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Lunch Break, 12/18: Sullivan Anchoring O-Line Despite Turmoil

John Sullivan has been the one few mainstays across the offensive unit this season and that is no surprise. Sullivan has been a consistent, reliable, steadying force throughout his entire career.

View images from the Wednesday, December 17 practice at Winter Park.

Mark Craig of the Star Tribune caught up with Sullivan about his career as it stands now:

No kid dreams of growing up to play center in the NFL. Not even the ones who grow up and start 91 games at center in the NFL.

"I actually wanted to play corner," said Vikings center John Sullivan, sporting the, um, wide base and low center of gravity that makes centers and wrestlers very good and cornerbacks, well, ex-cornerbacks.

"I was a big Rod Woodson fan. But pretty early on, I knew that wasn't going to quite work out for me. By fourth grade, I was a center."

Except for a one-year stint at tackle his sophomore year at Greenwich (Conn.) High School, Sullivan has been a center from age 10 up. The Vikings took him in the sixth round of the 2008 draft out of Notre Dame, and after a year of backing up Matt Birk, he is now finishing his sixth season as a starter at age 29.

On Sunday in Miami, when injuries likely will force the Vikings to turn to three backup offensive linemen once again, Sullivan will start his 15th game of the season and 92nd regular-season game of his career. In doing so, he will tie Jeff Christy (1993-99) for fourth place on the team's list of career starts for a center.

"I didn't know I was making my way up the list until a couple weeks ago," Sullivan said. "Obviously, I knew of Matt, I knew of Jeff Christy and when I got here, I learned all about Mick Tingelhoff. What an incredible list to be a part of."

After Christy, Dennis Swilley (1977-87) is third with 101 starts. Then it's Birk (1998-08) at 123. And then it's Tingelhoff, a 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame senior committee candidate, on the mountaintop with 240 consecutive starts from 1962 to 1978.

"I asked [assistant director of public relations] Tom West, 'How long before I catch Mick?' " Sullivan said. "And he said, 'You'd have to start every game until [2024].' "

"I think that puts me at my [17th] year," Sullivan said. "I'm not saying that's not possible. But it's too far down the road.

Sullivan has been a leader on this offense for the past several years and proves to be so for the foreseeable future.

Quick Hitters

  • From Tim Yotter of Viking Update: Mauti: Latest knee injury 'a speed bump'.
  • Vikings vet lobbies for Harrison Smith, Everson Griffen to Pro Bowl via 1500 ESPN.
  • Brian Murphy: Sharrif Floyd anticipates return in Miami.
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