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Eagles Fans Create Poor Impression

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February 1, 2018


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Basketball immortal Red Auerbach used to say forgive but never forget. That might be the mindset of some Vikings fans Sunday when they passionately cheer for the Patriots instead of the Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Such fans have incentive to see a Patriots win that goes beyond the Eagles ending the Vikings’ Super Bowl dream in the NFC championship game on January 21 in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 38-7 and Vikings fans attending that game in the “City of Brotherly Love” certainly didn’t encounter a welcoming atmosphere.

Philly is famous for a lot of things—a few of them not exactly chamber of commerce bulletin board material. The town where Eagles fans once booed Santa Claus went way beyond that transgression when the Vikings were in town. USA Today reported last Friday social media depicted a “hostile environment” for Vikings fans.

“Some Minnesotans were booed, taunted and the subject of expletives at close range as they walked through the parking lot,” the newspaper wrote. “Another video showed what appeared to be full cans of beer being thrown at Vikings fans.”

Former Viking tight end Doug Kingsriter, who played on Minnesota Super Bowl teams in the 1970s, didn’t have to check out social media to know about the hostility. He and family members were at the game and experienced the unfriendly environment. “There were a number of ‘in your face’ encounters, but we just smiled and kept walking,” Kingsriter said via email to Sports Headliners.

Kingsriter, who grew up in Richfield experiencing Minnesota nice, also encountered Eagles fans at the game who were embarrassed by the behavior of Philly troublemakers. He wrote: “There were more than 20 Eagles fans who approached our group (son, daughter and daughter-in-law) to let us know that ‘not all Eagles fans were jerks.’ These were kind, gracious people. What those folks said helped us to mitigate the groups of mostly young men who would point at us and yell, ‘blow,’ and other somewhat unmentionable phrases.”

While Kingsriter described the scene as an “interesting experience,” he is keeping a balanced view about the incidents. “We did not find it intimidating due to the kindness of those people who took the time to welcome us and our team (the Vikings) to Philadelphia. They were the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ representatives.”

Since the January 21 game, some Eagles fans have donated thousands of dollars to the Mike Zimmer Foundation as a way of apologizing for the rowdy and confrontational behavior of others. The foundation honors the “giving spirit” of Vikki Zimmer, the late wife of the Viking head coach. The foundation provides “opportunities to the youth of today to benefit the future of tomorrow,” according to the website.

Worth Noting

Sunday’s game will be the fourth Super Bowl for the Eagles franchise, the same number of big game appearances as the Vikings. Ten other franchises have played in more Super Bowls, led by the Patriots who make their 11th appearance Sunday.

When the Vikings played in their first Super Bowl in 1970 the price of an ad on the telecast was $78,000. This year the cost for a commercial is about $5 million.

The Vikings’ last Super Bowl appearance in 1977 drew a national TV rating of 44.4 and 73 share. Those numbers are similar to recent Super Bowls and what can be expected from Sunday’s telecast on NBC. Ratings are a percentage of the potential TV audience watching a particular program. A share is a percentage of televisions on at that time viewing a program.

When the Vikings lost to the Raiders in the 1977 Super Bowl each player received $7,500. The Raiders earned $15,000. The winners’ shares in 2018 will be $112,000, while losers receive $56,000 each.

Case Keenum (photo courtesy of Minnesota Vikings)

Journeyman Case Keenum’s performance for the Vikings last season approached star status, but despite 2018 free agency a source close to the team’s front office doesn’t expect Keenum to be unreasonable in contract negotiations. He described Keenum as “old school” in attitude and predicted the quarterback who never established himself in four previous NFL seasons will remain a Viking. “He isn’t going anywhere,” the source said.

The Vikings are looking for a new offensive coordinator to replace Pat Shurmur who is the new head coach of the Giants. In the hiring process general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer are likely to value the approach of Shurmur who adapted his system to the talent of the players, instead of mandating a style of play.

Richard Pitino’s Gophers basketball team is 1-7 since center Reggie Lynch was suspended. Another starter and high impact player, forward Amir Coffey, has missed six of those games because of injury. Interest in the team has declined and the Gophers could lose their remaining seven Big Ten regular season games including Saturday at Michigan. Minnesota is 14-10 overall, with a 3-8 conference record.

The nosedive of a team that once was rated among the top 15 in the country is impacting the box office, too. Before January the Gophers were on track to potentially sell out most of their Big Ten home games. It’s likely that the collapse on the court will result in at least 1,000 fewer tickets sold per game for five league games this winter. At an average of $55 per ticket that’s a total of $275,000 in potential lost revenue. And those numbers seem conservative, and don’t include other revenues like concessions and parking.

It’s interesting Kevin McHale is part of the inaugural class of the Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame. McHale probably wasn’t even the best big man in the state his senior season at Hibbing in 1976, with that distinction going to Steve Lingenfelter from Bloomington Jefferson.

The gangly 6-foot-10 McHale was an evolving talent as a teenager. He was a better college player at Minnesota than he was a prep at Hibbing. He became one of the NBA’s greatest players during a career that included three NBA titles with the Celtics.

The Saint John’s men’s basketball team is running away with the regular season MIAC race. The Johnnies defeated Concordia-Moorhead last night to make their overall record 18-1 and 14-0 in MIAC games. If the Johnnies finish the league season undefeated, they can look back to an overtime win against Bethel last Saturday as pivotal.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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