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TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis will host Minnesota Vikings home games for the next two seasons while the NFL team gets a new stadium built to replace the Metrodome. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Vikings hope to create better TCF Bank Stadium memories

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MANKATO, Minn. – The forecast calls for the Twin Cities on Friday to be about 60 degrees warmer than they were on Dec. 20, 2010. So that’s a good start.

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When the Vikings open their preseason schedule Friday night against Oakland, it will mark the first game they have played at TCF Bank Stadium since a frigid night four years ago. The Vikings are spending the 2014 and 2015 seasons at TCF with the Metrodome demolished and the team biding time until its new indoor stadium opens in 2016.

The Vikings had one of their most miserable outings in recent years in their only previous visit to TCF. Playing in 23-degree temperatures on Monday Night Football on an icy field, they were drilled 40-14 by the Chicago Bears. It marked the final game in the 20-year NFL career of quarterback Brett Favre, who was knocked out with a second-quarter concussion and did not play in Minnesota’s final two regular-season games that season.

“It was just a terrible night,” said defensive end Brian Robison, one of 10 Vikings players remaining from the 2010 team.

It was the team’s most lopsided defeat during a turbulent season. After having advanced to the NFC Championship Game the previous year under a rejuvenated Favre, the Vikings fell apart in 2010. Coach Brad Childress was fired after a 3-7 start, and they finished 6-10.

The game was moved outdoors to TCF after the Metrodome roof had collapsed Dec. 12, 2010, early on the morning of a scheduled home game against the New York Giants. That game ended up being shifted to Detroit’s Ford Field on Dec. 13.

There was no heating system under the TCF Bank Stadium field in 2010, something that since has been added. The field conditions were bad early in evening, and they got worse as the night went on.

“The thing I remember the most is in pregame warmups, when we were doing this little pass-rush drill, I came around the corner and before I knew it, I was lying on my butt,” Robison said. “So (the field) was pretty slick.”

The Vikings took a 7-0 first-quarter lead on what would be Favre’s 508th – and last – touchdown pass of his career, hitting Percy Harvin from 23 yards out. But the Bears led 10-7 when Favre dropped back to pass in the second quarter.

Defensive end Corey Wootton, then a Chicago rookie, beat Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie. Wootton plowed into Favre, who went to the ground, his head bouncing off the turf.

“When Favre got hit, his head hit the turf and it was like concrete,” Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen said. “It was rock hard.”

Favre, then 41, later said he was out cold for 10 to 15 seconds. He eventually got up and walked slowly to the sideline, never to return.

“It’s hard when you lose your quarterback, especially one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time,” Vikings tackle Phil Loadholt said. “So that was tough for us.”

Wootton is with the Vikings now, having signed in March as a free agent. Looking back, he said it was a bittersweet night. He got his first career sack and the Bears clinched the NFC North championship, but Wootton felt bad about what had happened to Favre.

“It was just unfortunate that he got hurt,” Wootton said. “You never want to see anybody go down with a concussion, especially with all the traumatic brain injuries and things like that. I definitely felt for him.”

Now, Wootton will make his Minnesota debut at TCF. And the Vikings will seek to start putting together some happier moments at the stadium.

“We’ve got eight chances (in regular-season games) to make it better memories,” Robison said. “Obviously, it was a bad memory (in 2010). We got our tails kicked. But hopefully we can have a much better record this year at TCF.”

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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