Once upon a time, there was an intense rivalry between the “Twin Cities” of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It seems to me that the hard feelings have given way to an all-around attitude of “Minnesota Nice” (a phrase that makes me cringe every time I hear it) rather than intense competition between neighboring towns. So, being the instigator that I am, I’m trying to bring back those hard feelings and stir the pot a bit. Because, let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love a good rivalry? Let’s break this down and determine once and for all which city is the “ugly sister”. Continue Reading
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I watch a lot of sports. Some might say I watch too much, but I don’t care. When watching these sports, I can’t help but notice uniforms that I think look cool, and ones that annoy me and look terrible. I’m going to give you my favorite uniforms of all time, and then some of my least favorite of all time as well, and I’ll do my best to not let my feelings towards that franchise interfere, but I can’t make any guarantees. Let’s get the worst ones out of the way (in no particular order).
Worst Uniforms in Sports
The Denver Broncos (1997-Present)
I know the change somehow helped them end their Super Bowl drought, as they won back to back titles immediately after changing to the more modern look, but I don’t care for it. Even worse than that, however, is that so many teams must have thought that it was a good idea, and you had teams like Atlanta, Arizona, and my beloved Vikings all follow suit eventually and go with fancier, busier-looking uniforms rather than the classic looks of old. It disappoints me, because I’m a big fan of the vintage look of a lot of the NFL teams used to have, and of those that stick with those timeless styles. This alternate orange version adds insult to injury. Yuck.
Oklahoma City Thunder (2008-Present)
Well, it’s apparent that I’m picking on the orange and blue color combination, but I have to say, despite how good the Thunder look as a basketball team, they do so while looking so bad in those jerseys. What’s with that name? And how do the bright blues and oranges make you think of a storm? Oklahoma City is too long of a name on the front. They should have went with OKC or just Thunder. I’m not impressed, despite being a fan of Kevin Durant.
Detroit Pistons (1996-2000)
Thank goodness these awful things only lasted 4 seasons. What were they thinking up in Detroit? What’s the bigger tragedy, Grant Hill having an injury plagued career that never allowed him to live up to his potential, or the fact that he had to wear these ugly things?
Minnesota Timberwolves (2008-Present)
My thoughts about these jerseys have always been summed up with these two fateful words “WNBA jerseys”. That’s what they look like. They’re a joke, and even though they’re not that much worse then the previous uniforms, I think all of us Wolves fans would have loved to see them go back to their first uniforms. Those were nice.
Green Bay Packers (who cares?-Present)
I know I’m contradicting myself because I’m a supporter of the classic looks, and green has always been my favorite color, but these jerseys just plain disgust me. I’m biased, and I know it, but I just don’t like the look. I hate the Wisconsin Badgers almost as much as I hate the Packers, and yet I can acknowledge that they have okay looking jerseys, so this clearly isn’t all about my distaste for their team. Let’s change the subject.
Alright, enough with the negative, let’s get to my favorites.
Best Uniforms in Sports
Chicago Bears (long time ago-Present)
Another division rival, and yet I still give them the nod of a fine uniform. The orange version is an abomination, so that’s clearly not included in this, but their standard home and away jerseys are near the tops in the NFL thanks to their willingness to stay with that old-school look. Other teams that deserve the same type of recognition, but aren’t quite as good include Dallas, San Francisco (after going back to their old look), New York Jets, and Oakland.
Michigan Wolverines football (too lazy to figure it out-present)
The color scheme: fantastic. The simplicity and classic look: superb. The helmet: sublime. Simply put, these jerseys are magnificent. And I hate the Wolverines.
New York Yankees home pinstripes (forever)
Everyone hates the Yankees, and I’m included in that, but I can’t deny these uniforms. I know there are other pinstriped uniforms out there, but nobody does them quite like the Yanks. Even the logo and the color scheme are perfect. And it doesn’t hurt that they live up to the greatness of the jerseys.
New England Patriots (1961-1995)
Here’s an example of yet another team that I strongly dislike, and yet I have to give credit for a great-looking uniform. I wish uniforms like these never got changed, but for some reasons the owners or pro sports teams like looking at ugly jerseys and helmets, like the current Patriots uniforms. Go figure.
UCLA Bruins Basketball (have they ever changed?)
The look is absolutely timeless. I’m sure I’m swayed by their success and the number of great players that have come through that program, but the color scheme is so unique, yet brilliant, and the entire uniform is just so simple, yet elegant. I think if I had been a college basketball prospect being recruited all over the country, UCLA would have had an edge slightly in part to the jerseys I would have gotten to wear. North Carolina also gets an honorable mention here for their great college basketball uniforms.
Oregon Ducks football (they’re always changing, yet always looking good)
I know, I know! I’m contradicting myself by giving credit to the school that’s constantly pushing the envelope with “modern” looking uniforms when I’ve insisted that I prefer the “vintage” look. But there’s something about the way Oregon does it that never disappoints me. The color scheme works, especially since they utilize so much black, and I end up being pleased with the final product. Miami and Virginia Tech are the other college football programs that I have to give nods to here, as well.
