Vikings quarterback Case Keenum took a timeout from preparing for the divisional-round matchup against the Saints for some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: What are you like in the huddle?
A: I like to mix it up. I try to be light when it needs to be light. And I’ve learned over time though, you don’t need to be too light. For instance, this year (chuckle), I came in to the huddle during a TV timeout and I’m talking to the guys how much fun I was having, and just loving playing with the guys. I think the very next play I threw a pick, it was almost a pick-six, to [Washington’s] D.J. Swearinger. So the next time we got in the huddle, I was, “All right guys, let’s have fun, but not too much fun.”
Q: How would you describe the style of quarterback that you are?
A: I don’t know, that’s your job, man. You guys are the ones trying to label everybody and fit everybody (chuckle) into a certain stereotype. For me, man, I’m me. I feel like there’s a million ways to play this position, that’s why there’s a million different types of people, and I’ve got a little bit that I learned from every person that I watch and that I’ve been around, every coach that I’ve had. But I have my own style, man, just like everybody else had their own style.
Q: What intangible traits have enabled you to do what you’ve done?
A: I would say … mental toughness is one of them. That can encompass quite a bit of things … confidence … my faith.
Q: Where does that confidence come from?
A: God put me here, He’s equipped me with everything I need to be able to do what I need to do, and He’s brought me exactly where He wants me. My journey’s been pretty crazy, as far as just going all over the place. It’s been a lot of fun. He’s brought me exactly where He wants me, and I’m confident in that. And then confidence in your teammates, confidence in your coaches. We’ve got a lot of history and success with those guys.
Q: What drives you?
A: I would say first it’s faith. I think I’m competitive. Competition fuels me. The urge to win. I want to win, I want the ball in my hands when it really counts. I want to be the best I can be. I want to come in every day and do everything I can to be the best that I can.
Q: Proving your believers right more than proving the naysayers wrong.
A: I can’t lie and say I haven’t had a chip on my shoulder before, and don’t enjoy proving people wrong. But I’ve had a lot of people in my life that have coached me and loved me and been a part of my family and friends that have believed in me. I try to prove them right a lot more than I try to prove those people that don’t believe in me wrong.
Q: How do you feel about the idea that a good part of America will probably be rooting for Case Keenum?
A: I love it! It goes back to that question that you asked me earlier. I want to prove those people right. The people that believe in me. It’s a fun time, fun part of the season, and to have people root me on makes it even more fun.
Q: Why do you believe quarterbacks/NFL players should be role models?
A: I think you look around the world in general, and who are the most popular people in the world? You can say that politicians and musicians are up there, but I guarantee you that athletes are ranked right up at the top if not more than a lot of those people. When you’re well known, people look at you, especially kids, they want to be you. That’s the reason I’m where I’m at today is because I looked at players when I was a kid, like [John] Elway and my dad and the guys on my dad’s team that I wanted to be. That’s why I did what I did, that’s why I threw the football the way I did — I dropped back like I was whoever. As a kid, you want to be those people. Players, it’s their job, whether you like it or not, you’re promoting something, and kids are watching.
Q: Are you recognized around town?
A: A little bit. I fly under the radar most of the time, though.
Q: How do you manage that?
A: I look more like a professional golfer than I do an NFL football player.
Q: Why do you think the Vikings are a threat to win the Super Bowl?
A: I think we got a great squad, man, from top to bottom. I think we’re coached really well. Our defense is very talented. And offensively I think we can move the ball, and we can put points on the board. When you do that, you take care of the football, you’re a smart football team, I think you’re tough to beat.
Q: Why are players willing to run through a wall for coach Mike Zimmer?
A: That he cares about his players, man. He demands a lot of us, but he most certainly cares, and you know he does. I think we got a team of fighters, and he’s a fighter too.
Q: Describe the on-field personality or temperament of your defense.
A: You might have to ask some other quarterbacks that who actually get hit by ’em. (Laugh). They are fast, physical, they’re tough, they’re unrelenting. There’s a lot of words that can go into that.
Q: What are offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s strengths and how has he helped you?
A: He’s a great relationship guy. He’s an excellent communicator and it shows in his installation meetings and making sure everyone is on the same page. He trusts his players to do the right thing and we know he trusts us. That does a lot for your confidence.
