Kriens: Dome far from home


I have been a Minnesota Vikings fan for as long as I can remember, but have never been to a game. That changed on Sunday as The Collegian managing editor Drue Aman, sports editor Marcus Traxler and I went to see the Vikings play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Neither of us had been to a Vikings game before and Drue was the catalyst as a Bucs fan, while Marcus joins me forming a pair of sad Vikings fans.

6:30 a.m. – My alarm goes off after about six hours of off and on sleep. My body tells me that it would like to sleep in, but more important things are in store.

7:03 a.m. – Drue picks me up in front of my house with Marcus in tow. After a quick stop to fuel up, we are in route to Mall of America Field at the Metrodome.

7:33 a.m. – It is unexpectedly rainy out with weather ranging from a light drizzle to a steady rain. Marcus makes the requisite crack that it’s good that they play inside a dome. Perhaps a good omen for the game.

9:45 a.m. – We stop at a gas station where they have an external bathroom. You need a key to get in. I never really understood the reason behind this. Just put it inside like every other gas station. It’s not like you are cutting down on the bathroom usage but only people in the convenience store, since you have to go into the store to get the key. The key is attached to a big, silver piece of metal that someone in Hansen Hall might find handy for a belt buckle.

11:02 a.m. – We roll into the Mall of America parking ramp and proceed to wait for the light rail. It takes close to 40 minutes to reach the Metrodome so we are going to be cutting it close in order to see kickoff.

11:39 a.m. – The light rail is less crowded than I expected, which is a good thing. As I am sitting, I see a guy walking on the street with a Washington Nationals hat and a Michigan Wolverines shirt – as rare and unusual a combination as toothpaste and orange juice. I don’t know what that means either. The more I think about it, I realize that I see more Nationals hats than I should on a regular basis.

12:03 p.m. – We go to section 227 and the absolute first thing I see is the kickoff. We make it with no time to spare. I am almost up to row 27 when I see Jared Allen sack Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman on the first play.

–      With two seconds left in the first quarter, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson sets the franchise record for rushing touchdowns with his 53rd career score to put Minnesota up 7-0.

–      Ryan Longwell adds a field goal and Peterson adds another touchdown in the final minute of the half to give the purple a nice 17-0 halftime lead. This would be the high water mark of the game for the majority of the crowd.

–      The Vikings start the second half with a three-and-out followed by Bucs RB LaGarrette Blount getting Tampa on the board with a 27-yard touchdown run.

–      After a Tampa Bay score in the second half, Bucs kicker Michael Koenen struggles putting the ball on the tee to kick off in the dome stadium about as much as someone trying to eat peas with a knife. The ball falls off the tee three times.

–      To make a long story short, the Vikings pull a Plaxico Burress and shoot themselves. Not in the leg, but in the proverbial foot. Tampa Bay pulls to within three with 6:39 left and wins the game on a four-yard Blount touchdown run to come back from 17 points down and, 24-20. It was like watching a squirrel getting run over on the road. The Vikings didn’t know whether to go left or right, so they just closed their eyes.

3:20 p.m. – As we make out way out of the Metrodome, I do my best Donovan McNabb impersonation and nearly fall down the stairs on the way down. The line down the aisle and later near the light rail moves about as quickly as the Minnesota offense in the second half. The light drizzle outside is the perfect weather to symbolize the game for Vikings fans. These poor people. It’s like a trail of tears on the light rail except the people feel numb to the fact that their favorite team just blew another game. One lady behind me says that she quit being surprised by Vikings collapses 20 years ago. I am pretty much at that point now. It’s like a sixth sense for me now that I can sense when a collapse will happen.

3:40 p.m. – An interesting part of the game was the amount and variety of football jerseys that were worn. I went out of the box with a 1975 Alan Page jersey. Marcus went with Percy Harvin, who along with Adrian Peterson were the top two jerseys that I saw. I compare looking at the different jerseys to the license plate game that you may have played on vacation where you see how many different states you can pick out based on the license plates you see. The winner for most obscure jersey was a green number 60 Gene Makowsky CFL (Canadian Football League) jersey for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Yes, I looked him up. Some notables are former Vikings punter Mitch Berger, an orange Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall jersey, a green Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan jersey and a couple of Aaron Rodgers jerseys. Seems to me if I was a Packers fan and they were playing, the last place that I would be at is the Metrodome.

4:05 p.m. – We head up to Buffalo Wild Wings to get a bite to eat. Among the three dozen or so televisions, two have the Twins vs. Indians game on from Target Field. The rest are on the NFL games. No love for the hometown nine who are trying to avoid losing 100 games for only the second time in team history (1982) when they lost 102. We take a seat at the busy bar where there just happens to be three seats open. I sit next one guy who asks if I could move because he is saving a seat for his “buddy.” If I was 50 years younger, I would have kicked his ass. We move to a table.

5:09 p.m. – We are back in the car ready to head back to Brookings.

6:15 p.m. – Drue’s 2000 Oldsmobile just reached the 125,000 mile mark. A milestone that he takes a picture of just before it turns to 125,001. His grandchildren, as well as mine, will hear about this some day. The moment goes something like this:

Marcus: Dude, look – 125,000.

Drue: Holy (cow)! He then quickly grabs his iPod from his pocket and takes a photo.

7:23 p.m. – A strange commercial comes on the radio as it is scanning to find a station. “I took my kids’ temperature while they were sleeping.” Not sure if that guy was sent to prison. The radio quickly scans to another station.

9:15 p.m. – I am dropped off back home a mere 14 hours after we left. All in all, a good trip with a good game even if my team lost.