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'Minnesota Miracle' Gives Perspective to Viking Fans' Misery

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'Minnesota Miracle' Gives Perspective to Viking Fans' Misery

My father is a Vikings fan. Same for my father-in-law, my brother and a vast network of other relatives and friends. I grew up in Vikings territory—in neighboring South Dakota—and went to college in the Twin Cities, where I proudly [and annoyingly] flaunted my Packers gear wherever I went.

So it’s fair to say that my life has afforded me an intimate view of Vikings fans and what I describe as their peculiar pathology of despair.

You see, to be a Vikings fan is to be simultaneously loyal—fiercely loyal—but also fickle. It’s to be full of hope while also being innately confident that things will end badly, and in the worst possible way. It’s to revel in all triumphs, but stay affixed to the notion that disaster is inevitable. It’s equal parts purple face paint ‘SKOL!’ chants and self-abnegation. It’s fatalism with a hint of Shakespearian panache. To love the Vikings is to truly know the pangs of undesired love.

The source of this pathology isn’t singular, but instead, the result of 57 years of attrition—wherein the greatest successes have always been followed by failure. For those fans who endured the 1970s and bore witness to four Super Bowl defeats, the sense of defeatism is hard-wired. Fans through the ‘90s and 2000s have Gary Anderson’s miss, a 41-0 trouncing in the NFC Championship game, Bounty Gate and Blair Walsh’s yips. No matter where they turn, Vikings fans are reminded of the almosts and what-ifs.

And so just imagine the whirlwind of emotions Vikings fans went through on Sunday when their 17-0 lead withered away against the same quarterback and team that sent them packing the last time they carried true hope that a reversal of fortunes was in order.

I’m sure there were a lot of emotions, but none more consuming than resignation—to the “fact” that this is who they are, this is what always happens, and there’s no escaping it.

But then it didn’t happen, because Case Keenum and Stefan Diggs delivered a play for the ages. While it was tantamount to hitting an inside-the-park-homerun after a pair of outfielders collided trying to catch a routine fly, it’s no less valid or real. And the shockwave from that one play could continue to ripple for ages.

Keenum and Diggs’ ‘Minnesota Miracle’ might end up being the exact moment that Minnesota and its fans staked a new claim and adopted a new psychology—one stoked by a mythology of comeuppance, and not just for the obvious revenge on the Saints for brutalizing Brett Favre, but for the decades of being on the wrong side of luck.

I could only laugh after the final play. I despise the Vikings, but how could I not feel some sense of joy for my 58-year-old dad, or my brother, or my wife’s dad? They’ve been through enough, damnit. And to exorcize their demons in such stunning fashion?

Whether this nascent perspective—that they are good, maybe even destined, and that the bogeyman isn’t real—is able to stick might require the Vikings to go all the way. The good fortune Vikings fans stockpiled on Sunday night could still spoil between now and February 4. But the confidence and competence of the Mike Zimmer-era Vikings suggest that this new vibe is built to last, even if it took one miraculous play to jumpstart it officially.

All of this has me thinking about our team, the Green Bay Packers. As a 30-year-old, my own football fandom has been full of rainbows and sunshine. First with Wolf, Holmgren, Favre, and White and later with Thompson, McCarthy and Rodgers—to say nothing of several other great players in between. That kind of success has bred a culture of, among other things, entitlement. It’s become all too easy to forget, or at least contextualize, the 30 years of failure that followed Vince Lombardi’s departure from Green Bay.

This entitlement, though, belies the fact that Green Bay—arguably to a greater degree than Minnesota in recent years—has collapsed in its biggest moments. (Super Bowl XLV and that postseason run notwithstanding.) I don’t think it’s to the point that Packers fans expect to blow it at the most inopportune time. But how many more heartbreaking defeats can be withstood before cracking? How many more prime years of Aaron Rodgers career wasted?

The Vikings changed their fortunes by assembling one of the league’s finest rosters, particularly on defense, and by putting the steady-if-grouchy hand of Zimmer in charge. Sunday’s miracle is a bonus.  

For the Packers, draft and develop may have kept the books steady and played a large role in assembling a consistently good roster. But “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is no longer reason enough to maintain the status quo. The January front office shakeup is worthy of our hope and excitement, not just because change in itself is exciting, but because of the substance of the changes.

