It's called Mall of America Field right now, but it's still the same old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome...and this Sunday will be the last time the Eagles will ever play there, as a new multi-purpose theme park stadium will be taking over as the Vikings' home field in 2014.
The Eagles are on a roll...and as a Philly fan I hate the Metrodome. These two forces of nature must not be allowed to collide.
I've never liked the architecture or interior design of the Dome. Its angles and ambience were hideous for baseball. Piped-in noise from sound systems added to natural crowd noise made life hell for visiting football teams. And although the playing surface at the Vet was far worse, there were constant issues with the turf at the Dome.
Fortunately for Eagles fans, the Vikings seemed to visit the Eagles more often over the past 27 years than the Eagles had to travel to Minnesota and the Dome.
But I do remember the first time the Birds played there---it was Buddy Ryan's emerging team of defensive greatness in 1988. That was the year of the "Fog Bowl" divisional playoff in Chicago, too. I remember the radio announcers for that game at the Dome having trouble hearing one another during the broadcast. The piped-in music and sound effects were at jet-engine decibel level. The Eagles lost a heartbreaker in that one, 23-21.
Cut to now....
The Metrodome era is about to end.
Scout.com's excellent writer John Heller is a Vikings fan, so I asked him for his perspective on the home field advantage of the Dome---
"Opposing teams complained over the years that noise was piped into the Metrodome because human beings can’t make that much of a din. Conveniently placed speakers aside, it was the fans that brought the noise. The Metrodome became one of the first stadiums in which sideline reporters got their hands on decibel meters. Now it’s a competition. Metrodome fans made old-time noise when it wasn’t trendy. They set the bar others felt obliged to try to surpass."
"A lot of memories were made under the Teflon roof – as well as its replacement after the original brought snow indoors – but the memories of the crowd are different from the players on the field. Those who opted out of a summer “stay-cation” so they could work renewing their season tickets into the family budget are those who should be given their props along with the All-Mall of America Field team. They made the Metrodome “The Unfriendly Confines.”
The old hump has only two dates left as the home of the Vikings. When they honor those players and coaches who made the franchise what it was during the Metrodome’s history, hopefully a nod will be given to those who have given many of those players a form of hearing loss. That, too, is an occupational hazard of being a Viking in the Metrodome era.
"It may sound like “cheap pop” – like when a lead singer says, “There ain’t no party like a (FILL IN CITY) party, ’cuz a (FILL IN CITY) party don’t stop!” – but the end of the Metrodome era will be much like the end of Metropolitan Stadium. A certain percentage of the fans will get priced out of the season ticket market. But they will have their memories and, along with the players who gave their blood and sweat to entertain them, and their contribution to making the Metrodome a bad place for opponents to visit should be acknowledged.""
I shall return with some pre-game preparation data and thoughts...
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I'm having a hard time getting a handle on the real-time status of who's really ready to go on Sunday for the Vikings. Adrian Peterson says he wants to play...it's in his blood--- but really?
Re. the Eagles---a day after making a surprise appearance on the injury report, Cary Williams was on it again on Friday.
The cornerback was listed probable for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings, meaning the hamstring injury he suffered in practice on Thursday likely won't keep him from playing. That's good news for Williams, who has been arguably the team's best cornerback this season. The news wasn't as good for another member of the secondary, however.
Rookie safety Earl Wolff was listed as doubtful with a knee injury, meaning he very well could miss his fourth straight game. Wolff potentially being out means Patrick Chung will make his fourth straight start.
In addition to Wolff and Williams, the Eagles had two others on the injury report. Linebacker/ST Najee Goode (hamstring) is listed as doubtful and cornerback Brandon Boykin (hip) as probable.
But back to the Vikings...
While the Vikings are waiting to see whether running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart are able to play Sunday, they'll have to figure out how to handle one of the league's hottest offenses with a secondary that is looking increasingly thin.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes is doubtful for Sunday's game with a sprained ankle, coach Leslie Frazier said Friday, and cornerback Chris Cook showed up on the Vikings' injury report for the first time Friday with a knee injury that limited him in practice. The oft-injured cornerback is listed as questionable, and if both he and Rhodes were to miss the game, it would leave the Vikings without their top three cornerbacks Sunday. That would mean our own Shaun Prater, whom the Vikings signed off the Eagles PS8, will be seeing some major playing time on Sunday.
Frazier said he would likely start Marcus Sherels in place of Rhodes, but he would have to figure out another plan if Cook were unable to go. The Vikings have been using safety Robert Blanton at cornerback, and he would likely play there Sunday. Shaun Prater is also healthy, and the Vikings have cornerbacks Kip Edwards and Robert Steeples on their practice squad. They also worked out several cornerbacks this week, Frazier said.
"When we’re getting as thin as we are, everybody is a candidate to be moved around," Frazier said. "So you don’t rule out any possibilities at this point."
The Vikings have the league's second-worst defense this season as it is, and with so many players missing in the secondary, they could apparently be easy prey for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles on Sunday. But remember, we once said that about Green Bay's Sam Shields...
In other Vikings injury news:
- Running back Toby Gerhart did some work in practice Friday, though Frazier said the Vikings didn't test his quickness as much as his overall stride. They will continue to evaluate him Saturday and possibly Sunday. "To get out there and move around, I felt pretty good," Gerhart said. "We'll take it day-to-day, keep getting treatment, keep evaluating and see what happens."
- Tight end John Carlson will miss Sunday's game with a concussion, leaving the Vikings with only Rhett Ellison and Chase Ford at the position.
- Cornerback Josh Robinson (fractured sternum) is still out.
- Guard Brandon Fusco (knee) did not practice Friday and is doubtful for Sunday's game, though Frazier said Fusco "has a chance" to play. The Vikings had guard Jeff Baca -- who has been inactive for all but one game this season -- working in Joe Berger's special-teams spot Friday, indicating they would likely put Berger at Fusco's right guard spot.
- Linebackers Larry Dean (knee) and Chad Greenway (wrist) are probable for Sunday's game. Greenway, who has been playing with a broken wrist all season, said he has been able to function better now that he's playing with a pad on both sides of his wrist, rather than a full cast, and sounded optimistic Friday that he wouldn't need surgery to set the bone after the season.
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Oh my, THE Navy is leading the Army Black Knights, 17-0, at halftime at the Linc, where it is snowing like a mofo and eliciting delightful memories of the Eagles' recent "Thrilla in Vanilla"... I don't know why, but we seem to love watching football played in the snow...
And as you may know, THE Navy is my backup team--- and not those filthy dirty Ravens.
The cold and the snow and the sleet outside my house lead me to pleasant thoughts again of our team chaplain, the engineer of our collective souls' possibilities, Palm Feathers, who runs a volunteer navy of his own, patrolling the Gulf coast Saturday night in chilly 65 degrees F. weather...