Blue and Gold Illustrated

June/July 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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IRISH IN THE PROS 56 JUNE/JULY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH IN THE PROS BY MATT JONES A fter a brief stint with the New Eng- land Patriots — which included a Super Bowl victory — former Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd is joining the Minnesota Vikings. Floyd, a Minnesota native who at- tended high school at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, signed a one-year deal worth up to $6 million. He'll re- ceive a base salary of $1.5 million. His DUI arrest in December spelled the end of his career in Arizona, where he had an up-and-down five seasons with the Cardinals. The for- mer 13th overall pick in the 2012 draft has caught 246 passes for 3,781 yards, with career bests of 65 catches and 1,041 receiving yards for the Cardi- nals in 2013. Floyd was sentenced to 24 days in jail and 96 days of house arrest in Ari- zona after pleading guilty to the DUI. Floyd was released from jail March 10 and then began a three-month period of home confinement. He would not be able to report to a new team until June 17, which is after the Vikings' mandatory minicamp June 13-15. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Floyd may be able to serve the remainder of the sentence in Minnesota. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman acknowledged Floyd's legal troubles — which could carry a two- game suspension — in a statement announcing the receiver's signing. "Coach [Mike] Zimmer and I are confident Michael Floyd has learned and grown from his past decisions," Spielman said. "He has accepted full responsibility and is taking encour- aging steps to improve. We have of- fered Michael the full support and assistance of the Minnesota Vikings organization and our player develop- ment programs. "We are aware that Michael is sub- ject to discipline from the NFL, and will work with both him and the NFL in a professional manner. We are ex- cited to have Michael and believe he can be a productive member of our football team and community." Floyd joins a talented receiver room in Minnesota, with Adam Thielen, rising star Stefon Diggs and former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell all contributing. He also joins class of 2008 Notre Dame recruit Kyle Ru- dolph, a star tight end for Minnesota. Former Vikings star and Hall of Famer Cris Carter — who himself dealt with substance abuse problems during his career — told The St. Paul Pioneer Press that he's taking Floyd under his wing. "I'll try to help him with anything that I can in his assimilation back into being a very good football player and trying to help the Vikings win games," Carter said. "[The Vikings are] going to put the support around him, and me being a former Viking that struggled with things, the team really helped me. "Being a fan of Michael Floyd, I'm pulling for him." MLB JEFF SAMARDZIJA FINALLY AT PEACE WITH HIS CAREER CHOICE Now in his 10th MLB season, for- mer two-sport star Jeff Samardzija said it wasn't until the 2016 retirement of former Detroit Lions receiver Cal- vin Johnson that he felt completely at peace with his decision to choose baseball over foot- ball. "Signing this contract was big for me," Samardzija told Bleacher Report in a recent interview. "I'm not a big money guy or anything, but when there is a definitive moment you can point to and say, 'This is when it made itself a better decision,' you can relax. "I'm not fighting that ghost any- more, trying to live up to not playing football, which is tough. "Baseball is tough enough, and then to throw more on your shoul- ders to perform better for a reason that's only in your own head is tough. It was good to kick that." Johnson and Samardzija finished one-two, respectively, in the 2006 Bi- letnikoff Award voting for the col- lege football's best receiver. But the grind of the NFL and injury worries forced Johnson to retire early, while Samardzija — who will make at least $120 million in his MLB career — is still going strong. MLB PLAYER UPDATES Through May 14 • John Axford (Played at Notre Dame from 2002-05), RHP, Oakland A's: Has yet to appear in a major league game this season after injur- ing his shoulder in spring training … Tossed a scoreless inning of relief for Triple-A Nashville May 13 in the first appearance of his first rehab assign- ment … Was on track to make his sea- son debut with the A's by late May. • Trey Mancini (2011-13), 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles: After a torrid start to the season, the rookie was hitting .288 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 80 at-bats over 25 games. • David Phelps (2006-08), RHP, Miami Marlins: In 17 games out of the bullpen, was 2-2 with three holds, a 4.26 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 19 in- nings of work. • A.J. Pollock (2007-10), OF, Ari- zona Diamondbacks: Was hitting .299 with a .337 on-base percentage, two home runs, 11 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 37 games … Suffered a groin injury May 14 that was expected to sideline him for an extended period of time. • Jeff Samardzija (2003-06), RHP, San Francisco Giants: Struggled dur- ing the opening months, posting a 5.26 ERA and a 1-5 record despite recording 63 strikeouts in 53 innings of work … Tossed his best game of the season in a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers May 3, posting 11 strikeouts while allowing just one un- earned run on three hits. ✦ Michael Floyd Returns Home To Play For The Minnesota Vikings Floyd, who finished the 2016 season with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, signed a one-year deal with the Vikings in May. PHOTO COURTESY NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

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