Came into the world the same year as the Twins and Vikings. (1961)
Was blessed with one set of grandparents who were sports nuts. Made sure we took the three hour treks to Vikings, Gophers, Twins, and North Stars games.
I didn't need the push, sports were my life from Day One, and the Vikings were my deepest love, until their 4th SB loss.
I was "that" weird little kid who knew the players, every player, every cut, every practice squad guy, etc. Knew their bios inside and out.
Had an uncle from Bloomington who rubbed elbows with many sports celebs and he often increased my love for it. That was the hub for sports in this state for decades.
Loved our aura, loved our unis, loved our personality and our consistency.
Sunday's of my youth were Viking Day, nothing else. And it meant winning, almost every week.
It helped build my family, my friendships, my social circle. Is that wrong? Probably, but it is what it is.
The biggest Viking memories are etched forever in my mind. Know exactly where I was when Joe Kapp barreled over the Browns linebacker. Know where I was when Hail Mary became a thing. Ed Marinaro spinning away, Chuck Foreman changing the game. Randy Moss changing the game. The great defenses, the special teams monsters, the incredible wins and the crushing losses.
Loved my Dad for allowing me to skip Sunday School on the morning of our first SB vs KC. Was too nervous to focus on anything but. Was positive we would crush KC and I honestly don't think I ever fully recovered from the shock. Openly cried for days. Then began the chipping away ....
SB vs Miami was our chance to redeem ourselves, it was quick enough to make us feel like maybe the first loss was worthwhile. Nope. Another soul-crushing acceptance that my invincible heroes were no such thing. We were out-everything-ed and humbled.
Felt like we limped into our third vs Pittsburgh. Looking back, we unfortunately tangled with a growing dynasty. We hung tough and gave hope, but were eventually beat down, again. My top hero of all time, Fran, had taken the biggest ass-kicking, and his acceptance of it afterwards was life-changing for many of us. The page had turned, we were no longer unlucky or had bad timing, we had become a punchline. And that was a tough realization. Probably when I branched out the most not other sports. Threw my personal efforts into basketball, threw my fandom support fully into hockey. But always kept my heart open for my first love.
Had grown to admire and love the Raiders as my second choice, and when it boiled down to our 4th SB against them wasn't sure that was cruel, or ironic, or wonderful. As usual tried to start the game calm, but ended up crushed, again. Wasn't even happy the Raiders had won, just pissed about it all. We had gone from punchline to prime buttend joke material.
Stayed calm and supportive, thru all the crap. Bud leaving, Steckel ruining, Bud returning, Burnsie cussing, Denny strutting.
Was ready to be revitalized and 1998 was awesome. Right up to the final, excruciating inevitable soul-crushing end. By then it had become an inside joke with most of us. No matter how well things went, we always knew, us old timers. We knew.
Seeing this current team build its base has been fun and exciting. I'm in, but much more hesitant than you youngsters. I love what we've done for the most part. I have faith in our owner, our GM, and most importantly our HC. I begged for him and we may have finally gotten one right. Losses and mistakes bother this man, and I appreciate that, after what we have been thru.
Sunday was another soul crusher, but one we can get over. Moving to the new stadium will be fun and exciting, but praying we don't let it take precedence over improving the team.
I can easily see us being top four the entire year next year. I can also see us falling on our face and having to start over. That's what decades of disappointment does to one.
I appreciate the stories in here, the passion, and the support. I've been a Viking fan of EVERY level, as you can see, and I appreciate where each of you are at. Hang in there. We've chosen to follow and support a team that for the most part, has been pretty damn solid. No time to bail now. Things are trending up. Stay strong.