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Vikings Visit Police Officers and Firefighters in Honor of 9/11

Nearly a dozen members of the Vikings paid tribute to local first responders on Tuesday afternoon as they visited a Minneapolis fire station and a police station in St. Paul.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — It’s been 17 years since the United States, and the world, was forever changed by the tragic events on Sept. 11, 2001.

While the terrorist attacks occurred in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, their impact was felt across the nation.

Nearly a dozen members of the Vikings paid tribute to local first responders on Tuesday afternoon as they visited a Minneapolis fire station and a police station in St. Paul.

The respect that those wearing Vikings jerseys had for the men and women in uniform was profound.

“We just wanted to show our thanks to them,” said Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff, who visited the police station. “It’s a special day, with it being 9/11, and we wanted to pay it forward to them.

“It cuts a little bit deep on a day like today,” Reiff added. “But we’re thankful for them every day, not just today.”

Fullback C.J. Ham, who also visited the police station, added: “I salute these guys for what they do every day. Not a lot of people can put on that badge and do what they do.”

Vikings tight end David Morgan was among the half-dozen players who visited with firefighters in Minneapolis.

“It was awesome,” Morgan said. “Obviously a day that we lost a lot of people [in the 9/11] attacks, and these guys were people that were first responders putting their lives on the line, and a lot of them sacrificed their lives for others.

“So to come out here and spend time with these guys, get to hang out with them, shoot hoops, just do some fun stuff and keep it lighthearted, it was a lot of fun and something I was glad to be a part of,” Morgan added.

Safety Anthony Harris emphasized that the gratitude toward first responders extends past the anniversary of such tragic events.

“They’re putting their life on the line. I think it’s just something you should do to show your appreciation, so that’s why we wanted to come today. But not only specifically today but just in general,” Harris said. “Show them that we care and we appreciate what they do for us.”

Coffee, donuts and ride-alongs at the Eastern District Police Station | By @Eric\L\Smith

When Everson Griffen walks into a room carrying a box of chicken wings, you tend to take notice.

Especially when Reiff, Ham, Mike Remmers and Daniel Carlson are right behind him.

Those five Vikings surprised dozens of officers Tuesday at the Eastern District Police Station in St. Paul, as the players delivered Caribou Coffee, donuts from Kwik Trip and Buffalo Wild Wings for the group.

“It was a really big deal to the officers. The smiles said a lot,” said Axel Henry, the district’s Senior Commander. “They were all so excited. To know the officers, they are all pretty stoic. So when they were all smiling like kids, it was a big deal.”

Officer Sean Maloney couldn’t believe his eyes when he sat down for roll call and saw the players come in.

“We were in shock when they came in,” Maloney said. “We had no idea. They didn’t say a word about it.”

Players and officers mingled for a bit while everyone posed for pictures. The players autographed footballs while constantly thanking officers for their service.

“They’re the ones out there grinding behind the scenes and taking care of business for us,” Griffen said. “I respect what they do.”

Each Vikings player went on a ride-along with an officer, which was one of the top highlights of the day.

“When I asked for five volunteers for the ride-alongs, I had 20,” Henry said with a laugh.

Griffen described the experience.

“I saw how they react and respond to the situation. They treat each situation differently, and it was really fun to see,” Griffen said. “You could tell they take it to heart and want to make a change.”

Maloney said the department bleeds Purple and holds potlucks and cookouts when the Vikings are in action. Maloney said he and his fellow officers appreciated the players coming out for a visit.

“It’s awesome for them to take the time to come out and thank us for what we do every day when we sit there and watch them on TV every week,” Maloney said. “We don’t get this chance very often.”

With the visit occurring on the anniversary of 9/11, Reiff reflected on what the day meant to him.

“I was in the sixth grade in the middle of South Dakota, and it was like we were in a movie,” Reiff said. “It was crazy. Every year that it goes by, it seems that it gets harder. People lost family members … people lost people they love. First responders are doing jobs that aren’t easy, and they sacrifice their lives and put their lives on the line.”

Fire Station 14 welcomes Vikings | By @LindseyMNSports

First feet, then jeans, a white 89 practice jersey and finally a broad smile came through a circular opening in the ceiling.

“That was exhilarating!” Exclaimed Morgan after sliding down the fireman’s pole.

He, linebacker Ben Gedeon and quarterback Kyle Sloter each took a turn. Harris, offensive lineman Danny Isidora and defensive end Tashawn Bower opted for the stairs.

The six teammates visited Minneapolis Fire Station 14 in North Minneapolis, where they surprised several firefighters with Caribou Coffee and donuts from Kwik Trip.

It’s hard to tell who laughed more between the football players and firefighters as the Vikings were shown around the station and given the opportunity to try on gear and “play” with some of the equipment.

Isidora and Morgan asked around for suits that would accommodate their large frames and didn’t hesitate to put on full gear, down to the oxygen tank and helmets. Several of the teammates also tried their hand at working a fire hose, with the guidance of a firefighter who stood behind them.

While Isidora is used to the force of defensive linemen running at home, he – along with others – were still caught a bit off guard by the force of water.

“It was a blast getting geared up,” Morgan said. “Holding that hose was the real deal. I think they put up to 150 gallons per minute or something crazy like that, and it almost blew me over. Those guys are tough.”

Harris’ favorite experience was testing out the Jaws of Life, which can be used to cut into vehicles after an accident.

The visit’s purpose was much more than fun and games, however. The Vikings players sincerely expressed their admiration and gratefulness for the first responders and their difficult jobs.

One of the firemen spoke of the camaraderie that is built between co-workers and made the comparison to the brotherhood of a football team.

“Their shifts go so long – a day or two – and having to be able to communicate within a group of guys over that period of time and really be on the same page is something that’s extremely important,” Bower said. “And it’s something you have to give credit to these guys for, who are protecting your community and keeping you safe. I have so much respect for them.”

Assistant Chief of Administration Bryan Tyner has been in the firefighting business for 24 years and said it was an honor to spend an afternoon with the Vikings.

“I think they had a lot of fun, we had a lot of fun with them, and we really appreciated them coming out,” Tyner said. “Especially today on 9/11, when we’re remembering what happened [17] years ago. It was great to have them out here.

“To hear [the gratitude] from guys who you look up to and who your kids look up to, it really means a lot,” Tyner added. “It’s always good to be appreciated and respected – especially by somebody that you look up to and you’re looking forward to seeing every Sunday.”

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