Twins have fans in purple

Several Minnesota Twins were cheering on the Vikings from the sidelines Monday night, and the support is reciprocal. Vikings players shared their reaction to the Twins' extra-innings play-in win against the Tigers, a message that crosses sporting lines.

Among the 68,000 spectators at Monday night's Vikings win over Green Bay were about a dozen members of the Minnesota Twins, including stars Joe Nathan and Denard Span. The Twins, who were expected to no longer be co-tenants with the Vikings at the Metrodome after last Sunday, have found it hard to say goodbye to their home of 28 years.

Between their sweep of the Kansas City Royals last weekend to Monday's record-setting cable viewing audience for the Vikings and Packers Monday night to the one-game playoff for the division championship Tuesday, the Metrodome has been transformed from a much-maligned dump to the Mecca of the sports world.

While the Twins and Vikings don't rub elbows all that often, one thing they've learned is that they have a lot of fans in the Vikings locker room.

South Dakota native Ben Leber said he's been a fan of the Twins for a long time and that the strong play of both teams in September has made other sports fans somewhat jealous of Minnesotans.

"I've been following the Twins for the last few weeks," Leber said. "Everybody was cheering for them (Tuesday) and hope they can keep it going. It's been a great time to be a sports fan in Minnesota."

The Vikings have found themselves much in the same position the Twins were on Monday night – athletes-turned-fans for players of a different sport.

"I watched the entire game and was as nervous and excited as everybody else," Ryan Longwell said. "It's been a pretty remarkable 72 hours for the Metrodome with the Twins playing there over the weekend, us on Monday night and their 163rd game on Tuesday. It's been something else."

The mutual admiration runs pretty deep. While most of the players for the Vikings and Twins aren't personal friends, many have met one another through team functions at the Metrodome. Both teams have been caught up in the success of the other and, if there was any way to top Monday night's excitement in Brett Favre's first game against the Packers, the Twins and Tigers may have exceeded it with their back-and-forth extra-innings struggle Tuesday with a playoff berth on the line.

"I know the Twins were watching us and cheering for us on the sidelines," quarterback Sage Rosenfels said. "We've done the same with them. I watched the whole game. That was one of the best baseball games I've ever seen. Both teams had a chance to win in those final three or four innings. You couldn't ask for a better baseball game – two teams that were equal for 162 games and equal until the 12th inning of the 163rd game. There was a lot of drama there."

Chad Greenway has been a lifelong Twins fan and was in attendances for the 163rd game. His ties to the Metrodome go back long before his coming to play there as a member of the Iowa football team or the Vikings.

"I've been a Twins fans since I was a little kid," Greenway said. "The first professional baseball game I ever saw was the Twins during the 1991 (World Series-winning) season against the California Angels. I remember they won 5-3. It was a great experience."

The prize the Twins got for winning their way into the playoffs may not be all it was cracked up to be – a date with the New York Yankees, the only Major League team to win 100 games this year and a team that swept all seven of their regular-season games against the Twins and have a 1-0 lead in the American League Divisional Playoffs. The Twins are down, but not yet out – something they have shown the ability to come back from before and something that may bode them well as their new collection of fans in the Vikings locker room cheer for David to knock off Goliath.

"It's a testament to the characters of those guys that they fought until the end," center John Sullivan said. "Even when it looked like they didn't have much of a chance, they kept fighting. It paid off for them. I'm happy for those guys and they're proof that you're never out of it as long as you believe and don't give up."


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