At some point before Sunday's game, it will happen.
Keith Millard will emerge from the visitor's locker room before the Vikings face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Metrodome. He will step onto the field, gaze around the building and reflect on the glory days.
The former Vikings All-Pro defensive lineman -- responsible for 53 sacks during his six seasons (1985-90) with the franchise -- will again return to the Metrodome as Tampa Bay's new defensive line coach.
And like his previous visits, he will take some time just to reminisce about the past and chat with some of his old friends who are still connected to the organization.
"It's awesome. This is probably the third or fourth time," he said. "It's always great to come back and see people in the organization that were either my coach or teammates. It's always good to see those people."
Millard was a two-time Pro Bowl player with the Vikings, and his 18 sacks in 1989 are still an NFL record for a defensive tackle. He played for three other teams before retiring in 1993 and beginning a 13-year coaching career that led him to the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay had the youngest roster in the NFL last season, and that youth is reflected on its defensive line.
Millard said he enjoys teaching young defensive linemen such as Gerald McCoy, Michael Bennett and Tim Crowder because they are so eager to absorb his philosophies.
"The one thing that's fun about it is obviously their energy," Millard said. "They hang on every word you say. You know you're starting from scratch with a lot of these guys."
Tampa Bay chose Millard on future Hall of Famer Warren Sapp's advice. Millard helped Sapp rediscover his ferocity in 2006, when he recorded 10 sacks with the Oakland Raiders.
"There are a lot of things that we talked about to really get him focused on being who he could be," Millard said about his time with Sapp.
Millard said he stays in touch with some of the former Vikings who watched him blow by offensive lines in the 1980s. They rarely focus on a particular game when they talk, he said, but one season still stands out for all of them.
"The '87 season where we barely made the playoffs, we were a wild-card team," he said. "We kind of struggled back and forth that year. ... When we went to San Francisco, with that Super Bowl team and all those guys that they had, and beat them pretty handily. That's also the year that we lost to the Redskins for the championship game. I think about that a lot. All the other stuff kind of blends together."
On Sunday, however, Millard will arrive as part of the opposition. Last weekend in San Diego, the Chargers sacked a subpar Donovan McNabb twice. The Vikings offensive line struggled to protect McNabb and the team's other quarterbacks during the preseason.
But Millard said he's preparing for an improved Vikings offensive line with size that could present problems for his young crew.
"I felt sorry for their tackles, San Diego's defensive tackles. They were just rolling them up like window shades all day," he said.
Millard said Vikings nostalgia won't affect his ability to strategize ways to conquer Minnesota's offensive line and pressure McNabb during his homecoming. He expects to get any sentimentality out of his system before the game starts.
"To be honest, until before pregame warmups, and I kind of check the field out -- that's about the only time you really think about it," he said.