As the great Dan Barreiro would say, C.J. Ham, is “one of us.” And he is one of us that definitely makes us proud. I recently stumbled across a C.J. Ham mic’d up video on Youtube, and decided it was time for a C.J. Ham appreciation article.
The Ultimate Team Guy
I cannot show you the video here, but I would encourage you to go seek it out. The game was Week 11 against the Packers. It doesn’t take long listening to C.J. Ham to realize that he is an elite teammate. He enjoys the game, he plays hard, and he is one of the guys that make sure everyone on the squad is a part of the team. My favorite line from the mic’d up video occurs when Ham is standing on the sideline next to Luke Stocker. “Why you make me look so small, Luke?” Stocker shrugs and says, “You’re small.”
It may not seem like much, but a that sort of rapport is essential for team success. In a recent interview with KFAN’s Dan Cole and Mark Rosen, Ham responded “I’m ready for whatever that role is, and I’m ready to do whatever the team needs,” after Rosen asked him how he would fit into the new schemes of Kevin O’Connell.
A Fullback, Yes, But Still A Crucial Part Of The Offense
A “crucial fullback” may be sort of an oxymoron in today’s game. The modern NFL requires you to open up your passing attack, and teams may not always see the benefits of having a fullback as one of the 11 men on the field. Duluth-native C.J. Ham, however, continues to buck this trend.
Ham was a pro bowler in 2019 and has been a picture of consistency on this Vikings roster. In his five seasons with the Vikings, C.J. Ham has never played in less than 15 games. He has consistently helped clear running lanes for Dalvin Cook when called upon and will catch the occasional screen pass when needed. It doesn’t take long to find him on Youtube, showcasing the ability that led him to the Pro Bowl. I found one video that was made in direct response to C.J. Ham getting snubbed from the Pro Bowl in 2020.
The highlights that stand out most to me are the ones that show him finishing all plays, and always finding someone to hit. Additionally, he can leak out of the backfield as a proficient receiver. It may be easy to think that fullbacks can only be good at certain things, but C.J. is well-rounded and efficient.
The Long, Hard Road To The NFL
C.J. Ham grew up in Duluth dreaming of being an NBA player. He then followed a request to try out for a football team, and the rest is history. His story is one of seizing an opportunity with a great, positive mentality. This can be better explained in the video below.
My favorite part is him giving credit to his time spent on the practice squad. He started his Vikings career by scoring a touchdown in his first preseason game in 2016 against the Bengals. Then, after a strong preseason overall, he was cut and put on the practice squad. Instead of making excuses or feeling sorry for himself, C.J. Ham worked hard and believed in what he could do. He was also training without knowing his exact position, RB, or FB. His ability to stay focused and level-headed during this process is a rave review about his work ethic and mentality as a person.
Once A Viking, Always A Viking
A Minnesota-born kid who played for the Augustana Vikings in college, and now the Minnesota Vikings. This connection couldn’t be any more perfect.
But the NFL is a ruthless business. Even a team leader like C.J. Ham is not guaranteed a roster spot. The Vikings have good RB depth right now, and I am starting to see people entertain the idea of cutting Ham. With a strong 1-2 of Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, and young talent in Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler, some people are wondering whether or not C.J. Ham is expendable. To me, he is not. This article is in part an advert to say we still need C.J. Ham. Consistent, valuable production at all positions is needed to compete for a Super Bowl, and Ham fits the bill.
What Do I Want?
I was excited as every Vikings fan to see both Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu ball out in our first preseason game. The tricky thing now is that I want the Vikings to keep Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, C.J. Ham, Ty Chandler, and Kene Nwangwu, all on the final 53-man roster.
This is a potential problem since a lot of predictions I see have the Vikings only keeping four of those players. In a perfect world, we would find roles for all five of those guys. In a realistic world, at least a couple of these players aren’t guaranteed spots. This C.J. Ham appreciation article is simply to put it into the universe that the Vikings should keep him. He has this year and next year under contract with the team, so we should wait until 2023 to work on his future.
Worst-case scenario is he’s cut and another team picks him up; because another team would FOR SURE pick him up. So, Vikings, The Hammer must stay!
A big SKOL to our guy, C.J. Ham. Who are some other Vikings who need appreciation posts? Let me know, @Jlime8 on Twitter.