MINNEAPOLIS – Anthony Barr knew walking into Sunday's game at U.S. Bank Stadium that it potentially could be his last in purple.
The linebacker posted a photo of himself during a previous game's warmup period on his Instagram Story. The caption? One more time…
Barr will become a free agent this spring and knows his future is up in the air. He also understands the business.
It doesn't mean there's no sentiments around it, though, wondering if he's played his final game, a 31-17 win over Chicago, as a Viking after eight seasons.
"I'm an emotional person. I'm a Pisces … I'm emotional by nature. I'm a water sign," Barr said, offering a heartfelt smile. "So yeah, I'm emotional, but … I keep everything in perspective.
"It's not the end of the world; the sun is going to come up tomorrow. We are all going to be OK," he added. "It's bittersweet. I wish we could have been playing again next week. [But], keep moving."
Barr was Minnesota's first draft selection under Head Coach Mike Zimmer. The team nabbed the former UCLA standout ninth overall in 2014.
Zimmer spoke to media members following the Week 18 win, and emotion wavered in his voice when speaking about Barr.
"[Anthony] is a terrific person; he's a really good football player," Zimmer said. "He does an awful lot of things for this football team, this organization, for the community. He's extremely smart. He's a guy I respect an awful lot."
Barr expressed mutual admiration for the head coach he's played for in 98 regular-season games.
"I think our relationship has grown and evolved over the past few years. I love Coach Zim'," Barr said. "I know he's catching a lot of heat, but players play the game, too. I think you can point the finger at us as much as you can point it at him.
"I don't know if the fans really appreciate him the past few years as much as players have. I kinda feel the same way about myself," Barr continued. "I know my teammates and my coaches appreciate me, and I feel like maybe that's not the same case with the public, the fan world. I know I get my love and all that, but for the most part, I feel a little under-appreciated."
He added that he still has lots of love for the fan base in what became a home away from home.
Barr recently was named the Vikings nominee for the 2021 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, in recognition of the tremendous impact he's made on the Minnesota community. In addition to making a difference through his Raise the Barr foundation, the 29-year-old also has played a key part of the Vikings defense over the years.
He capped off his 2021 campaign by leading the Vikings in tackles against the Bears with 11. He also recorded two sacks of Andy Dalton.
Though Barr wasn't surprised by a strong outing, he acknowledged the benefit of ending the season on a high note.
"I always knew the opportunities were going to come at some point. I've been close on many occasions. Sometimes you get the sacks, sometimes you don't. That's just kind of how it works," Barr said. "I was able to get there a couple times today. One of them was when the quarterback runs a no-yard sack, which, I mean, they count it as a sack, so I'm not going to complain.
"It's not your traditional sack. But whatever, I'll take it," Barr quipped. "I was happy with the way we were able to play."
He and the Vikings defense limited the Bears to 90 yards rushing and picked off Dalton twice, including a pick-six by Patrick Peterson. Dalton finished the game 33-of-48 yards passing for 325 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions with a passer rating of 77.2.
After missing all but the first two games of the 2020 season with a torn pectoral muscle, Barr once again struggled with an injury to open the 2021 campaign. He disclosed Sunday that he underwent a knee scope procedure in late August that should have sidelined him for a minimum of four weeks but experienced some complications.
"That was tough; that was tough for me. I could have easily folded and shut it down, but that's not how I'm built. That's not in my DNA," Barr said. "I catch a lot of slack for being injured all the time and [some fans have said] I don't really care about playing. I don't know where people come up with all that stuff.
"I love football. It's given me so much opportunity," Barr added. "My coaches and my teammates respect me for what I was going through and playing games that I probably shouldn't have been playing and being able to gut it out. That's the kind of person I am. I put on a lot for my guys, and that's where the respect comes from."
Over 10 games this season, Barr totaled 72 tackles, three interceptions, 2.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and five passes defensed.
View game action photos between the Vikings and Bears during the Week 18 season finale matchup at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Barr posted another photo to his Instagram Story following Sunday's contest – this time, an in-game photo of himself, Dalvin Tomlinson and Armon Watts posted by the Vikings. He typed beneath the photo, "Thank you Minnesota" and punctuated with a red heart emoji.
He told reporters he "feels good" but added that it's a bittersweet end to the season and, maybe, to his time in the Twin Cities.
"I've been doing it long enough to understand what comes next, keep things in perspective, just be ready for whatever happens in the future," Barr said. "I've been very thankful to be part of this organization. The Wilf family, much appreciation. [General Manager Rick Spielman] and Coach Zim' for taking a chance on the kid back in 2014, making my dreams come true.
"It's been a pleasure being a Viking for the last eight years," Barr added. "I'm not too sure what the future holds, but whatever it is, I'll always have a special place in my heart for Minnesota and even y'all [media]."