AP NEWS

Thanks, Minnesota! Back at ya, says Saints punter

January 17, 2018 GMT

Minnesota Vikings fans, still jubilant after the teams stunning win over New Orleans in Sundays NFL playoff game, are showing that they are a benevolent bunch, too.

Despite the pain from an injury suffered during the game, Saints punter Thomas Morstead was the first player from the opposing team to come back on the field for the mandatory point-after-touchdown kick after Stefon Diggs last-second, game-winning race into the end zone.

A Vikings fan noticed Morsteads act of sportsmanship and suggested on Reddit that the purple faithful respond by donating to the punters charity, What You Give Will Grow, an organization that focuses on pediatric cancer. And donate they did.

By early afternoon Wednesday, more than 970 people with Minnesota addresses had given more than $51,000. One donor gave $10,000, but most gave smaller amounts, including $6, the punters uniform number, said spokeswoman Lindsey Mitchell.

Morstead said hed give the money to Childrens Minnesota and that hed fly to Minneapolis to deliver a check to the hospital personally if donations reached $100,000 by the end of the week.

Its very shocking. I didnt realize I made such a statement in the game, but a lot of people perceived it that way, Morstead said in a phone interview Wednesday. Its nice to see nice people doing nice things.

Sundays 29-24 loss to the Vikings on the last play of the game was the most devastating way to lose a football game and end a season, Morstead said, noting that he was on the other end the score in 2009 when the Saints beat the Vikings and went on to win the Super Bowl. Just as painful for Morstead was the torn cartilage on his rib cage he suffered while trying to tackle Vikings return man Marcus Sherels.

Its going to be a long process to heal, four to six weeks, he said.

Despite his injury, Morstead trotted back onto the field to line up for the meaningless play even though hes not part of the Saints extra point team.

On Monday evening Morstead learned that donations were rolling in, but he assumed they were coming from Saints fans. Then the foundations executive director told him they were coming from fans of the purple.

As a way to pay the generosity forward, Morstead said he would kicked back to Childrens Minnesotas Child Life programs. The hospitals Child Life programs help children and their families understand their treatment and reduce stress through play, relaxation and special events and activities.

They are in the giving spirit and with their good deed the money should stay in their community, Morstead said. I hope it will help a lot.

In a video message posted on What You Give Will Grows YouTube channel, the punter said he was blown away by the flood of support coming from way the North. And to that, I give you a Who Dat.

Fans cheered on Morsteads charity work.

Much respect for your sportsmanship and determination to finish the game, wrote on commenter on the charitys YouTube page titled Thank You Vikings fans for you generosity and support. Add one more MN Vikings fan to your list of donors, the post continued.

Said another fan, You are an inspiration to all people. The way you came out to line up for a meaningless PAT was a lesson in sportsmanship. Ive donated and shared your story and I hope my kids learned something from you.

Morsteads foundation has given away more than $2.5 million since its inception in 2014, according to its website.

Tim Harlow 612-673-7768