Some folks know Steve Keenum as president of Wylie’s school board and others as director of the Big Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Still others remember him as former McMurry head football coach.
But these days most know him as the father of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum.
“For the last several years my name has been Case’s dad,” Steve said. “That’s the first thing anyone asks about. That’s OK. It’s fun.”
Case is a 2005 Wylie graduate, who led the Bulldogs to a state football championship in 2004. He went on to enjoy great success at the University of Houston, setting several NCAA records, before joining the NFL as an undrafted free agent. He struggled with the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams before signing with the Minnesota Vikings this past year. When starting quarterback Sam Bradford went down with an injury, Case led the Vikings to the conference championship game.
Steve and Susan Keenum have attended every game that their son has started from high school, through college and now in the pros.
“It’s just fun,” Steve said. “I just love watching my son compete. It’s surreal to watch him run out on the field before a game.”
Steve said it’s amazing to think his son is playing in the NFL.
“The odds are so long,” he said. “It’s just one of those surreal deals. God’s given him some ability, but he has worked so hard to maximize it.”
Case has been the talk of the NFL this season, mainly because most NFL experts did not see him as a starting caliber quarterback. NFL experts debated his ability all season long, and Case just continued to prove himself on the field.
Steve said Case did not pay attention to all the talk surrounding him.
“He doesn’t spend much time reading it,” Steve said. “He’s got detractors. He’s got some fans. The only people who matter are those in the locker room and the coaches.
Wylie athletic director Hugh Sandifer said Case was a high character leader for the Wylie Bulldogs.
“You could just see his leadership,” Sandifer said. “The guys rallied around him. When you have great character like he does, the guys will follow you.”
Sandifer said he is not surprised at Case’s success.
“I think we all felt that something good could happen to him if he got with the right team,” Sandifer said. “I wouldn’t say we all knew it would happen. He took full advantage of every opportunity given to him.”
Wylie fans rallied around Case during the playoffs, posting encouraging messages on Facebook and getting together to watch the games. Wylie Junior High even had a pep rally where students did the Vikings Skol Chant prior to the NFC Championship.
Some Wylie fans even went to see Case play in person.
Case’s reputation grew even bigger during the playoffs when he threw a 61-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game against New Orleans to come from behind and win the game. The play has been dubbed the Minnesota Miracle.
Steve said stadium was grim when the Vikings were trailing by one-point with 10 seconds left in the game.
“I was thinking let’s complete one and get out of bounds and kick a field goal,” he said. “You’ve got to hope. It’s not over until it’s over.”
When Stefon Diggs caught Case’s pass, evaded the defender, stayed on his feet and ran all the way for the touchdown, the Minnesota crowd went crazy.
“Pandemonium is as good a description as I can say,” he said. “People just absolutely went nuts. Everybody wanted to stay. Nobody wanted to leave.”
Steve and Susan were among those that went crazy.
“She was crying, and I was hugging her,” Steve said.
The play will go down as one of Steve’s favorite Case sports moments, along with Wylie’s state championship game; Case breaking the NCAA passing record, and Case having his jersey retired at the University of Houston.
Steve joking throws a Wylie Little League championship into his favorite moments.
Case’s success this year has put Wylie on the map. Steve said he has had calls for interviews from across the nation. He and Sandifer were both quoted in an ESPN article on Case, and Steve said a Minnesota film crew even came to Abilene to interview those who knew Case.
“They wanted to know where Case grew up,” Steve said. “They spent the day here.”
Case is now a free agent, and as of press time, the Vikings had not indicated whether they would offer him a new contract. Most NFL experts felt that several teams would be interested in signing Case to start for their clubs. Free agency begins March 12.
Steve said neither he nor Case knows what the future holds.
“I don’t have a clue; Case doesn’t have a clue,” Steve said. “There’s so much to it.”
For now, Case and his wife, Kimberly, will live in Houston until Case goes to California to train. By then, they should know where Case will be playing next year.
Where ever he ends up going, Case will make his father proud. Case never fails to give God the credit for his success in any interview he does, and anyone who is interviewed about Case never fails to mention his high character.
“That’s what I am most proud of,” Steve said. “I just worry about the kind of man he is. I always tell him don’t forget where it comes from.”