The 1998 Season
Note: 1998 was the second season that I wrote down thoughts the entire year. Therefore, the 1998 season summary will come in multiple additions to my blog. Today's 1998 entry will be Preseason, at New England thoughts.
Preseason at New England: Vikings 24, Patriots 0
The atmospheric conditions in the Twin Cities the last few days have been ominous portents of raging storms. Rain fell so heavily on rooftops, it was as if the rain drops themselves were individual hellish warriors striving to break through the shingles that served as the only barrier between them and me.
Little did I know that the strength of the wind gusts and downpours would reflect the enthusiastic play of the team in purple taking the field for the first time this season and the conviction with which they would play.
When the first titanic blast of lightning broke over the sky Sunday night, Dwayne Rudd was diving into the end-zone with such enthusiasm, it was as though the lightning had deliberately imparted its energy directly to him.
The winds howled outside, echoing the cries of New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe as he was sacked for the third time in as many drives. It seemed as though the wind tearing off tree branches was funneling its destructive pattern directly into the Vikings defense; the destruction spread out in vast ripples, looking like bomb blasts from above.
As clouds outside my living room window were being torn apart, reduced to cotton tufts spinning frantically in the grip of small ferocious whirlwinds, so, too, was Bledsoe spinning in a vain attempt to relinquish Ruddís grip from his jersey. The Vikings defense, mini-typhoons, was plunging back and forth, accelerating the obliteration of the Patriots offense.
All the while the storm was brewing, my largest and most valuable trees remained steadfast, their roots anchoring them to the ground as the air around them filled with broken fronds and shredded leaves. My youngest sapling took heed from the towering elders and leaned into, then away from, the best the storm could offer.
The far skyline was ablaze with potent light storms. High above the tattered clouds, a purple veil formed across the horizon, a flashy haze riddled with hundreds of long, lurid scintillations like giant shooting stars with a speed, until now, unheard of. Bringing my concentration back to the television screen, a single wide receiver slid into alignment and drew my eye like a swallowing cyclone.
This lightning bolt leapt from the scrimmage line and reached its zenith mid-way down the field. His thrust of energy penetrated the tormented defense trying to stop the storm. His mind consumed the power given to him, and he blazed by his defender as outside my window another lightning strike shot up a stream of particles at lightspeed, spacefree and eternal. Randy Moss blazed into the end zone, his first professional touchdown now carved into memory like a lightning bolt etched into the inside of your eyelids.
Forecasts call for this Purple Storm to reappear next Saturday evening, feeding off the knowledge of its previous victory, searching for another, not stopping until that elusive ultimate win has been obtained.
After a shutout victory over a 1997 NFL playoff team, the Vikings showed they have a veteran team who knows what is needed to gain the next win. With that, hope is instilled in all of us for a step up to yet another level of play this coming season.
Until the regular season starts, I am content to observe and learn. And right now the forecast is very stormy, indeed, for the 16 teams who will face the Vikings this year. Once met, they will believe.
The reality: a storm is coming. Time for those weak of heart to head for the nearest shelter because itís just going to keep growing stronger.