NFL Nation: Tim Irwin
December, 27, 2013
By Ben Goessling | ESPN.com
The Minnesota Vikings' 32-year history in the Metrodome has been marked by two groups of people: the players who have taken the field there and the fans who have filled the stadium since 1982, turning it into one of the NFL's loudest and most imposing venues. According to Football Outsiders' Bill Barnwell, the Vikings have had the fifth biggest home-field advantage in the NFL since 2002, based on their point differential in home and road games.
You've already heard our Metrodome memories. So, in this post, we thought it best to turn things over to the people who made the place what it was:
"I can remember countless times, when you put your hand in the ground and you can just feel the vibrations coming off. I can barely hear now, and I credit that to our [65,000] strong screaming at the Dome. I'm going to be 40 years old with hearing aids." -- Vikings defensive end Jared Allen
"The one that sticks out is watching our team finish against Green Bay a year ago, at the end of the season to get us into the playoffs. That run by Adrian and that kick by Blair, that was a fun memory, hearing the crowd chanting after we walked off the field. That was one I'll hold onto for a long, long time." -- Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier
"I have been blessed to attend four games at the Metrodome, thanks to my parents. The most memorable came on Oct. 19, 2003 (a day before my birthday). My family is from Gillette, Wyo., and we traveled up to Minnesota in 2003 to watch Randy Moss toss the ball behind his head to Moe Williams right before halftime for a TD as the last play of the first half. I will never forget that play! The Dome was rocking, as the Vikings defeated the Broncos 28-20!" -- Scott Jahner, Gillette, Wyo.
"I did not like playing in this building. I couldn't breathe here. I had the same phenomenon in Detroit, which was a sister stadium. I loved the atmosphere. I've got great memories here, but I don't have too much good to say about being a player in this building. I'm ready for them to knock 'er down. I think it was something to do with the pressurized ceiling. It's kind of packed in. It starts out two or three hours before the game -- you're walking around, it's good and cool -- and then they fill it with people, and it gets hot real quick. It was always too hot for me. I like the cold weather. After playing the first year in the Met, and coming in here, I felt like we lost a little bit of an edge over teams that had to come play us. I don't think I'm alone in that fact. I appreciate that some of those days in my 13 years here, we wouldn't have played the game [outdoors]. It would have been almost impossible to have a meaningful football game. Some of them were really bad. They'd always show the scene outside the Metrodome, and I remember a couple of those days saying, 'Yeah, it's probably a good thing we're not out there.'" -- Former Vikings tackle Tim Irwin, who played with the team from 1981-93
"I came back here for the 40th [anniversary team], and I look around, and there's all kinds of, like, dinosaur creatures, something else riding a snowmobile, something else on a motorcycle, two or three Vikings. It's kind of weird -- and I'm not saying they don't belong there. I just can't imagine Bud or Burnsie [former coach Jerry Burns] wanting that much going on." -- Irwin
"I have many memories of our tradition of going to the opening home game from when I was 12 until I was 24 (I am now 32). My brothers and my dad would make this annual trip from the various parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin where we lived at the time and it always started with a big bowl of beer chili the night before the game. Of all the memories that were made in the Dome, including Randy Moss' first two touchdowns from Brad Johnson, Warrick Dunn burning down the sidelines (I hated those Bucs teams), to the run stuffing of one of the greatest in Barry Sanders, my fondest is the Brett Favre pass to Greg Lewis against an up-and-coming 49ers team (on Sept. 28, 2009).
"Of all the the games we went to, this was the first for my mom to join the boys and didn't look so good in the last minute of the game. In fact, we always stayed to the end of the games, no matter the score (because we knew this was the only game we would attend during the year) and boy were we rewarded! In a half-filled stadium, it was ironically the loudest I had ever heard the Metrodome when Favre let fly his pass and completed it to Lewis. We all knew it was a touchdown when it happened since it seemed to happen in slow motion. I will not necessarily miss the dome, but I will miss the annual home opener with family and somehow those memories will be further away when the dome comes down." -- Patrick Hansen, Silver Lake, Kan.
