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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen broke out a special pair of purple and gold cleats on Sunday, Oct. 14, at U.S. Bank Stadium, embroidered with the "The Mighty Ducks" logo, just two weeks after the 26th anniversary of the movie hitting theaters. Thielen was a toddler in Detroit Lakes, Minn., when the movie came out, but he knows well the story about the fictional Twin Cities youth hockey team. It inspired a couple sequels and a television series is in the works.
MINNEAPOLIS—There was grumbling among the purple faithful this preseason that Minnesota Vikings receiver Adam Thielen might not enjoy the same chemistry with new quarterback Kirk Cousins that he enjoyed with Case Keenum in 2017 and Sam Bradford in 2016. I remind fans of the 2008 Lions, who went 4-0 in the preseason only to become the first NFL team to go 0-16 in the regular season. It's the PRESEASON. Late-season Browns games (or Twins games) have more meaning.
EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings had just completed their first fully padded practice of training camp on Monday as the team began walking off the field. It was a long, hot day, but one Vikings player — one — stayed on the field to take extra reps, blasting a blocking sled under the watchful eye of runnings backs coach Kennedy Polamalu. That player was none other than Duluth native C.J. Ham. Polamalu was asked if he was the one who wanted Ham to work on some things. "No, no, that's on him," Polamalu said. "He wants the extra work."
EAGAN, Minn.—After 52 years at Minnesota State-Mankato, the Minnesota Vikings moved their training camp to a new state-of-the-art Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, a sprawling complex on nearly 40 acres, but the importance of team building wasn't lost on them. So the Vikings are housing the team at a nearby hotel during training camp. So there will be no going to sleep in your own bed each night, boys. For Vikings fullback C.J. Ham, a Duluth native, he wouldn't have it any other way.
DULUTH—Mike Picott remembers his Iron Range teammates being skeptical of Bruce Grant when he first arrived on the Minnesota Duluth campus in the fall of 1979. Grant had the appearance of a 'city slicker,' a Twin Cities quarterback with Tom Cruise looks and the son of legendary Vikings coach Bud Grant.
DULUTH—There was no singular moment of revelation, Duluth native Rick Rickert said, no parting of the clouds and a giant beam of light shining down from the heavens enlightening him, but just the natural progression of years spent on the basketball court, a magical journey he knew wouldn't last forever. "It was about time," he said.
MINNEAPOLIS—Duluth native Jamie Trachsel got a call from University of Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle last July. Trachsel, then softball coach at Iowa State, was recruiting at the Iowa state tournament. It was loud, so the call went to voicemail, but she called him back first chance she got. "And it just went from there," Trachsel said. Two days later she was on campus, and a couple days after that she was offered the Gophers head coaching job. It didn't take her long to accept.
MINNEAPOLIS—Nashwauk-Keewatin graduate John Anderson arrived on the University of Minnesota campus as a baseball walk-on in the fall of 1974. That was a glorious era for Gophers baseball, with future Major League Baseball hall-of-famers Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor playing around that time. Anderson knew his playing days were numbered. He thought about finding a small college where he could play hockey, but legendary Gophers baseball coach Dick Siebert convinced him otherwise.
HAYWARD — Caitlin Gregg was in the lead pack at the 44th American Birkebeiner cross-country ski marathon on Saturday, Feb. 24, when she suddenly heard another snowmobile, and she knew exactly what that meant. The women's elite field started before the men, but the men had reeled them in. "I looked around at the women and said, 'The men are coming,' " Gregg said. "At one point I suggested we should move over for the men, but I like these ladies. They were like, 'Nope. They can go around us. We're doing our own thing.' " Gregg makes her own trail.
DULUTH—Ben Popp was reached by NFL representatives last July inquiring if the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski marathon had any interest in partnering up for the "Super Bowl Live" festival taking place Jan. 26-Feb. 4 in Minneapolis. Popp, executive director for the Birkie, was like, "Where do you sign us up?" "They wanted to showcase what happens in the Upper Midwest in the winter," he said. "We're not out surfing. We're not on the beach. We ski and snow tube and fat bike. So we started working on that concept."