While some might wonder if true change can be achieved with one-third of this generation’s triumvirate, Mike McCarthy, still at the helm. I think it can. By asking in no uncertain terms for better players, as he did in his season-ending press conference, McCarthy has put himself on watch. If he doesn’t win—and big—in the next two seasons, he’ll likely be gone.

Green Bay’s forceful sea of change demands that fans’ collective psychology doesn’t retreat into a fandom that comes to depend on blowing it. We’re certainly not at a point where we need a miracle.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (60) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

packergal's picture

I HATE THE VIKINGS BUT still would like to congratulate them! Why not root for this division foe--especially if PACK doesn't make it? I'm rooting for them to beat despised BB team in SB. Not sure about anyone else, but I ALSO hate Philly even more!

Mojo's picture

I'm not sure why people get caught up in rooting for a team just because they're in the same division.

Is it because they feel nationwide there's a transference of prestige because GB plays in the same division? That would be like me glorifying the Bills because NE won the SB last year.

Do they think, for example that Detroit, Chicago and Minny fans took joy in our 2010 season? I'm pretty sure most of those fan bases were pissed-off having to hear for another year how great GB is.

There are two things that I hope for in any given season - the Pack winning the SB and Minnesota not.

If the Vikings were playing an interplanetary contest against an alien foe for universal bragging rights, I'd root for the aliens.

Nick Perry's picture

"Why not root for this division foe--especially if PACK doesn't make it? I'm rooting for them to beat despised BB team in SB."

I can only speak for myself and possibly a few other fans I know very well personally, but we can't cheer for the Vikings because we actually DO hate them. We LOVE the idea that the Vikings have NEVER won ANYTHING. Some older Vikings fans will point to the year they made it to SB III and were the Champions of the NFL, BUT they lost in the last game they played against the AFL Chiefs so they still weren't Champs. They were still 2nd place!!

As a Packers fan I can never cheer for the Vikings to win, just like I can't cheer for the Bears or even lowly Detroit. Nope let em SUFFER, let them wallow in their excuses why they never won a thing. Let em list excuse after excuse as to WHY they were screwed or lost. Matter of fact, the more painful the loss the better in my book!!

WKUPackFan's picture

100% agree Nick.

egbertsouse's picture

Having to live around Vikings fans, I now have a special hatred for that team. They will most likely make the Super Bowl and force me to root for the Patriots. Damn, I hate that.

HankScorpio's picture

Philly has a a legit shot of knocking out the Vikes.

croatpackfan's picture

I think, Philly D will be huge problem for Vikings - remember who is Eagles' DC? Viking was always in problems while Jim Schwartz was Detroit HC. Hell, Packers had problem...

It will be interesting to see which D will be more firm...

I agree with you. For me Vikings are underdog...

mnklitzke's picture

JAX to win it all!!!!

Bearmeat's Phantom Downvoter's picture

UGH. ANOTHER PURPLE PICTURE ON OUR BLOG! GET IT OFF!!!

No, I do not agree that the Vikings are here to stay. How old is their OL? How many years do they have them signed for? How proven is their QB? Do they have him signed yet? And if they sign him, is he going to be worth the 25 AAV contract he's earned this year? And most importantly, how many injuries have they had this year? (Answer: Cook and their LG - SOOOO LUCKY)

mmmmhmmm. That's what I thought. IF Keenum signs a "prove it" deal and does it again next year, THEN and ONLY THEN will I buy the "Tebow-esque" (or perhaps more accurately, "Flutie-esque") career year he's had. Until then, he's just had a combination of everything going right for him, a very healthy team, and dumb luck. And without at least a mediocre QB, a team can't win it all. Then what happens when your defense gets insanely expensive (which is what is about to happen to MIN).

I also have many friends who are Vikings fans. Some of my best friends, actually. And no, I don't feel bad for them, because I am a green-and-gold-till-I'm-dead-and-cold-horrible-human-being. So screw that purple garbage and the train that it rode in on. I was nothing but horrified and angry when that lucky-as-hell-crap happened last night. They SHOULD have lost. New Orleans was BETTER.

