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Fran Tarkenton will open Republican convention's big finale

The quarterback who made a career out of adjusting on the fly is tonight’s opening speaker at the convention where “unpredictable” has been the only sure thing so far.

Fran Tarkenton opens Thursday night's run of speakers at the Republican National Convention’s closing night. The former Vikings star QB, and Pro Football Hall of Famer, expects to go on stage around 7:15 p.m.

Donald Trump’s speech will be the headliner this evening, but Tarkenton plans to kick off what should be another eventful evening with a talk about leadership – he mentioned Bud Grant’s influence in a Facebook video posted Wednesday – and the importance of helping small business owners. Tarkenton himself is a small business owner in Georgia, and his Facebook page describes Tarkenton as a “serial entrepreneur.”

Tarkenton said he originally declined the invitation to speak, because of "the hate" aimed at Trump. But he changed his mind, Tarkenton said, deciding to engage and help solve America's problems.

Another reason Tarkenton is speaking Thursday: His relationship with the Republican nominee.

“I’ve known Donald Trump for 48 years,” Tarkenton said in his Facebook video. "Not many people out there have known Donald Trump for 48 years. I have. I happen to like Donald Trump. I think he’s a terrific leader. What he does is get stuff done. We need somebody inside Washington to get stuff done, and I don’t think an insider can do that. I think we gotta go outside to have that happen.”

Read more about Trump’s big night here, and follow the coverage of the RNC with our Hot Dish Politics blog.

Sweet memories: Big Papi writes a love letter to Minnesota

If all you knew was a lot of what's been said, you would think there are all kinds of hard feelings between David Ortiz and the Minnesota Twins. After all, the Twins released Ortiz amid an assortment of doubts about his future and, over the years, Ortiz has been critical from time to time about things that were expected of him when he played in Minnesota.

But this is a different story. It's the one about being a young ballplayer and breaking into the majors with the Twins and some of the things that happened before and after.

Ortiz, who is retiring after this season, published a long essay on The Players Tribune website Thursday titled "Thanks for the memories, Minnesota."

He means it. We're going to send you to the web site for most of the stories, but after we share a few highlights here.

His introduction to Torii Hunter in 1997: "To make you understand how broke we were back then, Torii had to sleep in his car outside the stadium for the first week of the season until we got our first paycheck. And the car was a rental. And he had a roommate — our teammate, Armann Brown, slept in the passenger seat.  I’ll never forget, I went to breakfast with Torii one morning and he said to me, “Man, I’m telling you — you’re going to play in the big leagues this year.

"I’m like, 'Pssshht. You must be out of your damn mind, bro. I just got called up to Double A.' "

"He said, 'You’re an unbelievable hitter. They’re gonna give you a chance."

"Torii had gotten called up to the Twins for one game already. I remember sitting there with my eyes all big, asking him, 'What’s it like in the big leagues, bro?'

"He just said, “You’ll see.”

When Ortiz made his Twins debut, his name was misspelled on his jersey.

On the Twins years: "We were kids having fun. I just saw Eddie Guardado the other day, and we were reminiscing about how much fun we used to have in Minnesota. Those are my boys. When I got married in 2002, we had the ceremony in Fort Myers during spring training so my teammates could be there. With most of my family living so far away, those guys became my other family in America."

On Twins fans: "What was great about Minnesota was how nice everybody was to me during my time there. If we went out to a restaurant early on, when my English pronunciation wasn’t so great, everybody was super nice to me. Nobody ever made me feel like an outsider, and I’ll always appreciate that."

There's a lot more, including an ending that could make you choke up a bit. Go read the rest now.