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Monday Morning Mailbag: Vikings Legend Jake Reed Joins as Special Guest

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

Click here to submit a comment or question to the Mailbag. Remember to include your name and town in the email. If Twitter is your jam, you can send a question to me that way as well.

We have a treat for this edition of the Monday Morning Mailbag.

Vikings Legend Jake Reed was gracious enough to be a special guest. Fans submitted questions that I asked Jake during a phone call. The submitted questions and answers will follow below. It was so great to relay comments and questions to Jake.

I used the phone call as an opportunity to ask a couple I had for him as well. We'll start there and then follow with the questions from fans.

This was all greatly appreciated since I was on vacation last week, catching up on some overdue family time. We are so grateful for the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks in the span of six days.

There was no Wagon Queen Family Truckster involved, but the windshield time was well-spent, and several memories made would have made Clark Griswold proud. The journey also included getting to drive through Monument Valley, which was also incredible.

The traditional format of the Mailbag will return Feb. 26 as a group of Vikings Entertainment Network employees (and a wide swath of the NFL) head to Indianapolis for the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine.

Thanks to everyone who sent in questions for Jake.

Craig: What were the greatest lessons you learned from Coach Eddie Robinson and Coach Green with the Vikings?

Jake: "Well, Coach Eddie Robinson, one thing that always sticks out to me – he used to tell all the guys that, first of all, the nature of self-preservation. So you've got to really take care of yourself if you want to play this game and just, you know, life. Coach Robinson was a great family man, but he taught a lot of different lessons. A great lesson that he taught us, every morning Coach Rob would get up at 6:30 every morning and come through our dorm. We had athletic dorms. He would ring a cowbell and wake all his ball players up and take their meal card. So it was kind of wild – we had to go to the cafeteria to get our meal card. You didn't have to eat, but you had to get your meal card if you wanted to eat that day. His lesson behind that was, 'If you flunk out of school, you cannot tell your parents I didn't wake you up.' And he was just so old-school like that. As a young man, you think that's so crazy. 'Why does this old man keep wakin' us up?' But as you get on in life, you kind of understand that you have to get up in the morning, you have to get moving to be successful. So I learned a lot from that.

"And then when it came to Coach Green, just understanding how to be a young man and getting into the NFL … especially when you come from Grambling, it's a smaller school. There's football there, but it wasn't like the Power 5 where you had all the media and stuff like that. So I had to get used to doing media. I had to get used to the attention that I really got on a larger scale. But Coach Green … he wouldn't make you be up there all offseason working out, through the camps. His thing was, 'If you come into camp out of shape, that's your fault. If you value your job, you'll be in shape. Don't wait to try to get in shape when you get in camp, because you're not gonna make it.' So he just let us be men. He also let the guys, the players, run the locker room. We had a system of seniority in our locker room. Even though I played at a high level, if Randall McDaniel walked in or wanted to turn the radio when me and Cris Carter are lifting weights, since he was a senior/older guy, a Pro Bowl guy, he's gonna turn the radio. I remember times being in the locker room, Mike Morris and Randall McDaniel coming in, me and Cris Carter listening to R&B … and Mike Morris would come in and put on some freakin' heavy metal. And we'd be like, 'Man, we've gotta get out of here.' But that's the way the players ran the locker room. I don't know how they do it now, but that's what we did with the Vikings. Coach Green taught a lot, you know? Just leadership."

Craig: What was the biggest key for you breaking out in 1994? I know Warren Moon signed, so a Hall of Fame QB coming in, but you really took off that year and kept it going.

Jake: "One of the key things, you know, being roommates with Cris Carter at training camp and on the road really taught me how to study the game of football. Just knowing the Xs and Os at a whole different level. And I had players that actually started believing in me, like Warren Moon. Before that, though, I was just a special teams guy. … And then they actually released Anthony Carter, I got pressed into that role, and then I remember … one practice where I kept dropping – I just had a bad day. I was dropping the ball. And I had dropped like two passes, and we came back to the huddle and Warren Moon said, 'Hey, man. You might wanna catch the ball. Because I'm gonna throw it to you every time until you do.' Just having guys around me that trusted me in '94 helped me build my confidence, and I just took off. That was a great year. I was amazed by that year. And then once I got my confidence up, everything else is history."

Craig: What did you enjoy about going to the U.K. to participate in a watch party and seeing the game grow the way it has?

