EAGAN, Minn. — The "ST" on the hat wearer's right temple is easy to connect to Special Teams, a unit that blends offensive and defensive players into collective missions.
The interlocking triangles on the front build on that idea, representing "mind, body and soul."
"If you look at who we are as a team, the mind of the team, we have an offensive-minded head coach. The offense is constantly finding ways to manipulate defenses, control defenses and always be in front of the sticks," Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels said. "You look at the body of the team, it's essentially the defense, and the soul of the team, if you combine the offense and defense together, you get special teams."
The design culminated from offseason research conducted by Daniels, Assistant Special Teams Coordinator Dalmin Gibson and Football Video Coordinator Oliver Bowling.
"We started looking at images, Viking logos, and something that kept popping up was a lot of triangles and runes," Daniels said. "The runes were essentially their alphabet, and each rune meant something to them.
"In the Viking culture, the interconnected triangles represented the mind, body and soul, which leads to victory over darkness," he added.
Daniels opted for having the triangles of a valknut point down because of a phrase the special teams unit uses: "We stay down until we come up."
In the spring, Daniels, Gibson and Bowling researched runes' meanings and identified the virtues they believe to be most important to the football team, leading to selection of the word "TRYGGÕ" as a representation of the group's "true north."
"For us, TRYGGÕ is 'I seek the truth, even when it's a hard truth.' For us, we talk about that being an accountability aspect of the team," Daniels said. "You always want to hold your teammates to a high standard and also be accountable to yourself, so we're asking, 'Did we pour everything into our teammates? Did I do my job that was expected of me on a daily basis?'
"From there, 'I am true to those I pledge my service to.' That might be family, teammates," Daniels added. " 'As I press on against all odds and hold nothing negative, the goal is met, the task is finished.' That's just commitment to yourself and teammates."
Vikings linebacker and core special teams player Troy Dye appreciates the depth of the messaging and authentic connection it has to football.
"It's super dope when they bring in an outside source and you can tie it into our sport because sometimes it can get lost in the small things — 'We've got to do this. We've got to do this.' But when you get an outside source like that, there's more meaning behind, not just football, but it helps you in life," Dye said. "There's three different phases that have to work together, and I feel like this is life in general. There's all these different things you have to work together to get to go to one thing."
Daniels on Thursday was included in the top five special teams coordinators in the NFL based on results from a players’ survey released by the NFLPA (Brian Flores also made the top five defensive coordinators).
Players have described the strong connections that Daniels has guided since his hire in 2022.
Dye's locker at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center has two cards taped to it. Each features a quote Daniels provided to special teams players.
"I always keep it at my locker to remind myself it's not just myself out there. It's bigger than me," Dye said. "It's a team sport and a history thing. I'm not just playing for myself. I'm playing for all the guys who played before me and the guys who come after me. It sounds cliché, but it's how it is because I know in 10-15 years when I watch the Vikings, I'm going to be super involved, 'Man, this is the team I played for,' like how I watch Oregon."