The Free Press, Mankato, MN


January 5, 2013

Ojanpa: Fans ready to foam at the mouth

— Before the 1972 Super Bowl, enigmatic Dallas Cowboys running back Duane Thomas waxed ironic about all the hype and hubbub:

“If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year?”

That type of perspective might serve fans well at tonight’s ballyhooed  bacchanal otherwise referred to as the Vikings-Packers playoff game.

Lambeau Field in Green Bay will be the site of this Clash of the Titans. But that’s a reference to the action in the stands, not on the field.

To be blunt, drinking will be involved. Yes, that is a hyperbolic  understatement, delivered for wry effect.

 Saying that drinking will be involved at this uber-heralded Vikings-Packers matchup is like saying a meat wagon is of some interest to a starving dog.

The security staff at Lambeau Field — that has to be a job born in hell — is all too aware of the ramifications of such a commingling of face-painted sots.  

So in hopes of minimizing the alcoholic carnage about to ensue, the Packers organization has taken steps to further protect fans from each other and themselves.

The special rule for this game: No booze will be sold after halftime.

This is a tightening of the normal restriction at Lambeau that ends alcohol sales after the third quarter, but this game is not being viewed as normal because the Vikings and Packers are “hated border rivals,” a media-fueled heap of nonsense that fans have always gulped hook, line and 16-ouncer.

Many jokes have been made about Packer fans’ penchant for pounding  pilsners as if Prohibition starts anew tomorrow. But joking about hammered Wisconsinites is too easy — and too myopic.

Unruly football fans, like creeping charlie, have become an invasive species at virtually all NFL game venues.

And as wildly successful as the NFL has become, its poobahs know its in-stadium Achilles heel is the rowdyism in the stands.

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