The Minnesota Vikings, favored to win the NFC and qualify for the Super Bowl, open the playoffs Sunday against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Vikings fans, anecdotally, are treating the upcoming playoffs in one of two ways: They are bravely touting how good their 13-3 team is, or they are nervous about Minnesota blowing a game in an unexpected, painful way.
There are good reasons for both of these outlooks. The Vikings are really good, first of all, with a tremendous defense that might carry them to the big game — which just happens to be in Minneapolis in early February. But also, there is a history with this franchise. The Vikes have whizzed away numerous opportunities not only to win the Super Bowl, but just to qualify for it.
Gary Anderson missing a field goal against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game following the 1998 season is not the beginning, nor near the end. It’s been an ugly history of disappointment.
So we’ve talked about that a lot this week on my radio show on 970 WDAY — whether Vikings fans expect the team to make the Super Bowl or find a way to lose and break millions of hearts again.
One fan had a completely different take, but one that was honest and might — really weirdly — carry some merit. This guy believes Vikings fans WANT the team to lose, because winning would force fans to vacate their identity as lovable losers — much like what happened to the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs when those long-suffering franchises finally won championships.
These words were emailed by a listener to my 970 WDAY radio show the other day, as we were talking whether Vikings fans believe their team is going to find a way to spectacularly blow a chance at the Super Bowl.
What do you think? Does Thomas J. have a point, or is he only setting himself up to not be disappointed if the Vikings lose again?
Vikings Fans: The Dirty Secret
I think that deep down, in the hidden reaches of their subconscious, Vikings Fans hide a dark secret:
They WANT the Vikings to lose. And in heartbreaking fashion.
If we’re honest with ourselves (yes, I’m a Vikings fan), we have to admit that a lot of our fan culture is built on the Vikings being that “almost” team.
Really good, but never great. Inspiring hope, but falling short.
It shapes our attitudes and sense of bitter cynicism.
And we like it.
Without the Vikings to complain about, what would we have left? We might actually have to find some hobbies or something.
Who has time for that?
If we finally win, we turn into another smug, self-satisfied fan base, and the twisted thing that made us special- the tragic, nearly beautiful ability to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory- disappears.
We basically turn into Red Sox fans. Without the curse, they are just a slightly less annoying version of the Yankees.
No one wants that. Embrace the failure. It is good, pure, and part of what makes us who we are.