Long before she was a prominent U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar was a little girl who grew up around the Vikings. Her father, Jim, was a prominent sportswriter who covered the team for decades. And on Friday morning, Klobuchar — while marveling at both the football frenzy around radio row at Mall of America as well as the folks who regularly walk the mall for exercise and are determined not to let any of this slow them down — shared some of her memories of growing up and also offered some insights into Super Bowl week.

“I saw Bud Grant last night and he was remembering how he would call the house,” Klobuchar said. “I was maybe in fourth grade and I would say ‘Klobuchar residence.’ And he would just say ‘Jim.’ That was it. He was a man of few words.”

That was a different era, where coaches routinely called reporters at home. Access during and after the game was a little different, too.

“What happened with my dad back then is he would be in the (press) box and then he would also get two tickets on the 50-yard line and I’d get to bring a friend. This made me very popular with the boys,” Klobuchar said. “After the game, I’d stand by the locker room and wait for him. He’d be the last one out and after Vikings won (fans) would be patting him on the back saying ‘great game.’ ‘It was a team effort,’ he would always say.”

Klobuchar, 57, was a 9-year-old when the Vikings lost their first Super Bowl after the 1969 season.

“I experienced first-hand the close victories that we never quite got. It was such a shock when (Stefon) Diggs made that catch because everything goes the other way in the playoffs,” Klobuchar said. “(The Vikings) teach us to pick yourself up and try again. You have to do that in politics as well. We had a lot of disappointments but a lot of pride in that team.”

She says she “keeps thinking about” how this week might have been different had the Vikings defeated the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game, but she’s nevertheless excited about showcasing the state with Sunday’s Super Bowl.

“Because we’re not in the game — and luckily we had a week to recover because it would have bee too hard to welcome Eagles fans right after that loss — it’s about showing off our state,” Klobuchar said. “If the Vikings were in it, the Vikings would have been our whole focus. I think you have to go with what you’ve got. This is one major super-sized distraction from the loss.”

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