Vikings Star Adam Thielen Up for NFL’s Highest Honor

Adam Thielen

Getty Vikings wide receiver Adam Theieln is the team's nominee for the 2022 Walter Peyton Man of the Year award.

Arguably one of the greatest undrafted wide receivers in the history of the NFL, Minnesota Vikings star Adam Thielen‘s on-field accolades are impressive.

However, what he’s done off the field could be even more impactful.

A native of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, Thielen had nothing but a $500 scholarship to Minnesota State-Mankato before he fought his way onto the Vikings roster and eventually became a Pro Bowl talent. He’s leveraged his success into helping others in the Minnesota community through the Thielen Foundation.

Founded in 2018 with his wife, Caitlin, the Thielen Foundation has donated over $2.5 million to community organizations. They’ve helped rebuild football culture at several high school programs and have pledged $1 million this year to help bridge opportunity gaps in education, nutrition, reduce food insecurity and end generational poverty.

Thielen is Minnesota’s nominee for the NFL Walter Peyton Man of the Year award. The winner of the award will be announced the Thursday before Super Bowl LVII.

Adam Thielen Helps Bring Back Friday Night Lights at Minneapolis-Area High School

For three years, the Brooklyn Center Centaurs had to hold all student activities during the day time after their stadium lights went out in 2018. Daytime kickoffs meant parents and students largely couldn’t attend and take part in the ceremony that is “Friday Night Lights.”

That was before the Thielen Foundation stepped in.

Under the #ChangeThruSports initiative, The Thielen Foundation allocated $250,000 to repair the lights. They also renovated the school’s weight room and donated cleats and equipment for all eight fall sports programs, per

“When we heard they didn’t have the opportunity to play under the lights, the biggest reason we wanted to do this was because of what playing under the lights meant to us in high school,” Thielen said. “We had that opportunity to play sports in front of our friends and family. I think the more support the kids have, the better opportunity they have to succeed in life and to learn the life lessons that have done so much for us.”

The #ChangeThruSport program incentivizes student-athletes to participate in athletics, maintain at least a 2.0 GPA and learn healthy lifestyle habits.

Numerous other schools and youth sports programs have benefited from Thielen’s help.

Detroit Lakes High School, where Thielen attended, also received $100,000 for renovations to its weight room and new jerseys, while Robbinsdale Cooper High School received $25,000 for renovations, as well as new jerseys. The Thielen Foundation also helped with renovations at St. Paul Humboldt High School.

Adam Thielen’s Reputation Has No Bounds

Adam Thielen

GettyAdam Thielen has become one of the most recognizable players in the NFL, both for his play and his character.

Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell has worked with Thielen for only the past year, however, the homegrown Minnesotan’s reputation precedes him.

“You think about Adam Thielen the player, you think about what he’s accomplished in this league, but you can see from – I mean, 31 other teams and their fan bases can see what kind of person this is. What kind of family he has,” O’Connell said, per “You might say, ‘How is that even possible?’

Thielen’s made a mark beyond his home state, and even his home country’s borders. At the Vikings’ game in London this season, there was several Thielen jerseys after he won the hearts of many international fans with his soccer slide, touchdown celebration against the Cleveland Browns in London back in 2017.

“We go on the road, and … I’ve walked out of the tunnel – whether halftime or whatever it is – near Adam, and there’s always someone there in a 19 jersey,” O’Connell added. “And they’re always, it’s like they look at him like they look at themselves. ‘Hey, if he can do what he was able to accomplish and … become an All-Pro caliber player, but he’s even more than that for this community.’

“I haven’t known him long, but it didn’t take me long to fall in love with him – the person, the player – and then ultimately just learning more and more about what he means to this community and the special things he and Caitlin and their family have been able to do through the Thielen Foundation,” O’Connell said. “It gives us the goal of trying to get a lot more Adam Thielens in this organization.”

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