Minnesota Vikings. The Saints would become the new best team in the NFC, but they aren't the favorite to reach the Super Bowl. That would be the Vikings, out of circumstance. Even with Foles at quarterback, the Eagles have enough of a lead that they ought to squeak out a first-round bye -- and maybe even the No. 1 seed. The Vikings have both the Bengals and Bears left
on their schedule and should secure a bye. Likely needing one fewer postseason win than the Saints, Rams or Seahawks to reach the Super Bowl, the Vikings are the favorite to represent the [url=http://www.officialbasketballkingstore.com/Oscar_Robertson_Jersey]Authentic Oscar Robertson Jersey[/url] NFC. And though they might be a hair worse than New Orleans, let's not overlook the Vikings' ability after Sunday's road loss. Entering Week 14, Case Keenum was the Total QBR leader among healthy quarterbacks, and Minnesota had the fifth-best defense in the league, per FPI.
Field Yates, NFL Insider: Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota has shown a resilience -- despite the Week 14 result -- throughout the season that is difficult to ignore. The Vikings' offensive line has been dramatically improved this year and if it gets back to full health down the stretch should further fortify the running game. I also still believe Philadelphia has a strong enough roster to make a deep postseason run.
This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Dec. 25 'Tis The Season Issue. Subscribe today! ON THE MORNING of Sept. 26, more than two dozen Adidas employees gathered inside a gym at the University of Louisville. They had flown in from as far away as Europe -- marketers and athletic performance specialists, top designers from Adidas' secretive Brooklyn Creator Farm. They [url=http://www.authenticmetshop.com/authentic-30-nolan-ryan-jersey.html]Authentic Nolan Ryan Jersey[/url] were participating in a weeklong workshop to imagine gear, products and advertising built around Louisville's most valuable commodity: the men's basketball team.
The exercise was meant to simulate the vision behind a $160 million partnership between [url=http://www.officialshopknights.com/authentic-adidas-84-mikhail-grabovski-jersey]http://www.officialshopknights.com/authentic-adidas-84-mikhail-grabovski-jersey[/url] Adidas and Louisville, which had been announced the previous month. One of the largest all-school sponsorship agreements in Adidas' history, it was much more than a shoe deal. In internal strategy documents, Louisville vowed to "write the next chapter for college athletics, for streetwear and fashion." Adidas, a $7.9 billion corporation, would have access not only to the university's amateur athletes but also to the business, law and music schools to help create and market new products.
As the participants prepared for Day 2, Julianne Waldron, Louisville's associate athletic director of marketing and an architect of the deal, received a call. "Julianne, there's a story that just broke. You need to read it," said a public relations official. "It has to do with Adidas." "They're with me right now," she replied, confused.
The story involved a different blockbuster deal between Adidas and Louisville -- one that had played out in the shadows but was now being revealed by the U.S. Department of Justice, in New York City. That morning, the FBI had announced a sweeping corruption investigation into college basketball. In one of the most explosive allegations, Adidas employees -- colleagues of the same people who were gathered in the gym -- had paid a $100,000 bribe to a blue-chip recruit's family.
Nothing has been the same in Louisville since. While other schools have avoided taking drastic action in response to the ongoing probe, Louisville has blown up its athletic department. The morning after the [url=http://www.redskinsofficialonlineshop.com/Earnest_Byner_Jersey_Cheap]Earnest Byner Womens Jersey[/url] FBI's announcement, Dr. Gregory Postel, the interim president, removed not only Hall of Fame basketball coach Rick Pitino but also athletic director Tom Jurich, one of the state's most powerful
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Perhaps more than any other place in America, Louisville came to embody the contradictions of college athletics -- a multibillion-dollar industry built on amateur athletes. The Adidas partnership was supposed to be a crowning achievement that validated the university as a national power. The agreement represented an undeniable windfall, with potential opportunities for the entire university, but to some it also exploited the athletes it purported to benefit while encouraging the criminal behavior later alleged by the FBI. Ultimately, the scandal -- on top