The Vikings, as is common for most Minnesota sports teams, go through security screenings at an "off-site" location and then need to be escorted to the airport tarmac.
From 2009 through this past August, the team received 38 escorts from the State Patrol, with the team paying the patrol about $300 per time, according to a report in the Star Tribune.
Edina Police Chief Jeff Long agreed to take over the job this summer after deciding that the department would not be providing the team “special treatments because they’re athletes.”
"The TSA allows some 'off-site' pre-flight security checks under strict guidelines," he explained in a blog post. "Large organizations such as the Vikings have been granted this right under the rules that the TSA has set. This is different than what you often see in large college football towns where the local police drive the team buses through city streets with lights and sirens blaring for no particular reason except to celebrate the team."
Long told the Star Tribune that Edina police are not “escorting them at 90 miles an hour.”
“Personally, I’m not a huge Vikings fan,” he said. “I’m not awe-struck by any of these people.”
Eden Prairie, where the Vikings training facility is located, turned down a request to provide escorts for the team because, as a spokesman told the paper, “we didn’t want to set a precedent for supplying employment of that nature.”
Long offered further explanation of the procedure at his city blog:
The guidelines set by the TSA indicate that once these pre-flight, “off-site,” passengers complete their security check, that the aviation passengers are to remain in a sterile environment to avoid compromising the search. In order to comply with TSA procedures, the Minnesota Vikings asked us to assist with the TSA transport to the airport. Without going into great detail and compromising security procedures, it is our job to ensure the busses are not tampered with in any way. It is the TSA’s job to ensure the interior of the busses stay secure.
I am aware that anytime a sports team is seen in a caravan, that it may be perceived as “special treatment.” In this case, it is not special treatment. Our department is reimbursed for more than 100 percent of our costs incurred by assisting the Vikings with TSA guidelines. Our job is not about player security, it is about aviation safety.
Although not everyone will agree on topics related to sports, aviation or police work, I am proud of the work we do and of the confidence the Vikings and the TSA place in our department.