Monday morning I broke with tradition and did not read the sports section. I even turned it over so I wouldn’t have to look at the picture on the front of the section. This season I’ve wimped out and refused to read about a Vikings’ loss first thing in the morning a couple times. Generally I get around to reading it later in the day, but Monday I decided to let the day’s retelling of the Minnesota Vikings’ overtime loss to the New Orleans Saint slip by without so much as a peek.
I didn’t need the literary rehash, I watched Sunday’s NFC championship game with the kind of attention generally given to bomb defusing. The Vikings let Favre get hit a lot, they lost the turnover war, and then they got dinged with costly (occasionally questionable) penalties. I didn’t need to read several articles and commentary to remind me.
And that loss was a shame because, overall, the Vikings were the better team. It reminds me of that part in Sun Tzu’s book The Art of War, about how you don’t need to have a total advantage over an opponent so long as you have the advantage over him at a strategic point.
The Saints had some fantastic strategic advantages. They had home-field advantage and, with all the noise the Saints fans made, I think the victory belongs to the fans more than it belongs to the Saints. As well as the home-field advantage, the Saints also had a great story that all the commentators were in love with—an under-dog team that had never been truly great before, embraced by and winning for a town still bearing the scars of hurricane Katrina. Cue the orchestra. When you looked at the pass-interference call on Ben Leber in the fourth quarter, it looked suspiciously as if the officials wanted the Saints’ Cinderella story to come true too, because it’s a real stretch of the imagination to believe that ball was even remotely catchable.
But all of that was Sunday and it doesn’t matter now. The Vikings’ season is over and the players are cleaning out their lockers at Winter Park. And in my head Boyz 2 Men is singing “End of the Road.” Fickle bandwagon fans are claiming that they, somehow, knew the Vikings’ playoff run would come to this sort of an end, that it doesn’t matter who’s on the team, the season always ends in a loss.
What a bunch of belly-aching crap.
Only one team out of the whole NFL ends its entire season with a win (probably the Colts). Everyone else has to pack it in at the end of the season wishing for at least one more win. While I realize the truth in the saying, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades” I think that all the stalwart Vikings fans know that our team had a really good season.
For all those so enchanted with the Cinderella storyline for the New Orleans Saints, you still can’t top a 40-year-old Brett Favre signing with his long-time divisional rivals the Minnesota Vikings, leading them in a winning season, improving all the players on the offense, and nearly taking them to the Super Bowl. That is still a good story in my book.