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The Curious Misadventures of the Unlikeliest Sports Blogger–Part 3

The NFL lockout has dragged into its fourth month, the Minnesota Vikings and lawmakers are at odds over the Arden Hills stadium proposal, and not even Bryant McKinnie, who usually doesn’t disappoint, has caused a scandal lately. To say that stories about football in general and the Vikings in particular are thin is kind of like saying George Hamilton has a bit of a tan.

So, with absolutely nothing else to distract me, it seemed like a good time to turn my attention back to the long-neglected topic of how the heck I got into sports writing. That’s right we’re back with Part 3 of the Curious Misadventures of the Unlikeliest Sports Blogger. Which you already know from reading the title of this article. Hmmm, kind of stole my own thunder on that one.

But enough of that, back to the story.

To recap, I’m a girly-girl crème puff who also happens to rabidly love Minnesota Vikings football. In Part 1 of this series I wrote about how in August 2009, I responded to an ad asking for writers to blog about the Vikings on a site called vikingsmix and suddenly, I was writing about football every week–a prospect that wouldn’t have scared me so much if I had known just how few readers vikingsmix had. Then, in Part 2 of this series, I mentioned discovering the Daily Norseman and how different it was from vikingsmix.com. When I posted a story on the Daily Norseman I knew that people actually read it because they left comments. It was cool to write something and then share a dialogue about it with other fans. I wrote a couple posts and started to get some attention, not much, but some. Then, I posted “Brett Favre Returns to Football Again, Er, Again-Again.”

He’s ba-ack!

Eventually, the day will come when the football world no longer cares about every single thing Brett Favre does. Fortunately for me, August 18, 2010 was not that day.

Favre returning to the Vikings in 2010 was big news. It wasn’t as big a deal as it was the year before, but it was still big news. The Wilfs sent Steve Hutchinson, Ryan Longwell, and Jared Allen to Mississippi to reason with Favre and they managed to get him to agree to return for another season. Once again, Minnesota Vikings fans wanted to read everything they could about Brett Favre—even Daily Norseman fan posts written by Skol Girl. Yeah, that would be me.

My August 18, 2010 post about Favre rejoining the Vikings garnered lots of comments, lots more than my previous posts, and it even received a few recs. The recs were particularly exciting because they kept my story at the top of the fan post queue, exposing my story to more readers. However, more important than the comments or the recs, that post attracted the attention of Ted, my fairy godfather.

Where I meet Ted, sort of

Ted didn’t sprinkle me with pixie dust or say, “bibbity-boppity-boo”, but he was the first member of the Daily Norseman staff to leave a comment on one of my stories. Complimentary comments were always nice to read, but complimentary comments from someone on the site’s staff were even better. I love to write and it’s something I do almost more naturally than speaking, but I’m not doing this to get poor—so, knowing that someone on the Daily Norseman staff was reading my material made me feel hopeful.

That hopeful feeling was validated when, about two weeks later, I heard from Ted again. After my story about a particularly ugly preseason game he left me a comment saying I was a great writer and that he loved reading my posts. I remember I smiled benignly at my computer screen and asked, aloud, “Then why the hell haven’t you hired me?”

The computer screen did not respond. Fortunately, I didn’t expect it to.

The right ingredients

Success in life is about working hard and making the right choices, but it’s also about timing and luck. Ideally, through hard work and good choices, you’ll be in a position to take advantage of luck when the timing is right. This combination has almost always eluded me.

But not in early September 2010.

It was the day after the draft party for my fantasy football league and I was dead tired. We had stayed up ridiculously late enjoying the Minneapolis nightlife on a rooftop patio the night before. I was so tired that it hurt to focus my eyes enough to read. And yet, for some reason, I thought this was a good time to check my email.

Lurking in my inbox was an email from someone called Christopher Gates. I didn’t know who that was but the subject line was about the Daily Norseman. Despite not knowing who Chris was, I opened the email. It was an offer to write for the front page of the Daily Norseman.

I won’t kid you, in my sleep-deprived state, and considering what I’d been telling my computer screen less than a week before, I was under the distinct impression I was being punked. In retrospect, I can see that that didn’t make sense, but at the time I was really, really tired and not thinking straight. I did the wisest thing I could think of, I logged out and went to bed.

The next day, being much more rested and no longer seeing double, I reread the email from Chris. Good thing too because the offer was genuine. That’s how, just a month after I became at member on the Daily Norseman, I was a front-page writer.

For once, it seemed like my hard work and good choices had put me in the position to take advantage of some well-timed luck.

Thanks for reading and I’m fairly sure that in Part 4 of my Misadventures I’ll get around to mentioning marriage proposals, stalkers, and my first front-page post for the Daily Norseman. Oh, and more about Ted’s role in how I got the offer to write for the front page.

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The Curious Misadventures of the Unlikeliest Sports Blogger

I don’t know about you, but I think God has a sense of humor. And I say that because, for as much as I have written about so many other things like dating and knitting and how to survive hosting parties and juicing and motivational speakers and college admissions and books, it’s in writing about football of all things where I have actually found a tiny bit of success. I kid you not, it surprises me as much as anyone that I write a whole lot about Minnesota Vikings football both here and at the Daily Norseman. There are all sorts of good reasons why this is surprising and odd, but the most obvious reason is because I’m female. There just aren’t nearly as many women as there are men writing about NFL teams. That automatically makes me a bit of an oddity.

But, that said, there are plenty of women out there who are passionate about sports—athletic women who enjoy the thrill of competition and aren’t afraid to tear up a field. Yes, I’m talking about those Spartan babes who play hockey or kick for their high school football teams or play softball or are on a curling team.

Yeah, that isn’t me.

