Skol Vikings Let's...(yawn)

I was a football fan long before I even cared about baseball. I started watching the Vikings in.. golly.. '82 or '83? Long enough to know all of the quarterbacks listed in the '82 column here. I can remember when Vikings "stars" included Steve Dils, Ted Brown, Leo Lewis, Sammy White, Jarvis Redwine, Buster Rhymes (no, not that Buster Rhymes.) Somewhere around 1988, though, baseball overtook the #1 slot in my sporting mind. It probably had a lot to do with how I like statistics and, well, they have statistics about EVERYTHING in baseball. That and it was easy to just have a baseball game playing in the background while fooling around in the backyard as a young'n.

Sunday afternoons, though, were still sacred. Whether gathering in wadE's TV room in high school, wadE's dorm room in college, or wadE's apartment / house, watching our beloved Vikes was always a priority. It was great watching (pick your favorite) Sean Salisbury / Wade Wilson / Gino Toretta pass the ball to Quadry Ismail / Hassan Jones / Eric Guliford or seeing Scottie Graham / Barry Word / Amp Lee run one up the middle. OK, there were bigger stars than that, but you hopefully get the correct impression that I didn't miss many contests involving our purple-helmeted warriors.

But then 2001 happened. I got married on the 13th of October, meaning I missed two games due to our honeymoon. I also missed nearly all of the games prior to the wedding due to preparation for the blessed event, bachelor parties, wadE's wedding, etc. By the time I got back into football-watching mode, the Vikes were 3-3 and set for a matchup against Tampa Bay. I sat in McEathron's basement watching the game... and I just couldn't get excited about it. The purple ended up getting smoked as I recall, which could have been part of it. But I found myself wanting to do other things-- go out and toss the football around, play PS2... not watch football.

The rest of the season progressed that same way. If I was around on Sunday and didn't have anything better to do, I'd watch the game. But that wasn't often. I ended up writing off my non-interest due to the fact that I missed the first six weeks of the season. It's harder to care about the season, I reasoned, when I didn't pay attention to the first 40%. Wait 'til '02 (pronounced ought-two), I said. So, I sat in front of the TV trying to be interested in the Chicago - Vikes season opener last month... and it just wasn't happening. I ended up removing wallpaper in my bedroom instead.

What happened? The cynical person would say that it's due to being married. I'm not buying that, though-- I still am rabid about baseball and forced my wife to sit through numerous Twins games this year. (It's payback for all those Lifetime movies.) I'd think if my lack of interest in football was due to wifely concerns, my interest in baseball would wane as well. What else? Could it be that the once-powerful Vikings now.... well.. suck? That's also a good guess. But I paid pretty close attention to the team in very lean years in the past, so I don't think that's it either.

Could it be the game itself? There's an idea. Let's take a look at x ways that the NFL has jumped the shark-- for me, at least.

Ungrateful Millionaire 21-Year Olds (or, Bryant McKinnie)

Bryant McKinnie gets offered $8 million for a signing bonus and calls it a slap in the face? I'd happily get those kinds of slaps. I know he was "lowballed" by the Vikings in the sense that he got offered less than the player taken in front of him. But... it's still multiple millions for an unproven rookie. I'd like to see someone say "You know, I could be making more, but I'll be thankful that I even get offered this much-- this will set me and my family right for the rest of our lives." Probably just an extension of greed in the rest of society? Anyway.. Bryant? We don't want you. I'd rather go 1-15 this year without you.

Idiotic Commentators (or, BOOM! Here's a guy who runs better when his legs are moving)

Thanks, Monday Night Football. I was starting to like Dennis Miller-- actually putting a little intelligence in the booth was a bit too much? And now you play to the lowest common denominator, by using John Madden. I wouldn't trust John Madden to explain how a coffee maker works. Stoop! And he's just one bad apple in the barrel-- when I do end up watching games, the TV is generally muted. Up until '01, I'd happily turn on AM radio and listen to Dan Rowe broadcast the Vikings games... can't happen anymore.

New Uniforms (or, Does that Seahawk look more constipated than the old Seahawk?)

Consistency, people. That's what people in my demographic are looking for. However, the NFL is smart-- new flashy uniforms appeal to 12- to 18-year olds, the biggest demographic when it comes to purchasing merchandise. Kudos to the teams who have bucked the trend to add black or silver or teal to their uniforms. Note to Seattle Seahawks players: those sweat stains on your new forest-green pants are NOT very appealing.

Inconsistent Officiating (or, Five yards for taking him down and giving him the business)

If you're going to have instant replay, there's really no excuse for getting reviewed plays wrong. Yet it continues to happen. Holding could be called on nearly every play-- why isn't it? Why is it called, when it is? Does no one clip anymore? Don't you hate pants? Wait, wrong rant.

Dancing (or, Hey, we held him to an 8-yard gain! Let's do the bugaloo!)

Mark Gastineau was a bit over the top, but at least he waited until he made a good play before unleashing the sack dance. I recall a play from two years ago when then-Viking Dwayne Rudd tried to tackle a runner, thought he got the runner down, and began doing some sort of tango. Meanwhile, the runner never actually touched the ground and scampered into the endzone. Rudd made similar headlines this year by throwing his helmet in celebration of a play he never finished. I understand you're chock-full of emotion, guys... but keep it in check, please. I don't moonwalk when I turn in a status report. Act like you've been there before. And we're not even going to touch Bill Gramatica.

Coddled Superstars (or, I'll sign your badge if you ignore that joint in the backseat)

Maybe I'm incorrect... but I'm guessing you or I wouldn't get away with crimes as easily as NFLers. Ray Lewis, accessory to a murder... hmm, how about $200,000 as a fine? Which is approximately 5 minutes' worth of work. And I really don't think law enforcement officials would have shrugged if I had been pulled over for nearly running over a traffic cop and had a "marijuana cigarette" in my car. O.J.?

Guh. I'm not really as bitter as this article makes me seem. And quite a few of the things I've listed can also be named as problems with other sports like, oh, baseball. I just can't seem to stomach the NFL anymore. Maybe that "awful Vikings" theory isn't so far off?

Purple Pride.



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