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Charley Walters: Totino Grace’s Joe Alt following father’s NFL footsteps

There could be as many as eight offensive linemen taken in the first round of April’s NFL draft. Totino Grace grad Joe Alt is expected to be the first, at worst among the top 10 and perhaps within the top seven.

Alt, a left tackle, is leaving Notre Dame after his junior year.

“There’s no right decision as far as leaving as a junior — being from the ‘old school,’ it doesn’t feel right, but it’s the only choice you can make,” Alt’s father John told the Pioneer Press.
John Alt, 61, was a Pro Bowl left tackle during a 12-season career with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a first-round draft pick (No. 21 overall) by the Chiefs in 1984 after a four-year career at Iowa.

“With the way things are with today’s age, you got to do what you got to do and protect yourself, so that part was a little tough,” Alt said of his son’s decision. “But that’s the way the system is.”

Contracts for top-10 draft picks this year will range from $38 million to $21 million over four years. The No. 7 pick, where Alt is projected to go to the Tennessee Titans, has a contract value of $25.2 million that includes a $15.3 million signing bonus.

>> John Alt’s contract as a first-round draft pick in 1984 was sizeable, but minuscule compared to today’s deals.

“At the time I thought I was rolling in it (money),” he said. “But it’s 10, 15 times that money now.”

>> John Alt coached Joe in second grade in Blaine, then continued coaching youth football in Mounds View. Joe was a quarterback then.

“I did that so he could get a feel for the game,” John said. “I’d line them (players) up and the fastest three guys would play quarterback, running back and whatever. (Joe) was in that category, so he played quarterback, then (as a high school sophomore) linebacker.

“You play quarterback and you learn defense and how the game is played and it’s fun. Tight end’s even fun. Then you get to (offensive) tackle and it definitely is a job, and you’ve got to take pride in your job.”

Joe grew six inches between his sophomore and junior high school years and moved to tight end, which happens to be the same as did John in high school at Columbia Heights.

Joe had his father’s frame and John said knew he would end up as an offensive tackle.

“Joe came to me and said, ‘Dad, I’m ready, will you train me?”

John trained Joe his last two years at Totino Grace.

“I literally have never seen anybody work harder than he did for those two years,” John said. “He never missed, gave it everything he had every workout. He was completely dedicated. That was very impressive. He earned it.”

>> John Alt, 6-feet-8, played in the NFL at 308 pounds. Joe is 322 pounds, 6-feet-9.

Preparing for the draft, Alt is undergoing standard NFL cognitive testing and working out at the Vikings TCO facility. The Vikings don’t draft until No. 11, but they already have a franchise left tackle in Christian Darrisaw.

>> The San Francisco 49ers traded quarterback Joe Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993, which was Alt’s 10th season with the Chiefs.
Montana’s salary that season was $3 million. Alt’s salary that season: $3.1 million.

“I’m kind of proud of that,” Alt said.

A newspaper ranked the Chiefs’ players by salary. Alt laminated the copy for his office.

“It’s meaningful fun in a small way to about three people,” he said with a laugh.

By the way, Montana, 67, was scheduled to be among Super Bowl-sponsored party guests on Sunday.

>> Another Alt son, 6-4 Mark, 32, the rugged former Gophers hockey defenseman, was hit in the face with a puck playing in Germany last year and has retired after 11 professional seasons. The former Cretin-Derham Hall star, also a quarterback for the Raiders, had NHL stints with Philadelphia, Colorado and the L.A. Kings. He’s in the commercial insurance business and doing some coaching on the side.

>> John Alt’s Super Bowl prediction: Chiefs 31, 49ers 27.

>> With nine games remaining, if the Gophers’ Ben Johnson wins 20 (Minnesota is 15-7 overall, 6-5 in the Big Ten) this season, he would be a legitimate candidate for Big Ten men’s basketball coach of the year.

>> Twins broadcast analyst LaTroy Hawkins, godfather to Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, plans to attend the Super Bowl. By the way, Mahomes and Brock Purdy of the 49ers both were Academic All-Americans at their respective universities, Texas Tech and Iowa State.

>> The Baseball Hall of Fame has no firm time limit for how long this year’s electees — Joe Mauer, Adrian Beltre and Todd Helton — will be allowed for their acceptance speeches in July 21 in Cooperstown, N.Y., but about 10 minutes is recommended.

