The homegrown, rookie tryout turned Pro Bowler spent a decade with the Vikings before he was released this offseason and landed with the Carolina Panthers.
Asked if there is any part of him that is seeking vengeance against his former team in a Week 4 matchup on Sunday, Thielen acknowledged it is only human to feel that way at times but isn’t leaning into the oft-treaded angle the media amplifies.
“It’s really hard to explain kind of the emotions of everything. Is there a little bit? Yeah, maybe. But I’m not the type of person to hold grudges. I just think that you know it just is what it is, right? I’m happy where I’m at, and I think I think for me it’s just, can’t look at the past I’m just focusing on the now,” Thielen said in a Wednesday news conference.
“But yeah, there’s a lot of emotions. We’re emotional beings. You’re going to have emotions, but really. I’m trying to be just the same person every single day and focus on where I’m at and that’s what I’m doing.”
Adam Thielen Admits Sunday Will Be Emotional
Although the Vikings will be visiting Thielen’s Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, he expects to see plenty of purple in the stands that won’t make the game any less emotional for the 33-year-old.
“I think that that would be really difficult probably to walk into U.S. Bank Stadium (in Minneapolis), but at the same time, Vikings fans travel pretty well so I think there be a lot of Vikings fans here,” Thielen said. “It’s going to be a definitely emotional day but I’m excited to just go out and play football and I think when that whistle blows and I’m in between those lines I’m not thinking about anything other than just trying to catch the football.”
Thielen is the Panthers’ leading receiver through three games, securing 17 receptions for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season. In a Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Thielen caught 11 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, becoming the oldest Panthers player in franchise history to catch 10 or more passes and eclipse 100 yards receiving in a single game.
Although Thielen said he’s excited to see many familiar faces during pregame warmups, those feelings will be put to the side with both the winless Vikings and Panthers desperate for a win on Sunday.
“There’s some serious competitors on that team, as there are on this team,” Thielen said after a loss to the Seahawks, per ESPN. “Next week kind of feels like a playoff game, to be honest, just because both teams are fighting and scratching and clawing to get that first win on the board and change momentum.”
Vikings, Panthers Vying to Avoid Dreaded 0-4 Start
The Vikings and Panthers odds of making the playoffs have already slid to just 2.5% as 0-3 teams entering a dire matchup for both teams.
Only one team in NFL history has ever come back from a 0-4 start, which both teams face if they cannot turn their season around on Sunday.
The Vikings are considered 7.5-point favorites and have a 74% chance of winning the game, according to Heavy’s projection engine, Quarter4.