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Commissioner Roger Goodell calls Vikings' new facility 'special place' at ceremony

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at Super Bowl LIII handoff press conference at Mall of America on Feb. 5. Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

EGAN, Minn. — After watching Friday's official opening of the grandiose TCO Performance Center, legendary Vikings coach Bud Grant had one immediate thought.

"I was born 50 years too soon," said Grant, 91, who coached Minnesota from 1967-83 and in 1985.

The Vikings have been at their new facility in Eagan since late February, and players reported April 16 for spring drills. On Friday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held with special guests that included NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who addressed the gathering.

Also speaking were Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire, Twin Cities Orthopedics CEO Troy Simonson, Vikings owners Zygi, Mark and Leonard Wilf, CEO Kevin Warren, general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer,

In addition to Grant, other notable former Vikings looking on were wide receiver Ahmad Rashad, safety Paul Krause and running back Chuck Foreman.

Current Vikings attending were defensive end Everson Griffen and tight end Kyle Rudolph, who took part in the ribbon cutting with the speakers.

"What a truly special day it is to be here," Goodell said. "I'm honored to be here. ... I congratulate everybody for this great success and this great vision."

Goodell has made a few recent trips to the Twin Cities. They have included attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the TCO Performance Center in August 2015, the first regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium in September 2016 and, of course, Super Bowl LII in February.

Goodell told onlookers that the Super Bowl was "one of the most incredible we've had." He said that wasn't just because of the thrilling game, won 41-33 by Philadelphia over New England, but also the way Minnesota hosted the game.

He called the TCO Performance Center a "special place" and said the "community is going to rally around this type of development."

Much of the area is still being developed. The finished product will include a hotel and conference center and residential and retail development.

"(Goodell) came here and he was, as everybody who's visited for the first time, extremely impressed," Mark Wilf said after the ceremony. "I think this sets a new bar for state-of-the-art practice facilities in the NFL, and really in the world."

Goodell did not take questions from the media. Mark Wilf addressed the NFL's national anthem policy with reporters.

Revealed last month, the policy calls for teams to be fined if players kneel during the anthem to be fined but allows them the option of remaining in the locker room.

No Vikings players have knelt during the anthem, a common protest among players that began with former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a 2016 preseason game.

"We're supportive of the policies that the league has put out, but the reality is we're very proud of how our team handled the issue last year," Wilf said. "We're working together, and whatever we do we're going to do as a team, and that involves working on social justice issues and hearing from the players and really partnering with them. ... We've been in the process of having those conversations to do some great things in the community.''

He was not specific on any of issues the Vikings will work on, but said they will be announced soon.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Vikings held a reception for the invited guests. Grant, who was moving around on a medical scooter because of what he called a bad back, posed for photos, including several with Rashad.

Grant, who is still on the Vikings' payroll as a consultant, has an office at the TCO Performance Center. He marvels at the facility each time he visits.

"I go back to places where you used to have pot-bellied stoves in the locker rooms in Canada, and to see something like this means I've lived quite a while," said Grant, who played and coached in Canadian Football League before joining the Vikings.

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