>> Max Meyer, 24, the former Gophers pitching star from Woodbury who underwent Tommy John surgery nearly 1 1/2 years ago, leaves Tuesday for spring training with the Marlins in Jupiter, Fla., fully recovered.

>> That was 1993 St. Paul Central grad Jeff Rhodes partnering with Rory McIlroy to win the 36-hole Pebble Beach Pro-Am and $10,000 last week. Rhodes, a Williams College grad in economics with a master’s degree from Harvard Business School, is co-manager of TPG Capital and Healthcare Partners. At Central, he was a cross-country skier.
Rhodes and McIlroy finished 17-under-par. Aaron Rodgers and Beau Hossler finished at minus-13, Tom Brady and Keegan Bradley minus-12.

>> University of St. Thomas basketball sophomore guard Kendall Blue, who has shot at least 50 percent in 18 games this season, is the son of former St. Paul Central star guard Lisa Lissimore.

>> Jim Harbaugh’s deal to coach the L.A. Chargers is $16 million next season. Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant, who coached the Vikings in 1976 to the Super Bowl before losing to the Raiders, was paid $150,000. Grant did make $1 million in his final Vikings season, 1985. He could have returned for $1 million in 1986 but declined in favor of Jerry Burns.

>> Gophers’ 6-7, 268-pound tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford impressed scouts during Senior Bowl workouts in Mobile, Ala.

>> Pioneer Creek golf course in Maple Plain offered three days of 11 a.m. shotgun starts during the recent mild temperatures in the Twin Cities. Each sold out within two hours.

>> Happy birthday: Minnesota Golf Hall of Famer Don Berry turned 62 last week. Deephaven’s Tim Herron of the PGA Champions Tour turned 54.

>> With a closing on March 3, former Humboldt all-state tailback Leon Hushcha’s impassioned paintings exhibition protesting Russian’s invasion of Ukraine at the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis has set attendance records.

>> After 42 years and more than 2,000 games refereeing high school and college basketball, including five state championships and two NCAA championship games, John Yorkovich of Stillwater is retiring at season’s end.

Don’t print that

>> The Twins have had seven players — Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett, Bert Blyleven, Jim Kaat, Harmon Killebrew and Joe Mauer — elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Only Mauer was produced during the 39-year ownership of the Pohlad family. Oliva, Carew, Puckett and Blyleven were produced during the 23-year ownership of Calvin Griffith; Killebrew and Kaat during a 30-year ownership span of the Griffith family.

Kaat, who once held single-digit handicaps left-handed and right-handed, will play in a Hall of Fame golf tournament May 26 in Cooperstown.

>> Deserving to be the Twins’ next Hall of Fame representative in Cooperstown is Tom Kelly, who managed Minnesota to World Series championships in 1987 and 1991. That’s more than Hall of Fame managers Earl Weaver, Bobby Cox and Jim Leyland, the trio who had one apiece.

>> Minnesota, averaging 7,764 ticket buyers at 14,625-capacity Williams Arena, ranks ahead of only Northwestern (5,438) in men’s basketball attendance in the 14-school Big Ten. Wisconsin, at 15,450, is second behind only Indiana (16,922).

>> By the time the Gophers women’s basketball team hosts Caitlin Clark and Iowa in a sold-out Feb. 28 game, Clark could be on the verge of breaking Pete Maravich’s all-time NCAA scoring record of 3,667 points set in 1970. On the StubHub market, cheapest ticket is $121, most expensive $788.

A 2022 trading card of Clark sold for $78,000 via auction recently. Clark’s assorted name, image and likeness (NIL) deals are estimated to total more than $1 million.

>> Zach Edey, the Canadian 7-4, 300-pound Purdue senior the Gophers face on Thursday, purportedly is getting $1 million in NIL money. Edey will be the Timberwolves’ first-round draft pick in June, guesses yardbarker.com.

>> If Michigan makes a men’s basketball coaching change, among names already getting mentioned is Brian Dutcher of San Diego State, per gbmwolverine.com. And Arkansas’ Eric Musselman is getting mentioned if John Calipari leaves Kentucky, per on3.com.

>> It now looks like the Vikings, with their No. 11 pick in April’s draft, could take a defensive player, then trade their second-round pick to move up to take a quarterback.

