They may not wear capes, but the Vikings that Dan Jurgens watch take the field each Sunday aren’t too far off from the super heroes he spends his weeks with.
Jurgens, a renowned writer and illustrator who’s worked more than 30 years for DC Comics and Marvel Comics, has been a proud supporter of the purple and gold for as long as he can remember. He’s attended games at all four of the Vikings venues and has been a Season Ticket Member for two-thirds of his career.
“If you look at these players and if you look at what they do in terms of maintaining peak physical condition, and the edge they have to play with, in a way, they’re our super heroes,” Jurgens told Vikings.com. “I don’t want to get too caught up in that, but it’s not too big of a leap.”
As an 8-year-old growing up in Ortonville, Minnesota, Jurgens filled his sketchbook with drawings of Joe Kapp, Dave Osborn and other “the Vikings of old,” as the creative calls them.
“I’ve always seen a relationship between the visual aspect of an NFL player in uniform and a super hero in costume,” Jurgens said.
Recently, Jurgens used accrued Vikings Rewards points to enter a sweepstakes for a trip to the 2017 Pro Bowl. Jurgens said he’s entered similar drawings or competitions in the past and usually approaches it with a mentality of throwing his hat in the ring and hoping for the best.
This time, however, he received a phone call saying he’d won.
“It was a complete shock,” Jurgens said.
He and his wife, Ann, were flown to Orlando, where they joined up with two fan representatives from each of the other 31 NFL teams for a unique fan experience.
Jurgens said it was once-in-a-lifetime trip for which he’ll always be grateful to the league and the Vikings organization.
“Fortunately my wife is a football fan as well, so she was totally into it,” Jurgens said. “It was fun to meet the winners from all the other teams, because they were all really into football. And not just their own teams – everybody who was there had this awareness of the NFL.”
One thing that especially impressed Jurgens was the number of fans from other cities that approached him and Anne to inquire about their experience at and impression of U.S. Bank Stadium during its inaugural season.
“It was interesting just to realize how that facility kind of communicates through the [television] broadcast into the other markets,” Jurgens said. “They all told us, ‘That looks so cool. I’ve got to get there somehow.’ ”
The group of fans were grouped according to their respective teams’ division and attended a variety of events, including Saturday’s AFC and NFC practice sessions, an interactive session on officiating led by NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino, and a private meet-and-greet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before Sunday’s game.
An additional session Jurgens enjoyed was the opportunity to join a crowd of youth football coaches and hear from Ray Lewis and Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis.
“They had a lot of really good things to say about their careers, how they approach life and things that we can all [apply to our lives],” Jurgens said. “So that was very beneficial.”
On game day, the NFL hosted a brunch for the fan representatives, and each guest was presented with a jersey of their respective team. All of the jerseys were No. 17 for 2017, and each nameplate had “Pro Bowl” embroidered on it.
Similar to the Pro Bowl experience for the players, Jurgens said it was a special experience to bond with a room full of people wearing opposing jerseys.
“It was a very diverse group, from a lot of different backgrounds, and we got to know each other that way,” Jurgens said. “Finding out the feelings about their teams, their favorite players and everything like that. It was very special.
“Everybody sort of being in the same boat and having that one aspect of the NFL being the tie that was there to bind everybody together,” he added.
The weekend culminated with attending the Pro Bowl together as a group. Jurgens said he felt proud to watch the six players in Vikings Purple representing Minnesota in the all-star game.
“It was fun to see all the Vikings – just about half the defense and
Perhaps it’s fitting that a man who writes about and illustrates super heroes for a living is also a passionate fan of a team named after warriors of old.
Having written or drawn most every major title published by DC Comics and Marvel Comics, Jurgens is now currently working on two titles – one Batman and one Superman, whom he says he’s had a longstanding affiliation with. If you ask Jurgens which character is his favorite, however, he’ll tell you that it’s no more possible to have a favorite super hero than it is to have a favorite child.
“Superman is a character that I’ve had a long relationship with and have a great affinity for, but I also like a lot of other characters,” Jurgens said before adding the following:
“The mythology of old sort of comes to life in modern times today, and I think that’s where we tell these big, sweeping, epic stories of heroism […] We see that in movies, and we see that in print and in comics. That’s really the kind of narrative that we’re sculpting these days.”
And just like the tales he’s been creating for years, Jurgens hopes to see his favorite team write its own story in 2017, complete with a plot twist and valiant ending.
“Of course, the 2017 Vikings are set up for the ultimate adventure,” Jurgens said. “What story could possibly be better than a team playing in and winning the Super Bowl in its very own stadium? True, it’s never been done. But all that means is that the Vikings are presented with the perfect opportunity to be the first.”
Jurgens is one of 25,000-plus fans who have created Vikings Rewards accounts and are racking up points by attending Vikings events, watching videos and reading Vikings.com content, and interacting on social media. Those points can then be exchanged for a number of fun perks, memorabilia items, experiences and rewards.
To sign up for Vikings Rewards, click here.