Vikings legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Carl Eller was making the media rounds Wednesday at Mall of America and promoting a few projects, including an auction that features several items from his personal collection. Among them are an autographed game-worn Vikings jersey and a Pro Bowl helmet. I had a chance to chat with him about a number of things.
• On the Vikings' NFC title game loss to the Eagles: "It's hard to digest it. They were caught flat-footed. They took a beating, and that's the only way you can look at that. … When that happens, you just have to face it front and center. What that does is it lets you know exactly what you have to do. … They live with that. But the point is that if they take this as a lesson, they'll be back again."
• On how his Vikings teams moved past Super Bowl losses: "I don't think you can move past them. I wouldn't say they haunt us, but they did for a number of years. … I think it motivated us to go back and try again. We wanted to, desperately. The fans talk about disappointment, but they should have some empathy for us to go through it."
• On Drew Pearson and the push-off in 1975: "I know Drew. I know him really well. … He never admits [the push-off] and I press him every time. Like, 'Hey, when are you going to admit it?' That's between him, Nate Wright and the official. I think I actually met the guy who threw the bottle from the stands. That's not called for, but football is great because there are all those moments you never forget."
• On who should be the Vikings' starting quarterback in 2018: "Well, Case Keenum took them on that route. He didn't start the season, but he played all the rest of them. He's a winner and he's a good guy. [Teddy] Bridgewater I think still has to come back to see what he can do. Sam [Bradford], I don't know if he's really had a chance to show what he can do when he's healthy. Right now the case would be for Case."
• On whether the Vikings will win a Super Bowl in our lifetime: "I'm glad you included yourself in that. … But that's the great thing about the NFL. Everyone has a chance at the start of the season."
Tafoya embraces hometown Super Bowl
NBC Sports reporter Michele Tafoya recently released a video in conjunction with Secret deodorant that celebrates women in the football industry. But when it comes to working this year's Super Bowl, the Twin Cities resident doesn't seem to be sweating it.
"Sunday morning basically you wake up, say it's Christmas in the NFL. Kwanzaa. Happy New Year. Chinese New Year. It's a day of celebration," said Tafoya, who noted there are long days of preparation before the big game. "That's when the energy skyrockets. You try to treat I like just another game, but it's not. It's the final game."
She is doing her part, by the way, to shut down anyone who complains about the weather.
"I just saw someone from ESPN and he said 'it could not be colder,' " Tafoya said Wednesday morning, when it was actually pretty nice out. "Get a thicker skin here, buddy. I don't care. And you shouldn't either, Minnesota."