Months ago while you were mulling over the return to the NFL in the form of a grizzled union worker to put in 16 years of service with one company only to be forced out by a younger worker and given the opportunity to sign on with their rival corporation to show you still had something to give, a friend of mine sent you a letter. This friend grew up watching your every touchdown bunny hop and following it up with cheers as year in year out you would breathe life into the Vikings most hated rival.
While I haven’t sent a letter to someone I’m not friends with on a personal level since asking Santa Claus many years ago for that Castle Grayskull set complete with trap doors and limited edition Skeletor, I thought it would be therapeutic to fire off a few words to yourself as we’ve reached mid-season of the most exciting Vikings year since 1998. Like Packer fans would gush over their 1996 team that again, you headlined, the team that could have been here in 1998 represented this franchises best shot at breaking into football’s championship circle once and for all. Now, with a record of 7-1 and you probably returning to Mississippi this week for some much needed rest and with any luck ESPN will not be sending a crew down to your estate to give national updates on your switching from Colgate Minty flavor with tartar block to Crest with whitening toothpaste.
Being a Vikings fan since my late Grandpa Gordy could sit me up in front of the blocky RCA with the big channel knobs that only had four, five, nine, and eleven come in to watch the national game-of-the-week after the Catholic church service with an old school purple hat with gold trim when folded over and a Vikings patch in the front. Touchdown Tommy Kramer was my hero on the gridiron. Tossing passes to Sammy White and future NBA analyst and Mrs. Cosby’s husband Ahmad Rashad gave me the first taste of my fanboism for the home team. But the thing is there was no extra spark on those teams in the 80s, sure there was success in the form of Jerry Burns taking over from long time winner Bud Grant but the team sputtered through the decade with no Super Bowl chances. Same thing in the 90s, but the 1998 team had that spark, breaking nearly every offensive team record in the books with a rookie named Randy Moss and semi-retired Randle Cunningham. That season ended with a wide left and head scratching of what might have been if 72 year old Gary Anderson would have iced the game while extending his perfect kicking season and people outside of Atlanta wouldn’t even know what the “Dirty Birds” were all about today.
After that season Culpepper eventually tried to fist pump this team to the next level, but after the Love Boat debacle and a shredded knee that never healed the team’s Super Bowl dreams sailed off with every pinched penny from Red McCombs who was more interested in squeezing money out of a horribly outdated stadium with a long list of journeymen quarterbacks. Still I cheered while rooting for my beloved Purple on every Sunday that wasn’t blacked out. Then came Zygi (OY OY OY!) and his open wallet to acquire talent in the form of Jared Allen, Pat Williams, Antoine Winfield, and Bernard Berrian. The front office got their heads out of their asses and drafted quality starters like Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Phil Loadholt, and of course Purple Jesus.
But one thing was missing.
That’s where you came in. Despite this glut of talent the team had no band leader to lead them on the big parade. T-Jack wasn’t it, as fans watched each game he played with the same tentativeness of a parent watching a two year old trying to drink milk from an open cup for the first time. We just hoped he wouldn’t spill versus doing something to win .
And win you have. I can’t recall ever having this much fun watching the Vikings as I have for the past two months all while trying to embrace the fact that you “Public Enemy Number One” as coined by John Randle years ago, are a big reason why this team should coast to another NFC North title. This the question I have for you now that the emotional games of defeating your former team for the first time at the Metrodome and running down the visitor’s tunnel at the house that Brett rebuilt have been played and won:
Now that you have given Ted Thompson the proverbial middle finger in the form of two games throwing for seven touchdowns and clutch passes against his club while the defense decided to nap in the second half, what’s your motivation to finish out the season as it has begun?
You, Mr. Favre, have done everything to solidify your spot in Canton and football lore, what is your drive to stand on the 50 yard line of Dolphin Stadium in February 2010 hoisting your second Lombardi Trophy while chatting it up with Jim Nantz about the game’s MVP award as the confetti settles into the playing field.
Even if the above scene never happens and you’re on a plane from New Orleans returning to Winter Park after losing the NFC Championship game, thank you giving this Vikings fan something to watch this year.
P.S. I'm hoping to crash a team party before the year is out and just to shake your hand and say thanks in person.