[size=13pt]Vikings team up with police, and this time it is all good[/size]
C.J., Star Tribune
Last update: September 21, 2006 â€“ 12:17 AM
Occasionally, a "What the ... ?" look flashed across the faces of Minnesota Vikings as passes sailed over their heads Tuesday at Catholic Charities' St. Joseph's Home for Children in Minneapolis.
Very quickly, Greg Blue, Jason Carter, Charles Gordon, Tarvaris Jackson, Spencer Johnson, Chris Kluwe, Jayme Mitchell, Tony Richardson and Khreem Smith recognized that their presence was igniting youthful exuberance.
The Vikings and the Minneapolis Police Department hosted a "Football and Life Clinic," where the fun had a couple of purposes.
"We are trying to [attract] the next generation of Minneapolis cops from Minneapolis; from the neighborhood," said police officer Mark Klukow. Klukow said he got the Vikings to donate 1,000 Nerf footballs stamped with the message, "Minneapolis Police Join Our Team."
Klukow sees the footballs as ice-breakers. "The perfect scenario would be for us to go around neighborhoods, where there are kids hanging out doing nothing, park our squads and play football awhile," Klukow said. "Now, at the end of that contact, we'll be able to give them the ball and we can kind of connect with that 15- or 16-year-old kid, who is on the edge as to whether they will fall down or keep their nose clean, and maybe aspire to become a cop."
It's much easier to become a cop than a professional athlete, Klukow said, but most kids don't believe that. And to be sure, there were some young athletic prospects at the clinic.
Rae'Quntashae, 10, flitted by like Jackie Joyner-Kersee. This kid was lightning fast -- perhaps too quick for her own good as she took some awkward steps to avoid stepping on a foam obstacle. Thank goodness Viking Tony Richardson was there to, ah, console the girl as she wiped away tears. "You did a good job on that drill," he said. "Walk it off." She thanked him, and when she was out of earshot, Richardson looked at me and said, "Put a little dirt on it; it'll be all right."
Rae'Quntashae brightened considerably when I told her she's got to love being faster than a lot of the boys. "I used to be on the football team; that's why," she said. Guess she's been told before to put dirt on it.
Good job, Jon, bad look
Jon Voss, who had a short-lived late-night sports show on KARE-11, is a youth counselor at the home. And he's still sporting that ridiculous chin hair that looks rougher than a squirrel's tail. "Come on, the ladies around here like it," Voss said. Well, let's ask a kid. "Makes him look good," said Claire, 10, although she also conceded that the beard has a touch of the animal world about it.
Pastor sees clean team
Pastor Paul Robinson couldn't resist leaning over to tell me, "With the Brad Childress era, you're not going to have much to write about." Au contraire, Pastor Paul, there will always be knuckleheads in Vikings uniforms, although none of them was at this event.
On Miami's South Beach, Minnesota native Christine Herberg partied with an animal a little different from the ones at her job.
Herberg, a marine mammal trainer at Theater of the Sea in the Florida Keys, attended a Paris Hilton album-release party at the nightclub Suite, put on by a radio station.
The album has since officially gone k-boom, but Herberg still got a great picture of Hilton on the dance floor.
"Everybody was taking pictures of her. She gave me a hug and said, Thanks for coming, and I said, 'Congratulations,' and the bodyguard whisked her away," said Herberg, who is a 2001 grad of the U of M Duluth, an Apple Valley High grad and daughter of a Strib colleague.
Herberg defended Hilton's album. "It wasn't bad, actually. She was in the DJ booth. She played songs for everybody. It was a fun album."
Back to the real word: Is Herberg's job as much fun as it sounds? "It is. We're all in it for the work. We don't make much money, but we love the job," said Herberg, who had a stint at the Duluth zoo.
Herberg said she had no comment on her new human party-animal friend getting picked up for allegedly driving under the influence, or as "Access Hollywood" host Nancy O'Dell put it, finally getting attention for doing something.
C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or [email protected]