Typically when a player makes an appearance at an event outside of the football realm, it is typically trumpeted by the team or the player or the NFL. Vikings kicker Blair Walsh made a recent appearance on a cult-favorite TV show and, for the most part, it was kept as under wraps and locked down as to how Breaking Bad will finish in October.
Walsh appeared on The League, a show centered around the comic antics of a penalty-laden fantasy football league. It has drawn a rabid cult following on the FX Network, which, this season, moved the show to its new sibling network FXX. The show is loosely based around the depths to which friends will go to win a fantasy football title (The Shiva Bowl in this case). Criminals have received reduced sentences in order for an owner to get the opportunity to draft Adrian Peterson. It's comedy at a hilariously dark level at times.
Walsh appeared on the season premiere as a key component to a story arc in the show and was advised to keep the information on the down-low.
"I wasn't supposed to tell anybody," Walsh said. "The producers weren't trying to be overly secretive, but they wanted it to be a surprise and asked me not to tell anybody. Only a couple of guys knew about it before it aired last week."
So how does a rookie kicker (from last year) get asked to be on a network TV show? First, you set an NFL record and get your name known among fantasy football players – those who had you on their roster and those who film a show in Hollywood that uses as its setting owners of a fantasy football league. Second, you have "your people" get in contact with "their people."
"My agency actually put out a feeler because they knew I loved the show," Walsh said. "I was out in California when they were shooting (in June) and they bit on it. I was training in Southern California about a half hour from where they were filming the show. They loved the idea and I guess my face was just good enough to get on TV."
SPOILER ALERT! SCROLL DOWN A FEW PARAGRAPHS IF YOU'RE HAVING A TIVO MOMENT
In the storyline, the gang is headed to Los Angeles for the wedding of one of their league members (Andre) and Ruxin (don't call him Rodney) is unwilling to perform the heinous requirements of the "winner" of the Sacko Bowl, which is awarded to the worst team in the league. A defiant Ruxin, played by Nick Kroll and acknowledged by Walsh as his favorite of the group, doesn't draft his team for 2013 because he hasn't fulfilled his Sacko obligations. Instead, he has Houston Texan defensive end J.J. Watt pick his team. Watt promptly picks Houston defense in the first round – a move fantasy owners typically don't make until the final couple of rounds of a draft.
Enter Watt's friend Blair Walsh, who was called in by Watt as a war room consultant. Fantasy owners worldwide cringe at the comic results.
"He picks Ruxin's team for him," Walsh said. "He brings me in to make the second pick and I pick myself. It's really funny. It's very narcissistic, but it kind of fit in with the tone of the show. It was a lot of fun."
About the only position in fantasy drafts that gets picked later than defense is kicker. If an owner is in a 16-round draft, defense and kicker are the final two picks for most. Nobody uses the first two on those positions … until Watt and Walsh get involved.
Walsh was amazed at how quick and painless the process was. Having never been involved in a network TV show, he had little clue as to how elaborate the process is. This wasn't The League's first rodeo. Adrian Peterson has appeared on the show. Sidney Rice was in the band of the Shiva Bowl Shuffle. Rookie draftee Matt Kalil has appeared on the show. So have Deion Sanders, Terry Bradshaw, Antonio Gates, Terrell Suggs, Chad Ochocinco, Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Forte, Trent Richardson, Jason Witten, DeSean Jackson, Jay Ratliff, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jim McMahon and Jerry Jones. Next week, Bears QB Jay Cutler makes a guest shot.
They know what they're doing and, while he enjoyed the experience, it was very brief and seamless in sticking to a schedule.
"I was only there for about two hours and the filming itself took about 30 minutes," Walsh said. "It was so simple that it only took me two or three takes to get it done, but it was such an experience. I can't even describe to you how crazy it was just to see how all that stuff goes down."
The best part for Walsh was becoming a "fan boy." He's become accustomed to have strangers fawn over him, but it was a refreshing change of pace for him to fawn over the actor's of the show he watches religiously.
"I met all the guys from the show and it was cool because most of them kind of act like the characters they play in the show when they're in real life," Walsh said. "They were funny and had me laughing the whole time I was there."
While he has no intention of quitting his "day job," Walsh has been smitten by the acting bug. It piqued his curiosity and the organized confusion and frenetic pace of the production was entrancing. It opened his eyes to a different business and he left the experience impressed and ready to make a return appearance.
"I loved it," Walsh said. "It was a first-class experience. I don't have any knowledge of the whole acting-wise end of things, but they all made me feel real comfortable. It was so easy to do."
The hard part? Waiting a week ago for the show to air. He knew he wasn't going to end up on the cutting room floor – he was too important to the storyline. But, for a player whose professional success or failure is only as good as his last field goal attempt or kickoff, he felt jitters he hasn't felt on the football field for years.
"I was more nervous waiting to watch that scene than anything I've done in football – more than kicking field goals," Walsh said. "We got done with practice about 4 or 5 o'clock last Wednesday and I was like, ‘Dang, it's going to be five hours until it comes on. I didn't tell my teammates because I didn't want to get ragged on too hard, but I thought it came out OK. I was nervous watching it, but it was rewarding afterward."
It would appear that Walsh has a new love. How far the relationship goes is up in the air, but he's willing and able. His future career path may not be in coaching. It may be in directing.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Walsh enjoyed acting debut in 'The League'
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