Jake: "Well, I'll tell you what. I was very amazed to see as many Vikings fans as I did over in the U.K. With the Vikings U.K. Fan Club, and I met a lot of good people. It was so interesting to see. There was St. Anne's Academy, the young school that the Vikings have adopted over there, and it was just amazing to see how eager the young kids were to learn flag football – what they call 'American football.' I was talking to the kids, and I made a mistake and said, you know, they were talking about football, and I mentioned 'soccer,' and the kids got all over me – 'Soccer, what is that? We play football.' So I learned a valuable lesson. When I'm in the U.K., don't bring up the word 'soccer.' They don't like that. (Laughs) But I tell you what, to see the game grow the way it has and the kids really participating in flag football and so many things, I think what the NFL has brought is that so many kids said they want to be in the 2028 Olympics [for flag football]. So many kids are all pumped up about the flag football. It was exciting to go over there. It was my first time in London, but man, the people were great, the food was great. They have some really, really loyal Vikings fans in the U.K."

A pretty simple question for Jake Reed. What is the best solution the Vikings can do this offseason? For the draft and/or offseason. Also, just a simple request, it's my birthday on Feb. 19. Can I get a birthday shoutout? I've been a Vikings fan since 1978 when I was 10. #SKOL

— Susan Hanson in Burnsville, Minnesota

"I think the guys, the personnel department with the Vikings, will make some great decisions. Of course, I think we still need to clean up at the quarterback position. But just filling the pieces around. I think we've got a good receiving [corps] of young guys, and just let them continue to get better. And you know what? The defense played well. I just hate to put it like that, but they've just got to clean up on the back end, also. The defense on the back end. I would say that. But we're headed in a good direction. I think once Kirk [Cousins] got hurt, that kind of threw us [off], sidelined us a little bit, because one thing about it – you can have the best receivers possible, but if you don't have the right quarterback, or a good quarterback to get them the ball, it kind of slows the game down. Nowadays, you've got to back those guys up and keep them out of the box to have a great running game. And I think at quarterback, when Kirk got hurt really hurt us. So I think they're going to figure that part out, and once they figure that part out, I think we're always in a good spot to go to that next level. We just always stump our toe right at the end. And if we can get over that hump, the Vikings will be a powerhouse."

Editor's note: Jake recorded a separate message (I sent the audio file and transcript to Susan). Hope she has a wonderful birthday.

View home and away photos of the Vikings 2024 regular season opponents.

Do you realize today the impact that the "Three Deep" team had on you and football?

— Heidi

"It's funny, the type of response I get when I run into Vikings fans about the 'Three Deep.' When you're in the moment, you really don't realize how good or great you are. You're just young and having fun. But I love it that the fans still remember the 'Three Deep.' Out of the 'Three Deep,' I'm the only one that's not a Hall of Famer, but still to be able to get that love from the fans, like I am a Hall of Famer, it's love. And then I see it when I talk to Cris and [Randy] Moss, and it's just amazing that fans still remember and talk about it. So I think, you know, I love it. I love it. I understand the young guys are trying to recreate that type of energy, and I think they can. Because they've got a good receiver corps. It's just a couple more pieces here, and we could get another 'Three Deep' with the Vikings. That would be lovely, huh?"

Who was your favorite coach when you were with the Vikings?

— Joshua Kiel in Owatonna, Minnesota (lifelong fan since 1987)

"I have several, but my favorite coach would probably be Tom Moore, my first receivers coach. When I was a young guy, I had Anthony Carter, I had Hassan Jones, Leo Lewis, Cris Carter. And you know, I knew my first job wasn't going to play. We had all these good receivers. But I learned a lot from all of them. And I'll never forget, Tom Moore was cussing me out every day. He would get me and just blast me every day. One time we played a game, and I think we lost the game, and guys didn't do that well, and I'm in street clothes. And that Monday morning when we're watching film, Tom cussed me out like I was playing. I'm like, 'Man, I'm in street clothes.' I went to Cris Carter and I said, 'Man, I don't understand why this coach keeps on me so hard like that. He keeps pushing me. I'm not playing. You drop the ball, he gets on me.' I [told Moore,] 'I'm on the sideline with you.' Cris and Anthony Carter pumped me up to go ask Tom Moore, 'Hey man, why you keep talking to me like that?' And I did it after practice, like a dummy. And with Tom, boy, 'Well, Jake, let me tell you one thing. When I stop F-ing talking to you like that, you're gonna be on a Greyhound bus outta here.' 'OK, Tom, my buddy. Keep talkin' to me like that. Keep coaching me hard. Keep coaching me up, because I don't wanna be on the Greyhound.' "

Hi Jake,

What was your favorite game?


