Mickey Shuler spent Saturday trying to occupy his mind and take it off the one thing he didn't want to hear: On a weekend honoring the workers of America, he could be out of a job.
As Saturday wore on, the final roster cut-downs were slated for 5 p.m. local time. His mom and dad were in town. Nervousness hung heavy in the room. He was hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst because, after spending months trying to impress the coaching staff, he didn't have a clue if he was going to be a Viking on Saturday night.
"I didn't know what was going to happen," Shuler said. "I went out there every day like it might be my last day of playing. I knew I had done enough positive that I could make the team, make the practice squad, get cut and picked up by somebody else. But, to be honest, I had no idea which one it was going to be."
With that in mind, Saturday was noted by its silence more than its exuberance. The time went by slow. 1 p.m. No call. 2 p.m. Still no call. 3 p.m. Phone rings. Not the Vikings. Whew! That went in increments throughout the day, as Shuler looked to just pass the time as painlessly as possible.
"I tried not to worry about it as much as I could," Shuler said. "I knew whatever was going to happen was going to happen. I went out to eat with my parents and we watched the Penn State game. That helped to pass the time. When it got to be about 5 o'clock and I hadn't got a phone call, then I started to feel good about it."
The distractions were partially effective, except his afternoon was spent grabbing his phone as well-wishing friends tried to send encouraging words – which were not the kind of adrenaline rushes Shuler or his family was looking for. Each time he felt his phone go off, everything momentarily stopped.
"To tell you the truth, my mother was more worried than I was," Shuler said. "It was kind of like draft day, except on draft day you want to get a phone call. I didn't want to get a call on Saturday. It went off a couple of times, but they were friends of mine. Every time my phone vibrated in pocket, I grabbed it. If it only buzzed once, it meant it was a text."
In the end, the Vikings decided that the numerous injuries that prevented Garrett Mills from making an impact would allow them to further explore the potential Shuler brings to the Vikings. Most observers believed that the Vikings would keep three or four tight ends. Visanthe Shiancoe and Jim Kleinsasser were locks. Jeff Dugan most likely had a spot reserved as well. It came down to Shuler and Mills, with the outside chance that both could feel the sharp end of the guillotine.
The scenario Shuler hoped for came true and he was the survivor. But, instead of celebrating his victory, Shuler said he has a tougher job ahead of him. He won his spot. Now he has to keep his spot.
"I'm glad it's over with," Shuler said of cutdown Saturday. "Now I can just move forward and don't have that burden of thinking about it. It's still there, because anything can happen. I'm still here, but I'm still going out busting it every day because that's how I got to this point and I don't plan on stopping now."