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In the Front Row: At least we have something in common

Saturday was a special day for me and my wife. It was the first time we ever went to a football game and rooted for the same team.

My wife, you see, is a Minnesota Viking fan. And even though I grew up in New Jersey, I have always been a Green Bay Packer fan. But for whatever reason (just another in the long list of things I don't understand about my wife), she's also Wisconsin Badger fan.

Being married to a Viking fan can be a challenge. In addition to the usual twice-a-season strife that comes when the two teams play each other, it becomes even more challenging when you actually attend the game together.

A few years ago, back when Brett Favre still played for the good guys, we went to a Viking-Packer game at the Metrodome, me in my Packer jersey and she in her purple garb. Favre threw three or four picks, the Vikings won easily, and my wife was giddy. It was horrible.

Then last year, we went to Lambeau Field for the Monday night opener between the Vikes and the Pack. It was Aaron Rodgers' debut as the Packers' starting quarterback and he made it a good one by leading the Packers to the win.

You think it's a long drive from Green Bay? Try making it with a cranky, sulky spouse in the passenger seat.

But through all this, my wife and I still shared an affection for the Wisconsin Badgers. It wasn't like we'd sit and watch the games together on TV, but at least it never led to me sleeping on the couch with the cat.

Even though my wife liked the Badgers, she had never seen them play in person. I've been to plenty of Badger games on road trips with the boys but never with my wife. Then, as luck would have it, I stumbled onto two tickets to Saturday's game at Camp Randall against Michigan.

Perfect. I'd take my wife to her very first Badger game. And to make it even more special, it was her birthday.

I know what you're thinking: She'd probably prefer jewelry, right? Well she knew what she was getting into when she married a sportswriter. Besides, as she reminded me repeatedly, Christmas is just around the corner.

Anyway, we went to the game and had a blast. We indulged in all the pre-game and post-game revelry and exchanged high fives whenever the Badgers scored a touchdown. I don't think we'd high-fived each other since the first time the cat found the litter box.

There was one glitch though. At halftime she wanted to watch the Badger band perform so she sent me down to get some food. When I got back to our seats, she looked at me sheepishly and pointed to a platform about six feet behind our seats adjacent to the press box.

"I hate to tell you this, but Ron Dayne was just standing right there," she said.

I was flabbergasted. Not because I was impressed that she knew who Ron Dayne was, but because I missed a chance to meet one of the greatest Badgers ever because I was standing in line for two lukewarm hot dogs and a box of stale popcorn.

At least the game ended on a high note with the Badgers winning, 45-24, making the drive home a pleasure. I was proud of the fact I could show my wife such a good time on her birthday, and she even admitted it was a better gift than my usual routine of flowers and a card.

Now if I could just talk her into getting rid of that Brett Favre Viking jersey.