For a week or so, Mike Priefer doesn’t mind being the second best special teams coach in Mankato.
That’s because he’s got a soft spot for the top dog in that department: Chuck Priefer, former Packers, Chargers and Lions special teams coach, not to mention the 74-year-old father and best friend of Mike Priefer.
“I like to work him, make sure he is coming here and he’s not going to eat for free,” Mike joked Monday when asked about his father’s annual visit to Mankato. “He’s going to make sure we are working him. He does a great job obviously; his experience is invaluable to me. He is my father; he was the best man in my wedding. We are very, very close.
“Just his experience and his knowledge, I tease him all the time that he’s forgotten more football than I know and a lot of times it’s true. He helps us with the specialist, we watch tape together and different ideas we swap back and forth. He’s a great mentor for me.”
The two also talk by phone during the season.
“We’ll chat every now and then,” Mike said. “He understands our schedule. I think the best time, when he was coaching in Detroit and it was my first coordinating job in Kansas City, we would talk for about an hour every Tuesday, just swapping ideas.
“He would have a chance to watch my tape, I would watch his tape and we would swap ideas and talk about different teams and personnel. Even now, he’ll get a chance, he’s the biggest Vikings fan out there, and so he will watch out games and critique us a little bit and try to help me out.”
Chuck coached 30 seasons, including 17 in the NFL. Mike is gaining on him heading into his 22nd season overall, 14th in the NFL and fifth with the Vikings.
So, did they ever stand on opposite sidelines on game day?
“One time,” Mike said. “I was the assistant special teams coach of the New York Giants and he was the special teams coordinator for the Lions. It was in Giants Stadium and I don’t want to tell you who won.”
It was in the early 2000s. Chuck’s Lions won.
“That game was really hard on my wife,” Chuck said.
The family met for dinner the night before at Chuck’s hotel.
“My mom wouldn’t tell us who she was going to root for until that night,” Mike said. “Finally, she said, ‘I’ve thought it over and I have to root for our paycheck. My own mother didn’t root for me.”
Mike was joking. Chuck laughed as his son put a hand on dad’s shoulder and joined in.