Outdoor Winter Football in Minnesota
Seeing a Viking home game played in cold December, snow plowed to the sidelines, will make me nostalgic for a time I never even saw. Purple jerseys in the cold!
On not giving a shit (or, Vikings v. Bears)
The 2010 Vikings are either going to finish 5-11, 6-10, 7-9, or 8-8 (assuming no ties, I guess). I can't find myself caring where they actually end up on that spectrum: it just doesn't really matter. If this were a young team, we could hope for a strong finish to build for something next year. But this is an old team that is going to have to make some big changes next year regardless of the next three weeks (the dread rebuilding, but with a solid core of elite-level players to rebuild with so it could turn quickly, with savvy and luck).
Yet on the other side, the Bears are one game in front of the Packers for the division. I have no animosity for the Bears outside of Viking-Bear matchups, and intense animosity for the Packers. And that can, ultimately, matter: seeing the Packers in the Super Bowl would crush my spirit.
Am I saying I'm rooting for the Bears to beat the Vikings? I would never say that. And I would never feel that.
Randall Cunningham and Brett Favre
Randall Cunningham and Brett Favre each quarterbacked the Vikings to a spectacular, memorable season that ended with an overtime defeat in the NFC Championship Game. Here were their comparable numbers during those seasons:
3,704 yards, 34 TDs, 10 INTs, 60.9%, 106.0 rating, 13-1 record
(playoffs: 46/75, 502 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT)
4,202 yards, 33 TDs, 7 INTs, 68.4%, 107.2 rating, 12-4 record
(playoffs: 43/70, 544 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs)
Outside of those magical years, neither QB shined. In 2010, the Vikes started 5-7 with Favre as starter, and he threw 18 interceptions and added six fumbles. In 1999, the Vikings started 2-4 with Cunningham as starter, as his rating fell down to 79.1. Cunningham also finished the 1997 season, when he was the starter in a week 17 win to make the playoffs, as well as their first playoff win of the '90s.
Who did more for the Vikings? When I see Randall Cunningham Viking jerseys, I just feel empty. I don't know how I'll feel when I see Favre Viking jerseys in ten years. That depends, I suppose, on whether the Vikings win a Super Bowl before then...and whether the "Minnesota Vikings" exist at all.
There are different ways to create stories and meaning from sports. Some may view through a Hero Myth, where the story is the heroism of the great individual player or the great team, whose on-field successes and failures are all part of the story of the hero's greatness (and tragedy). Or you can see sports as a Quest Myth, where the team or individual strives and struggles and takes forward and backward steps on the mission to achieve an idealized end, to cross into the Promised Land, to find that Holy Grail, to return home from Troy.
Readers know how I watch the Vikings. And during the latter parts of a season during which the Vikings will not make the playoffs, I feel like I'm stuck on some crazy half-god's island just waiting for a boat to come by so maybe, maybe I can get back on that journey home. At least then, no matter how far I am from Ithaca, I'd at least be on the water moving, quite possibly even in the right direction.
A nice slate of games matching up teams with winning records.
Eagles-Giants. How I got my wife to give me a disgusted look Monday night: "You know how I've said if the Vikings relocate I'll become a Bears fan? Well, when Peyton Manning retires I'll need a new favorite non-Viking player. Football is way more fun for me when I have a favorite non-Viking to root for. So I was thinking, when Peyton retires, how about little brother?"
Jaguars-Colts. If the Jaguars win, they win the division and the Colts miss the playoffs for the first time since 2001. If the Colts win, they haven't clinched anything, but they're in very good shape to do so. The Vikings make me shake my head sadly; any football nerves I have now are reserved for Packer games and Colt games.
Remember Spurgeon Wynn?
Horrors. Just remembering.
Readers know my antipathy to head-to-head fantasy standings, and the absurd unfairness of fantasy playoffs (why not just pick a week at random and say the highest score from that week wins the championship?).
But I do now see the excitement of a playoff. When you're on the bubble just to get into the playoffs, it's exciting because you still have a shot at winning a fantasy football champion. And then if you get into the playoffs, even as the lowest seed, you need one good week against the top seed and you can still claim that champion. I get it.
Of course the week-to-week, every-game excitement of Cross Country standings overcomes the focused excitement of a playoff matchup. Still, this is fun.