This past year I have been able to spend time with Jeff Locke, punter for the Minnesota Vikings. I have leaned off the gridiron he is an avid golfer, plays soccer and video games. Jeff is a cool, down to earth guy with a passion for others; weather it is teaching my young nephew and his cousin soccer skills, meeting my friend and her son who are big Viking fans at training camp or giving back to the community.
When Jeff came to the Minnesota Vikings in 2013 he donned the #12. The rookie didn’t wear the number long because a few weeks later when the Vikings signed quarterback Josh Freeman he wanted the #12 jersey. Now I know you don’t see many people wearing a punter’s jersey, however one of Jeff’s biggest fans, my dad, had just received his #12 jersey when the story broke about the change. The NFL shop offered my dad a discount if he wanted to order a new jersey with Locke’s #18. (He did) Jeff’s #12 jersey now hangs by the jerseys of the Minnesota Vikings Purple People Eaters (Eller, Larsen, Marshall, and Page) in my dad’s collection.
What many people didn’t know is the #12 came with a price tag of $10,000. Locke sold the rights to the number #12 and willing switched to #18, which he wore at UCLA.
What to do with $10,000? You might think the 24 year old (at the time) would spend it on a new toy of some sort, golf green fees or maybe a vacation. This was not the case for Jeff, he donated it! The $10,000 was donated to the Minneapolis VA Medical Center in November of 2013.
This summer Jeff played in the Tee it Up for the Troops Longest Day of Golf. As an avid golfer he played from the crack of dawn until sunset. As a golfer this was something he had no problem doing.
Why post this today? I saw a post last week that Jeff wrote on Sportsblog.com and it explains more about why the military is is near and dear to this punters heart.
At a time when the Minnesota Vikings have been going through some bad press due to player misconduct, I think about the player that doesn’t get drafted in Fantasy Football or have hundreds of people wearing his jersey, and the friend who will kick around a soccer ball with a group of kids simply because he enjoys the game or do something to make a positive impact in the lives of other people.