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Vikings Family Remembers Life & Legacy of Longtime NFL Reporter Don Banks


EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings are sending condolences to the family of Don Banks.

The longtime NFL reporter passed away in his sleep early Sunday morning after covering the Hall of Fame festivities in Canton, Ohio. He was 57.

Banks covered the Vikings beat for both the Star Tribune (1996-99) and the Pioneer Press (1999-2000) and came to be known not only for his writing talents but for his kind nature and high character.

Vikings Executive Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski first met Banks when he moved from Miami to Minnesota in 1999 to begin his new role in the Vikings front office.

He recalled his first interaction with Banks, who explained to him that while he would appreciate help and information regarding the salary cap, Collective Bargaining Agreement, et cetera, he would never put Brzezinski in a difficult spot or pry for confidential information.

Banks always held true to his word.

"Don just always did things the right away," Brzezinski said. "His ethics were incomparable. He would never do anything to compromise his integrity or anybody else's to get a story or break a story."

He remembered the way Banks regularly asked – "and it was authentic" – about the well-being of his family and get to know Brzezinski as a person and a friend.

"He was just so well-respected by his peers, everybody in the league, for being a guy that was a good person and outstanding writer. He had such a unique writing talent," Brzezinski said.

Brzezinski emphasized the "dog-eat-dog world" of beat reporters in a time before social media, and ESPN's Kevin Seifert also mentioned the sometimes cutthroat nature of the industry.

Seifert filled Banks' vacancy at the Star Tribune when he transitioned to the Pioneer Press, and the two overlapped on the Twin Cities NFL beat.  

"Don was a super competitive beat reporter during his time in Minnesota, but he always worked hard to draw the line between competing and maintaining human relationships with the rest of the media crew," Seifert said. "That was such a tough balance to strike, because it could get pretty tense in those days. But he managed to do it.

"After he left the Vikings beat, he took that approach to the national market and earned a reputation for a hard-charging and fair reporter who would call it like he saw it," Seifert continued. "He'll be missed by everyone."

Prior to his time in Minnesota, Banks covered the Buccaneers for the St. Petersburg Times. After working in Minnesota, Banks covered the NFL on a national level for, Bleacher Report,, The Athletic and Sports Illustrated. He most recently was hired by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

An outpouring of respects, memories and personal stories have followed the news of Banks' passing. Among those who shared were friend and former Pioneer Press reporter Sean Jensen, who **posted a tribute via Twitter**, and close friend Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, who was **quoted in the Review-Journal**:

"He was so excited about coming to the Review-Journal," Farmer said. "It was as if a cloud had been lifted. He was so ready. It was going to be special. He was the first one in the press box (this week) for the (Hall of Fame) game. His notebooks were lined up perfectly on one side and his pens on the other.

"He wanted to show everyone again what an incredible talent he was," he added. "He joked that he finally had a West Coast deadline."

Reflecting on the legacy of his friend, Brzezinski said it's "amazing" to hear all of the stories about Banks and realize that they – fittingly – revolved more around people than around the game of football.

"He always had time for everybody," Brzezinski said. "I think he was a guy that never forgot where he started, and he always was looking to be supportive of other people ahead of any personal gain. His career speaks for itself – tremendously talented, ethical and trusted.

"I don't know if there's anybody that I've ever trusted more than in this business, on the media side, than Don," Brzezinski added.