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ESPN's 'Sunday NFL Countdown' to Air Randy Moss Spotlight on Adam Thielen

Posted Nov 30, 2017

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adam Thielen was a fixture in front of his television each Sunday morning as he anxiously awaited his favorite football team’s next game.

The Detroit Lakes native would flip the channels until he landed on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, hoping analysts would start some chatter about the Vikings and star wide receiver Randy Moss.

Sunday Countdown and ESPN, you’re watching that getting ready for the game and hoping they’re talking about the Vikings and things like that,” Thielen said.

Thielen’s childhood will sort of come full circle Sunday morning when Thielen, the Vikings current wide receiver, will be featured in an interview on the popular pregame show.

The interviewer? None other than Moss, the Vikings Ring of Honor member who now works for the network.

“Obviously watching him growing up, he was a guy who really made me want to play the receiver position just because of how exciting he made the game and things like that,” Thielen said. “It was exciting to meet up with him and talk to him about football.

“I’d met him a few times, so I knew what to expect. He’s a really good guy, and he just loves football,” Thielen added. “There were several times where he was like, ‘I don’t even want to interview you, let’s go talk some football.’ That was pretty cool to pick his brain a little bit and figuring out what he did to help him be successful.”

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown airs from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. (CT) on the network’s main channel. Moss has been with ESPN since July 2016.

The pair of Vikings wide receivers — one past and one current — chatted for about 20 minutes Wednesday afternoon in the Winter Park fieldhouse.

After the two greeted each other with a wide smile, handshake and a hug, Moss covered Thielen’s backstory of a run from a Division II football player to a guy who had to pay his own way to try out at a Super Regional Combine in Chicago.

Along the way, Moss kept Thielen laughing with his easygoing personality.

“He’s really good at his job, and he really loves it,” Thielen said. “And he keeps it fun, so being the person interviewed, it makes it easier when they’re having fun with it.”

Besides diving into Thielen’s path to the NFL, the two also talked about routes on the field and what has made the Minnesota native so successful this season.

Thielen has 70 catches for 1,005 yards and five touchdowns through 11 games, helping the Vikings sit at 9-2 and atop the NFC North.

His receiving yardage is the fourth-most in Vikings history through 11 games, trailing Moss in 2000 and 2003, and Jake Reed’s 1996 season.

The duo spent some time mimicking routes on the field as Moss, clad in a button-up shirt, jeans and dress shoes, offered tips and techniques to the Vikings newest star.

“It was kind of funny because as he was telling me some things, I kind of remembered him doing that in games,” Thielen said. “It was great to hear him talk about what he did to be successful and kind of be able to relate it to, ‘Hey, I actually remember seeing you be able to do that.’ ”

Thielen’s stock has skyrocketed this season as numerous national outlets and publications want a piece of the longshot undrafted rookie who has turned into one of the NFL’s best receivers.

“It is what it is, it comes with the game,” Thielen said of the increased media attention. “But ultimately I like to play football, and I like to be on the field. This stuff isn’t necessarily the most fun for me, but it comes with the territory.”

He said he won’t record the interview because he hates watching himself on the tube.

In many ways, Thielen is still the little boy perched in front of the television ready to gobble up any information about the Vikings.

But who could have imagined he would one day be interviewed by one of his childhood heroes, the guy he once dressed up as for Halloween?

“That’s kind of crazy to think about,” Thielen said. “I don’t know ... I would have been pretty excited if I had known that.”