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A fitting end?

Mon, Jan 10th, 2011
Posted in Sports

Usually, in sports, exclamations marks are put on (good) games, seasons, and even careers. My boyhood idol, Michael Jordan, had his, the shot on Bryon Russell of the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Championship. It was his big final positive moment that most remember. But, I ask you, what do you do when the season hasn't just been bad, it's been decadently bad. What's the opposite of an exclamation mark? The Minnesota Vikings' year has been every bit of whatever punctuation mark describes that inscribable sentence ending. Do we deserve an ellipse (those three little dots)? We don't deserve a period. Maybe a question mark, but does anyone really want to start questioning the Vikings season, let alone want to hear the answers?

Just for kicks, let's recap all there is to question, shall we!

First, Favre essentially said he was done at the end of last season. His injured ankle from the championship game was bothering him. He reiterated he was done in the off-season. He didn't show up to training camp, not that we expected him to. At the time, he wasn't too far removed from ankle surgery. Then, Jared Allen, Ryan Longwell, and Steve Hutchinson went to Mississippi to get him.... that's never been done before...and presto, he was back, again...I mean for the second time...I mean for the third time...or is it the fourth? This guy has more comebacks then a decrepit, destitute, drug-addicted, professional wrestler! Of course, shortly after his arrival, Sydney Rice departed for the PUP list. For some reason, though, he suffered his hip injury in the NFC championship game in January, he put off surgery until late August. Then, there was our 1-2 start before the bye week. We weren't dead, but does the phrase tachycardia mean anything to anyone? We rebounded, for a week or two. After beating Dallas, we were 2-3. Woo-hoo! Then Green Bay and New England beat us. Somewhere in there, Randy Moss came...and then went thanks to Brad 'Chilly' (or how this player felt about him) Childress. Favre, of course, was some degree of hurt through all of this, and throwing interceptions. Word also surfaced he had possibly, likely, texted pictures of something else decrepit and destitute (while a New York Jet) to Jenn Sterger! Oh yea, our offensive line can't block. Bryant McKinnie is 6'8" 335 pounds, yet my 11-year-old niece fights harder than he does; but please nobody tell him Mr. McKinnie I said so! And if you go to Lanesboro schools, you probably shouldn't pick on my niece! Aaron Rodgers' 4-touchdown passes in week 11 each amounted to nails in our coffin. 31-3 ouch! Childress gone!

At that point, though it's the opposite of what sports is all about, the Vikings should've just quit. They should've cancelled all of their games. They should've taken all L's and finished 3-13. They should've sandbagged the season just like bowling. They should've all gone home. I mean, at 3-7, what was there to play for? Pride? Since a lot was expected at the season's onset, and little was delivered, I don't think the team's pride levels were too high. Were they playing because they were professionals and they get paid to? Of course, but professionals play to win championships. If that's out of reach, then what? I suppose, if we actually quit, revenues would've been lost. Plus, the league and all the other teams could've sued us! The team and the players would've breached their contracts. The integrity of the game would be ruined...wah, wah, wah!

But I still like the idea of quitting!

Doing so would've allowed Adrian Peterson a rest (so that maybe, if we make another playoff run, he still has the giddy and powerful legs to help). It would've allowed Bryant McKinnie and Phil Loadholt a chance to take in a Tony Boselli or Orlando Pace pass-blocking clinic! It would've allowed Joe Webb a chance to study our offense, and opposing defenses, so when he next takes the field he isn't completely overwhelmed. It would've allowed Brett Favre a chance to finally go home. It would've allowed him a chance to tell his wife, "Honey! The pictures were a joke! She's not beautiful! You're my honey-muffin! And, oh yea, I'm sorry I keep pulling the same old retiring-returning shtick. I'm sorry I fray your nerves every time my 40-year old body gets hit by a 280-pound 20-something physical specimen." Most of all, quitting would've secured us a higher draft pick. If any franchise in NFL history, at any time, could use a solid young signal caller (Andrew Luck?), it's us.

Of course, the Vikings didn't quit. The sad salacious saga continued. Favre got hurt again against Buffalo. His 297-game starting-streak ended. Tarvaris Jackson, our savior (pun intended), started a streak of his own. It ended after one game! The Metrodome roof collapsed! Our game against the Giants was moved to Detroit! At that point, if our season were a movie script, every producer, director, and film executive would say "way too far-fetched!" But reality sometimes is funkier than fiction. The Vikings chronicle only continued. In the days that followed the collapse, fans shoveled out the college stadium for a Monday night game against the Bears! Though 'doubtful' most of the week, Favre triumphantly and unexpectantly returned at game time. For one drive, he and the Vikings were golden. Injured Favre to migraine-riddled Harvin for six...poetic! Then Favre got hurt...poetic. Old Brett sure has panache for repeating himself. Oh yea, the Bears eventually won 40-14. Ouch! I guess that was technically our final nail, competitively. The undertaker/carpenter is just a bit excessive. He saw fit for the Eagles to postpone a Sunday night game against us, until Tuesday, because of all things, a snowstorm. That's never happened before, either (not in my lifetime)! Isn't football supposed to be played in the elements? I forgot though. Philadelphia has fleet-of-foot Michael Vick. Heaven forbid, elements like snow, cold, and wind slow him down and possibly cost the Eagles (a play-off contender) a game!

So where does that leave the Vikings? As it stands, we have no idea who our coach will be for next year. We have no idea who our quarterback will be. We might not have a true home stadium to play in. We have some (supposedly) talented guys (AP, Jared Allen, Sydney Rice, Percy Harvin, Chad Greenway, etc), but they're coming off a trying season. Where does that leave Viking fans? Longer suffering, that's where. How bad is it? A friend of mine was pining, "Bring back Bud Grant!" My only solution: Zygi Wilf should foot the bill to all those who want a lobotomy! It's not a punctuation mark per se, but everyone simply needs this season permanently erased from memory!

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