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Lunchbreak: Kevin Warren to be Recognized as NFL Pioneer

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Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren has established himself as a trailblazer in the league.

The highest-ranking African American on the business side of an NFL team will be recognized this Saturday "for breaking a major barrier" at a private reception in Houston, the host city for Super Bowl LI.

ESPN's Jason Reid posted a feature on Warren and his journey to his current position. Reid wrote:

Warren had prepared to be successful in whatever field he chose. You could also say that he was destined to rise high: Warren was born into a family of achievers.

His father, Dr. Morrison Warren Sr., became president of the Fiesta Bowl board of directors in 1982, making him the first African American to hold that title among the major college bowl games committees. Back in the early 1960s, one of Warren's brothers was one of the first black scholarship athletes at Stanford.

According to Warren, his parents gave him the advice that has stuck with him to this day and helped him rise through the ranks in professional sports.

"I've always remembered it," Warren told Reid. "Focus on being the absolute very best for that day. Don't worry about adding up the days. The days will add up themselves.

"Literally every day that I get up and go to the office, I just focus on that day," Warren continued. "What can I do that specific day, thinking of my parents, to be absolutely the best I can be personally, and the best that I can be for the organization?"

As the NFL's only black chief operating officer, Warren's goal is to continue making a positive impact and hopefully support continued change.

"Owners, not only in the National Football League, but in other pro sports and in parts of corporate America, may make a determination on my performance, my attitude, my moxie, my style, my grace and my professionalism," Warren told Reid. "They may weigh that to make a determination on whether they give another person of color, especially a black male or female, an opportunity to be in a leadership role. So that's what I think about every day.

New York Times highlights Vikings, U.S. Bank Stadium

The Vikings were recently featured in The New York Times for their partnership with Andrew Zimmern and effort to transform the concept of stadium cuisine. Reporter Kim Severson wrote the following:

As another Super Bowl nears, the Vikings, with a few other teams in the National Football League, are leading a charge to upgrade food in the tradition-bound world of football stadium concessions, one of last big captive markets to address the broadening culinary sensibilities of fans.

Severson quoted the Star Tribune's restaurant critic Rick Nelson, who said, "The Vikings have done a nice job of making people want to go inside and eat."

According to Severson, food quality has been improving in places "where people gather for reasons other than to eat" and said that Major League Baseball has been at the forefront of that area for professional sports.

*Baseball is played at a slower pace, with built-in breaks that allow fans to wander around a stadium sampling food. The crowds are smaller, and stadiums are open for about 80 games a season, which makes it easier to polish and sustain creative concessions. *

Football is a different beast. Crowds can top 80,000 fans, most of whom want to be in their seats for every play and visit concession stands only before the game and at halftime. With only eight regular home games a season, it's hard to create a system that produces consistently great food.

Football has not come along quite as quickly, but Zimmern and the Vikings are seeking to change that perception.

Rudolph featured in City Pages' People Issue

Each year, City Pages releases a People Issue that highlights individuals who "make Minnesota a better place to live."

One of this year's features may not be a Minnesota native but has made the state his home: Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph.

Erik Thompson of City Pages wrote the following about Rudolph's humanitarian work in the Twin Cities:

For some pro athletes, finding the same gratification off the field as on it proves a challenge. But for Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, his charity work for the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital is as enriching as anything on the gridiron.

Thompson wrote about Rudolph and his wife Jordan's involvement with the children's hospital through various holiday parties throughout the year and also highlighted the new "Trip to the North Pole" event that Rudolph hosted in December.

"I have really embraced the Twin Cities community as home, and it has embraced my wife Jordan and now our twin daughters," Rudolph told Thompson. "We want to do all we can to impact the community as much as possible in a positive way."

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