Nordin's journey home hitting a crossroads

Jake Nordin has made several stops out East in search of long-term NFL employment and now finds himself about 80 minutes from his Lake Lillian, Minn., hometown and on the cusp of extending his NFL dream. See what the Minnesota native has to say about playing with Brett Favre and extending his own professional chances.

Jake Nordin has seen his share of NFL transactions, but he's probably as surprised as anyone that a tight end who grew up in Lake Lillian, Minn., would end up playing for the Minnesota Vikings with Brett Favre throwing him passes.

That's how it works in the NFL. Nothing is certain, little is long-term.

And who would have thought that a first-year player that spent time with the New England Patriot, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions would finally get a chance with his home-state team – signing just before a legend like Brett Favre?

"It was surreal. Friends back home, they were like, ‘I can't believe Favre's there. What's that like?' For me, I was trying to focus on practice. I was two days in. I was trying to get the playbook down, but it's unbelievable," said Nordin, who signed with the Vikings two days before Favre. "Watching him grow up my entire life as a Green Bay Packer and now being in the huddle with him, it's amazing. It's a great feeling."

Nordin grew up a Vikings fan, but he wasn't a hater of the rival gunslinger in Green Bay.

"Absolutely not. To me, he's one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game and I've always had respect for the way he's played and the way he's come out and put a name out here for himself. Brett Favre is tops on my list," he said.

Nordin has had less than a month to try to get up to speed on the Vikings offense and avoid being a roster casualty when Saturday's mandatory roster trimming takes place. Having Favre in the same huddle can be a distraction, but it's something the fledgling tight end quickly ignores in order to concentrate on his own job.

"You try not to think about it, but it's like, ‘Oh, I'm in the huddle with Brett Favre.' But then it's like, ‘OK, what's the play?'" Nordin said. "I've got to get out there and I've got to run the play. It's just a good feeling to be out there and be on the same field as him."

Nordin grew up playing middle linebacker and fullback in high school and idolizing former Vikings receiver Cris Carter. At the time, the NFL was a goal but not his focus. In high school, he was trying to make it to Division I football, which he accomplished when he signed on to play for Northern Illinois.

A senior-year setback nearly derailed the ultimate goal.

"Going into my senior year, it looked like it was a big possibility going into the NFL. Unfortunately, I broke my leg the fourth game of the season and I was out the rest of the year. That put a damper on my dreams a little. I just knew that's what I wanted to do and fortunately enough, with my hard work, that paid off," he said.

Getting to the Vikings was a long road.

Nordin started out as an undrafted rookie with the New England Patriot but was released a week before training camp. He went to his first training camp with the Redskins, then was released. The Giants signed him to their practice squad for the first week of the season, but he had to finish the year with the Baltimore Ravens, spending time on their practice squad before he was activated for the final game of the 2007 season.

In 2008, he spent the offseason with the Ravens but was released a week into training camp. The Lions picked him up for the first week of the season and he spent the entire season on their practice squad. Three weeks ago, the Lions released him and, only two days later, the Vikings called.

"I grew up a Vikings fan. Sunday afternoons after watching them play. Going out with my two brothers and trying to simulate what they were doing on the field, that was always my dream to become a Minnesota Viking," Nordin said.

"It's been awesome. It's been a lot of fun coming back to Minnesota and getting the chance to play for the Minnesota Vikings. It's been a great experience."

Nordin says he has learned a lot from each stop along the way and will do whatever the coaches ask to help his extend his dream.

"I do whatever they ask. I love to block. I love getting after it. I love smash-mouth football," he said. "I grew up with that in high school and college. Hit somebody across from you. I pride myself in catching the ball too. I feel like I'm a well-rounded football player."

With Visanthe Shiancoe, Jim Kleinsasser and Jeff Dugan ahead of him on the depth chart and in the experience department, Nordin's chances of immediately making the active roster might be slim, but he still has one year of practice-squad eligibility left. He will know by Saturday afternoon if the 53-man roster is a possibility. If not, the Vikings can begin building their eight-man practice squad on Sunday afternoon.

Nordin has made many stops along the way on his journey back home, but he's hoping his dream doesn't end this weekend, with roster cuts looming Saturday.

"The only thing I can do is just what I know how to do and that's to play football," he said. "I'm just excited to have the opportunity to be here. Whatever's going to happen is going to happen."


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