In the Vikings locker room, there is somewhat of a herd mentality when it comes to being a member of the media. Once a player emerges, we all descend and swarm to ask our questions. On Tuesday afternoon with Vikings running back Toby Gerhart, it felt very much the same … and yet so very different.
Gerhart was visiting Bremer Farms in Hastings after the dairy farming family submitted the winning photo in the National Dairy Council’s “Show Your Pride” contest. In it, they are pictured on a purple couch watching a Vikings game with cows in the background.
The family of huge Vikings fans got to hang out with Gerhart — and he, in turn, got to meet their 100-plus cows and calves up close. The swarming was kept to a minimum, but many camera clicks from different angles captured Gerhart feeding a different herd. Bumping and jostling? It wasn’t so bad, but the occupational hazard in this case was getting a wayward cow tongue on your jacket.
Gerhart looked as at ease on the farm as he does carrying the ball. He’s from Norco, Calif., a town that prides itself on horses — and there were plenty of cows nearby, he said.
Bremer Farms is a family operation. Roy and Karen Bremer moved onto the farm more than 50 years ago. Along with their son John and his wife Janet, plus their kids Sara and Michael, they are the only workers. As Sara showed Gerhart how to feed the calves Tuesday, he joked that he was now their first outside employee. They joked back that they probably couldn’t afford him.
“They feed them twice a day and milk them twice a day,” Gerhart said. “That’s a lot of work.”
It’s much different work, of course, than football. Gerhart missed the Vikings’ 48-30 victory over the Eagles when Matt Asiata — Gerhart’s best friend on the team, he said — ran for three touchdowns. He said he hopes to test his hamstring Wednesday.
On Tuesday, though, he was an honorary dairy farmer. Which of his teammates would be the best and worst in that field?
“I’m sure (Chad) Greenway and Jared Allen would feel right at home out here,” Gerhart said. “The worst? Let’s go with [Christian] Ponder. I don’t know if I see Ponder getting his hands dirty. He’s a quarterback. He’d try to be pretty or something.”