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Reusse: Grant never said ‘culture’, but he created what O’Connell dreams of

The Vikings would introduce Kevin O’Connell as their new coach in about 15 minutes at their Eagan complex on Thursday afternoon. There was a trio of the team’s all-time greats in attendance, namely Hall of Famers Randall McDaniel and John Randle, and career tackle leader Scott Studwell.

McDaniel is the second-best player in Vikings history in my opinion, behind only Alan Page, and I told him, “You’re so skinny now you should be a fullback, not a keeper.”

He patted himself on the stomach and said, “That would be fine. The linemen are getting smaller these days with some of the top teams.”

Studwell has been approaching lean for years, allowing him to keep up with a slew of grandkids, and Randle…he looked ready to put some face paint back on and deal with it.

Basically right off the bat there have been top tier Vikings that have moved here as players, made this Frozen Wasteland home, and only need one call to show up for announcements or team events.

Certainly there is a copy of Brian Peterson’s Strib photo from the “Crying Blondes‘ after the Falcons lost in the playoffs in January 1999 prominently displayed in my garage, but the covering memories of heartaches on the court didn’t negate that truth:

I’ve always been fascinated by the connection that dozens of Vikings seem to feel towards the organization and the fan base.

There were resentments from players about contracts, being cut or sent elsewhere, but many chose to stay Forever Vikings: McDaniel, Randle, Studwell and many others for six decades.

As 36-year-old O’Connell and 40-year-old general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah promise a new culture that will be marked by a connection with players like never known ‘before’ – well, those are knocks against Mike Zimmer, not a long term problem.

Bud Grant, 94, and using a wheelchair on his long commutes these days, was present on Thursday. Isn’t this a triumph for a Viking “culture” that has existed for generations? I can’t agree.

Yes, some players have waited until Zimmer’s eight seasons as manager were over before expressing their displeasure with his communication skills, including grievances such as not saying “hello” to everyone. occasions when passing through a hallway inside Zygi World in Eagan.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​opted out of the post-Zimmer heartbreak, even though he was touted as one of the main victims of Zim’s communication lapses. It wasn’t until this season, Cousins’ fourth in Minnesota, that the coach and quarterback began weekly meetings.

Then again, if all of Thursday’s promises about driving with Cousins ​​came true and weren’t a Rick Spielman-esque smokescreen, Kirk might miss the days of Zimmer where he could find 15 free minutes to eat a sandwich. .

O’Connell is a former quarterback. He has already hired a quarterbacks coach and an assistant quarterbacks coach. In addition, there will be an offensive coordinator.

Remember Kirk’s suggestion in August that his close contact COVID status could have been based on an undersized quarters meeting room? They might need an auditorium in the future.

I’m not sure having that much smarts on him is the way to make Cousins ​​”cool of mind,” as O’Connell suggested as a goal on Thursday.

Grant attended the press conference, marked 95% by O’Connell’s comprehensive responses to media questions, and was struck by one asking for a comparison between Cousins ​​and quarterback Matthew Stafford. Super Bowl winner for the Rams (and offensive coordinator O’ Connel).

“I don’t know if Cousins ​​should be seen as needing to reach Stafford’s level,” Grant said. “Stafford is good, and he also had a great defense to lean on.

“Cousins ​​was very good too. And I would take him. You know why? He plays. He has the most important ability: durability.

“There’s nothing better to prepare for a season, for a game, than knowing that you’re going to have the same quarterback every week.

“That’s why we won so many games in the 70s. We had Fran Tarkenton. He got injured once, late in his career, but when he came back to the Vikings in 1972, we knew what we would have on watch each week.

“Tarkenton was an all-time great…retired with all NFL passing records at the time.”

Grant stopped, thought, and said, “Cousins, that’s good. As a coach, I would be more than happy to start a season with him because I would know he would be there for us every week. “

At this point, Tom West of the Vikings media team came with O’Connell’s two oldest children: Kaden, 7, and his sister, Quinn, 5. They were looking for autographs from Grant, Hall of Fame coach in Canada and the States.

The O’Connell kids were about to bring a bit of old-time Viking culture back to Dad.

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