January 9, 2005
At the start of the Vikings season I was feeling pretty good. In fact, I was feeling really good. I was positive the Vikings would walk away with the NFC North title. The Vikings were returning the NFC's best offense, and their defense had to be improved with the additions of Kenechi Udeze and Antoine Winfield. I was also pretty high on the Vikings new linebacker corp, and I was convinced that they would be much improved thanks to E.J. Henderson and the drafting of Dontarrious Thomas. I was so positive that the Vikings would win the NFC North I wrote some bad haikus at the beginning of the season, and I made yet another bet with my neighbor, Cheesehead Craig that not only would the Vikings win the NFC North, but they would do so in convincing fashion. I boldly predicted that on Christmas Eve Brett Favre wouldn't even be playing. Either he would be injured, or the Vikings would be so far ahead in the standings that it wouldn't even matter. We bet a cheeseburger at Fuddruckers. I could already taste my half-pound "Triple Cheese."
Needless to say, my predictions didn't quite work out. Favre came into the Metrodome and crushed my hopes of an NFC North title like an empty can of beer on a drunk Packer fan's forehead. Not only that, but after the Christmas Eve game I got sick with some kind of upper repiratory infection and I was laid out for almost a week. The doctors didn't know exactly what it was, but I did. It was "Vikingsitis." I've been struck with this ailment before and it usually afflicts Vikings fans all over Minnesota around this time of year.
To make matters worse, however, was the fact that yet again my Packer loving, Brewer worshipping, Badger bleeding neighbor won another bet!!! How many of these stupid bets do I have to lose before I taste victory? How many times must I feel the humiliation of defeat? It seemed like my neighbor's string of victories would never end. And then came January 9, 2005. This is a day that will go down in Vikings lore as one of the greatest days in team history. What a glorious day.
As is tradition, I trudged across the lawn to Cheesehead Craig's house to watch the 3rd matchup this year between the Packers and the Vikings. If the Vikings have to travel to Lambeau, then I would travel to the den of the enemy as well. I didn't have much hope given the Packers sweep of the Vikings during the season and I entered Craig's domain singing, "Let's go insurance adjusters, let's go! Let's go insurance adjusters, let's go!" I love that commercial. As a loyal Vikings fan, though, I have learned not to get my hopes up for the Vikings in the playoffs. Sure there have been some big playoff wins, 1987 vs. San Fran comes to mind, but not this year. I was determined not to let my hopes get the best of me this year.
68 yard TD pass to Moe. 3 and out for the Packers. Moss TD. Winfiled interception. Anderson field goal. 17-0 Vikings. "Aha!" I thought to myself, "The Vikings have done this to me before!" I told Cheesehead Craig, "If the Vikings lose, at least I will have this wonderful first quarter to remember." But on the inside, hope was starting to creep in. I was starting to believe and that is a dangerous thing. I watched the rest of the game getting more and more hopeful as the Vikings continued to play good, smart football. I couldn't believe it. Thankfully, finally, my hope was finally rewarded. Unless you are living under a rock you know the Vikings won the game 31-17. It seems the Vikings can only score 31 points against the Packers (I was begging them to kick the field goal at the end to make it 34), but I suppose that is poetic justice given the scores of the other games. 31 points would be all they needed today.
A few days ago I wrote some pretty harsh words towards the men in purple. I had lost my faith. For that I apologize. The Vikings seemed to hear my plea though. They played with pride. They played with passion and conviction. The defense finally stepped up with four interceptions and 3 sacks, and Daunte went for the jugular whenever he could. Daunte Culpepper ... can we say enough great things about him? He is, without a doubt, now the best QB in the NFC. This is his career defining game up to this point, and the future is looking very bright. I am giddy and I've got at least 7 more days of feeling this way.
When I came home I explained to my wife how I was feeling, "You see, honey, this is why I am a Vikings fan, for the way I feel right now. There is a profound happiness in me right now, and it feels wonderful. I am so happy, and I feel great! And ... "
"Shane," she interrupted me, "You do realize that the Vikings will lose now the day before your birthday."
Women! Bah! They can't just leave well enough alone with their "practicality" and "realism" and "hatred of sports." She can say whatever she wants, it won't dimish the happiness I feel right now. Curt in Grand Forks and I agree that this victory against the Packers today makes the whole season worth while. Whatever happens next is just icing on the cake. And yes, I have renewed hope in this team, and, yes, I know that is a dangerous thing. But today I just don't care. Bring on the Eagles. I know now that anything can happen and it feels great.
Craig, I'm sorry for your loss today. Believe me, I know how it feels. At least you'll still have your Fuddruckers cheeseburger, purchased by me. And all I'll have is a second round playoff game. Needless to say, I think I got the better deal.
Posted by snackeru at January 9, 2005 9:19 PM | Vikings
Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at January 10, 2005 7:44 AM
Skol Vikings!! While I believe that Cheesehead Craig is a fine, upstanding individual, I do not feel sorry for him nor any Packer fans today. I have grown so weary of the "Packer cult" which the national media insists in jamming down our throat. How often do we hear Brett Favre referred to as an "icon," or "living legend?" While I have the upmost respect for his abilities and the way he plays the game, I am tired of this! Even yesterday, the Fox crew basically said that Lambeau was the closest thing the NFL has to a stadium shrine! A friend who watched ESPN last night said Chris Berman was near tears after Favre and the Pack went down.
I would assert that this attitude has begun to filter down to Packer fans, some of whom tend to look down at the rest of the NFL (but most especially Viking fans). Yes, I think it is great that Green Bay is a (very) small market town in which the community owns the team. Yes, I think it is great that you have had so much success in the past. But enough already! The Vikings have been a cursed franchise ever since Drew Pearson was not called for the blatant push-off versus Nate Wright in the 1975 Divisional Playoffs! It is about a time we Vikings fans get something to crow about! For the Packers to go down in the playoffs, in Lambeau, in the cold, and versus the Vikings is nothing more than poetic justice. And for the "Golden" Brett to be largely responsible makes it even better. Perhaps Packer fans shouldn't be so quick to assume that God is a Packer fan! Skol Vikings!!
Curt in Grand Forks (who has been smiling all day, and will continue to do so even if the Vikes lose to Philly)
Posted by: Curt Hanson at January 10, 2005 3:29 PM
Wow Curt! I couldn't have said it any better. Green Bay is a wonderful franchise, but this "Packer Cult" as you call it is getting to be a little much. Poetic justice indeed!
Posted by: Shane at January 11, 2005 9:13 AM
Not to beat a dead horse, but here is what Peter King said about the fake moon:
"Simulation-mooning Lambeau is like mooning the Mormon Tabernacle Choir."
Somehow Lambeau Field has been turned into a national institution/religous shrine, and Packer fans have been turned into GOd's chosen people. Pathetic!!
Curt in Grand Forks
Posted by: Curt Hanson at January 12, 2005 8:38 AM