One moment that continues to define how I feel towards the Minnesota Vikings is when Gary Anderson missed a game-winning field goal against the Atlanta Falcons, which would have sent the team to the Super Bowl. I was devastated. I felt like Anderson had personally wronged me and I began to despise the Atlanta Falcons.
I was bitter because people I didn't actually know screwed up at something that I know very little about in an event that really had no affect on my life.
Fast forward to Sunday. Viking kick Blair Walsh (who had made three field goals already) missed a game-winning field goal in the final minute, which would have sent the Vikings to the second round of the playoffs. Yeah, it did hurt a little bit, but 24 hours later, I'm O.K. with it.
I've never covered a professional game, but I'm sure Walsh felt terrible after the event. He messed up at his job, and millions of people saw it happen live on national television. Even though it was a heartbreaking way to finish a season, I felt like Vikings fans were much more reasonable regarding this event than the field goal in 1998.
For one, Walsh wasn’t perfect on the season like Anderson was. Two, few people expected the Vikings to be a good team this year. They were on the margins of the playoffs at best. That 98-99 team had a number of future hall of famers on it. That team was also 15-1. Three, this wasn’t to go to the Super Bowl. It was the first round of the playoffs and Minnesota wasn’t exactly favored to win. The Seahawks had come in and won by a large margin before. And finally, it was cold. Really f’in cold. The Vikings coldest game ever and one of the coldest in NFL history.
It’s pretty much the same temperature today and it was an accomplishment for me to just leave the house. I couldn’t imagine anyone expected to play football in that weather.
Maybe this is a signal that I’m maturing a little bit. Or that sports really doesn’t matter all that much. Ever since I’ve graduated from college, I don’t think I’ve gotten angry over a sports game. I’ve been disgusted by taxpayer-funded stadiums, feckless franchises, and expensive beer, but anger doesn’t really factor into the game itself anymore.
The one sporting event I truly did feel awful after was when the Marshall Tigers football team lost in the first round of the playoffs at home. That one stunk. I knew a number of those kids and they were unbeaten in the regular season. Everyone around wished the team could have won that game.
The good news was that the Tigers made it to state this year. It was their first trip to state in over two decades. I texted and tweeted a few of the players to congratulate them. Those are the good moments.
I think things balance out, maybe not in the way expect it to, but it does. Even if there is a loss, there is still peace somewhere. There is still happiness somewhere. There is still joy somewhere.