And, God willing, they WILL lose. I hope they lose this weekend. But if they lose to the Jags at home in the SuperBowl... well, that might just be delicious enough to expunge the bad taste last night has left in my mouth.

Three and Out's picture

There is not a single thing you just said that I don't agree with. Rivalries are rivalries. When my girlfriend(who is still learning) asked me last night why I want the Saints to win, my response was a calm and direct "because the Vikings can suck a dick". I will never root for any of the other teams in the North.

dnicholson's picture

Take it easy. The biggest story in sports happened last night and it's worth exploring for at least a day. (And if you made it to the end, it's also a story about the Packers.)

Bearmeat's Phantom Downvoter's picture

lol. In all seriousness, imagine me ranting the above with a beer in my hand and a crap eating grin on my face. Like it would be if we were in a bar on a cold Friday night in northern Wisky.

But, in the spirit of trash talk: HELL NAW! YOU'RE THE ONE THAT PUT THAT PUTRID PURPLE ON OUR PERFECT PACKER BLOG! THAT'S JUST NOT ACCEPTABLE IN THESE HERE PARTS!

:D

Spock's picture

David,
You take it easy. This is a PACKERS site that you contribute to. After Barr's (legal, but still cheap) shot took out Arod you want us to have sympathy for the Vikings?!! They have always had an obnoxious fan base. After injuring Rodgers I couldn't believe the nasty stuff they posted on Packers' sites. It might be the "biggest story in sports" last night, but I didn't even bother to watch the game. Your lame excuse about reading to the end makes this about the Packers is, well, lame. I HATE the Vikings and their fans. That is not going to change because of some lucky last second play. I sympathize with your having purple wearing fans in your family, but it's not going to change MY perspective.

dnicholson's picture

This isn't meant to be a persuasive piece. I'm merely telling it as I see it, and I need no reminder about the nature of contributions to this site. It's a privilege, I take it seriously and I and others put a significant amount of time toward it.

HankScorpio's picture

That was fantastic, Bearmeat! I loved every word of it.

I don't know what I'd like more...the Vikes getting knocked out in their own building or them getting knocked out in the one game outside their building. Either way, the tears would be delicious.

But I console myself with the notion that even if the worst happens, it was only be possible because Rodgers got hurt. At least that's the way it will be spun. :D

Bearmeat's Phantom Downvoter's picture

Oh, trust me. I'll be screaming that from the rooftops if they win out. If they lose this weekend or in February, I'll be rubbing the following line in their faces:

"AND YOU COULDN'T EVEN GET IT DONE THE YEAR YOU CHEAP SHOTTED ZEUS! NEXT YEAR THINGS ARE BACK TO NORMAL!" :D

Minniman's picture

You need to edit your monologue.

:AND YOU COULDN'T EVEN GET IT DONE THE YEAR ZEUS GOT HURT"

Should be:

"The year that YOU CHEAP Shot Zeus and took him out"

For that reason alone, no self respecting Packer fan should support the vikes this year

Bearmeat's Phantom Downvoter's picture

Done. ;)

holmesmd's picture

They have 2 WR’s and a TE. It defies logic why good defenses can’t contain them?! Diggs irritates me, primarily because GB can never seem to cover him and more importantly, because he cried during his on field interview after his “gift from God TD”, that he had no business making. I understand the emotion from the young man and I understand why he’s emotional. I just think talking about Jesus and “working hard to get better every day”, is a BS platitude. Jesus hated the other team?! Lol. Say you got lucky. Say you’re thankful. Strap up for your NFCCG. Stop bawling on TV. No one cares....even if I want to a little bit. ;) Be happy i was not playing that 2-shell/ sideline wall at my 50 years of age young buck. I may have had to leave 3 seconds earlier than Williams to get there, but I wouldn’t have blown my load when I did. Respect where it is due no matter what. I am not a MN fan but they should be acknowledged for however far they get, despite the circumstances. Now GO EAGLES!!:))

Rebecca's picture

Rookie mistake ends season for Saints. At least both teams played with heart. But you have to play smart too! Can Packer players play smart?

4thand1's picture

All the talk about the great rookies drafted by NO, one made a game changing rookie mistake. Charles Woodson never would have let that play happen.

