StarTribune.com

The wait finally ends

March 27th, 2009 – 1:41 PM by Judd Zulgad

Naufahu Tahi woke up this morning not knowing if he would be a member of the Cincinnati Bengals or Minnesota Vikings by the end of the day. Then his phone rang. Rick Spielman, the Vikings vice president of player personnel, informed Tahi that Minnesota had elected to match the one-year, $1.4 million offer sheet the fullback signed with Cincinnati last Friday. Today was the final day for the Vikings to make that decision.

“It seemed like months,” Tahi said of the seven-day process. “I was trying to stay busy and not worry about it and not think about it so much. But it was always in the back of my mind, no matter what I was doing.”

Tahi, the relief evident in his voice, said that while he was pleased the Vikings elected to retain him, the opportunity in Cincinnati also would have been exciting. Tahi started his career with the Bengals, having signed as an undrafted free agent out of Brigham Young in 2006, but he was signed off Cincinnati’s practice squad in November of his rookie season by the Vikings.

“I’m excited,” to return, said Tahi, who became the Vikings’ No. 1 fullback last season after Thomas Tapeh was released. “I think I was comfortable with the system and everything and getting comfortable being in Minnesota. This is good for me and my family. I’m just glad to get it finally done and over with.”

Tahi really had no idea how this situation was going to play out and said the call from Spielman was his first contact with a Vikings official since he signed the offer sheet with the Bengals. “It was hard to tell,” Tahi said. “There were no calls or anything. There was no word going around about anything. I didn’t know what to expect. Like with anybody, I think you start to feel disappointed or whatever. I think it’s more frustration because you don’t know what’s going on and you’d like to be more in the game and know where you are going to be.

“At the same time, it’s a business and this is all part of the business. I don’t know exactly what’s going on on [the Vikings] side but there is a lot going on and things they have to think about and different situations. With the draft coming up, there are a lot of things they have to look at before they make their decision. It wasn’t something they can just jump right into.”

Tahi made it clear he was not surprised the Vikings offered him the low tender ($1.01 million, one year) and said he wasn’t complaining about a very substantial amount of money that represented. “I would have been happy to play for that even if we didn’t have offers anywhere else,” he said. “Just as long as I had an opportunity to come back and play anywhere. The low tender, I’m not complaining.”

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