U.S. Bank Stadium, the new $1.1 billion home field of the Minnesota Vikings, has a fun feature for fans whose tickets gave them access to the field-level Delta Sky360 club. They get to watch up close as Vikings players hobble off the field in agony on their way to the home locker room as they pass through the club by way of a surreal, casino-like tunnel of personal seat license dystopia.
That was the scene Sunday night in the third quarter when Adrian Peterson, who suffered what looked to be a serious knee injury against the Green Bay Packers, hopped on one leg while flanked by the support of two medical staffers through the club, which is situated between the Vikings sideline area and the locker room. Injuries, as you might have heard, are frequent in the NFL, to the point where fans are familiar with the televised rhythms and rituals of injured players being carted off. What made this one so bizarre was the backdrop of fans sitting in comfortable chairs—who had been watching the game on TV even though the very game they were watching was being played a few yards away—turning their heads to gape as Peterson went by. Others stood as close as possible, with security guards extending their arms to the side, lest anyone try to high five A.P. on his way to X-ray. It didn't seem to matter to the fans who whipped out their phones and took pictures of the injured man. Some just applauded their encouragement, while others appeared to mind their own business, which raises the question: Is it weirder to have watched, or to have ignored Peterson? Hey, at $400 for a ticket plus $9,500 for the PSL, to each his/her own.
It used to be that injured players could disappear through an exit under the stadium into some amount of privacy. Perhaps TV cameras would follow for a while, but at least networks could cut away if there was too much adult language or blood. Now, it's possible that a player being carted away after suffering a compound fracture and screaming bloody murder could be seen and heard by fans intimately. Maybe even have his picture taken.