After two seasons in the NFL, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen was on his way back home to Wisconsin when he received a text message from his father, who was in the United States on business.
It was the moment that would change his life.
“Dad called me right after the NFC championship game and said, ‘You’re going to be playing with the Vikings in a couple of weeks,’ ” Thielen said.
“It was a blessing.
He wanted to come back and play, and it was great.
It all started when the Vikings took him in the fourth round in 2014, and he immediately started showing up in games.
He’s an excellent athlete, he’s a great guy, he has a great personality.
He just kind of came into his own.”
In college, Thielen became a consensus top-15 tight end and was a second-team All-American in 2015.
His stock began rising in the spring, as the Vikings drafted him in first-round picks after he caught nine passes for 117 yards in two games at Georgia Tech.
“I feel like I have more confidence now than I ever have in my life, and I feel like my coaches have a better idea of who I am and where I’m at,” Thielen, now a free agent, said.
“It’s been a really good year for me.
I’ve just gotten to know my teammates better.
I know how to handle myself, how to coach my teammates and how to win.”
The Vikings, who lost their last five games, beat the Bears 29-24 on Sunday night in Chicago for their first playoff victory in 20 seasons.
It was the first time since the 1985-86 season that the Vikings had been in the postseason since the 2003 season.
“We had a great run, a really fun run,” Thielens said.
The Vikings (8-5) are trying to bounce back from their 1-10 start.
They lost to the Panthers on Monday night and were down 17-0 in the second quarter when Thielen made a diving catch and returned it for a touchdown.
The touchdown came on third-and-10 from the Chicago 31.
He made the catch at the Minnesota 41.
The ball sailed over the top and hit Thielen in the neck.
“That’s just one of those plays that I knew we were going to make,” Thielener said.
“(The defense) really forced us to make some plays.
I was able to make a few catches.
I guess it’s a testament to the coaches that they did a great job of putting the pressure on us.”
The Bears (4-11) lost their third straight game and dropped their third consecutive home game.
They went 2-6 in the last two seasons against Minnesota.
“They’ve had a lot of injuries, but they’ve still been able to go out and win,” said Bears coach Marc Trestman.
“Their offensive line is playing well.
They’re playing in a good way.
We just got to get back to playing our football game.
It’s tough, but we’ve got to keep going.”
Kelvin Benjamin, who had seven catches for 107 yards and a touchdown, returned a kickoff for a score and had two receptions for 19 yards in the first half.
Benjamin was a late scratch for Sunday’s game, because of a knee injury.