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Robison lets emotions flow in retirement talk

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robison (96) against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoff football game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Jan. 14, 2018. Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports

EAGAN, Minn. -- Brian Robison’s career with the Vikings began in less-than-ideal fashion.

On April 29, 2007, the defensive end out of Texas got a call informing him that Minnesota would select him in the fourth round of the NFL draft. He soon talked to his wife, Jamie.

“She goes into tears (and says), ‘There’s going to be nothing but snow and ice and it’s going to be cold,’” Robison recalled Wednesday, May 15. “We kind of had the same idea. It’s the frozen tundra. It’s Antarctica up here.”

It didn’t take long for the couple to become enamored with Minnesota. Robison went on to play for the Vikings from 2007-17, and on Wednesday the team held his retirement news conference.

Robison, 36, was released just before the start of last season and announced his retirement last month when he signed a one-day contract with the Vikings. On Wednesday, he got emotional talking about his career in Minnesota and how he grew to love it so much he didn’t want to leave.

“I don’t think you will find another man who is more loyal to an organization than … I’ve been,” Robison said. “I’ve taken two pay cuts. I had the opportunity to go into free agency twice and never did. Minnesota is where I wanted to be.”

Robison lives in Texas, and he and his wife are in Minnesota this week to film portions of a six-part YouTube fishing series. An avid angler, Robison likely will move into professional fishing. The series will be entitled “The Transition Season” because he’s making the move from football.

Robison spoke 35 minutes before taking a question Wednesday. He talked about growing up in the small town of Splendora, Texas, and his father helping him develop a work ethic. Robison expressed surprise that nine Vikings players turned out, among them defensive linemen Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, and linebacker Anthony Barr. Also on hand was former Minnesota linebacker Chad Greenway.

“I love you guys,” Robison said while holding back tears. “You guys are my brothers.”

Leaving teammates behind is what Robison called the most difficult part about being released in September. He declined interview requests for more than seven months.

“Thanks, Rick,’’ Robison joked while looking at general manager Rick Spielman. “I remember when it happened, me and Rick had a long conversation, and I know it was a tough decision for the organization. … But the NFL is a business, and you have to move past the bitterness.

“The hardest thing was to walk away from the guys. I knew that was the last time that I would actually have that type of brotherhood around me.”

Robison said he believed he could have played “another two or three years” but got just one “possible offer” from another team and decided it wasn’t the right situation.

Robison called the 2017 team that advanced to the NFC Championship Game the best team he played on because the players were so close. He looked back with fondness at the Minnesota Miracle win over New Orleans in the playoffs that season and with regret at a loss to the Saints eight years earlier in the NFC title game.

“That got squandered by that team,” he said. “We should have brought a Super Bowl championship to Minnesota.”

Robison was introduced by Spielman and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. Spielman called Robison a “pro’s pro,” noting he missed just three games in 11 seasons. Zimmer called him “one of the smartest defensive players that I’ve ever coached.”

Also on hand was defensive line coach Andre Patterson, who, Robison said, has “been like a father.’’

“The thing I’m going to miss the most is the people,’’ Robison said. “I’ve always been a people person. It’s never been about money. It’s never been about the accolades. It’s always been about the people I’ve been around. It’s always been about the team.”