The Vikings just wrapped up their annual playground build, this year bringing a new playground to Linwood Monroe Elementary across the river in St. Paul with the help of the school’s student body and staff.
Following this morning’s OTA practice, the Vikings bussed in players and coaches to put the finishing touches on the project. The safeties lugged big bags of mulch. The offensive linemen fittingly dug in the trenches. And the quarterbacks and wide receivers were assigned painting duties.
No one appeared to be having more fun than starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, whether he was lying in the grass while painting pavers or tapping the shoulders of strangers before casually strolling away.
“This is my third playground build with the Vikings and this is by far the best one. Great weather, great turnout today. And a ton of laughter, a ton of fun,” he said. “It’s always good to come out [to these]. The NFL promotes Play60, challenging the kids to get out and be active for 60 minutes a day. The kids will be playing 60 minutes a day on this playground that we’re building. It’s great. … It’s a good atmosphere and I’m glad to be here.”
Bridgewater is aware of the impact that an event like this could have on a youngster. He fondly remembers when he was a freshman in Miami and the Dolphins visited his high school and handed out turkeys.
A year earlier, center Joe Berger, then a young player with the Dolphins, visited Bridgewater’s high school, Miami Northwestern. Even though Bridgewater was in middle school then and not actually in the building for Berger’s visit, he still likes to give the 34-year-old grief about it.
“That’s pretty impressive. And now I’m taking snaps from him,” he said. “That’s why I call him Mr. Berger when I see him, just as a joke.”
Bridgewater was asked some football questions, too, including one about whether he has made any tweaks to his throwing motion. But on this sunny afternoon at Linwood Monroe Elementary, he seemed more worried about his responsibilities as a key member of the playground painting crew.
“They usually give all the fashionable guys the painting opportunities. If you look at me, I’m a pretty hip guy,” joked Bridgewater, who was wearing gray cut-off sweatpants and his purple Vikings ball cap backwards.