patience after ugly loss to Heat

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‘I’m Coming Back. Give Me Some Time’: Ben Simmons, Nets Preach Patience After Ugly Loss To Heat
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As fans slowly filed out of the Barclays Center after the Nets’ second consecutive preseason blowout loss to an Eastern Conference playoff opponent — this time a 109-80 defeat to the Miami Heat after Monday’s 19-point thumping from the shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers — the in-arena DJ played an all-too familiar tune.

“Don’t worry. Be happy.”

It’s easy to worry after Thursday’s poor performance, a game two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant said he “didn’t like anything” about except the team leaving with no injured players. Poor defense and offensive miscues aside, Ben Simmons’ unwillingness to attack the basket underscored the Nets’ inability to take care of the basketball or generate quality offense against one of the NBA’s premier defenses.

Especially in a game both Kyrie Irving (paternity leave) and Joe Harris (sore ankle) watched from the sidelines.

Simmons, however, said there are some things he isn’t yet comfortable doing — like “getting to the rim, getting hit and hitting” other players — because he’s only a few months removed from offseason back surgery. He is confident, and so are his teammates and his head coach, about a  return to a more aggressive version of himself as he shakes off the rust associated with 480 days away from NBA basketball and works to get into a better place after getting a microdiscectomy to alleviate the pain stemming from the herniated disk he suffered after the trade to Brooklyn.

“It’s been a year,” Simmons said after posting four points, four assists and 10 rebounds to go with six turnovers on the night. “I’m coming back. Give me some time.”

Still, there were some plays that raised eyebrows more than others.

Simmons, for example, had a 10-inch height advantage on Heat guard Kyle Lowry and had the mismatch with a one-on-one on the high post. Instead of looking to power to the rim against the smaller opponent, he threw the ball back out to Durant on the perimeter.

When Durant immediately gave the ball back to Simmons — a sign for Simmons to take advantage of the mismatch and get to the rim — Simmons took one dribble towards the paint and shoveled a pass to Royce O’Neale on the opposite wing.

O’Neale, a capable marksman, missed the lightly contested three.

Then there were the back-to-back turnovers with just over two minutes to go in the first quarter.

Reserve lead guard Edmond Sumner threw an entry pass to Simmons, who posted up Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler on the baseline. Sumner then cut along the baseline behind Simmons to the rim, and Simmons floated a pass over his head under the basket.

The pass was tipped away and intercepted, leading to a Miami fast break.

On the very next possession, Simmons advanced the ball up the floor against second-year two-way signing Marcus Garrett. Markieff Morris screened Garrett at the three-point line and Simmons pushed within two feet of the foul line.

And then he flung a pass to O’Neale in the left wing. This time, Garrett was in position and made a play to get possession of the ball.

Some of Simmons’ passes were predictable because Simmons didn’t — and doesn’t — look to score often. Durant said the team “definitely” wants Simmons “to be more aggressive and look to score, especially if he’s got a small wing in the post,” and when he “has an advantage going downhill in transition.”

But he also knows how long of a layoff it’s been for Simmons and that Thursday only marked his second game back.

“I think he’s just finding his rhythm again. He hasn’t played in a long time, and to throw you back up in there with the game going fast?” Durant said. “You can play pickup all you want, but once you put someone in the game, all that stuff goes out the window.

“So, he’s getting his legs, (a) quick move here and he’s figuring it out. It’s only going to get better from here.”

Simmons admitted there needs to be more of a balance for when he looks to set his teammates up for shots versus when he looks to score on his own.

“Looking at the box score, I took three shots, which is definitely not enough,” he said. “Obviously offensively, I want to get to the post more, get some more touches down low, be more aggressive, get to the rim, get to the free throw line, which I didn’t do tonight.”

Nets head coach Steve Nash said he expects Simmons to grow in his aggression putting pressure on the rim. He also, rightfully, noted Irving and Harris’ absences put more pressure on Simmons to create by taking two floor spacers off the court.

“He’s gonna get more attempts. Right now obviously it’s a little clunky for us,” Nash said. “Ben will be fine. He’ll improve, he’s gonna get better every night, and he’s gonna be an engine for us and a big part of what we do. So I’m not really worried about him, but it is a process.

“He hasn’t played for a long time and he’s also assimilating to a new group. That takes time, it’s not gonna be perfect, and it probably won’t be any time soon. But if we can keep improving every day that’s all we ask for.”

Two preseason games isn’t full cause to be worried, but the Nets — other than glimpses of unrealized potential — haven’t given fans much to be happy about, either.

Durant finished with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor but showed some frustration when he accidentally threw the ball away attempting to get the ball to O’Neale, kicking off a Heat fast break and putting them on the line.

Nash warned things would look ugly early as the Nets adjust to both new rotations and new schemes, and ugly described their loss to the Heat on Thursday. It’s only preseason, but the same can be said for the two other Eastern Conference contenders who have blown the cap off the Barclays Center.

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JKSSB Final Selection List-cum-Allocation of Cadres & Departments for remaining Class-IV Posts

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Jkssb Selection List
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JKSSB Final Selection List-cum-Allocation of Cadres & Departments for remaining Class-IV Posts

JKSSB Final Selection List-cum-Allocation of Cadres & Departments for remaining Class-IV Posts under the provisions of the Jammu & Kashmir Appointment to Class-IV (Special Recruitment) Rules, 2020, advertised vide Notification No. 01 of 2020 dated 26.06.2020.

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