UmpireMark's picture

Sadly, reminds me of a game where 4th and 26 didn't seem like much of an impossibility!

For the Saints CB, just let Diggs catch it. Tackle him, game over.

Or I guess, for Bostic, block your assigned guy, Jordy grabs the ball, game over.

Aaaaaahhhhhh, I hated that ending!

holmesmd's picture

Or Butler, or Robinson, or Collins ,...or Cecil for that matter. Hell, HA Hopefully wouldn’t have blown his load like Williams did?! I really have no answers

WKUPackFan's picture

There is an article up on PFT explaining in detail how the Saints coaching staff incorrectly aligned their defense on the fateful play. It also explains how their coaches, during the preceding timeout, repeatedly emphasized not to commit a PI penalty.

Williams was set up to fail by his own coaches. Nevertheless, Williams faced reporters questions and accepted his role in the play without throwing any other player or coach under the bus. Doesn't sound like someone who "blew his ****" to me.

Nick Perry's picture

Thanks for the article tip WKU.

WKUPackFan's picture

You're welcome.

Bearmeat's Phantom Downvoter's picture

I avoid going to PFT the week after a big Vikings win. They're too obnoxious. Starting with Florio, the childhood Vikings fan.

WKUPackFan's picture

I hear what you're saying. I give it way too many clicks, but it's difficult to find a better clearinghouse for league wide info. Also, I enjoy trolling PFT's commenters, whose average IQ hovers around 40. That's in direct opposition to CHTV. We may have the most intelligent commenters here on the entire internet.

Nick Perry's picture

He also made a game changing interception, one that COMPLETELY turned the game for the Saints. They had just scored a TD...Finally...and BOOM, a TO forced by that same young man.

I would DIE for a draft class like the Saints had this year for the Packers.

1) Starting RT
2) A do EVERYTHING RB with speed
3) A shutdown CB in the making
4) A Safety who yes made a mistake but also was responsible for plenty of the success they had this season.

And that's without mentioning an ILB who was starting before a season ending injury and a DE who filled in and gave them QUALITY depth.

Christ has Thompson had that much success if you COMBINE his draft classes the last 3 or 4 years even???

Sorry 4thand1... I just feel for that young man in New Orleans.

4thand1's picture

I feel for him too Bear, but every team practices for this scenario all the time. Mistakes where made at every level here, but in the end it's up to the player to make the play. This is why we watch sports, plays like this that go down in history. I'm sure we all had a good laugh when the queens blew 2 easy field goals to lose(Anderson/Walsh), it was there time.

Rebecca's picture

Yes. He played with heart, maybe too much.

UmpireMark's picture

Nice article, thanks. I also applaud some of the "Packer faithful" comments. Again, thanks.

I've lived the post-Lombardi days. The Starr, Gregg, Infanti, Majik-man days. I've reveled in the Wolf, Holmgren, Favre, Rodgers years.

If in my lifetime I have to witness the Cubs win a World Series and the ViQueens win a Super Bowl, my god man, what's left to staunchly root against in this world?

Aaaarrrggggggg. Go Philly!!!!

Ustabeayooper's picture

This just shows you that luck can play a large part in a successful playoff run. William's. Whiff on the last play was inexcusable and will haunt him for the rest of his career. Much like Bostic's blunder against the Seahawks, this may go down as a classic in terms of failure. One feels bad for the Saints because this maybe Bree's last hurrah. Given the fact that there are probably 13 out 16 teams in the NFC that will be contenders for the six playoff positions, just getting back to the playoffs maybe a stretch for the Saints. They also play in the toughest division with all four teams in the hunt. He turns 39 and needs a new contract. Like the Falcons last year, there will be a carryover for the Saints. It was a great game until the last 10 seconds.

The TKstinator's picture

“Another year of Brees’ great career wasted.”

Sounds eerily familiar...

Lphill's picture

After many years of high draft picks maybe it will pay off for them , but I don't think there is an advantage either high picks or draft and develop , if drafting high translates to success then explain the Browns and Bills and others who still fail Year after year , one thing is for sure with the Patriots, they reload every year to give Brady a chance and it seems to work , I think finally the Packers realize this and now that Rodgers is getting older they know it's now or never , draft players who actually play a position and bring in a few seasoned veterans , seems to work in New England.even if the Vikings win it all , with all the coaching vacancies they are bound to lose some of there own.

