I was prepared to write about the tragic death of Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer on Wednesday morning, but I paused to watch the press conference in which coach Dennis Green and receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter addressed the media.
|Korey Stringer's tragic death leaves Kelci, left, and Kodie without a husband and father.|
I went numb over their incredible grief. Green's face was burdened with sadness. Carter looked so pained that it was painful to look. Moss broke down, sobbing in an understandable heap of emotions, but not before he was able to say, "I don't even know how or when I'll get over this."
Randy, it's going to be tough. I only had distant and infrequent contact with Stringer, but his death stunned me Wednesday morning, then paralyzed me while watching you grieve. I do know this, Randy: You are positioned in the best possible environment to cope with such a devastating tragedy.
Green is the ultimate father figure in the NFL. Carter is a spiritual giant. The team chaplain, Rev. Keith Johnson, is a leader in sports ministry. The owner, Red McCombs, is a man of great understanding and compassion.
And if there's one thing I have learned while covering the NFL, the Vikings have one of the tightest-knit fan bases in all of sports. The Minnesota Vikings are a family, in every sense of the word.
There is comfort in the company of grief where loved ones mourn together and, yes, pick each other up.
It is appropriate that the Vikings declined to discuss the incident that saw their giant brother fall to the grip of death. It is time to mourn and grieve, not second-guess what happened on that terrible Tuesday.
I have heard or read some people in the media who have dissected the incident. Some are well-meaning, but many are clueless, blaming it on the manly influence of being a football player. There are almost 400 deaths in this country due to heat strokes that have nothing to do with playing football.
The Vikings offer the best possible environment to cope with such a devastating tragedy.
Yet the attention Stringer's death is getting might in fact save lives. People in all walks of life -- construction workers to football players -- who must work in the searing heat of summer have just gotten a little smarter about how to care for themselves. It's a painful means to gain wisdom, but to ignore the information about prevention, detection and reaction to heat problems would be a greater disgrace.
What does it mean to the Vikings' season? I really don't know, except it's fairly obvious that the team has lost an outstanding lineman who was a vital part of a great offense. They have lost a man who brought laughter and a caring heart to the locker room. They have lost a brother.
Right now, that's about all I can say, except that I do know God has a way of healing at the point of need. And the need is great in Minnesota.