American citizenship not something Vikings' Herrera takes for granted
We interrupt draft fever for a few paragraphs on a story reported well by Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Sunday -- Vikings guard Anthony Herrera, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, becoming an American citizen in March and being incredibly grateful for it. A good story, especially because the only witness of Herrera becoming naturalized in St. Paul on March 26, was his head coach, Brad Childress, who attended when he found out Herrera's family, in Mississippi, was unable to attend.
I'll have time to answer your questions, but at this time in our country's history, I think the Herrera story is too good, and too important, to ignore. You can hear it in his voice: He's not taking anything in his life for granted -- not starting at right guard for the Vikings' dominant running game, not trying to improve life for his extended family, and not voting for the president in November.
"Who will you vote for for president?'' I asked Herrera on Sunday night.
"That's a tough one,'' he said. "It's been Republican the last two terms, and look at the economy. We're almost in a recession. Then again, as an athlete, we're probably going to get the best tax breaks with a Republican in office. Tough call.''
And one he wasn't going to spill. But whether he goes Republican or Democrat, he made it clear he was just happy to have the choice. "Growing up in the islands,'' Herrera said, "I got used to drinking sugar water for breakfast. Now I'm a citizen in the greatest country in the world. You talk about a rags-to-riches story. I'm just trying to get a better life for me and my family. That's what America's all about.''
Herrera was brought to America by his grandmother and uncle at 13 to live in Florida, and his mother worked tirelessly to help the family achieve a better life. He first played football in high school, and he played well enough to earn a scholarship to Tennessee, which paved the way for him to get a shot in the NFL as a marginal offensive lineman with the Vikings. And when Childress took over the coaching job, he liked the quick feet and power of Herrera, who took over the starting right guard job five games into last season. Childress found out the day Herrera was going for his citizenship that no one was going with him. "It's draft time now,'' said Herrera, "and I'm pretty sure coach has a lot on his plate. But he insisted. That was really nice of him.''
A good story all around. Now onto your e-mails:
WHAT ABOUT THE BROWNS KEEPING DEREK ANDERSON? From Trent Troyer, of New Philadelphia, Ohio: "I've seen nothing from you theory-wise about Cleveland GM Phil Savage holding onto Derek Anderson rather than trading Anderson for a first-round draft pick to take a defensive player. I've heard all the talk about wanting two quarterbacks but don't buy it. I watched every Browns game and the only reason Anderson was as good as he appeared to be was the protection. With that protection, Brady Quinn should be excellent. The Browns fixed their offense, but need to build their defense. Isn't this a logical piece to the puzzle?''
Good question, Trent. But answer me this: You've been without a decent starting quarterback for the nine years the Browns have been back in the NFL until Anderson started lighting it up last fall, and with your team entering 2008 as a prime playoff contender, wouldn't you be a little uneasy about handing the reins to a totally unproven player, no matter Quinn's potential? I would be. When you get a quarterback in this league -- and I agree Anderson was pretty shaky down the stretch, but he still played very well overall -- you don't just give him up for a "maybe'' draft choice.