I think I saw a Vikings game

Last week, Minnesota Vikings’ owner Red McCombs issued a call to Minnesotans in Arizona to fill the seats for Sunday’s game between the Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals in Tempe, AZ. Since I happened to be in Tucson, I thought why not come through for my old buddy Red?

So, Sunday morning I jumped in the pickup and headed up to Tempe. It was a cool but beautiful Arizona morning, with frost on the windshield. Arizona’s dry air warms up nicely during the day, as long as you are in the sunshine.

The sun shone on the drive up, and it shone as I found a free parking space, and it shone as I scalped a good ticket in the end zone, and it shone as I found a nice pre-game meal of sausages and mashed potatoes in a neighborhood Irish pub near the stadium.

But the seat was deep in the shade. The aluminum benches were frozen. Nearby children shivered and huddled with Mom. Who would imagine you would need gloves in Arizona? I felt like I was back at a late-October high school playoff game in Minnesota.

Except this was the pros, and when you are in the pros, the fans have beer. Lots of beer. Enough beer so that by half-time, I don’t think the event qualified as family entertainment. The tongues of the beer-gutted neanderthals were, to use the biblical term, loosed.

I remember in high school going to football games and not seeing a single play because we were busy running around seeing who was there. At this Vikings game, I saw only a few plays because there was too much chaos in the stands around me.

The first quarter was spent getting everybody in their right seat. Seems everybody started in the wrong seat and had to move. Four different people occupied the seat next to mine. I stood up and down countless times as people went in and out. Fortunately, this was at a time when most were still stable on their feet.

Sun Devil Stadium is a piece of junk. Any stadium without enough bathrooms is a piece of junk, as far as I am concerned. The lines were monumental. It took one quarter of play on the field to get to the front. By then, you had met five people whose parents had a place on Tullaby Lake.

Yes, Minnesotans heeded Red’s call in droves. They arrived decked out in jerseys, purple paint, wigs, horned helmets and those goofy caps with golden braids hanging down. I would estimate that Vikings fans outnumbered Cardinal fans by a three-to-two margin.

At first, there was a gentle banter between the two sides. Lots of laughing, teasing, joking. But as the afternoon became more drenched, the humor started to have more edge. When a Cardinal fan in my section pushed a thirteen-year-old Minnesota fan, spilling the kid’s dad’s beer, things went over the edge.

Dozens of Minnesota fans berated the swaggering, staggering Cardinal fan, who sported the name “Drunken Fool” on the back of his red jersey, a name he seemed determined to live up to.

He unleashed a garbled string of profanity. Pushes and shoves. Security arrived. Troopers ran up the runway. The man was escorted out, but not without a fight. It took five officers and a spray of Mace to subdue him.

Of course, the game went on. The Vikings seemed to be on a roll. I was able to concentrate upon a few plays and happened to see Randy Moss catch a nice little touchdown pass right in front of me in the frozen endzone.

At that point the game was pretty much in the bag, so I decided to leave early and beat the throng of fans who were also in the bag.

About halfway to the parking lot, some fireworks went off back at the stadium. How nice, I thought. Right as I reached my pickup, however, a whole lot of fireworks exploded.

At that point, I became suspicious that something funny might have happened back at the stadium, something to do with actual game.