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Vikings learn playoff opportunities aren't automatic

By Kent Youngblood, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) Published: January 4, 2013

This time, Loadholt, Sullivan and Robison are joining in that chorus.

“You make it that far early in your career and you think, ‘I'll have another chance,' ” Robison said. “A lot of times it doesn't happen that way.”

That was why, during the season, so many veterans took it upon themselves to talk to the team. For older players such as Winfield, there won't be too many more seasons. And he wanted the younger players to hear the ticking clock.

“We have so many new faces,” Winfield said. “Young guys who haven't experienced getting into the playoffs. They don't know how this thing goes.”

Those young players appear to have listened. The Vikings won their final four games to get back into the playoffs.

It was worth the wait, even if the lull between playoffs was unexpected.

“Not in a million days did I think it would take this long,” Sanford said. “Not in a million years. I thought we'd be back, the next year, even better. So now you work even harder to take advantage of this situation.”

So this time it might be a guy like Loadholt getting up before Friday's plane ride to Green Bay, telling younger guys such as Harrison Smith, Matt Kalil or Jarius Wright how rare this opportunity is.

“The proof is in the pudding,” Loadholt said. “This doesn't happen every year. So you want to relish it that much more when it does happen.”

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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