Q: What tells you he’s ready to be a head coach again?
A: I think Pat does a great job of delegating to his other coaches. He trusts the opinions of the assistants and is open to suggestions. He’s willing to look at different solutions to a problem, and he is willing to be flexible when it’s needed. I trust his decision-making because he’s smart and I know he has put in the work.
Q: Describe receiver Adam Thielen.
A: He’s a talented guy. He does a great job, knowing the game plan, knowing his routes, knowing everything he needs to do.
Q: Who are athletes in other sports you admire?
A: Michael Jordan. He’s one of the ultimate competitors. … Jordan Spieth. What a talented guy, and just how clutch is he? It’s fun to watch what he does.
Q: Boyhood idol?
A: My dad [Steve]. If it was a football player, it was probably John Elway.
Q: Why your dad?
A: Great father, he was a football coach, taught me the game young. You know, you find I’m growing up to be … him (chuckle). Same mannerisms, same a lot of things. And proud to be his son. I always have, and always will. Football player, it was [Troy] Aikman and Elway growing up. Watching the Cowboys is kind of what you did. Loved watching Elway play and how competitive he was. I loved being No. 7.
Q: When did you first have this NFL dream?
A: My teachers would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I told ’em I wanted to play in the NFL.
Q: Have you always been a quarterback?
A: Yeah, I’ve always wanted to play quarterback. I always wanted the ball in my hand. That was fun for me.
Q: What was that like slinging the ball around and being as prolific as you were at the University of Houston?
A: That was fun, man. We had a lot of fast guys, and we had some great coaches, and they let us just go out there and just play basketball, man, just fast-break basketball. Running around, giving it to different guys, great game plans, great talent, and it was just kind of my job to get the ball out of my hands and into the fast guys’ hands.
Q: Did you expect to be drafted, and how did you feel when you weren’t?
A: I wasn’t sure. My agents told me probably mid- to late-round. When I wasn’t, I was disappointed. It’s tough to go through that day and wait around for a phone call that never comes. But I just needed one chance and that was the Texans ’cause they gave me that one opportunity.
Q: If you could challenge one cornerback in history, who would it be?
A: Another memory I have is watching Deion Sanders play at Texas Stadium. He might be one of ’em.
Q: What do you expect the atmosphere to be on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium?
A: I have an idea. I know that place is electric for regular-season games. I have a feeling it’s just gonna be just absolutely nuts for a playoff game though.
Q: I’m guessing you would want some stability at this point in your career.
A: Yeah, I think everybody wants stability. I think journalists want stability (chuckle), just like football players do.
A: I love to hunt and fish, and golf.
Q: How did you propose to your wife Kimberly?
A: I did it with candles at the 50-yard line of our old stadium at the University of Houston.
Q: Great idea!
A: Yeah. I went big. I went as big as you can in college.
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: The Apostle Peter, Abraham Lincoln, Will Ferrell.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: “Remember the Titans.”
Q: Favorite actor?
A: Denzel Washington.
Q: Favorite actress?
A: Kristen Wiig.
Q: Favorite singer/entertainer?
Q: Favorite meal?
A: Victory waffles that my wife makes. The morning after a victory my wife makes ’em.
Q: Do you think you’ve got the personality to flourish in New York?
A: That’s a tough one to answer. I’m from [Abilene] Texas. When I was growing up in Texas, I didn’t think there was anywhere else to live, that’s how we’re raised in Texas. Through the NFL, I got an opportunity to live in St. Louis and then in L.A. — I never thought I’d live in L.A. We loved it. My wife and I have been to New York, we love New York, but who knows, man? We’re gonna trust in God and what he has for us.
Q: I’m guessing your preference, with free agency coming, would be to stay in Minnesota?
A: Yeah, I love this spot, man. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. There’s no telling what’ll happen. We’re gonna give this thing everything we’ve got.
Q: Where do you get good Tex-Mex in Minneapolis?
A: (Chuckle) There’s not any that I’ve found. It’s not quite like home, that’s for sure. Kimberly and I are continuing to look and try new places to find our favorite.