EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — When a bullet ripped through his leg early in the morning of Aug. 9, Linval Joseph’s thoughts immediately turned to his family and the opportunities still awaiting the young 25-year-old.
The incident — Joseph was an innocent bystander in a Minneapolis nightclub shooting — has altered Joseph’s outlook as he nears a return to the Minnesota Vikings, where he expects to be back for the regular-season opener less than a month after the fateful night.
"It was very scary," Joseph said. "Now I just look at every day differently, you know what I mean? Because your life flashes in front of you when certain situations like that happen. Like I said, I’m just glad I have the opportunity to do what I love, and I just look at every day different."
Joseph was lucky he wasn’t closer to the situation.
When gun shots rang out in front of the Soundbar club hours after Minnesota’s first preseason game, Joseph was with a group in the back of the club. Joseph was hit in the calf by an errant bullet, then taken to a hospital and released soon after being treated for the wound.
Police described the incident as a gang-related crime and nine people suffered gunshot wounds, including one who needed CPR at the scene.
"I just want to start off by saying I want to thank God for blessing me throughout the situation, because it could’ve been really worse than what it was," Joseph said, later adding, "I just thank God for it just being a clean wound, straight in, straight out, and it’s beyond me now. So I’m glad I’m healthy and I can help this team and for all the victims and anybody else who was involved who was seriously hurt, I wish them a speedy recovery as well. Because, like I say, you just never wish for that to happen to anybody."
The easygoing Joseph was upbeat and appreciative on Tuesday as he spoke with the media for the first time since the incident. He thanked the medical staff, his family, friends and teammates for helping him during his recovery.
Joseph enters his fifth season as a key member of the Vikings defense after signing a five-year, $31.25 million contract in the offseason. The 323-pound Joseph fills an important role as the nose tackle in coach Mike Zimmer’s defense.
Without Joseph, Zimmer and the coaches have had the chance to look at backups Fred Evans and Shamar Stephen, and both have impressed enough to apparently have secured spots on the final roster.
Getting Joseph back in the middle will make a difference in the regular season.
"The times that he was out there, you could feel his presence," defensive coordinator George Edwards said. "We’ll be glad to get him back when we get him back into the fold, start working him, whenever that is. From that aspect of it, he’s been very attentive in meetings and what we’ve been trying to accomplish schematically and what we’ve done in the installs and those kinds of things. Like I’ve said, he’s been a true pro as far as that’s concerned. From that aspect of it, we’ll be fired up to get him back out here and get him going."
Joseph has been rehabbing from the wound and conditioning on the side. He could be seen running sprints under the eye of an athletic trainer on Monday, wearing a black sleeve over his left calf. He expects to return to practice soon and plans to be in the lineup when Minnesota opens the season at St. Louis on Sept. 7.
"I feel good and I’ll be ready for Week 1," Joseph said. "So that’s the positive of this whole thing, and like I said, I just thank God because you just never know what could happen."