BRONX, NY – The Minnesota Vikings host a divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints next Sunday… and I’m wondering what will go wrong. It’s not that I don’t believe in this year’s version of my favorite football team, it’s just that I’ve been a fan for so long I can’t help but feel that some sort of disaster is looming. It’s not my fault. I’m so old I remember 37-year-old Fran Tarkenton running for his life in Super Bowl XI. That game was played in 1977! There hasn’t been a Super Bowl appearance since, but there have been some excruciating exits. The Vikes practically invented them, starting with that original B.S. Dallas Hail Mary in 1975. But, seriously, this team has found every conceivable way to rip out what’s left of my heart. Let’s take a brutal walk down memory lane.
Blown kicks? Check. Gary Anderson misses his only FG of the season in 1998 NFC Championship (I’m there to witness) and Blair Walsh misses chip shot in Wild Card vs. Seattle 2 years ago. Blow outs? Check. 2000 NFC Championship, Giants 41 Vikings 0 (I’m there for that too). Last-second collapses? Check. Lousy Cardinals team led by Josh McCown (???) knocks Vikes out of playoffs on the last play of the regular season. Back-breaking interceptions? Check. Brett Favre (who else?) vs. Saints in 2009 NFC Championship. Poor Coaching. Check. Please, a team that had Denny Green, Mike Tice and Brad Childress as head coaches? It’s a veritable Brainfart-a-palooza. Anyway, they’ve seemingly lost big games every way possible.
Are there any an uncharted nightmare scenarios left for my Vikings to explore? How about these?
• Alvin and the Big Chunks. Saints running back Alvin Kamara gashes the Vikings for one big play after another en route to a record 200 yard rushing/200 yard receiving day. But Minnesota still leads until Kamara returns a kickoff for 108 yards with no time left on the clock.
• No Super Pole. Desperate for help at linebacker before the NFC Championship Game, Minnesota signs former boxer Andrew “The South Pole” Golota. In the game, Golota punches Philadelphia QB Nick Foles in the nuts so many times that the refs finally disqualify the Vikings and give the game to the Eagles.
• Brian’s Song. Hosting the Super Bowl, Minnesota knocks New England QB Tom Brady out of the game early, only to get lit up by Brian Hoyer. *Jesus. This one seems almost plausible.*
Okay, I’m really am trying to stay positive here. So I decided to reach out to three friends who share my curse of being fans of the Minnesota Vikings. Here are each one of their playoff predictions for the Vikes.
Mikie Thornton (Former Harlem Shasky and all-around Bon Vivant). “The Vikes will be marching all over the Saints and into the NFC Championship Game. Then they get revenge from 19 years ago against Atlanta and then revenge against the Steelers from 44 years ago. It’s all coming full circle, baby!”
JG Clancy (Frequent MTM commenter, currently in semi-retirement). “The Vikings should handle the Saints, although Brees can torch a team if he’s hot. Philthy is losing so we’ll see the Falcs—who are on a ‘mission from Gahd’—which will come down to a FG attempt, I’m sure. If/when the Vikes reach the Super Bowl, only Pitt worries me in the AFC. In any case a good holiday party at Bourbon Street is the next best thing.”
Gjon Prendi (New York guy who went to college in Minnesota, married a girl from Minnesota, and stayed in Minnesota). “We will exorcise the 2009 Saints demons this week, then the ’98 Falcons demons, then the 4 Super Bowl demons. Skol!”
There you have it, folks. Clearly there are people out there more sick in the head than I am, and Clancy is still thinking about decent food and drink for the unwashed MTM masses, which is admirable. Looks like I’m also the only one giving Philly a chance. And speaking of Philly… Come back tomorrow for Buddy Diaz, whose glass is half Foles and not half empty.