The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 15, 2013

Thielens are just living the dream


The Mankato Free Press

---- — Jayne Thielen has never missed any of her son's games, going to back to high school at Detroit Lakes and four seasons at Minnesota State.

Thursday night, she and husband Pete boarded a plane at Fargo, N.D., to attend their son's game at Buffalo tonight, but there's something different about traveling to an NFL stadium, watching Adam pursue his dream of becoming a professional football player with the Minnesota Vikings.

"To be honest, it's kind of unbelievable," she said. "When you get to the field, and you see the Vikings come out and you see your son out there with them, we're very proud and very excited."

Adam Thielen is playing his second professional game tonight, hoping to get a little more action than last week. He's in a battle with eight other receivers for one or two roster spots, which is probably more nerve-racking for the parents than the former Mavericks' standout.

"You're always nervous about the injury factor," she said. "But it's very exciting."

The Thielens have traveled from their Detroit Lakes home to faraway locales in North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska to watch their son. They saw him play at the Metrodome last week, but this is the first time they've boarded a plane for one of Adam's road games.

"I've never seen a game in another NFL stadium," Pete said. "It's going to be fun."

Fun is a good way to describe Adam's career. Not highly recruited out of high school, he came to Minnesota State, where he grew in size and muscle and honed his techniques and work ethic. After a stellar career with the Mavericks, he began to focus on the NFL, going through a series of tryouts that culminated in a contract with the Vikings, the team he grew up watching on TV.

"I always knew he could catch the ball, but I never knew how fast he was," Pete said. "When he went to (a tryout in) Chicago and ran a 4.49 (40-yard dash), I couldn't believe it."

The Thielens came back to Mankato for the first week of training camp, surprisingly noting that Adam didn't look out of place with the other Vikings' receivers. Pete returned for the night practice, getting to meet some of the players after that event.

"They kind of let their hair down a little bit because they had the next day off," Pete said.

The Thielens had a Metrodome suite for the preseason opener, entertaining 48 other family members and friends, but many folks stopped by with well-wishes for them and their son.

"We both come from large families," Jayne said. "Everyone is so excited."

He said that he and Jayne aren't planning to go to the preseason game at San Francisco next week, when the starters are expected to dominate the playing time, but maybe will go to a local bar or restaurant to watch the game with friends.

"People tell me that when Adam gets on the field, everyone gets quiet and watches," Jayne said. "Detroit Lakes is kind of a small town, and everyone here is happy and excited for him."

The final preseason game is back at the Metrodome, just a couple days before NFL teams have to reduce their roster. Adam remains a longshot, but getting this far was something that didn't seem possible a few years ago. He could end up on some team's practice squad, but he would have to go through waivers first.

"It's going to be an interesting next two weeks," Pete said.

Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, e-mail at ccourrier@mankatofreepress.com or follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.