As we enter the new league year and become immersed in offseason activities such as free agency and the upcoming NFL draft, many current NFL players can be found relaxing before offseason conditioning programs begin in April.
With the help of Vikings Executive Director of Player Development/Legal Les Pico and his right-hand man Don Patterson, you can find a handful of Vikings taking full advantage of the downtime by going back to school.
Two of the Vikings first-round picks from last year, defensive tackle
“We have a group of extremely motivated men and we will do all that we can in order to help our players grow both professionally and personally,” Pico said.
Pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from the University of South Florida, Raymond credits Pico and Patterson for providing him with the resources and assisting throughout the process.
“Our player development staff with the Vikings organization, Les Pico and Don Patterson, were very influential and hands-on in getting me set up and on the right track,” the Palmetto, Fla. native said. “They coordinated their efforts with that of Danez Lockhart, Continuing Education Consultant for the NFL, and made the process very simple for me. I am very thankful for all the help and support that I have received and am excited about the opportunity I have to continue on towards my degree.”
Raymond, who was a sixth-round pick in 2011, returned to campus for his second semester since he entered the League, the first being during the 2010 NFL lockout period.
“I’m pacing myself while keeping my NFL career and training my top priority,” Raymond explained. “I plan on finishing my degree next summer.”
Patterson, who received All-Pro honors during his rookie campaign, is spending his time in Knoxville at the University of Tennessee attending classes in pursuit of a degree in communications, while Floyd has been taking online classes at the University of Florida working his way toward a sociology degree.
Both early entrants in the NFL Draft following their junior years, Floyd and Patterson recognize the importance of furthering their education and gaining a college degree.
“Football isn’t going to last forever. I’m just trying to better myself for my future after football is gone.” Patterson explained.
Floyd echoed Patterson’s outlook.
“Football is a great sport, I love it to death, but I need something to fall back on when I’m done,” Floyd said. “Having that degree means a lot. I’ll be the first in my family to get a college degree.”
While continuing to work out and prepare for the upcoming season both second-year players have their post-football careers in the back of their minds. Floyd has plans to start a non-profit, either in the Twin Cities or in his hometown Philadelphia, benefitting kids in a similar situation to him as child. Patterson has aspirations to operate and own his own business. The Pro Bowl return man has also expressed interest and intrigue in photography.
Baker, who was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2012, is taking online classes from Boise State University and Liberty University. Baker plans on graduating during the 2014 offseason with a degree in business management.