EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —Case Keenum's one-year deal that the quarterback signed last April was inked with a slight trepidation about what a winter — particularly heavy doses of snow — here could be like.
The Texas native, who attended college at the University of Houston and played professionally for the Houston Texans and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, bonded with new teammates in spring and summer.
In early fall, he was called upon to lead the offensive huddle.
He nearly led the Vikings all the way into the organization's first February football game and fifth appearance in the Super Bowl.
Keenum's neighbors in Minnesota have surprised him by shoveling his driveway more than once, and his family enjoyed playing in the snow during a recent visit to the Twin Cities.
On Monday morning, after a numbing 38-7 loss in Philadelphia, a winter storm began dumping snow, blankets at a time.
Keenum, meanwhile, showered compliments on his Vikings teammates who went 13-3, won the NFC North and delivered one of the most remarkable finishes of a game in postseason history. That doesn't mean that the sting wasn't still lingering and won't for some time.
"For the fans, obviously not how we wanted to end it," Keenum said. "There's a lot you can't take away from us as Vikings this year and what we were able to accomplish and the moments and memories that we're going to be able to share forever. I know I appreciated it, and my wife really appreciated it.
"We appreciate Minnesota and how welcoming and open that you guys have been," Keenum said. "It's been an incredible season for us as a family, for us as a team, a family-team. I can't say thanks enough, so I appreciate everyone."
Keenum went to bed late, barely slept and woke up early. He watched the film of the game that ended a feel-good sports story.
"Times like these, these tough times, that's what makes those good times that much better and why it's so tough to win it all and why it's so rare," Keenum said. "I've been on a lot of teams where guys haven't made it to the playoffs. As much as it hurts right now, we still have a lot to be proud of."
Asked how he would explain this season to others once the air had cleared, Keenum turned to his first start at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 3 against Tampa Bay. Minnesota had struggled at Pittsburgh the previous week, but the Vikings throttled the Buccaneers thanks to a career-best 369 yards by Keenum, who was presented a game ball by Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
"Coming back after Pittsburgh and beating Tampa and getting the game ball after that with the guys surrounding me in the locker room, is one of the highlights of my career, for sure," Keenum said. "Beating Detroit on Thanksgiving was awesome. Beating [my] old team — when you put so much into it, it feels good. I don't think anybody can take away from any Vikings fan the 'Miracle,' so [there are] a lot of great things that the Vikings family gets to share from this season."
Keenum referenced what became his final pass this season at U.S. Bank Stadium, a 61-yard touchdown to Stefon Diggs on the final play of Minnesota's Divisional round game against New Orleans.
View images from 'move out day' as players said their goodbyes and cleared out their lockers at Winter Park on Monday.
Minnesota was hoping to build momentum from that play, win on the road in a tough environment at top-seeded Philadelphia and become the first team to participate in a Super Bowl in its home venue.
Instead, the questions steered toward future homes of Minnesota's quarterbacks. Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater all have contracts that are scheduled to expire.
"I really haven't thought too much about it," Keenum said. "I love this team. I love these guys, the coaching staff. I love this whole organization. The Wilfs are awesome. The day I signed, I got a call from the owner to welcome me to the team. They don't have to do that. That's really cool.
"From the top down, it trickles down, the attitude, the character, the culture they have around here is awesome," Keenum said. "Not to mention Minnesota itself, the people here have been great. My biggest fear in coming here was the snow, and I didn't even shovel that. It's been a great year."