Rather, they were fixated on a fan seated directly behind tthe Wild’s bench holding a simple but memorable sign that read: “HAHAHAHA PACKER FANS.” We tweeted about it, as did countless others. The fan — 31-year-old Ryan Rhody of St. Paul — earned instant Internet fame and heard himself being talked about Tuesday morning on ESPN’s SportsCenter. He was also kind enough to chat with us Tuesday to paint a fuller picture of his big night and big idea.
As you might imagine, Rhody is a big Vikings fan — he went to 13 games in person this season, including five on the road — and an equally big anti-Packers fan. Sunday’s NFC title game was about as good as it gets for him, he said.
“I hate the Packers fans more than anything. So I will do anything to chirp them in any way possible,” Rhody said. “With the amount of texts and Facebook messages I got when they were (ahead on Sunday). This was my way to laugh right back at them.”
So Rhody made the sign and headed to the game with his sister and parents.
“I didn’t tell anybody,” he said. “I just pulled it out of my jacket right when the game started. And it just went nuts.”
Indeed, it kept coming in waves on social media every time there was a fresh shot on TV of the Wild’s bench, with Rhody and his sign perched just to the side of head coach Mike Yeo. But Rhody — who says he has made plenty of signs for games before but never experienced anything like this — didn’t anticipate just how popular he would become Monday night.
“I had easlily 20,000 tweets or retweets. I couldn’t even keep up with my Twitter,” he said. “My phone went from 70 percent battery down to 7 percent like nothing. I got like 200 or 300 texts. My phone died and I turned it back on. In that time I had 120 texts in 45 minutes.”
Some of it was backlash from Packers fans, but most of it was positive — either from Vikings fans or neutral parties who thought it was funny.
It will be hard to top in the future, but Rhody already has some ideas. He’s going to be in Arizona during the Super Bowl, which offers a much bigger stage than a Wild game.
“I don’t have tickets yet. I wouldn’t go if Green Bay was there,” Rhody said. “I’ve had the trip planned for over a month. I think I can figure out a way to do something good at the Super Bowl.”