The Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers step on the field for the first game of their 2020 seasons on Sunday. The two franchises have a bitter rivalry that makes their matchups extremely important no matter the context of their season, but what makes this rivalry so unique, and what are the factors that make the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers hate each other. It’s a rivalry that is regional, hard-hitting, and backstabbing.
The Green Bay Packers were a long-established football club before the Minnesota Vikings came to birth in 1961. However, immediately when the Vikings became a franchise, they had somewhat of a rivalry with the Packers just due to Minnesota and Wisconsin’s location. Also, the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin both had a rivalry in college football, which resulted in the winner receiving Paul Bunyan’s Axe that is still a tradition to this day.
But these are two very different teams in their makeup. The Minnesota Vikings are traditionally known for their gritty defense, hard-nosed running style, and elite wide receivers, and getting to the top and getting their hearts broke (sorry guys). While the Green Bay Packers are continuously known for tremendous quarterbacks throughout their history, resulting in many championships.
I wanted to get different perspectives on the franchise and who better for the Packers fan perspective than the “Ultimate Packers Fan” Wayne Sargent. Sargent, a Green Bay Packers fanatic and 2013 inductee into the Professional Football’s Ultimate Fan Association said, “The Vikings as a team is not hated. The Viking Fans, however, have become unreasonably unrulily and disrespectful it’s embarrassing. The Vikings Fan’s have the highest arrest record at Lambeau Field than any other team.”
In the beginning, the Vikings did not do much to make this a rivalry as the Packers, led by coach Vince Lombardi, won 9 of their first ten matchups against Minnesota. The Vikings would destroy Green Bay in the 1970s as Minnesota made three Super Bowl appearances in the decade, but we need not talk about those Super Bowl results.
The Catch & The Disgusting Act
The Chicago Bears were traditionally referred to as the Packers’ biggest rivals, and are still argued to be today, but the arguments grew weaker and weaker in the 2000s. “There’s been many great moments that stand out vs. the Vikings. Some good, some bad. I think the most memorable one was when Antonio Freeman caught a pass near the endzone and was never touched when down and got up, ran into the endzone, and won the game.” The overtime game-winning touchdown as what would be remembered as “The Catch.”
The Vikings would get revenge in the 2004 divisional playoff, though. The first playoff matchup between the two franchises would see the Vikings pull off the upset, in large part due to star wide receiver Randy Moss. Early in the fourth quarter, Moss caught his second touchdown pass of the game to take a 30-17 lead and proceeded to walk over to the goal post and faked a mooning gesture to the Lambeau faithful. It prompted announcer Joe Buck to utter the now-famous phrase, “that is a disgusting act.” It was a moment for Vikings fans to stand up against their rivals and mock them; they didn’t need titles; they had that moment. The gesture would also eventually lead to Moss’ “straight cash homie” line.
Brett Favre Goes To Minnesota
17 players have played for both franchises, but none bigger than Brett Favre. When Favre joined the Minnesota Vikings in 2010, things became a lot more personal. Arguably the most legendary Packer was now playing for the rival and possibly winning them their first championship. Although the hatred towards Favre has dimmer down in Green Bay, there was a time where he was seen as a traitor.
“The first thing that came to mind when I was younger was how chaotic and nonsensical the world,” said Josh Jacobson, a passionate Minnesota Vikings.
Seeing Favre compete for a title with a rival didn’t end the love Sargent though, as he said, “Did I like it, no. But he’s a great man, a stellar athlete that has the strongest love and passion for the game than any player I’ve seen.”
The hatred in Minnesota may run a little deeper than it does in Green Bay. As Marshall Eriksen said about letting girls play football, “the Green Bay Packers have been proving that for years.”
Or, as Jacobson proclaimed about the truth of Minnesota harboring harder feelings, “Of course, it is. Vikings fans are some of the most polite and likable fans in the world. And Packers fans are some of if not THE worst. They have no reason to hate us because we are decent human beings.”
“Packers fans will get mad, but I love Minnesota. The atmosphere, you can just feel how much they hate us. When you get a win there, it feels real good. You could feel the hate there.” said Packers DT Kenny Clark to Bleacher Report earlier this year.
“The most hatred I’ve felt and the only time I’ve gotten in actual heated arguments with Packers fans was when Barr hurt Rodgers. The hit literally wasn’t dirty at all, and this was bound to happen with how much Rodgers roles out and is babied by the refs. And low and behold, after that season, Rodgers almost never roles out like that. He learned his lesson. Simple as that.” said Jacobson referring to the Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr’s hit on Rodgers that broke Rodger’s collarbone in 2017.
The hit was extremely controversial as some deem to hit illegal, and Rodgers claimed Barr gave him the finger, while Barr explained in a few now-deleted tweets that Rodgers needed to get over a hit that happened nearly two weeks after Rodgers’ complaint.
From two states that are seemingly stereotyped as extremely polite and helpful midwesterners, this rivalry seems to be okay with blood and violence, but more than anything, this is a rivalry that is now stemmed from the competition. The Packers and Vikings are typically battling for the division every year, and there’s a respect that comes with playing them. You know a Vikings vs. Packers game is going to be a must-watch and always holds importance. Maybe more for fans in Minnesota than Green Bay, but nowadays, it’s hard to say for sure. Despite the nerves or intensity this game brings, Sunday will be a release all fans need after an insane year.