New York Knicks (slight changes here and there, but roughly the same for all time)
Yet another example of a simple, timeless look that I can’t get enough of. I actually think that the NBA has some of the worst uniforms of any pro sports league, so I especially appreciate teams like the Knicks that stick to their classic look. I also appreciate the Bulls, the Lakers, and the Celtics. Actually, the old script Chicago jersey that Jordan wore as a rookie might be the single best basketball uniform that I can think of. But right now, I think the Knicks are the best in the league.
Baltimore Ravens alternate black on black (not sure when this started-Present)
Best football uniform ever. And Ed Reed makes it look so good. Enough said.
Well, that was a lot of work, and I’m sure I missed plenty of great uniforms, but those were the best (and worst) ones that came to mind. Please, if you read this and feel I’ve left someone out, go ahead and tell me with a comment. (If you’re disappointed that baseball and hockey were left out, my response is that A) I don’t watch hockey, so I shouldn’t comment, and B) baseball uniforms are all mediocre. None of them stand out to me except the Yankees, and none of them seem that bad.)
I’ve been so busy/lazy that I haven’t gotten around to writing a post in almost a month now. Oddly enough, my last post was written in celebration of Randy Moss’s return to Minnesota, and now, his short run with the team is over, and I’m forced to end my silence. So it’s a testament to both how long its been since I’ve written a blog post and how short a time Moss was back with the Vikings.
I went with the analogy in my last post that I’m married to the Minnesota Vikings, and despite their infidelity by cheating on me with Brett Favre, I was willing to forgive them and pretend like I didn’t know because they bribed me with a big diamond ring (Randy Moss). Well, now I’ve found that it was a cruel joke, and they really don’t care about me, because they took the ring away from me. That was the last straw. I’ve moved out of the house, but I’m not filing divorce papers, because we have to stay together for the kids (Adrian, Percy, Tarvaris, Sidney, etc.). I’m sure one day, they’ll grow tired of those whores (Favre and Childress) and I can forgive them, move back in the house, and we can all be a happy family again. The only way the marriage could actually end is if they leave me (Zygi moves the team when he can’t get a stadium done) or they die (the NFL contracts them). I can’t actually go through with filing the divorce papers, because my self esteem is not capable of finding another love (team). This is more like an act of defiance in hopes of getting their attention. A cry for help, if you will.
Okay, enough with that drawn out analogy. Let’s look at the reasoning for why Brad Childress would act so recklessly and throw away a 3rd round draft pick. I guess the reports are that besides Randy’s interview where he complained about not being listened to in gameplanning and complimented his old team and coach a little too much, a big reason why Randy was let go was because he decided to act like a child and completely humiliate the caterer who served the team meal after practice Friday. Certainly, this is an indefensible act. It wouldn’t matter if they actually had served the team crappy food or not, there’s just no excuse for Moss to treat anybody that way. Along with this there are also the times in games where Moss clearly isn’t giving 100%. A lot of people are pointing to the pass he could possibly have caught after he had drawn the PI call in New England this past Sunday. Whether he really could have or not, only Randy knows, but the point is he should have at least tried. Back when I played football, I was so hungry to catch every ball that ever came my way, and I for sure would have laid out for that, otherwise I would have gotten chewed out by the coach and put on the bench. (For the record, while I don’t condone Randy’s lack of effort, I doubt he could have caught the pass, because while Randy doesn’t give effort many times, he doesn’t typically avoid catching passes. It’s on plays where he isn’t targeted that he pulls up and trots, not the ones where he’s thrown to. You be the judge.)
So that’s the case against him, and even I, a blind supporter of Randy Moss, can admit that he was out of line in these instances. But I still want him on my team. The first question you have to ask Brad Childress is, “What did you expect?” He doesn’t deny that he takes plays off sometimes, and we all knew that he’s had a checkered past. Controversy seems to follow him around. Next, I’d like to ask Brad about this ridiculous quote of his “we want good people that are good football players”. What is that supposed to mean? How exactly does he define what a good person is? Apparently texting pictures of your penis to women that aren’t your wife is okay. So is getting caught for drunk driving multiple times. He’s no longer with the team, but at the time, Dwight Smith didn’t get immediately cut for having sex with a woman in a public place. I’m not trying to be judge and jury of what is a “good person” myself, I’m just trying to figure out Brad’s line of thinking. Finally, I would want to ask Brad, “Why couldn’t you just discipline Randy like the authority figure you’re supposed to be, rather than just running from the confrontation by cutting him?” Randy entered this locker room where he expected it to be functional and organized like his former team, the New England Patriots, but instead found a locker room that was run by veterans like Favre, Hutchinson, the Williams Wall, etc. and didn’t really respect the head coach, because frankly, the head coach has allowed it to become that when he caved on his “culture of accountability” policy by letting Favre skip training camp and all that came with that. Randy was running amok within this franchise, and nobody had the stones to stand up to him, because they already were afraid to stand up to Favre. Now combine all of that with the fact that Moss was underutilized and you can see why he got frustrated and felt the need to lash out at others. Unfortunately, he decided to take his frustration out on some poor, unsuspecting caterer, and that’s really all on Randy. But I think I have a handle on why he did stuff like that. Check out this take by Cris Carter on why Randy is the way he is. It’s quite telling to me. I’m about to become armchair psychologist now, so just bear with me on this, please. So Randy grew up in a home where his father wasn’t really in the picture, but instead was raised by his single mother, and today, he doesn’t respond well to flaky male authority figures. Hmmm…. Sounds to me like the lack of a father in his life has caused him to lose respect for male authorities who don’t properly respect him and give him the structure he needs in his life. It makes perfect sense to me. I’d probably be bitter about not having a dad growing up, too. Now, you can say that he still doesn’t have an excuse to act the way he does, and I think you’re still right, but isn’t this even more of a sign that Childress is the wrong guy to lead this team? A true leader of men should have come down on Moss sternly to tell him the way things were gonna be from the get go (the way Carter did in ’98, and Belichick did in New England). If I had been coach, the answer to Moss’s bad behavior lately would be to give him a 1/2 game or full game suspension, and let him know that we wouldn’t tolerate that type of treatment of others. But to just cut him and throw away your investment? It’s idotic. I take Childress cutting Moss as his pathetic attempt to prove to the league that he still controls this team, since so many people are laughing at him for letting Favre run the squad, only he took his frustrations out on the wrong guy. And in cutting Moss, he acted alone without consulting those above him in the organization, and thus he’s in trouble for that. My prediction is that Childress doesn’t survive this off-season as the head coach.