>> Twins pitcher Louie Varland recounted at the team’s caravan stop in Mankato the other day that after he broke Angel Mike Trout’s bat in a game, he had him sign it.

>> Gophers athletes get 85 percent of name, image and likeness (NIL) contributions from the university’s collective.

>> It’s virtually certain that wide receiver Justin Jefferson won’t be in training camp unless he gets a new deal that could exceed $150 million over five years. The Vikings will have to either pay him or trade him.

>> Gophers athletics director Mark Coyle’s annual pay raise to $1.4 million, counting retirement increases, means he and football coach P.J. Fleck, whom Coyle hired, together will be taking nearly $8 million a year out of the university.

When Joel Maturi retired as Gophers athletics director in 2012, his salary was $451,900. His football coach, Jerry Kill, made $2.1 million.

>> No doubt Fleck’s representation will try to squeeze another million dollars out of Coyle with the rumor that UCLA could be interested in Fleck, who is 29-32 in the Big Ten. UCLA doesn’t even pay as much as Fleck is making at Minnesota.

There are people, by the way, who would love to see Jerry Kill back at Minnesota.

>> For being on the winning NFC Pro Bowl flag football team, Vikings Danielle Hunter, C.J. Ham and Andrew DePaola each get $88,000. Losers: $44,000 per player.

The NFL promoted the flag football game as a way for fans to get closer looks at players’ personalities. But there is little doubt, due to how violent (collisions) the tackle game has become, that someday flag football will become a hybrid of professional tackle football.

>> Although the Timberwolves were 36-16 and tied for first in the Western Conference, none of the team’s players were among the NBA’s top-selling jerseys for the first half of the season. Nor was the team among the top-10 in merchandise sales.

>> Gophers hall of fame baseball coach John Anderson on Tuesday will publicly address his decision to retire after the season.

>> The Twins pulled Jorge Polanco from their recent TwinsFest a day before while working on his trade to Seattle. The player who will replace Polanco, 30, Edouard Julien, 24, is ranked the eighth-best second baseman in the major leagues by MLB Network.

>> Brant Alyea, who hit two home runs, was 4 for 4 and drove in seven runs in his first game as a Twin against the White Sox in 1970, died on Feb. 4 at age 83. Twins owner Calvin Griffith said he rated the trade for Alyea with Washington in 1970 among the best deals he ever made. He was traded for Charley Walters and Joe Grzenda, who died at age 82 in 2019. Walters, 76, is still alive.

>> Storied Interlachen Country Club in Edina, following a $30 million restoration, expects to reopen in July while initially limiting rounds to 100 per day. Full golf memberships will be $87,500 with monthly dues of $1,550.

>> Former Simley state high school champion golfer Isabella McCauley, a sophomore with the Gophers, shot par or better in 54 holes in the Puerto Rico tournament last week in becoming Big Ten Golfer of the Week. Long-hitting sister Reese, also a former state prep champion for Simley, joins the Gophers as a freshman next season.

>> Some 80 hopefuls turned out the other day at the Gophers practice facility for the initial tryout of the Minnesota Myth Arena Football team that opens its season April 27 in Nashville, Tenn. From the 80, two or three will be considered for the 35-player roster.

Former Gophers QB and AFL star Rickey Foggie is head coach, and former AFL star QB Jeff Loots, the St. Paul Central record-setter and Southwest State QB, is defensive coordinator.

The Myth will have a 10-game schedule in the 16-team league. Home field will be Target Center. Games will be an eight-on-eight player format. Salaries will be in the $1,000 per game range, perhaps with incentive bonuses.

>> New football coach at Benilde-St. Margaret’s will be Brad Anderson, who during 18 years at Wayzata built a 156-47 record that included three state championships and produced four NFL players.

>> Ex-Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, 67, expected to be defensive coordinator for the Cowboys, collected approximately $16 million from the Vikings since his firing two years ago. He’ll work for the Cowboys next season for about $3.5 million.

Overheard

>> Ex-Vikings QB Tommy Kramer on social media X: “If the (Vikings) can get Kirk (Cousins) for $30 million, great, if not let Kirk get this money, which he deserves, somewhere else, he earned it…Draft a QB in the 2nd round and bring in (free agent Gardner) Minshew for a couple years…Only my opinion.”