— Terri

"Well, I always loved playing against Green Bay, whether it was in the Metrodome or at Lambeau, because of the energy. And even though we were rivals, so tough, I think the fans were always great. I remember after one game, we were getting bratwursts from the fans, getting on the bus. I still remember that. Because it's so close to the buses. But I always loved playing Green Bay for some reason. It was just that type of energy. And I think the first year Randy Moss got there with us, I think Green Bay kind of, the first year or the next year, they drafted a bunch of cornerbacks, and I guess they were supposed to stop me and Moss. [Former Offensive Coordinator] Brian Billick said, 'For the first four or five plays, we're running straight go-routes.' We actually did that. We hit two to Moss, they called one back, and turned around and threw one to me, one to Cris and another to Moss. And we lit those young boys up in Green Bay so bad. That was one of my favorite games, and my favorite team to play is Green Bay."

Hey Jake, miss you in the purple and gold. As a former wideout, which member of the Vikings defense poses the biggest threat to quarterbacks, whether it's blanketing opposing wideouts or darting in there to sack/hurry the quarterback??


— Bryan

"Well in my era, it was always John Randle."

Craig: "If you had said anyone else, I would have done a headstand."

"John Randle was a different dude. But people don't realize, my first year in the league, I think, was John Randle's second year. We were roommates. That was interesting. We were roommates, so John, he used to intimidate guys – not just guys on the other team but intimidate guys on our team before he started starting. … He would just go hard every day like he was starting. Like a game day. Guys used to tell John to slow down; he would never slow down. But not only that, he was intimidating for me as a rookie coming in the league, being his roommate. Imagine that. I have stories about that. But to see John's transformation from being a player to now, you know, with the NFL and things he does now is amazing. Because I'll tell you what, my first year as his roommate was scary. A young guy coming in, and John Randle with all that energy and, you know, 'C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon.' And I'm like, 'Dude, we're not even playing tomorrow. We're gonna be in street clothes.' He would make me turn the lights off at 11 o'clock. They did room checks and it's like, 'Man, turn the lights off, we've got a game tomorrow.' I'm like, 'Right, but we are not playing. I want to watch TV.' So John Randle's a guy that made a great impact on defense when we played.

"On the offensive side, we had so many different weapons – from Robert Smith to Randy Moss. When Randy got there, I'd never seen anything like Randy. He was just fast, slim and could do everything. People think, 'Oh, Randy Moss only ran go routes and post routes.' No, Randy Moss could run a bunch of different routes. He was just really good at those gos and posts, but he can run a bunch of different routes. It was amazing to see him and see what he could do. He just took our receiving corps to a whole different level. Because you've gotta remember, the four years before Randy got there, me and Cris had a thousand yards for four years straight. Then when Randy got there, it just took the receiver level to a whole new level and exploded. It was just amazing to see him. I think people realize that during that [season], when Randy had that Thanksgiving game in Dallas, I was starting before Randy. Because I had had four straight 1,000-yard seasons, and I was in there. But that game I had back surgery. I didn't play in that game. I didn't go to Dallas. I remember I told them, 'I told them, I just need to get out of the hospital and watch that Thanksgiving Day game,' because they were trying to hype up, 'Deion Sanders and Randy Moss. And Deion Sanders [didn't play]. He hurt his toe, and Randy Moss – I gotta see this game.' I [had been] starting, and when I got home from the hospital, I saw Randy Moss make three catches for three touchdowns, and in that moment I knew that my job was over. I knew I was the third receiver. But we still had a lot of love for each other. Me and Randy are still great friends to this day. But just seeing Randy do his thing on that day, I knew he was gonna be special."

View the best photos of Vikings arrivals from the 2023 season.

Do you believe there's ever been a wide receiver trio better than 'Three Deep' and, if so, which group?

