By Larry Fitzgerald
June 22, 2017
It’s about time, you might say. The Minnesota Vikings, born in 1961 with zero championships on their resume, believe 2018 is the year they finally win the big one. The first Sunday in February in U.S. Bank Stadium the Super Bowl will be here, a home game, and if you can play your games right, just maybe you can finally reward your long-suffering fans.
When I first started covering the Vikings in the fall of 1978, they had just completed a run of four trips to the Super Bowl. I was surprised to learn that I was the first Black sportswriter to cover the Purple People Eaters.
It was not easy. As a young Black single guy driving a yellow Corvette, I was accused of being a drug trafficker.
My persistence paid off. Several of the Black players — Ahmad Rashad, Greg Coleman, Matt Blair and others — liked seeing me around and demanded from Mike Lynn that I receive the same treatment the other reporters received.
Fast forward to 2017. I’m still covering the Vikings’ every great win or loss over the time I have witnessed, from Met Stadium in Bloomington to the Metrodome in 1982 to U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016.
Last week’s mini camp was successful. All the players were here: veterans, rookies, free agents, and Mike Zimmer returned. Zimmer took two weeks away from the day-to-day football business to rest his weary eye — he has had eight surgical procedures for a detached retina.
Quarterback Sam Bradford talked about his first mini camp.”It’s been good. I thought we got a lot of good work in nice to finish things up. I thought we had really good workouts and a good spring from start to finish and worked on a lot of situations. So I think we gained a lot.”
Bradford again is going to start at quarterback. Injured veteran Teddy Bridgewater is making progress, however. Last year the Vikings had six Pro Bowl players, five on defense and one on special teams. Adrian Peterson, who was hurt most of last season, is now gone, so offensively things will be very different in 2017.
Stefon Diggs, third-year receiver from Maryland, is ready to go. “It’s been good getting back with the guys,” said Diggs, “working on the fundamentals and working on the little things. Just doing the little things the right way just trying to be the best team player I can be.”
One of the NFL’s top defensive players is defensive end Everson Griffin. The Pro Bowler had a strong mini camp. “Camp for me is building that confidence over again and getting back to the details,” Griffin said. “The best teams, that’s what they do best. They pay attention to the details and they communicate the best.”
The Vikings announced that Randy Moss and Ahmad Rashard, two of the greatest Vikings receivers in franchise history, would both be honored as 2017 Ring of Honor inductees. There are 23 players in the Ring of Honor. Jim Finks, Bud Grant and Jerry Burns are also among those honored.
One day the late, long-deserving Dennis Green will be so honored, with eight playoff teams in 10 years and over 100 career wins. After all, it was Green who drafted Randy Moss when all other NFL teams passed on him. Moss is number two in NFL history with 156 career touchdown receptions.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.