Sunday morning, Lindsey Lorentson of Rosemount will rise, don her purple underwear, purple leggings, purple jersey, purple wig, purple face paint and fistfuls of purple beads to transform into Purplelicious, a Vikings superfan who admits she guzzles the purple Kool-Aid, bleeds purple and wants NOTHING more than a Vikings victory — setting off a wave of purple joy among thousands of purple-clad fans.
And, in the process, hopefully, oh please, oh please, banish previous punches to the purple gut.
“The pain is there. Oh, it’s there. But I’m not afraid,” said Lorentson, who has been a fan since 1987 (Darrin Nelson’s drop at the goal line). “This year feels different.”
What is it they say about hope? That it springs eternal? So how would philosophers describe the hope — never far away from gut-wrenching fear — of Minnesota Vikings fans? From members of the Vikings World Order, composed of purple-painted superfans, to die-hard team followers who haven’t missed a game home or away in decades, a persistent, lingering hope has been gaining force with every 2017-18 Vikings victory. That this, despite so many heartbreaks, could finally be the year. And that it could happen with the Vikings being the first team in history to win the game in its home stadium, adds a whole new level of different.
So, purple hope refuses to die. Even for those fans who have witnessed so many of those psychic body blows in person.
Bob Repin, 47, of Chicago — known to friends as VikingBob — has been a Vikings fan since age 7, when a Bears game blackout led to him watching a Vikings game instead. Sunday’s game will be the 199th in a row — home and away — he has attended. That’s every Vikings game since New Year’s Day 2006.
He was in the Superdome for the NFC Championship during the 2009 season (Bountygate). He was at TCF Bank Stadium two years ago for the subzero game against the Seahawks (Blair Walsh, wide left). He noted that he’s witnessed joys as well (every game of Adrian Peterson’s 2,000-plus-yard 2012 MVP season).
“I’m cautiously optimistic. I feel good about the seeding and about the rest of the playoff field,” he said. “Although the team that scares me the most is New Orleans.”
Repin, who drives to every home game from Chicago, said he uses those six hours each way to think about what drives his love of the Vikings — and he can’t explain his passionate connection to this team. But he said he knows it will endure.
“There is no reason to live and die with this, and yet we do,” he said. “People ask me, ‘Why did you pick the Vikings?’ I didn’t pick the Vikings. The Vikings picked me.”
Yet, even the Vikings’ most upbeat fans often admit to a kernel of anxiety, a stubborn stain of doubt in the very core of their being. Social media sites this week are overflowing with posts by Vikings fans expressing extremely guarded confidence, as well as persistent worry that saying anything too ambitious out loud could jinx the whole thing.
An online headline this week in the Chanhassen Villager summed up the yin and yang of Vikings fans very well: “I-35W bridge to turn purple this weekend (no pressure, Vikings, ha-ha, oh God please win).”
Despite the pain, the fans and their hope persist.
According to the Vikings, more than a quarter of their season-ticket holders have held their tickets for 20 years or more. Nearly 20 percent have had their tickets for 30 years or more. And nearly 10 percent of Vikings season-ticket holders have been attending home games for more than 50 years. The team has season-ticket holders in all 50 states, said spokesman Jeff Anderson, and nearly 2 percent of ticket holders live outside the U.S.
Jeff Allison of Park City, Utah, likes to point out he was born in 1961, the same as the Vikings. He became a fan of the purple in 1968.
While Utah friends attached to the Rams, or 49ers, or Raiders, he fell in love with Vikings defensive back and Hall-of-Famer Paul Krause. He has eight season tickets and will attend Sunday’s playoff game against New Orleans with an entourage that includes his wife, children and grandchildren.
“It would be awesome,” the Utah ski-shop owner said of a long-awaited Super Bowl victory. “It’s been what I’ve been dreaming about since the mid-’70s.”
Allison said he “vividly remembers” when the Joe Kapp Vikings lost to the Chiefs in Super Bowl IV (coach Hank Stram annoyingly miked for sound), yet he refuses to hold on to negativity. Some fans have said they’d almost rather the Vikings not make the Super Bowl so they won’t lose for a fifth time.
“We’ve had good years, and bad years, but we always try to stay positive,” said Allison, who was at the Metrodome for the NFC Championship Game in 1998 (Gary Anderson, wide left). “I’m nervous too. But I would rather see them get there.”
Lorentson said she and her Vikings World Order friends plan to do their part Sunday, as they cheer, and hope, and maybe pray, that this year, after all the other years, will be the one that finally rewards her purple faith.
“I’m an optimistic, positive person,” she said, when asked how she feels about the Saints game. “Maybe a little anxiety. But that’s just because I want it so bad. I want it for our state. I want it for our fans. I want it for our team. And I am going to be so loud, that I plan on having no voice on Monday.”
James Walsh • 651-925-5041