One of the more interesting off-season acquisitions the Minnesota Vikings have made is cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, formerly of the Carolina Panthers. He was signed as an unrestricted free agent in March and is expected to be a veteran presence on this backfield that has had some major issues for several years running. Munnerlyn is in his sixth season in the NFL, and with having played in 77 games, is the most experienced of the Vikings' defensive backs. Munnerlyn finished 2013 as the 11th-ranked corner in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Munnerlyn is also active in the community.
He is a strong supporter of the March of Dimes, which is a cause close to his own heart, having been a premature baby himself. When asked about being a premature baby, Munnerlyn told writers he was only three pounds at birth and small enough to fit into a shoebox. When asked if he's been an overachiever all of his life, Munnerlyn responded, "Yeah, coming from being a premature baby, people telling me everyday I wouldn't make it at 5'9. I'm one of the shortest cornerbacks in the NFL. ‘You're too small. You're not fast enough. You can't jump high enough'. I feel like I've achieved all of that."
When asked by writers at what point this [being a pro football player] was what he wanted to do, Munnerlyn responded:
"Oh, at an early age. I always was fast, good quickness and I felt like with me being so fast and quick I could make it. I didn't care how small I was, I just put my mind to it. I've always dreamed of being an NFL football player. I remember when I was in the 2nd grade. My teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. I said I want to go to the NFL. I want to play football. It still feels like I'm living in a dream. I pinch myself every once in a while to see if I'm going to wake up. I just gotta realize that it's still true and I've got to keep working hard."
I was able to grab a minute with Munnerlyn as he was leaving the practice field for a quick Q & A session:
DN: I've heard you like to talk on the field, a lot.
DN: How does that help your game?
CM: Oh, it helps me play a lot. It helps me play a lot better, I should say.
DN: Gets you fired up?
CM: Yeah, it fires me up. I want you to say something back. If you don't say something back, then it kinda quiets me down. But I love to talk, man, it just even if it's just talking about the play that's about to go on, communicating with my teammates. I love to have my mouth going.
DN: How about with Cordarrelle?
CM: Oh, yeah, we go back and forth a lot. Because he can talk, too. So we go back and forth a lot, but it's all competitive. We're just competing. Just trying to make each other better. Get to know each other better for the upcoming football season.
DN: The cornerback situation here has been pretty grim the last several seasons. How do you see yourself helping this team improve?
CM: Oh, man, just coming out and being myself. Feels good being a smart football player, bringing some toughness into the room. You know, last year they didn't finish that well, but I think bringing me in and Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson and the other safeties and stuff. We can have a good group. A great group. Just gotta work. This is what training camp is for. Working together. To gel together and get to know each other more.
DN: Do you see yourself as a leader out there on the field?
CM: Yes, I definitely see myself as a leader out on the field.
DN: The Vikings have some young guys here.
CM: Yeah, being in the NFL for six years, I think I'm one of the oldest guys in the secondary. I see myself as a leader, so I've just got to show up on the field and lead by example.
DN: What wide receiver do you most like to cover?
CM: Out here?
DN: No, in the whole NFL.
CM: I like to cover taller receivers. It doesn't matter if it's Megatron or Brandon Marshall. I like the tall receivers that they say I can't cover. I'm one of those guys that if you tell me I can't, I'm going to show you I can. They always say I can't cover guys who are 6'2 or 6'3 so I love to play those guys.
DN: How about out here, in training camp? Is it Cordarrelle?
CM: It's Cordarrelle and Greg Jennings. I love playing those two guys. They run great routes and are very competitive.