Anyhow, I’m starting to come to grips with this terrible sequence of events, but I’m still not going to root for this team while Childress is head coach (well, we’ll see how long that lasts). It’s plain to see that we’ll never win a Super Bowl under him or with Favre at quarterback, so please, Zygi, just give us a clean slate as soon as possible. Why not fire Chili and give Leslie Frazier the interim job, and then bench Favre for T-Jack to find out if they both have the ability to lead this team/offense, and at the end of the year decide if you want to keep either or both of them? If they succeed, great! You can keep what you’ve got. If they fail, almost as good, because you’ll know that you have to clean house and start over with a new coach and then draft Ryan Mallett (fingers crossed) to be the quarterback. Of course, as the now legally separated wife of the Vikings, I know them too well, and know that instead they’ll stick with both of those whores too long, then substitute McNabb or David Carr or Matt Leinart or some other crappy washed up quarterback who will only be around for a couple of years for Favre and repeat the process over and over again. So, where do we go from here? I don’t know, but the ball is in your court, Zygi.
22“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” – Luke 15:22-24
That was what I thought of when it became apparent that Randy Moss, who is my favorite football player of all time, would be rejoining my favorite football team, the Minnesota Vikings. The analogy of the prodigal son is not a perfect one for the Vikings and Randy Moss, but the point is he perhaps acted ungrateful of what he had at home in Minnesota (even if he is from West Virginia) and so he tried to find happiness in Oakland and New England. But when he was underappreciated, he let everyone know, and now it has brought him back home to Minneapolis, where the state and fan base of the Vikings will collectively run to him, throw our arms around him and kiss him.
I could not be any happier, well, actually if that Favre guy was gone…but even that jerk old man can’t rob me of this joy. As much as I dislike Favre, I love Moss 10 times more. As I mentioned in My Worst Sports Heartbreaks post, I was devastated the day we traded Randy Moss, and so you can imagine that re-acquiring him would make me just as happy as I was sad that day we lost him. I’ll never forget where I was when I found out Moss could be coming back to Minnesota. My buddy Jizzy texted me while I was at work on Tuesday at 4:34 PM Alaska time with this:
“Strait cash homey, Randys comin home!!!”
My heart almost leapt out of my chest. I thought it was a joke or some mistake. I looked online for confirmation, and it wasn’t on the big ESPN headlines on the main page, but when I checked out the NFL page, there was a headline saying that the Vikings and Patriots were talking about a trade. Now I was in distress. I’ve gotten my hopes up for a lot of things before, and so if this turned out to be a tease, I was going to be upset. Well, before I went to bed that night, all of the reports had changed to say that the deal was all but done. I was now convinced he was coming, and when I laid my head down to sleep, it must have been 2 hours before I was unconscious, because all of the great memories of Moss in purple those first 7 years of his career were all coming back to me. Very final season of Lost-like. When I woke up the next morning, the deal was finalized, and I was so happy I could dance.
So now my season is suddenly salvaged, whether we make the playoffs or not. I was emotionally detached until this trade. Favre had broken my spirit with his putrid performances, and I was describing my feelings toward the Vikings as “legal separation” since they were cheating on me with Brett Favre. I wouldn’t get a divorce, but it was me or him, and once he finally was out the door I would be back living in the house with them as one big happy family. But the Vikings going out and getting Randy Moss is like buying me a big diamond ring. I know they’re still cheating on me with Favre, but I’ll pretend to not know or care because I’m a materialistic pathetic shell of a woman (fan) who is too emotionally invested to give up no matter how poorly my husband (team) treats me.
