Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings long snapper Loeffler happy to give back to high school in Texas

Posted by: under Vikings Updated: April 19, 2012 - 2:32 PM

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I came across a little acerbic today with my rant on the excessive hype that ESPN shot at the NFL schedule release earlier this week.

A three-hour prime time special? Yikes. 

But don’t get the wrong idea. Yes, I may get a little annoyed watching Mark Schlereth and Merrill Hoge get silly on a telestrator in April predicting the result of the Giants-Steelers game that will be played on Nov. 4. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other stories in the NFL I can rally behind.

Take this under-the-radar gem regarding Vikings veteran Cullen Loeffler. Once a star quarterback during his days in high school, Loeffler has somehow managed to create a nice little life for himself as an NFL long snapper, about to enter his ninth NFL season and eager to start a new consecutive games streak. Before breaking a bone in his lower back while on punt coverage in Atlanta last November, Loeffler had handled every Vikings’ special teams snap since 2004, a streak that stretched over 123 consecutive regular season games.

Loeffler was named to the NFL’s All-Fundamentals team last fall, a squad put together by USA Football that also included league standouts like Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, Patrick Willis and Charles Woodson. As part of that honor, Loeffler was given a $1,500 grant, which he opted to give to his alma mater, Ingram Tom Moore High School in Texas.

The grant, Loeffler said this week, is being used by the Warriors to get new high-tech Riddell Revolution Speed helmets, designed to help prevent serious head and neck injuries. And in a ceremonial visit back to Ingram last month, Loeffler had a chance to speak with current players at his high school.

“Hopefully, the few words I was able to give them can motivate them to work harder and to appreciate what they have and to try and make something better out of what has been a poor circumstance for them,” Loeffler said.

Poor circumstance? Well, Ingram Tom Moore had fallen on hard times after Loeffler’s departure. At one point, the Warriors went four consecutive seasons without a victory, a 40-game drought that ended in 2010. Now, Loeffler and Ingram Tom Moore coach Jeff Kowalski are putting their heads together in an effort to revive the program.

Said Loeffler: “We’ve really been trying to brainstorm how we can help out the team and restore that pride that had been lost and get back to competing. It’s been really neat. For me, it’s always humbling to go back to where you began and see where you came from.

"You don’t ever forget that. But you can lose sight of the big jump you’ve made. I came from small-town USA, made it to the big time and have been able to stick around. So for me, it was a great experience being back. When you’ve been a part of something, you never want to see it fail and you never want to see it struggle. So you do what you can to help.”

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Atlanta 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Miami 5 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Nathan 6
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Cincinnati 13 FINAL
Cleveland 2
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
Chicago WSox 6
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Seattle 0
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Milwaukee 15
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Arizona 3
NY Mets 8 FINAL
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LA Angels 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 4
Colorado 3 FINAL
Texas 6
Oakland 6 FINAL
San Francisco 4
Indiana 107 FINAL
Milwaukee 111
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Carolina 5
New Jersey 2 FINAL(OT)
Washington 3
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 4 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 3
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Boston 2
Nashville 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
NY Rangers 5 FINAL
Ottawa 1
Florida 4 FINAL
Toronto 1
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Vancouver 1
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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