EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The idea for the touchdown celebration came to Kyle Rudolph’s mind, right before quarterback Case Keenum called the pass play in the Minnesota huddle.
How about a quick game of Duck, Duck, Goose?
“‘If we score here, whoever scores, you get to be the ducker, and everybody else sit,'” the seventh-year tight end told his Vikings teammates.
Sure enough, Rudolph caught Keenum’s throw into the back of the end zone at Chicago and, as promised seconds earlier, initiated an amusing group pantomime of the popular playground game for children .
“I was the one who scored, thankfully, because I don’t sit ‘crisscross-applesauce’ very well,” Rudolph said, pulling out another term from his youth.
The Vikings went on to beat the Bears 20-17 on Monday night, but the fun had only begun. The team’s light-hearted recounting of the moment touched off an only-in-Minnesota debate about the name of the game.
It’s the only state in the nation where Duck, Duck, Gray Duck is preferred. Geese need not participate.
“I said, ‘Duck, Duck, Goose,’ because everyone in the huddle knew what I was talking about,” Rudolph said.
Except for wide receiver Adam Thielen, a native of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, who played at Minnesota State University in Mankato and has spent his entire five-year NFL career with the Vikings. He’s never lived outside of Duck, Duck, Gray Duck territory.
“They’re passionate about it, and they’re adamant that it’s Duck, Duck, Gray Duck, so I guess my kids will be raised on Duck, Duck, Gray Duck and I’ll have to tell them that one day you’ll leave Minnesota and you’ll go to college and you’ll probably get made fun of,” Rudolph said.
“We’ll have to teach them that it’s Duck, Duck, Goose everywhere else in the world.”
Thielen told Rudolph he didn’t realize until college and met students from other states that Duck, Duck, Goose was the name of the game everywhere else.
“Minnesotans are proud about their Duck, Duck, Gray Duck,” Rudolph said, “and it’s something to hang your hat on, I guess.”
His sister, Kori Rudolph, plays volleyball for Transylvania University, an NCAA Division III school in Kentucky.
The Pioneers shared a video tribute to her big brother with their own game of Duck, Duck, Goose after an ace in practice.
Keenum, the affable Texan, was bewildered by the debate.
“I’ve never actually heard of gray duck. What exactly is a gray duck?” Keenum said. “I’ve duck-hunted before and never heard like, ‘Oh, there’s a gray duck.'”
Coach Mike Zimmer, for his part, didn’t pick up right away on what his players were doing in the end zone.
“I hadn’t seen them practice it,” he said. “If we score a lot of touchdowns, I’ll jump in with them.”
Raised in Illinois with long stays during his NFL coaching career in Texas and Ohio, Zimmer was new to the debate himself.
“I am in Minnesota,” he said with a smile, “so I’ll go with gray duck.”