Vikings legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Carl Eller was making the media rounds Wednesday at Mall of America, promoting a few things, including an auction featuring several items from his personal collection — among them an autographed game-worn Vikings jersey and Pro Bowl helmet. I had a chance to chat with him about a number of things (full interview will be part of a podcast later this week).
Here’s Eller …
On the Vikings’ NFC title game loss to the Eagles: “It’s hard to digest it. They were caught flat-footed. They took a beating, and that’s the only way you can look at that. … When that happens, you just have to face it front and center. What that does is it lets you know exactly what you have to do. They were really close, and they were on the main stage. But they didn’t get it there. This is only a lesson, that’s all. This is something they’ll learn from and grow from. They’re a much better team than the score indicates. … They live with that. But the point is that if they take this as a lesson, they’ll be back again.”
On how his Vikings teams moved past Super Bowl losses: “I don’t think you can move past them. I wouldn’t say they haunt us, but they did for a number of years. … I think it motivated us to go back and try again. We wanted to, desperately. The fans talk about disappointment, but they should have some empathy for us to go through it.”
On Drew Pearson: “I know Drew. I know him really well. … He never admits (the push-off) and I press him every time. Like hey, when are you going to admit it. That’s between him, Nate Wright and the official. I think I actually met the guy who threw the bottle from the stands. That’s not called for, but football is great because there are all those moments you never forget.”
Comparing this year’s Vikings defense to the Purple People Eaters: “I think they’re still chasing us — not in the sense that they don’t have their own thing, but I think there is pride in wanting to live up to that legend. That’s really good. I’m proud of this group. I think they’re a good group and (Mike) Zimmer is a good coach.”
Who should be the Vikings starting quarterback in 2018: “Well, Case Keenum took them on that route. He didn’t start the season, but he played all the rest of them. He’s a winner and he’s a good guy. (Teddy) Bridgewater I think still has to come back to see what he can do. Sam (Bradford), I don’t know if he’s really had a chance to show what he can do when he’s healthy. Right now the case would be for Case.”
Will the Vikings win a Super Bowl during this lifetime? “I’m glad you included yourself in that. … But that’s the great thing about the NFL. Everyone has a chance at the start of the season.”