But let’s not make this about me, let’s instead make it about a player being redeemed and coming home to his family (or greatest fans, same thing right?) and a team actually getting the upgrade at the position they needed it most. We should be better in the passing game now, and I can’t imagine how good we could be when Sidney is healthy and we have both he and Randy running deep routes with Percy and Visante underneath. If you can’t tell, I’m getting really excited. I also really like the idea of a super-motivated Randy Moss. Let’s look at some of his upcoming games:
Week 5: @New York Jets – He returns to the scene where he murdered Revis’ hamstring.
Week 6: vs. Dallas – He always kills the Cowboys because of them passing on him in the draft and since they were his favorite team growing up. Go figure.
Week 7: @Green Bay – He loves to kill the Packers, too, and he’s especially lethal in prime time.
Week 8: @New England – Hmmm…I wonder if there could be any motivation here.
I could go on and on, but the 4 biggest games for him will be these 4 first ones, and I expect him to crush it. As long as Favre’s arm can get it to him, that is. For all of those critics of Randy who say he isn’t a team player, I would note that he chose to practice today rather than try and use the leverage he had to force a new contract extension. He wanted to get to work to help this team and himself be successful. Favre held out for more money and needed others to beg him to come. Moss shows up and works even when his quarterback gets the extension that he doesn’t get. He let’s everyone know when he’s not happy and isn’t appreciated, but he’s just being honest. His game, however, speaks for itself. He’s not perfect, and I can’t defend some of his off the field shenanigans, but I love him unconditionally.
“32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ” – Luke 15:32
Will Ferrell has been the funniest actor of my generation, hands down. He’s had a couple of duds (Bewitched, Stranger than Fiction, Land of the Lost), but for the most part, he’s cranked out instant classics that provide an endless amount of lines that everyone loves to quote. In my opinion, one of his most underrated roles was as Mugatu in Zoolander. He wasn’t the lead, but he killed it every scene, and one of my favorite lines of the movie came out of his mouth. I realize that a lot of you might gloss over almost all of the hyperlinks I put in my posts, but you really should click on that one, because it’s basically integral to the premise of this post, so I’ll give you one more chance. Do you see the frustration that Mugatu had? That’s how I’ve felt for the past 13 months as 99.9% of Vikings fans were all under some sort of Brett Favre spell (a quick shout out to my brother, who has always been a Favre-hater like myself, and didn’t sell out to support that jerk). They were hypnotized by his Wrangler jeans and past success way back in the 1990’s to think that he was that same guy. While I definitely was wrong about his ability to throw the ball effectively in the regular season, I was still right about the fact that this guy is a choke artist in the postseason. Game manager?!? Super Bowl caliber quarterback?!? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!!! What made me want to tear my hair out even more was after Favre choked in the NFC Championship Game, almost all of the Viking fans still wouldn’t blame him and would make excuse after excuse for the guy just like the Packer fans used to. I suppose they didn’t want to admit that those Packer fans who told them that Favre was washed up were right.
Well after these first two weeks, the evidence is overwhelming that Favre is the wrong quarterback for this team. It’s safe to say that I was right all along, and now the majority of Viking fans finally agree with me that the old man stinks. Just like Denny Green once insisted that the Bears were who he thought they were, I will now say, “Brett Favre is who I thought he was!” The precedence is there for him to be benched according to Brad Childress’ wacky rules for coaching a pro football team, but I’m sure Chili won’t stick to that. Why would he want to be credible or consistent when he’s already gotten down on his knees and begged Favre to play for him? Let’s look at what my favorite current NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson got benched for two years ago when his team started 0-2, and then the numbers that Favre produced in his 0-2 start, for which I’m sure he won’t be benched.
2008 Tarvaris Jackson
Game 1 @ Green Bay: 16 of 35, 178 yds, 1 TD, 1 Int, Passer Rating: 59.0, led his team to 19 points in loss
Game 2 vs. Indianapolis: 14 of 24, 130 yds, 0 TD, 0 Int, Passer Rating: 73.3, led his team to 15 points in loss
2010 Brett Favre
Game 1 @ New Orleans: 15 of 27, 171 yds, 1 TD, 1 Int, Passer Rating: 71.7, led his team to 9 points in loss
Game 2 vs. Miami: 22 of 36, 225 yds, 0 TD, 3 Int, Passer Rating: 44.3, led his team to 10 points in loss, also gave opponent 7 points by fumbling ball in end zone
So even though Brett’s numbers aren’t way worse, they’re still worse than T-Jack’s stats, and Tarvaris was quarterbacking a team that had gone 8-8 the year before, while Brett was leading a team that had gone 12-4 the year before. Combine all of this with the fact that Favre won’t be back next year (his contract is up, and since he’s playing poorly I’m assuming that our front office won’t be that dumb yet again, but I guess that could be a flawed way of thinking) and Tarvaris still has plenty of years left to possibly be our QB of the future, there’s not a single good argument for why Jackson shouldn’t be our quarterback of the present. If you’re still not convinced let’s take a look at this list:
Jay Cutler, Michael Vick, Kyle Orton, Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Chad Henne, Dennis Dixon, Seneca Wallace, Derek Anderson, Shaun Hill, Sam Bradford, Jason Campbell, Jake Delhomme, Alex Smith, and Trent Edwards are just the most notably bad quarterbacks that all have higher passer ratings than Brett Favre this season. Brett’s putrid 56.1 is only higher than 3 other quarterbacks in the entire league.
