See more of the story

Horned heads, skol signs and a tide of purple patriotism rolled into Minneapolis on Sunday as Vikings fans flocked to the team's first regular-season game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

In addition to the excitement that comes with any game, and especially a home opener, there was this: The unwritten story of the season — a blank slate upon which fans would chisel an optimistic narrative.

After all, as of the noon kickoff Sunday, the team was undefeated. (By the end of the game, they were not.)

Marshall Spaeth, who turned 10 on Sunday, carries a sign announcing the occasion while his brother Landan, 11, looks on outside US Bank Stadium.
Marshall Spaeth, who turned 10 on Sunday, carries a sign announcing the occasion while his brother Landan, 11, looks on outside US Bank Stadium.

Dave Orrick, Star Tribune

"I think they'll lose maybe one or two games, but they'll win all the rest," declared Marshall Spaeth, who was spending his 10th birthday at his first Vikings game with his brother Lindan, 11, and parents Jon and Christen.

Like many in the morning masses milling about, they had come a ways; the Spaeths drove three hours from Aurora, Minn.

"I woke up at 5:30, got my gear and was ready to go," said Marshall, who watched every game on TV last season but had never been to the big city, much less the purple palace to see a game.

Kori Tollefson of Grand Forks, N.D., arrived at the game in his Vikings jersey declaring not a player's name on the back shoulder, but rather "Someday."

Tollefson said he came up with the idea after discovering, "I'm cursed. Every player's jersey I get, he leaves the next season." He ticked off several former Vikings whose careers had fallen victim to the Tollefson Curse.

"I won't buy a Justin Jefferson jersey," he said, referring to the team's star wider receiver. "Can't do it. We need him."

Jefferson's No. 18 was easily the most prolific jersey spotted outside the stadium Sunday — but wearing it didn't mean one was a born-and-bred Minnesotan.

In fact, among the first waves of fans in the downtown parade of purpled pedestrians Sunday morning, it was hard to find locals.

Their points of origin were as varied as their Vikings origin stories.

There were Mike and Carrie Smithgall who made the trip from Charlotte, N.C. A New York native, Mike Smithgall said he fell in love with the Vikings more than 50 years ago when he happened to see them play the then-Boston Patriots.

"They've been my team ever since," he said, adding that the couple has attended a number of road games over the years but never been to Minneapolis before.

How did Carrie become a Vikings fan? "I'm with him," she said, nodding toward her husband.

Rick Fogue — "that's Norwegian," he interjects to note his kinship with the team — of Des Moines said he's been coming to Vikings home openers since 2012, "And they've never lost one I've come to."

"We live in a sea of green and yellow, and it's awful," he said, referring to the Green Bay Packers fans who seem to smother his neighborhood.

Opening day in Minneapolis, he said, is a chance to feel the Vikings diaspora up close and personal, including reuniting with fellow out-of-town fans he's met over the years — including some with names like his.

"It's like a way of coming to a small Norwegian experience."

Mick Adkins of Thompson's Station, Tenn., said he and his older brother watched Vikings games as children, always preferring the Purple People Eaters to closer alternatives in Cincinnati or Indianapolis.

Now he and his wife, Ellen Appleton Adkins — a Kaukauna, Wis., native whose Vikings conversion was eased by Brett Favre's — catch a game in Minneapolis once a year.

On Sunday, he sported a jersey with Bud Grant's name across the top. The legendary Vikings coach died in March.

"I wish he was still around to see this year because it's gonna be a special season."