I had the great opportunity of meeting and interviewing Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh recently. When I learned Blair grew up in Boca Raton, Florida and played football and graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, I knew that South Floridians would have a big interest to learn about what Blair has done in the National Football League in such a short amount of time.
Blair didn’t start kicking field goals until high school. He earned a scholarship at the University of Georgia where he was known as the ‘Athens Assassin’ for continually hitting field goals in crucial moments. Blair was picked up by the Vikings in the 6th round of the 2012 NFL draft. It’s obvious to see why.
We spent a few hours out on Cardinal Gibbons new field (just installed last year). Head football coach Mike Morrill showed us around and talked about his current Cardinal Gibbons team looking to improve their 8-2 record from last year. It was fun to see Coach and Kicker reunite for this story. Blair kicked field goals for us from all ranges, even hitting a few 65-yarders. A few current Chiefs players (including a few kickers) were blown away at the perfection of Blair’s form. Each time it was the same: focused, well-timed and powerful.
The most frustrating part for me was realizing that Blair was about a decade younger! I tried a few field goals myself and was laughed off the field. But I did appreciate the round of applause by the high school cheerleaders who happened to catch my horrific display. Three tries, no hits and nothing but a sore groin to remember it by. Aging. No thanks.
The Minnesota Vikings drafted some solid players to fill some key holes this year. As a self-admitted Vikings fan, I’m looking forward to the upcoming season.
And I thank Blair Walsh for the great day in Fort Lauderdale, telling us about his life in South Florida, his challenges he faced heading into the NFL and for sharing a look into his work ethic and talent that has not only gained him a record-breaking rookie season in the NFL, but also the respect of students, teachers and locals who admire his down-home roots and connection to the communities he came from.