This is the year I figure out if I really am able to end my horrible relationship with the Vikings. For years, I described myself as a bitter Vikings fan. And really, is there any other kind? My bitterness was inherited from my aunts, because the Vikings four Super Bowl losses happened either before I was born or when I was a just a tot. I remember bits and pieces from the 1980s, but I don't remember being particularly crushed by the 1987 season and the loss NFC Championship game. At 13 (and being of the female persuasion) I was probably still too young for the bitterness to stick. And then came the 1998 season. I finally experienced what it was like to have my own bitterness as a Vikings fan.
After 1998, my relationship with the Vikings started getting more and more rocky. All this potential was wasted year after year. The 6-0 start in 2003 was more of the same. I tried so hard not to buy in. This was about the time I actually started comparing my Vikings fanhood to dating (why do I compare so many things to dating?). Getting sucked into believing that this time it would be different during that 6-0 start was just like starting to date a new guy. Things seem to be going so well. But you've been burned in the past, so you try so hard to hold back; try to avoid getting excited or thinking about anything but the immediate future. Eventually, though, he breaks you down and you give in and really start to like him. Then he starts acting like an ass, or stops calling. The Vikings were the same. I finally believed that things were going to be different. Then they end the season 9-7 and miss the playoffs in a final-game, last-second loss to Arizona.
After that loss to the freakin' Cardinals, I said I was going to burn any piece of Vikings memorabilia I might happen to own. I didn't. I said it was over. But I went back for more in 2004, just like a bad relationship. He cheats on you, so you leave. But he begs you to come back. He says he's sorry. He says he's changed. And you buy it. But the trust is gone. Your relationship will never quite be the same. Things weren't the same with the Vikings, either. I was more skeptical. I wasn't going to get sucked in. It didn't help that I really didn't like a single player on the team. There wasn't a current player's jersey I would be caught dead wearing. I had no connection to the team. Maybe it helped that I started playing fantasy football with the 2004 season. There were players on other teams who I liked and in whom I had a vested interest.
Then last year ... last year, it all fell apart. Kind of like how that light bulb finally clicks on in your head when you realize, "This guy is an asshole and I can do so much better." It was bad enough that the Vikes were playing so horribly. I think I watched the first quarter of the first regular season game before I couldn't take it anymore. I was glad when Daunte Culpepper finally got hurt and Brad Johnson got to start. Not that I was watching any games if there was another game on at the same time. I only watched the Vikings when it was my only option; after all, it's still football.
The Love Boat scandal, though, sealed the deal on last season. It wasn't what happened on that boat that offended me so much. I'm not so naïve to think that kind of thing doesn't routinely happen among professional athletes or at bachelor parties or whatever. But to do it out in public? I was offended by their sheer stupidity. I mean, even Michael Irivin and the Cowboys had the White House.
Once Brad Johnson took over, the Queens started winning. But I didn't care. The damage was done. K accused me in December of being a fair weather fan and told me to stop talking shit about the Vikes in front of our Packer fan friends. I think her definition of "fair weather fan" is different than the rest of the world, because even after all those wins, I couldn't have cared less about the Vikings. I still wasn't watching games. I don't think I was actively cheering against them, but I wouldn't be willing to take a polygraph.
Now the new season is just about to start. BC told me earlier this year that since the Vikes seemed to be starting over with a new owner and a new coach, I should wipe the slate clean. I told him I would think about it, but I just wasn't sure I could. I really tried to keep an open mind. The new uniforms did little to entice me back into the fold. Okay, I think they're hideous. You've got serious problems when you're stealing design elements from the Cardinals.
I just don't care. I watched one, maybe two minutes of the first preseason game. Yeah, I know it's preseason. But I used to get so excited for the first preseason Vikings game. Not so much these days. That was Monday. On Tuesday, this happens. The more things change, the more things stay the same. I don't see a reconciliation on the horizon.
The question now is, do I find a new favorite team? Is it healthy to jump right into another relationship? Or do I date around, so to speak? I think this entry will require a sequel.