With the courtroom football dominating the headlines for the NFL for the past couple months, one story has flown under the radar.
This story has a direct impact on the Green Bay Packers as well as the rest of the NFC North—the Minnesota Vikings and the team’s battle to get a new stadium approved by the Minnesota legislature. In these tough times, getting a government to help fund such a deal is a very difficult prospect.
For those who don’t know the whole story, owner Zygi Wilf is desperately trying to get a new stadium built for the Vikings. While the push has been occurring for a few years now, it became all the more urgent with the collapse of the Metrodome’s roof last winter. It remains unclear if the stadium bill will be approved or not.
Should the Vikings not get the new stadium they want, there is growing concern the Wilf family could move the Vikings out of Minnesota to another city, most likely Los Angeles.
Until the team rented Brett Favre from the archives of the Packers, the team was struggling to sell out home games, though the emergence of Adrian Peterson helped fill some seats.
An average NFL fan would assume that seeing Minnesota losing the Vikings would be a cause for celebration and joy Packers fans. Perhaps a fairly large contingent of Cheeseheads would agree.
If that’s the case, then this Cheesehead is not among them.
BLASPHEMY! you say. Not quite. While I agree defending the Vikings is normally a violation of the Ten Commandments of Packer Fandom, this is not a normal situation. In fact, I’d argue that the Packers would actually be hurt by the Vikings leaving Minnesota.
How? Well, first is the long history and strong rivalry between the two franchises. Both teams have been battling for supremacy in the NFC Central and later the NFC North for the past two decades. Favre joining the Vikings in 2009 stoked further an already potent fire. Throw in the fact that both teams are in neighboring states and you have a classic rivalry.
While they don’t have the stories of the Packers/Bears games, Vikings games always get Packer fans fired up even when Favre still sported green and gold. Robbing the NFL of two games each season between the teams would hurt the Packers in that it would abruptly end one of the great chapters in the team’s long and proud history.
Rivalry aside, the Packers would have to make a trip to the west coast each season. While the flight is not as long as from the east coast, it’s still a long journey and would chew up most of a day for the players and coaches. Traditionally, teams travelling across the country to play a game tend to struggle after the long trip.
Along those same lines, it would also knock the geographical alignment of the NFC North completely out of whack. It’s possible that the NFL could realign the divisions again, but with all four teams currently surrounding each other, it would definitely have an effect. While other divisions face similar situations, it would definitely hurt the tradition of the Black and Blue division.
Don’t get me wrong. I took great joy in watching the Vikings collapse this season as the Packers ran to a Super Bowl title. Seeing Favre crumble and Childress get canned whilst witnessing a Packers championship arguable made 2010 the best season ever for me. That said, if the Vikings were in Los Angeles, I don’t think I would have been as fired up as I was.
Taking joy in the suffering of Vikings fans is part of being a Packers fans. Still, we should not take any joy in seeing them lose their team. If you recall back to 1995 when the Browns moved to Baltimore (note this was before Cleveland was awarded an expansion franchise), Steeler fans showed support for their rivals. I feel like we should do the same for the Vikings fans.
Yes, some of them are fair weather but there are many others who bleed purple and yellow like we bleed green and gold. I cannot take pleasure in seeing them stripped of their passion.
So please take note of the proceedings in the Minnesota legislature. Let’s hope this great rivalry continues so the Packers can continue to beat the stuffing out of the Vikings for years to come in the Metrodome and the team’s new stadium.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke