In case you couldn’t pick up Sunday’s Star Tribune because you spent all day waiting in line for Mother’s Day brunch, I wrote a long feature story on second-round pick Mackensie Alexander, who as a teenager joined his parents in the fields in Florida to pick oranges and tomatoes.
Alexander learned how to work in those hot, humid days in the fields, and he has translated that “sick work ethic,” as he put it, to football.
My story included a few anecdotes about how Alexander is wired a little differently than his peers. But there is one more I wanted to share.
Alexander’s high school, Immokalee High in Florida, has sent a handful of players to the NFL. The most famous is Edgerrin James, the former Colts running back who went to the Pro Bowl four times in his NFL career.
Sometime late in his career, James, who was either with the Cardinals or Seahawks at the time, was back in his hometown and stopped by Immokalee High to check out a football practice. The hustle of a young defensive back caught his eye, so James approached the underclassman.
That player was Alexander, who estimated he was 14 or 15 at the time.
“I was surprised for him to be there,” Alexander said at Friday’s rookie minicamp. “The first thing he said was — and I’ll never forget it — he said, ‘You don’t see kids like you working like this anymore.’”
James gave him a pair of his gloves, which he keeps at his parents’ house.
On Friday, Alexander mentioned that impactful experience when explaining why he made a donation to his hometown Boys and Girls Club not long after getting drafted and signing his rookie contract with the Vikings.
“There’s a lot of people in America that are successful, but they don’t come back home,” Alexander said. “They don’t show their face and the kids don’t know who they are. They don’t have anybody to look after, and that’s when you’ve got problems of kids being bad, going to jail, not doing positive things. I just want them to look at me as a positive outlet.”