ShAMELESS PLUGS and other stuff
Austin Tennessee, one of the nameless at Vikings rookie minicamp, arrives with a heavy heart but high hopes
For Dalvin Cook and Pat Elflein, this weekend’s rookie minicamp will be their first opportunity to tug on a purple practice jersey, get to know the Vikings’ nine other 2017 draft picks and give the coaching staff a glimpse of what they can do.
If all goes as planned, Friday’s practice will be their first steps toward long careers.
Thirteen undrafted rookies were signed. But for the undrafted free agents who are invited to attend the rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, the guys who get tossed a jersey with only a random number on the back, this will likely be their first and last chance at earning an NFL roster spot, like wide receiver Adam Thielen did trying out at the team’s 2013 rookie minicamp.
Among those little-known players on the Winter Park practice fields will be former Stevenson defensive back Austin Tennessee, an accomplished small-school standout who arrived in the Twin Cities on Thursday with a heavy heart but high hopes.
“This is it,” he said Tuesday in a phone interview. “I take it as my only shot.”
When Tennessee was in seventh grade, he witnessed his father, Keith, a former captain in the Army who taught him to be respectful to everybody and encouraged him to play sports, die of a heart attack in their Maryland home. Keith was 45.
“It was in front of me. He was in the bathroom and fell down off the toilet, couldn’t breathe,” he said. “It was hard to see that and not be able to do anything.”
Keith’s stunning death put the burden solely on the back of Austin’s mother, Bettie, to raise his sister and him. Every morning, she would commute to Washington, D.C., for her job as a management consultant and wouldn’t return home until 8 p.m.
“My mom was a straight workhorse. … But she made it to every single game of mine,” he said. “She was always there for me. She meant the world to me.”
Read the rest of the story at StarTribune.com...