Hunt Down

Stu’s Hunt Down: Dimitrius Underwood (10th anniversary edition)

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

underwood.JPGStu checks in with one of his finest Hunt Down efforts. Please note that if you still have some commenting to do on the previous post, don’t let us stop you. We’re going to be away from the computer for a few hours and wanted to give this post its due. Stu?


Name: Dimitrius Underwood

Claim to Fame, Minnesota: I think Denny Green, for all his well-documented faults, gets a bad rap from Vikings fans. He was the second-best coach in Vikings history, consistently got his teams into the playoffs, and played drums on KARE’s The Dennis Green Show, which just seems even more surreal now than it did at the time. Imagine Andy Reid doing that. Imagine ANY NFL coach doing that.

However, the haters aren’t without their reasons. This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of Dimitrius Underwood’s first and only practice with the Minnesota Vikings. Underwood, as you may remember, was the second of the Vikings’ two first-round picks in 1999, one that Green, in his capacity as personnel director, lobbied for and one that was considered a reach by many. Underwood showed up for the first day of camp in fatigues, ready to go to war and make us all forget that the Falcons drafted future Pro Bowler Patrick Kerney with the next pick. The inclusion of the second half of the preceding sentence indicates that this did not happen.

The rest of the strange, sad story: Underwood went AWOL after all of one practice, hitchiked to the airport, and disappeared. He was tracked down days later by the Strib’s Paul McEnroe in a Philadelphia hotel lobby, with $8 in his pocket and tormented about his future. That future would not include the Vikings, who released the 29th-overall pick in that year’s draft soon thereafter. This episode, along with the Korey Stringer tragedy, the Koren Robinson incident, and the case of Keith Millard v. Drive-Thru, serves as confirmation that nothing good can ever come out of going to Mankato.

Claim to Fame, Everywhere Else: seekers of redeeming personal narratives, look elsewhere. After his release, Underwood was picked up by the Dolphins, injured in a preseason game, attempted suicide, released by the Dolphins, picked up by the Cowboys, played 19 games for them, attempted suicide again, released by the Cowboys, charged with robbing a man in a wheelchair, found incompetent to stand trial, and unsuccessfully attempted a comeback in the CFL in 2005. If you hadn’t already guessed, Dimitrius Underwood suffers from bipolar disorder.

Wildly Inappropriate Metaphor About a Suicidal Player: in this July 2000 Peter King article, a Cowboys staffer is asked about the Underwood’s chances to make the team. The quote: “Gun to my head, I think he’ll make the team.”

Where He Is Now: more than a few internet sources that I’ve never heard of prior to writing this say that as of 2007, Underwood is in “the unit for the mentally disturbed” at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center. Take that with the requisite grain of salt.

Glorious Randomness: you can download the music of Dennis Green and the Sunset Music Band at his website. But you probably knew that already.

Talk Amongst Yourselves: was Underwood a bigger bust than Troy Williamson? Do either of them compare to Tony Mandarich or Ki-Jana Carter? Where are the worst speed traps on 169? And why would you ever go to Mankato?

Stu’s Hunt Down: Chris Hinton

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

hinton.pngName: Chris Hinton

Claim to Fame, Minnesota: played guard for the Purple and his former coach at Northwestern, Dennis Green, in 1994 and 1995. It is not known how much money the Minnesota Twins were compensated for the Vikings’ use of their trademarked “Acquire a Past-His-Prime Veteran” maneuver.

Claim to Fame, Everywhere Else: was a 7-time Pro Bowl selection, six of those with the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts received Hinton from the Denver Broncos in the John Elway trade. For those looking to clutter their brains with more trivia, the other pieces the Colts received in the acquisition were Mark Herrmann and Denver’s 1st-round pick in 1984, which they did not use on Keith Millard or Wilber Marshall. Advantage: Denver.

Where He Is Now: is the proprietor of Hinton’s Wine Store in suburban Atlanta. As this 2007 Sports Illustrated article notes, he caught the wine bug upon entering the NFL, and once split a $3,000 bottle of Chateau Latour with former Bear Dave Duerson. Put into Strib terms, this is just like when Rand and LaVelle went halfsies on a box of Franzia from the Liquor Depot (RIP). [Proprietor note: Still waiting for our three bucks from III].

Glorious Randomness: the following words appear in Hinton’s Wikipedia entry: “His favorite band is L7.” Either this is true, and Hinton is a former NFL Pro Bowler/purveyor of fine wines/aficionado of ’90s female grunge acts, or it’s complete bunk. My money’s on the latter, but I’m rooting for the former, because that makes Chris Hinton a true Renaissance man. Regardless, enjoy Pretend We’re Dead, everybody. [Proprietor note: Or Andres, as we prefer].

Stu’s Hunt Down: The Rod Carew Trade

Friday, July 17th, 2009

beastieboys.jpgIn case this Hunt Down isn’t enough, please note that Stu has been sprinkling his awesome all over the place lately. Stu?


