Hutchinson enjoyed his years as a Viking

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 28, 2012 - 9:42 PM

 The seven-time Pro Bowl guard wished he could have stayed, but he understands the NFL runs as a business.

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Former Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

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Steve Hutchinson played six years for the Vikings. The seven-time Pro Bowl guard had hoped to play his seventh season here until he got a phone call from coach Leslie Frazier when NFL free agency started, informing him the Vikings weren't going to bring him back.

"I wasn't surprised, no," said Hutchinson, who was scheduled to make nearly $7 million this year. "I knew I had a high [salary] cap number, and I knew they didn't have very much cap space left. They had a lot of free agents they needed to sign, so it wasn't surprising.

"That's the way it was explained to me [that it was a financial decision], but I'm not sure. I think it would have been fun to finish out my contract, but like I said, this is how the business goes and you move on. I think I, for the most part, held up my end of the seven-year deal and apparently they, for some reason or another, didn't think so."

What upset Hutchinson was that if money was the reason they let him go, then why was there no effort to renegotiate his contract? Hutchinson didn't believe his previous contract was out of line with others at his position.

"There's a lot of offensive linemen in this league making $7 million," he said.

But Hutchinson managed to land a three-year, $16 million contract with the Tennessee Titans. Apparently after studying films of Hutchinson's performance this past season, the Titans felt the former Michigan star had some football left in him.

Hutchinson missed the final two games of last season because of a concussion, but that hasn't hindered him in the offseason.

"I'm fine," he said. "That was kind of a freak thing, when your helmet falls off and you get kicked in the head. I don't know if anybody will be able to get by that one."

Enjoyed playing here

Hutchinson built a home here with the idea of finishing his career with the Vikings. He is going to keep the house but is moving to Nashville, and it hasn't been easy to move to another city.

"We really enjoyed [our time in Minnesota]," he said. "We have a lot of friends on this team. A lot of friends on the staff and on the team that will be friends a long time, and it's unfortunate the way this business works sometimes. But it is a business. You don't just throw away the last six years of your life and forget about everybody you met."

Looking back on his years with the Vikings, Hutchinson talked about the 2009 season being the highlight.

"I think that obviously the 2009 season, even though it ended short of where we wanted to go -- a game short of the Super Bowl -- that was a fun run," he said. "I think everybody had a lot of fun and it was great to see the fans get involved and see that dome rocking every Sunday we had a home game."

Hutchinson and his wife, Landyn, have a great relationship with the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital and have been active locally in raising money for the facility. They hope to continue that partnership in the future "as much as I can," Hutchinson said. "I don't know how much I can do during the football season."

Revamping Pavilion?

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has talked to some of the school's regents about changes in the athletic facilities, including the possibility of turning the Sports Pavilion -- the building adjacent to Williams Arena -- into a first-class building for the men's and women's basketball program.

As part of that conversation, there has been talk of some remodeling of Williams Arena, and about constructing a building for teams that use the Pavilion where the present indoor sports building, on University Avenue adjacent to Cooke Hall, is being torn down.

Meanwhile, some money has been raised for a basketball practice facility that men's coach Tubby Smith feels is important to be able to compete, and use as a recruiting tool when bringing in some of the country's better high school players.

All of this is only conversation at the present.

Maturi on McDonald

Chisholm's Bob McDonald recently was named one of the top five boys' basketball coaches in a survey conducted by the Minnesota State High School League, in conjunction with its celebration of the 100th year of the boys' basketball state tournament. One of his former players was outgoing Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi, who played for McDonald on his first two Chisholm teams in 1961-62 and 1962-63.

"I was a junior when he came to Chisholm," Maturi said. "Many life lessons that I think many of us learned from Coach McDonald hopefully stayed with us today."

Jottings

• Rob Moor, CEO of Target Center, the Timberwolves and the Lynx, reports that the recent renewal of the Target Center naming rights by Target is for thee years.

• Wolves coach Rick Adelman talking about his superstar forward Kevin Love: "He's the one, [with] our margin of error with the injuries and everything so small, I worry about him because I play him so many minutes. He seems to get through it pretty good. He's been so consistent for us. Rebounding the ball, shooting the ball, making plays. ... He's so important in what we are doing. This late in the season, you need the rhythm on your team. He's been a big part of it."

• The Wolves have had three sellouts in a row for the first time in franchise history and will make it four Friday with the game against Boston already sold out.

• If you check the Twins website, there's about 200 tickets on sale for the home opener April 9 with the Los Angeles Angels. Once those 200 are sold, the game will be a sellout.

• Former Gophers football player and assistant coach Roger French will have a special day today on the Brigham Young campus as the school and athletic department celebrates his 20 years there as an offensive line coach and offensive coordinator from 1980 to 2000.

The school will be holding a dinner as well, with several of French's players coming back to honor the longtime coach.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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