Ahmad Rashad, neighbor Michael Jordan cheer on Vikings
MINNEAPOLIS—When the Vikings defeated New Orleans with the "Minnesota Miracle," Ahmad Rashad celebrated by exchanging high-fives with Michael Jordan.
Rashad, the former Vikings star receiver, lives across the street from the basketball hall of famer in Jupiter, Fla. The longtime friends watched last Sunday's game at Jordan's house along with Rashad's 11-year-old daughter Ava. The Vikings won 29-24 when Case Keenum hit Stefon Diggs with a 61-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the epic playoff game.
"We were saying that somebody needs to make a big play, then it happened," Rashad said Friday. "There was a round of high-fives, all three of us."
Rashad has watched Vikings games throughout the season with Jordan, and said he has turned him into a fan. He realizes, though, he could lose Jordan from the bandwagon if the Vikings advance and face New England in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium.
For that to happen, Minnesota would need to win at Philadelphia in Sunday's NFC championship game and the Patriots win at home over Jacksonville in the AFC title game.
"(Jordan's) been a New England Patriots fan his whole life," said Rashad, who plans to attend the Super Bowl. "He's been a Patriots fans since way back when I was playing (from 1972-82). He can name all the players from back then.
"I do think it will be the Vikings against the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but I don't care who he roots for because for me it's all about the Vikings."
After Diggs' catch, Rashad tweeted at former Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer, "TK, did you see that?"
It was a reference to the "Miracle at the Met," the Dec. 14, 1980, play on which Kramer threw a Hail Mary pass to Rashad on the final play for a 46-yard touchdown and a 28-23 win over the Cleveland Browns at Metropolitan Stadium. The victory clinched the NFC Central title.
"I don't think you can compare eras of football because we were playing outside and the whole thing," Rashad said. "But you can compare the exhilaration of the fans and the feeling you get when you win. Those are two true beautiful moments in Vikings history."
Reserve Vikings defensive tackle Shamar Stephen was ruled out for Sunday's game.
Stephen, who suffered a knee injury in the win over the Saints, did not practice all week.
Listed as questionable for were wide receiver Adam Thielen (lower back), safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) and cornerback Mackensie Alexander (rib).
Sendejo, who suffered a concussion against the Saints, practiced on a limited basis throughout the week.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was optimistic he would be cleared in the NFL's concussion protocol and play against the Eagles.
Thielen practiced for a second straight day after he sat out Wednesday.
The only player listed on Philadelphia's injury report was linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who is questionable.
With Stephen out, that could mean more snaps for rookie defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson.
MUM ON BACKUP QB
Zimmer continued to be mum Friday on who will be the backup quarterback Sunday behind Keenum.
It either will be Sam Bradford, who served in that role against the Saints, or Teddy Bridgewater, who was inactive.
When asked if it again will be Bradford, Zimmer said, "Maybe."'