MINNEAPOLIS —Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman braved near-perfect conditions Thursday afternoon at the 2017 Polar Plunge.
With the temperature in the teens and a wind-chill that felt like 2 degrees, Spielman partook in the icy event for the third straight year to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics Minnesota.
"[I was thinking] the same thing that went through my mind the last two times I did it," Spielman said with a laugh. "You know it's going to be cold, you know it's going to be shocking, but you know it's for a great cause.
"You kind of man up and take it, get in and get underneath that water so you get your hair wet, and then get out as quick as you can," he added.
According to organizers, the pool that participants plunged into was filled with water estimated at 45 degrees or so from a nearby fire hydrant around 6 a.m. Thursday.
So how cold was it by noon? Cold enough that the water had to be stirred regularly with a long metal stick to keep from freezing over.
"It's an eye-opener," Spielman said. "They said they had an inch of ice (on the water) … it was extremely cold but it was great."
Dressed in a long-sleeved Purple shirt with a Norseman logo, Spielman didn't tiptoe into the pool. Instead, he unleashed a cannonball of sorts with a big splash.
"I don't know if I'm going to win any Olympic contests," Spielman said. "I'd probably get a (score of) minus-10, but you might as well enjoy it if you're going to do it all the way."
Special Olympics Minnesota President/CEO Dave Dorn said, "Rick is always great, not only for good form but usually for good commentary afterwards. He was perfect today."
The event is near and dear to Spielman, whose family is actively involved in Special Olympics Minnesota. He said this is one of his favorite events of the year.
Vikings GM Rick Spielman took part in a Polar Plunge on Thursday to benefit the Special Olympics.
"Just because of the cause and because it hits so close to home," Spielman said. "I have a daughter that is special needs that participates in the events.
"To see those kids go out there and get an opportunity to compete in an athletic event just like all the other kids, to see their competitive spirit and emotions when they win and lose, it's something that's very unique and special."
Spielman was joined by other notable Twin Cities sports leaders in Timberwolves President Chris Wright, Twins President Dave St. Peter, Wild Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka, Minnesota United FC President Nick Rogers and Fox Sports North Senior Vice President/GM Mike Dimond.
Dorn said Thursday's event, which only featured a few plungers, raised more than $30,000 for Special Olympics Minnesota. He said the support from Minnesota's professional sports franchises is priceless.
"We have over 10,000 athletes that participate year-round through different sports," Dorn said. "It's people with and without disabilities competing together.
"We're very much fans of sports, and to have the heads of the five major sports teams that we have here in the Twin Cities, that's a great thing," he added.
Thursday's Polar Plunge was the first one held downtown. The event took place at the U.S. Bank Plaza.
A small crowd gathered near the pool while dozens of others watched inside from nearby buildings.
Both Dorn and Spielman said the bustle of downtown provided an entertaining scene.
"It's the first of many because it's so much fun," Dorn said. "We've been doing this for many, many years but to bring it to an area where people can see it for the first time … and then you have all the pro sports executives … the whole community can see these are really good guys who are doing good work."
Added Spielman: "When you got here and saw the pool, you knew it was going to be cold. But it was cool coming downtown … it was a pretty cool atmosphere."