Lurtsema's Reaction: Fun on the Ride

Former Viking Bob Lurtsema talks about the good time he had on the fundraising Ride for Life benefit last weekend. He tells stories of current and former players that were in attendance, including Mewelde Moore, Pat Williams, John Randle, Stu Voigt and Hall of Famer Paul Krause.

VU: What do you think people enjoy about the Ride for Life the most?

BL: The Minnesota Vikings' Ride for Life was very, very successful. The Vikings even gave away season tickets and a couple Super Bowl tickets and people really got behind the charity part of the bike ride that was for the Viking Children's Fund. I got a chance a to emcee the event and Pat Williams, Pro Bowl defensive tackle, Ben Leber, Mewelde Moore and Khreem Smith were up there. Each of them are good-character guys. I got a kick out of Smith because when they came up together – the four of them – Smith, who is basically a rookie besides his time with Chicago and the Arena League, they had him getting us water and donuts and snacks. I went, ‘Oh, man, Williams and the guys have gotten to the rook.' Just go ahead and poke the rook, just having him do all the things for the veterans because you're not really a veteran. He went along with everything and laughed and we had a fabulous time.

I enjoyed it because you get a chance to show the nicer part of ballplayers, especially when you're talking about Mewelde Moore's upcoming baby. He and his wife have been trying to have a family and now she is 7 ½ months along. I hope he names her Roberta after me, even though he's not buying into that. He is so excited and you see what a neat thing it is for just starting a family.

I asked them these questions in front of thousands, like Pat Williams just struggling to make a buck with his side business with customizing cars even though he's making $5 million from the Vikings. He's just planning ahead. But people got a chance to see them as real people. That's what I like the most about it. Of course, it's always a great cause.

And then Stu Voigt was there, Hall of Famer Paul Krause and John Randle. I had a chance to ask John how long it took to put on his makeup before a game. It took him a half hour to put that on. Johnny Randle is a future Hall of Famer. He should go in the Hall in first time through. I believe he's eligible next year. Vikings tradition is alive and well, and when you get a chance to see the alumni and the good, solid active players with good morals, it's refreshing for everybody.

VU: How was the attendance with the road construction on I-35 North?

BL: This year they did it differently. You came up (to Grand Casino Hinkley) on your own. One year we had like 2,700 – we backed up traffic for 17 to 23 miles I believe. That was one of our all-time records. Now they are coming from different cities, like St. Cloud or wherever, and they drive over. If you get six or more together, you qualify for the Super Bowl drawing for two tickets. It's the first time they've done it (with people coming to the casino first instead of riding there) and attendance was off a little bit, but only because they were late getting the promotion going because they were late getting a new three-year contract signed with the casinos. They got a little late start on it, but we already know the date on it for next year, July 19, and everybody is all set for that. Money-wise, they made more money than last year. It was a very successful, not only from meeting the players but the bottom line for charity.

VU: Players are always jabbing back and forth with stories about each other. What about Krause, Voigt and Randle? Do you have any good stories about them?

BL: I started with Voigt up in front of the crowd and said, ‘I know you played about 12 years in the National Football League. Tell them about your body – your new knee, your new hip.' He was going through all the new parts for his body and the players were really laughing at that, but I told them they're going to have those injuries when they get our age because we're both in our 60s now. As far as Krause goes, he has over $110,000 into his Hall of Fame motorcycle. They call it the Hall of Fame motorcycle because he has all the signatures on there and custom-built, the whole works. He's up there and talking all the lingo with the riders. With Randle, we talked about the face painting and how he scared people, and then there are the number of charities that he does, and he's doing some promotional work. His time was all about the face painting, how mean he was and what a phony he really was.

VU: Is he a maniac riding a motorcycle?

BL: No, there are so many legal issues now that they actually took a limo up because everybody is suing everybody and they are looking for something. I don't know what's going on in society. But anyway, it costs too much for liability, so they get them in a limo and they come up. We used to ride up (on motorcycles) all the time, even me and Evil Kneivel. He was up there three years ago and we had a great time. He is the greatest guy in the world – talk about an approachable person. He was blue-collared and I love the guy.

VU: Talk about a guy who has a lot of body parts replaced.

BL: Oh, man, he's really broken up. He had to leave a couple minutes early and he apologized to everybody and walked out through the autograph line and made sure everybody could touch him or whatever. But he walked out and had to catch a plane to fly back to Atlanta because they had to change his blood cells or something from his injuries. He had to do something with his blood because of the injuries. But he's a great guy, and he did a wheelie for about 30 miles. Of course, it was within the speed limit – I don't think so.

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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