I guess I gotta keep on ramblin’…

I hate the Minnesota Vikings. Hate, hate, hate, hate the Minnesota Vikings. Hate them. This afternoon, the Vikings dragged me through about 5,386 different degrees on the human emotion scale–most of which could be described as variations on “blind hatred”. As I watched them salt away a twenty-one point lead against the freaking Houston Texans, waited–just waited–for the inevitable guillotine, then cursed myself when it finally fell for my debilitating bad karma…well, it was just another typical Mike Tice era Vikings’ game, wasn’t it? As the game headed towards overtime, I almost wanted Minnesota to lose.

So what happens? The stupid team goes ahead and wins. Naturally, they did it in utterly farcical fashion–first by blowing 21-0 and 28-14 leads, then by going three-and-out on three consecutive late game possessions…and then, in overtime, winning the coin toss, going three-and-out (natch), getting the ball back, then almost blowing it all a second time when their big off-season offensive acquisition (Marcus Robinson) dropped the game-winning touchdown. (I’m watching the highlights again even as we speak…honestly, I wish I understood this football team.) Thirty-six seconds later, on what was actually a free play for the Vikings, Daunte Culpepper went straight back to Robinson…and this time he caught the pass and blazed into the end zone. With the game finished, was I elated? Hells no: I was apoplectic. That, and relieved. It was like…well, enduring a prize fight, for lack of a better comparison: you willingly subject yourself to a beating and are just thankful when it comes to an end.

I hope to one day understand my relationship with this football team. Why on earth do I cheer for this bunch of losers when so many other, healthier options are available? (The Indianapolis Colts, for instance; wouldn’t I be a happier, saner person if I were a Colts fan?) Why do I affix my well-being to a team that does to me what the Vikings do to me on a fairly regular basis? How do I allow them to sucker punch me year after year after year, yet enter each and every subsequent season bellowing “this is our year!” to all those who will listen? I don’t pretend to know–and this afternoon’s debacle won’t go very far in helping me find an answer. What I do know, however, is that the Vikings are 3-1, have the NFL’s top-ranked offense, a quarterback who is playing unconscious football (Culpepper threw for 396 yards and five touchdowns this afternoon and actually increased his passer rating), a trio of top-drawer receivers, a stable of productive running backs (Mewelde Moore had 182 all-purpose yards in his first NFL start) and a defense…well, a defense that does just enough not to lose. What does this translate into? First place in the NFC North and a game against the New Orleans Saints next Sunday. It also gives me reason for hope. See how I let this happen? If you’ll excuse me, I have a heart attack to attend to.

Oh. And in keeping with the whole “Ramble On” theme, here are some other random musings from this, the fifth week of the 2004 NFL season:

  • My initial forray into playing the spread yielded–not surprisingly–mixed results. I ended the day 6-4; two of my sure-fire winners (New Orleans and Arizona) failed to pan out, while the two I was most worried about (Pittsburgh and the G-Men) turned out to be no-brainers. Oh: and Minnesota, by virture of that touchdown in overtime, covered against the Texans…good lord, I hate this football team.
  • My fantasy team, the soon-to-be-legendary Jeff George: Future Hall of Famer team, is currently winning its match-up and has one player (Derrick Mason) still to play…and since my opponent has no more players left to play, I’m feeling a lot more comfortable about this lead than a fourth quarter Vikings lead. Having said that, I did make an unbelievable gaffe this week: having picked up Reuben Duroughs as insurance (of sorts) for the rapidly fading Quentin Griffin, I was then forced to drop him for a replacement kicker (Mike Vanderjagt, who I also picked up this week, was injured, and so I got Doug Brien–a.k.a. “the one who missed not one but two PAT in the same game with the Vikings back in 2001”–to fill the void). Duroughs had 193 yards rushing against a tough Carolina Panthers’ defense…and if I think I’m getting him back in a thirteen-team league, well, I’m even more delusional than when I called Minnesota to win the Super Bowl in 2003.
  • The Detroit Lions are 3-2. Two of those wins came on the road. The apocalypse is officially upon us.
  • Mad Mike Martz…y’know what, I can’t even talk about it. Does he remind anyone else of Boris from Goldeneye? “I am invincible!”
  • The East Rutherford, NJ teams are a combined 8-1. Again, I don’t get this league. At all.
  • How does a New Orleans team with all that firepower (Brooks, Horn, Stallworth, plus Deuce McAllister making his return) not light up the scoreboard against a Tampa Bay team for which the lesser of the Simms (Chris) and Griese (Brian) dynasties played quarterback? Guess it would have just made too much sense for the 2004 NFL season.
  • The Arizona Cardinals that folded against the San Francisco 49ers are the Cardinals I’m comfortable watching–not the ones staging furious two-minute drill comebacks against the Vikings and then knocking them out of the playoffs on a last-second Hail Mary (and no, I still haven’t gotten over that).

And y’know what? I’ve got to stop writing so much about sports. Tomorrow, I’m going to write a blog entry that doesn’t mention anything relating to sports or the state of Minnesota…well, unless doing so is necessary in order to advance other, more important points. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.


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