By Kabrione Coleman, For Vikings.com
EAGAN, Minn.– Head Coach Mike Zimmer invited special guests to the final minicamp practice.
Vikings Legends gathered to watch practice and enjoyed some BBQ afterwards. During the press conference with Twin Cities media, Zimmer shared his thoughts on how he feels about the players and coaches who came before him. He explained his appreciation for how they paved the way for his team.
“I think it’s important,” said Zimmer. “A lot of [current players] have pretty good lives and pretty good careers because of those guys. If those guys wouldn’t have done the things they did, then these guys wouldn’t have the opportunities that they have. I think it’s important that we honor the guys that came before us. Not only with the Vikings but in the entire NFL.”
Not only is it important to Zimmer to pay respect to the players and coaches who came before him, but current players value them as well.
After practice, Adam Thielen told reporters, “It’s great. Obviously those guys are the reason why we’re here. We owe a lot to those guys because we wouldn’t be able to play this game for a living if it wasn’t for them, the guys before us. It’s always great to meet those guys and hear their stories.”
For many of the Vikings Legends, Thursday was their first time visiting the new team headquarters, Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center. The players said they were impressed by the facility.
“I think that it is really amazing,” said former cornerback John Swain (1981-84). “I am just struck in terms of just how beautiful the facility is. It’s so impressive, and I am so glad I got the opportunity to come out today.”
Former wide receiver John Henderson (1968-72) added: “It’s heads and shoulders above what we had 40 years ago. To compare that to what we have now here is just 180 degrees from what we used to have. I am just awestruck at the beauty of this place.”
During the BBQ, Legends were able to enjoy fellowship with each other and share memories.
“We are always tight,” said former running back Chuck Foreman (1973-79). “I might not see some of these guys for a year or so, but when we see each other, it’s like we just saw each other yesterday. It’s a special and unique group, and it’s a privilege to be a part of it.”
The annual Alumni BBQ is a tradition that likely won’t go anywhere any time soon. The Legends are continuously encouraged to come back, especially while the Vikings are under the leadership of Zimmer.
“I think he’s been good for the Legends,” Henderson said. “Coaches have different styles, and Coach Zimmer has embraced the Legends because he knows that many of the Legends helped build the foundation for the Vikings, and so he welcomes us and he encourages us to come. He values many of the Legends and the history of the organization, and I think we as Legends, appreciate that.”