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Ahmad Rashad
October 25, 1982
Drudgery and tension marked the Vikings' preseason, and a strike loomed, but in the end the author had one redeeming moment
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October 25, 1982

'a Guy Can Get Hooked On Being A Hero'

Drudgery and tension marked the Vikings' preseason, and a strike loomed, but in the end the author had one redeeming moment

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Earlier, the team had a passing scrimmage. By now, at least in my small part of the team, I've gotten to know a few of the rookies and even to think about a couple of them as people. I like this kid named Gerald Lucear, from Temple, very much. He caught a touchdown pass in a scrimmage the other day and wouldn't give the ball up. "I'm going to dream about this," he said. That was cute. There must be $5,000 worth of footballs lying around, and he's hanging onto this one.

The Viking players have never been much on hazing rookies, but Bud likes to have some fun with them. They have to sing and tell jokes. And tonight a couple of kids entertained at dinner with an incredible medley—everything from My Girl to Whip It. The whole place was rocking, and the ghetto section was really on fire. Unfortunately, I think the two rookies have a better chance to make it at Motown than in Minneapolis.

Of course, your cultural judgment dims somewhat the longer you're stuck in training camp. The longer you're here, the worse the jokes, the better their response. For example, today Sammy White went up to Matt Blair, who has something of a new hairdo. "Mike Lynn wants to see you," Sammy said. Mike is the GM.

"Why?" Matt said.

"He wants to check your curl for chemical dependency." Guys were re-telling that and roaring at it all day. Maybe you have to be here to appreciate it. What do you think, Frank? You're not here. Do you have to be here?

Thought for today: Never take it personally when coaches scream at you. Look at it this way: They yell at you just like your mommy did, and you were sure she still loved you. But coaches must also understand something: That it's not childish if a player doesn't accept being screamed at. Men don't like to be criticized any more than boys do.

THURSDAY, AUG. 12: The Thriller in Mankato

I made some unbelievable catches today. My hands must have finally caught up with my legs. I guess I've arrived. And the team too: We had our first real good fight today. Duck White, 6'3", 270-pound defensive tackle, vs. Tim Irwin, 6'6", 275-pound offensive tackle. They've been going against each other in the heat for two weeks, and I guess something finally cracked. Bud's way of dealing with these crises is to come over and watch. What can happen in a football fight with all those pads? The worst would probably be a broken finger or two, and what do interior linemen need fingers for anyway?

But better than the fight itself—which was a draw, maybe a double TKO—was the way the team responded. On the blackboard tonight someone had written THE THRILLER IN MANKATO, Duck (Right Hand) White vs. Tim (Mountain Man) Irwin. I played Don King, touting Irwin as The Great White Hope, and after the lights were dimmed and came back on again, Duck entered the room like Larry Holmes, his arms stretched before him, his hands riding on the shoulders of the guy in front of him. It was good fun, good for us all.

Thought for today: The difference between offense and defense on any football team is this: On defense one great player can save a play even if everybody else fouls up, but on offense it's the reverse. The offense depends much more on precision, and one player who goofs up can ruin everything for the other 10. Anyway, that's what this offensive player thinks.

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