My good friend David once used the analogy that the Vikings’ offense was a Ferrari, and so why wouldn’t you want an experienced, skilled driver at the wheel? Well, I think that analogy has now turned to the point that we’re having to take the keys away from the crotchety, senile, old man who no longer can safely operate the vehicle, even if our offense more closely resembles a Ford Taurus than a Ferrari right now. And before you whine one more time about Tarvaris not being a legitimate NFL quarterback, just look at his career stats and relax. Remember that he has improved every single year he’s been in the league. Let’s once and for all give Tarvaris command of his team, and if he takes us to the playoffs and performs like he did in his first try, then I’ll apologize and finally admit that we have to go in a new direction. But until then, I’ll be waiting for your apologies for insisting that Favre was the answer. Don’t try and argue that last year was still a great year and it was all thanks to Favre because I don’t want to hear about it. We didn’t win the Super Bowl, so it was a failure, and therefore we wasted a season in which we could have learned for certain if Tarvaris could be good or not, and instead that year is going to be pushed two years back until next season. Ugh. It must be those damn crazy pills getting to me, I’m starting to sound like a broken record.
Yesterday, my beloved Golden Gophers stooped to yet another low by dropping their home opener to the Division I FCS South Dakota Cougars. While I wouldn’t qualify this as a heartbreak, since my expectations are so pathetically low for this particular team, it was still a big disappointment due to the embarrassment of it. So out of this shame, I was brought to the place where I pondered all of my past experiences as a sports fan, and I came up with my worst heartbreaks as a sports fan. I’ve had far worse heartbreaks as an athlete myself, but those are a completely different part of my life, so I’m not going to include any of those stories.
June 26th, 2010 – World Cup Round of 16 – Ghana 2, USA 1
I had all out World Cup fever after the exciting group stage that the USA actually won. It set up perfectly for us to be favored all the way to the final four of the World Cup, but the US stayed true to their colors by giving up an early goal in both regulation and extra time, and didn’t have enough fire power to overcome the deficit twice. My Saturday was a sad one after that.
April 7th, 2008 – NCAA Championship Game – Kansas 75, Memphis 68 OT
This is the only heartbreak that doesn’t involve any of “my teams”, but I was/am such a Derrick Rose fan, that I desperately wanted Memphis to win this game, and somehow I just could not shake the sick feeling I got when they blew that game. All they had to do was foul Mario Chalmers before he could get that shot off. Derrick should have just made both of his free throws.
October 7th, 2006 – Penn State Nittany Lions 28, Minnesota Golden Gophers 27 OT
You’ll find that this won’t be the last time that the Gopher football team will show up in this post, but this one just might be the most ironic. Justin Gianini routinely liked to miss extra points for our team when they usually didn’t matter. So of course the one time he missed an extra point in a tight game, it had to come back and bite us Gopher fans in the collective butt. Our team was trash that year, but we wanted that Liberty Bell. When we went up by a touchdown, we knew the missed extra point would come back to haunt us, but we just hoped it wouldn’t. On Penn State’s ensuing possession, we got a 4th down stop and seemingly won the game, but a phantom PI call gave them the 1st down they needed to go on and score, and you’ll never guess what happened: they made their extra point.
January 17th, 2008 – Indiana Hoosiers 65, Minnesota Golden Gophers 60
If it weren’t for the loss, this would have went down as my favorite night ever in the Barn. I’ve heard that place loud and rowdy, but that night in particular stood out for just how crazy it was even before tip-off. We were a quality team in desperate need of some signature wins over ranked opponents to make the tournament that year, and unfortunately we couldn’t hold on that night.
January 23rd, 2010 – Michigan State Spartans 65, Minnesota Golden Gophers 64
Just this last winter, the Gophers again needed to start getting some quality wins if they had post-season aspirations. Despite leading the entire game, we let Kalin Lucas break our hearts with a deep 3 from straight on to take a 1 point lead, and then couldn’t come up with a quality look at the basket afterward. All I wanted to do was forget that game, and I attempted to sleep it off. It didn’t work.
The Top Ten
10. “He’s Human After All” – May 7th-18th, 1995 – Orlando Magic Defeat the Chicago Bulls 4-2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals
This is the only playoff series that I can recall Michael Jordan losing. I was too young to remember the days before the Bulls were winning titles, and in ’94 Jordan was off playing baseball, so if it weren’t for this series, I would think that Michael Jordan was incapable of losing a postseason series. Clearly, Jordan wasn’t fully back in his best basketball shape, as he had groomed his body to be a baseball player, but when I was 8 years old, I wasn’t smart enough to realize that. I didn’t care that we were the #5 seed and Orlando was #1. I just knew that Michael Jordan was the best basketball player of all time, and my beloved Chicago Bulls weren’t supposed to lose. I think I was more in shock than anything else. I wish I could have that kind of confidence about my teams nowadays, but I’ve seen too much. Let’s move on.
