EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Shaun Hill's walk through Winter Park was quite the stroll down memory lane.
The Vikings headquarters has gone through a few facelifts in the 10 years since Hill's first tenure with the team, but the veteran quarterback personally reconnected with several familiar faces that have remained with the organization.
Hill will be preparing for his 14th pro season and fifth overall with Minnesota after signing a multi-year contract with the Vikings on Wednesday. He said seeing people he's maintained relationships with over the years added a degree of comfort in meeting new coaches and staff.
"I know a lot of things now that I didn't know then," Hill said after a conference call with members of the media. "Any other time I've gone to a new team, there's a lot of nerves and everything is new, but I walked in here and you know half the people right off the bat, guys that every time I've played against them, I've talked to."
Hill mentioned Executive Director of Public Relations Bob Hagan, Assistant Director of Public Relations Tom West, Equipment Manager Dennis Ryan, Assistant Equipment Manager Aaron Neumann and Consultant/Historian Fred Zamberletti among those he's kept in touch with.
"It's been nice walking back in this building and just feels familiar," Hill said.
This is the building where he signed his first pro contract in 2002 as an undrafted free agent. It's also where he "lost a lot of ping pong matches against Brad Johnson" in 2005 in a space that has since been converted to the Xfinity Studios where he spoke with Vikings.com's Mike Wobschall Wednesday.
It's also a short drive from where he caught "some good fish on Minnetonka," naturally adding the detail, "July 1, 2002, a 9-pound walleye off the big island."
Long snapper Cullen Loeffler, whom the Vikings have **agreed to bring back** for a 12th consecutive season, is the only player that Hill teamed with in Purple that is still on the roster, but familiarity continues to the coaching staff.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner worked in the same capacity for the 49ers in 2006 when Hill signed with San Francisco. Although Hill played for Turner for just one season before Turner became head coach of the Chargers, the experience provided multiple opportunities to learn. Turner had been head coach of the Redskins during part of Hill's collegiate career at Maryland.
"He was able to watch me there. He went to Miami and wanted to bring me down to Miami. I can remember talking to him at that point and it didn't work out, so when my time here was done, I was basically out of ball, and he's the one that brought me to San Francisco," Hill said. "He stood on the table to get me there and really played a big part in continuing my career. I obviously learned a lot from him in that one year. We were playing with a young Alex Smith and had Trent Dilfer kind of helping us out as well. That was a great year. I learned a lot from Norv and had a lot of respect for him going into that, but gained even more after that year. I've always followed him and any chance I've had to talk to him, I've certainly taken that since then."
Hill is being brought in to back up 2014 first-round draft pick Teddy Bridgewater, whose successful debut has Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and General Manager believing he will start for a considerable time. Hill said the **Pepsi Rookie of the Year** had already reached out to him and he is excited about working with Bridgewater.
"I chatted with him a little bit and am looking forward to working with him," Hill said. "Anybody, not just people in this building, people around the league that know him or have met him, everybody had nothing but great things to say about him, so that's exciting for me as well. I haven't had a chance to watch him much. Any kind of crossover film we've had, I would have been looking more at the defense he was facing."
There's new memories to be made here for Hill, who played for San Francisco (2006-09), Detroit (2010-13) and St. Louis last season. He started eight games in 2014, including the season-opener against the Vikings when he suffered a thigh injury. He returned to the lineup eight games later and quarterbacked the Rams to an upset of the Broncos.
Hill, who is now married with a young son, said the three-day negotiation window that is now part of the free agency process, helped he and his family consider options, writing down plusses and minuses of different destinations where teams expressed interest.
"You could really take your time with it the way it was set up in free agency, so that part was nice," Hill said. "I will say I was very thrilled that Minnesota reached out. Like I said before, Norv's a guy I've always respected and wanted to play for again. That went in the plus column for us right away. I can't say that right away, I was like that's where I'm going to be. You have to let the process play out, you have to see what teams' interests are. There's a lot of things that happen in that three-day window, but I was certainly excited about it."