The words “low-key” and “low-cost” aren’t normally associated with Super Bowl week, but if you’re inclined to travel across the river into St. Paul you can find an event that checks those boxes and others.
As a fundraiser for Disabled American Veterans of Minnesota, there will be a flag football game pitting Minnesota Vikings/NFL alumni players against the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team. The event starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Seafoam Stadium on the campus of Concordia University-St. Paul. It’s $10 for adults and free for kids and students.
Dave Stevens, who was born without legs but later played college football at Augsburg and also covered sports for KSTP and ESPN, is among those playing in and promoting the event. He’s wrangled several former Vikings to participate, including Robert Smith, Rich Gannon, Pat Williams and Kevin Williams.
“It’s been near and dear to me in terms of getting a lot of Vikings participation. It’s going to be a great night with a lot of great Vikings from the past,” Stevens said. “The game is about honoring the veterans. I didn’t serve, but this is about treating these guys like the heroes they are — missing arms and legs and being able to come out and do this.”
Stevens has been involved with similar events in conjunction with past Super Bowls, noting that one game drew a crowd of 14,000 with the help of an appearance by Snoop Dogg.
“I sacked Michael Vick [last year] and he retired a day later,” Stevens said. “I guess once you get sacked by a guy without legs it’s time to retire.”
This year’s gathering will be more intimate, but in a week of excess that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Stevens said he’s already heard from Vikings fans wondering if it’s really true that so many former players from the Purple are playing.
“You can see some stars and really be as close as you possibly can to them. It’s just a nice, festive atmosphere where people hug each other and shake hands,” Stevens said. “Fans are genuinely there to see guys who were part of Vikings history. It’s turned into an amazing event, and I’m excited to be part of the week.”