Lurtsema's Reaction: Blast, Alumni and RBs

Fully recovered from a weekend of fun and fundraising at the Arctic Blast, former Viking Bob Lurtsema tells of the good times the current players and alumni had, even those who had a difficult time with the snowmobile, and the camaraderie of the fans, current players and alumni. And he has a bold prediction about the running backs position.

VU: How was the turnout for the Arctic Blast and what was the vibe from the fans that attended that?

This is the 11th year that we've had it. Pat Leopold, who coordinates the whole event, he and I came up with the idea over a napkin. We sat down one night and came up with the idea. Doug Sutherland and I were in one group and we would walk into these Blast Points—the bars and restaurants around Mille Lacs Lake—and it was like they gave us a standing ovation. Doug and I were absolutely in shock that they feel that warmly about us and how they embrace us from the past. It's such a wonderful feeling, and I can't thank them enough. There is a little bridge now between the Super Bowl years and what it is today, and I think a lot of the kids that followed us back then are now adults and they had their kids following us as well. It just gives them a chance to meet with some of their past. It's a very nice experience. They love their Vikings in this state. Say what you want—they yell and holler and scream now and then—but Minnesota is a football state.

VU: Who were the current players involved in that?

Mewelde Moore was up there and he still had a cast (on his wrist). He's a classy kid. He had the operation and that was one case where they said, ‘there's nothing wrong with you.' Well, apparently there was. Mewelde will start next year and he's a tough enough kid. He played when he was hurt and I think that kind of proved it out. Richard Owens was up there and he's one of the toughest wedge-busters I've ever seen. He was up there with his lovely wife. Dustin Fox was there, Jermaine Wiggins. And Paul Edinger, what a great personality he has. He's not your typical kicker. He's a neat little guy with a tremendous sense of humor. Zygi Wilf was there, along with his cousin Lenny. They both had a ball and they both took little minor spills, which I got the biggest laugh of my life over. I'm not going to go into it, but those two are a pair. Then a lot of the old-timers were there: ‘Boo Boo' Rouse, the only man who annihilated Keith Millard each and every time he played across from him, Jim Marshall, Sutherland, Mick Tingelhoff, Hall of Famer Paul Krause.

VU: Do you get the feeling that Mewelde will be given the opportunity to start or do you think they'll try to pursue someone else?

He will start. The neat part about Mewelde is that he grabbed the microphone away from me and said, "Listen, we're taking this team to the Super Bowl next year. We have great owners who have passion for the game and they're going to give us every possible scenario to win next year and we're going to do it for you great fans.' We were at the Blue Goose and the place went nuts, absolutely nuts.

VU: So you really don't believe that they're going to go after a free agent running back?

It doesn't matter who they go after. Mewelde Moore is going to start. He's good. Darrin Nelson was there. I introduced both Darrin and Mewelde, the only two players in NCAA history that have rushed for 4,000 yards in their career and have also caught over 2,000 yards in pass yardage. It was the first time they had ever met, and they got along together so well. Darrin said to Mewelde, ‘Now I'm going to show you how you can last in this league and what you can do.' They were talking about things that only players could understand. Darrin Nelson will definitely help Mewelde Moore.

VU: You mentioned two alumni that have both gone through some rough patches with health, Marshall and Rouse. How are those two guys doing?

Well, Jim hit a tree. Jim Marshall should not even be alive today and here is out there on a cane and he's riding. He loses control of his machine, he rolls off, his machine goes one way, he goes another, and he catches a tree. He hurt his shoulder a little bit, but I just talked to him and he's OK. Nothing major. Jim Marshall will always have something wrong with him, but he'll never tell anybody. He's one tough cookie. That's why he had that consecutive-starts record as a non-kicker. ‘Boo Boo' has had a few strokes and he's had his problems. He was on a cane from a little weight problem, but he's pushing through it. But he's struggling with his health, but nothing so life-threatening that you'd have to call him every week to wish him farewell. He's much better than he was two years ago.

VU: Away from the Arctic Blast. Sioux Falls, Fargo, Duluth are all interested in looking at hosting training camp after this year. What's your reaction if the Vikings are looking for money from the state for a stadium and would seriously entertain other offers from out-of-state communities to host training camp? The threat before was that if they moved training camp to Sioux Falls, they wouldn't be received well by the state when looking for money for the stadium.

My gut reaction is that you don't take them out of the state of Minnesota. My opinion is that it has to stay in Minnesota. I don't think taking them out would be fair to the state of Minnesota.

VU: Any late reaction to the Super Bowl?

I was so pissed at that non-hold, that one where Seattle would have been on the 1-yard line. That's the whole game right there by one official. The sad thing there is that I've made that move as a player and you do sometimes trip coming out of it when your feet get tangled up—you stagger and you stumble and you fumble. But the official saw the end result. He didn't see the hold because there wasn't one, so he assumes that there was a hold and threw the flag. You have to have them and they do a great job, but to have something like that happen in a game like that really was sad. Yes, I played with the Seahawks; yes, I wanted them to win, but even the Steelers fans—who probably still would have won—agree that there was no hold.

Bob Lurtsema was a 12-year veteran defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.

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