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Sendejo Plays Football, Guitar & Piano

MINNEAPOLIS — There's a room in a chic Uptown apartment with a sliding door entry overseen by a stylish Jimi Hendrix portrait.

Not technical enough to be a studio and much less combative than a dojo, this is where Andrew Sendejo spends quality time with two acoustic guitars — a still-shimmering new one with an amp, the other broken in since high school and forever unplugged — and a Yamaha keyboard.

Thousands of Vikings fans have seen Sendejo run, jump and tackle during his four seasons with the Vikings, but few have seen — much less heard — him play quite like this.

Sendejo, a special teams standout and reserve at safety, who worked his way back on the roster after back surgery this offseason recently hosted Beyond the Gridiron and for an informal jam session.

"Every now and then I try to come in here to get away," Sendejo said. "I don't get too much time in here because we're so busy with our schedule but every now and then I'll come in here and just hang out, jam out. It's good, it's relaxing."

Sendejo played trombone in sixth grade band, but it was high school when he learned how much he enjoys playing guitar. Friends in his home state of Texas also had six stringers, and they'd take turns playing the latest songs they'd learned by fires.

Pro football has brought Sendejo to nearly the other end of I-35 from his hometown of San Antonio but those times in the Lone Star State have been reconstituted in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

"I think it's the same if you're listening to a song in your car that you enjoy, you can play it on the guitar and piano but you actually get to do it," Sendejo said. "It's just one of those things where I'm into music and I like the way certain songs sound, so I'll turn up the piano as loud as I can or turn up the amp as loud as I can and play. The neighbors probably don't like it, but that's why I try to do it during the day when hopefully they're at work."

Sendejo can't read sheet music, and he won't claim to write it, but he can take what he hears and figure out how to make several songs sound similar and can be creative with cords.

"I don't really write my own music," Sendejo said. "Every now and then I'll make up stuff but it's not real formal. It's just messing around, especially when I'm in here by myself and no one can hear me, because if it sounds terrible I don't have to worry about it."

His taste is eclectic. This custom set list opens with Pardon Me by Incubus, one of the first songs he learned to play, but this time he's strumming a shiny Taylor 816 CE he picked out at Guitar Center in Edina as a birthday present when he turned 27 in September. Sendejo also riffed on Radiohead and AC/DC on guitar and played a Wiz Khalifa song on the set of ivories he got after the 2013 season.

"I go through a phase where I play the guitar a lot and then you kind of get tired of it, and I'll start playing the piano a little bit," Sendejo said. "You kind of go back and forth, but usually every time I come in here, I'll try to play both just to do it."

Technology — tutorial videos on YouTube — helps Sendejo learn songs on the piano, and timeless tradition helps him enhance his abilities on guitar.

"On the guitar, since I've been playing for a long time, a lot of the songs, I can hear them and it's kind of like if you've been talking on the phone for years and they called you from a different number, you would still know it's their voice," Sendejo said. "It's the same thing, you hear a song and a certain note or a chord, you've heard it so many times, you're like, 'That's a G, that's a C.' You've just got to train your ears. Sometimes I'll learn a song because I'm just messing around and I'll play something and it sounds exactly like one of the songs I've listened to, I'll just kind of go from there, listen to it on my phone and try to play along with it and figure it out."

Sendejo said playing music provided an outlet that was instrumental to his recovering from surgery. He doesn't promote his off the field playing and said some are shocked to learn he can play two instruments. Sendejo, however, is less worried about having an audience and more focused on audio.

"Whenever I tell people I play the guitar or piano, they are shocked, that because I'm a football player, I can't play or it's just odd. I don't understand that," Sendejo said. "I guess you can say it's the softer side of me, but it's one of those things, that because you play football, you're aggressive on the field, you're not like that in everyday life."

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