9. “The Un-Retirement” – August 18th, 2009 – Brett Favre Signs With Minnesota Vikings
From May to August, I nervously waited for some sort of definitive announcement about whether Favre would stay retired for the 2nd time, or sign with the Minnesota Vikings. I was against it from day 1 since I’m a big T-Jack guy, and I saw how Favre drove the Jets into the ground, but most of all, I could not accept my least favorite athlete of all time joining my favorite football team. I remember that when I was on a mission trip, I checked ESPN.com and saw what I had been waiting and hoping for: Favre announced that he would stay retired. My level of relief was comparable to this guy. This, of course, only made it that much harder to take when Favre “changed his mind” and signed with the Vikings 3 weeks later. The season saw us go on to win 12 games and get 1 game away from the Super Bowl, but it was tainted by the stench of old beer brats, cheese curds, and Miller High Life that Favre had on him from playing in Green Bay for 16 years. It’s also the reason why you won’t find Saints 31, Vikings 28 on this list, because quite frankly, I saw it coming. And of course, this nightmare isn’t over for me yet.
8. “The Collapse” – December 29th, 2006 – Insight Bowl – Texas Tech Red Raiders 44, Minnesota Golden Gophers 41
It’s funny how expectations can change so many times within a season, and even within a game. Those shifting expectations then, can also reflect the instability of someone’s job security. Glen Mason signed a contract extension before the 2006 season, and since Laurence Maroney had just left the program, his job would be safe as long as he had an average season with 5-7 wins. Check out the Gopher’s season schedule and results from that year. We took care of the easy non-conference opponents and lost a game on the road against a preseason #9 Cal team, so typical Mason team so far. We then lost 4 straight conference games, and when the up and coming North Dakota State Bison came to town, the entire student section was shouting “Fi-re Ma-son”. After we squeaked out a 10-9 win, we had to go to Columbus to get embarrassed 44-0 and be 3-6 on the season, and at this point, Mason’s job had to be in serious jeopardy. Somehow, Mason rallied the troops for 3 straight victories, including a 34-24 win over rival Iowa and a trip to Tempe, Arizona for the Insight Bowl. Surely, he had saved his job at this point. And now, Mason had zero expectations, as nobody thought our traditionally terrible pass defense could hope to contain the high octane Red Raider passing attack. But when the Gophers led 38-7 with 7:47 remaining in the 3rd quarter, it was assumed we would win. When our team went on to allow the biggest comeback in college football bowl game history, I was a mixture of angry, sad, shocked, and just empty. The next day, Mason was fired, and a new chapter of Golden Gopher football was weeks away from starting: The Tim Brewster Era.
7. May 21st-31st, 2004 – Los Angeles Lakers Defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 4-2 in the Western Conference Finals
Despite growing up a Bulls fan, after Jordan and Pippen left the Bulls and were no longer on national TV, I couldn’t really follow my favorite team anymore. So I adopted the Timberwolves as my second team, and since they’re in the Western Conference, I figured this wouldn’t really ever cause any Sophie’s Choice type scenarios. So by 2004, I was all in on the Wolves. Kevin Garnett was by far my favorite active player, and I was convinced that he was the best player in the world. I watched every single game that I could, and truly believed that our team was good enough to finally beat the hated LA Lakers. Despite the mismatch of Shaq against any one of our lousy centers, what hurt the most was that when we lost game 6 and were eliminated, reserve shooting guard Kareem Rush hit every big shot down the stretch, including 6 3-pointers, and was the guy that beat us. Kobe, Shaq, Malone, and Payton all were effective against us, but we let one guy who never seemed to be relevant before or after that series decide the outcome in the elimination game. It was devastating, and the Wolves never seemed to recover, as they haven’t returned to the postseason since.
6. “The Pick-6” – November 1st, 2008 – Northwestern Wildcats 24, Minnesota Golden Gophers 17
Tim Brewster fell flat on his face in his first season by going 1-11, including a loss against Div. I FCS North Dakota State, after promising so much that some fans actually thought he could take us to the Rose Bowl in year one. But in year 2, Brewster had seemingly turned things around. We beat the cupcake non-conference opponents, and besides losing by a couple scores to the powerhouse Buckeyes early in Big Ten Play, we were taking care of business. We were 7-1 on the year, including 3-1 in conference, and we brought a #20 ranking into what seemed to be a loser-proof game against the Northwestern Wildcats. Things didn’t go quite as planned, as backup quarterback Mike Kafka ran for some 200 some yards on us, and just made our defense look like fools. But by the end of the game, we were finally stifling the Wildcat attack, and had all the momentum to take into overtime. We got the ball deep in our own territory with under a minute left, but Brewster wasn’t content to play for OT, he wanted the win. Our quarterback threw a deep pass down the middle of the field to his go-to receiver, Eric Decker, and the normally reliable Decker let the ball bounce off his hands, and into the grasp of the Northwestern defender, who took it back all the way to end zone, with 12 seconds remaining. You have got to be kidding me. Much like many other years, the Gophers couldn’t come back from this type of loss, and they went on to lose the next four games after to finish the year 7-6. So much for Brewster turning the program around. By the way, that was my senior homecoming game, and I brought my parents, brother, sister, and another friend to the game that day. I simply said to my family after the game, “Welcome to the life of a Golden Gopher football fan.”
