SKOL! Purple pride alive and well in DL for Vikings playoff run
After an amazing victory over the Saints on Sunday, Minnesota Vikings fans have been floating on purple and gold clouds all week—special events at the schools, Purple Pride celebrations at work, shoppers blitzing store shelves and clearing out Vikings jerseys, and a general feeling that all is right with the world, at least for now.
"My voice is hoarse, I've been talking about the playoffs so much," said "Barber Jon" Stone, a die-hard Vikings fan who watches the games on a big screen TV at his shop in Detroit Lakes.
The Vikings snatched victory from the jaws of defeat last week with a last-second touchdown pass, giving rise to playoff hopes that old-time Minnesota fans feel the need to tamp down.
"A lot of people have had to prep their kids," Stone said. "They're showing them all the disappointing things that have have happened in the past to get them ready."
For starters, there were four trips to the Super Bowl in the 1970s, without a victory, by the "Purple People Eaters" team. There was the crushing playoff loss by a powerhouse Vikings team in 1998 to the Falcons, and the gut-punch 2009 playoff loss to New Orleans under quarterback Brett Favre. And there's lots more.
But we won't dwell on the past. Most long-time Vikings fans got over it, days ago.
Stone, for one, believes the times they are a'changin'.
"I had a feeling in my stomach towards the end of the game last week," when there was 10 seconds left in the game and it looked like the Vikings were doomed, he said. "I knew it wasn't supposed to end that way—and it didn't."
By the way, if anyone's wondering who's really responsible for the last-second touchdown pass on Sunday from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs, they should thank Detroit Lakes Vikings fan Jim Jenson.
"At 10 second left, I got down on my knees (and prayed)," he said. "This team has worked so hard, please let something happen—they have a lot of faith on this team, I just wanted those prayers to be answered."
Jenson has been a Vikings fan since the late 1960s, when tough-man quarterback Joe Kapp led the team.
"The amazing Vikings," Jenson said. "Tarkenton was a good quarterback, and I really got into them with Moss and Carter and Culpepper—they've always been a good team, they just haven't had the breaks. But that's finally broken, the luck is finally with us."
Jenson is impressed with how the Viking players work together and always seem to pick each other up and have each others' backs. No prima donna superstar behavior here.
"The thing about this Vikings team, they play more as a team than individuals—'we are a team and we do it together,'" he said.
The Sunday evening game against the Philadelphia Eagles "will be a battle," he predicted, "But the Vikings will pull it off. My prediction is 24-14."
Area schools were awash in purple and gold on Friday. Holy Rosary Catholic School gathered all of their students in the gym to make a video cheering on the Vikings, particularly Adam Thielen who attended the school from kindergarten through third grade.
The Detroit Lakes High School also held a brief assembly in the morning, gathering in the gym to shout SKOL, filling the room with high hopes for Sunday's playoff game. Roosevelt, Rossman and the Middle School all had hallways filled with purple pride.
At Lake Park-Audubon, seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher Katie Watland was the envy of fans—she was at the Vikings-Saints game on Sunday and didn't leave early, so she got to see the "Minneapolis Miracle" finish.
"It was quite stressful, really," she said. "We were on the front row on the Saints 10 yard line. With 20 seconds left, I was sitting there with my head in my lap, but I stood up and I saw it ... it was awesome, pretty incredible."
She was at the game with her husband, Jesse, and another couple that had season tickets.
"It was pretty cool to come back and relay the story," she said.
If the Vikings manage to beat a fired-up, but wounded, Eagles team on their home turf, they will face either Jacksonville or New England in the Super Bowl in Minneapolis.
Like this Vikings team itself, Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen of Detroit Lakes has his own amazing underdog story, and has a special place in the hearts of fans.
"I used to call him "sure-hands" Thielen, but now I call him the "Explosive Adam Bomb Thielen," Jenson said with a laugh.
Area businesses celebrated with their employees throughout the week. SJE-Rhombus held a tailgating luncheon day, with pretzels and cheese dip, smoked cocktail wieners, veggies and dip and other tailgating food, said Human Resources Director Natasha Nodsle. "Everyone wore their Vikings gear and got purple and gold beads," she said. "We're prepped for Adam Thielen to bring it home for us—we're excited!"