Snow is in the forecast, so the folks heading to Minneapolis this weekend from Bismarck, or Fargo, N.D., or Sioux Falls or Britton in South Dakota, will want to set out early. The assumption here is that oxen are being yoked as we speak.
The Eagles’ visit with the Minnesota Vikings will be the closest Carson Wentz gets to where he grew up (Bismarck) and where he went to college (Fargo, home to North Dakota State). The same is true for linebacker Nate Gerry, from Sioux Falls, and tight end Dallas Goedert, from Britton.
— Les Bowen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wentz, maybe you’ve heard, didn’t get to play in Super Bowl LII, his only other chance to take the field at U.S. Bank Stadium, which is the closest NFL venue to his homeland. He said this week that the Dakotans are pumped to be able to drive three or four hours to watch him play.
“Without a doubt. There’ll be a big contingent of family, friends and everything, and I’m excited that they’ll get to see me play live,” Wentz said.
They’ll see him play, but they won’t be able to spend time with, or convey news from the harvest to, their region’s most famous sporting icon since Roger Maris.
“Unfortunately, there’s really no time, especially when it’s a noon football game. We get in, we have meetings, go to bed, wake up and it’s ‘go time.’ I won’t really get to see them. I’ll make sure I get to see them in the offseason. I know they’ll have fun cheering me on.”
Wentz contended he felt no special emotion, headed into the venue where he watched the Eagles and Nick Foles best Tom Brady and New England. “Just another regular-season game,” he said.
Gerry played in Super Bowl LII, on special teams, but he played 37 percent of the defensive snaps last week, including a pick-six, so his relatives ought to see more of him on the field this time around.
“I’ve got more than 25 people coming. It’s only a little over three hours to the Cities. Then, my mom’s whole family is from Minnesota, so all those people will be there, too,” Gerry said.
Gerry said there isn’t a lot of trash-talking between North and South Dakotans.
“We only make fun of each other when someone makes fun of us. Like someone will say, ‘Oh, you’re from South Dakota. You ride horses everywhere.’ And we’re like, ‘No, that’s North Dakota.’ That’s really the only time. Dallas and Carson talk smack about their colleges, but I never had any problem with North Dakota. I wouldn’t go up there and stay long, I promise you that. It’s cold and there ain’t [stuff] to do.”
Goedert was still at South Dakota State when the Eagles won the Super Bowl. This game is a very big deal back in Britton, a town on the border between the Dakotas. Goedert said he knew of someone who was chartering a 53-person bus. “I probably have 50 family coming. Probably be like 200 or so from the Britton area [pop. 1,241], maybe more. It’s going to take most of Britton,” Goedert said.
“Being from a small community, the support is incredible. Throughout high school, college and now, a lot of people changed from Vikings fans to Eagles fans. So, to go play in front of my fans will be real special.”
Question: Sanders looks lost. Should they limit his contributions and emphasize getting him the ball in space? — C.W. Donald (@donaldc58) via Twitter.
I’m gonna say no. The only way Miles Sanders is going to learn to hit the hole and go is to, well, hit the hole and go. He is the most explosive offensive weapon the Eagles have right now, with DeSean Jackson sidelined. Only using Sanders in space sounds good, but if you start to do that, before long every time he enters the game, teams will know you’re throwing it to him on a wheel route or a screen. And those things will stop working.