MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Vikings defensive coordinator Andre Patterson ended his press conference on Wednesday with an apology.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I didn’t mean to preach today.”READ MORE: Cousins, Vikings Keeping Up With NFL's Late-Game Winners
But the sermon that preceded his atonement offered a vital message after a violent weekend in the Twin Cities.
Patterson was asked if, following events like the mass shooting at a St. Paul bar that killed a woman and injured 14 other people, he feels his work as a football coach is in vain.
“I’m never gonna give that up,” Patterson said. “I’m never gonna think that it’s over because bad things happen. I’m never gonna believe that, because I know things can be better.”
WATCH: Andre Patterson’s Full Message
Andre Patterson had the most important message of the day.
And it had nothing to do with football. pic.twitter.com/bzlZvXpHZE
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 13, 2021
Patterson said he’s living proof for young people that there’s a better way, and that’s why he feels his work is important.READ MORE: Battle Of Beloved Vikings: Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater Starting Broncos-Browns Game
“I know if you put in the time and you put in the effort and you keep fighting and you never get up that you have a chance to bring other people along, and things get better and better over time,” he said. “It never changes overnight, it’s always a constant struggle. But I’m standing in front of you today, and I guarantee you when I was in high school you never would’ve thought that that would’ve happened.”
The 61-year-old veteran coach grew up in Richmond, California, which he called “the murder capital of the United States.” He said he’s seen “some things that are pretty terrible,” but he managed to make it out and now wants to set an example for future generations.
“If I don’t believe that I’m gonna live past 21 or 25, then I don’t have a problem taking from you what I want from you. Because I’m only gonna live to 21, 22, 25,” he said. “But when I know I have a future, a future’s sitting in front of me, then I’m willing to fight to make myself better.”
That future won’t be easy, Patterson acknowledged, and it will take a societal effort, not just an individual one.
“You have to show people that that opportunity exists because in your community you do not see that opportunity,” he said. “That’s the thing, right? I can say this is the greatest country in the world, but I go home and I’m starving. There’s nothing in my refrigerator. I got no heat. I don’t have a coat. I starve when I go to school. I have no lunch. OK? Well, I’m gonna fight to survive. I’m gonna do what I gotta do to survive, unless somebody shows me that there’s another way to survive other than me jacking you and taking your stuff.”
As critical as Patterson’s message is, he said the source of that message is equally important.MORE NEWS: K.J. Osborn Giving Vikings' Offense Much-Needed Extra Dimension
“You might not have what you want right now, but if you’re willing to pay the price, you’re willing to get an education and you’re willing to make yourself better, the world’s open to you,” Patterson said. “But they gotta hear that message and they gotta hear that message from people that look like me, and our players.”