How I Became a Vikings Fan
I’ve always been a football fan. It’s in my blood. My great-grandfather played professionally (back in the days of leather helmets and no knowledge of CTE). My dad grew up in Odessa, Texas—home of the Permian Panthers (the school in Friday Night Lights). Growing up in Texas, it was expected that he played and watched football. His favorite team was the Dallas Cowboys. He loved to reminisce about the good ole’ days of Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Emmit Smith, and Deion Sanders.
This passion for football was passed on to me.
My dad never forced the Dallas Cowboys on me. In fact, when I was younger he would watch football by himself. He probably didn’t want me to see him curse at the TV. I had casually watched football on my own starting with the 2007-2008 NFL season.
*Disclaimer—I was young and naive at the time, so don’t judge my sports allegiance.
The 2007 NFL season was the year the New England Patriots went 18-1. I was intrigued by the dominance of Tom Brady and Randy Moss. This was the first sports team that I consistently followed week to week. Following the disappointing ending to that season, I started watching other teams in the NFL and I began playing Madden. Playing Madden helped me understand who these players were that I was watching on TV. I began developing favorite players, including an exciting rookie at the time by the name of Adrian Peterson. Racking up 150+ yards per game in Madden with this player was very exciting for an 11-year-old boy.
This marks the shift from becoming a casual NFL fan to a Minnesota Vikings fan.
There was a tough stretch when the Vikings seemed destined for mediocrity. But then came the 2009 season. We had just come off another subpar year with Coach Brad Childress and an incapable Tarvaris Jackson. Heading into the offseason before the 2009 season, the Minnesota Vikings made one of the boldest moves in franchise history….they signed Brett Favre out of retirement. If you don’t know, Brett Favre made his career playing for the bad guys (Green Bay Packers). This was the most savage move any player could make.
That 2009 season was my first taste of success as a Vikings fan. That team meshed very well together. Adrian Peterson was a superstar in the making, Percy Harvin was the most electric player in the NFL, Jared Allen was leading the league in sacks, and Brett Favre was cementing his legacy as a future hall of famer. This was a fun team to watch. They finished the regular season at 12-4, first in the NFC North, and beat the Packers in both games. In the Divisional round of the playoffs we crushed Tony Romo and the Cowboys 34-3. That’s when everyone started talking about how this Vikings squad could be Super Bowl contenders.
Following the Divisional round, the Vikings had to travel to play Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship game. The game was excruciatingly close through its entirety. With a minute left in regulation the score was tied 28-28. Vikings had the ball deep in Saints territory. It looked like Favre was going to do what he does best—lead another game-winning drive. Twenty seconds were left on the clock and the Vikings were on the Saints 38 yard-line. Favre rolled out of the pocket (he was facing immense pressure all game). He tried to throw off his back foot into the middle of the field. Tracy Porter, a Saints Defensive Back, read it and intercepted the ball. Saints then got the ball in overtime, drove down the field and kicked a field goal to win the game.
Sadly, this feeling of dissappointment would be one I would become all too familiar with.
The Vikings fell back into their ways of mediocrity during the Christian Ponder era. It wasn’t until we drafted Teddy Bridgewater that we felt a sense of hope. But as the Vikings tend to do, in 2015 they broke my heart again. In the Wildcard round, the Vikings played the Seahawks in a -6 degree game in Minneapolis. It was a very defensive game. With 22 second left, the Seahawks were winning 10-9. Blair Walsh needed to hit a 27-yard field goal to win the game. But as a Vikings fan, we’re not allowed to have happiness. Walsh hooked the kick left. More dissappointment followed.
Our next chance at a Super Bowl would come last season. I’ll get into that in a separate post but it follows the similar theme.
Overall, my path to becoming a Vikings fan was long and difficult. Despite the pain, I’m proud to be a loyal Minnesota Vikings supporter. The community of fans are unique to Minnesota and the players have been influential role models in my life and many others.