After the Vikings released the two-time Pro Bowler, Thielen caught on with the Panthers. The NFL vet is aiming to prove he still has a lot left in the tank.
When two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen spoke with Boardroom at Super Bowl week in Phoenix, he was still a member of the Minnesota Vikings. His plan was to keep playing at a high level for as long as he could.
But the Vikings released the 32-year-old earlier this month. Doing so avoided a $20 million cap hit as the team made a slew of tough decisions with veteran stalwarts. None was tougher than Thielen, a Detroit Lakes, MN native who went to Minnesota State Mankato and signed with the Vikings after serving as a tryout player at a rookie minicamp.
Thielen caught 70 passes for 716 yards and seven touchdowns last season, playing every game for the first time since 2018. His 534 career catches are the third most in team history behind Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Randy Moss.
“I feel better than I’ve ever felt coming out of a season and I’m excited about what the future looks like,” Thielen told Boardroom.
Thielen was representing Over Easy Foods as an endorser and investor, discussing a slew of learning moments he had with the Vikings in 2022. The team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award learned about the team’s culture and leadership, but also how to handle adversity that came with a disappointing wild card playoff home loss to the New York Giants in January.
“I learned a lot about myself, how to handle some adversity, being patient, trusting the process, and being able to enjoy my teammates, team, coaches, staff, and the building,” Thielen said after falling down the receiving pecking order toward the end of the season behind All-Pro Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, and KJ Osborn. “I don’t know how much longer I’ve got to play. I feel great, I know I can play at a high level for a long time, and I’m excited about what the future looks like and being able to show what I can really do.”
The good news for Thielen: his future is still in professional football — not that there was much doubt about that. The Carolina Panthers signed Thielen to a three-year deal over the weekend.
Given that Thielen doesn’t know how much longer he has to play, he said it’s more important than ever to train at an elite level, take care of his body and practice proper nutrition. He knows it’s going to take hard work, dedication, and sacrifice to eventually end his career on his own terms.
“I’ve always treated it very seriously getting out of a season, trying to train, get ready, and prepared for the next season to gain ground,” Thielen said. “It’s huge to get out of a season healthy so that I can immediately get back into training and getting the body strong again, being able to try to gain ground as far as getting more athletic, moving more efficiently, being faster, and quicker. And to be able to do that, you really have to get after it right away and then get back into football things when OTAs start up again.”
Thielen is well aware that the average NFL career is only three-and-a-half years. Once he suits up for the Panthers, it’ll be his 10th year as a pro.
“You have to have the end in mind and prepare for that,” he said.
Eventually, Thielen would love to go into media because he loves to talk football and sports. He’d love to get more involved in some of his businesses like Over Easy and ETS Performance. But he also made it known that he still has a lot of football left in him.
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