Brent Tehven is a former North Dakota State football player, part owner of an NDSU-themed bar in Fargo, an acquaintance of Bison-turned-Eagles QB Carson Wentz … and a season-ticket holder for the Vikings.
So when the Vikings travel to play Wentz's Eagles on Sunday in Philadelphia, Tehven like many others will have an interesting set of loyalties.
"Fans are going to cheer for the Vikings but also for Carson," said Tehven, a reserve defensive end for the Bison from 2000-03 and a West Fargo High graduate. "It won't be a heated rivalry. They want to see him do well. If he goes 28-for 30-with 300 yards and the Eagles lose, this community will largely be happy."
That echoes a lot of the Twitter responses I received. Virtually every fan who identifies with both the Vikings and NDSU wants the Vikings to win — and for Wentz to play well.
Said @Marcusarilleous, summing up the majority of the responses: "I will always cheer for the Vikings, however as an alum I will support Carson Wentz playing well and hopefully staying healthy!"
But there's no doubting Wentz's impact, says Tehven, after watching the evolution of fans on fall Sundays this year at Herd and Horns Bar and Grill, which he owns along with former NDSU punter Mike Dragosavich.
The bar, located near the NDSU campus, is a North Dakota State hangout on Saturdays. It gained recent attention when Wentz spent time there during the Eagles' bye week and dropped a $500 tip on a $1,000 tab.
On Sundays last year, the bar was dominated by Vikings fans — not uncommon, since many North Dakotans, without a home-state NFL team to root for, cheer for the purple. But this year on Sundays?
"Now it's a 50-50 split with Vikings fans and Eagles fans," Tehven said. "If you live in Fargo or somewhere in North Dakota most likely you're a Viking fan, but there are a lot of Bison fans who are football fans who aren't tied to the Vikings. They have their hometown hero to cheer for, and they've jumped on Carson."
Tehven likened it to North Dakota State fans cheering for the Bills in the 1990s after former Bison star Phil Hansen was drafted — or more recently when he spotted a lot of fans in Penguins gear to cheer on former Moorhead High star Matt Cullen.
Wentz, though, is an extreme example — a high-profile player who played a major role in NDSU's five consecutive national championships before being drafted No. 2 overall by the Eagles. He still has the hottest-selling jersey in the NFL, and Tehven said local sporting goods store Scheels can't keep anything Wentz-related in stock because it sells so quickly.
If Twitter is any judge, there's a small backlash to Wentz-mania, but that's to be expected with any craze. If people were really tired of it, Tehven wouldn't be going to Philadelphia to chronicle the game for Bison Illustrated — along with tons of other Bison alums he knows. And he wouldn't be anticipating a bigger-than-usual crowd Sunday at the bar, where they figure to sell plenty of the cheesesteak sandwiches recently renamed "The No. 11."
Said Tehven: "We'll have a great crowd at the bar. I'm a business guy, and it's good for business."