Vikings DB coach Jerry Gray rewards players with Hot Wheels cars

Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray motivates his men with cool toys.
Bruce Kluckhohn/Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray has a unique way of rewarding his players. When members of Minnesota’s secondary play well, Gray gives them a Hot Wheels car.

Gray explained what it takes to earn one, via ESPN’s Ben Goessling:

The idea is certainly obscure, but the tactic has grown on Gray’s pupils. Slot cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, for one, has warmed up to the toy-car rewards.

I bought about 15 or 20 of them at the time — all different cars, different looks. I started thinking, 'OK, what would Xavier [Rhodes] want? What would Terence Newman want? What about Captain [Munnerlyn], the rest of the guys in the group? It's something they had to go out and work and earn.

It's not what they do to start the game. It's, 'What are you doing — can you readjust? Can you make some adjustments on the sideline?' I go through all those things. It's not, 'Well, Coach, I got two interceptions — I deserve it.' It really doesn't work like that.

Munnerlyn said the following, via ESPN:

The Vikings allow an average of 232 passing yards per game, which ranks eighth in the NFL, so Gray has probably given out quite a few Hot Wheels cars this year. Veteran cornerback Terence Newman might have the biggest collection, since he leads the team with three interceptions and fills in at safety when needed.

I thought it was crazy [at first]. But then as you think about it, when you're smaller, you remember the Hot Wheels cars and stuff like that — having the little ramp that goes with the Hot Wheels, and you shoot them out. You remember those things, and you're like, 'Man, those cars were valuable.' They're metal, and they don't break. When I first heard, I was like, 'Man — I don't want a Hot Wheel! Give me something else!' I really get it [now].

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