Vikes prepare for Green Bay

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — The narrow parking lot was choked with limousines. Part of the tiny media room was turned into a makeup room for a national television crew.
Len Dawson, Cris Collinsworth and Jerry Glanville watched practice.
As if anyone needed any reminders of how important the next game is for the Minnesota Vikings, the atmosphere at team headquarters Tuesday said it all.
Monday night’s game at Green Bay will be the most anticipated regular-season game for either team since, well, the last time they played. The Packers won that game at the Metrodome last Dec. 1, also a Monday night. That all but sealed Green Bay’s third straight NFC Central title, and next week’s winner will take the early lead.
“It’ll be pretty big,” coach Dennis Green said, smiling slyly at the understatement.
The Vikings (4-0) opened the season with an important win, easily handling Tampa Bay in a game billed as one that would determine Green Bay’s most serious challenger in the division. The Vikings have continued in that role the last three weeks, and now have a chance to prove they are bona fide Super Bowl contenders.
Although everyone understands what’s at stake, Green has tried to keep things as normal as possible. Instead of giving the players Tuesday off and beginning preparation for the upcoming game on Wednesday as usual, Green called for practice Tuesday and gave the players Wednesday off. That means the schedule the rest of the week will be the same as if the game was being played Sunday.
The fewer disruptions, the better, which will become even more important Thursday, when an even larger media throng is expected at Winter Park.
“Denny has the same attitude every week,” tight end Greg DeLong said. “He keeps the same schedule for a Monday night game against Green Bay, or against Detroit or Tampa Bay. I guess he’s kind of superstitious. He doesn’t like to change. As a player, you like that.”
The Vikings are 4-0 for the second time in Green’s tenure (1996), but for only the second time since 1975, when they started 10-0. Green Bay (4-0) hasn’t won its first four games since 1966 and hasn’t been 5-0 since ’65.
If the Vikings can snap the Packers’ 29-game winning streak at Lambeau Field — just two short of Miami’s NFL-record home winning streak — they will legitimize the championship aspirations they have been talking about since training camp opened in July.
“We’ve just got to get geeked for this,” defensive end Stalin Colinet said. “It’s make or break right here.”
Chicken flap
After Tuesday’s practice, the Minnesota Vikings had fried chicken catered in for lunch. Later that afternoon, an animal rights group criticized John Randle for picking on that segment of the poultry family.
No, the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals doesn’t care what Randle eats. The group is upset by the television commercial in which the All-Pro defensive tackle chases a chicken that is wearing the No. 4 jersey of Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre.
“Why the big flap?” asks the group’s news release. “The commercial mimics what psychologists now see as a sign of criminal mentality, in that pleasure is apparently derived from trauma inflicted on a vulnerable animal.”
The group contends that studies indicate such behavior “shows a consistent pattern of cruelty to animals among perpetrators of violence toward humans.” The group is careful to point out it is not accusing Randle of criminal behavior, but it believes the commercial sends the wrong message to children.
The group wants Nike, the commercial’s sponsor, to pull the ad, which is one in a series that includes spots by NFL stars Jerome Bettis and Kordell Stewart. The company has no plans to pull Randle’s commercial, said spokesman Scott Reames.
“This has been an overwhelmingly popular ad,” Reames said. “In fact, the whole series of ads has been very well received. We certainly understand and respect the concerns that PETA has expressed, but we feel the commercial does not condone violence. It’s meant to be a humorous way an athlete might prepare for a game.”