On Sept. 17, 1961, the Minnesota Vikings upset the Chicago Bears 37-13 in their first game at Metropolitan Stadium.
Myron Larson's family owned season tickets.
On Sunday the Vikings play the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs at the Metrodome.
And, the four seats 12 rows up from the field at the 35-yard line behind the Cowboys' bench will once again be filled.
Larson, 62, and members of his family have owned season tickets to Vikings games for all 39 seasons. The Aitkin resident has seen just about everything in Vikings history and plans to see plenty more.
"I like the seats," said Larson, who has been retired three years from his job at the Department of Revenue. "I just enjoy the sport. I don't really care for pro basketball or baseball."
At the start of the season, the Vikings presented Larson with a commemorative pin and patch, identifying him as a charter member season ticket owner. According to the team, Larson is the only such ticket owner in the Brainerd lakes area.
Larson began his association with the Vikings after his father-in-law, Gene Landwehre, received his season tickets from his friend Dick Nolan, whose nephew was a defensive back for the Baltimore Colts. Landwehre then decided to transfer the tickets into Larson's name in 1982.
"They moved from the old Met and he couldn't use his motor home and barbecue anymore," Larson said of Landwehre. "Age had something to do with it, too, so he didn't get to too many games."
Even though the seats were a little worse at Met Stadium (about 20 rows higher and his four seats weren't together), he enjoyed watching the game outside better.
"It's nice in December to sit inside but I enjoyed it more outside," Larson said. "We used to wear snowmobile suits, mitts and hats. Football and baseball are just outside sports."
Larson has seen five head coaches and 30 different quarterbacks take a snap for the Vikes. He sat through the Les Steckel year and saw the Vikings earn four Super Bowl berths. He also watched the Vikings win 15 division titles.
Two of his most memorable moments involved former Minnesota quarterback Tommy Kramer.
The most exciting game Larson said he's ever seen was when Kramer connected with Ahmad Rashad on a Hail Mary pass in 1980 against the Cleveland Browns which earned the Vikes a playoff spot. Larson also vividly recalls Kramer twitching and shaking on the ground after a tackle by a Los Angeles Rams defensive player.
"Fortunately he was not hurt but it didn't look like he was in very good shape," Larson said.
Larson said his favorite player of all time is quarterback Fran Tarkenton, but he also has a lot of respect for wide receiver Cris Carter.
"Fran Tarkenton was very exciting and made things happen," Larson said. "I think the Vikings now are blessed with some very good football players, but the bread and butter guy and the guy you have to go to is Carter."
There are many differences in the game from 1961 to now, Larson said, but the big changes are not necessarily in the team's play on the field.
"I don't think you have the team unity anymore," Larson said. "You have a good year, you want more money and if you don't get what you want you go somewhere else. I don't think there is the loyalty like there used to be.
"(Because of high salaries ticket prices have gone up) and it's getting to the point where it's difficult to go to a ballgame. I'm fortunate Jerry (Dagen) takes half the tickets."
Dagen, owner of the 40 Club Restaurant and Bar in Aitkin, now shares the tickets with Larson. Because of the difficulty in purchasing season tickets these days, Larson never plans on giving his up.
Hopefully for Larson, after 39 years, a Super Bowl champion will be something he can add to his collection of memories.
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