What exactly goes into a Vikings gameday?
It's a question that is often asked, but many people aren't aware of the down-to-the-second details surrounding it.
Whether it's at U.S. Bank Stadium or on the road, there's so much happening behind the scenes.
The NFL and FOX 9 KMSP recently provided exclusive looks at everything that occurs before the Vikings even take the field on Sundays.
In the “24 hours to kick-off” video produced by the NFL, camera crews captured details such as getting equipment prepared the day before the game and workouts led by the health and performance staff. The episode also spotlighted entertainment elements that add to the energy of a game day.
Vikings Senior Director of Entertainment Marketing Greg Bostrom said he wants fans to be able to have an experience when attending a game.
"We know there's a football game that's going to be played, that's the main reason people come, [but] we want it to be so much more than that," Bostrom said. "We want you to feel something when you're at a game, feel like you're part of a community, feel like you're impacting what happens on the field.
"We can have the crowd as energized as they need to be on a key third down, we can lead to a false start for the other team, but beyond that, we know we're impacting the lives of 66,000 people in the building every single game," Bostrom continued. "Whether or not the team wins, people will remember how they feel on that day and a lot of those feelings are lifelong memories."
Bostrom said the production and entertainment crews with the Vikings and U.S. Bank Stadium rely on teamwork to achieve success, much like Vikings coaches and players.
"The pregame sequence is so integrated, there's so many people that are doing their job simultaneously for it to go off without a hitch," Bostrom said. "There's timing with TV, there's timing with NFL rules. When we do kick off on time with a thunderous applause from the crowd and now the team gets to take over and do what they've been preparing for, there is always a feeling of a job well done."
In the “Showtime” feature, FOX 9 KSMP used 15 cameras to chronicle how everything operates and comes together to help create the energizing atmosphere of a Vikings home game.
From making sure that equipment works properly to getting everybody in place and in sync, the Vikings "Showtime" sequence was named the best in-game sports entertainment in North America this year.
Look back at photos over the course of time featuring games between the Vikings and the Giants.
"This is all of our peers looking at all of the work that we've all done and saying, 'In sports, you guys are doing it best,' " Bostrom said. "It's never old hat for this crew, but we do have one of the best crews in the business. I take a lot of comfort in knowing everybody is here to do their job and we have the best camera guys, the best replay guys [and] the best people on the field."
As part of their game-day experience, the Vikings will have rap artist and actor Ludacris performing at halftime of Sunday's Wild Card game against the Giants.
Vikings look to utilize tight-knit bond in postseason
From the moment Kevin O'Connell took his first steps as Head Coach of the Vikings, the first-year leader quickly emphasized the importance of team culture.
He brought in a logo that would express the values he envisioned for his team. A shield, known as "The Culture Shield," has the following words on it:
A massive version made of wood and metal is mounted on a wall of the players' entry hallway. They pass it each day on their way in and out of the building.
O'Connell has continued to strengthen that culture throughout the season and build a bond amongst his players. The result? A 13-win season for just the third time in franchise history, a division title for the first time since 2017 and the Vikings first playoff appearance in three seasons.
Eleven of Minnesota's 13 victories this season came by a one-score margin, setting an NFL record.
Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune analyzed that tight-knit bond that has remained constant for the Vikings ahead of Minnesota's home playoff game against the Giants on Sunday. He wrote:
To make a run through the NFC playoffs, the Vikings will have to overcome the loss of right tackle Brian O'Neill against a series of formidable pass rushing groups, hope their defense holds up against a field that includes three of the NFL's six best offenses and avoid the special teams mistakes that have sunk Vikings teams of the past.
As they see it, though, their 11 close victories are proof they can withstand the heightened tension of the postseason and a primer for what they'll face.
"I don't think that anyone in sport would tell you that being more connected is going to hurt your team," defensive tackle Harrison Phillips said. "So definitely some of those games when you look back — down 10 against this team, or down 33, whatever. I think some of those [strong] relationships are just like, 'I know this player. I've seen him in the weight room. I've seen him watch his film in practice. I trust he's dialed in, he's going to do his job.' So probably some of that would have carried with us and I'm sure we'll lean on that again, through hopefully this next four-game stretch."
That bond was certainly tested during Minnesota's Week 15 game against Indianapolis. The Colts capitalized on the Vikings mistakes and built a 33-0 halftime lead. But Minnesota stuck with it, kept fighting and ultimately won in overtime 39-36 to complete the largest comeback in NFL history.
Afterward, edge rusher Danielle Hunter said, "I feel like in some games, because of the bond we have, sometimes it magically makes us win the game. Because we can execute like normal."
The Vikings will have a strong blend of players with plenty of playoff experience and others who are making their debuts. Goessling wrote:
[Wide receiver Adam] Thielen, in his 10th season with the Vikings, will play in just his sixth playoff game this weekend. Cornerback Patrick Peterson, in his 12th NFL season, will play in his fourth.
They have been perhaps the two veterans who've spoken most about the preciousness of the opportunity before the 2022 Vikings and the uniqueness of the group trying to seize it.
"I mean, this is what you play for, these types of moments — putting yourself in position to solidify your name forever," Peterson said. "For me, you have to be able to relish these moments, because quite frankly, I haven't had many opportunities. When I came into the league, that was one of my goals: to be a Super Bowl champion. Obviously, that's a team goal, and a lot of hands have to go into the pot to achieve that. But we have the guys in this locker room that are able to achieve that goal."
Thielen added a bond like the one the Vikings have doesn't happen overnight.
"You just don't have a locker room like this, have a coaching staff [like this]," Thielen said. "Kind of really this whole building right now; that culture just doesn't always happen. So when you have it, you appreciate it and you tend to be a little more grateful for everything that's going on."