LB Anthony Harris and DE Stephen Weatherly participated in activities for Play 60 event for NFL Canada on July 23 where more than 500 attendees participated in drills and learned about the importance of healthy lifestyles.
Anthony Harris and Stephen Weatherly have experienced plenty of firsts since becoming Minnesota Vikings.
The two teammates recently added visiting Canada for the first time to their lists. Harris, a safety who joined the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2015, and Weatherly, a defensive end who was selected in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft, went north of the border to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The duo participated in several goodwill activities for Play 60 event for NFL Canada on July 23 where more than 500 attendees participated in on-field drills and learned about the importance of healthy and active lifestyles.
Harris and Weatherly said they anticipated that the Vikings and NFL would be warmly welcomed, but added the amount of support — and sea of fans sporting purple — was amazing.
"It was a great turnout. There were a lot of fans out there who were very excited for us to be there," Harris said. "The parents were just as active as the kids. I saw a few parents if the balls bounced a little far, they'd go out of their way to help get them. It was a great experience."
Weatherly added: "There were a lot of NFL fans there and a whole lot of Vikings fans. It was really cool getting to see our international pull."
Weatherly took note of the support from Vikings fans at U.S. Bank Stadium during his rookie season.
"Last year, I would look up and there were people in the stands with signs saying, 'I flew in from Iceland' or from another country overseas, so I knew there were a lot of international fans, but just the pure number was crazy," Weatherly said.
Harris and Weatherly were joined by Vikings Youth Football Manager E.J. Henderson, Viktor the Viking, Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders and staff, as well as the Gjallarhorn, which is making rounds on the "Sound The North" Tour.
The clinic was one of nine Play 60 Canada clinics throughout Canada in partnership with NFL teams, but the Vikings event in Winnipeg featured the largest attendance.
In addition to making diving catches and working on accuracy as passers, the youth were "drafted" into the NFL, received draft hats and participated in mock press conferences.
Harris and Weatherly encouraged the youth to stay active and to make sure to have fun when they play sports.
"I just wanted to tell them to have fun," Harris said. "Sometimes, now, the fun gets taken out of it, so we just tried to remind them, we're out here playing football, and it's good to get scholarships and things like that, but you've got to have fun doing it, you've got to enjoy doing and do it the right way, be safe."
Participants also received T-shirts, water bottles, headbands and Vikings posters.
"We were excited to see a great response from the Winnipeg community, and especially all the great Vikings fans in the Winnipeg area," said Brandon Clemens, Senior Manager of Youth Marketing. "It was amazing to see so many Vikings jerseys, hats and shirts at the clinic, and we are very happy to have been able to participate in this clinic to promote the Play 60 messaging to keep youth active for at least 60 minutes and also bring the Vikings to our loyal fans in Winnipeg."