The Pack and the Vikes will meet again on Christmas Eve. Duluth.com writer, Andrea Busche and her husband, Mike were at the first match-up of the season and gathered a bit of history behind this long-standing rivalry. No matter who you are cheering for on Sunday, it’s bound to be a great game!
By Andrea Busche
Do you bleed purple? Or maybe, on any given Sunday, you find yourself donning a triangular, cheese-themed hat. Wherever your loyalties lie, you know that the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers continue to maintain a fierce rivalry against one another.
On September 18, 2016, US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis hosted its first regular season game. This brand-new home to the Minnesota Vikings provides a state-of-the-art facility where the Vikes can air out their grievances with the Pack … and many other teams … along with 66,655 of their most passionate fans.
A Game to Remember
I am pleased to report I was there, proudly supporting the Green & Gold on that momentous day! My husband Mike and I, along with three dear friends (all but me are Vikings fans), made the trek to Minneapolis to watch the Vikes take on the Pack. The energy was electric, the fans were fired up and the crowd was deafening; our ears were ringing before the end of the first drive.
Besides the epic game day excitement, the folks behind the Vikings franchise rolled out the red carpet for guests attending its inaugural game. Prior to kickoff, there was a special treat for fans – something called the “Vikings Voyage,” which included several interactive exhibits.
Jordin Sparks, of American Idol fame, sang the National Anthem and the halftime show was a tribute to Prince, complete with tiny, falling purple lights; an extra-special touch, representing Purple Rain.
The game was edge-of-your-seat exciting until the end; Packer’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers picked on Vikings Cornerback Trae Waynes throughout the night, but Waynes ultimately sealed the win with a game-clinching interception. In unfortunate news for the Vikings, running back Adrian Peterson suffered a knee injury which kept him sidelined for most of the season.
As an attendee of that amazing game, I was inspired to learn more about both teams, their history as rivals and speak to some die-hard fans to see what makes them tick. I also needed to do a little paid work to pay for the tickets, which we paid an arm and a leg for. And our seats were up in the nosebleeds! But, I digress. Let’s start with a little history …
Packers-Vikings History and Stats
- The Green Bay Packers were organized August 11, 1919; they were awarded a franchise in 1921.
- The Minnesota Vikings entered the league as an expansion team in 1961.
- The Packers were initially sponsored by the Indian Packing Company (who processed canned meat), which inspired their name.
- The Vikings were named to reflect Minnesota’s Scandinavian culture and history.
- The Packers’ fight song is “Go! You Packers Go!”
- The Vikings fight song is “Skol Vikings!”
- Nicknames for the Packers include The Pack and The Green & Gold and their fans are known as Cheeseheads.
- Vikings’ nicknames include The Vikes, The Purple & Gold and The Purple People Eaters.
- The Vikings’ new home is US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
- The Packers’ home is Lambeau Field in Green Bay, named after long-time head coach, Curly Lambeau.
- The Packers and Vikings played each other for the first time October 22, 1961. Green Bay won; 33 to 7.
- The teams have played each other 112 times; Green Bay leads with 59 wins, 51 losses, and two ties.
- The Vikes and Pack have one of the most intense rivalries in the NFL; due to being in the same division, as well as their close geographical proximity. This rivalry only intensified when beloved Packer Hall of Famer Brett Favre came out of retirement, played for the New York Jets for one season and ultimately landed as a quarterback with the Vikings before he retired permanently. Many Packer fans still view this as a bitter betrayal.
- The Packers have played in five Super bowls and won four; the Vikings have played in four Super bowls and won zero.
- The Packers are the only publicly-owned company, with a Board of Directors and owned by Shareholders, in American professional sports. The Vikings are owned by businessman Zygi Wilf.
- US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will host the Super Bowl in 2018.
Hardcore Fan – Vikings
Tonia Villegas is a big-time Vikings fan. She watches every game, attending several in person and even has a couple Vikings tattoos. She recently joined the Vikings World Order (VWO), an intense group of Vikings enthusiasts, requiring new candidates be nominated by another member of the organization prior to initiation. I asked Tonia about her passion for the Vikings. Here’s what she shared.
“On a cold day in 1992, my family moved to Duluth from Fairbanks, Alaska. The combination of my love of football with never having a home team meant the Minnesota Vikings were in my sights. I learned about the team and, wow … Cris Carter really turned my head. Purple began to flow through my veins. I’ve never looked back.”
When speaking about the VWO, Tonia shares, “I heard about the VWO a few years ago and I knew I wanted to learn more. As I learned more, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It’s a great family made up of friends who love the Vikings and who do great charitable work together; everything from donating money and toys, to time spent volunteering.”
On the Rivalry
Tonia says, “The Packers-Vikings rivalry is always fun! I know there’s always going to be some smack talking and antagonizing, usually just for fun, between both sides. The bets before the game starts are often high-stakes and the bragging rights after the fact are well worth the wait.”
Hard Core Fan – Packers
On the flip side of the coin, Steve Kronzer is a serious Packers fan, despite the fact that he now lives in Duluth. His family has held Packers season tickets for almost 80 years.
Steve says, “My dad’s family (Grandma & Grandpa Kronzer and their nine children) came from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Grandpa bought his season tickets (four seats) in 1947. We still keep the season tickets in my Grandma Lucille Kronzer’s name, even though she died in 1976.
“We’ve been Packer fans as long as I can remember; always looking forward to Sundays, which meant game days! Church seemed to last forever on Sundays. Father Hanley seemed to deliver the longest, most nonsensical sermons on game days. We couldn’t wait to get out of St. Luke’s Church, back home and to our family room where we’d watch the game, snacking on whatever Mom decided to make for the occasion.”
On the Rivalry
“I grew up in Wisconsin,” Steve shares, “My mom’s family, however, was from Duluth, and we (my siblings and I) had cousins in Duluth and throughout Minnesota. The Flaherty cousins, Brendan and Kieran, would call us after the Vikings would beat the Packers. The rotary phone would ring that 10,000 decibel ring. We always knew who it was.”
Whether you are a fan of The Pack, the Purple & Gold, or neither, US Bank Stadium has undeniably brought some excitement to Minnesota. It serves as a new home that Vikings fans can be proud of; similar to how the Cheeseheads feel about Lambeau. The next border battle will occur when the Packers host the Vikings at Lambeau Field at noon on Christmas Eve.
With passion for each team running deep on both sides of the bridge, what do you say we shake hands, toast the rivalry with a game-day beer and enjoy a little friendly competition?