— Mike Dugo

"Well, I think in the Vikings [history], it's the best. The guys in St. Louis had a good run. I really enjoyed watching Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. I really enjoyed watching those guys play. They were small, they were fast, they were quick. They really did some things. I would say if anybody came close, it was probably that group of receivers. But I think we were such big guys, when we walked up in there, I think we kind of intimidated. You've got me standing there, 6-3 1/2, almost 6-4, Cris is over 6 feet, 6-1, then Randy standing way up there. And we were walking next to those smaller DBs, I think we kind of intimidated them – and especially the younger cornerbacks. Not so much the veteran guys. So I think we had a good thing going with the Vikings with 'Three Deep.' I tell you what, it was special. I look back on it and I'm kind of in awe and 'wow' myself, you know?"

Did you keep some of your touchdown footballs? What are some of your favorite memories from playing for the Vikings? You are still my favorite Viking, Jake, wanted you to know.

Editor's note: A name was not submitted with this question, but I wanted to include.

"No, I didn't keep them all, but I do have some. I've got a lot of my game balls. I don't know if they still paint the game balls up for the players, but I do have a lot of game balls that I put out, but I don't have all my touchdown footballs. When you're young, you don't think to keep that, but you always cherish the game balls that they paint up for you, so I have a lot of those."

View the best photos of Viktor the Viking from the 2023 season.

I collect Vikings jerseys — you know I got yours. Any chance you could follow me on Twitter @NFLYoungestGM.

— Tiger [submitted via X (formerly Twitter)]

"All right, good stuff! I love coming to the games and seeing someone walk around with an old 86 Reed jersey. I'll be like, 'Wow.' I think I went to one game. We parked, and my wife was with me. My wife looked at one young lady and she had my jersey on going to the game. I was like, 'Wow, they're still wearing those retro jerseys.' My wife went up to her and said, 'Oh, you've got a Jake Reed jersey on.' The lady said, 'Yeah, he's one of my favorite guys.' And I'm walking right next to her. [My wife] said, 'Well that's great. He's one of my favorite guys, too. Would you like to meet him?' [The lady] said, 'I would love to meet him.' [My wife] said, 'Here you go.' The young lady tripped out, and it was kind of amazing but fun to see that reaction because I'm just out here living the everyday life now, not a football star or anything. I'm just an everyday guy, and I love to get that reaction when I see a fan like that. That was kind of cool."

Who or what was your inspiration for football?

— Isaac Mapula

"Well, I don't know as far as inspiration. Believe it or not, the guy I used to like a lot since I grew up in Georgia was Billy 'White Shoes' Johnson."

Craig: "Oh yeah, 'The Funky Chicken.'

"Yeah, since I grew up in Georgia and I wanted to be a receiver, every time I caught a touchdown, I would do that little dance. I just liked that guy so I always wanted to be him. He was right there, played for the Falcons, so I would see him more than anyone else, but I just think football came natural to me. I was a big kid, a fast kid and real eager to get out there and play tackle football. We would tackle each other on the sidewalk. That was just one of the things. I just loved the game of football and took to it."

View the best of the travel photos of the Vikings from the 2023 season.

Hey Jake, long-time fan here. Loved watching you and Cris Carter do your work, but I've got to ask the question that everyone from the late '90s wants to know. How bad would the '98 Vikes have steamrolled the Broncos? Thanks for all the great memories.

— Dustin

"Oh, we would have smashed the Broncos. They didn't have enough firepower. I think one simple little play changed the whole game, the whole energy of the game, and I just hate that I did not play in that game because I was coming back from back surgery, so what I did, I rushed myself playing the Arizona game before, and it flared up, so I wasn't able to play in the Atlanta game. I hate I wasn't able to play in the Atlanta game. I was on the sideline. I just knew my guys had it and I was going to try to play in the Super Bowl, but honestly if we had made it, we were going to smash the Broncos. It was going to be epic. I can remember that song, 'Miami,' [in which he sang 'I'm goin' to Miami]. We were all pumped up in the locker room singing, 'We're goin' to Miami.' It was a letdown. 'Will Smith made this song for us. We're goin' to Miami [for the Super Bowl]. It was the right time, but it didn't happen. I truly believe if we had made it there, we would have gotten a ring.'

Jake, what players do you feel would fit us in the upcoming draft? Are there any Jake Reed types to pair with Jordan Addison and [Justin Jefferson]?

— @SKOLChester in the United Kingdom (submitted via X)

"I don't know if they can get [Marvin Harrison, Jr.]. Man, if we could get him along with what we've got now, that would be very special."