Imagine being 18 years old and having just graduated from high school. What thing do most recent graduates look forward to the most? Grad parties. Now imagine having Buffalo Wild Wings decide to make you the recipient of their very first ever "Alive Events". So BWW contacts your parents and lets them know they will be coming to cater your graduation party and also lavishing you with gifts (ex: Apple Watch, $125 BWW gift card, season tickets to the UW-Madison hockey games where you'll be attending school in the fall, and BlueTooth headphones). Pretty sweet, right? Only it gets better. As the crowd gathers around a big television monitor, it is announced that there's a very special video message to you. Yes, Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson flashes a big smile and starts to offer his congratulations on your graduation. You can't even believe this is happening.
Now you know what Sam Wackman was feeling on the afternoon of June 20th. But it gets even better. Cordarrelle Patterson says he really wishes he could be there in person to celebrate with Sam and then he steps out from behind the huge catering truck. The crowd goes crazy. Sam looks in complete shock. Patterson approaches the podium and says how great it is to be there and thanks Buffalo Wild Wings for letting him be involved. He then steps off the podium and heads over to play 'Bags' with Sam.
As Sam and Patterson are bonding, I have the opportunity to speak with Bob Ruhland, VP of North America Marketing for Buffalo Wild Wings. Bob begins by explaining how they've come up with the concept of these "Alive Events".
The branding concept is "Nowhere is sports more alive than at Buffalo Wild Wings." Through that, they came up with the idea of bringing sports out into their Customers' lives, at some of the bigger events in their life.
Enter Sam Wackman's graduation party, and Cordarrelle Patterson. After the festivities, I was given a brief interview with Cordarrelle:
DM: Because this was such a huge deal for Sam, which famous person would you want to show up to surprise you at a party?
CP: I've never answered that before. I don't really know. I really don't know.
CP: No, I don't know. Growing up, I didn't watch sports. I didn't get into sports until my junior year of high school.
DM: What about a musical group or artist?
CP: (Immediately) Rascal Flatts. I would love for Rascal Flatts to pop up and play for me. You know, sing "These Days" and all their good songs for me.
(Ed note: I checked....this is actually a song by Rascal Flatts. He wasn't playing me).
DM: There's been a lot talk surrounding the mystery mentor that Coach Zimmer hooked you up with in the off season. Can you tell me who that was?
CP: (Laughing): I am not going to say because Coach Zimmer has not said. Nope.
DM: Got it. Have to take the lead from your coach.
CP: Definitely you gotta take the lead from your coach.
DM: What was the most difficult thing about last season?
CP: Awww, man. I feel like Year 1 was great for me. I think I started slacking Year 2. I feel like Year 1 was too easy and I thought Year 2 was going to be the same as Year 1. It was real difficult for me. I've just got to get back to my grove, like I was my first year. Have fun. Last year I didn't have fun. I feel like I was taking my job a little too seriously. That's when you start doing things wrong, when you take life too seriously. I just need to go out and have fun like I did my first year.
DM: I covered part of training camp and you sure seemed to be having fun out there. So something must've happened.
CP: I have fun all the time.
DM: You always seemed to have a smile on your face.
CP: Always have a smile on. (A group of kids leaving the party yell his name and wave goodbye to him. He waves back.) I tell people, if you catch me not with a smile on my face, just slap me and tell me to get my mind right. I feel like that what life's all about, having fun. I heard if you smile a lot, you live longer, so that's probably another reason I smile a lot.
DM: Obviously having Adrian Peterson back with the team is going to have a big impact on the offense. How do you feel it will impact you?
CP: It's not just going to impact me, I feel like it will impact everybody.
DM: Absolutely, but speak for yourself.
CP: You know, I don't ever really speak for myself. It's always the team. The team first. But having Adrian Peterson back, I feel like they (other teams) can't drop all 11 back. Last year they (other teams) did not respect that run game like they should've. This year's going to be different, man. Adrian Peterson is looking as good as ever and this year they're going to have to put 8 or 9 in the box. Will open up a lot for us receivers. We just gotta bring it. We also brought in Mike Wallace and he brings a lot to the table. And us guys, we compete with each other out there each and every day, just trying to get each other better.
DM: You mentioned Mike Wallace. Last year you had Greg Jennings. How do the two compare?
CP: Oh, man, they are two totally different players. I could never compare those two guys. There's things Mike does and things Greg Does. They're just two different guys. I learned different things from both of them. Hats off to both of them because I talk to Greg still, keep up. And Mike we both play the same position, so we compete. We argue, not like a real argument, but talking smack to each other. That's what we need out of our receivers, we need to compete and have fun, you know, enjoy because there's no tomorrow.
DM: What do you feel should be your key role on the team?
CP: My role is to do what my coaches want me to do. When your number is called, you need to go out there and make the most out of it. I love having the ball in my hands. When I have the ball in my hands I want to do great things. When your number is called you go out there and put on for your team. Just do what is best for the team.
DM: Do you like running the ball?
CP: I love running the ball. Carrying it, running it, throwing it, touching it. I just like the ball.
Given what Coach Zimmer has been saying about Patterson's offseason prep and work ethic and also what he admitted himself, we could see more on field productivity and more snaps for him this upcoming season.
Thank you to Buffalo Wild Wings, Cordarrelle Patterson, and of, course, the graduate, Sam Wackman for allowing The Daily Norseman to crash this party.