He strolled into the fan zone at the Super Bowl Experience to screams from the crowd and a loud, lusty rendition of the Vikings fight song by a choir of fully costumed, fully painted fanatics.
It was the fans’ first chance to see Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs since his miracle playoff catch, a walk-off touchdown grab against the New Orleans Saints that every Vikings rooter will remember for life.
Even Tayson Balgaard, who was locked in his room at the time.
It seems that 10-year-old Tayson was so nervous as the game wound down that he couldn’t stand to watch. So he locked himself in his room, emerging only when he heard the rest of his family going nuts after Diggs’ catch.
The chance to meet his hero was “awesome,” said Tayson, of Rogers, who got his No. 14 jersey signed by Diggs, one of a rotating cast of players signing autographs at the Super Bowl Experience, being held through Saturday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. “He’s cool.”
Diggs did exude cool, but it was a very warm kind of cool. He smiled and posed for pictures, giving lots of high-fives and signing items such as jerseys and footballs that, technically, he wasn’t there to autograph.
“Keeping working hard. God bless you,” said a fan, as Diggs autographed a glossy photo with a black Sharpie pen.
“I appreciate that,” Diggs replied.
Hudson Kinne was a little more animated. “That catch was amazing!” the 11-year-old from Plymouth told Diggs excitedly. “I was at the game and I was screaming my head off!”
“Thanks, man,” Diggs said, giving Hudson a high-five. “It’s great that you were there.”
Pam Benyahia, a Vikings fan from Stillwater, overcame many hurdles to see Diggs with her sons Samir, 12, and Kamel, 8. First they got lost in downtown Minneapolis. Then Benyahia took a tumble.
She wasn’t badly hurt. But a man who witnessed it gave them wristbands so they could jump to the head of the lines. “You ever need a place to stay in Stillwater, you come see us,” she told Diggs.
John Reinan • 612-673-7402