Yesterday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings, the team I’ve rooted for all my life, lost another season-ending game in a manner that can only be described as “classic Vikings.” The game looked to be all but won. We had the ball, poised to score an easy go-ahead field goal, and our defense would only need to hold on for 20-some seconds to end the game.
But this is Minnesota. This is Vikings football. Controlling your own fate (especially at the end of the game) is the absolute last situation you want to be in… Because Gary Anderson. Because 12 men in the huddle. Because Brett Favre and his horrible interception. Because Vikings.
Now, we have to add Blair Walsh to that list. The Vikings’ kicker needed to boot the ball through the uprights from a meager 27 yards out and the win would be sealed. He was the only player to score any points for the Vikings—let’s not forget that—having already nailed three field goals from greater distances. This was a chip shot, but Walsh wears purple and nothing comes easy for someone wearing purple… unless you’re on the love boat.
If you’re a Vikings fan, you want to see a huge first half offensively and a few lucky defensive turnovers. When halftime rolls around, you want the game so far gone you could start the second half with your second string. You don’t want nail-biters. You want blowouts. That’s the only way a true Vikings fan can get through a game without a stress ulcer burning a hole from your stomach straight up to your heart.
Yesterday was another crushing defeat for the Minnesota Vikings and their loyal fans, especially the ones that shivered through the game at TCF Bank Stadium. Like so many before, this was a self-imposed loss. The Vikings ruled three quarters of that game, executing a great defensive strategy that held the explosive Seattle offense to zero points. In that same span, Walsh put nine points on the board for the home squad. We just couldn’t hold on.
Yet, through all the heartache, curses, and meltdowns, I’m still a proud Vikings fan, and I don’t see that changing. Here’s why…
I wrote about why time seems to speed up as you age, and that odd phenomenon is largely due to one thing: firsts. When you’re young, life is full of firsts and the agonizingly rewarding anticipation that comes with it. But there’s another layer—you share that anticipation with your friends who are experiencing all those same firsts right alongside you.
Your first boy-girl birthday party. Your first full week at summer camp. Your first time flying in an airplane. You share these milestones with your friends, and in so doing form lifelong bonds. My lifelong friends and I have shared in the gut-wrenching anticipation of not only watching the Minnesota Vikings win a Super Bowl, but simply to see our beloved team suit up in a Super Bowl game at all.
Watching the Vikings play in a Super Bowl is one of the few remaining firsts for me and my group of friends. We’ve grown up together, walked through graduation together, walked down the aisle for each other, and celebrated babies together. We’re nearing the point in life where the “firsts” start to turn tragic (first deaths that aren’t grandparents, for example).
I understand that it’s just a football game. But it represents a lifelong bond among friends who come together every Sunday to cheer in the name of fun. After 30+ years of waiting, the payoff will be intense, even more so because of the friends who’ll be cheering right alongside me. For that moment sometime in the future, I will continue to root for the purple, as hard as it may be.
Images via USA Today Sports