Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said goodbye to the team's fanbase on Wednesday with a piece at The Players' Tribune entitled "Dear Minnesota."
The piece reflected on Rudolph's ten seasons with the Vikings, which came to an end with his release. While Rudolph recalled the pain of not being selected in the first round, he considered himself "lucky" to wind up in Minnesota with the 43rd pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
"I got so lucky, because — I didn’t just get drafted by some team who “had a need at tight end,” Rudolph wrote. "I didn’t just get drafted as, like, the nameless, faceless “#1 tight end on the board.” I got drafted by a team that was all set in terms of need….. but then drafted me anyway. I’ll always remember that: how the Minnesota Vikings wanted me — and wanted to bet on my potential."
Rudolph moved on to thank the Vikings fan base who he called "the smartest, most passionate fans I’ve ever met" thanks to their unwavering belief in the team.
"Every season I played here, every game I played here — you all believed. Whether we were 3–13, or 13–3, or any record in between. Whether we won big or lost big or won a thriller or lost a heartbreaker. There’s no bitterness in Minnesota. There’s no cynicism. There’s no “Super Bowl curse.” There’s always just been hope."
Rudolph also thanked the many faces he met during his time in Minnesota including owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, current teammates such as Harrison Smith and former teammates like Chad Greenway and Steve Hutchinson.
Rudolph also lamented the fact he couldn't bring a Super Bowl to Minnesota. He said he believed that the Vikings could have won the Super Bowl in 2017 had Sam Bradford stayed healthy and that the next wave of Vikings including Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson will be part of the next great team.
"I really am sorry that I couldn’t help deliver a Super Bowl. I’d give just about anything to change that….. and it pains me to be turning this page with any business left unfinished. But I think the team is in awesome hands. And when — not if, when — the Vikings finally win one, I’ll be first in line to say congratulations. Nothing in the world would make me happier. (As long as it’s not against me!!)"
Rudolph closed by saying his family will remain in Minnesota, where he has become a staple of the community.
"I’ll be playing for another team next fall. But it’s like I said: This is a culture that’s about a lot more than 60 minutes on a Sunday afternoon. This is a community. And it means everything to us to be a part of it. [Rudolph's wife] Jordan and I, we’re from different parts of the country….. but we feel like we’ve become adopted Minnesotans over the last 10 years. And our three kids? I mean, they’re not even adopted to it — they were born here, and have grown up here, and I couldn’t imagine raising them anyplace else."
Rudolph ended his tenure with the Vikings fifth in receptions (453) and receiving touchdowns (48), and 10th in receiving yards. (4,488).