“We just like to see commitment from guys. We need to see proof that you want to be a part of this club and want to be part of something bigger than yourself.”
That quote isn’t just another cliché being spewed by an NFL player about next week’s game. It’s a passionate explanation from veteran linebacker Chad Greenway about a different kind of club that meets early on Saturday mornings and follows a rule book that’s nearly as detailed as the league’s: The Minnesota Vikings’ Donut Club.
By even acknowledging its existence, Greenway has already broken the first rule of Donut Club. “I’m now getting yelled at for talking about it,” he says. “It’s like Fight Club. You’re going to get me in trouble.”
Donut Club has its roots in the 2008 season, when starting quarterback Gus Frerotte brought a few dozen donuts into the training room one Saturday morning. 1 They were devoured in a matter of minutes, and it became a regular thing. “I just kept bringing donuts in because it’s a great thing to see when a guy sees fresh, big-ass donuts and they want to eat them,” says Frerotte, who retired after that ’08 season, his 15th in the NFL. If he returned to the Vikings’ training room now, he wouldn’t recognize the cult-like institution that grew from his humble act of generosity.
The Donut Club has a governing body, uniform, membership requirement, schedule and strict guidelines to ensure proper etiquette. “I had no idea that they turned it into a club,” Frerotte said from his home in the Pittsburgh area, unaware of his legacy. “I love that there are rules. That’s what makes the game fun. It’s really nice to have a common bond about something stupid like that.”
The rules of Donut Club, as established by the board, have never been written down.