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KERRY EGGERS ON SPORTS/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Offensive lineman from Jesuit High and Oregon State enjoys being one step from Super Bowl in Minnesota; new contract changed his family's life

MICHAEL WORKMAN PHOTO - Beaverton's Mike Remmers (left) of the Minnesota Vikings blocks Seattle Seahawks defensvie end Cliff Avril during a regular-season NFL game.Through a football odyssey that began at Jesuit High and ran through Oregon State, Mike Remmers has been a Cinderella story, and then some.

Now it's clear that the size-14 feet of the 6-5, 310-pound Remmers fit perfectly into glass slippers.

Remmers added another chapter Sunday in Minneapolis, playing offensive left guard for the first time in his career in the Minnesota Vikings' madcap 29-24 victory over New Orleans in the NFC divisional playoffs.

The 28-year-old Portland native was on the field when Stefon Diggs grabbed a pass from Case Keenum and raced 61 yards to paydirt on the final play of what will forever be remembered as the "Miracle in Minneapolis."

Earth to Remmers: Is this really happening?

"Never been in a game with a finish like that," Remmers said Monday from his home in Minneapolis.

Who has?

As Diggs' TD touched off bedlam at U.S. Bank Stadium, FOX cameras panned to Keenum, who was being bear-hugged by the first teammate to reach him — Remmers.

"As an offensive lineman, I'm concentrating on blocking, and a lot of times I'm so focused on my guy, I don't exactly see what happens with the play," Remmers says. "But I could hear the crowd roar, and I saw (Diggs) running, and I looked up at the JumboTron and I had to do a double-take.

"I was like, 'We freaking did it!' I had to run up and grab Case, man. What an unbelievable experience."

In the final parts of Sunday's NFL playoff game, Remmers and his teammates went from delirium to agony and back to ecstasy in the space of one minute and 29 seconds of game time.

First, Minnesota's Kai Forbath nailed a 53-yard field goal for a 23-21 lead. The Saints fired back and went ahead 24-23 on a 43-yard Will Lutz 3-pointer with 25 ticks on the clock. Then came Diggs, and the first NFL playoff game ever to end with a touchdown on the last play.

"I mean, when (the Saints) scored, we were down and just about out," Remmers says. "But we got together on the sidelines and told ourselves, 'This is possible. It just takes one play.' And sure enough, it did."

Remmers was there, playing left guard for the first time due to an injury in the Minnesota offensive front. In his first season with the Vikings, he had started the first eight games at right tackle before suffering a concussion and back injury that sidelined him for the next five games. Remmers returned for the last three regular-season games, playing right tackle in the first two and shifting to right guard (due to a teammate's injury) for the regular-season finale against Chicago.

Now Remmers will be starting — probably at guard — in the NFC championship game Sunday at Philadelphia. Not bad for the kid who, at 6-5 and 225, had no Division I scholarship offers out of high school.

Remmers has Oregon State legacy; his father, Wally, was a starting offensive guard for the Beavers from 1974-76, and older brother Vic played basketball there from 2002-06.

Through most his senior year at Jesuit, "I was planning to go to Oregon State and just be a student."

Then OSU assistant coach Jay Locey — a college teammate of Mike's father — visited Jesuit and offered Mike the opportunity to be a preferred walk-on. He became a four-year starter at tackle but got no invitation to the NFL combine and didn't get drafted in 2012, though 19 offensive tackles did.

Remmers signed a free-agent contract with Denver, then got cut after the third preseason game.

Says Remmers: "I looked in the mirror and thought, 'That's it. I gave it a good shot. Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do the rest of my life.'"

But Remmers soon was signed by Tampa Bay. From there he went to San Diego, seeing the field for the first time during the 2013 regular season. After being released late that season, he was claimed by Minnesota, spending some time on the Vikings' practice squad.

In October 2014, Carolina signed him and he wound up a starter for the final seven games. Remmers started every game for the Panthers in 2015 and '16, including the 24-10 loss to Denver in Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, 2016.REMMERS

After last season, Remmers was a free agent. Several teams showed interest. Remmers' first visit was to Minnesota, and he signed on the spot — for $30 million over five years, with $10.5 million guaranteed.

It was a life-changing moment for Mike and his wife, Kelly, who have a year-and-a-half-old son, Wyatt, and another child on the way.

"I've been bouncing around a lot in my career," Remmers says. "There's not much job security in the NFL. I have that now for me and my family. We're going to be here for a while. Just knowing you have that security takes away a lot of the stress. I can just concentrate on playing football."

The Remmers — expecting their second child on March 28 — make their offseason home in Beaverton. Mike says their only major purchase after he signed his contract was "a college fund for my son."

Remmers says he keeps close tabs on the Oregon State program and was pleased when the Beavers hired Jonathan Smith as head coach and Mike Riley as assistant head coach.

"I'm pretty excited about what's going on down there," Remmers says. "Coach Riley was my coach, and he'll be able to help Jonathan a ton. I haven't met Jonathan, but I've heard great things about him. I know he's a smart guy, and he knows Oregon State. I think the program will be going in the right direction now."

Remmers' first season with the Vikings, who went 13-3 to win the NFL North Division, "has been amazing," he says.

"We've won a lot of games," Remmers says. "When you're winning, everything is good. But I know a handful of guys from when I was here before, and I'm very happy to be reunited with them. I have a ton of great teammates and a great coaching staff."

Now they'll go up against the NFL's No. 1 defense in Philadelphia, in a home game for the Eagles (3:40 p.m. PT Sunday).

"They have a great defense," Remmers says. "Playing in Philly will be a challenge. But we've played a lot of good teams and beaten a lot of good teams. We know we can do it. I have all the faith in my team — especially after (Sunday) night."

With a victory at Philadelphia, Remmers would write a ticket to his second Super Bowl in three years. And he'd get to play this one at home at Minnesota's U.S. Bank Stadium.

"It's been something people here have been talking about, even before the season started," he says. "Now we're one game away from making that a reality.

"It's weird. It hasn't fully hit me that I've played in a Super Bowl. That was such a surreal moment. I'm bummed that we lost that one, and I want to win one — at least one. We'll start with one. It's an amazing opportunity. I'll do everything I can to help our team get there."

After what he has gone through, Remmers is the ultimate underdog. His perseverence has paid off.

"It's crazy," he says. "I'm finishing up my sixth year (in the NFL). I never thought I'd be here. But I'm here, and I'm hoping to play a whole lot longer. I'm so fortunate.

"I've been trying to live in the moment and take it all in. It's been a magical year, and it's still going."

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@kerryeggers

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