EAGAN, Minn. — While much of Saturday at Verizon Vikings Training Camp will focus on the excitement of the annual night practice and fireworks that follow, the sunny, calm and quiet morning walk-through provided an opportunity for the Vikings to welcome youth and police officers from Bloomington.
Ten young people who have faced hardships were buddied with 10 police officers for the visit and an ensuing to go back-to-school shopping trip. Each young person received a $150 gift card for the mentored shopping excursion.
"[The Vikings] invited us out to spend a few minutes with the team, and they couldn't have been nicer," said Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts. "Ten officers and 10 kids got to have a great day, and the Vikings were a great host.
"Some of [the youth] have had some unfortunate situations happen in their lives, and this is one way we can try to do something for them, help them get ready for school and build relationships with police officers," Chief Potts said. "We think it's really important to have police officers interacting with our youth in a non-stressful situation, a non-enforcement situation. What could be better than bringing them out to Vikings training camp?"
Each young person received a backpack from the Vikings and a special welcome from Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who insisted that the group walk out on the practice fields to be closer to the action.
Zimmer, whose Mike Zimmer Foundation held its own **backpack distribution** on Tuesday, opened his press conference by saying how great it was to welcome the group to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
"We've got the Bloomington Police Department out here today," Zimmer said. "They're taking kids from Bloomington shopping, getting ready to get back to school. Vikings Ownership gave them all backpacks, so that was nice."
One shy young man was able to meet Everson Griffen for a few minutes. Griffen gave the boy the bucket hat off of his head for a photo.
"It's a little sweaty, but you can keep it," Griffen told the young man.
After they chatted for a few minutes, Griffen returned from the locker room with a new pair of gloves for the young man, who smiled broadly.
"Everson Griffen gave a little kid his hat," Potts said. "The kid was a little bit anxious. You could see he was starting to get a little bit restless, and Everson just calmed him down, gave him his gloves and a hat. The kid was just ecstatic."
Quote of the Day
Note: This is from Friday afternoon when Kyle Rudolph participated in a media session.
"He works extremely hard. If you're not, as they say, 'swimming,' at this point, then they're probably not expecting much out of you. It's always better to be swimming than drowning. He's doing everything he can to learn this playbook. That's what you want as a player. When you come into this league, you don't want to be pushed off to the side and brought along slowly. Any guy that is competitive will want to be thrown into the fire and compete."
— Rudolph on rookie Irv Smith, Jr., adjusting with the Vikings
The second year of holding Vikings training camp at TCO Performance Center/TCO Stadium has continued some traditions and enabled the launch of new fan-friendly activities. Twin Cities Orthopedics put together a video that captures some of the action so far. Be on the lookout for longtime fan — and camp attendee since 1985! — Rick Childs:
Younger fans enjoyed multiple photo ops around training camp on Friday:
The Vikings are scheduled to practice from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. with fireworks to follow (events at TCO Performance Center are scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. The evening session is at capacity, and players are off Sunday, but there are tickets remaining for other camp sessions. Click **here** for details.