At Lambeau, Vikings' touchdown scorers know to beware of flying beers
EAGAN, Minn. — A lifelong fan of football and its traditions, Kyle Rudolph had to go vertical after scoring his first touchdown at storied Lambeau Field in 2012.
The Vikings tight end reeled in a seven-yard scoring strike from Christian Ponder, then turned and headed straight for the stands. Rudolph spotted a few Vikings fans and deemed that to be a safe spot to elevate for his attempt at the legendary Lambeau Leap.
Not so much.
"Yeah, they didn't like that too much," Rudolph said.
Rudolph and some of his teammates might have to use caution — or throw it to the wind — on Sunday. The Vikings return to Lambeau Field for a noon kickoff against their arch nemesis.
The last time, Rudolph smelled like beer the rest of the game, and those "those poor fans," he said, "were covered in beer the rest of the game. It was just flying from all over the place. I won't be doing that again."
Rudolph swears he didn't mean any disrespect by his celebration.
"It just was more of a respect thing that I always wanted to do it," Rudolph said. "I honestly think it's something every kid has always wanted to do."
The same goes for receiver Adam Thielen, who decided to leap into the Lambeau masses after torching the Green Bay secondary for a 71-yard score in 2016. No, he wasn't well received.
"I got booed pretty hard," Thielen said.
Even by his allies. One of his college football teammates from his team at Minnesota State-Mankato — a Packers fan — texted him after the game saying, "Good touchdown, but I was part of the booing."
"I didn't get any beer," Thielen said.
You sure about that?
"I mean, not that I know of. I'm sure I probably did," he said. "I found as many Vikings fans as I could to make sure I wouldn't get too much heat in there."
Still, there is no certified safe zone for opponents at Lambeau, not even on the field. Stefon Diggs didn't seek out the stands after scoring in the first quarter of Minnesota's win at Green Bay last December, yet still had a beer bombed in his direction.
"That was so exciting," Diggs deadpanned. "I don't particularly drink alcohol — I definitely don't drink beer — but that's Lambeau for you."
Luckily for the Vikings receiver, the fan missed. The beverage fell safely to the field as Diggs re-emerged from the stadium tunnel moments after his score.
"If it hit me in the helmet, I would've laid on the ground for 20 minutes and got medi-vacced," Diggs joked. "It would've been another story."
None of the Vikings players recalled these Packers stories with even a hint of anger; if anything, they seem to appreciate one of football's most unique atmospheres. As Diggs noted, "that's Lambeau for you."
"It's one of my favorite places to play," he added. "Not only because we have a rivalry with Green Bay, but it's definitely one of those stadiums that you get a little juice to play in. It's definitely a different kind of place."
Thielen called Lambeau and the Superdome in New Orleans two of the more difficult places to play. They're the ones with the atmospheres so deafening you can't communicate with your teammates outside of the huddle.
He likes coming onto the field from the little tunnel emerging from the visitors locker room to a slew of crazy Green Bay fans. He enjoys pulling up to the stadium on the team bus to find a sea of tailgaters planted in the parking lot, adult beverage in hand.
"I think it's cool," Thielen said. "That's Sundays, it's football, that's what you want."
And if he gets a Miller Lite chucked at him after the occasional touchdown, so be it.
"It won't affect me too much," Thielen said. "If I score a touchdown, I don't really care what gets dumped on me."