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Avoca couple were VIP guests of the Vikings

SUBMITTED PHOTO Travis and Daisy Pierson of rural Avoca pose with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (center) at the 2014 NFL draft in New York.

Travis Pierson was faced with a dilemma.

Because the Minnesota Vikings’ first pick, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, was not in attendance at Radio City Music Hall on Day 1 of the NFL draft, he could not bring Barr’s newly-pressed jersey to the podium for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to present to him. So Pierson was told that because the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals did not have a fan representative present, he could serve as jersey ambassador for one of those teams.

Of course, he’d have to don one of those teams’ colors to do it.

Like any other true blue (make that purple) Vikings fan, Pierson said doing the Packers or Bears was out of the question. He decided he’d go ahead and do it for the Cardinals.

But as luck would have it, Arizona drafted a player who wasn’t at the draft, either.

“I got shut out again,” Pierson recalled.

The story, however, has a happy ending. The Vikings traded up for the very last pick of the first round, selecting Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and the Vikings’ No. 1 fan was escorted back into the “green room” near the jersey press that they call the “dream steamer,” and a newly-minted No. 1 was presented to him to present to Goodell as Bridgewater prepared to walk on stage.

What a day.

Travis and Daisy Pierson, of rural Avoca, cashed in on the chance of a lifetime last week when they attended the NFL draft as “honorary fans” of the Minnesota Vikings. Loyal ticket owners and contributors to Vikings charities, the Piersons were at first concerned that they could not clear their schedules to go to New York — Travis, a farmer, was planning to plant beans. Daisy, a pharmacist, had her work schedule set months in advance. But the person on the phone who broke the news implied that the opportunity might never come around again.

So they made it work.

They arrived on May 7, the day before the draft, and stayed at the Marriott Marquis and on draft day received VIP tickets to the “orchestra pit” directly in front of the stage. Before walking the red carpet to hand off a hat and jersey which were later to be given to the Vikings’ first pick, Travis and Daisy attended a rehearsal where they posed for photos with Goodell. Travis stood at the podium where the players were to be escorted, and pretended to make his own pick.

He had no real access to the Vikings’ brain trust throughout his stint at Radio City Music Hall, but after it was all over he pronounced himself satisfied with how the Vikings handled the first round.

“I like what they did. Good value. I wanted Johnny Football (Texas A & M quarterback Johnny Manziel) with that No. 8 pick. But I thought they got good value,” he said upon his return.

Pierson says he has been a Minnesota Vikings fan “since birth.” Daisy followed course a little later. “She’s a South Dakota girl,” he explains.

At the draft, Daisy did not go back stage as her husband did. But she enjoyed the overall experience thoroughly. She participated in the pre-draft rehearsal and enjoyed the hotel and other perks courtesy of the Vikings. The couple also did some sightseeing around New York.

For his part, Travis will not likely forget his moment as a guest of the team he loves.

“I’m not a celebrity,” he said. “But I felt like one for a few minutes.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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