Monday, January 25, 2010

Unrequited Love

Often in life, the things that we cannot have are the things we want most. My parents never took a trip to Disney World when I was younger (citing extremely large mosquitoes in Florida). Having taken one trip there as an adult, I have an unhealthy affection for the place.

And indeed national championships remain the bane of my existence. I haven’t sniffed one since the Twins won in 1991. That might not seem like much, but remember, sports are my life. Why do I care so much? Why am I not a more well-rounded person? The answer is simple. Until I can get that championship, until the Vikings win it all, until my team completes the journey, I can’t stop this. I can’t get over sports.

And so the logical post for this blog tonight was something like this.

And believe me, I’m crushed. Here’s an approximate timeline of tonight:

Vikings fumble before halftime. – Don’t care. The only way the Vikings are winning is by coming from behind in the second half. That’s just the feel of this game.

2 minutes left. I totally believe. This is why we got Favre. No one executes the 2 minute drill better.

Vikings are in FG range in a tie game. I think you run, pass, run here. Run to get the clock down so Brees has no chance, play-action pass once to improve your position, and then run to put it in the center of the field. Vikings run twice for no gain. 19 seconds left. And then it happens.

12 men in the huddle. You have got to be kidding me. There have been a million calls that have gone against the Saints in this game. But only the Vikings could do this at this point in the game. This play will live forever in Minnesota sports infamy. I’ll be sitting in a Sports Bar in 2034 and I’ll see some other Vikings fan. He’ll lean over to me prior to a Vikings FG try. “12 men in the huddle”

Favre now throws an interception. I walk into kitchen. My head bangs against the window.

Some weird semi-controversial plays occur. (I.e. the kind of replay challenges and penalties that sports radio fans will dissect for days.) I don’t care.

The Saints are in FG range, but that’s OK. Garrett Hartley can miss. Why not? It will be revenge for Gary Anderson’s miss in the 1998 championship game. But the Saints FG is good. The Vikings lose.

This is the part where Bill Simmons takes a two hour walk with his dog. I have no dog. I write a blog post.

Look, I should be screaming and complaining, but I’m not. I’m proud of the Vikings. I’m happy for the season. I think something changed in 1998 after I had season tickets and saw the 15-1 Vikings lose in the NFC title game. I will probably never believe as much as I did that year. That team set the NFL record for points in a season (which has since been broken.) That team had Randy Moss and Cris Carter and Robert Smith and I believed. And I was wrong. But that loss was so painful, it changed my life. I can’t stop this. I can’t stop sports.

I want to believe

As a sports fan you have to appreciate every win or it just isn’t worth it. Georgetown over Rutgers doesn’t mean much, but it means something. But you also have to have hope. And after the 1998 NFC championship game, it is hard to have hope. Trust me, the sentiment in Minnesota heading into today’s game was not. “Woo-hoo, we’re going to the Super Bowl.” It was, “How are we going to screw this up this time?”

So I thank the Vikings for coming back to beat San Francisco. I thank them for near perfect performances against the Packers. I thank them for beating the Cowboys when everyone said Dallas was better. But I thank them more for letting me believe again. With 2 minutes to go in the NFC championship game, I believed that maybe this was the year.

And I was wrong. And it hurts. But it was still worth it. You have to have hope. But this game was bigger than just that. It was about saying something I never thought I’d write.

I am a fan of Brett Favre. And I don’t blame him. I forgive him.

If you hate Brett Favre, I don’t blame you. He turned his back on his fans and his Packer team. He has a massive ego. And I think at least 70% of the national audience was tuning in to cheer against him. (And if you hate him, how sweet it is. Twice now in the NFC title game, he’s thrown the interception that cost his team the game. You can’t script a more satisfying way for him to go down.)

But there’s also what Tom Jackson said on NFL Primetime. Brett Favre is the image of courage. When he got hit low and he was laid out on that injury cart with his wife looking on in the stands, he should have given up. But he could not quit. He taped it up and he went back in.

And when his WR/RB Percy Harvin fumbled, there was Favre diving for the ball against any sane person’s judgment.

When it was determined that Favre was coming back in the game, the announcers speculated that Favre was inhuman. My wife speculated that he was the Terminator. Seriously, if you are taking a walk some day, a car speeds up next to you, the car door opens and Brett Favre opens it.

“Come with me if you want to live?”

Wouldn’t you just jump in? Would you really question it?

If they took his sock off and you saw wires and metal hanging out, would you have really been surprised? No one plays the QB position that long without missing games. It is just inhuman.

Favre was asked in the post-game press conference if this season was a success. He didn’t hesitate for a second. Yes it was. His goal was to win the Super Bowl. That’s why he came back. But this season was still special.

Brett Favre may have a huge ego. He may have thrown the costly pick. But I started to write it before he said it. If this is the end, Brett Favre is going out on top.

He showed courage. He gave me hope. And in sports, that’s all you can ask for.

Well you know, except a championship.

Moving On

I hope to numb the pain with Georgetown vs Syrcause on Monday, but it isn’t coming close. I started a series on basketball coaches this weekend (see below) to keep my brain thinking about something else. I have a couple more posts on coaches 90% prepped, so we’ll see how the week goes.