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Reflections on a year of tragic violence How to get away with murder!

One of my favorite TV programs this year is the hit show How to Get Away with Murder, the ABC drama series starring the talented Viola Davis. It’s incredible how art imitates life and life imitates art.
My social consciousness growing up as a child in Chicago during the turbulent ’60s and ’70s has been shaped by life and death: Medgar Evers, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Each one of them was murdered, and to this day I remember the effect it’s had on my level of trust in this country.

Each death grabbed me and sent my head spinning as a child while dreaming and trying to understand the message in each tragic loss. Being in the sports business, for me it’s always been about winning and losing.

But that’s all in the games that are played. Preparation, dedication, focus, and the bottom line in winning and losing places value in each game, win or lose.

2014 has been a year that’s been greatly shaped like no other year I can remember by social media and perception becoming reality: Michael Sam, Ray Rice, Tiger Woods, Adrian Peterson, Roger Goodell, Los Angeles Clippers, Jameis Winston, LeBron James back to Cleveland, New Year’s Day Final Four, Alabama vs. Ohio State, Oregon vs. Florida State, and now the NFL playoffs are coming.

Many, many others sports stories and stars grabbed the headlines in 2014, but those that I’ve mentioned all have paled in the shadow of Eric Garner’s death, choked to death in New York by a White police officer while gasping, “I can’t breathe.” Then there was Michael Brown shot six times in Ferguson, Missouri by another White police officer while holding his hands up over his head.
Two weeks ago I was compelled to do something, and I did my radio programs live from Ferguson, Missouri.

Andrew Hawkins was shot to death while holding an air gun inside a Walmart Store. Tamir Rice, 12 years old, was killed by Cleveland police while holding a toy gun. Last week, two New York police officers were brutally shot to death in New York. Thousands of protesters have marched and held demonstrations in the aftermath across the United States because not one of these deaths has led to an indictment by a grand jury of the police.

We have reached a point today that has now crossed the level of being just disturbed by what is happening. I have not lost faith. I pray that the title of this column, “How to get away with murder,” allows us, through our faith, to grow as a people and find a way to withstand what clearly we can’t understand.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

Ten of 12 playoff spots now clinched!

It’s been another lost season for the 6-9 Minnesota Vikings, who have broken many hearts over and over with their inability to consistently finish games. Sunday in Miami, the Vikings did it again on the road — start fast, jump out to a 14-0 lead, and find a way to lose again by two points, this time 37-35 to the Miami Dolphins.

Last week it was 16-14 at Detroit. It was Bud Grant who said many years ago, when he was head coach, good teams win close games and bad teams lose close games.
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he Vikings finish year one of the Mike Zimmer era Sunday at TCF Stadium against the 5-10 Chicago Bears. Sunday’s loser clinches last place — both the Vikings and Bears are well south of the 2015 playoffs.

However, with this the last week of the regular season, 10 of the 12 playoff spots have been locked up. In the NFC, Seattle, Arizona, Green Bay, Dallas and Detroit have all clinched playoff spots. Can you say “balance”? All five teams have identical 11-4 records.

The sixth and final NFC playoff spot will be decided embarrassingly by 6-8-1 Carolina vs. 6-9 Atlanta Sunday. The winner wins the NFC South and secures the final playoff spot. And believe it will host a playoff game the following weekend.

The AFC playoff picture, like the NFC’s, has one spot to be filled. 12-3 New England, 11-4 Denver, 10-5 Indianapolis, 10-4-1 Cincinnati and 10-5 Pittsburgh have all clinched. San Diego and Baltimore, both 9-6, and 8-7 Houston are fighting for one spot.
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The Bengals clinched a playoff spot for the fourth straight season for Marvin Lewis 37-28 over defending AFC Champion Denver Monday night. The Bengals travel to Pittsburgh Sunday. The winner wins the AFC North and the loser is a Wild Card.

The Packers host the Detroit Lions Sunday; both teams are 11-4. The winner wins the NFC North title and the loser is a Wild Card. The Lions have not won at Green Bay since 1991!

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

Vikes take positive steps to improve performance

Things are looking up for the Vikings with a billion-dollar domed stadium 35 percent completed in downtown Minneapolis that is expected to open for the 2016 season. Also, following a nightmarish year for superstar running back Adrian Peterson who missed 15 games in 2014, it appears the team, after allowing time to heal, will welcome Peterson back in 2015. Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf, having finally realized that long-distance ownership in many ways takes them out of the loop of many pressing day-to-day business operations, announced that they have promoted Kevin Warren to chief operating officer. “We are thrilled to promote Kevin to chief operating officer. We embrace the opportunity to promote individuals from within our organization and believe the continuity and stability is a positive reflection on our many talented and hard-working staff members.”
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Warren has been with the Vikings for 11 years now, and 17 years in the NFL. He’s been the team’s executive vice president of legal affairs and chief administrative officer. “Kevin’s leadership, acumen, passion and work ethic will continue to be a positive asset for the Vikings and this community,” Wilf said. Warren has worked with the Detroit Lions and the St. Louis Rams. He was with the team when they captured Super Bowl XXXIV 23-16 over the Tennessee Titans.

Since stadium legislation was passed in 2012, Warren has been instrumental in the design and construction process for the new Vikings stadium. Warren’s reputation and NFL experience were recognized when he was named a member of the NFL Committee on Workplace Diversity, which is committed to enhancing and promoting diversity at every level of the NFL. “I am energized and excited to continue to be a part of the Vikings organization and to lead our business operations moving forward,” said Warren. He has been actively involved in the Twin Cities community, particularly with child-related causes, since his move to Minnesota.
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In December of last year Warren and his wife Greta announced a personal donation of $1 million to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital to establish “Carolyn’s Comforts,” a children’s cancer emergency assistance fund named in honor of Warren’s late sister and designed to help families manage the difficulties that come with diagnoses of cancer. This is a good sign for the Vikings. They have a ways to go to get up to speed with both Green Bay and Detroit on the field, and this decision will certainly help the organization close that gap.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.