Vikings players and coordinators tried to get their fans primed for the season and excited about the product Tuesday night with the introduction of the players at the Mall of America's rotunda.
About 500 hundred fans were present in the rotunda and lining the first two levels of the mall to hear a couple of questions thrown the coordinators' way and hear players introduce their fellow teammates, position-by-position. Throughout the event, the players and emcee Paul Allen, the play-by-play radio voice of the Vikings, reminded fans to buy the remaining tickets for Sunday's season opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
About 3,500 tickets still needed to be sold Tuesday afternoon, according to vice president of public affairs Lester Bagley, to avoid a blackout on local television. That is the number remaining to get to the 62,000 required to be considered a sellout, meaning there are more than 5,500 tickets available in total.
Asked what kind of offense the Vikings were going to have this year, coordinator Darrell Bevell said: "One that scores a lot of points. That's the first thing we're going to do. I tell (defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier) all the time we want to outscore the defense."
The Vikings have been running ads frequently on television broadcast partner Fox 9 during its newscasts, and the team is hoping that first-round draft pick Adrian Peterson brings additional excitement to the team.
"The first word that comes to my mind is fast," Bevell said when Allen asked him about Peterson.
Frazier drew a hearty round of applause when he was introduced and said that after winning the Super Bowl as a player with the Chicago Bears and as an assistant coach with the Indianapolis Colts, he'd like to bring a championship to Minnesota as a coordinator.
Speaking about this year's defense, Frazier said, "I'm hoping to create turnovers, put the offense on a short field and score some points."
Local product Matt Birk started the player introductions and joked that the offensive linemen take "a lot of pride in our personal appearance." His group was the first to be introduced while wearing their jerseys and a ragtag selection of shorts, jeans and even sweat pants.
Defensive end Kenechi Udeze introduced the defensive lineman, saying they were gunning for "more sacks – sacks cause fumbles – and get more wins for the Minnesota Vikings."
Jim Kleinsasser said Visanthe Shiancoe and newly signed Garrett Mills will "add a little flash for tight ends this year."
One of the loudest moments of applause came when fullback Tony Richardson introduced Peterson, and Richardson did nothing to squash the enthusiasm.
"I personally think this is going to be the best running back group in the National Football League," Richardson said before making his own pitch for fans to buy tickets and make noise for the defense during third downs at the Metrodome.
Safety Mike Doss told the crowd that the players "definitely need your support."
Wide receiver Bobby Wade told the fans that the new group of wide receivers is going to be doing "a lot of dancing, a lot of singing in the end zone, so you all get ready."
Head coach Brad Childress (shortly after stumbling on his way up the steps to the stage) said he isn't in the business of making predictions, but "the fun in this business is not the preparations – it's the winning."
After a 6-10 season in 2006 and slumping ticket sales, Childress told the crowd, "We need each and every one of you."
In fact, the Vikings had a table set up behind the crowd at which they were selling tickets, a fact that Allen pointed out before wrapping up the festivities with this: "We'll see you at the game Sunday when we beat those Dirty Birds."
Vikings Introduce Team, Promote Ticket Sales
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