Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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42 FEBRUARY 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH IN THE PROS BY COREY BODDEN M innesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has established him- self among the league's best at his position, and now he is also getting recognized for his work off the field. Since entering the league in 2011, Rudolph has earned two Pro Bowl selections while catching 386 passes for 3,787 yards and 41 touchdowns in 112 games. The former Irish star has also made sure to do his part in the local com- munity since he arrived in Minne- sota. Last year, he and his wife, Jor- dan, established Kyle Rudolph's End Zone at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital. At more than 2,000 square feet, the building provides an area for kids battling serious diseases a chance to experience a "normal childhood" with a basketball hoop, video and table games, and more while at the hospital for treatments. For the patients who cannot leave their rooms, Rudolph has made a point to visit them and their families. The impact he has made through Kyle Rudolph's End Zone and trips to the hospital were evident during a short video released by the Vikings Dec. 6, called "Dear Kyle." Families of patients and more read letters to Rudolph describing what he meant to them for the care he displayed and time he dedicated to visit their child and bring joy while he is there and through the End Zone. Minnesota also released the video in correlation with the announce- ment that the team nominated Ru- dolph for the prestigious Walter Pay- ton Man of the Year Award, which honors a player's work in the com- munity to go with his on-field ac- complishments. "Both Jordan and I are extremely passionate about kids and anything that we can do to help kids be just that," Rudolph said in a press release put out by the Vikings. "They're not in the circumstances they're in for a reason. These diseases and cancers that they're fighting don't discrimi- nate. They didn't choose to have their childhood taken away from them. … I think the biggest thing that we try to do is provide these kids with an opportunity to be kids. "It truly is an honor to represent the Vikings as the Walter Payton Man of the Year. There's so many guys that have represented this organiza- tion so well as our past nominees and it truly is my pleasure to carry on as this year's nominee." Throughout the years, Rudolph has also made an effort to impact the lives of those serving in the United States military. He is the NFL's first ambassador for the United Heroes League, which helps children of mili- tary members participate in sports. Per the Vikings, Rudolph has hosted military families at games and prac- tices while holding football camps across the world for military kids. "In addition to having a success- ful career on the field and rewriting franchise records for tight ends, Kyle brightens the lives of others at dark times," Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf stated. "It is clear that the gifts of his and Jordan's time, finan- cial resources and vision come di- rectly from their heart, and we have enjoyed seeing them provide respite for people in need. "We are proud to honor Kyle as the 2018 Vikings Community Man of the Year and believe he deserves to win the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award." The winner of the 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year will be an- nounced Feb. 2 during NFL Honors, which is an awards special that will air on CBS the night before Super Bowl LIII. Each of the 32 NFL teams nomi- nated a player in its respective or- ganization for the prestigious honor. The winner will have $500,000 do- nated in his name, courtesy of the NFL Foundation, Nationwide and United Way Worldwide, with half Kyle Rudolph Nominated For 2018 Walter Payton Man Of The Year Award Rudolph has been active in the Minneapolis community since being drafted by the Vikings in 2011. PHOTO COURTESY MINNESOTA VIKINGS

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