MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota Viking gave some high school players a surprise they won’t soon forget Friday night.

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes showed up to Edison High School in Minneapolis to be a guest coach for the Tommies as they took on St. Paul’s Humboldt High School — but that wasn’t the only surprise he had for the team.

Most NFL players got their start on a field much like the one at Edison.

“I’m just happy the kids are out here having fun,” Rhodes said. “That’s all football is about — having fun. Sometimes people tend to lose that as they get older, but I just love seeing the kids out here having fun.”

Rhodes remembers admiring the pros when he was in high school, but on this day, he’s looking up to Edison High School’s football team.

“Oh man, they were stoked,” Edison coach J.J. Swain said. “There were a lot of smile.”

It’s why Rhodes decided to reward them for their volunteer work with a $1,000 check.

“All that money is going to go to team fees, so all the players that are struggling to get their fee in — they won’t have to worry about that headache,” Swain said. “We will take care of them, hopefully for the next two years.”

Showing young people that hard work pays off, but helping others is the ultimate reward.

“They haven’t seen football on that level, so to see Xavier Rhodes walk in — someone they see on TV — it helps them realize they’re not that far away, and he’s one of us — somebody just like them who played high school football,” Swain said. “That’s what they can strive to be. They just have to continue to go to class, be outstanding members of society and they can be on the same pinnacle as him.”

The Edison Tommies have volunteered with Rhodes’s annual toy drive for the past three years. They’ll be back at it this winter.


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