My fellow Americans, in unprecedented times such as these, we need to find more things that unite us. I mean, seriously, the last thing any of us need are more issues that divide us.
So, what does Week 1 of the NFL season bring us? Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings.
No, really. That’s just great. The Border Battle right off the bat will have both fanbases riled up – all frothy to trash talk the other side. That is – and hear me out here — unless both parties agree to some ground rules for peaceful coexistence.
Perhaps I can help. After all, I fancy myself as a unifier, not a divider.
In order to begin, I’d like us all to recall the words of the great Ron Burgundy who once famously set the table prior to a violent street fight between warring newsrooms:
“Now before we do this, let’s go over the ground rules. Rule No. 1: no touching of the hair or face… and that’s it. Now let’s do this!”
What a unifying message. Truly inspirational.
The takeaway for Vikings and Packers fans is clear, and it has nothing to do with appearance because, Lord knows, on gameday things like hygiene and wardrobe go right out the window. Instead, the message is that even heated rivals like competing newsrooms have ground rules. And if journalists are capable of such compacts, so too are rival football fanbases.
The tenuous coexistence of Vikings and Packers fans is nothing new. It’s been an ongoing feud in neighborhoods, offices, taverns, speakeasies, bowling alleys, pawnshops and even within families and marriages for 60 years.
Nobody is suggesting that you don’t passionately root for your team when you square off. Absolutely not. We’re merely endeavoring to find ways to make Vikings-Packers week – and especially game day – less stressful and belligerent for all involved. It would be best for everyone at times like this.
RULES FOR VIKINGS FANS
Just as one should never get between an adult grizzly bear and its cubs, Vikings fans should never get between a Packers fan and their source of alcohol – be it a keg, refrigerator, cooler or that weird jug of illicit elixir in the garage. This might seem like common sense, but it can’t be said enough. Be careful not to let this happen even inadvertently. Always be keenly aware of your surroundings. You don’t know what they’re capable of out there in the wild.
Better yet, offer a Packers fan a beer as an olive branch. C’mon, you know you have extras! Vikings fans take a back seat to few when it comes to indulging in libations, so having more than enough on hand at all times is a priority for the ever-prepared Vikings fan.
Another rule: Joking about Aaron Rodgers getting injured by Anthony Barr was never funny. A player getting hurt is not a good thing, regardless of who they are. It’s fairly basic human decency that gets easily lost in the heat of the battle. Furthermore, sarcastically referring to him as Erin Rodgers isn’t just unfunny — or even the least bit clever — it’s a shade of misogyny. Grow up.
Now, so as not to come off as the Fun Police, I will say that it will always be at least a little funny to poke fun at former Packer Najeh Davenport for breaking into a women’s dormitory and pooping in the hamper inside some poor soul’s closest. You can’t make that stuff up. I bet even the person it happened to gets a chuckle about it at this point.
Finally, try not to mock the ownership certificates many proud Packers fans have framed and hanging on the wall. It’s their way of feeling important. It’s kind of adorable that they think they’re all owners. Just let them have that. It’s harmless.
See? That might have been mocking and condescending, but only a little. It can be done.
RULES FOR PACKERS FANS
Okay, people buckle up because this is the big one: Drop the Super Bowl smack talk. Or at least greatly minimize it.
I know, I know… it’s the been to go-to of Packers fans for decades now, and rightly so. The Packers have won four. The Vikings have lost four and looked downright awful in doing so. It’s the lowest of the low-hanging fruit in this heated rivalry and the easiest button to push when purposely agitating a fan of the Vikings.
But just try for a second to remember how y’all felt after losing Super Bowl XXXII to the Broncos following the 1997 season. It was a kick to the store, wasn’t it? There were tears in beers from Green Bay to Eau Claire… from Madison to Rhinelander. Now contemplate what that would feel like if it happened to you four times – the antithesis of winning it all four times. That’s how Vikings fans of a certain generation feel. It’s a deep, unrelenting pain they have to live with every day of their lives. Yet they find the strength to go on.
Have some empathy – it’s something our entire nation has a shortage of right now.
You rarely hear of Minnesota Twins fans ripping on Milwaukee Brewers fans for their lack of World Series titles. Sure, the Milwaukee Braves won it all in 1957, but the Twins still have more rings (1987 and 1991) and that factoid almost never gets thrown in your collective sports fan faces.
Act like you’ve been there… because you have. Besides, you need some new material.
It’s kind of like when Vikings fans taunt Packers fans by referring to Brett Favre a “Vikings great.” It was kind of clever and funny at first, but that ship has sailed. It’s time to freshen up the act at a certain point.
But again, so as not to be labeled as the complete Debbie Downer of the Vikings-Packers rivalry – and speaking of ships that have sailed – the Vikings’ Love Boat incident is still fair game for jokes and whatever double-entendres you can come up with. Vikings fans do it, too.
Also, we all know Lambeau Field is iconic. It’s a treasure in a certain, charming way, but let’s stop pretending it’s the end-all, be-all of pro sports venues. Packers fans love it but not everyone has to fawn over it the way you do. U.S. Bank Stadium ain’t so bad, either. They can both be great places to watch a football game.
THINGS BOTH FAN BASES CAN AGREE UPON
It sometimes works to engage adversarial tribes – be they political or otherwise – in a search for common ground. Once discovered, this common ground can be built upon. It can serve as a bridge toward fostering relationships and progress.
As for common ground between Vikings and Packers fans, I’ve come up with a shortlist:
- Both the Vikings and Packers have an element of gold in their uniforms, so there’s that.
- Fans of both teams enjoy the St. Croix River that makes up a good portion of the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
- Vikings fans and Packers fans both despise the Bears. So, the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” clause is in play.
- Similarly, fans of all teams detest the Dallas Cowboys.
- Minnesotans will admit if pushed a little, that The Dells are pretty neat – and conveniently located close to everything else in Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin citizens sure seem to enjoy the Mall of America, where the Vikings’ old Metropolitan Stadium, used to stand.
- Last, but not least: beer is good.
Perhaps when someone from either side of the rivalry gets a little too heated this week, it would be helpful to re-focus the conversation on the bullet points above. Cooler heads should prevail, as they almost always do.
In conclusion, I’d like to encourage fans from both sides who plan to interact with one another at some point in the coming week to try and live by these rules. Do your best to at least keep things civil. We all have enough on our plates right now.
Most importantly, if and when you do find yourself embroiled in some good-natured chirping at one another, please wear a mask!
Kirk Cousins would want it that way.