Vikings' Loadholt knows tornadic damage

Phil Loadholt became accustomed to dealing with tornadoes in Oklahoma. He has friends that lost homes in the recent storms, but no one he knows that was injured.

If you live in California, you're always at the potential mercy of an earthquake. "The Big One" may be coming any day now. It's the nature of life in California, just as living along the Gulf Coast makes one vulnerable to dealing with the devastation of a massive hurricane.

But, when you live in the Tornado Alley of Oklahoma, you deal with the annual outbreak of tornadoes like the one that devastated Moore, Okla. May 20 – and a smaller tornado again Friday.

Vikings offensive tackle Phil Loadholt is no stranger to tornadoes. Spending four years at the University of Oklahoma, as well as a couple of years as the son of a military family in Lawton, Okla., Loadholt knows the drill when the sirens go off. It's part of what Oklahomans sign up for as a dangerous rite of spring.

"We had a few of them there when I was down there," Loadholt said. "It's one of the things you have to deal with when you live in Oklahoma. It's like dealing with earthquakes when you live in California. They happen and you kind of come to expect them. You just pray that they aren't too serious and that nobody you love is impacted by them."

So familiar with tornadoes, Oklahomans deal with them and the rebuilding process that follows in the same way Minnesotans dig out from blizzards. Loadholt had acquaintances that lost their houses in the May 20 storms, but the devastation is almost second nature to those who find themselves in the bull's-eye of annual April-May tornadoes.

"The people down there are strong people," Loadholt said. "You have to be to get through something like that. I know some friends of mine who lost their homes and some old coaches of mine that lost their homes. Luckily, nobody that I know was injured, but it was a really bad deal and, unfortunately, those kind of things happen every year down there."

While it takes a lot to get Loadholt frightened, he admits seeing a twister coming is one that he has learned to deal with because you know that with the advent of springs, the storms are coming.

"I've been through some big tornadoes, so I know what they're going through," Loadholt said. "My dad was stationed in Lawton, Oklahoma, so we went through some there. He had a boat that he lost because it got picked up and flipped over and got busted up. It was a pretty bad deal and definitely was devastating. My family wasn't in harm's way, but you have to feel for those families that were."

While Loadholt is going to have a long NFL career, when asked it he would ever consider being a storm chaser in his post-NFL career, he smiled and said thanks, but no thanks.

"Not a chance," Loadholt said with a chuckle. "People think football players are a little crazy. Those guys are truly crazy. If I hear a tornado is coming, I'm heading away from it, not towards it. You see the damage those things can do. I can't speak for them, but I want no part of chasing after them. My job is a lot less dangerous."

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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