Lurtsema's Reaction: Hutchinson, Fans & Camp

Former Viking Bob Lurtsema was one of the alumni taking in part in the Ride for Life last weekend. He talks about the fan response to the team and the insight he gained from talking with the Vikings' $49 million man, Steve Hutchinson.

VU: What kind of response from fans did the Vikings Ride for Life get?

The Ride for Life was great. They had over 3,000 fans there. The weather was perfect, and the neatest thing was that I had a chance to see what a great personality Steve Hutchinson has. As I roasted him when I introduced him, he responded very well. The Vikings got not only an All-Pro football player, but a fun guy and I think the community is really going to embrace him.

VU: Who else was there as far as players and coaches?

They had Dontarrious Thomas, Richard Owens, John Randle, who will be going to the Hall of Fame someday, Stu Voigt, Doug Sutherland, and Paul Krause, who has a motorcycle with 103 signatures from Hall of Famers.

VU: That had to draw a big interest.

For the ride up there, people absolutely embraced his motorcycle. Then when he left, he revved it and got everybody's attention.

Hutchinson and Randle played together three years in Seattle, and they both love to ride. There was a little controversy there. Instead of riding his bike, Hutchinson and Johnny Randle decided to ride in a car up to Hinkley because of what happened with Ben Roethlisberger and potential lawsuits. Something is coming down from upstairs, right? So Roethlisberger cost those two a good ride.

VU: So when he rides, does he usually wear a helmet?

No, he doesn't wear a helmet. But, you know, with that situation if you don't have to wear one then don't wear one if you don't want to. A lot of people out there, when I say it's fine for them to ride without a helmet, they're going to say, ‘Bob, how can you say that?' Hey, don't take an exception and make it a rule. Don't take one person's accident and make it a rule for everybody else and take away what they like to do. There is danger in everything. Every day you wake up there is danger. I almost got taken out a few years ago with my helmet on. My helmet slid up and I grabbed it, my bike slid to the right and I just missed a car by about 4 inches going about 70 miles an hour. The helmet is what caused the problem. If I didn't have a helmet on, I wouldn't have had to adjust it and wouldn't have moved.

VU: What sort of vibes did you get from the fans as far as their expectations for the year?

The fans' response to what I said and some of my humor, they were pretty much in limbo. You can tell that they're just waiting. They're not being aggressive with making a prediction. If you make a prediction now, you're just guessing – you've got to be guessing. The fans, a lot of times writers and players don't give them enough credit. They know what's going on. You get the feeling that they are just in limbo, except that young punk kid who is a Green Bay Packers fan – he's not in limbo. He's sure his team is going to win the Super Bowl. But we got him pretty good. He's not as tough a 12-year old as I thought he was.

VU: Back to the players. What kind of a vibe did you get from Hutchinson – who went through free agency for the first time and is with a new team – about his expectations for training camp?

Actually, he feels pretty comfortable already with the system. He's played in the system, and Childress said the purest West Coast offensive system is Mike Holmgren's out in Seattle. Hutchinson coming over here, they're trying to play to his strengths, as far as dumping the short stuff and getting the guards out. You can't look for a guard who is 3 yards and a cloud of dust. You have to have a guard with the agility of what Matt Birk has at center. People who have watched football for years and watched Matt lead a play downfield, now you have Artis Hicks and especially Hutchinson who have those qualities in your line constantly. So you'll have three horses that can really motor.

VU: Have you learned anything about how the coaches are going to approach training camp, anything different than what we've seen in the past that we haven't already talked about?

It's going to be interesting to see the amount of contact they have because Coach Childress does not like them beating up on each other. With the schedule, they like to be very active continuously, in other words move and move on – not a lot of dead time. I think he'll work on their mental capacity to be sharp all the time.

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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