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Vikings Legends Reconnect During Visit to Vikings OTA Practice


EAGAN, Minn. — Shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder they stood: Pro Bowl safety, Pro Bowl safety, Pro Bowl safety.

Harrison Smith joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Krause and Vikings Ring of Honor member Joey Browner Wednesday after Minnesota's voluntary Organized Team Activity practice for a photo and chat.

It's been quite frequent over the years for Smith to converse with Krause, who recorded a franchise-record 53 of his NFL record 81 career interceptions while donning the No. 22 Vikings jersey. Smith has repped that same number for the past 10 seasons, totaling 29 interceptions.

View photos of Vikings Legends who attended an OTA practice on June 1 at the TCO Performance Center.

But the opportunity to speak with Browner has been more fleeting, despite the 62-year-old living in Eagan, home of Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

"It's a walk back through history, because Paul Krause was the first one of the safeties before I was drafted," Browner said. "And then Harrison is in the 2000s, so it's like a walk through history."

Krause joined Minnesota in 1968 and played through 1979 after spending his first four seasons with Washington.

Browner was selected in the first round (19th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft. He played nine seasons and made the Pro Bowl six consecutive seasons from 1985-90, a span that began with Hall of Fame Head Coach Bud Grant's final season and continued in Ring of Honor Head Coach Jerry Burns' first.

Smith was tabbed with the 29th overall pick near the end of the first round in 2012 and is gearing up for his 11th season. Together they covered parts or all of six decades in team history (out of seven so far).

View photos from the Vikings OTA practice which took place on June 1 at the TCO Performance Center.

Krause, who made six of his eight career Pro Bowls while with Minnesota, a level of success matched by Browner and Smith (2015-19; 2021).

Browner appreciated the opportunity to visit with more than 20 Legends who enjoyed lunch together before catching the second half of practice.

Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell jogged over to welcome the alumni and encourage them to visit again.

"Just trying to get these guys around our team. I told them today, every time we can have that connection between the past and present, with the history of this organization, I think that's a real positive," O'Connell told media members. "We'll try to make it happen as much as we can. You'll see them out here a ton during training camp and hopefully at a lot of our games."

He wore a black hat with the modern Norseman logo on the front and a quarter zip with the old-school longship logo from the team's early days, intentionally or not connecting the organization's past and present.

General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, players who have been with the team for several seasons and newcomers like Harrison Phillips made sure to check in with the Legends.

So did safety Lewis Cine, who was selected with the 32nd overall pick to cap the opening night of the 2022 NFL Draft. Cine became the first player at the position to be selected by Minnesota in a first round since Smith in 2012. He soaked up his conversation with the Legends as well.

"That's what it's about, new beginnings," Browner said. "Everything is set at the beginning again, so the opportunity is there."