"I remember in 2002, when we won the Big Ten title [at Iowa], and our fans tore down the goal posts and tried to take them out the rotating doors. We're good at winning games, but not smart enough to open the doors. It was great. We were handing out roses, because we thought we were going to the Rose Bowl. We ended up going to the Orange [Bowl]. It was a great memory. ... The more I hear about how important the Met [Stadium] was to everybody, I think it'd be cool to go back to an outdoor facility. But I think the state gets a lot more use out of [an indoor facility] for different events -- high school soccer, high school football, all across the board." -- Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway
"I'm just hoping to get a place that has hot water. We have one shower with hot water down there [in the locker room]. There's a line waiting to get a shower." -- Allen
"My first game was the 1997 Vikings-Lions regular-season finale. Although it was a loss (Herman Moore's touchdown grab over Dewayne Washington), the Vikes still made the playoffs and it secured my love for the Purple and Gold. I was so thrilled from my first regular-season game that I set aside money from my high school job at the local Dairy Queen to secure season tickets for 1998. By June of that year, I had earned the $450 for upper-deck seats (section 207). Little did I know that I was entering into one of the most successful regular seasons in the history of the NFL. What an incredible season to have tickets: 8-0 at home during the regular season, tailgating on Washington Avenue, wins against Dungy's Bucs and Favre's Packers, witnessing Randy Moss' record-setting rookie season, and the beginning of what Red McCombs coined "Purple Pride." Despite the heartbreaking outcome of 1998, may SKOL VIKINGS forever echo throughout Minnesota!" --Chris Bell, St. Peter, Minn.
"My best dome memory? [Breaking the single-game rushing record] is one of them. My first touchdown, that's probably right there in front of it. Both games against Green Bay; last year clinching the playoff berth and [in 2008]. I think I've told the story before: We took the ball, we went for a fourth down, [I] fumbled the ball, they scored. [We] ended up coming back. I think I got the ball every snap, receiving and running, and diving into the end zone and scored and gave us the lead [on a 29-yard touchdown]. So, those are some of the best memories.” -- Vikings running back Adrian Peterson
"Oct. 4, 1992: The Bears had a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter. Jim Harbaugh calls an audible and throws a pick-six sparking the Vikings comeback. [Bears head coach Mike] Ditka was furious, storming up and down the sidelines, throwing stuff. After that, every time the Vikings had a big play or score, they would replay Ditka's fit on the big screen. Vikings won 21-20." -- Doug Anderson, Norwalk, Iowa
"I'm one of the fortunate ones that got to play home and away here for my whole career. Some great memories, some tough memories from the other side. I just always felt when I came over here, it was my home stadium. I felt I had a big advantage here. It was a good run. ... (When I came with the Packers), we felt like we had some really, really good teams coming over here, and just could never, ever communicate because it was so loud. The volume in that stadium, when the fans get rocking, you can't even have a conversation on the sidelines. It wasn't just the snap count or the communication on the field. It's trying to communicate on the sideline to fix something, and you just couldn't do it. We'd always come over here, struggle to communicate and walk out of here with a great team and a loss. It was just a very difficult place for us to travel to. Obviously, it got in our heads a little bit." -- Former Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell, who kicked for the Green Bay Packers from 1997-2005 before playing six seasons with the Vikings.
"I'd recently moved to Minnesota and was a San Diego Chargers fan because they had drafted Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding. [On Nov. 4], 2007, the Chargers were coming to the Metrodome, so I was excited to get to see Nate play in person. I'd been to the dome before for baseball, but never football, and for my first game, I would be a fan of the opposing team. I got seats that would let me watch the Chargers sideline, which put me in optimal position when the Vikings lined up for a long field goal right before halftime. Antonio Cromartie waited in the end zone almost directly below me. I can still see him lean back to catch the short kick in the back of the end zone and just start running. By the time he stopped running in the other end zone, I was on my feet and cheering, earning glares and grumbles from the Vikings fans around me. Those attitudes changed in the second half when the Vikings took control. By the time Adrian Peterson set the single-game rushing record, the Vikings fans around me no longer cared I was cheering for the other team, as they were thrilled about their rookie running back's record and their victory. I would return to the dome a few more times for football, cheering for the Vikings, including the incredibly loud 2008 playoff game against the Eagles, but the game when I was cheering against them was the best." -- Melissa Jackson, Minnetonka, Minn.
"My best one probably was [offensive tackle] Bernard Dafney, before some crucial game. The locker room was all quiet -- everybody was kind of to themselves -- and Bernard Dafney took his pants off and his shoes off to go to the bathroom. A minute later, we heard a big crash -- he had broken the toilet seat. He came out of there walking, water splashing all over the floor. And I think we won that game." -- Former Vikings defensive tackle John Randle, who played 11 seasons with the Vikings and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010."
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