Yes, says Jim Galvin, it certainly does feel weird for a lifelong Vikings fan living in the Twin Cities to be rooting this hard for the Green Bay Packers to reach another Super Bowl.
"I guess they're my second favorite team right now," said the former Mounds View High School football coach. "It does feel strange, but I will always be a big fan of wherever Billy is playing."
That's Billy Turner, the former Mounds View behemoth/twinkle-toed star athlete, son of former Vikings running back Maurice Turner, and current blind side protector of likely three-time league MVP Aaron Rodgers.
Eleven years ago, much to the chagrin of the good people of Arden Hills, Billy Turner was told by Tim Brewster that he just wasn't good enough to play for the Gophers.
"That was really tough on him, his family and myself," Galvin said. "Billy was a big Gopher fan. All he wanted to do was play for them. But the thing about Billy is he has always bounced back better than anybody I know."
Turner went to North Dakota State. Started 56 of 57 games. Won three FCS national championships. And, yes, drummed the Gophers 37-24 in 2011.
Fast forward to today. Now a seven-year NFL veteran toiling with his fourth team, Turner will start at left tackle for the top-seeded Packers (14-3) in Sunday's NFC Championship Game against Tom Brady and the No. 5 seed Buccaneers (13-5) at Lambeau Field. The winner advances to Super Bowl LV in Tampa on Feb. 7.
If that doesn't impress Brewster, so be it. It definitely impresses someone far more important to Turner.
"I think he's definitely one of the unsung heroes of our season for so many reasons," Rodgers said.
Turner's versatility has made him invaluable to a Packers offensive line that sports two first-team Associated Press All-Pro selections in center Corey Linsley and the injured left tackle David Bakhtiari, in whose place Turner will play Sunday.
"Guard is Billy's best position," Galvin said. "He's always been a great run blocker. My heart's in my throat each time I watch him out at tackle going up against the Khalil Macks and all these great pass rushers.
"But I'm so proud of how much he has worked to improve as a pass blocker. He had some ups and downs early in his career, but now these great pass rushers can't get past him."
The 6-5, 310-pound Turner was an All-America tackle at NDSU and the FCS Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2013. But the Dolphins drafted him in the third round to play guard.
Turner played in 20 games with 14 starts until an abrupt ending in South Beach.
On Oct. 9, 2016, Turner was a last-minute replacement at left tackle against the Titans. Laremy Tunsil was injured and his backup, Branden Albert, fell ill.
Turner gave up three sacks, two hits and three hurries for a total of eight pressures in just 44 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
Two days later, he was released. The Ravens claimed him a day later but released him three days after that.
The Broncos signed Turner two days later, and he played another 20 games with 11 starts before signing a four-year, $28 million deal with Green Bay on March 14, 2019.
In 2019, Turner started all 18 games at right guard as the Packers went 13-3 and reached the NFC title game. This year, however, his position flexibility would be tested like never before as his team continued to thrive while battling injuries up front all season.
After missing the first two games because of injury, Turner's next 15 games, in order, went like this: three starts at right tackle, three starts at left tackle, three starts at right tackle, four starts at right guard and two starts at left tackle.
"The reality of this football season for me is no different than my entire career," Turner told reporters last week. "I never know what position I'm playing — from a Monday, to the day before the game, or two days before the game like it was with Dave. You just never know."
Turner's current stint at left tackle started right before the regular-season finale, when the Packers announced that Bakhtiari had torn a knee ligament in practice Dec. 31 and was lost for the rest of the season.
Turner stepped in and played 46 snaps against the Bears and 75 more in last week's divisional playoff game against the Rams. He gave up no sacks and just four pressures as the Packers routed the Bears and a Rams team that led the league in fewest yards and points allowed.
This week, Rodgers was asked more about Turner and what kind of player he thought the Packers were getting in the spring of 2019.
"I knew nothing other than when I met him, he asked to be called Bill," Rodgers said. "At that point, I don't think I knew anyone under 50 named Bill.
"Here's this mountain of a man with dreads and glasses and a super cool outfit wanting to be called Bill. That was pretty interesting."
Here's another interesting nugget on big Bill, via Galvin.
"Billy was captain on our baseball team, played first base and pitcher," Galvin said. "He's throws very hard.
"I was with him going through his combine preparation before the draft. There was a little series called 'Driven' on the internet. Kind of showing what Billy was doing to get ready. He and I went out to our stadium and Billy threw a tight spiral 80 yards. He's probably got the strongest arm in the NFL."
But it's his feet the Packers will need against the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul and the vaunted Bucs pass rushers. Back in Week 6, Rodgers was sacked four times while completing only 16 of 35 passes for 160 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions, including a pick-six, in a 38-10 loss at Tampa Bay.
According to Pro Football Focus, Turner has played 427 snaps at right tackle, 296 at left tackle and 246 at right guard this season. He has given up two sacks for an offense that led the league in scoring (31.8) and opened the playoffs with 32 points and 484 yards against the Rams' top-ranked defense.
Four years after giving up three sacks and eight pressures in one start at left tackle for the Dolphins, Turner has given up one sack and eight pressures in five starts at left tackle for the Packers.
"This is a tough test, but I trust Billy," Galvin said. "The thing about Billy is those incredible feet."
He does have the genes of a running back. Maurice Turner, a 12th-round pick of the Vikings in 1983, played five seasons for the Vikings, Packers and Jets.
"You time Billy in the 40 and you're kind of like, 'Meh,' " Galvin said. "He's not all that fast. But it's incredible what he can do with his feet at that size.
"He was very special for us at Mounds View. People who really watched him play aren't surprised. We knew how good he would be."