After the Minnesota Vikings saw their season come to a sudden end Sunday when kicker Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal against the Seattle Seahawks in the waning moments of their NFC Wild Card Game, nobody felt worse than the usually reliable three-point specialist.
To his credit, the 26-year-old Walsh faced the media and took full responsibility for the wide-left kick, but it seemed a foregone conclusion that he would be facing a long offseason filled with self-doubt and condemnation.
That was until a group of first graders at a Minnesota elementary school got together and took the time to write some kind words to Walsh in hopes of making him feel better.
Northpoint Elementary teacher Judie Offerdahl saw a teachable moment about things like empathy and forgiveness with this sports moment. She had her students write supportive letters to Walsh and read them aloud to the class.
“Dear Blair Walsh,” wrote one student. “I know that it can be hard to get through things that are sad. but you have to try and try again. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. One time I made a mistake when I was doing a cartwheel. I felt embarrassed. You can still help the Vikings win the Super Bowl next year. Your fan, Sophia Doffin.”
And after this video showing the youngsters' heartfelt support was posted, the healing process kicked (no pun intended) into gear.
Now, as payback for those kind words, Walsh will return the favor with a visit Thursday to their classroom in Blaine.
Walsh will express his gratitude by taking photos and sign autographs with the kids, who unlike many of the adults who used Walsh as a social media punching bag, understand that football is still just a game.