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Timeout with Eric Wilson


Eric Wilson has a history with — and against — Detroit.

The Vikings linebacker grew up in Redford, Michigan, which is fewer than 20 miles from the Lions home stadium of Ford Field.

But he wasn't a big fan of the team.

"I never grew up a Lions fan … more of a Tigers fan," Wilson said. "More just fans of good players … a lot of respect for Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson."

Now in his third season with the Vikings, Wilson has made seven career starts — with three of them against the Lions.

He started both games against Detroit in 2018 and was also a starter in Week 7 of the 2019 season when the Vikings earned a 42-30 win. (Wilson has made six of his seven starts against NFC North opponents).

"I was just excited. Excited to be out there, especially in my hometown," Wilson said of the games he's started in Detroit. "I had about 30 people there, just family and friends watching. I was just excited to go make plays."

"I think last year I started both Lions games and both Bears games," Wilson added. "Those are big, important games — division games — and it was great to get experience in those."

Wilson said he likes how his game has improved since arriving as an undrafted free agent from the University of Cincinnati in the spring of 2017.

But he also emphasized the importance of providing depth for the Vikings defense at a moment's notice.

"I think I've been doing a good job. I've been steadily trying to get better in any way that I can," Wilson said. "Just improve on the details and the fundamentals of the game. Those are important, especially at this time of the year.

"And anywhere you look, you have to have guys ready to play and step up," Wilson added. "Even if it's only for one play, or for a whole game, you have to be ready and know the game plan even if you're not listed as starting that week. You have to know all the intricacies and stay ready during the week."

Wilson has 4.0 sacks in his career, two of which came in Week 3 against Oakland in September. Another occurred against the Bears in Week 11 of the 2018 season.

The fourth, naturally, happened at Ford Field against the Lions in Week 16 last season.

We caught up with Eric to talk about the Vikings linebackers group, visor sponsorships and whether or not he has ties to Lizzo:

Q: Your position group seems especially close. What's the vibe like in the linebackers room?

A: "It's great. Our linebackers … we're a family, we're a tight group. We hang out a lot off the field and have a lot of fun on the field, so it's a great room."

Q: You traveled with Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr last offseason … anything planned for 2020?

A: "We went to Japan, and that was awesome. Not only to see Japan and everything it had to offer, but to bond with the guys. We don't have a concrete plan [for 2020], but we were maybe thinking about Australia. But to get there, we might have to make a couple stops along the way. We have to talk more about it."

Q: You blocked a punt in Week 1 that left your helmet visor with blood on it. Did you ever get the Oakley sponsorship you wanted?

A: "I didn't get the sponsorship. Last year, too, I got smashed in the face and had an Under Armour imprint on my face. I didn't get a sponsorship from that, either. I don't know what's going on with these visor sponsorships … I need to talk to them."

Q: I noticed you have the Wilson Sporting Goods logo tattooed inside of a football on your left chest. What's the story behind that?

A: "I got that back when I was 16 or 17, in high school. I thought it was pretty unique that dang near every football had Wilson on it. That is one of my passions, so why not put that on and represent? It's on my left chest, along with my football numbers over the top of it."

Q: Is that every number you've worn?

A: "That I've worn so far for a good period of time. I was a couple different numbers in high school, but the number I was most was 11. And then 23 was my number in college. I don't have 50 [tattooed] yet, though."

Q: Time for the most serious question on here. We all know Lizzo sings about the "new man on the Minnesota Vikings" in her song "Truth Hurts." She recently said he is from the Detroit area. You are from the Detroit area … is it you?

A: "I did hear about that, and a lot of people hit me up asking if I'm the new man or have any type of connection. But I don't. My mom actually hit me up last [month] asking me questions about that … my uncle, a whole bunch of friends. But it's not me. I need to do some more investigating."

Q: I'm guessing a lot of your teammates razz you about that?

A: "Oh, yeah. Kirk [Cousins] and Adam [Thielen] were asking me if that was me. It's not."

Editor's note: This Timeout will run in Sunday's Playbook game program, which was sent to print on Wednesday. Lizzo posted this tweet Wednesday about the mystery man. Vikings fans know what to do: