A day after attending the funeral of his younger brother, Anthony Travis, in Ohio, Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield was back at practice at Winter Park on Friday preparing for Sunday’s game with Indianapolis. Winfield spoke with reporters after practice about this difficult nine-day stretch that he has had to endure. Travis was shot and killed in Akron on Sept. 6. He was 30.
Here are the highlights from Winfield’s back and forth with reporters.
Antoine, how has this last week been for you?
Tough week. It’s been a tough week.
How do you go through this and still get ready to play?
I don’t want to say it was easy. Because it wasn’t at all. But it helped just being around the guys and trying to keep a smile on my face and trying to take my mind off it. But during the game Sunday, I thought about it a little bit at the beginning. But once I’m on the field, I’m solely concentrating on football.
With how close [your brother’s death] was to the game on Sunday, did you ever give thought to going back home and staying there and not playing against Jacksonville?
No. I think I made the best decision. My older sister took care of everything at the house. So that made it a lot easier.
What kind of guy was your brother?
Good guy. He was 30 years old. He has two little girls. It’s a tough situation.
How have your teammates and coaches been helping you to get through this?
They’ve been great. When I first got over here in the morning, Coach [Frazier] said a prayer. Everyone has been coming up to me, giving me their condolences. This locker room has been great.
What was yesterday like for you with the funeral?
That was tough. Probably one of the toughest days of my life. Going to bury my younger brother, which is a very difficult situation.
How do you process this? Your brother was a young man. How do you process this?
I really don’t know. I’m dealing with it. But it’s Akron, Ohio. It’s rough there. It’s rough. A lot of guys aren’t going to school, doing the wrong things. And you get caught up in some bad situations and those things happen.
Do you play this season for him now? Or how do you go forward?
I play for me. I still love the game. Still going out there. But last week I played a lot harder, running around, trying to hit everything. Feeling no pain. But I love the game. I love playing.
How important is the support system internally at Winter Park with so many people behind you and there for you?
That’s very important. The Vikings organization has been great. Rick Spielman attended the funeral yesterday. Which helped. We had a lot of talk. That support system, you need that. You definitely need that. This isn’t all about football. Everyone has their own life, we’re all grown men, we all have families. There are some things that are more important.
With the way things are in Akron, can you be a model for some of those people?
You can only do so much. I can go back and talk to them. But when I leave, then what? They're back to doing the same stuff.