The Vikings sold enough tickets through various avenues in the last 24 hours to avoid their first television blackout in more than 10 years.
The Vikings were given a reprieve by the NFL to sell the approximately 1,400 tickets that remained as of Thursday afternoon to avoid a potential blackout of Sunday's game. They sold enough by noon Friday to allow the game to be televised locally.
Initially, the Vikings were given until noon Thursday to sell the remaining tickets. They asked the league for an extension and it was granted until 2 p.m. today. The team had contacted the local FOX affiliate, which will carry the game, to step in and buy the remaining tickets. FOX 9, several group purchases for local charities and general fans sales allowed for enough tickets to be sold to televise the game on KMSP (FOX 9) at noon Sunday.
The team needed corporate assistance to sell out four games last year to keep alive their current streak of 107 consecutive sellouts. That streak will extend to 108 on Sunday.
The Vikings face at least two or three more potential blackouts – the Oct. 12 game vs. Detroit, the Nov. 2 meeting with Houston and the Dec. 21 game vs. Atlanta.
If they hadn't sold enough tickets, Vikings fans within the 75-mile blackout zone would have had to travel to see the game – the local game is typically blacked out on the NFL Ticket and this Sunday's game would have been no exception.
Some tickets still remain for the Carolina game for those interested, and tickets at various price levels remain for future home games.
The Vikings have discussed the possibility of lining up Antoine Winfield opposite Panthers speedster Steve Smith. Smith typically lines up on the left side of the offense, which would have him matched up most often with Vikings right cornerback Cedric Griffin. The last time Smith played against the Vikings, the team tried a similar tactic, matching him up with Fred Smoot. The result was disastrous – Smith had 11 receptions for 201 yards and Smoot was yanked from the starting lineup.
The NFL sent a memo to teams this week saying that the league is going to crack down on violent hits. Nick Barnett of the Packers has been hit with two fines in two games, getting a $7,500 fine for a horse-collar tackle against the Vikings and another $7,500 for a helmet to helmet hit on Detroit QB Jon Kitna last week. As a show of force, the league suspended Tampa Bay CB Elbert Mack one game without pay for his second violent hit – this time on Atlanta QB Matt Ryan.
Former Viking Tyler Thigpen has been told he is on a short leash for Sunday's game against Atlanta. If the recently named Chiefs starting QB doesn't perform well, he will be yanked in favor of veteran Damon Huard.
The Bucs released former Viking Brandon Sumrall from their practice squad Thursday.