The relentless determination of new Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs

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Josh Dobbs never missed school growing up in Alpharetta, Ga. Not a single day in 13 years.

It started off as a friendly competition with his mother Stephanie Dobbs during his adolescence. She only missed school once as a kid, and she reminded her son of that accomplishment often. If he wanted to beat her, there was literally no margin for error.

That served as a compass for Dobbs throughout elementary school, middle school and high school. Nothing was going to stop him from having perfect attendance. Not even his own college decision.

As a star quarterback for Alpharetta High School, he skillfully navigated the recruitment process in a way that ensured he never got marked absent. His father Robert Dobbs recalled that if his son had an official visit set up, he would go to school long enough to get credit, then the family would race to the airport to catch a flight. If they missed the plane, they missed the plane.

The closest he got to missing school came during his senior year when he was selected to play for Team USA in the International Bowl. It would have required him to miss a full week of classes. After taking some time with the decision, he respectfully declined the invitation to the International Bowl.

Obviously, Dobbs went on to graduate with perfect attendance, symbolic of the relentless determination that continues to drive him in everything he does. If he sets his mind on something, he’s going to make it happen, no matter the circumstance surrounding the situation.

So maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a 28-year-old NFL journeyman took the field last weekend and led the Vikings to an improbable 31-28 win over the Falcons.

This is who Josh Dobbs is. This is who Josh Dobbs has always been.

The prelude

It was a shock to the system for Dobbs a couple of weeks ago when he found out he was being traded. He had just moved into a new house and was finally starting to settle into his life as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. The next thing he knew, he was getting on a plane as a member of the Vikings.

“It’s a part of the process,” Dobbs said during his introductory press conference. “It’ll be a tremendous story to tell.”

That prophetic statement came about 72 hours before he became a folk hero in Minnesota.

Not knowing any of that at the time, however, Dobbs was simply looking forward to the fact that the next game for the Vikings was being played about 30 minutes from his hometown.

That meant he was going to get to to see his parents the night before the game. They had a nice dinner at a steakhouse near the team hotel in Atlanta. It had been a whirlwind of a week for Dobbs, so the sense of normalcy was much welcomed, even if only for a couple of hours.

“It’s a family tradition for away games that we try to have a meal with him if we can,” his father said. “We drove down and treated it just like it was any other away game for him.”

There have been many meals shared over the years, as Dobbs played collegiately at the University of Tennessee, and has spent time professionally with the Steelers, Jaguars, Browns, Lions, Titans, Cardinals and Vikings.

As he’s bounced around the NFL, Dobbs has carried himself with the relentless determination that has gotten him this far. That has been on display since he was a 10-year-old running run the length of the field on his own volition after practice.

“We would do hills after practice and a lot of kids would cry because they wanted to stop,”  youth football coach Bob Rech said. “Then there was Josh doing his thing out there. You knew he was going to make it big. Everybody in Alpharetta did.”

As good an athlete as Dobbs was at the time, the people in Alpharetta tend to agree that he was an even better person. That explains how he has maintained such a loyal fan base wherever he’s gone.

“He’s kind of Alpharetta’s favorite son,” current Alpharetta High School football coach Jason Kervin said. “We’re really proud of him down here.”

The moment

Asked about watching his son trot onto the field for the Vikings last weekend, Robert Dobbs mentioned that he and his wife were initially more concerned with how rookie quarterback Jaren Hall was doing after absorbing a big hit near the goal line.

They have always watched games with the safety of the players at the forefront of their minds, As a result, they were focused on Hall walking toward the medical tent, not Dobbs starting to take snaps on the sideline.

“To look out and realize that Josh is coming into the game, it was hard not to get a little emotional about it,” Robert Dobbs said. “We were just hoping he would go out there and do the best he could.”

His best was even better than anybody could have imagined.

After growing up watching former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick dominate at the old Georgia Dome, Dobbs took centerstage at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium. He finished 20 of 30 passing for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns, along with 66 rushing yards and another touchdown. He capped his incredible performance with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown pass in the final minute that proved to be the difference.

“It was a very surreal moment,” Dobbs said. “That’s something I’m going to remember for a long time.”

His parents got to watch the whole thing unfold from some good seats perched behind the Vikings sideline. They were so close to the field, in fact, that Dobbs actually spotted them during the game.

Meanwhile, roughly 30 minutes away in Alpharetta, nobody seemed too upset about the Vikings beating the Falcons. If anybody was going to beat their home-state team, it might as well be the hometown kid.

“He’s still a really big deal around here,” former Alpharetta High School principal Shannon Kersey said. “Everybody is so excited that he’s getting this opportunity now to play in the NFL.”

This has been more than a decade in the making for Dobbs. Fittingly, the first game he played for Alpharetta High School played out eerily similar to the first game he played for the Vikings.

“He got his shot midway through the game,” former Alpharetta High School football coach Jacob Nichols remembered. “He marched us right down the field like he had been running the offense his whole life. We decided to stick with him. He played the rest of that game, threw a touchdown pass with a few seconds left on the clock, and the rest is history, as the saying goes.”

That sound familiar?

The aftermath

There wasn’t much time for Dobbs to see his parents after the game. He estimated that he got about 30 seconds with them after he wrapped up his interviews. Enough time to give both of them a big hug before he had to get going.

“I gave them my jersey and everything,” Dobbs said. “That was such a cool moment.”

It was equally as special for his parents. They waited patiently for their son after the game knowing he was going to be a very popular person. He emerged from the locker room with a big smile on his face and signed some autographs on his way toward them.

“He walked up with the jersey in hand,” Robert Dobbs said. ” Just pure joy for us in that moment.”

The family home in Alpharetta has a bunch of memorabilia documenting the journey that has led Dobbs to this point. The jersey from last weekend will get prominent placement for what it represents.

As he reflected on last weekend, Robert Dobbs kept coming back to a particular exchange between his son and Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell that might have otherwise gone unnoticed during the celebration.

“To see how he embraced Josh at the end of that game brought tears to my eyes,” Robert Dobbs said. “I’ll never forget that. It was a wonderful feeling. We feel very grateful that he’s with the Vikings.”

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