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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a different kind of game, and it’s a big one given our current circumstances.

WCCO caught up with former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ben Leber for some football conversation, and for some thoughts on a project that consumes him this time of year — one that’s had to adjust on the fly.

The Vikings are bringing in 15 draft picks. That’s exciting, but with little off-season preparation, is that a good thing? Or a daunting challenge to get them ready?

“It’s going to be difficult to see who they have to cut down as far as getting the roster size into camp, but, you know, I feel for these guys,” Leber said. “Not just the rookies, but even, you know, the one- or two-, three-year guys. They need reps.”

As a veteran of the game, Leber knows. But this year without off-season training camps, what is a player to do?

“I would make sure that I got all of the film from last year and do a deep dive in my own personal play and the team’s play,” he said.

But football takes a back seat right now. Leber has been part of the St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital fundraising campaign. Like so many, there has been an audible. They will merge four events into one two-month virtual campaign.

Amanda Cahow, executive director of the Upper Midwest Region at ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, says cancer is not going to stop.

“In the days of COVID-19, someone is still going to hear the devastating words that their child has cancer,” Cahow said.

The traditional methods of raising money have changed, but the needs have not.

“The only way that patients and families can go there and not receive a hospital bill is through the donation program,” Leber said. “So we’re trying to do our part, even though we can’t come together.”

So you might not have the fans packed inside the stadium, but in this new era, that’s hardly the point. And as Leber thinks ahead to this fall, you can’t help but wonder when is now a question in the football community: Will there be football in the fall?

“I really think, and I agree with the NFL, that let’s have the schedule release come out the normal time that it was going to come out anyway, that’s coming out Thursday night. And, you know, let’s just go from there,” Leber said.

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Mike Max