Playing at home maybe not such a big deal

Updated: October 22, 2003, 8:57 PM ET

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Adam Goldberg and Adam Haayer don't get to play. Just practice.

They're offensive linemen wearing the colors of the team they grew up rooting for, though, and those Minnesota Vikings are off to a 6-0 start. What could be better?

"It's fun," Haayer said recently. "I think it's probably more exciting for my family, though."

Haayer played for Forest Lake High School and the University of Minnesota before being drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2001 and joining the Vikings last year.

Goldberg went to Edina High School and the University of Wyoming, signing with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent on May 1.

Recalling his first visit to the Metrodome with the Vikings in August for the preseason opener, Goldberg shared his emotions. Surely there were goosebumps? Chills?

"It was just like another football game," he shrugged. "It didn't really hit home until one of reporters was like, 'Hey, what's it like going back to the Dome?"

Ben Nelson, an Anoka High School and St. Cloud State star who was on the five-player practice squad with Goldberg and Haayer until he was let go this week, was asked earlier about the significance of having so many local boys on the local team.

"I didn't really notice that," he said.

Come on. This IS a story. Isn't it?

"I think it's just coincidence," Haayer said.

Someone has to be interested.

"The media kind of makes it a big deal," Goldberg said.

OK, so maybe this Minnesotacentrism is merely a media creation. Maybe it's not such a big deal, especially for the players. To them, it's cool to see college buddies in the stands and see the proud look on mom's face after a game -- even if they didn't get in.

But the ticket requests get to be annoying, and they've got an NFL career to worry about developing here. It's not like they wouldn't jump at the chance to sign with another team offering them a spot on the active roster.

All right, promise, we'll leave this non-story alone -- after this column is complete of course.

You can't tell me this is some taboo subject on the team or something. It has to come up sometimes.

"We got a lot of flak for being Minnesota kids," Goldberg said.

Even from each other, apparently.

"We joke about it," Haayer said. "I call Goldberg the cake eater from Edina, and he calls me the hillbilly from Forest Lake. It's kind of neat how it works out."

Now we're getting somewhere.

"My dad shared season tickets with some of his buddies," Goldberg said. "We went to a lot of games. I used to love John Randle because I played defensive line growing up."

That's pretty good stuff. See? This isn't such a far-fetched idea after all.

In fact, I'm willing to bet that Minnesotans are more concerned about, more interested in, their own people than any other state in the union. Let us count the ways that local newscasters or newspapers have seized opportunities to mention that Kevin McHale "attended Hibbing High School" or that baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield "got his start on the playgrounds of St. Paul."

It's not just the media, either. Take the Twins.

How many expatriates have been lured back to Minny to play baseball in their home state during the past two decades? Well, there's Winfield. Paul Molitor. Jack Morris. Terry Steinbach. They even passed up on Mark Prior in the 2001 draft to get a kid from St. Paul.

Yep. Yah sure. There's something about this place.

"No matter where you go, you run into someone from Minnesota," Haayer said. "When I was in Tennessee, I had the Minnesota license plate on my car and people would come up to me and say, 'Hey, I'm from Austin, Minnesota."

It happens in Wyoming, too, where Goldberg's fiancee is from.

"Minnesotans are really proud of their people," Goldberg said. "If a Minnesotan goes anywhere where there's a famous Minnesotan, they're bound to hear about it.

"She knows every famous person that was from Minnesota, every 3M product. Minnesotans are really proud people. They're proud of not only their people but their accomplishments."


Dave Campbell can be reached at dcampbell(at)

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index