GRRRRRR! YOU BETTER NOT FUCK WITH ME OR THE VIKINGS! WE ARE VIOLENT AND SCARY AND ANGRY!! WE WILL BASH IN THE HEADS OF PUSSY DOLPHINS FANS OR ANYONE ELSE WHO STANDS IN THE WAY OF THE MIGHTY PURPLE AND GOLD! LIKE THE TRUE NORDIC VIKINGS OF OLD, WE WILL RAPE AND PILLAGE OUR WAY TO THE FUCKIN SUPER BOWL!!!
Hello, friends. Please take a moment to hear me out.
May I confess something to you, here, in this impersonal yet strangely comforting setting?
I’m exhausted. Look at that picture of me above — take a close look. Look at my visage. Do I look scary? I’m trying so very hard to affect an imposing and frightening demeanor, but I fear my true feelings betray me.
Perhaps you can see it in the eyes — a bit older than their years, a bit sadder than the situation calls for. Perhaps you can see it in the awkward formation of my mouth as I try to snarl but end up merely frowning. Every Sunday, for too many years to count, I spend untold hours in the bathroom, carefully applying my war paint (a homemade mixture of Bruised Eggplant and Tyrian #3). I put on my freshly dry-cleaned battle robes and horns. I pack my tailgating cooler and make the 45-minute drive from Coon Rapids to the Metrodome (please, kind folk, save the jokes about Coon Rapids. I’ve heard them all before). I park in the same lot. I meet the same friends for grilled meats and beer. (Some weeks, the mere thought of having to drink that swill makes me pull off the road with nausea; but I do it for the ritual, the tradition, the camaraderie.)
So much of my life has become rote, but I’ve always done these things out of love, and out of hope. For I truly do love the Vikings, and have my whole life. I remember my Uncle Connie taking me aside and showing me how Chuck Foreman would cut inside the left tackle at the last possible instant, to turn a sure loss into a two-yard gain. He taught me that those two yards may not seem like much, but that in the end, they make all the difference. I do miss that man.
And hope — hope is a hallmark of those of us who grew up in the upper Midwest. Perhaps we just need an irrational level of optimism to get through the winters, I don’t know. Hope and patience. For we have waited patiently lo these many years for the Vikings franchise to justify our faith and bring home a championship.
I don’t mean to sound greedy, friends, truly I don’t. I know there are other cities, communities, franchises that have gone for far longer without trophies gracing the entry halls of their stadia. But the Vikings haven’t won a Super Bowl since…well, ever, actually. And the prideful Twin Cities haven’t won anything since the Minnesota Twins’ 1991 World Series triumph. Now, I won’t even admit to to my tailgating cohorts that I watch baseball, because it’s too white-collar a sport for them, and I’d get called a cocksucking pretty boy or something to that effect. But I do admire baseball’s elegant simplicity, its timeless resonance, its non-violent resolutions. There’s something about the grandeur of the game that connects me with generations long passed, with an America I only understood through books and schoolboy filmstrips.
But I digress…
The America we live in today is an America of broken promises. Of Sunday night phone calls to the automated systems at the unemployment office. Of seeing your kids every other weekend and every other Thanksgiving. Of billionaire owners forcing hostage cities to subsidize their gilded palaces with taxpayer funds. And the Minnesota we Vikings loyals live in is one of hope forsaken and patience unrewarded.
We have been steadfast through heartwrenching defeats: the Super Bowl losses, the Gary Anderson game, even last year’s NFC Championship game. We have been strong through losing seasons and incompetent front offices.
But this….this is one broken promise too many for this particular Norseman.
When Brett Favre joined the Vikings, we were willing to overlook his past in Green Bay. After all, he didn’t control where he spent his career, he’s from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He was no more a natural fit in Green Bay than Kirby Puckett was in Minnesota. And Favre seemed ideal for the Twin Cities — his earthiness, his drive, his charisma. It’s not that we bought Wrangler jeans because Brett Favre hawked them, you see, it’s that we already owned Wrangler jeans.
We did more than accept Favre. We anointed him. We marveled at his agelessness. We embraced him as we would our own flesh and blood. And the Great Brett Favre, like so many before him, has let us down.
It’s not that Favre choked in last year’s final game. The man’s human, and his offensive line was porous. It’s not that he almost retired. Lord knows he’s earned a peaceful football afterlife. We would have accepted almost anything from Favre, but not this.
Brett Favre came back half-heartedly, and that we cannot abide. We are a hard-working, honest people and we will not accept something less than a honest effort. Favre came back full of excuses, and seemingly with one foot already out the door should things turn dour. He is not being true to himself, his teammates or his fans. And he set the season up for failure before it even began.
And everything we’ve been through as a fanbase — no, no, I’m not going to speak for others here today. Just myself. This is just me. After everything I’ve been through as a Vikings fan, I deserve better. I’ve given this team the best years of my misspent life, and I have nothing to show for it but a hole in my bank account from the season tickets I can’t afford.
I am broken.
The Vikings are 0-2, but they might as well be 0-16. It’s over. And my football pals don’t even see it. They’re so lost in rah-rah macho bullshit that they can’t feel the gyre widening about them. The worst are full of passionate intensity, indeed.
And so this Sunday, when the Detroit Lions come to visit, I’ll be there. I’ll be in my usual seat, in section 114, and the warpaint will be on my face. But my screams will be empty. When I piss behind the Dippin’ Dots concession stand, it will be out of habit, not drunken rebelliousness. And when I punch a Lions fan in the throat at halftime, my heart won’t really be in it. Just like Brett Favre.