Looking back over the last, oh say….40 years of Viking history. There have been many moments that could be construed as “special”. The 69 Vikings with their dominating defense, and offense led by Joe Kapp looked unbeatable as they ripped through the NFL on their way to being 17 point favorites leading up to the Super Bowl. That was “Special” ……. at least until they met Kansas City and was crushed 23-7.
The mid-seventies were special from the moment the Vikings re-acquired the son of a Baptist minister from Georgia and then proceeded to represent the NFC in 3 of the next 4 super Bowls……Only to lose all 3. This gave Tarkenton and the Vikings the distinction of being the first team to lose 4 Super Bowls. That was not the same kind of “Special” I want to concentrate on, but still a notable moment.
How about Alan Page being the first and only defensive lineman to be named the league MVP ? Now that’s Special !!!
The 98 Vikings were the most explosive offensive force that the NFL had ever seen up until that time ( No disrespect to the Patriots ) with Randall Cunningham handing the ball off to Robert Smith and throwing to Randy Moss and Cris Carter. The 15 – 1 season spoiled only by a mid-season loss in Tampa Bay……well, until Gary Anderson ruined the NFL’s first and only “Perfect” season by a kicker by missing wide right on a kick that would have given the Vikings a 10 point lead with under 2 minutes remaining in the Championship game vs. Atlanta. They went on to lose that game in overtime. This was very possibly the best Viking team ever…….That’s Special !
But what we are witnessing this season may well be it’s own version of special. I said long ago, that a good Quarterback would propel this team into the ranks of the upper echelon of the league. 6 – 0 and counting. That’s Special ! But you know what else is special ? This team is winning games that it shouldn’t. Every great team wins games it should lose. The Giants of the early 90’s won a super bowl because another team that could have been “Special” missed “Wide Left” ! Thus making the Giants “Special”.
That same team beat an undefeated Patriot team in the Super Bowl more recently by virtue of a miraculous “behind the helmet somehow he hung on to the ball” catch. Again “Special”.
This years version has far to go. But this inexplicable string of fortune is something fans of the Purple and Gold are not used to. We are the team that suffered through the “Hail Mary of 75”. The “ last play of the final game 32 yard TD even though he didn’t get his feet down” miracle vs. the Cardinals. The Jim Marshall “70 yard run the wrong way for an apparent TD that was actually a safety”. OK, I’m giving Marshall a pass on this one because it was still actually “Special” in a kind of cool nostalgic way.
The story lines of this season have “Special” written all over it. Starting with Brett Favre. Now be honest….. Admit that as a true Viking fan that you hated him with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns when he played for Green Bay. That you loathed every moment of his existence and you insisted he was the most over-rated player in NFL history. You wanted to grab John Madden by his Shar-pei like face and shake his head until his jowls ceased to flap in the cool breeze of the broadcast booth.
Now fast forward to 2009.…..Admit that you LOVE the way he plays. The way he runs downfield to throw a block on a much larger player just because that’s how he plays the game. Admit he is an ambassador for at least some of the things that are right about the NFL. But most of all, Admit that he has elevated the Vikings into a contender. I mean, a REAL contender. Sporting news has the Vikings at # 3 in the power poll. Favre has elevated his game to a personal high. There is even talk about him being the MVP for the first 1/3 of the season. He is NOT trying to do too much. He is NOT forcing the ball into double coverage. He IS providing leadership to a team fiercely in need of it. Teams cannot stuff the box with 8 players while leaving 3 to cover 4 receivers anymore because Favre will slice them and dice them like a brand new set of Ginsu steak knives !
But BEST of all………Admit that you are getting a tremendous thrill over what this is doing to Packer Fans ! It is soooooooo GREAT watching them writhe in their utter agony as Favre prove that he is NOT a washed up has been. That they have only the second or third best QB in the division right now.
Yes, it’s true that he may not be around next year. We will most likely have to edure another off season of “I’m going to retire, please beg me to come back”. Yes, he is 40 years old and it’s not likely to get better, but rather worse as time passes. But for right now………1/3 of the way through the 2009 season……..
These VIKINGS ARE SPECIAL !!!!