Last Saturday night, the clouds cleared up and the sun appeared to just in time for the Minnesota Vikings training camp practice at TCO Stadium in Eagan, MN.
A plane flew over TCO Performance Stadium prior to, not for Vikings purposes, kicking off the full-padded practice. Mike Zimmer and his players took the field, and the season unofficially began. The drum beat and fans participated in the famous SKOL chant.
Photographers had their cameras out and journalists stood waiting patiently for interviews. Lucky for me I jumped the gun after practice, unable to contain the nerves that were already there.
Behind me was Vikings WR Kendall Wright, taking autographs all by himself. After he finished, I walked up and talked to him. He was nice to say the least.
When asking him about facing off against his former team, the Chicago Bears, he didn’t hesitate to acknowledge how enthusiastic he was.
“It should be fun. I know a lot of those guys out there… it’ll be competitive.” For my first interview with a professional player, I will take what I can get. From there I scouted out potential interviews.
After talking to Kendall, I then talked with his fellow teammate, Fullback C.J Ham. I proceeded to ask him a couple questions. I first asked about not having the spotlight like most NFL players.
His response was humble and better than what I thought I was going to get: “I’m not looking for spotlights. I’m looking for respect from my teammates and opponents, and if that’s what I get, then I love that even more.”
Following that up, he discussed what it meant to going to Augustana for college and staying put in Minnesota for the NFL, while being able to share the memories with his family.
“It’s a dream come true. I grew up following the Vikings. My family’s here in Duluth. My wife’s family is in Des Moines Iowa, not too far away. It was the perfect middle ground for our family and we can all share this opportunity together.
Last but certainly not least, my sports editor Kevin and I took our turns interviewing with Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen. It took me 5 minutes for an interview, but was worth every second. Once his wife left him momentarily for the kids, he was nice enough to give me a chance to speak with him, up close and personal. With a point to the hat, a Minnesota State Maverick hat, I was able to catch Thielen’s attention.
I asked Thielen how he was planning on following up on his big performance from last year, and he replied, “I guess for me it’s not really changing anything, it’s just making sure [that] I’m coming out here performing and making sure I’m doing the little things that have helped me in the past.”
After interviewing him, my editor Kevin Korbel got a chance to speak with Thielen, and get to hear about practice and goals for the rest of the season. Once we were done talking with Mr. Mankato, the night had commenced.
With fireworks shooting up into the air after practice, we hope to see the same type of pop out of the Vikings squad this season. If Saturday was any indication of how our team is going to look, it’s going to be an exciting season for the purple people eaters.