MINNEAPOLIS — The Metrodome is the loudest NFL stadium I’ve been in. But when it goes quiet, the silence is overwhelming. The home team gave fans had no reason to cheer. When Carolina’s Mike Mitchell picked off Matt Cassel with more than 10 minutes remaining, two things happened. The Minnesota offense left the field and the fans left the stadium. When I was younger and dumber, I criticized Panthers fans for leaving early. That was misguided. When you own the ticket, you own the right to do with it what you please.
• Let’s say you’re the Carolina head coach and can pass out only one game ball. Who gets it?
• The press box at the Metrodome is in the middle of the stadium. So if you’re in the front row fans walk right past you. So does the beer man. When the guy yelled, “Ice cold beer here,” I saw several writers look at him longingly. To the credit of the professional news gatherers with whom I work, none of them are employed by the Charlotte Observer. Now, if the guy had said, “Ice cold chardonnay here,” I really don’t know what would have happened.
• Thomas Davis, perhaps the biggest Georgia fan in the Carolinas, wore a Georgia tie clip after the game. You respect a man who’s true to his school after it gets hammered at home the previous day by a massive underdog.
• Fans walking through the Metrodome late in the game offered a common theme. Head coach Leslie Frazier should be fired. The complaint is lame. Why not put more into it? Why not, “Down goes Frazier?”
• Panthers coach Ron Rivera has played in the Metrodome, which will be torn down after the season, as well as coaching in it. Will you miss the place?
“Um, yeah,” Rivera said. Then he thought about it.