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.


A memorable evening for Vikings receiver

Posted by: under Vikings, Vikings off the field, Brett Favre Updated: July 15, 2010 - 1:45 AM

Greg Lewis had no inkling the last-second pass he caught from Brett Favre in Week 3 of last season might win the ESPY for "Best Play" of the year. Lewis, however, wasn't about to say no to his first opportunity to visit Los Angeles when ESPN invited him to attend its award show on Wednesday night.

"I was kind of nervous about the guy that did the flip," Lewis said when asked about the competition for the "Best Play" nominees. "I would have voted for him because I thought it was pretty exciting for somebody to do a flip and score a run. It was some stiff competition but fortunately we prevailed and it was exciting for both of us I believe.”

Lewis was referring to the flip that Fordham baseball player Brian Kownacki did over Iona catcher James Beck in order to score a run in a game last April. Fans, however, did not agree with Lewis and instead voted for the play on which Favre connected with the veteran wide receiver for a 32-yard touchdown with two seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Favre praised Lewis for making the catch in the back of the end zone as the two appeared on stage together and the quarterback later gave Lewis the ESPY to keep. “It was actually like a dream come true," Lewis said. "I’ve been watching the ESPYs since I was younger and I always said I wanted to be a part of that. To actually get a chance to go on stage and win something and to get an opportunity to do it with a Hall of Fame quarterback such as Brett. I won’t ever forget what happened this evening.”

Talking to Lewis late Wednesday night as he attended an ESPYs after-party, you got the feeling he was would have enjoyed himself regardless. Lewis said he got the opportunity to meet actor Samuel L. Jackson, new Miami Heat player Chris Bosh and had received congratulations from many.

Lewis also enjoyed simly being at the ESPYs and getting a firsthand look at how things worked inside the Nokia Theatre. Lewis recalled how he and his wife, Tamika, saw a film a few years back called "The Seat Filler." The film was about a law student who makes money by filling empty seats at award shows when they are vacated. The reason being that executives don't want empty seats visable when television cameras show the audience. 

"They actually did that at the show," Lewis said. "We both were sitting there just talking about it laughing, [saying], ‘They actually do this.’ It’s hilarious. When people go to the bathroom they have somebody come and sit in their seat. It was just surreal for us to see that and just to be around all the stars and athletes and everybody that you watch on TV. Just to be a part of that and be one of them.”

Favre said on ESPN3 following the ESPYs that he hasn't decided whether he will play in 2010 and Lewis admitted that while he talked to the quarterback before the show and for about five minutes backstage, he doesn't know what Favre will do.  

“He obviously knows that I want him to come back and all of Minnesota wants him to come back," Lewis said. "But it’s not our decision and it’s always going to be up to him and what he wants to do. What’s best for him and his family. There’s no pressure on him to do anything or to make any rushed decisions. He seems excited about football, so we’ll all see at the same time.”
 
Lewis isn't the only member of his family making a first trip to Los Angeles. His wife also hadn't been to the city previously and the couple their two kids with them as well.
 
"I'm a Chicago guy and it’s no Chicago, but it’s a nice place," Lewis said. "It’s different than what I’m used to. The Midwest area is what I’m used to but now I’ve been in the Midwest, I’ve been on the East Coast in Philadelphia for six years and now I finally made it to the West Coast. I can tell the difference between all three areas.”
 
As for the ESPYs after-party, the 30-year-old Lewis said: “I’m not really into that party scene anymore. There’s a lot of celebrities here and athletes and whatnot. My kids are down here, I wish they could have come to the [show] and my wife is here. It’s a nice thing, it’s well put together and if I was 21 or 22 it would probably be awesome. It’s just not me at this point in my life.”
 

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