Ryan Longwell was one of several high-profile members of the Green Bay Packers that found a home in Minnesota when the Packers decided to move on with younger, less expensive players – a list that included Darren Sharper and Brett Favre.
The most difficult transition for Longwell was arguably the easiest. He had learned to hate and respect the Metrodome and was shocked by what happened when he kicked his first field goal for the home team.
"Coming over here as a Packer for so many years, it was always deafening when we were trying field goals," Longwell said. "When I attempted my first field goal in the preseason with the Vikings, it was silent. That was the weirdest feeling for me. It was surreal. I got goose bumps."
Longwell's success rate at the Metrodome didn't keep the fans quiet for long. Instead of the crowd screaming before he kicked the ball, the screaming came afterward. His career highlight was making a 50-yard field goal to beat the Giants on the final game of the 2008 season that sent the Vikings to the playoffs. It was about as loud as the Metrodome got because of what was at stake. Longwell said he always got a boost from the Vikings fans that gave him confidence he could make any field goal he attempted.
"The fans were really a big part of things," Longwell said. "Brett always had a hard time communicating and it seemed like our offense was half a step slow more times than not because it was so loud the linemen and the receivers had to look for the ball being snapped because they couldn't always hear the snap count. We struggled and would lose here year after year after year."
When Longwell was named to the All-Metrodome team as its kicker, he decided to bring his entire family back to Minnesota from their South Florida home to be part of the festivities celebrating the history of the Dome.
"My whole family came up here for the game," Longwell said. "We have a lot of happy memories here as a family and I wanted them to be part of this honor with me. Minnesota always seemed like family to me and I'm glad that my family could be part of it. I have great memories of playing with the Packers, but the years my kids grew up here are very special to me and Minnesota will always be a place we all consider home and the Metrodome was a big part of that."
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.