As Jim Bidwell stood outside radio row at Mall of America, sporting Carson Wentz’s jersey, another fan tapped him on the shoulder to ask, “Are you an Eagles fan?”
Bidwell, 50, is from South St. Paul but has lived the past 11 years in Philadelphia. As he tried to explain this, the other fan spoke up again: “I was going to say, we can’t have you here.”
And then after a nanosecond’s pause, the other fan smiled and laughed with an, “I’m just kidding.”
That scene likely will play out thousands of times across the metro area this weekend, as Philadelphia takes on the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
While Minnesotans are collectively bitter and disillusioned after the Vikings’ NFC Championship loss to Philadelphia that kept the team from being the first to play for a championship in its home stadium, they aren’t taking out that pent-up rage on visiting Eagles fans.
“Vikings fans, my family and friends included, were not treated very well in Philly,” Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “Everybody knows coming here for the Super Bowl that you’re going to be treated the right way, and you’re going to have these Minnesota nice fans.”
So kill them with kindness (read: passive aggressiveness), essentially.
Not even reports of Philly fans’ various wrongdoings to the visiting Vikings faithful two weeks ago could incite the Minnesotans to real physical action. Social media filled with vague threats of Vikings fans signing up to be Uber or Lyft drivers for Super Bowl week only to drop Philly fans off in the boonies. Snarky signs in downtown Minneapolis invited Eagles’ fans to enjoy a free beer thrown at them, which Vikings fans and the actual team bus endured in Philadelphia.
And yet when Philadelphia arrived at the Radisson Blu hotel this past Sunday afternoon, no angry Minnesotans armed with six-packs made an appearance. Even when 45-year-old Eagles fan Rashid Lucas started heckling Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs on radio row Tuesday, no Vikings fans intervened to defend the Minneapolis Miracle man’s honor.
“Philly’s just a rough, die-hard, drag out passionate city. It’s like the movie Rocky,” Lucas said. “Hard-working, tough, fighting underdogs. So everything is just really, really, really ugly and personal in Philly.
“They don’t have that in Minnesota,” Lucas said. “It was a lot of talk. They don’t have it in them to do that, which is good.”
Allow Wild forward and native son Zach Parise to explain the state way: “I know when I played for New Jersey, and we’d come here, my teammates couldn’t believe it. You go to Starbucks to get a coffee, and everybody’s having a conversation with you. People are just genuinely nice, good people here. And what a good place to have host with how welcoming just the community is here. It’s not surprising to me that they’re not blowing off Eagles fans just because we lost to them or just because a couple weird fans got thrown at them.”
Bidwell said while Philly fans certainly are feisty, that’s not the entire fanbase. He said the testosterone-filled 18- to 23-year-olds who drink all day and throughout the game in the nosebleeds are the real problem. And that could happen to any team.
Except obviously not here because “down deep, Minnesota people are always good,” according to Bidwell.