EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article is a sports analysis written after Sunday night's NFC championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. The writer has covered Jasper Brinkley since his prep football days at Thomson High School. Brinkley began playing midget football with Thomson-McDuffie Recreation and Leisure Services. His childhood dream of playing professionally in the NFL is now a reality.
Since he was a little boy growing up in Thomson, Jasper Brinkley always has wanted to play football in front of big crowds.
Big crowds followed him during his playing days at Thomson High School and again when he played at the University of South Carolina. But on Sunday night, Brinkley played before his biggest crowd ever -- as the starting defensive middle linebacker with the Minnesota Vikings in the National Football Conference championship game. The game was watched by thousands in New Orleans and by millions around the world.
The Vikings ended up losing to the New Orleans Saints, 31-28 in overtime, ending the season for Minnesota and Brinkley's chance to showcase his talent in the biggest football game of them all -- the Super Bowl.
Nevertheless, Brinkley played a terrific game. He made several solo tackles and assists and nearly scooped up a fumble just before halftime that he might have scored on had it not been for a teammate who beat him to the ball.
The 24-year-old Brinkley made us all proud on the homefront with many of us in Thomson rooting for him and the Vikings.
From the start of the game to the finish, Brinkley gave it his all. He demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt that he can play at this level and deserved the chance to do so this season.
I can't say enough about Jasper Brinkley. I've watched him grow and mature so much through the years. And I'm so proud of him. He has exceptional character and enjoys giving back to his hometown of Thomson.
Brinkley has established himself as a big-time NFL player now. I believe he has a bright, promising future with the Minnesota Vikings.
When he returns to Thomson soon, I plan to interview him. And I'll share his comments about his playing time in the NFL during his rookie year.