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Lunchbreak: NFLPA Renames Award After Hall of Famer Alan Page

Vikings Hall of Fame defensive tackle Alan Page built a legacy both on the football field and off of it.

In addition to ransacking offenses off the field, Page also represented players’ interests through the NFL Players Association. His post-career success is immense, and the NFLPA has announced its way of honoring Page, the retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice.

In recognition of Page’s “continued impact on the players union, its members and their surrounding communities,” the NFL Players Association recently “established its highest honor” as the NFLPA Alan Page Community (APC) Award. The following was posted in the press release:

Since 1967, the NFLPA has annually recognized one player who goes above and beyond to perform community service in his hometown and team city. Previously named after former NFL running back and Supreme Court Justice Byron “Whizzer” White, the APC Award will continue in this tradition, serving as the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith provided a statement about the honor being renamed.

“Alan Page has been a stalwart for the players union since his early days as an Executive Committee member as well as a pioneer for social justice during his distinguished 23-year tenure on the Minnesota Supreme Court,” NFLPA Executive Director Smith said. “To this day, Alan continues to serve as a strong ambassador for not only the game of football, but also of the values that we all should hold true – community service, leadership and philanthropy.”

Smith added: “Every NFL player can look to Alan Page as an example on and off the field, which is why it makes perfect sense to have his name on the NFLPA’s highest honor.”

During his 15 seasons in the NFL, 11-plus of which were with the Vikings, Page served as an NFLPA player rep (1970-74; 1976-77) and Executive Committee member (1972-75).

The Pro Football Hall of Famer has also made his mark in the legal field, culminating with his 1992 election as an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Since retiring from the bench in 2015, Page has focused his work on the Alan Page Education Foundation, which he co-founded with his wife in 1988. The organization provides financial assistance and mentoring to minority students in exchange for their further commitment to community service.

According to the NFLPA, the APC award recipient will be annually selected from among the 18 winners of the NFLPA’s Community MVP program, which is returning for its fifth season.

The Community MVP campaign will kick off with a Week 0 edition recognizing those players who performed acts of service during the last month of the offseason. The Week 0 winner will be announced this Friday, with the runner-ups recognized on Monday across the NFLPA’s social media channels.

Spicer ‘reunion’ within Vikings organization

Two small-town, Minnesota natives have reunited within the walls of the Vikings organization.

Brandon Zylstra, who made the 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent who stood out last season in the CFL, and Vikings scout Jake Essler both grew up in Spicer and played together on their high school football team.

Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune recently spoke to the pair of former teammates about reconnecting at the highest level of football – and in their home state, no less. Krammer wrote:

Coming from a small lakes community, neither player attracted Division I programs that populate the NFL radars. Both played college football for Division III programs: Zylstra at Concordia College in Moorhead and Essler at St. John’s just west of St. Cloud.

[…]

Hardships came after college. Zylstra played in the CFL and racked up airline miles from taking part in the NFL regional combine in Arizona to flying from tryout to tryout. Essler grinded through entry-level coaching jobs at St. John’s and University of Minnesota-Duluth. Then a Vikings internship turned into a full-time scouting job this summer.

Krammer included an anecdote about Brandon’s mother, Marcia, who was approached by a woman at a Spicer church who had seen the Zylstra family wearing No. 15 Viking shirts.

“She’s like, where do you get them? I want one,” Marcia Zylstra told Krammer. “I bet we could sell 500 of them around here.”

There’s a good chance they have already.

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