Vikings elect to go younger
By Dave Campbell
AP Pro Football Writer
EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Terence Newman was among the many members of the Minnesota Vikings saddened by the release of 11-year veteran defensive end Brian Robison, one of the most difficult moves made during the weekend roster reduction.
The departure of the team’s longest-tenured player made Newman think even deeper about the passage of time and his place in the game. Soon after Robison was let go, then, Newman accepted an offer to serve as the assistant defensive backs coach and thus declare his retirement as a player.
“Probably why I was so OK with doing what I did,” Newman said. “It’s tough, but I feel like having experienced so much stuff, met so many people, for me it’s not a hard transition. Some people get depressed and they have a hard time leaving the game, but I’ve loved this game since the day I played it.”
Standing behind a podium on Monday at team headquarters to discuss his unexpected decision, Newman began to tear up. He paused, looking down with his hand pressed against his forehead.
“It was my time, you know?” Newman said, after composing himself.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer presented the opportunity to Newman on Saturday, when NFL teams had to reach the 53-man limit for the regular season. Newman, who will turn 40 on Tuesday, said he could’ve kept his spot on the roster if he preferred to keep playing. That would’ve meant releasing a younger player.
“At some point, you have to be true to yourself and say, ‘Hey, do I want to keep going forward, have a chance to maybe tear up your back or neck or whatever?'” Newman said. “Some of the younger talent, obviously, you have to either say, ‘I’ll be selfish,’ and maybe take the roster spot or get somebody else an opportunity to live their dream. So, it was pretty easy. Everybody’s asking me if I’m OK and all this. I’m good. I’m still in football. I still have an opportunity to chase a Super Bowl ring.”
Newman signed with the Vikings in 2015, the third stop in his career. He played for Zimmer, then a defensive coordinator, with Dallas and Cincinnati too.
“Helping out some of the younger guys, it’s a form of coaching, I guess,” Newman said. “And I think everybody just assumed that I would do it, so I would like to give it a shot.”
The fifth overall pick in the 2003 draft was then asked how he anticipated his life outside of football being different.
“If the hours are anything like yesterday, it’s going to change drastically,” said Newman, whose 42 interceptions were the most among active players following the retirement this spring of DeAngelo Hall. “I’m not going to have many friends outside of this building, that’s for sure.”
Newman’s shift to the sideline puts Mackensie Alexander (age 24) in the nickel cornerback spot and Mike Hughes (age 21) as the next in line. Robison’s release paved the way for Stephen Weatherly (age 24) and Tashawn Bower (age 23) to become the primary backups to Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter.
“The guy had an awesome career and he played at a high level,” Griffen said. “Do I wish he was here? Of course. I miss my brother. In this league, in this business, the train’s going to keep on moving.”
Even the punter, Ryan Quigley, was jettisoned on Sunday after Matt Wile was available on waivers after being let go by Pittsburgh, with the Vikings picking a 26-year-old over a 28-year-old. Wile punted for Arizona and Atlanta in 2016, but was not on a roster in 2017.
“We just didn’t feel like we were punting very well in the preseason,” Zimmer said.