Getting To Know: TE Hunter Goodwin

Tight end Hunter Goodwin says he received a number of offers similar to the one the Vikings put in front of him this offseason, but his familiarity with Mike Tice and his personality sold Goodwin on his return to the Vikings.

Imagine being a college student. You're about 20 years old, and you may have a part-time job that — at best — pays minimum wage. You can barely afford to pay tuition and books, let alone your own room and board. And then, of course, there's the price of an occasional social night out.

Now imagine it's the end of the month. Bills need to be paid and after making most of the payments, your checkbook comes up short when you attempt to pay rent. Then you remember your landlord is 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 270 pounds. Common sense dictates you rip up the other bills and pay your rent first.

Why? Meet Vikings tight end Hunter Goodwin, your new landlord.

"I'm the slumlord of college students," Goodwin joked.

Goodwin, who completed an agricultural economics degree at Texas A&M in 1999, has owned rental properties since his rookie season in the NFL, seven years ago. His degree of "agricultural economics" is by title only. Actually, he is an economics major. "Everything is agricultural down there," Goodwin said, referring to Texas A&M. "My major is in economics."

Goodwin put his knowledge of the financial world to work well before he returned to school to finish his degree in '99. After being selected in the fourth round (97th overall) by the Vikings in 1996, Goodwin went to work right away — not on the football field or in the weight room, but instead near the college campus in College Station, Texas.

"I started buying rental property when I was a rookie and I kept acquiring them here and there," Goodwin told VU. "I like it and I enjoy it."

His first property purchase: A duplex. Not long after, though, he faced a decision. Should he slowly and cautiously wade into the shallow end of the pool, or should he dive head first into the deep end, realizing there would be no turning back.

Hunter chose the latter.

"My first year out of the box, I bought that first duplex. Then I had to make a decision," he said. "You either get really heavily involved or you get out of it. I made the choice to get heavily involved, so I acquired several different properties over the last few years. I've had pretty good luck with them, so I can't complain."

Professional football player during the season, rental manager in the offseason. Goodwin doesn't mind wearing both hats.

"I try to stay pretty involved in real estate in the offseason," he said. "It's something I enjoy and am passionate about. I do really have an enjoyment for real estate. I think it's probably the No. 1 career choice I would have when the game is done."

Goodwin's game isn't done. In some ways, it's just beginning.

Goodwin spent his first three seasons with the Vikings, from 1996-98. He played in 40 of the Vikings' 48 regular-season games during that stretch. During that span, he caught only 11 passes for 101 yards, but he wasn't signed by the Vikings to make spectacular catches and rack up yardage every Sunday.

At 6-5, 270, Goodwin fit in well with the Vikings' designs of having him be a blocking tight end who could make an occasional catch. But after three seasons, highlighted by the 15-1 march in '98, Goodwin headed for financially greener pastures.

"It wasn't a situation where I was pushed out the door, or where I had ill will toward the Vikings," Goodwin said. "It was a more lucrative offer to go to Miami and I thought the situation would be better for me. I started almost every game for the Dolphins when I was down there and it was a very enjoyable experience.

"I was provided a better opportunity."

His receiving stats in Miami were similar to those in Minnesota. As a Dolphins tight end, Goodwin had 18 catches for 118 yards. But again, statistics don't measure Goodwin's performance. He played in all 16 games the past two seasons for Miami and, as a blocking tight end, accomplished his mission on most plays.

The bottom line for Goodwin was he was on the playing field, gaining actual game experience, which couldn't be duplicated on the practice field or in the film room.

"I got a lot of playing-field experience in Miami," he said. "I've grown up as a player, I've learned the game better. Any time you're on the field and you play as many games as I have, you're going to learn a little bit more and get a little bit smarter."

Goodwin's second experience testing the free-agent market didn't last long. After starting his career with the Vikings, then spending three years in Miami, Goodwin's decision was made much easier when he received a couple of phone calls from a first-year head coach.

In fact, Goodwin says the caller was the reason he returned to Minnesota.

"I came back because of one thing — Mike Tice," Goodwin said. "I had several opportunities to go to other places and all the offers were relatively close in dollar value, but I thought I was getting an opportunity to play on a great offense with a great group of guys, and I really believe in what coach Tice is trying to get done. I've known him for a long time. He coaches with a style that I react well to."

Most players will admit that free-agency offers are often handled by agents. But this was a special case.

When the Vikings drafted Goodwin, Tice was his position coach. For the first three years of his professional career, Goodwin was working with Tice on a daily basis during regular seasons.

Goodwin has played for Dennis Green, Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt. But with Tice, a reacclimation process wasn't needed when Goodwin returned to the Vikings to play for his fourth head coach in seven years.

He knew what Tice stood for. He knew what Tice was all about.

"He's a former player," Goodwin said. "He coached me before, and I think that made things a lot more normal. The knowledge that he brought to practice every day, I think anybody who has played the game as long as he did has a great understanding of all the little things. They've seen both sides. They've played and they've coached. They can relate and bridge the gap between the two.

"Mike was under some great organized coaches. Denny Green always did a great job of organization. Any time you coach on the staff of a guy like Denny, you take the things he did well and you do those things. You take the things Denny wasn't so good at and you try to improve those."

It's not as if his return to the Vikings is some glorious homecoming for Goodwin. He played high school football in Bellville, Texas. He went to college at Texas A&M. His offseason home is in College Station, Texas. His rental properties are in Texas.

But regardless of his deep roots in the Lone Star State, Goodwin is content with the familiarity he has with some faces in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as well.

"Randy (Moss) came in '98, so I spent a year with him here," Goodwin said. "Chris Walsh was here. Everett Lindsay left when I left, and he's back here now. Chris Liwienski and Matt Birk were around then, when I was here. There were six or seven guys that were here then and are here now, but outside of that there are all different people around here."

Whether that is a plus or minus has yet to be determined.

"You create your own identity," he said. "This team is a lot different than the team they put on the field then in 2001. It's coming together well, and as the season progresses we'll continue to get an identity.

"It's always a work in progress. The best thing I will say is we've spent a considerable amount of time working hard together. We've put in more time and we were together a lot more than usual, and I think those things factor in a lot. We've sweat together, worked together."

His home is in Texas, but his professional playing career began at the Metrodome. That's why he's looking forward to Sunday's home opener against Buffalo.

"They've got great fans here," Goodwin said. "It's a great stadium to play in and it's going to be a lot of fun and excitement and we're going to get a lot more fan support. It'll be a great place to play."



GOODWIN EXTRAS
Favorite vehicle: Ford F-350
Favorite actor: Tim Robbins
Favorite actress: Jennifer Anistan
Favorite movie: Shawshank Redemption
Favorite TV shows: Seinfeld, CSI
If I weren't playing football: "I'd be back on my ranch in Texas, shooting something."

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