At bottom of a small hill on Friday there was nothing but clear blue sky with a wisp of clouds hanging for decoration. Laying face-up on the frozen pond after my seventh run with the midnight blue rocket sled on my left and a very happy daughter whose little legs couldn't negotiate the sharp drop off between our land and the reedy pond on my right it seemed right to try to nap.
Until of course the other sled in use did a snowplow stop just short of my head causing a mini-avalanche of frozen white stuff over my already fridge face.
It was perfect.
Not too cold, not too warm, the laughs were genuine, and there were no pulling rank of parent to child, just smiles.
I'll remember that short hour in the backyard as the holidays roll on which is sure to bring more tantrums from lack of sleep, lack of treats, and lack of patience as we truck between various relatives and greetings.
Speaking of lack of patience, WTF Minnesota Vikings?
Three weeks ago the "on paper" Vikes were mirroring the "on field" ones for the first time since those years before Chris Gamble ended Culpepper's career (aside from some horrible bloated attempts to regain form) and Randy Moss was busy showing off his ass to a stunned Lambeau Field crowd. On Sunday night versus the Panthers you were the epitome of people's perceptions of this franchise.
Great names with poor execution and worse results. You were Peter North needing a roadmap to a vagina. You were Louis CK killing the crowd and suddenly trying out a knock-knock joke better suited for your kids' preschool class. You were Scarlette Johansson on a bad hair day (which actually now that I think about it, sounds kinda sexy). But, damn you guys for making me believe.
Lets start with the big "schism" talk first since people who follow sports much better than I (and someone I owe a poker post to in the near future), think this isn't a bunch of blown smoke and its ready to ignite a sizable flame in that media circus tent that surrounds Favre. As you know the Vikes newly signed coach tried to yank a 100% first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback from the game with THEM LEADING for unknown reasons. Now another starter did get the hook and it was well-deserved as Bryant McKinnie was doubling as a blocking sled made of sugar and spice and everything nice against a resurgent Julius Peppers. But aside from injury concerns or possible injury from Mr. Peppers mistaking Favre's head for a slab of Carolina's best BBQ, why would you even broach the idea of taking the leader of the team out of a tight game?
So Coach Chilly isn't doing this team's cohesiveness any good what else is going on? Purple Jesus having to shake off hits in the backfield is a major downer for an O-line that was supposed to be one of the NFL's best. Can't reel off those highlight film open field breakaways or plowing thru cornerbacks if the 350 lbs. fat-ass nose tackle is sitting on your franchise player two yards behind the line of scrimmage. Pass blocking until a few weeks ago has been solid but even that went to pot on Sunday as Favre went down several times, not helped by the fact PJ only rushed 12 times.
The defense gets a little ribbing here as well for not exploiting what was a cobbled together O-line from Carolina. Our front four has been excellent in getting pressure on the quarterback all year and came up limp, especially in the fourth quarter with tackling better used during a 8th grade flag football P.E. class as Stewart became the first 100 rusher against the Vikes in 36 games thanks to several second and third efforts to take a two yard loss into a seven yard gain.
I wasn't able to watch the whole game, just peering up from the laptop as the Sunday Warm-up folks thought it would be awesome to bust out in clumps versus spacing it out a bit as the steam rose from my typing fingers :) But, I got the gist of this team's effort that is/was a Super Bowl contender, it smelled like defeat before the final gun, and its rotten carcass is now prepping for a trap game in Chicago against an awful Bears team with nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking a flailing playoff team down another peg.
Will the Brett Favre that dazzled us earlier in the season return. Most likely not, a case of the "olds" is creeping in, and unless the O-line gets their collective heads together and starts plowing the road for Purple Jesus and the defense knocks up Sulkathor (wrong Jay Cutler sorry) like they did in the Dome win, Viking fans will have to wear their 2009 NFC North Champs T-shirt from Target with spite as they lose the bye to the Eagles and a probable 1st round bomb from the playoffs.
I still expect victory at Solider Field, but how they get the win is more important.