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Purple or Green? Local fans weigh in on Vikings, Packers

Eric Rice shows his support for the Minnesota Vikings. Photo submitted.1 / 5
Vikings fan Amy Doll with her cousin Tami McCoy. Photo submitted2 / 5
Rani Bezanson3 / 5
John Amundson, center with two Packer fans.4 / 5
Packers fan David Aronson has some fun with the former Vikings mascot Ragnar.5 / 5

Fan support can't start any earlier than this.

Eric Rice of Morris has been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings "from the womb."

Rice, along with other Vikings and Green Bay Packer fans from Morris, will be watching today's (Dec. 23) match-up between the two NFL football teams from the NFC Central Division. The game starts at 7:30 p.m.

It's a fabled match-up and five local fans such as Rice have been part of the legend.

"I have probably been to every Vikings vs. Packers game in Minnesota in the last 23 years and two at Lambeau Field (in Green Bay, Wisconsin)," Vikings fan John Amundson of Morris said. Amundson has had season tickets since 1994.

Packers fan Rani Bezanson attended her first Vikings vs Packers game in 2005. "This was back when Brett Favre played, and he scored his 100 percent passer rating. The tailgate scene was exciting, I was able to take photos with some other Packer fans. Honestly, it was super memorable day."

Bezanson has embraced her team enough to become a shareholder in the team's stock.

Their favorite NFL team has given these fans lots of memories.

"Lambeau Field is a phenomenal place to watch football," Packer fan David Aronson said. "It was made for football and is an outdoor stadium. There is a large parking lot and long before the game starts, people are in a festive mood."

Residents near the field cook out in their yards and sell parking spots on their yards, Aronson said.

Amy Doll of Morris, a Vikings season ticket holder, started seriously watching the Vikings as a teenager with her father. "I have been a loyal fan for 30 plus years."

Even so, it's difficult for Doll to pick specific memories from a Vikings vs. Packers game. "I get so wrapped up in the Vikings vs. Green Bay games that I have to remind myself to breathe so I don't pass out," Doll said. "The plays and wins all merge together."

But other fans could pick some favorite game memories.

"The Monday Night Football game in 1998 at Lambeau when (Vikings) rookie (wide receiver) Randy Moss lights up the Packers and 2009 at the (Metrodome) when quarterback (Brett) Favre plays his first game against the Packers as a Viking," Rice said.

Packers fans stayed Packers fans even when beloved Green Bay quarterback Favre left and ended up playing for the Vikings.

Amundson said several Packer fans did confess to him on Nov. 1, 2009, that they cheered for then- Viking quarterback Favre when the Vikings and Packers played that day.

"...Brett Favre was the reason I became a fan," Bezanson said. "I used to love Brett Favre, and then, when Favre left, my heart was broken."

Yet, Bezanson remained loyal. "...I decided to take a chance on (quarterback) Aaron Rodgers. Best decision," she said.

Aronson has been a Packers fan a bit longer than Bezanson. One of his all-time favorite Packers is Paul Hornung, a 1950s and 1960s star for the Packers. Aronson likes his versatility and how he helped build the Packers.

"Another more recent favorite is Donald Driver," Aronson said of the former wide receiver. "He came from a tough background and was not expected to make it."

Cris Carter tops the list for Doll and Amundson. "He could catch anything and made some amazing sideline catches, always managing to stay inbounds just enough for a valid catch," Doll said of the former Vikings wide receiver.

Amundson said it was a tough call between Carter and Randy Moss. "Just watching those two play football in the 1998 season was electric," Amundson said.

Rice is a fan of Moss but also Antoine Winfeld. "...I loved the professionalism of Winfeld," Rice said.

And while Bezanson may be the youngest football fan of this group, she understands tradition.

She nicknamed her car after legendary and revered former Packers head coach Vince Lombardi. The Super Bowl trophy is named the Lombardi Trophy.

Being a fan means investing time watching live, on TV and or listening on the radio. It also requires gear and memorabilia.

Doll has had several choices on what to wear to games over the 15 plus years she's had season tickets.

"I even have purple leather pants!" Doll said.

"I have so much Packer attire that I could wear Packer clothes for two weeks straight," Bezanson said.

The other three fans said their gear includes jackets, jerseys, signed helmets and other items.

The Vikings vs. Packers games are a fun part of fan tradition. Saturday's game pits the 11-3 Vikings against the 7-7 Packers. Rodgers played on Dec. 17 but he was placed on the injured reserve list earlier this week. He won't play on Dec. 23. Rodgers was injured in the first game against the Vikings.

Aronson doesn't expect a repeat of one of his favorite memories from a Vikings vs. Packers game. Aronson recalled the game in which the Vikings were leading when Packer wide receiver Antonio Freeman "was out for a pass and somehow wound up lying on his back on the ground and (got) a tipped pass on his back and caught it and got up and ran it in for a touchdown and an amazing win."

Aronson also said that Packer fans are focused more on next year's season and not the Dec. 23 game because the team will not make the playoffs.

Most of the fans predicted a close contest with the Vikings winning, except for Doll who predicted a crushing victory for the Vikings.

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