4thand1's picture

As great as Brady is, they proved it's not possible without Gronk.

The TKstinator's picture

Yes. It’s a team game. Takes more than just great QB play.
Like Peyton M, or Rivers, or Brees, or Roethlisberger, or Ryan, or Dan Fouts, or Marino, or Steve Young, or...need I go on? I came up with this list without even thinking about it very much.

HankScorpio's picture

17 QBs are in the Hall of Fame and played at least 10 years of the SB era without winning one. Over half of them have won as many or fewer SBs as Trent Dilfer, Mark Rypien and (insert fluke SB winning QB's name here)

The 8: Fran Tarkenton, Warren Moon, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, Joe Namath, Brett Favre & Kurt Warner.

The TKstinator's picture

So maybe it's time to put the whole "HOF QB equals multiple SB's" thing to bed.

joeblowinski's picture

One loud round of applause for the best piece I've ever read on this website (which is saying something) in all the years I've been here. Bravo.

Oppy's picture

Like it or not, I think the Vikings are going to play in the got.Dam.sooper.bol.. right in their own backyard.

I'm going to (hopefully) love watching them get completely outclassed in the big game.

This was a down year in the NFC and while yes, I think the Vikings are a good team.. I don't think they have what it takes to compete with a typical NFC field of competitors in the typical post season.

Go Pack!

Point Packer's picture

Who would you rather have as your head coach Mike McCarthy or Mike Zimmer?

croatpackfan's picture

Mike McCarthy...

I do not like Bill Belichik philosophy. Mike Zimmer is his follower. For win, everything is allowed. It is not.

I suspect Vikings will have referees support in Philly, too. NFL wants them to play SB at home... They wants them to take 1st SB title... With that, they will create "top story" and suck a lot of money from common fans...

Again, referees was joke in the first half... Few PI penalties was ridiculous (especially when Digs was pulling Saints CB, holding his arm... My God) and some did not called against Vikings...

WKUPackFan's picture

Zimmer's "old-style" attitude became tiresome immediately after becoming the Vikings HC. He preaches loyalty and personal responsibility, then turns around and runs off Norv Turner, one the classiest people ever in the NFL.

Zimmer's schtick is nothing more than spewing a bunch of 1950's attitudes while masquerading as a tough guy. He's a walking poster board for bad cliches. He's a loser, and he'll remain a loser even if the Vikings win the Super Bowl.

The TKstinator's picture

Testify, brother.

Point Packer's picture

"Zimmer's "old-style" attitude became tiresome immediately after becoming the Vikings HC. He preaches loyalty and personal responsibility, then turns around and runs off Norv Turner, one the classiest people ever in the NFL.

Zimmer's schtick is nothing more than spewing a bunch of 1950's attitudes while masquerading as a tough guy. He's a walking poster board for bad cliches. He's a loser, and he'll remain a loser even if the Vikings win the Super Bowl."

This response is just plain old stupid.

WKUPackFan's picture

I'm guessing that you know a lot about having 1950's attitudes.

dobber's picture

Zimmer still has to win two games this season to be a reasonable answer to this question.

Point Packer's picture

I guarantee he will win one of them. As to the second, that's 50/50. He may take Case Keenum to a SB win, which would equal Aaron Rodgers with McCarthy. How does that make you feel?

Oppy's picture

It makes me feel like you don't realize there's 45 other guys dressed to play and about half of them make up a thing called "defense".

Otto's picture

Having lived in the Twin Cities area for almost 40 yrs, "fickle" is exactly how I describe Viking fans. This article is spot on. As a fan base, they're terrible. I remember them being a playoff team and needing to have corporations buy huge blocks of tickets so their home games didn't get blacked-out. (Late 80s - early 90s?)
You could hear the 'thump' in-between Oct and Nov of the masses jumping off the bandwagon at the first sign of turmoil every team faces during a season.
To be fair and share the blame, what this article doesn't capture is what despicable cads Vikings players have been over the years. The Whizzinator, sex boat, DUIs a plenty, coach getting busted scalping his SB tickets, Moss intentionally driving into a police officer (so many Moss stories), Keith Mallard's "my arms are more power than your guns" DUI arrest... and it just goes on on.
Things may have changed with the new ownership, but for a long time, if you were a degenerate, you found your way to the Vikings.
They've made it so easy to hate them.

