Have you ever looked up at the stars when you’re away from a city and thought you saw purple stars?
It’s some atmospheric condition known informally as a “nervous atmosphere”.
That’s extremely apropos in my house right now. The purple is out, and there is a growing nervous atmosphere as 40 some years of waiting for the Vikings to get back to the Super Bowl hang in the balance.
I’m a freaky avid Vikings fan…when they’re winning. I’ve learned to suppress my emotions when they’re bad. I’m pretty good at that. I’m a Reds fan, too. But there’s something different about football only playing one time a week. The Reds lose ALL the time. You get desensitized to it. I don’t swear as much as I used to, but I’m still pretty good at it.
My comfy clothes are typically purple, because I’ve been a Minnesota Vikings fan since 1977 when the Purple People Eaters lost to the Oakland Raiders and Ken “The Snake” Stabler in Super Bowl 11. I don’t remember much about the game, I was eight at the time, but I remember Fran Tarkenton tearing up after the loss in the post-game interview. Seriously, I think it was in black and white. My television was anyway. But I felt bad for him so I became a fan.
And since that day, these Norseman have let me down year, after year, after year.
I remember Darrin Nelson getting tackled at the 1 1/2 yard line against John Riggins and the Washington Redskins on 4th down keeping them from a Super Bowl in 1987. In 1999, I remember screaming at the television when Denny Green casually walked off at halftime and giving up on a shot at a field goal indoors with Gary Anderson kicking from about 50. Minnesota was up 20-14 at the time and Anderson hadn’t missed all year. The Vikes lost by three – Idiot.
Don’t want to talk about the 41-0 pasting at the hands of the New York Giants in 2001 and the Vikes wouldn’t return to the NFC championship until 2010 when they went to the Superdome in New Orleans and lost in OT. It’s a tale that will stand the test of time in my household. My family suggested firmly that we leave the pizza joint where we were watching the game because Reggie Bush fumbled a punt and I jumped up and yelled “Ball!”. The place was kind of full and everyone was socially gobbling their pizza and I think I scared everyone in the place as it went quiet. I looked down at our table after realizing I was standing up, and my youngest daughter jumped under the table while both my oldest daughter and wife pulled their hoodies over their head.
“Maybe we should watch the rest at home,” Lee said.
Taylor had that timid half smile working and we began to box things up to go home at halftime. We all know the rest of the story, Head Coach Brad Childress perpetrated a fraud on the taxpayers of Minnesota, pretending to be a head coach, Favre was Favre running around like a wildman thinking he’s all that, when all he had to do was take a slide. But no, he has to run around trying to be a hero and throws a pick. This time Taylor’s screaming at the TV. Even this kid who doesn’t watch football that often knows this is not good.
Anyway, the Saints win in OT and my dreams are crushed. I think I teared up before the last possession because I thought this was the year. Then I teared up because it wasn’t it.
But I think this year those purple stars are lining up. The Super Bowl is in Minnesota this year and never has a team played a Super Bowl on their home turf. The closest to a home field advantage occurred when San Francisco won the Super Bowl played at Stanford Stadium in northern California.
In 2000, when the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl, they had an average to above-average offense but a top-ranked defense. They won with a ho-hum quarterback in Trent Dilfer. The Vikings have an even ho-er, hum-er quarterback in Case Keenum, but a top-ranked defense.
So here’s where I’m at. After the Saints game in 2010, I was ready to put the whole Vikings package on eBay. I wanted to file a class action suit on behalf of Minnesota taxpayers, but I lived in Iowa. That’ll draw a flag. So everything – the blankets, hoodies, cards, posters, coffee cups, koozies, the whole batch should have gone up for sale. Probably could have made five bucks. But I didn’t. I just put it all away. On occasion the family would pull out the blankets when it got cold in our old drafty house.
Now, It’s all out again. Someone’s wrapped up in purple and gold at some point on any given day. I’ve got all the hoodies out, the blankets, the sweats, the pajamas – everything.
It just feels right this year. I don’t really know why, other than defense wins championships. There’s no Favre to make us nervous, no Peterson to cough it up, No Denny Green. We’ve got a coach, a decent back, the best defense in the league.
The Cubs won the World Series so hell’s already frozen over. That hurdle’s been cleared. All I need is for the football gods to smile faintly on Valhalla and give me just one title.
SKOL VIKINGS. Let’s gooooo.