McFeely: Yes, Thielen is from Detroit Lakes, but he's also one of the best players in the NFL
PHILADELPHIA — The top receiver in the NFL is from Detroit Lakes, Minn.
No, let's try that again.
One of the best players in the NFL is from Detroit Lakes, Minn.
Stop and think about that for a moment.
Adam Thielen of the Minnesota Vikings, the former Laker of whom we speak, deserves that respect. No longer is he the local guy who got a $500 scholarship to NCAA Division II Minnesota State Mankato. He is more than that.
This didn't happen overnight and this might be a declaration already made in other circles. But if you watched the Vikings beat the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, you saw a player who did it all. For real.
He caught passes. He recovered an onside kick to seal the game. He fair caught a punt. He probably cooked the post game meal and flew the plane back to Minneapolis.
OK, the last one's a joke. But Thielen did set a modern-day NFL record. For real.
As of this writing, the kid from Detroit Lakes is statistically the leading receiver in the NFL. His seven catches for 116 yards in Minnesota's 23-21 victory gives him 47 receptions for 598 yards, an average of 12.7 yards per catch.
Adam Thielen has better numbers than Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Davante Adams and ... well ... everybody.
"Honestly, there are so many factors that lead into that. We've been in some blowout games where you're getting easy catches and things like that. It doesn't really mean a whole lot," Thielen said. "This win means the most and I got a lot of work to do because even if you have good stats, it doesn't mean you're playing well."
Humility and deflection have always been strengths of the fifth-year receiver—how Minnesotan of him—but there's no need for it. Thielen and Stefon Diggs are one of the most potent receiver combinations in the league and, with a quarterback who is capable of getting them the ball, they are thriving.
Did you see the throw Cousins made to Thielen in the third quarter that went for 68 yards? Just before getting smashed by Philadelphia's Fletcher Cox, Cousins unloaded a deep ball from Minnesota's end zone down the right sideline to Thielen, who had juked cornerback Jalen Mills with a stop-and-go move. Thielen caught ball in stride and zig-zagged to the Eagles 27.
"I mean, shoot, you look at one of the first plays of the game when he's getting hit and he just throws it out there and let's me run to it and make a play," Thielen said. "All day, he continues to sit back there and trust us to get open. A lot of times he probably he can't even see us."
The kid from Detroit Lakes also made NFL history Sunday. He became the first player in the Super Bowl era, that's since 1969, to record more than 100 yards receiving in each of his team's first five games of a season.
Jerry Rice didn't do it. Randy Moss didn't do it. Terrell Owens didn't do it.
Adam Thielen did.
It is reflexive for those who cheer for the Vikings, and those who cover them, to see the receiver in the context of being a Minnesota high school product who was overlooked by all the big schools so he ended up playing at Minnesota State Mankato for a small scholarship.
That was the story for Thielen his first three years in the NFL. Last season, he was the player with the great backstory who could also play a little bit.
It's time to put the backstory to bed completely. Thielen is a legitimate star in the NFL and it's time he's treated that way.
He's moved the narrative from being a player from Detroit Lakes who happens to be in the NFL to being a player who is a star in the NFL and happens to be from Detroit Lakes.