Purple pride runs only so deep, which is why Zumbrota will be rooting this afternoon for one of its own -- Seattle coach Gus Bradley.
The small Minnesota town of Zumbrota has turned on the Vikings in a big way.
Don't worry. It should pass shortly after the Purple play the visiting Seahawks today.
A fair amount of Zumbrota's 3,100 residents and an assortment of other Minnesotans from around the metro area will be rooting for the Seahawks and Casey (Gus) Bradley, Seattle's 43-year-old first-year defensive coordinator, Zumbrota native and, yes, lifelong Vikings fan, except for today, of course.
"I can't even give an estimate on how many of us will be there," said Pat Bradley, Gus' older brother. "It'll be a horde."
Gus' first trip to the Metrodome as an NFL assistant comes with a tall task: Slowing a star-filled Vikings' offense that ranks second in scoring.
"Every week is tough, but this week is even more of a challenge," said Gus, a former Zumbrota-Mazeppa High standout. "They have the running game and Brett Favre is the quarterback. I'm not going to give Brett a look that he hasn't seen in all his years of playing. This week, more than any other, it's so important that we execute and know exactly what we we're up against."
Gus grew up the youngest of Roy and Gloria Bradley's six children. It was a football-crazed family that lived and cried with the Purple People Eaters.
"I remember as a young boy getting teary-eyed when the Vikings would lose," Gus said. "It meant so much to me. I remember after Vikings games, calling friends and going down to the high school to play, acting like we were Paul Krause or Chuck Foreman or Fran Tarkenton."
The Bradley boys all played football. Scott, 57, was a punter and defensive back at Iowa State. Pat, 55, played quarterback at Concordia College. Kelly, 45, won an NCAA Division I-AA national championship as a quarterback at Montana State. Gus was a punter and defensive back on North Dakota State's 1988 Division II national championship team.
"Gus had a lot of energy and was always getting into everything," said Pat, who works at Highland Bank. "I think there was somebody on a TV show back then who was somewhat like that. So I just pulled that nickname out and, lo and behold, it stuck to him for the rest of his life."
Gus got his coaching start in 1990 as an NDSU graduate assistant. He was at Fort Lewis College (Colo.) from 1992 to 1995, spending the last four months as head coach. In 1996, he returned to NDSU as an assistant and spent 10 years there until the Buccaneers hired him as a defensive quality control coach.
In 2007, Gus was named linebackers coach. He became close friends with then-defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. It was a relationship that would land him his current job despite having no ties to Jim Mora, who is in his first season as Seattle's head coach.
"I became aware of Gus when Monte Kiffin called me and told me he was one of the best football coaches he has ever been around," Mora said this week. "I interviewed Gus. Our philosophy meshed, our personalities meshed. I loved his energy, his enthusiasm, his knowledge of the game. He's done a great job."
Seattle is 3-6, but 12 starters have missed a combined 43 games due to injuries. By comparison, the 8-1 Vikings have had two starters miss a total of four games.
Most of Seattle's injuries have come on offense, but the Seahawks did place All-Pro middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu on injured reserve a month ago. Despite that loss, the Seahawks rank 11th in run defense. They're 20th in overall defense, 18th in scoring defense.
Now comes Favre, Adrian Peterson and the Purple Express.
All of the Bradleys will be there today, including sisters Lynn Stricesky of Ogilvie and Jody Doraas of Zumbrota. Gus' wife, Michaela, and four kids -- Carter, Anna, Eli and Ella -- will be there. And, oh heck, they'll all be there.
"I will be a Seahawk fan with hat and everything else," Pat said. "Hopefully, I won't get beat up."
Mark Craig • email@example.com