Minn. couple launches 'Vikings Brotherly Love' kindness campaign
FARMINGTON — This week two diehard Vikings fans decided to turn purple pain into a reign of kindness online.
After Minnesota's lost Sunday night to the Philadelphia Eagles, Matt and Jessica Leibrock started "Vikings Brotherly Love."
Like most Minnesotans, the Farmington couple were elated to witness the Minnesota miracle win Jan. 14, when Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs scored a 61-yard touchdown with only seconds left on the clock, advancing the team to the NFC championship game.
On Jan. 21, the Leibrocks could not help but feel anger and flashbacks from 1999 when Minnesota Vikings kicker Gary Anderson missed a field goal. That year the Vikings lost the National Football Championship game in overtime.
"Matt has been an intense Vikings fan his whole life and punched a hole through his parents' wall back in 1999, and then in 2008 when the Vikings lost to the Saints, Matt shed a few tears — and the only time he has ever shed tears was at our wedding, the birth of our two daughters and the 2009 Vikings-Saints game," Jessica added.
Matt experienced extreme elation at the Minnesota Miracle game because he was at US Bank Stadium.
"Matt called after the game and was screaming and it was one of the happiest moments of his life," Jessica said.
The couple decided to watch Sunday's game at a bar in northeast Minneapolis because they hoped to share in the good news with fellow Minnesotans if the Vikings headed into the Super Bowl at their home stadium.
"The loss was difficult and that night I was angry and in a bad mood, and then Jess and I started talking about piggybacking off last week," Matt said, when a Vikings fan raised $200,000 for a Saints punter.
After the Vikings-Philadelphia game, social media showed some Eagles fans throwing beers cans and displaying unsportsmanlike conduct, Matt said. He and his wife set up the URL "Vikings Brotherly Love" on the GoFundMe crowdsharing platform to raise money for the Eagles Charitable Foundation.
"We spun it around and sent a message to fans on how we can show kindness in the down times," he said.
They set the lofty goal of $37,000, which translates to $1,000 for each point the Eagles scored in the game.
Online giving at https://www.gofundme.com/vikingsbrotherlylove has been strong, with $11,869 raised by 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
"We were not going to retaliate with hatred, but we were going to fight back with kindness," Jessica said.
"It is so cool giving that whole message that it is bigger than football and more than a game," Matt said.
This effort also can serve as a lesson on good sportsmanship and how to combat bullying for the couple's older daughter, they said.. "She can relate to it in terms of if you get picked on, instead of doing something dumb, you can show an act of kindness," Matt said.
Jessica said as people of faith, they believe in the idea of blessing those who curse you.
"If this in some way could change the tone of the conversation around what happened on Sunday and coming up to the Super Bowl, than this has been so incredibly successful," Jessica said.
"The Super Bowl is the largest sporting event in the world, and we are going to have the eyes of the world on our community and what a great statement to make to the world that we are a community where there are a lot of people of integrity here who believe in kindness."