Some have likened it to a bad breakup.
But Steve McPherson, a local sportswriter who works for Minnesota United, thought there was a more apt metaphor for the pit in the stomach that many Vikings fans got after watching their team’s 38-7 loss Sunday to the Philadelphia Eagles.
“So the Super Bowl in Minneapolis will not so much be going to your ex’s wedding as your ex not inviting you and then having the wedding in your backyard,” he tweeted.
Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said on Twitter that the idea of hosting a team that bounced the Vikings from the playoffs left him feeling “kinda like I’m bartending at the wedding of the girlfriend who dumped me.”
In an interview Monday, McPherson explained that as a long-suffering Minnesota sports fan he found that self-deprecating humor after yet another disappointing loss can be cathartic. Staying loyal to any team with as long of a championship drought as the Vikings, he said, is similar to weathering the inevitable ups and downs of any relationship.
“There’s tension, there’s excitement, there’s disappointment.” The only difference? Minnesotans are not “just dealing with exes [for the Super Bowl], they’re dealing with Eagles fans, they’re dealing with Patriots fans,” he said. “Which in some ways are worse than exes.”
The agony of suffering yet another NFC championship loss quickly melted into the frustrating realization that the Twin Cities would have to host those same Eagles and their notoriously rowdy fans on Feb. 4 at Super Bowl LII. After how things ended Sunday, putting on a happy face for out-of-towners was about the last thing on many local fans’ minds.
Even before the Eagles’ victory, social media lit up with videos of Philadelphia fans climbing greased poles or pelting Vikings fans with beers before the game.
A photo circulating on Twitter showed a pair of green and white-clad fans holding a crude banner directed at 99-year-old Vikings fan Millie Wall, who shot to internet fame after the team surprised her with tickets to her first playoff game for her upcoming 100th birthday.
To add insult to the drubbing, many Vikings fans were stuck in Philadelphia as Delta canceled flights home.
Nate Terborg had a bad experience with Eagles fans. “I’ve been to third-world countries, I’ve done service work in prisons and I’ve never felt less safe than I did last night,” said the Eagan resident of the atmosphere surrounding the game. He said people put their hands on him a half-dozen times looking for trouble, but he steered clear.
“I can’t wait to spend more time with all my friends in Philly,” he said jokingly Monday afternoon as he waited to rebook his flight home.
So how does he feel about hosting Eagles fans? “I hope that we can show them what true hospitality is supposed to look like,” he said. “Not that it will make a difference.”
Fans of franchises who’ve experienced years of futility sometimes inoculate themselves against the agony of defeat by convincing themselves that their team will always let them down, said University of Minnesota Prof. Doug Hartmann, who recognizes the effect on more casual fans who were sucked in by the novelty of a team playing in a Super Bowl in its own stadium.
For two weeks, he says, they will be surrounded by reminders of what might’ve been.
“It seemed to me that some of those fans that have been through this before, they kind of had thought that they’d overcome the big hurdles, that they’d broken the curse, with that spectacular catch by [Stefon] Diggs,” said Hartmann, who teaches a class on the sociology of sports. “Sports provide a vicarious experience that creates strong emotionally intense experiences, winning and losing, great points, great plays, in a world that a lot of ways is pretty boring.”
Local officials insist that they haven’t sensed a waning of enthusiasm for the big game.
“Hosting Super Bowl LII is our chance as Minnesotans to showcase our great state on the world’s largest stage,” Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee CEO Maureen Bausch said in a statement Monday. “We understand the disappointment of fans that wanted to see the Vikings play in the game, but we hope they will celebrate the Vikings historic season and share in the excitement of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to host a Super Bowl in their home state.”
Kristi Martin was among the more than 10,000 volunteers who signed up to work two to three shifts of several hours each from Jan. 26 through the game Feb. 4. As a Packers fan, she didn’t take Sunday’s loss as hard as some of her friends, but she sees cause for concern.
“I’m worried about the Eagles fans coming to Minnesota and our capacity for everybody being Minnesota nice to them,” said Martin, an event designer. For her, hosting the Super Bowl is about showcasing the city’s tourist areas and scenic beauty on a world stage.
“I hope we can demonstrate that and be a little bit more welcoming than they were to us,” she said.
Some locals, reacting to insulting Eagles fans, started an online campaign to collect money for a Philadelphia organization that works with low-income children.
“It would be easy for us to get mad, easy for us to welcome them to our hometown with that same level of respect, but that’s NOT us,” said the GoFundMe page.
Organizers said they hope to raise at least $38,000 — or $1,000 “for every point that they scored against us.”
But as of late Monday, the site hadn’t even raised $7,000 — $1,000 for every point the Vikings scored.