Harrison Phillips walked across the Minnesota Vikings Museum floor, a new purple Norseman shirt stretched across broad shoulders.
He approached the row of kiosks honoring Pro Football Hall of Famers, going straight to the one highlighting John Randle's storied career and placed his hand – which will soon set in the dirt during Vikings practices – onto Randle's handprint forever impressed on a silver football.
But then Phillips laughed, realizing the irony of the situation, and turned around to face Randle himself, standing just behind him.
"I guess we could just do it like this," Phillips smiled, extending his arm and meeting Randle's open palm with his own. "Yep, looks about right."
It seems only fitting that one of Phillips' first stops after signing with the Vikings is the team's museum, where he and new Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks were greeted warmly by Randle.
Vikings Legend John Randle gave DT Harrison Phillips and LB Jordan Hicks a tour of the Vikings Museum during their first day with the team.
Phillips' first day as a member of Minnesota's roster is not his first time meeting the Hall of Fame defensive tackle. When Phillips participated in the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis – where, for the record, his 42 bench press reps led the entire class – he connected with Randle, who was representing the NFL Legends community.
"You're put into different position groups at the combine, and defensive line was split into three groups, and he was our chaperone. So he [took] us from the [40-yard dash], to the short shuttles, whatever," Phillips recalls. "I remember sitting and having breakfast with him one morning – I just sat at his table and talked shop with him."
Randle said he's been waiting for such a moment to happen.
"That's something that in the Legends Community, we've talked about that – 'Possibly one day, you're going to meet a guy that you have mentored at the draft or at the combine, you're going to see him years later," Randle said. "So we reflect upon, you never know where a relationship or that journey's going to take a guy. It's just wonderful to see that."
Hicks also considered it an honor to learn about franchise history from one of the very players who helped establish the Vikings legacy.
"It's awesome to see the history. How deep it is. You hear about the fans and the team, and it's cool to be here to experience it, be immersed in it, and really get my first introduction to what it's going to be like playing here," Hicks said.
Hicks said it was overwhelming – in a good way – to see so much of the team's story chronicled in one place.
"I mean, there's so much. It's wild to see how far back the history goes," he said. "And to have it all here, to see the different game balls – from Fran Tarkenton to Adrian Peterson – guys that you've seen play, and guys that you've heard of [their careers], and then to have jerseys and busts of this guy (Randle) here? It's amazing.
"It's the progression," Hicks added. "Seeing the progression from where the team started and how it's emerged and evolved over the years, it's amazing."
He and Phillips learned about the Vikings Ring of Honor members, viewed the "Frozen in Time" columns recognizing those whose jerseys have been retired and learned about the three stadiums the team played in before U.S. Bank Stadium opened in 2016.
The new teammates noted the evolvement of Vikings mascots over the years, heard Randle's stories about non-air-conditioned dormitories when training camp was hosted in Mankato and studied the Bud Grant exhibit closely.
Randle showed Hicks and Phillips the Minneapolis Miracle wall and various exhibits paying homage to the team's most successful seasons and eras. Phillips, who was one of five finalists in 2020 for the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award, most enjoyed seeing the odes to Page and the Purple People Eaters.
"I did my research on him when I found out the name of the award," Phillips said. "It's really cool what he's done, and I really like how well the Vikings organization honors him and respect that, too. That stuck out the most to me."
He emphasized that it was "incredible" to tour the museum with Randle, a player whose career he's looked up to since being a youngster growing up in Omaha, Nebraska.
"Think about growing up, you're talking about the all-time sacks leader for defensive tackles in the NFL," Phillips said. "To be honest, I hope some of his greatness rubs off on me, just through some osmosis or something.
"He knows his stuff, too," Phillips added. "And he's not a very selfish man. He's not showing me his plaque and stuff. He's showing me the history and the legacy of the Vikings. So yeah, this is a really cool experience."
Among the exhibits Randle drew the new Vikings to was the "Decade of Dominance," the period in which Minnesota went to four Super Bowls and earned 11 division titles under Grant.
"They [won't] tell you this, but they're looking for some fresh blood," Randle told Hicks and Phillips. "They're hoping someone else can do this again."
Phillips exchanged smiles with Hicks.
"Why not us, right?" He said, posing the hypothetical question.
The defensive tackle knows that simply adding two new players to the defense doesn't equal success for Minnesota. But with the existing pieces on the roster and excitement around new General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Head Coach Kevin O'Connell, Phillips and Hicks hope they can contribute to something special.
Phillips noted it's important to have "buy-in" from the players and the right people in place in the organization, both of which he perceives are true in Minnesota.
"I know Jordan and I are super excited about the leadership component, that we can try to come in and get everybody on the same page," Phillips said. "It starts with winning the division. I think we all have goals of that to happen, and speaking with all of our coaches today and seeing the facility, they're showing us that they're putting the investment into it, and we can see the writing on the wall of what they want to accomplish."
Added Hicks: "Knowing the energy of Coach O'Connell, how everything is being put together, pieced so intentional – everything has a purpose – it's exciting because you know that's the right direction. This team has an excitement around it, has a buzz, and I'm excited to get hands-on, go play some games and win. To bring this city some wins."
Randle hopes to see the same, and he appreciated the opportunity to spend a portion of Hicks' and Phillips' first day as Vikings with them.
"This is home. This is my organization. This is what I was part of – blood, sweat and tears. If I can assist my organization in any capacity, I love to," Randle said. "When you play in the National Football League, it's not just about playing or being a player – there are other ways of giving back. So this is my way of giving back. To be a Legend in this game, and to speak about an organization that I love and cherish, why not?"
The Vikings Museum visit proved a highlight for Phillips during a whirlwind day that included an emotional signing of his new contract.
"I was in the room by myself and had one last signature to sign, and I just sat there and took a breath in, and the tears started rolling," he said. "It's like, 'I've dreamed of stuff like this my whole life. I worked my whole life for this.'
"And it's just the beginning. There are no complacencies in my vocabulary at all," he added. "I signed on the dotted line, wiped my tears, got up and said, 'All right. Where's the weight room? Let's go.' It feels good to be here."