The Huntdown

Name: The Carew Trade (Rod Carew, Ken Landreaux, Brad Havens, Dave Engle and Paul Hartzell)

Claim to Fame, Minnesota: a deal wherein the Minnesota Twins traded their best player to a large market team for four relatively unknown quantities. Sound familiar? Carew wanted to leave the Twins after being serially underpaid for years, and the following quote from Twins owner Calvin Griffith helped grease the skids:

“I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don’t go to ballgames, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death. We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking white people here.

Griffith would later say that he was misquoted and/or joking, which totally makes the above passage HILARIOUS. Carew, just one season removed from the greatest Time Magazine cover ever, was eventually traded to the just-California Angels in the spring of 1979 for Ken Landreaux, Brad Havens, Dave Engle and Paul Hartzell.

Claim to Fame, Everywhere Else: Carew would continue to hit north of .300, lead the just-California Angels to two playoff appearances and extend his consecutive All-Star game streak to 18 seasons in a row. Although the players the Twins received didn’t have quite that impact, Landreaux still has the longest hitting streak in Twins history at 31 games, and Dave Engle represented the Twins in an All-Star Game. No, really, that happened.

Where They Are Now:
• Rod Carew: working for the Angels, the Twins, and Major League Baseball in various capacities.
• Ken Landreaux: is a member of the Dodgers Speakers Bureau (Bureaux?), and lives in Los Angeles.
• Brad Havens: whereabouts unkneauxn. I’ll stop now.
• Dave Engle: most recently a manager in the Mets minor league system.
• Paul Hartzell: is a vice president for Merrill Corporation and lives in Menlo Park, California.

Glorious Randomness: as his Wiki entry notes, Engle’s catching career ended when he began having serious issues with throwing the ball back to the pitcher. If you want to sum up what being a Twins fan was like before 1987, you could do worse than that. Old-timers, feel free to add your lamentations in comments. Young folks, talk about your Twitters or whatever. It’s Friday, go nuts.

Proprietor bonus points: For connecting the subject to the chosen art.

TFD: Stu’s Hunt Down — Bracey Wright and Blake Stepp

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

stepp1.JPGwright.JPGNames: Bracey Wright and Blake Stepp

Claims to Fame, Minnesota: Wright was the Timberwolves’ second-round pick in 2005, and stands out from other McHale-era Round 2 picks in that he actually played for the Timberwolves for awhile. Granted, it was 26 games over two seasons, but that’s 26 more than 2004 second-rounder Blake Stepp.

Claims to Fame, Everywhere Else: Wright was a college standout at Indiana, and before that was a high school teammate of Deron Williams in the annoyingly named The Colony, Texas. Stepp was on all those Gonzaga teams that busted your bracket every single year and has a terrific soap opera name.

Where They Are Now: Wright played for DKV Joventut of the Euroleague this past season. If you scan their roster, you’ll notice a couple familiar names. My guess is David Kahn will have an easier time negotiating Wright’s buyout if he so desires, provided random pedestrians allow him to get to work and do his job. Stepp is currently without a team, but he did manage to play in the 2008 World Series of Poker, and has a ProRank 1 Position of 2,135, which is no doubt meaningful.

Glorious Randomness: “On the next episode of The Colony, Sammi tells Stone that the baby isn’t his, Angelynne schemes with Drake to blackmail Tyson and Myrrh, and mysterious stranger Blake Stepp moves into town. What’s his secret? And why is he wearing two eye patches? Tune in tomorrow. Now, stay tuned for Maury.”

Stu’s Hunt Down: Dennis Swilley

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

swilley.jpgWe learned a lot here. Stu?


The Huntdown

Name: Dennis Swilley

Claim to Fame, Minnesota: center for the Minnesota Vikings from 1977-83 and 1985-1987. Swilley was a bit of an oddball, NFL-wise, as evidenced by his (prescient) decision to spend 1984 building a house instead of playing for Les Steckel. Key Swilley quote from that article: “There’s not a whole lot of self-expression in football … there are so many rules and guidelines. You’re not creating anything new. You’re just using your athletic ability. What about the soul within you? Sometimes I hear a voice inside me calling, ‘Hey, I want to get out.’” The author does not mention if he went on to deconstruct Sartre’s No Exit with Duck White and Rick Danmeier, but it’s clear to me that he did.

Claim to Fame, Everywhere Else: spent his early offseasons with the Vikings studying art at North Texas University in the city of Denton. His presence there was so notable that his likeness was included with the Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne and others in a famous-for-north-Texas mural. No, really.

Where He Is Now: is an architect and lives in New Braunfels, Texas, home of the tremendously named Schlitterbahn Waterpark.

Glorious Randomness:The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton” by the Mountain Goats is the unlikeliest song ever to have a chorus of “Hail Satan!” It is also the bee’s knees.

Further Discussion: the Vikings have a fairly rich history of players who had unconventional (read: involved books and stuff) off-the-field interests, like Swilley, Alan Page, Robert Smith, and Tim Irwin. Jared Allen’s inevitable candidacy for governor of Iowa notwithstanding, what current Viking strikes you as the heir to this lineage?