4thand10's picture

I'm a native born Wisconsinite. Lived and worked here my who life. Been a Packers fan my whole life. I've been through Gregg, Infante, Rhodes, Sherman et al and therfore by default ...I will never root for or show empathy to the Vikings. Same with that other team South of the Wisconsin state line. Truthfully, I would rather read an article about the Packers water boys and how the team stays hydrated, than this Vikings poop.

dnicholson's picture

Refusing to show even empathy for a rival team/fan base seems totally reasonable ... if you're without reason.

Spock's picture

dnicholson, Yet, that is EXACTLY what Vikings fans did after Rodgers' injury! When the Vikings QB had that horrific injury I posted that I felt sympathy for the young man and felt bad that the Vikings wouldn't have him at QB when we played them. When Rodgers went down the vitriol was beyond disgusting and profane coming from the other side. So whose fans are being unreasonable?

4thand10's picture

Big difference between not rooting for a team , not showing empathy and hate. I choose not to hate. But I'd never root for the Vikings or show empathy for that franchise.
Furthermore, on a Packers blog, I won't apologize for being a Packers fan or even being a homer for that matter. I don't celebrate other team's injuries or act like an ass in opposition stadiums, but I'm not going to cheer for em either.

dobber's picture

Yeah, I would easily be a Pats fan in a Patriots/Vikings SB matchup.

Geez, I kind threw up a little writing that...

Pauly's picture

I grew up in the 1940s near Beloit and was taught to respect all 3 teams ( Vikes, Bears, Packers) as worthy competitors while admiring and wanting to become a player for the Packers (never any chance of course).. Still love the Packers.
BUT,, reading the vitriol and hatred on this site by "supposedly true" Packers fans is pretty sad state of affairs. This is supposed to be a Packers fan site that is informative and supportive of the the great Packers and their fan base. Not a neanderthal hate filled site taken over by screaming idelogs threatening others. Starting to sound more like way out there politics.

Rebecca's picture

That’s how I learned to follow professional sports from my Dad and older brothers. Respect not hate or be indifferent about other teams. When one becomes a “fan” ine doesn’t have to hate and malign the opponents and their fans.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

I respect a fellow "older" Cheesehead who remembers, lived thru as a fan, the days if horrible Packer teams with QBs like Randy Wright, Rich Campbell, etc.

The 40 & unders only experienced Favre & Rodgers.
True, we clearly should have made & won more Super Bowls. But nobody has more than us in that time frame except NE, Dal (all in early 90s), & Denver.

But on the Vikings: like many of you, I lived in Minny....from the 70s til 2005. I saw first-hand how spiteful, jealous, bitter those (many of them) fans are towards us. And they are fair-weathered like nobody else.

I was elated in the 1998 NFCCG when they choked to Atlanta.
I was delighted when they got annihilated at the Giants in the NFCCG a few years later.
I was in ecstasy almost when they blew the 2009 NFCCG at New Orleans, getting Favred. As he did to our hearts 2 years earlier vs the NYG.

I wanted them to beat Seattle 2 years ago so we could play at Carolina. Of course, Walsh choked.

And I really really wanted the Saints to win, plus I had $100 coming with a New Orleans win.

But trumping it all is the fact that Anthony Barr 100% tried to injure Rodgers. And none if their fans admit it, even though I have admitted that Clay tries to KO QBs, like Kevin Kolb in 2010, like Krappernick in 2013. But no, Barr was just trying for a tackle.

This week: Fly Eagles Fly!

Ustabeayooper's picture

Even a blind squirrel. finds a nut once in a while. That is how you have to look at the Vikes this year. While they have a solid defense, the offense is still suspect and while the media goes Gaga over Case Keenum, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. So are many of the Vikings fans. There is a reason he was a backup. Playing outside in January against a solid defense maybe his downfall.

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