5. “The Trade” – March 2nd, 2005 – Minnesota Vikings trade Randy Moss to the Oakland Raiders for Napoleon Harris and #7 Overall Pick
I remember being in our family’s living room and I turned on Sportscenter. The news was announced that we had just traded our franchise player, and my favorite Viking of all time, to the Oakland Raiders. Never mind that it was a horrible trade since we ended up getting a pick that was wasted on Troy Williamson and linebacker Napoleon Harris, who never amounted to anything, but the fact that our organization would trade away a fan favorite, once-in-a-lifetime talent like Randy Moss is beyond any amount of certifiable insanity. I will never forgive our franchise for that. I felt so betrayed that day, but the feelings of betrayal truly came to fruition when the next season came and our offense no longer could move the ball at all. That trade killed Mike Tice’s coaching career, and Daunte Culpepper’s career as a quarterback. You can preach Herschel Walker, Pau Gasol, Babe Ruth, or whoever you want, but giving up Moss like we did, over a couple of stupid, blown out of proportion stunts, is the worst trade in the history of sports in my book.
Sure, the 2003 Vikings weren’t going to win the Super Bowl, and you could say we got what we deserved for not wrapping up the division weeks before, but when the Vikings choked this game away, it was absolutely surreal. It looked like it was out of a movie. You couldn’t make it up. I distinctly remember not being able to sleep that night, and neither could my brother, and so we decided the only way we could possibly attempt to forget about the loss was to watch Dumb & Dumber. It didn’t work.
3. “41-Donut” – January 14th, 2001 – NFC Championship Game – New York Giants 41, Minnesota Vikings 0
Only 2 years removed from the best Vikings team I’d ever seen, this team stumbled to the finish and held on to the 1st round bye by finishing 11-5. They looked sharp for the first time in over a month by dominating the Saints in the divisional round, and so all of sudden I, along with all the other Viking fans, were supremely confident that we could go into the Meadowlands and push the Giants around. Things didn’t go quite as planned. We didn’t even need to make the trip to New York. To not even manage a single score was just embarrassing, and I just want to forget it. Why did I decide to write this post again?
2. “The Muffed Snap” – October 15th, 2005 – Wisconsin Badgers 38, Minnesota Golden Gophers 34
Once upon a time, I was a wide-eyed freshman who knew nothing about the heartbreak that would come hand in hand with being a Gopher football fan. I already knew that I didn’t like the Wisconsin Badgers because they are our biggest rivals, and I already hated the Packers, so I figured they had a lot of the same fans. I was going to learn what it meant to truly be a Gopher fan that day, and it would only fuel the fires of disdain for the University of Wisconsin. Our team built a 10 point lead with about 2 minutes to go despite missing our starting quarterback that day, and then went on to purely choke it like only the maroon and gold could. It was all capped off by a perfect snap being muffed by our punter Justin Kucek, and then his attempt at a punt was blocked and just barely stayed in the end zone for the Badgers to recover for the game winning touchdown with under 30 seconds to go. Just like the Northwestern loss in 2008, my team never recovered, and finished the year 7-5, when before that late game collapse, we were 5-1 and ranked in the top 25. As I left the stadium that day, I felt so miserable that I just went home and took a nap. The hundreds if not thousands of Badger fans all around our campus were constantly flashing choke signs at us, and just couldn’t contain themselves. I was scarred that day, and have said many foolish things about Wisconsin since that I’ve learned were wrong and have come to regret. Okay, just one more to get through.
1. January 17th, 1999 – NFC Championship Game – Atlanta Falcons 30, Minnesota Vikings 27
There’s no cute little nickname I could give this game. It really doesn’t need one. I am far too young to have seen any of the Vikings’ 4 Super Bowl losses, so this game is the standard all other heartbreaks are measured against for me. I always thought of this team as the greatest team to not win the Super Bowl, but perhaps you could say the 2007 Patriots have taken that title now, so we’ll easily give the Vikings the greatest team to not even make the Super Bowl. When I think of that team, I just smile because of the joy they gave me. I remember even in the preseason, that I was certain it was “our year”, and that nobody could stand up to us. Randy Moss was that final, essential piece of the puzzle that would transform our offense from a good one, to a top 3 offense of all time. I can play the “ifs and buts” game all day for that game, but that just hurts even more. Gary Anderson gets an unfair share of the blame, but that being said, there’s no excuse for missing a 38 yard field goal, and keep in mind the guy didn’t miss a kick all year! We won the toss and had the ball twice in OT. I guess we just tightened up under the pressure or something like that. If you’re a Vikings fan, and you want to remember the good old days of ’98, check this out. But I’m warning you, it might make you cry. (I’m not a crier, but I get really emotional when I watch it.)
