Harrison Smith Mr Nice guy in TC

Harrison Smith Mr Nice guy in TC
Hardest hitting safety in the NFL

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Training Camp Year 24 here I come

As I look forward going to Mankato for my 24th year of making the trip it’s time to reflect on memories, players and people I have met along the way.

It all started in 1994 making my trek to Mankato. I did not go every day and I was just unsure what was all included in camp. I did not have any guts to ask in fact the whole season I got 3 or 4 autographs.

I guess through the years I became much better at listening to fans, asking questions and just plain wanted to get the full effect of camp.

Yes, Training Camp consists of 2 a days and the young guy I was with no initiative would watch morning practice drive 45 minutes home then hang out at home and make my 45 minute journey back for the afternoon session.

I remember emailing and or calling the Mankato Chamber and asking for a schedule and they would then mail it to me so I could make my plans on travel and days off work I would need. We now of course have more internet usage and everything can be found on line by going to Vikings.com you will find everything you need.

The event is free with the only charge being parking which is usually 5-7.00 If you decide to leave after practice make sure you keep your ticket so there is not another charge for parking.

The years over there have gone so fast as it is the event I truly look forward to. One of the big highlights over there is move in day where players seem to be a little more laid back. The only trick to meeting them is knowing their name and they of course do not have their jerseys on. I have gotten so many pictures with players on move in day.

Camp has changed through much through the years where I talked to people that went the Bud Grant years and most said they could right on the field after practice and walk with the players.

Things have changed on the security part as each year it seems a little more restricted. The Brad Childress era brought in with him what is known as the Autograph Zone. It is here each day a different group of players is designated to sign autographs for 20 minutes. Let’s just say Monday is Offensive Line, Tuesday is Wide Receiver and so forth. There is timer that you can visibly see and when the 20 minutes is up the players get up and leave. There are of course exceptions when a player or 2 may stay to finish the line. I guess it just depends on the day and the player or players that are involved.

The one thing to know and keep in mind is the heat that typically comes this time of year. The year Korey Stringer died I was over there every day. I remember coming home with headaches with not drinking enough water. The heat index was in the 110’s seeming every day. Why was I out there? I am such a fan I really didn’t think about my safety and health.

I remember getting home and watching the news and then that night the announcement of Stringer’s death. I was just in shock. I got my picture with him earlier in camp and I still have it.

I remember the next day going and not thinking but camp was closed for the day. I spent time walking along the fence line and seeing all the flowers and notes left for Korey. It was an incredible sight.

I remember the next year Coach Mike Tice came up to my buddy and myself and said you guy are here every day aren’t you. I said, “Yes.” He told us to go to the practice fields at 3:30 and I asked him why but he just responded go over there.

We went through and watched the players do their stretching then the next thing I know the sprinklers went off and away the players ran towards the fence where my buddy, myself and several fans were. Mike Tice knew Stringer had passion for fans and signing autographs so in remembrance of Korey he had players sign for 30 minutes.

Other memories as I look back is I love asking players if it is ok if I take their picture and about 99 percent ok that and I take it. The thing they don’t know is I take the picture into Wal Mart and have it blown up 8x10 and I take it back to camp the next day and see if they will autograph it. The players are time will ask for a copy which I happily will and give it to them.

I have met people from all over the world including Germany and Holland and of course from all over the US. The one thing you know is you all have one thing in common and that is your passion for the Vikings. It makes things a lot easier to strike up a conversation.

One of the tough things for me is not seeing the Gage Towers anymore after they were imploded and now they are parking lots. I think of all the years the team stayed there and now they are in Julia Sears dorms which on the west side of campus.

There is so much history of the Gage Towers and all the years the team stayed it’s hard for me not to miss them with really no reason just my own struggle to get over the past.

One of the best days of camp and will forever go down in my memory is family day. It is usually the first Saturday of camp where there is a morning practice and then nothing football wise until 7pm where the team scrimmages in Blakeslee Field for 2 hours. There are anywhere from 8-10,000 fans that jam in the stadium. The practice which is usually in full pads ends, the players return to the lock room where hundreds of fans wait in hopes for an autograph. There has been traditionally a tremendous fire work display.

I have found through the years the team seems to bring classier guys each and every year who appear to be good to the public as far as signing and taking pictures. There is of course your exception but that’s all right. We as fans have to remember that these guys come to camp to fight for their livelihoods. There are of course players that are a seeming lock to the roster but all others are fighting to make the 53 man roster.

This may or may not be the last year in Mankato but I am going over like it will be and I intend to make every single second count.

One more thing for fans that have never been to Vikings Training Camp and that is there are plenty of food and drink places to get something. There is Chipotle, Noodles, Kwik Trip to name a few places.

I hope you take me up on going over to Mankato and making your own memories.

Thanks for reading


Saturday, April 29, 2017

A + weekend for the Vikings draft

Day 1 of the Draft was finally here and I knew the Vikings did not have a first round pick although last year’s trade for Sam Bradford was our first pick and I do like that. I am selfish as a fan because I was so hoping the team would still trade up.

As it worked out the Vikes stayed out of the first which I was fine with after that night was over. I do think the big winner of the night was 49ers new GM, John Lynch who pulled off a stunner having the Bears give up way to much just to go from pick 3 to 2. What on earth Bears are you thinking? Oh well one less team to compete with the Vikings in the division.

