Not quite the position he was in when I talked to him, but this is the view of Cullen Loeffler that rookie kicker Blair Walsh is getting used to.
As I posted on Facebook last night, my hotel here in Mankato seems to be blocking the Daily Norseman site. Why this would be, I don't know. But it's really inconvenient.
Here's the quick rundown on my afternoon yesterday.
Thursday afternoon misadventures after the jump.During the midday break I dashed back to the hotel to layer on some more sunscreen. All the action on the fields yesterday had us facing, more or less, directly into the sun and, despite all the extra sunscreen, I still got burned. How those stalwart fans in the stands could hack it for that whole practice, I don't know. Either they're really tough, or kind of crazy.
At one point in the afternoon while I was slouching near the stands, I ran into someone who recognized me as SG. We chatted for a bit and she shared how coming up to Mankato for a few days each year has become her little vacation. Living out of state, there's just something fun about getting to be in town for Training Camp and having that Minnesota Vikings immersion experience.
I managed to find the courage to chat with some of the other writers here. They're kind of like those kids you wanted to sit by in the back of the classroom, always saying something offhand and clever under their breath. All of them. Imagine all the dorky clever people you know hanging out trying to one up each other with their football knowledge or gossipy, little-known stories about players and you get a feeling for what it was like. So, despite the swampy weather, there was lots to laugh about and that helped keep me from clock-watching because of the heat.
Having gotten most of my nerves worked out with my first interview with Erin Henderson, I was considerably calmer. That was good because it is exhausting to keep up that level of nervousness. It isn't so much that the players themselves are scary, it's just that pressure to ask a decent question and represent the site well.
However, I'm beginning to think awkwardness isn't serving me too badly when it comes to my interview technique. If the players are deciding to talk to me because I look frightened and they think I might cry, well, that isn't flattering, but I'll take the pity interview if I can get it.
Following the afternoon practice, I talked to the Vikings' rookie kicker Blair Walsh. He doesn't stand much taller than me, but his leg must be super-charged because during practice he thumped that ball way past the uprights and into the platform where the Vikings film the practices. Another kick made it clear past the field and landed on a trailer near the media tent. There isn't anything wanting when it comes to the distance Walsh can get on the ball, if Priefer's work slowing Walsh's approach has the desired effect on the rookie's accuracy, then we may have a new Mr. Automatic. There are a lot of ifs in that statement, but seeing it up close, you get a feeling for why the Vikings wanted Walsh.
Last year a couple of the Vikings PR people told me that long snapper Cullen Loeffler was a good interview. I missed my chance to talk with him last year, but not this year. After ending last season on injury reserve and having a rookie kicker to work with, Loeffler seemed an even more interesting interview this year. The PR people were right, Loeffler was so easy to talk with that you just want to invite him to a barbecue and put him on your Christmas card list. And, I think it must have been his affability that made me able to toss in a Tripping Icarus question for the Kluwe-philes out there.
I'm surprised at just how wrung out I was from standing on the sidelines in all that heat yesterday. It's the kind of weather where you can be drinking ice water and standing in the shade and your butt is still sweating. To prep for facing the heat and sun again, I'm trying to psych myself up with some good music. Today's morning listening is The Black Keys. I'd love to chat with you if you're here, say hello, give me some sunscreen.