The Vikings have had to make long roads as part of their work schedule in the past, from South Florida to San Diego to upstate New York.
But their trip this week to London is a completely new animal, at least in the last three decades. With a six-hour time difference, the Vikings are spending the early portion of their work week trying to acclimate themselves to the new time zone in England.
However, the Vikings aren’t overly concerned about the logistics of the trip because, as the seventh NFL regular season game played at Wembley Stadium, the process has worked the bugs out and is efficient on how they schedule practices and team activities. While a long way from the Metrodome, the phantom home game will attempt to be business as usual.
“I think we’ll be fine,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “Teams have done it in the past and it’s worked out. A schedule has been stamped out that other teams have used. The reality is for us, you get lost in the fact you’re taking a trip over there to play a game, but the reality is where we’re at in our season and the severity of this game for us and obviously for Pittsburgh too, (the Steelers are) in the same boat we are. We have to go over there and be able to focus. I’ve seen how Steelers fans travel, so I’m not sure how much of a home game it’ll be, but I know our fans will be there loud and proud.”
The biggest hurdle will be to try to keep things as normal as they can be when you’re on the other side of the world. So will it make for a strange work week?
“I don’t think so,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “They’re going to make it so, for us, it’s a normal work week. Obviously, we won’t be here, at our own house, but it doesn’t matter. We can use that as an opportunity to come together as a team. I think it’ll be extremely important for us, going over there, to try to use this week as a springboard to come together as a group and get our first win.”
Getting rid of that zero in the win column is the ultimate goal of the faraway home game Sunday and the Vikings aren’t viewing their trip to England as a vacation. It’s serious stuff and that’s how the players are viewing it.
“We’re 0-3, so we just have to treat it like a business trip,” defensive end Brian Robison said. “We both need a win, so it should be a hard-fought game.”
The Vikings were getting down to the business of practicing like a typical Wednesday – except being on the other side of the world. The team intends to keep its practice regimen as similar to what it does at Winter Park as possible, except the practice field is outside at their hotel.
Pittsburgh rookie running back Le’Veon Bell, who was expected to win the starting job for the Steelers before being sidelined in the preseason, is expected to make his regular-season debut Sunday.
Former Viking Nate Burleson, who is Detroit’s leading receiver, suffered a broken arm that will require surgery and sideline him for at least a month. Burleson was driving in a Detroit suburb at 2:25 a.m. Tuesday morning when, according to the police report, a pizza he had laying on the passenger seat of his 2009 Yukon began sliding off the seat. In an attempt to save the pizza, he took his eyes off the road and hit a median wall. Alcohol was not involved in the incident.
Vikings fans should be hoping Sunday’s broadcast will include the national anthem. Of all the singers who could get asked to sing the Star Spangled Banner for Sunday’s Vikings-Steelers game, KISS bassist Gene Simmons got the nod. Simmons sang the national anthem last year in Oakland – wearing full KISS makeup. No word yet if he plans to don the platform shoes and trademark makeup or not.
So much for a home-field advantage. The betting line on the Vikings-Steelers game opened with Pittsburgh listed as a one-point favorite.
The Vikings bought 500 tickets for tonight’s Game 1 of the WNBA Western Conference Finals between the Lynx and Phoenix. The tickets were given away for free Tuesday.
Bus Cook, the agent for Brett Favre, who became infamous for his mafia-style of answering media questions (“what’s a truck?”) threw out a red herring this week, claiming that Brett Favre is as healthy now as he has been in years and could make a comeback if he wanted to. That would be worth the price of admission, but it appears Favre finally made good on his retirement pledge and will remain in Mississippi.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.