Basketball in the blood of Vikings' TEs

John Carlson (Andy Lyons/Getty)

The Vikings' two starting tight ends, John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph, both wanted to be basketball players growing up.

The similarities between Vikings tight ends Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson go beyond just being teammates who play the same position. As it turns out, both were multi-sport athletes that didn't have football at the top of their priority wish list for their pro career.

Both Rudolph and Carlson were standout basketball players. Carlson was an all-state high school basketball player in Litchfield, Minn., and for years his dream of playing professional sports didn't revolve around being in the NFL.

"I definitely grew up a Vikings fans, but I grew up in a basketball family," Carlson said. "My dad is the high school basketball coach in Litchfield. While I was a Vikings fan, my vision or my dream when I was younger was to play basketball. As a power forward at 6-5, you don't see a lot of those in the NBA. So, I continued on into football."

Given the competitive nature of athletes, it seems almost inevitable that the two Notre Dame football standouts will have to meet at some point on the hardwood for bragging rights as to who is the better hoops player. The NFL has a rich history of targeting tight ends with a college basketball background, but few have enjoyed the hoops success that Rudolph and Carlson have to their credit.

So, when they meet to play one-on-one – you can bet they will at some point – who would win? Even Carlson doesn't know for sure.

"I don't know," Carlson said. "Honestly, I haven't seen him play. He's a little heavier than I am, but I may have the edge in quickness. Is there is a dribble limitation? If he can't back me under the hoop, I think I have the edge."


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    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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