St. Croix’s Linval Joseph Is Popular With His Vikings Teammates … Because He’s A Proven Winner
Linval Joseph of the Minnesota Vikings
EDEN PRARIE, Minn. — Having a Super Bowl ring has made St. Croix’s Linval Joseph popular among his Vikings teammates.
The nose tackle is the only Vikings player who has played for the winning team in a Super Bowl, winning one with the New York Giants in February 2012.
The Vikings are hoping to make a championship run this season, so it’s no surprise Joseph has been consulted for advice.
“We talk about it every day, man,” Joseph said. “Everybody comes around and asks what it takes to get there. We talk about what you have to do. You have to work. There are no days off. Nothing comes easy in this world.
“If you put in the hard work, you make sacrifices and you’re a student of the game, it can take you a long way.”
Tight end Kyle Rudolph is among teammates to have asked Joseph about his big-game experience. Joseph, then in his second year, started Super Bowl XLVI and had two tackles in a 21-17 win over New England.
“Anytime you get guys on your roster that have been there before, it helps,” Rudolph said. “A few times, Linval and I have talked about it. The year they won the Super Bowl, they just barely got into the playoffs (by winning the NFC East at 9-7). You go on a run and you get hot at the right time, it can happen. But we just talk about that mentality that you have to have.’’
Rudolph also has discussed the topic with guard Alex Boone, who started for San Francisco in a loss in Super Bowl XLVII. Defensive end Justin Trattou was Joseph’s teammate that year, and defensive end Zach Moore was on New England’s winning Super Bowl XLIX outfit, but neither was active for the game.
Minnesota’s chances will be helped greatly if Joseph, a 6-foot-4 329-pound run-stopping specialist, can play an entire season.
After signing with the Vikings as a free agent in 2014, he was hit in the calf by a stray bullet at a nightclub during the preseason. He played in all 16 regular-season games but never reached a full comfort level. Last season, he missed four of the final five regular-season games because of a toe injury and wasn’t at full strength for a 10-9 wild-card playoff loss to Seattle.
Joseph has been limited during spring drills, which wrap up with a mandatory mini-camp starting Tuesday at Winter Park, but that mostly has been for precautionary reasons.
“The toe is doing great now, but it’s a process,” Joseph said. “I’m just doing what I have to do. I can’t afford any setbacks.”
The NFC defensive player of the week for a dominant showing last November against the Rams, Joseph was named the Vikings’ defensive player of the year. But while defensive teammates Everson Griffen, Harrison Smith and Anthony Barr all made the Pro Bowl for the first time, Joseph didn’t get his first call.
“I expect him to have another big year,” said Griffen, a defensive end. “He’s dominant. He’s the best nose tackle in the game. He should have been in the Pro Bowl, but, you know, the Pro Bowl is all about popularity.”
Joseph, though, apparently is popular among players, who get one-third of the vote for Pro Bowl selections (coaches and fans each have a third). In the NFL Network’s annual list of the league’s top 100 players, determined by a player vote, Joseph recently was named No. 76.
Joseph said he was surprised but flattered by the recognition. He called it “a stepping stone” to what he hopes to accomplish in 2016.
“I still want to go to the Pro Bowl, and I still want to get (another) Super Bowl,” Joseph said. “I feel last year showed, as we grow, you can see how dangerous this team can be. Right now, we’re hungry, and we’re going to do what we got to do.”