Vikings Making Most of Bonus

Barely two weeks ago, the Minnesota Vikings seemed a good bet to miss the National Football League playoffs when they lost their regular season finale to the Washington Redskins, 27-24, in overtime.

The Vikings finished with an 8-7 record and went to sleep that night thinking they had probably lost the final National Football Conference wild-card spot to the St. Louis Cardinals, who needed only to beat the Dallas Cowboys the next day to make the playoffs.

"We were so down," Viking kicker Chuck Nelson recalled. "We thought we were out of it. When St. Louis lost the next day, it was like being resurrected."

Now, the Vikings need only to beat the Redskins Sunday in the NFC championship game to reach the Super Bowl.

If they somehow won the whole thing, wouldn't it be poetic justice to win with a team that came from nowhere after those powerhouse Viking teams of the late 1960s and 1970s lost a record four Super Bowls?

For What It's Worth: Counting playoff victories over the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers, the Viking regulars are 10-4 this season.

Last add Vikings: The current gag is that if the Vikings go on to win the Super Bowl, they'll be the third major sports team from Minneapolis to win a title in the last year.

The others are the Twins and the Lakers.

Tom Martin of the Hartford Whalers won't say he used it as his vehicle to the big leagues, but in 1983, Victoria of the Western Hockey League traded him to Seattle for a bus.

Said Martin: "As we speak, that bus could be taking old folks to Palm Springs."

Sure, Dennis Conner lost the America's Cup to the Australians in 1983, but don't expect it to happen against New Zealand this September or in 1991 against any other challenger.

John Marshall, who is coordinating design of the boat Conner will use in September, tells why:

"One of Dennis' basic rules is: 'Never race with equal equipment if you can avoid it.' "

Add America's Cup: Marshall also said there's no way the bad blood over New Zealand's unique challenge and Sail America's response to it will ruin the Cup competition.

Said Marshall: "You're talking about rich, powerful men, money and the pretty girl (the Cup) that everyone wants. The more controversy, the more money, the better it gets."

Since he waived Artis Gilmore on Christmas Eve, there has been speculation that General Manager Jerry Krause of the Chicago Bulls is interested in Bill Cartwright of the New York Knicks.

Krause isn't saying, but it should be noted that he was interested enough to watch the Knicks during a recent eastern scouting mission.

Said Krause: "Are we looking for a center? I think there are 18-20 teams looking for a center. If you don't have (Akeem) Olajuwon or (Patrick) Ewing, you're looking for a center."

Add Krause: His secretive approach to the game is nothing new to the press or fellow executives.

Said Knick General Manager Al Bianchi, who once worked with Krause for the Phoenix Suns: "Even when he was scouting for us, if you said, 'Jerry, where are you going?' he wouldn't say."


Pitcher Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets, on Jack Clark, who recently signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees, leaving the National League: "The way he hits me, he'd probably like to take me with him to the American League."

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