During the season, a group of Minnesota Vikings uphold a sugary, frosted tradition like no other in the NFL
"We just like to see commitment from guys. We need to see proof that you want to be a part of this club and want to be part of something bigger than yourself."
That quote isn't just a cliché about next week's game. It's a passionate explanation from linebacker Chad Greenway about a different kind of club that meets before 8 a.m. on Saturdays and follows a rule book that's nearly as detailed as the NFL's: The Minnesota Vikings' Donut Club.
The club has its roots in the 2008 season, when then starting quarterback Gus Frerotte brought a few dozen donuts into the training room one Saturday morning. They were devoured in a matter of minutes, and it became a regular thing.
Donut Club has grown. It now has strict etiquette guidelines, along with a governing body, uniform, membership requirement, and schedule. The Vikings' head athletic trainer, the aptly named Eric Sugarman, is president. He's responsible for picking up donuts each week from Yo Yo Donuts & Coffee Bar in Minnetonka, about five miles from team headquarters. The club's mission is to foster training-room camaraderie. "It's for the guys who aren't injured to be able to support the guys who get mandatory treatment all week," Sugarman says.
"Sug" works with executive board members Greenway, defensive end Everson Griffen, and tight end Kyle Rudolph. Each has equal voting rights and a signature donut. Greenway (cinnamon twist) is the sheriff who enforces the rules. Griffen (glazed) is the speech-giver. Rudolph (chocolate long john) is in charge of planning and strategy.
Says Greenway, the lone active player who has been a part of Donut Club since Frerotte first brought in a few boxes, "The popularity has really gone through the roof in the last three or four years."
Photos: Andy Kenutis (donut club), Peter Dazeley/Getty Images (donut)