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Updated: December 21st, 2010 12:56am
Kluwe OK with field conditions; Rice calls it 'worst, most dangerous'

Kluwe OK with field conditions; Rice calls it 'worst, most dangerous'

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- As it turns out, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe was right.

Kluwe, in a series of foreshadowing tweets after the Vikings' walkthrough at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, said "anyone that hits their head is getting a concussion," referring to dangers of the frozen playing surface.

Sure enough, in the second quarter, quarterback Brett Favre was slammed to the ground by Chicago Bears defensive end Corey Wooten. He left with a concussion and never returned.

"You hate to see it happen," Kluwe said of Favre's head injury. "That's not something you ever want to see happen, so hopefully he's alright, and hopefully his head's OK. As you know, we'd love to have him back to finish out the year."

Despite the fact that he wound up being right regarding a potential concussion, Kluwe had changed his tune about the playing surface after Monday's game.

"It was much better than it was for the walkthrough," Kluwe said. "And I think guys were able to keep their footing pretty well, considering the circumstances with the snow and everything."

A thick snow began to fall late Monday morning and lingered into the early evening. Field workers plowed and pushed snow in the hours leading up to game time in an effort to keep the playing surface clean and thawed.

By the time kickoff arrived, the snow had temporarily dissipated, but the surface was still very slick -- as evidenced by Percy Harvin sliding 15 yards after a reception along the sidelines early in the first quarter.

As for Kluwe, he's bracing for a possible fine following his critical tweets from Saturday, where the punter referred to the Monday night game as a "trainwreck" in the making.

Kluwe made it clear he doesn't regret what he tweeted.

"I'm fine with (the tweets). I observed the field conditions as they were. I felt that they were unsafe. Credit to the TCF people and everyone who worked here. They did a great job making sure everything was ready for the game."

Rice not thrilled with field conditions

Kluwe wound up satisfied with the field conditions, but wide receiver Sidney Rice wasn't as willing to give praise.

"It was tough," said Rice, who caught two passes for 23 yards. "It's probably the worst, most dangerous field I've played on ever. I've been in the league a long time, I'm from down south, but it was tough conditions. But there are no excuses. The Bears played well on it and won the football game."

Rice added that he was concerned about how his surgically repaired hip would respond to the frozen surface.

"I went out three times before deciding which cleats I was going to wear," he said. "But I felt comfortable. Of course it was on my mind a lot throughout the course of the game."

Players loved outdoor atmosphere

The Metrodome has provided a comfortable home-field advantage for the Vikings more often than not over the past decade, but something about Monday night's atmosphere just felt more authentic.

Maybe it was Bud Grant strolling out during the 50 Greatest Vikings halftime ceremony in short sleeves. Or Cris Carter riding around on the back of Ragnar's snowmobile during pregame introductions.

Or maybe it was the random dude in a maroon jacket who casually walked onto the field during the second quarter and signaled a first down before finally getting laid out by a security guard.

The atmosphere itself, despite the blowout loss, was something unusually foreign in a state so used to such elements -- a scene straight out of... well, Lambeau Field, in some ways.

"It was exciting. it was electric, and that's what you want," linebacker Heath Farwell said. "The fans came out, it was exciting, it was cold, but it was fun. It was warm, it was a fun feeling when we ran out on the opening kickoff... It was just exciting."

Snow piled up behind the end zone, snow piled up in the stands, and snow being tossed in the air like confetti after each big play by the Vikings -- and later, after each big play by the Bears.

People in hunting gear.

Snowball fights.

"The energy in the place was awesome, the field was great, and it was just a fun, fun atmosphere," linebacker Chad Greenway said.

"I had a lot of fun out there. Obviously the score is not indicative in any way of any place we wanted to be at the end of the game. But just the conditions, the crowd. I mean, that first quarter was so fun when we were in that game and playing. Things just turned on us. But what a fun atmosphere. Conditions were Minnesotan."

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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