Three hours and 10 minutes after right tackle Korey Stringer died of complications from heat stroke suffered in Tuesday's morning practice session, the Vikings' position coaches woke up and informed the team members that did not already know of Stringer's death.
The team then gathered for a prayer and personal huddle session and told stories about how Stringer had helped many of them during trying times in their life.
Stringer, as anybody who ever met and talked to him knows, is a big man with a huge heart and an engaging sense of humor. Head coach Dennis Green and receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss talked about Stringer the man, the humorist and the professional this morning at an 11 a.m. press conference in Minnesota State University's Centennial Student Union.
"I don't know where to start," Moss said while doing everything he could to talk through the tears. "… For the last 24 hours, I've been thinking if he does die, what's going to happen to his son."
Stringer's son, Kodie, 3, and his wife, Kelci, did not attend the press conference.
"There is nothing that you go through in life that compares to this," said a more composed Carter. "We are devastated."
Carter, who like Stringer graduated from and supported Ohio State University, talked about how Stringer was "a true pro's pro who was trying to get better."
Green also talked about Stringer's dedication to the community and the team and how Stringer was an expert at mimicking player's and coaches' voices, saying he could deadpan Green, Moss and Tice the best and could use his humor to lighten situations, but also knew when to get serious about his job.
"I love him like a son," Green said. "Korey was one of our gifts (drafted 24th in the 1995 draft). I believe in gifts and they come from heaven."
The players and coach did not comment on the heat during the first two days of practice, other than Carter saying, "It's hot everywhere. That's why they call it the dog days of summer."
"The people at the hospital did the most unbelievable job trying to recapture his life," Carter said of the staff at Immanuel St. Joseph's in Mankato, "but there are some forces in nature you can't control."
Stringer started the second game of his career with the Vikings and rarely missed time after that. He entered his rookie year overweight, but had continually improved his conditioning and came into this year's camp in the best shape of his six-year career, during which time he had become close friends with many former teammates.
Green said "they've all called" when asked about hearing from former Vikings Todd Steussie and Randall McDaniel and they kept asking how they could help.
"I think if he's looking down on us right now, he sees all the pain we feel," Moss said.
Korey Stringer was 27 when he died this morning at 1:50 a.m. in Mankato.
Green: 'I Love Him Like A Son'
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