I last watched the Minnesota Vikings in the late eighties. I could
take the crushing defeats but could not stand the heightened
expectations that some good games seemed to encourage. I knew that
the euphoria known to a Vikings fan in good times came with a
hangover caused by the reality of a team that must be perfect to be
good. They had to fire on all eight cylinders to compete with all of
the other teams equipped with 12 cylinder power plants.
It started in the seventies. I knew all of the team players and knew
which position I wanted to play when eventually I would join the
team. My dream was to become a “Purple People Eater” and step into the
defensive tackle position when Alan Page retired. I kept football
cards and would line up dream teams to include players from other
teams and Viking favorites. I was crushed when Roger Staubach
connected a “hail Mary” pass to Drew Pearson to defeat the
Viking in the 1975 playoffs. The terrible disappointment made me want
to go outside and replay the game with my brothers or friends until I
could change the outcome; like a person dealing with post-traumatic
The more I played football as a teenager, the less the Vikings could
hurt me. After I had no team to play on anymore, I came to depend on
them more which made it easier for them to disappoint me more. I’m
not sure when I quit watching the Vikings but I do know that my
Herschel Walker shirt eventually became my work-out shirt and
then died from ripped seams and holes.
I started watching the Vikings when Brett Favre became number four in
purple. I felt he played like my old favorites; Fran Tarkenton, Ken
Stabler or Terry Bradshaw. He made things happen and wasn’t afraid to
ad lib when careful play calling failed. I watched the NFC
championship game with my nephew that night and felt all the old
trauma as time and again the New Orleans Saints slipped through the
Vikings offensive line like jello through five fingers of offensive linemen.
We watched the game at a bar so I had to listen to a
bunch of Louisiana pipeline workers hoot and holler their pleasure at
the Vikings loss like they had just been chosen to appear on an
episode of “Hillbilly Handfishin’.”
So far the Vikings have played three solid halves of football in three games; the kind of output that
rewards them with a record of 0-3. I like Donavan Mcnabb at quarterback and Toby Gerhardt is fun to watch out of the backfield. Jared Allen is the kind of gamebreaker that can change the momentum of any game. He almost did so last week when he narrowly missed tackling a Detroit Lions running back in his own end zone for a safety.
I don’t plan on stapling football cards to a tagboard nor can I interest Lisa in replaying games out in the yard. I do plan to watch the Vikings for the rest of the year. I just love the ups incurred in the first half and the taste of metal I get in my mouth (happens when I get angry) during the downs of the second half. Anyway, it’s a nice way to spend Sunday afternoon; you know, on the couch-asleep due to a chips and salsa coma.