With the retirement of his good friend Chad Greenway and the release of running back Adrian Peterson, defensive lineman Brian Robison will be the longest-tenured Viking when the 2017 season starts. And Robison, like Greenway before him, decided to take a salary cut to play another year with the only squad he has ever been a part of in the NFL.
Robison was set to make $5.3 million for 2017, but he signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal that will pay him $3.9 million in 2017 and $3.2 million in 2018.
Asked about that decision, Robison said it was his choice.
“Well I mean let’s be honest, No. 1 I didn’t have to take a pay cut, it was something I chose to do,” Robison said. “With the Vikings, I thought it was a very complimentary deal both for myself and the organization. I think it was something you got to see, which you don’t get to see very often in this league, is a player being loyal to an organization and an organization being loyal to a player.
“On the flip side of it, I got an opportunity to play an extra year here in Minnesota and gives me an opportunity to retire as a Viking and play my entire career in one uniform.”
Robison, who recently turned 34, was asked how it feels to be one of the true veterans on the squad.
“It seemed like it happened overnight, because it definitely doesn’t seem like I’ve been in the league 10 years going on 11,” said the 2007 fourth-round pick out of Texas, where Robison won a national title. “It’s definitely a little bit different of a feeling for me as well, but at the same time, one of the biggest reasons why I came back to this team and why I accepted the deal for the organization is I truly believe in this team. I believe in the team and the coaching staff we have in place.
“I feel like we have a lot of young players, but I feel like we have people who can play football who are smart, intelligent players who can get the job done. I truly believe that. I know we say that every year here in Minnesota, and every team has high hopes going into the offseason, but I truly believe in the last few years we’ve been on the cusp of doing something great and I think we have a chance to get that done.”
And Robison did say that he thinks the players and coach Mike Zimmer will be especially motivated this season with the Super Bowl being held here.
“It would be very nice [to play in it]. It’s something that nobody has ever done before,” he said about the fact that a team has never played in a Super Bowl in its home stadium. “If I know coach Zimmer and the mentality of this team, we always like a challenge.
“For us, having the challenge of having our Super Bowl in our home stadium, and nobody has been able to do that before and win a Super Bowl in our home stadium, we’re going to do our dangdest to make sure we get that done. It’s going to be a heck of an opportunity, and the only way we can get it done is if we take it one game at a time and just go play football.”
On Greenway and fishing
For years, Greenway and Robison were neighbors in the locker room, and there’s no doubt that Robison will miss the linebacker’s friendship and his play. But he said Greenway will be missed for more reasons than that.
“I’ll miss him a ton. We’ve been locker buddies over there for nine or 10 years now,” he said. “I mean obviously you can’t replace a guy like Chad Greenway. You can’t replace his value as a leader, as far as a person that he is in the community, just everything about Chad Greenway. He’s a humble human being who gives back to the community as much as he can, whether it’s as a teammate or a person in the community. So I’m going to miss him tremendously, no doubt about it.”
Robison said one of the things that has kept him with the Vikings was the sense of community built up around the team, and the type of people on the roster.
“That’s what makes our locker room special, we have a lot of good football players but we have a lot of great leaders and role models in the community as well,” he said. “You know Anthony Barr is doing a lot of stuff that he’s doing for single moms, you mentioned Chad Greenway, myself, we have a lot of people that are great in the community. That just goes to show you how humble NFL players can be.”
When asked if he has any idea what he wants to do after his playing career, Robison brought up maybe the only sport more popular than football in Minnesota.
“I used to want to be a coach, but after seeing how many hours coaches put in — those guys put in more hours than we do as players, so I’m not sure if I want to go into that,” he said. “At the same time, fishing has been a big passion of mine and it’s something that I believe I can truly do at the professional level.
“But again, it’s something that’s going to take a lot of time away from my family and stuff like that. I think for me, something in the fishing industry is in store for me. Whether that’s commentating with the live stuff going on now or with actual fishing.”
There’s going to be quite a bit of turnover on the Vikings roster this season, but Robison remains a stalwart on the defensive side of the ball.
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• Twins President Dave St. Peter recently spoke of the team’s desire to play host to an NHL Winter Classic game at Target Field. “We’ve said from the start we think this would be a great venue for hockey and obviously the Minnesota Wild is aware of that,” he said. “If they were ever fortunate enough to get a Winter Classic, we think Target Field would be the optimal home.” The Wild’s lone outdoor game was played at TCF Bank Stadium in February 2016.
• The Gophers had 17 players in the NHL this season. Blake Wheeler (2006-08) was the top scorer of those players, with 74 points (26 goals, 48 assists) in playing all 82 games for the Winnipeg Jets.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org