Well, there you have it. Those are my heartbreaks. But don’t feel too bad for me. I have seen my favorite basketball team win 6 NBA Championships (4 of which I can actually remember). Even if I don’t have any other titles to my name as a fan, I’m so blessed to have seen the number of great games that I have. Some day, I’ll write about my greatest sports memories, but that will have to come after a team of mine takes me to that place. We could be waiting a while.
Many Minnesota Vikings fans might consider last year a “magical” season. The old man came out of retirement and played his best season statistically, the team went 12-4 and nearly made the Super Bowl, and there were plenty of great memories made along the way. But I would describe last season in one word: failure. We had a Super Bowl caliber team, and we didn’t win the championship. We paid the quarterback 12 million dollars to be the difference between a division title and a league title, but in the end he choked when we needed him to “manage the game” rather than be the hero.
So now it’s a whole new season, and a lot of fans (probably the same ones that called last year “magical”) are thinking that the team will just pick up where it left off from last season, but I don’t see it quite the same. Until the NFC Championship Game, everything seemed to go according to plan last year. The chances of things going that well for us this season were pretty slim, and so of course, things have already started to go wrong. Sidney Rice is out for at least half of the season, and I get the feeling he’ll miss around 10 games. Percy’s migraines certainly aren’t going away, Cedric Griffen isn’t back yet, Sullivan is hurt, Chester Taylor is gone, etc. etc. etc. Combine that with a much tougher schedule and everyone else in our division seems to have improved, and in my opinion, we’re headed to a 9-7 season. Let’s take a look at the schedule, game by game.
Week 1: @New Orleans, Week 2: vs. Miami, Week 3: vs. Detroit, Week 4: Bye, Week 5: @New York Jets
I’m not saying it’s a lock, but I have a hard time seeing us going down into the Superdome and steal a victory right after the Saints hang their Super Bowl banner from the rafters and the fans are as rabid and loud as ever. I expect the Vikings to get the win at home against the Lions in Week 3, but Weeks 2 and 5 are games that I think we would have won easily last year, but are going to have trouble with in 2010. I think it’s possible that we get both W’s, since we actually have a long week to prepare for the Dolphins and 2 weeks for the Jets, but I predict a split. I’ll say we beat New York and drop one at home to Miami.
1st Quarter: 2-2
Week 6: vs. Dallas, Week 7: @Green Bay, Week 8: @New England, Week 9: vs. Arizona
I think Dallas will be tough, but I still say we get both wins at home. But in Green Bay, I think the Packers get a little revenge for the sweep we gave them last year, and Rodgers is most likely going to light us up. (You don’t know how much that hurts to type.) And I also think Belicheck is going to take Childress behind the wood shed and the coaching matchup will be enough to make the difference.
2nd Quarter: 2-2, 4-4 overall
Week 10: @Chicago, Week 11: vs. Green Bay, Week 12: @Washington, Week 13: vs. Buffalo
I say we split the season series with the Pukers, and get the easy win at home against Buffalo, but Vikings fans know what Julius Peppers and Donovan McNabb have done to this team in the past. (Mount McKinnie will be “the Matador” once again), and I think we drop those two games.
3rd Quarter: 2-2, 6-6 overall
Week 14: vs. Giants, Week 15: vs. Chicago, Week 16: @Philadelphia, Week 17: @Detroit
I think that it’s quite possible that we win all 4 of these games, especially since Rice should be back and this could be where we finally get into a groove, but I still say we drop one on the road since we have not been a good road team under Brad Childress, and it would be just like the Vikings to lose in Philly when I could see us needing that win badly to clinch a Wild Card berth.
4th Quarter: 3-1, 9-7 overall. Vikes get 6th and final playoff spot.
Real quick, I’m going to make my picks for divisions and playoffs throughout the league:
AFC East: New England, AFC North: Baltimore, AFC South: Indianapolis, AFC West: San Diego, Wild Cards: Miami, Pittsburgh
NFC East: Dallas, NFC North: Green Bay, NFC South: New Orleans, NFC West: San Francisco, Wild Cards: Atlanta, Minnesota
Wild Card Weekend: Pittsburgh over New England, Miami over San Diego, Minnesota over Dallas, San Francisco over Atlanta
Divisional Round: Pittsburgh over Indianapolis, Baltimore over Miami, Minnesota over Green Bay, New Orleans over San Francisco
Conference Championships: Baltimore over Pittsburgh, Minnesota over New Orleans
Super Bowl: Minnesota over Baltimore
Wait!? I thought you were down on the Vikings, and now you’re picking them to win the Super Bowl? Unfortunately I made the mistake of picking the Vikings to beat the Ravens to win it all shortly after last year’s Super Bowl, and I’m going to stick by it, even though I had made the pick hoping that Favre would retire. Obviously that didn’t happen, but I think somewhere in the beginning of our schedule, Favre is finally going to go down with a career ending injury, and T-Jack will come in to lead the Vikings with the old approach of running the football, and playing tough defense. That’s what will lead to a 5-3 second half to the season and eventually the playoff run. Or at least that’s what I can hope for.
Thanks for putting up with pessimism turned into extreme optimism, but that’s the only thing I can cling to to make this season worth watching for me.