Greg Coleman was a 24-year-old jobless punter living in Cleveland in the fall of 1978.
The Browns had released him a month earlier after a season, and he had no chance to try for other teams. He turned on the TV on a Sunday afternoon.
“The Vikings were playing the Rams,” Coleman said Friday. “And neither of the two bettors was doing well.”
Coleman, a religious man, walked to his window.
“I opened the window and started screaming and yelling at God,” Coleman said. “I said, ‘You said if I prayed and did the right things, you would give me my heart’s desires! I said, ‘Where are you?’ I just want to play football. I’ll even play for the Minnesota Vikings! “
The next day, Frank Gilliam, a Vikings staff member, called. Coleman was on the next flight to Minnesota to replace Mike Wood.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Coleman spent the next 10 seasons in Minnesota, left for one season in Washington, and then spent the next 32 years on the Vikings’ radio broadcast team. He has been the lineup journalist for the past 21 years.
“It’s been one hell of a ride,” said Coleman, who announced via Twitter Thursday that he was stepping down from his Vikings radio gig at the end of this season.
Healthy and 67-year-old Coleman said he wanted more time with Eleanor, his wife, 43, their three children and eight grandchildren, including 3-month-old Zaina Rose. He also wants to devote more time to his professional speaking activity and special projects promoting historically black colleges and universities.
Coleman played at Florida A&M and was entered into the Black College Football Hall of Fame this year. But his professional career hardly ever happened.
“I made the mistake of running the 40-yard scoreboard,” said Coleman, a 14.ePaul Brown’s 1976 Cincinnati Bengals round pick. “I was faster than everyone except Isaac Curtis and Archie Griffin, so Paul tried me on catcher.
The year in Cleveland proved Coleman can kick. He laughs again that his career path brought him to Minnesota, where he ended up on the 25 and 40-year-old Vikings teams.
“I said before that I would never, ever play for the Minnesota Vikings,” said Coleman. “I grew up in Florida. It was too cold. Bud [Grant] had those piercing blue eyes and never said anything. And they were wearing black shoes.
“Back then, all the cool brothers wore white shoes. I didn’t want to come to Minnesota to freeze my ass, play for a coach who looked like he was mad at the world and wear shoes. black. But God has a funny sense of humor. Tell him what you’re not going to do and he’ll prove you wrong.