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King Turkey Day speaker Chuck Foreman delights crowd, many of whom were clad in Vikings purple

“We’ve had a good run here in Minnesota,” Foreman said. “I’ve met (new head coach) Kevin McConnell and his staff, and I think we’re in good hands. I think we’re in a good place and I think we’re going to bigger places.”

Susanne Murphy, president of the King Turkey Day Board of Directors, presents Paycheck to  featured speaker, former Minnesota Vikings Walter Eugene "Chuck" Foreman for a kiss of good luck before the big race Saturday.
Susanne Murphy, president of the King Turkey Day Board of Directors, presents Paycheck to featured speaker, former Minnesota Vikings Walter Eugene "Chuck" Foreman for a kiss of good luck before the big race Saturday.
Tim Middagh / The Globe<br/>
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WORTHINGTON — When featured speaker Chuck Foreman limped to the podium Saturday afternoon to address a large King Turkey Day crowd, he dropped one of his crutches.

“I don’t drop footballs like that,” he said as the crowd chuckled.

And to be sure, as far as the former Minnesota Viking great running back was concerned, the KTD committee sure didn’t drop the ball when asking Foreman to visit Worthington.

Foreman, who is recovering from ankle surgery, said the folks he met Saturday during the pinnacle of the KTD celebration made the trip to southwest Minnesota from his Twin Cities home worthwhile.

“It’s so great to be here,” he said. “Because I can feel the love. A lot of love goes a long ways, and that’s the aura I feel around here today.”

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The crowd interrupted him to applaud.

King Turkey Day featured speaker and former Minnesota Vikings player Walter Eugene "Chuck" Foreman, also known as "The Spin Doctor," addresses the crowd Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Worthington.
King Turkey Day featured speaker, former Minnesota Vikings Walter Eugene "Chuck" Foreman "The Spin Doctor", address the crowd Saturday afternoon.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

The 71-year-old Foreman, who helped lead the Vikings to three Super Bowls during an amazing NFL career in the 1970s, clearly was touched by the reception he received.

“The thing about getting older is you have more experiences,” he said. “You see a lot of different things. You see what it was and what it is, how it used to be and what it can be. And I’m seeing a lot of good things here. That’s how you make me feel.”

Foreman grew up in Maryland and was a football star at the University of Miami. The fullback was chosen in the first round by coach Bud Grant’s Vikings in 1973.

Certainly Purple Nation never regretted it. And turns out, the feeling was mutual.

“It was probably the single best thing that ever happened to me,” Foreman said. “Because not only did I come to a great football team with a lot of great people on it, but the people of Minnesota were just so welcoming. And I feel today the same way.”

Foreman had visited Worthington before to make personal appearances. But never had he been asked to address a crowd like the hundreds who gathered Saturday near the government center square.

King Turkey Day featured speaker, former Minnesota Vikings player Walter Eugene "Chuck" Foreman, signs an autograph for Jeff Brink, a longtime fan of #44, during the celebration on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Worthington.
King Turkey Day featured speaker, former Minnesota Vikings Walter Eugene "Chuck" Foreman "The Spin Doctor". signs an autograph for Jeff Brink, a long time Fan of #44, during the celebration in Worthington Saturday.
Tim Middagh / The Globe<br/>

“It doesn’t fail that whenever I’ve been to Worthington,” he said, “it seems to get better and better and better. You make a person feel so at home and make them feel special. It’s a great feeling, because in today’s world ...”

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Foreman paused, then added:

“It’s just so nice to feel loved, you know what I mean?”

The event, part of the 83rd annual King Turkey Day festivities, began with a stirring rendition of the National Anthem by the Worthington High School choir. Several dignitaries were introduced before Foreman, including KTD president Susanne Murphy and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

All were greeted with applause on a wonderfully sunny Saturday afternoon.

Walz produced some smiles when alluding to the weather.

“I get blamed for everything else so I’m going to take credit for this nice day, too,” he grinned.

The smiles kept on coming throughout the ceremony, especially when the guest speaker was at the microphone.

“It’s my privilege today to be here with you to share your big day,” Foreman said.

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He also shared some thoughts on the Vikings, both past and present.

“Your Minnesota Vikings have quality players and great people,” he said. “All of the (former) players that I know are always around the state doing something.”

Though the Vikings haven’t been to the Super Bowl for decades, Foreman said there’s hope for the future.

“We’ve had a good run here in Minnesota,” he said. “I’ve met (new head coach) Kevin McConnell and his staff, and I think we’re in good hands. I think we’re in a good place and I think we’re going to bigger places.”

That elicited more applause from the Worthington faithful, several of whom wore purple Viking jerseys.

Foreman had posed for countless photos and autographs earlier in the day with fans young and old. In the long history of KTD guest speakers, Foreman is one of the few sports personalities to be invited as the guest of honor.

“We’re thrilled to have him here,” said KTD volunteer Lisa Schutte, who was instrumental in first contacting Foreman and helped him throughout Saturday’s festivities. One of the photos Foreman posed for was a shot with Lisa’s father, Fritz Korthals.

“He was always a Chuck Foreman guy and I was a Fran Tarkenton,” smiled Schutte, a Worthington native. “We were huge fans. This is a lot of fun for all of us.”

The interaction with the Viking legend, she said, won’t soon be forgotten.

“He’s a very respectful person,” Schutte said. “Really an excellent role model.”

Foreman was gracious with his time throughout the day. Then it was time to leave, pick up those fumbled crutches and get on with the day.

Once again, Foreman scored with the crowd.

“I thank you again for having me,” Foreman said. “Again I want to emphasize, and I want you to take this home with you, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart.”

Foreman paused once more.

“Anybody who knows me knows that I don’t mess around when it comes to expressing myself,” he said. “And I mean this: There’s something special when you’re in a place where you feel like you belong. How can a stranger belong? It’s because of the aura that you give off here. Because it’s special.”

While few in the crowd likely remember watching Foreman play, for his career ended some four decades ago, KTD officials hope his appearance was memorable — for all involved.

“It’s been a long time since I ran the football,” Foreman said. “But I still feel loved. And respected. And appreciated. And that was a long time ago. So I’m going to once again thank you very much for having me. When I go home I’ll have very good memories of the day.”

Scott Mansch can be reached at smansch5rockets@gmail.com.

Scott Mansch, who in a crowded Viking tavern has been known to say “Go Pack Go” at times in complete disregard for his health, can be reached at smansch5rockets@gmail.com
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