Day 2 came and I was so anxious to see what he Vikings had in store for pick 48. Yes, Vikes GM Spielman came through and pulled off a trade to move up 7 positions to go to 41. My mindset is I don’t believe the team will move up to get O-Line help. I did come in Friday hoping for O-Line help by picking Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky) or Cam Robinson (Alabama) but they were all gone even before 41 came. Who on earth Vikings did you move up to take? The answer: Dalvin Cook RB out of Florida State. I was in heaven getting him knowing what a great college runner he was. Yeah Vikings!!!!!

This NFL draft is unbelievably crazy with the Bears pick along with the Chiefs and Texans trade up to get their quarterbacks of the future. The other fact I read was of the first 96 picks 29 were cornerbacks and with the NFL getting to be a pass happy league this really makes sense,

Then later the team picks Pat Elflein, Center/Guard out of The Ohio State. I was in love with the pick and even more after I heard coach Zimmer say Pat could be a starter at center. Two picks, Cook and Elflein and I am giving the team an A+.

The Vikings Rick Spielman made 4 trades alone on Friday and last draft the Vikings made 3 total for the 3 day event.

I went to bed pretty pumped and could not wait to get up Saturday as I was headed to US Bank Stadium for the Draft Fest and catch all the draft there.

I got there at 10:30 and was pumped knowing the team had 7 picks although as it turned out by days end the team drafted 9 players to 11.

The cost was 20.00 and was worth every penny as I walked down all the stairs to go on to the field and take all the festivities in.

The TV’s had the draft on and KFAN broadcast for 12:00-5 so it was football heaven for myself and all other Viking fans.

Vikings play by play guy, Paul Allen made the Vikings first pick of the day and that was on NFL Network so I moved up to be a part of the craziness.

Everson Griffen came on stage to announce the next pick and the huge Skol drum was rolled in front of the stage and thus the beat and the Skol Chant began as Everson called out the pick.

Vikings HOF. Paul Krause was brought underneath the fire breathing dragon the team brought out to represent game day. It was an awesome sight. I was asked with a few other fans after Krause came out to stand behind him and cheer while the pick was being announced, If this didn’t give me chills I don’t know what will.

As for the draft I loved all the wheeling and dealing Spielman did to get 9 picks Saturday. I also love that 4 of the picks come from the Big 10. I look back and see the team took the following:

Jaleel Johnson-DT

Ben Gedeon-LB

Rodney Adams-WR

Danny Isidora-G

Bucky Hodges-TE

Stacy Coley-WR

Ifeadi Ogenigbo-DE
Elija Lee-LB

Jack Tocho-DB

The draft was 11 total with 6 offense and 5 defense. I absolutely love what the team did to fill needs. I did read twitter that #NFC North gave the Vikings an A and I cannot disagree. I am so fired up for this season after a weekend like this.

Thank for reading


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Breaking dowm the 2017 Vikings schedule

The NFL revealed its schedule on Thursday April 20th even though twitter leaked quite a bit information it was still fun to watch the revealing show.

As a long time Vikings season ticket holder I look forward to seeing when the first home game is and even more exciting is who the Purple will play.

The answer was: The New Orleans Saints which is exciting in itself but what makes it even more exciting is it’s on national TV on Monday night September 11th at 6:30. Yes, Drew Brees and company will be in town. This will be a great test right off the bat going up against the 2016 NFL leader in passing yards.

I am not going to break down every game rather look at each month with how many home and road games the team will face.

Let’s start with September with 3 games: New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Tampa bay. The team has 2 of 3 at home with the middle of the 3 sees the Vikes get to go and face former Vikings Defensive Coordinator, Mike Tomlin now Steelers coach and successful at that.

October sees Detroit, at Chicago, Green Bay, Baltimore and then the end of the month has the Vikes going to London to play Cleveland.  3 home games, and 2 road with one of the road games in London. The team gets to play 2 of the teams from the NFL North which are always fun and so much impact on the division early on. The London game is at 8:30am which will be strange being done with football by noon rather starting at noon.

September and October we will see the Vikes at home 5 of the 8 first games which really puts pressure on the team to get the home wins. I feel the NFL did the Vikes a favor. I also like the fact that the Vikings play in London and then get a bye the following week.

November at Washington, Los Angeles Rams and Thanksgiving Day at Detroit. This month will very tough as Washington with Kirk Cousins are a very good playoff caliber team and the Lions game on Thanksgiving is never easy. I do find it strange the Vikes will now play the Thanksgiving 2 years in a row.

December: At Atlanta, at Carolina, Cincinnati, at Green Bay and close out home vs Chicago. This month in my opinion will be the toughest month of the schedule. The Vikes start out the month vs the team who lost a heart breaker to the Patriots in last years Super Bowl and to make things worse this will be the first year for the Falcons to play in their brand new stadium. The team then goes to Carolina with Cam Newton and the boys. The Purple then comes home to play Cincinnati who is always seemingly contending with the Steelers for the AFC North title. Minnesota then gets to travel to Lambeau on Saturday night, December 23rd for a National TV game. The season ends like it did last year as the Chicago Bears come to US Bank in what I am hoping is a meaningless game for the Bears and the game means everything for Minnesota.

I can’t wait for 2017 Season with my every year hopes and dreams come true and the Minnesota Vikings become the first team in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl in their own home stadium. The saying anything is possible and all I can do is hope because I will be at every home game supporting my favorite team as I do each and every year. This is mmy 20th year of season tickets and I hope for a memory never to forget.

Thanks for reading Purplestick