Mike Trom wants to be buried in a Minnesota Vikings helmet, which might seem like an odd request. Unless you know Mike.
We chronicled him in this column last week. Mike Trom is better known to local sports talk-radio listeners as "Mike the Viking Fanatic" or "Vikings Mike." If you happened to hear him call programs in the Twin Cities, he was "Mike from Fargo." The 57-year-old Moorhead resident was a frequent caller to sports shows and he always-always-trumpeted optimism about his favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings.
Mike is having a tough time these days, though. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in October and doctors have stopped chemotherapy treatments. Mike's wife Amy says that while the prognosis was once reasonably optimistic because doctors believed they could manage the tumor, the future now is much more uncertain.
So the Vikings did a really cool thing when they found out about Mike's situation.
Dennis Ryan, the team's longtime equipment manager, called Trom this week and sent a package containing a real, honest-to-goodness Vikings helmet, along with a handwritten letter and some other goodies. Trom received the gift Tuesday, May 1 at Eventide nursing home in Moorhead, where he is living.
"Thank you for your support for all these years," Ryan wrote. "The Vikings are very lucky to have great fans such as yourself. You are the best! I am very sorry to hear of your condition. I pray for your comfort and peace."
How the Vikings found out about Trom isn't clear, although KFGO-AM host Derek Hanson deserves credit for championing his cause. Hanson sent some messages to local media last week letting them know of Trom's condition and says he sent emails this week to Ryan and other team personnel asking if they could do something to lift Trom's spirits.
Whatever the case, Ryan's gesture did the trick. Trom's wife said the area's biggest Vikings fan was "ecstatic" after speaking with Ryan and receiving the package. Mike even tried on the helmet and posed for some photos.
"Mike didn't want to take it off," she wrote on Facebook.
Trom called my 970 WDAY radio show Tuesday, too, to thank local media who've visited or called him in recent days.
"I really appreciate it," he said.
His voice doesn't sound as sure or strong as it once did over the airwaves, but like last week when Hanson and I visited him at Eventide, it didn't take long for the persona of "Mike the Viking Fanatic" to break through.
A few seconds after saying thanks, Trom was talking trash about Minnesota's NFC North rivals.
"We will take over the Bears and Lions and Packers. There is no doubt in my mind," Trom said.
He likes the signing of Kirk Cousins to play quarterback, but still believes the Vikings aren't done making moves. They might acquire Nick Foles, or even Phillip Rivers, to give them even more firepower, he said.
That's probably not going to happen, but he is always an optimist about the Vikings, after all, and there's never been a time when Mike needed more optimism.
Whatever it takes, right?
Mike told me last week that whenever the time comes, he wants to be buried in an authentic Vikings helmet. His wife, like wives do, teased him that she was going to bury him in a Green Bay Packers uniform. Mike threatened to "haunt her from the grave" if she did that.
No need to worry now. Thanks to a nice gesture from Ryan and the Vikings, "Mike the Viking Fanatic" has the helmet he covets.
Let's hope he doesn't need it for a long, long time.