“I’m hoping just the passage of time will make things better,” said Brad Christopherson, 42, a real-estate agent and Vikings fan originally from Fargo, N.D., who has lived in Minneapolis for two decades. “People here are pretty passive-aggressive. Maybe just some rudeness, potentially. Some glares and looks and things like that.”
Referring to Eagles fans, Christopherson added: “But if they come in all cocky and still going off about stuff related to the game, I can’t say what’s going to happen. Hopefully they’ve moved on and are focused more on the Super Bowl rather than the last game.”
That last game, a 38-7 thrashing, does still linger for Vikings fans — though not just because of the margin of victory, or even the result. Christopherson, and many others, heard about the one-finger salutes, the threats issued and harsh language used in Philadelphia. In the land of Vikings, some Minnesotans are concerned about what they consider another marauding band: Eagles fans, whose reputation, deserved or not, precedes them.
Although Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles play, is generally not a hospitable venue for opposing fans, only a small segment tends to engage in appalling behavior. And, of course, Philadelphians are not the only ones who can act poorly when sports, alcohol and perhaps some stupidity mix together.
Based on conversations with friends, Laura Conley, 31, who is trying to rent out her home for the Super Bowl, said she could envision Minnesotans cheering for the New England Patriots because of how some Vikings fans were treated in Philadelphia. Jim Fehrenkamp, 41, a co-owner of Mac’s Industrial Sports Bar in Minneapolis, said he will root for New England for the same reason but added that he does not anticipate much friction between the locals and Eagles fans this week. Think fewer rumbles on Nicollet Mall, more stink eyes, if anything.
“I have belief in my city,” Fehrenkamp said, laughing. “At the same time, I also know that if you’re in your hometown, people might be a little more defensive of things. But I’d think that the people who act like that are probably not going to be the ones are going to be coming to the Super Bowl.”
A Packers fan from Mauston, Wis., Chad Babcock counts himself among the population delighted — or at least not displeased — that Minnesota lost. After the defeat, he heard from friends warning him to be mindful of renting his home, in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis, to Eagles fans.
Babcock appreciated their concern but he also noted that a large group of Minnesota supporters seemed to instigate at least some of the taunting by dressing up the famed Rocky statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Vikings colors and also performing the Skol chant on the museum’s steps. He disobeyed his friends’ advice.
Through a mutual friend, Babcock was introduced to Jeff Gottesman, of suburban Huntingdon Valley, Pa., like him a State Farm insurance agent. Via emails and text messages, they exchanged some good-natured ribbing — and negotiated a deal for next weekend. Babcock and his wife, Beth, a Vikings fan, expect Gottesman to adhere to some basic guidelines.
“No flipping off neighbors that are walking by, no vulgarities, don’t throw beer cans at anybody, those kinds of things,” said Babcock, laughing, who was considering ordering Eagles decorations and party supplies for Gottesman and his six friends. “I kind of warned them that Vikings fans are a little bitter about how they were treated, so be on a swivel.”
For his part, Gottesman said he was not apprehensive at all about going to Minnesota. He attended the N.F.C. championship game, where he saw some behavior that made him cringe, but he said he expected Minnesotans to treat him with the same respect as he showed the four Vikings fans who sat behind him. He offered them tips on how to stay “out of the realm of drunk lunatics” and even swapped phone numbers.
“All of this is blown out of proportion,” said Gottesman, 49, discussing the popular stereotype of Philadelphia fans. “The large majority of fans are not like that.”
The Twin Cities shall see soon enough. If anything, Conley said, the Eagles fans should be the nervous ones. Asked why, she laughed.
“We’re going to outnumber them.”