MINNEAPOLIS - Two light purple bar doors separate the Vikings' locker room from the rest of the team's Winter Park facility. And on many days, those swinging doors can seem a lot like the curtains on Let's Make a Deal.
Who's behind there? Which Viking will emerge next?
Four days each week for 45 minutes at a crack, the media are invited into the Vikings' open locker room to chat with players. Which might sound like a party to an outsider who never has stood waiting in the middle of a room so big and this empty.
It's called open locker room for a reason. On many days, it's just that. Open. Wide open.
Especially during a season like this.
Not coincidentally, during these 45-minute periods, the hot tub, cold tub and sauna inside the training room often fill to capacity and beyond.
The old avoiding-the-press trick, said punter Chris Kluwe. I've seen many occasions when the hot tub is packed pretty tight.
Envision that: hordes of NFL players crammed together like chickens on an overcrowded poultry farm. It's their uncomfortable yet convenient escape from another round of meet-the-press.
Sometimes you don't have anything left to say, said Kluwe, one of the most accessible Vikings. You've said all you can and rather than rehash it over and over, it's kind of like 'I'm going to skip it today.'
Back to those swinging doors for a minute, the ones that beat reporters and TV cameramen fixate on day after day hoping for some Viking to barge through to deliver a payoff - a nugget of insight, an original thought or simply a usable sound bite - that will make that day's 45-minute session worthwhile.
Some days, however, the curtain opens and it's nothing but a donkey eating a pail of straw.
Two-and-a-half weeks ago, for example, a day after the Vikings lost 24-14 in Atlanta, 19 reporters stood in the open locker room for 15 minutes with not a single player present.
Jackpot, right? Allen, after all, is one of the most engaging, colorful and witty players in the NFL. Only on this day, he had nothing left. So as reporters sauntered toward him, he showed his All-Pro burst.
Leaving Greenway in his wake, Allen sprinted straight for the parking lot laughing.
You're not going to catch me today! he yelled.
The media horde looked around, 19 Wile E. Coyotes coughing out Allen's cloud of dust before stopping Greenway for his thoughts.
The toughest part is you answer the questions on Sunday after the game, Allen said. Then on Mondays, it's the same list of questions. I get it. We understand the media has a job to do. But there are days where it's like 'I just need to get out.' It's no disrespect. It's more a sign that I've already said everything I needed to say. I don't like repeating myself.
Same old story