GREEN BAY, WIS. – Chad Greenway spent four hours playing football in freezing weather. He jogged off Lambeau Field and into the locker room, started to yell, and clapped.
Then he stopped.
“I was like, ‘Yeah!’ ” Greenway said. “Then I thought, what do we do now?”
When the Vikings and Packers play, they’re supposed to pay homage to Brett Favre.
Sunday, they paid homage to another former Vikings quarterback: Donovan McNabb.
When McNabb quarterbacked the Philadelphia Eagles, he admitted he didn’t know the overtime rules. Sunday, the Vikings tied the Packers 26-26, and admitted they didn’t know how to feel about the overtime rules.
“I’ve never experienced a feeling like this,” fullback Jerome Felton said. “If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be empty. Yeah. Empty.”
Both teams spent six days preparing. The Vikings flew to Appleton, Wis., on Saturday, and bused the half-hour to Lambeau on Sunday. They spent about eight hours at the stadium, then flew home.
Fans bought expensive tickets, paid for expensive parking spots, and sat in the cold for four hours or more.
All to watch two teams walk off the field in mutual ambivalence, having settled nothing.
“A tie is a loss,” defensive end Jared Allen said.
“I don’t think there’s any place for ties in the NFL,” Felton said. “Every game is so important. With a tie, you frustrate the fans, you frustrate the players. Hopefully, they’ll change that rule.”
“Man, of course they should change the rules,” said receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. “No way you should let a grown-men NFL team have a tie game. That takes the fun out of us, and it takes fun out of the fan base.
“I started seeing the fans leaving when they saw that it was going to be a tie.”
Many Vikings said they’d never played in a tie before.
“At least since grade school,” said guard Charlie Johnson.
While a few Vikings seemed offended by existence of ties, a few veterans admitted that a league interested in protecting its players may not be able to stomach playing a sixth quarter. Or a seventh.
“If no one scores, the game could go on for days and days,” defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. “You’d like to have a winner and a loser, but you’ve already played four grueling quarters. Playing one extra quarter, that should determine a winner.”
The NFL changed its overtime rules in 2012. Now if the team that takes possession first in overtime doesn’t score a touchdown, the other team gets at least one possession. So when the Packers kicked a field goal to take a 26-23 lead in overtime, the Vikings were given a chance to tie or win, and they tied it.
“Never been part of a tie,” said running back Toby Gerhart. “It’s really weird. We played hard, we didn’t get the win, we didn’t lose. It’s a weird kind of limbo feeling.”
It might have been the worst possible outcome for Vikings fans. Those interested in immediate gratification craved a victory over their most important and intimate rival. Those interested in franchise improvement wanted a loss that would improve the Vikings’ draft status, perhaps even lead them toward the first pick in a quarterback-rich draft.
The Vikings gave them neither. If this result was a Thanksgiving meal, it would be turkey broth.
“Maybe ties should go to a field-goal-kicking contest,” Greenway said.
He was kidding. Or so cold and tired he couldn’t think straight.
“I know one thing,” Greenway said to his teammates. “We’re all gonna be sick all week after this.”
Greenway took a hot shower and came back to his locker swaddled — can the word “swaddled” be used in reference to a linebacker? — in towels. About 12 towels.
He carried a drink. Not champagne for celebration, not a beer in which to cry.
“Hot chocolate,” he said. “Soothing.”
The Vikings may want to bathe in it all week.