When you lose a parent — in my case, my father three years ago — you lose more than you can imagine. You lose your father choking up on your wedding day or welcoming his first grandchild to the world. More than that, you lose the little things, like an afternoon spent watching the Vikings or an evening learning how to barbecue the perfect ribs. Those memories, and events yet-to-happen, burn bright in my mind — I’ll never forget them, but I’ll also never let them define me.
The day he died, my mother shared these words with me, and they’ve allowed me to move past the anger, the pain, and the sadness that came when I was just 20 years-old:
“You can’t let this define you, Austin. Try to remember the good times, and find strength in the bad ones.”
It’s difficult to look back and think of those happy moments — our last few years together were unbearably difficult. But in the time since his passing, I HAVE found strength in a number of people; my amazing mother, my twin sister, my incredible uncle, and other close friends.
I wish my father was a part of that list, but if there’s one connection, one memory I can cling to, it’s our unbreakable bond over the Minnesota Vikings. Our happiest memories together came sitting in front of the TV every Sunday, cheering on our favorite team in purple and gold. I won’t let his death define the rest of my life, but I’ll always hold the my father’s beloved team near and dear to my heart.
The Packers-Vikings Border Battle was always special to my Dad and I, as I’m sure it is to many fathers and sons on both sides of the river. The feelings and brain chemistry probably date back to prehistoric times when a father and his brood would share and bond over the hatred and disdain for a rival tribe and vice-versa. However our tradition wasn’t warring over the good pasture lands, but instead getting up to The Dome for the Packer-Viking game at least once every two years, starting when I was nine-years old in 1994.
2007 was the last one.
Mike Zimmer may be the Vikings’ most visible coach, but his coordinators — offensive, defensive, and special teams — are just as important to the team’s weekly on-field success. After yesterday’s second mandatory minicamp practice, Norv Turner, George Edwards, and Mike Priefer each took the podium and addressed the local media.
Below, three quotes to keep in mind as training camp approaches:
“We’re going to do everything we can on a weekly basis to win the game. There are always new trends, new things that people are doing, but if we’re going to be a good offense we have to be really good with our core, with the things we do day-to-day and we have to be able to execute against good people. The change-ups, the gimmicks, the little wrinkles, they happen when you get really good at the basics and you get really good at the fundamentals, then you have something to build on and you can create some different looks.”
“I think that’s the biggest thing is now he’s comfortable with the calls, not having to think as much. The one thing we really like him coming out, how hard he plays, the effort he played with, has transferred. Now he’s playing outside at defensive end inside at tackle now he’s not thinking about his assignments he’s really lined up and able to play all out, so from that aspect of it, we think he’s ahead of schedule and look forward to watching him progress through training camp.”
“Well, Jeff’s got to be more consistent. We can talk about weather until we are blue in the face. It doesn’t matter. The opposing team’s kicking in the same weather and we were out punted a few times last year where I felt like we had the better punter. So punting’s got to improve, the snapping needs to improve. Some areas of protection we need to improve on. Coverage was really good last year; we just need to be more consistent. We do it all the time, not four out of five reps, but every rep.”
And now, the best links and stories from the Vikings community:
Andy’s off this week taking care of a baby that is apparently his. But we have a week full of classic Purple FTW! episodes for your rube ears!
Note: This is a throwback episode from August 5, 2014. Thoughts are still applicable though!
The Minnesota Vikings have a fresh start with new head coach Mike Zimmer and future franchise QB Teddy Bridgewater.
I believe the Vikings have a 4-year window to win a Super Bowl.
Listen in and find out why.
An Andy Carlson Joint.