After he hooked a 27-yard game-winning field goal attempt Sunday, Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh could have ducked the media, bolted town, and even disconnected his cell phone.
Walsh, however, has done the opposite at every turn: Embraced every interview opportunity, including immediately after the game, when the emotions of his miss were still raw, as well as the day after, when teammates cleaned out their lockers.
Then Walsh took things one step further: He postponed his departure from the Twin Cities to visit a special group.
First-graders at Northpoint Elementary School in Blaine directed pictures and letters to Walsh.
One student wrote: "Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. One time I made a mistake when I was doing a cartwheel. I felt embarrassed. You can still help the Vikings win the Super Bowl next year."
The lesson? Empathy.
“[It is] one of the most important skills to have,” Northpoint teacher Judie Offerdahl told Vikings.com. “When you’re growing up, you need to be able to understand why someone is feeling mad or sad and how you can help to change that person’s attitude. We as a school, look to being able to teach students life skills, and when they grow up and make their dreams come true, they need to know how to be able to work with people and read people.
"That’s one thing that I really appreciated about Blair Walsh, was that he really persevered," she said. "He could have taken it a completely different way. It was just a shining moment for these kids who look up to him."
Walsh scored the Vikings only points, making three fields, including a 47-yarder. And on his game-winning attempt, the snap wasn't clean and the hold wasn't perfect.
But Walsh never pointed the finger at anyone else, only himself.
On Twitter and even Facebook, many people targeted Walsh with nasty and offensive comments.
"Life has its ups and downs," Walsh told students Thursday. But as long as you continue to be a good person and be your best and try your hardest, you can come out on the other side the right way and persevere."
Afterwards, Walsh signed cards for every student, and he posed for pictures.
He was humbled.
"For them to show this empathy and kindness towards me is remarkable," Walsh said, according to KARE-11. "These kids really made a difference in my life so I thought I'd come and help make their day."
It not just a teachable moment for students but for all.
.@BlairWalsh3 didn't come away from Northpoint Elementary empty handed. pic.twitter.com/CYiDIMwOXi
Minnesota 1st graders wrote letters of encouragement to Vikings K Blair Walsh. He stopped by to thank them today. https://t.co/GKCpcQLdyC
Check out this video feature from KARE-11 below:
Posted on Fri, January 15, 2016
by Sean Jensen filed under