Of course I know avoidance wasn't a healthy reaction. Avoiding it means it was more important than it should be, and if it is that important, avoiding it means postponing dealing with emotions. But after putting my every last hope into the 2009 Redemption Dream, the idea of following through the offseason, offering commentary on the roster, speculating about moves, checking on the court proceedings of Kevin and Pat...I just couldn't do it. When the snow was still on the ground, the very idea of reading a mock draft made me sweat with the despair of meaninglessness. Sometimes I would flip to SI.com just to check on news, and I'd see a picture up from that NFC championship game, and my gut would go hollow.
And I must say, at least right now, I feel changed. I've spent years living with what can only be described as desperate hope for the Vikings to win a Super Bowl. But after the NFC championship game, after everything that happened in that game, I don't think I have that desperate hope (at least right now). I've turned fatalistic: I don't really believe the Vikings are ever going to win a Super Bowl. That game was so full of such ridiculousness, a game the Vikings could have and should have won but for such strange mistakes it can barely be fathomed. When transitioning from desperate hope to fatalism, how can one write intelligently about Lito Sheppard? How can one spend any time looking at draft prospects? It all felt so hollow, like roaming through Eliot's "The Wasteland" picking up fragments and pretending they matter. So I've stayed away, occasionally chiming in with a post that never really satisfied me.
But some time has passed, and more importantly, the first half of the football offseason--the roster moves and speculation period--is over. Now begins the second half--the waiting period. And now we come to PV's time to shine. A time to share the dreams and nightmares. A time to read the backs of football cards. A time to read literature that (on this blog, anyway) I reduce to a coping lesson on Viking fandom. A time for a lot of bad sportswriting to lambaste. A time for FANTASY FREAKING FOOTBALL (probably mostly a time for fantasy freaking football).
So I'm back, baby. I missed the childish glee, the escapist joy, the fun of following sports deeply. Rather than wallowing in a tragic view of the Minnesota Vikings, I'll return with the joy of loving a game. If nothing else, it's fantasy football planning season (I've got secrets, man. I've got secrets).
Optimism for 2010 Vikings
I spent most of 2009 believing it was the last chance. Brett Favre's miracle season at 40 can't be expected to be repeated at 41. Kevin Williams and Pat Williams are looking at a suspension at some point (and Pat Williams, a dominant force on the defense for five years, is closer to retirement too). The rest of the NFC North all looks to be improving around young quarterbacks. And there's the specter of relocation.
But maybe, just maybe, there are reasons for continued hope.
Young Skill Position Stars. Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Adrian Peterson all look like legitimate play-makers to count on for years. Having a trio like that to get the ball to makes any offense dangerous. It floors me to think of some of the skill position players that were leading this team during Brad Childress's early years; regardless of quarterback it's doubtful we'll see offense that ineffective again for a long time.
Jared Allen. In today's NFL a dominant pass rush can disrupt an opponent and make any defense effective; the Vikes still have one of the best pass-rushing ends in the league. If Allen keeps that dominant outside rush coming for several more years (and there's no reason to think he won't), a defense with as many talented players as the Vikes have can still dominate.
There will be joy in 2010. I don't think it will be quite the joy we got 13 times in the 2009 season, but the Vikings have players to give us joyous moments.
I won't know how to feel about the Twins until the Viking stadium situation is resolved. If the Vikings relocate, I'll hate the Twins until death or dementia, whichever comes first. If the Vikings get a new stadium to stay in Minnesota long-term, I'll probably embrace the Twins. Until then, I'd best keep a certain wary distance.
I ask this question regularly: how many players currently on the Timberwolves' roster will still be on the roster the next time the team makes the playoffs? Right now all I can answer is maybe Jonny Flynn (he's a very young point guard that was on a lousy team without any outside scoring presence: early to judge), Kevin Love (he's a great rebounder and solid in many parts of the game), and maybe Corey Brewer (not because he's good, but I think he could be a decent contributing role player on a good team, though I doubt he'll still be around by the time the Timberwolves are a good team). That's it. I don't think Al Jefferson will be there (he's been the best player on an awful team for three years, making it hard for me to ever see him as the best player on a playoff team), and the rest of the roster just sucks. Just sucks. I was there, sitting in the upper deck for a fair number of their games this year, and they were rarely ever close to being competitive.
And this is where it's worth noting that the best player in franchise history is 6-0 in playoff series since getting traded.
I updated the links on the side to make it quicker and easier to follow the NFL. I purged all the Viking sites that appeared inactive (basically, any site with no updates in 2010), and and trimmed the other links to a few fantasy sites, and a handful of very good websites devoted exclusively to the NFL. The sidebar is basically my football bookmarks list, so I wanted it clean and trim; I will, however, likely be adding some more links there.