After spending the day in shadeless Mankato, trying to grab soundbites with players who would much rather get into the air conditioning that chat with us media types, I began to think back on all the Vikings teams I've covered since I've been here. I reflected and found myself so appreciative of those Vikings players that made my job easier....by being accessible.
Here now, my personal and subjective list of the most accessible Vikings I've covered. Keep in mind, I started covering them in 1997.
11- Bobby Wade (The wide receiver was a definite "go-to". He had broadcasting ambitions so he would use interviews as a way to work on his analysis.)
10- Orlando Thomas (The Vikings defensive back always looked like he was going to kick my butt when I approached him, but he always managed to talk, and give compelling sound.)
9- Matthew Hatchette (If you start covering a player the first year they're in the league, your chances of cultivating a relationship are better. Such was the case with this talented receiver.)
8- Robert Griffith (Loved to hear himself talk. We often did too.)
7- Corey Chavous (So cerebral it was hard to get great concise stuff out of him, but he was always more than gracious to chat with us.)
6- Brad Johnson (The country "Opie-esque" QB was a sweet guy who was good at remembering people's names.)
5- Chad Greenway (A thoughtful fellow who is always a reliable interview from the current squad.)
4- Jeff Brady (I remember a game at the Dome in which the Vikings lost in the final seconds on an Ed McCaffrey touchdown. The postgame lockerroom was the most hostile I've ever been in, and that includes the Antonio Freeman game winning TD against the Vikes at Lambeau on Monday Night Football years ago. Brady was one of the only guys to talk that night.)
3- Dwayne Rudd (I covered him when he was at South Panola High School in Mississippi, so I could always count on him for an interview)
2- Darren Sharper (So accessible, sometimes it was as though he sought us out!)
1- Matt Birk (The local hero was a favorite of many. He knew the drill, and he was considerate and a joy to be around. Still think it's lame that he's no longer with the team.)