Vikings fans gear up for playoff showdown with the team’s greatest rival
For people like Rolf Standfuss, this is one of the biggest days in the past few years. It might even be called a Purple Letter Day. (Red just wouldn’t be appropriate.)
“I bleed purple,” he said Friday. “I’ve been bleeding purple for a long time.”
Standfuss, the senior accountant at United FCS for more than 22 years, was at the first game the Minnesota Vikings ever played in 1961 and has been a fan ever since.
When the Vikings face the Green Bay Packers in a playoff game this evening in Green Bay, Standfuss and his family will be watching in their family room decked out in Vikings purple and gold from the football field throw rug in front of the TV to flags hanging from the ceiling.
There’s a neon sign at one end of the room and the comfy furniture is draped with soft fleece blankets and matching pillows.
In between all that, there’s an array of Vikings memorabilia. One of the recent additions is a Vikings nutcracker, a Christmas gift. Some things are unique, like the stained glass Vikings logo that Standfuss’ wife Joyce had made for him.
When it comes to clothing, Rolf Standfuss goes for a head-to-toe Vikings look, including puffy slippers and a visor with purple and gold shaggy hair attached to it. Joyce sticks with a jersey. Their kids are just as crazy about the team. Their son has a Vikings room in his home, too.
They have rituals. They have penalty flags ready to toss on that football field rug when there’s a penalty. And a stuffed football that shouts “Touchdown Vikings!” when it’s spiked to the floor when the Vikings score.
This season, the family has taken to patting a pregnant daughter-in-law’s belly after a score, too.
Standfuss likes to joke about the long-standing rivalry between the Vikings and Packers. FCS has offices in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“We try to make sure they stay on their side of the river,” he joked, but some of them have infiltrated the Minnesota offices, too.
“I’m not saying I don’t like Packers fans; I do,” he said. In fact, he’s enjoyed discussing football with the Packers fans he’s worked with.
There’s one Packers-green pompom hanging from the ceiling in a corner of the Vikings room. It is a souvenir from a 2005 Monday night game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. The Vikings won that one.
Standfuss said he knows of other fans with Vikings rooms in the area. He’s partial to his, though. He’s happy to point out items of interest around the room and to talk about some of the things he’s got packed away because he’s run out of room. He has collected shirts, hats and jackets over the years.
He wore some Vikings gear to work on Friday and “could have dressed the whole office” of 38 people if he’d needed to, he said.
The Standfusses have attended Vikings game and enjoy that, but they are just as happy to watch games in their purple and gold room. There’s no waiting in long lines for refreshments or bathrooms that way.
The buzz about the Vikings-Packers rivalry has grown from last week into this one, said Aaron Hofland, co-owner of the Fan Zone in the Kandi Mall in Willmar.
Running back Adrian Peterson No. 28 jerseys are all sold out, he said. The shop has other Vikings jerseys, but Peterson sells out quickly.
Defensive end Jared Allen is a close second in popularity, said co-owner Rodney Staska.
Other Vikings items in the store are plentiful, like caps, horns, jewelry and memorabilia.
The shop does carry some Packers items, but “we’re definitely biased,” Hofland said.
“We try to keep as little of it as possible, but we know some people have been led astray” and will be looking for green and gold items, too.
There’s been some fun back-and-forth with Packers fans that stop by, he said. They’ll ask, “Where’s all the Packers stuff?” and the answer is often, “Try Wisconsin.”
Hofland and Staska said they enjoy talking with the “house divided” couples with one Vikings fan and one Packers fan.
The shop’s primary inventory is in items representing Minnesota pro teams. The National Hockey League lockout has been a problem, because people are less likely to buy Minnesota Wild items when the team isn’t playing.
The popularity of the Vikings and their trip to the playoffs has helped make up for that, Hofland said. The Minnesota Timberwolves are popular, too.
After any of the teams is having problems, the folks at the Fan Zone sometimes take on a counseling role, commiserating with dejected fans. “If it’s a bad game, I have to pretend it’s the first time I’ve heard the story,” Hofland said, and often, he find that fans have different views of a game.