The Vikings have taken a unique approach to Black History Month this February.
It’s common to see professional franchises honor the annual celebration of African-American achievements throughout this country’s history, but the Vikings will do so daily using current and former Vikings players with video and print features at Vikings.com/BHM.
The project posted a powerful video of former Vikings punter Greg Coleman, who was the first African-American to play the position in the NFL, and how he was barred from playing in the Gator Bowl stadium as a child because he was on an all-black team.
There are videos scheduled with Vikings Ring of Honor defensive end Jim Marshall and Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller sharing similar segregated experiences due to the color of their skin.
Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle Alan Page displays his collection of slavery artifacts.
“The plan was to sit down with a certain amount of people, and we knew a little bit about their back stories, but each time somebody different came in, he usually had a story we weren’t aware of,” said Skip Krueger, senior producer of Vikings Entertainment Network.
“Then it became something that we moved to the forefront and something we wanted to show. The Coleman story is a great example of that.”
The Vikings initially kicked the idea around last year but didn’t have enough resources while producing projects for the new Vikings stadium under construction. Warren, who is the highest-ranking African-American executive working on the business side of the NFL, said the organization made an internal commitment to make the project happen this year.
“I’m incredibly pleased to see what has happened so far, how they’ve done it and really the professionalism associated with it,” Vikings Executive Vice President of Legal Affairs Kevin Warren said. “It is absolutely first class.”
Warren hopes Vikings fans, and staff members will learn about the individuals that not only impacted the Vikings franchise, but the league as well. The Vikings have hired two African-American head coaches, Dennis Green and Leslie Frazier, and were the first team to pair an African-American head coach and starting quarterback, Green and Warren Moon.
The Vikings have since started seven other African-American quarterbacks, including Randall Cunningham, Daunte Culpepper and now Teddy Bridgewater.
“There are a lot of people who have gone before us to set the tone who allow us to do what we do on a daily basis,” Warren said.
“The biblical phrase from Deuteronomy, ‘We drink from wells we did not dig to eat from trees we did not plant.’ [Black History Month] just constantly reminds me of that and the way this whole [Vikings] staff has come together and worked hard on this, it’s been outstanding.”