Nope, I’m a cupcake, a crème puff, a girly-girl. I have never been a jock, and it would be a stretch to call me sporty. I like reading books, drinking tea, doing pilates, knitting, baking, getting a manicure, hearing Tim Gunn talk about fashion, and getting my hair colored. If I have to kill spiders on my own I feel pretty darn tough. If I have to empty the mousetraps I’m looking for a Congressional Medal of Honor. And yet, as absolutely incongruous as it seems, in my chest beats the heart of a rabid Minnesota Vikings football fan.

So, there’s this one odd thing about me that has somehow become a big deal—me being a fan of the Minnesota Vikings. And, I owe it, in part, to Brett Favre.

I don’t know for sure, but I might be one of the few women who has actually benefited from him in the last couple years. See, way back in the summer of 2009 Brett Favre was doing his will-I-won’t-I retirement dance and, like a lot of Vikings fans out there, I was irritated. I was so irritated that I decided to write about it. That in itself wouldn’t have done much, but, shortly after I wrote about my irritation with Mr. Favre’s inability to just make a decision, I happened upon a posting on craigslist for fans to blog about the Minnesota Vikings. Since I really love the Vikings and since there just aren’t that many listings for writers, I applied.

Writers learn to get used to rejection. A lot of rejection. I was much better prepared for rejection because rejection was familiar territory. But vikingsmix.com, the site that had requested fan bloggers, actually wanted me to write for them. So, suddenly, I was a sports blogger and I had nearly no idea what that entailed. Granted it would seem to simply involve talking about the Vikings’ season from a fan perspective, but it didn’t feel quite so straightforward at the time. That whole lack of rejection really threw me off my game.

However, as a first foray into the wild world of sports writing, vikingsmix.com wasn’t too bad because they didn’t seem to have many/any readers to complain about what I was doing. Whether I was doing a great job or a lousy one, I have no idea because I think I got a sum total of three comments on everything I posted during the 2009 season. But, sometimes the absence of criticism is as close to encouragement as you are going to get, so, for the 2009 season I slogged it out in the near solitude of the vikingsmix site.

There weren’t tons of readers (any), but I was intrigued by the links vikingsmix posted to other sites, one of which was a little spot called the Daily Norseman, an SB Nation blog site.

So I became a member of the Daily Norseman and that’s when things started to get interesting.

*Join me for my next installment, it involves proposals and nearly fainting–mostly in that order.

 

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Mother Love: Are the Vikings In Need of Maternal Motivation?

With the Minnesota Vikings bracing for their next game in the national spotlight on Monday, I find myself wishing that Sandra Bullock would reprise her roll as Leigh Anne Tuohy from The Blind Side and give them a hug-and-a-kiss-and-a-kick-in-the-ass pep talk to get them back on track.  Simplistic as it is, sometimes I think the team needs a mom.

Okay, it’s the height of overly simplistic, but there are a number of team issues that I can’t help but think a mom would help them get through. Here are a few of them.

  • Bernard Berrien and Adrian Peterson both getting ticketed for driving more than 100mph on Minnesota roads. That isn’t just speeding, driving that fast generally falls under reckless endangerment. And, I find myself seriously wishing that those two had a mother like a friend of mine who had been known, on occasion, to very loudly ask her progeny, “What is your goddamn problem?” In the face of an angry maternal figure asking that question, answering back, “I didn’t want to be late for team check-in,” or “I just didn’t realize how fast I was going” would be relegated to their proper place as lame and ineffectual answers, not to be repeated.
  • Brett Favre and Coach Brad Childress can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on audibles and when Favre should come off the field. For those of us with siblings, there comes a time when you realize you are going to have to find a way to get along because you are stuck with each other—at least that’s what I was told when I suggested we send my sister back where she came from. Likewise, Childress and Favre are stuck with each other. Childress hitched himself to Favre in order to deliver what Vikings owners the Wilfs want, a championship. I doubt Childress would have his lucrative contract extension if not for the success of our friendly quarterback from Mississippi. Favre hitched himself to the Vikings and Childress to get what he wants, a championship. Considering they have the same goal, folks need to put aside differences and figure out how to get the job done. They need a working compromise giving Favre the freedom to audible out of run plays based on what he sees on the field and do what he does best—use his experience to make things happen. They also need to agree that, since Favre isn’t a spring chicken, sometimes Childress is going to have to take Favre out of the games so to rest him for the postseason. If Favre is really going to be a team player, then he has to view his health heading into the postseason as a team asset.
  • Last week against the Carolina Panthers Bryant McKinnie said he had one of his worst games ever. When the St. Paul paper spoke with former Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer, he said it looked like McKinnie was on “roller skates” the way Julius Peppers pushed him around the field. I’ve tried to understand why people say McKinnie is good when it seems like every time the quarterback gets hit it’s from McKinnie’s side. The guy is 6’8” and weighs 335 pounds and yet Peppers pushed him around the field like he was on wheels. Make no mistake, I recognize that Peppers is good, but it is hard to believe he could sack and hurry Brett Favre as much and as consistently as he did if McKinnie wasn’t having a performance that was tepid at best. Since players don’t generally make it to the NFL by phoning it in, I think it is fair to say that somewhere along the way McKinnie may have lost some of that drive and urgency to do his best and be the best possible player at his position. If he took just a fraction of the passion he fuels into his bar fights and put it into his on-field performance, I don’t think ol’ Bretty would spend so much time getting pummeled.

Let’s hope the current NFC North Division champs don’t end up having to call in a little football mama to set them straight, but if they do, I hope that the Wilfs have Leigh Anne Tuohy on speed-dial.

*This piece is also posted at http://www.vikingsmix.com under my alter ego Skol Girl. Vikingsmix has fan blogs and links to news stories about the Minnesota Vikings. Check it out!

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2009 in Brett Favre, Football

 

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