MINNEAPOLIS — Kyle Rudolph officiallyon Thursday, but it doesn't sound like the big man is done with the organization — or football — just yet.
"My journey as a player may be ending, but my connection to this game, the organization and most certainly this community is everlasting," Rudolph said at his retirement press conference.
While Rudolph's football accomplishments are well-known — he's retiring ranked second in team history in receptions (453) and yards (4,488) among tight ends, and first in touchdowns (47) —are equally laudable, if not more so. He and his wife have worked with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital for years, and it's that work that means the most to him.
"I think making a difference and leaving a legacy off the field will go significantly further than the touchdowns I caught on the field and the games we won on the field," he said.
But there were memorable touchdowns and memorable games. Rudolph's favorite, he said, wasin the 2019 playoffs. The Saints scored 10 fourth quarter points to force overtime, but an impressive grab by the always sure-handed Rudolph on the first drive of overtime gave the Vikings the win.
Now, Rudolph will shift his focus to his family and his philanthropy, though football will still be a big part of his life. He's set to host a weekly radio show and call Big Ten games on TV. And his kids will grow up rooting for the Vikings, he assures.
"We're a Vikings family," he said. "They will grow up purple and gold, and that's really important to me."
Chad Greenway, who introduced Rudolph at his retirement presser, called the tight end "one of the all-time greats on the football field to ever wear the purple and gold." While he's certainly right about that, Rudolph himself thinks the Vikings are more than set at the position right now with starter T.J. Hockenson.
"Super talented kid, both him and Josh [Oliver]," Rudolph said. "To have two guys in that room that can play really really high level football, it's a ton of fun as a former tight end to see, and the position is in far better hands now than it was when I was here."
Note: The video above originally aired Sept. 11, 2023.
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