Skip to main content

News | Minnesota Vikings –

Presented by

Water Break with Harrison Phillips

Purple is more than just a color to Harrison Phillips and his family. It's a way of life.

It started with Phillips' late grandmother, Sandra, who loved the color so much she became known as "The Purple Lady." Sandra then passed the moniker down to Phillips' mother, Tammie, who's continued the tradition of loving everything purple.

And when Phillips means everything, he means everything.

"My life was just purple," Phillips said. "All my walls in my house were purple, all the furniture's purple, any silverware, every plate. Our paper napkins, she would only buy purple ones. Everything in my house has been purple.

"This just kind of feels like home with more purple around me," added Phillips, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, who signed with Minnesota in free agency after playing four seasons in Buffalo.

We sat down recently for a Water Break presented by Crown Royal.

Q: How difficult of a transition was it moving from a 4-3 defense in Buffalo to the 3-4 scheme here in Minnesota?

A: "It was actually a difficult transition. There's still some elements of that part of my game that I wish I could bring into this game, but there's elements of this defense that I couldn't use in that defense, so there's strengths and weaknesses of both. You have a lot of cool tools here, and our coaching staff has done [things in] such a great way to try to implement it for my skill set. Now as the season's going on, I'm understanding more about my role here. It sometimes leads to less production, but it's more important for our defense."

Q: What has the relationship been like with Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell and defensive line coach Chris Rumph?

A: "I would say that one of the reasons why I absolutely love my time here with the Minnesota Vikings and hope it lasts for a long time is because of Chris. He's the best I've ever been around. There's been very few times when [it's either] the dog days of training camp or late nights and you're going into meetings, which is kind of the boring part of the day, but I really enjoy going into his room and the control he has over us and his leadership. I would come to him with any problem I've ever had in my life and I haven't had a relationship like that since probably one of my college defensive line coaches. And Coach Donatell, he's been doing this for so long and really means what he's talking about with partnerships and connections. I think he's almost mad that I didn't come visit him at his cabin up on the lake this summer, because it wasn't just like a normal invite. It was a serious invite."

Follow along Saturday-Sunday with DT Harrison Phillips to experience the Vikings road trip to Buffalo.

Q: You were a 3-time state champion in wrestling in high school. How has your wrestling background helped you as a defensive lineman?

A: "Quite a bit. I tell every youth who's interested in playing football that they should wrestle first, and I encourage parents to try to sign their kids up for wrestling. It's fantastic for the athleticism that comes with it; the flexibility; the hands; the balance; the core work; the mental side of it of not letting one person beat you and winning all those 1-on-1 matchups. I just think it's super relevant, and I'll encourage my children to wrestle."

Q: I read that if you weren't in the NFL, you wanted to be on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team?

A: "Yeah, I think I would have really dialed in and tried that. I never really was all in on wrestling because football was obviously my baby, but I had a lot of success. I think I went 28-0 nationally in any tournament I did and had opportunities to pursue that. Obviously football is where my passion was. Maybe in a different world."

Q: What went into your decision to double major in Science, Technology & Society and Sociology at Stanford?

A: "I got the STS, and I was maybe planning on leaving after my junior year of college, but I wanted to make sure I had my degree. I played as a true freshman and then my second year when I was starting as a sophomore, I got injured and I was so far ahead in school that I knew I'd have to stay for four years so I had to pick up another major. I also picked up a minor in education. So that was just cool to try to leave Stanford with number one as many degrees as I could and be able to look at life with a broader lens."

Q: You've done so much work in the community throughout your career. Where did that love for giving back start?

A: "I think it stemmed from my faith and the values that my parents instilled in me and showed me through the way that they lived their lives. And then as I matured and was in the position of leadership just based on my size or my athletic ability, those values, I was able to pay it forward and start learning how awesome it is to give back and the impact that can have on other people."

Q: What was the inspiration behind starting your foundation, Harrison's Playmakers?

A: "It just kind of happened organically [with] the way that I originally built it and what it's morphed into of working with children and young adults with developmental differences and special needs. Now it's just this greased-up machine that keeps pumping out fun events and smiles and free activities for this population to try to empower them and show the world their independence and teach them independence, too, so that hopefully Harrison's Playmakers are getting jobs and going to college and doing young-adult programming. It's been awesome."

Q: How did you get the nickname "Horrible Harry"?

A: "I was kind of an Eddie Haskell troublemaker growing up in elementary school, so it was fitting. There was a children's book called Horrible Harry, so my mom started calling me that and then the announcers started calling me that and it's just stuck with me."

Q: What's your favorite Thanksgiving food/meal and why?

A: "Wow, that's a great question. I mean I guess I might have to skip all of that and just go to French silk pie or something at the end of the meal. I'm a big mashed potatoes, corn and potatoes guy, so mashed potatoes, there's a lot of that on my plate. Always have corn, so I would probably say those and then dessert."