The Vikings vs. the Twins

Published 9:40 am Thursday, April 29, 2010

I looked at the title of this piece after a time and was somewhat taken aback by the versus.

You would think there is room in a Minnesotan’s heart for both teams. One can be a huge Vikings fan and still root for the Twins and vice versa.

When the Vikings came into being, in 1961 you could have not found a more ardent booster. The high point of the sports week centered around the Vikings and Sunday afternoon football. Not only the Vikings, but pro football in general. The Monday morning alarm clock seemed less depressing when you knew the evening held Monday Night Football with Dandy Don Meredith, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford.

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The main topic of many morning coffee discussions was pro football in general and the Vikings in particular. Tickets were hard to come by to get into the old Met. Although my wife and I did get up to the stadium and watch the Vikings and Fran Tarkington lose to the Baltimore Colts and Johnny Unitas on a cold November day. We sat in the open end of the old Metropolitan Stadium and darn near froze to death.

The Vikings, under Bud Grant, became a force and played in four Super Bowls, losing each one in turn. That didn’t discourage me. I was still a fan, although the morning after coffee kidding became harder to take with each loss.

During this time the Twins had two wonderful World Series wins and after seeing our sports teams and politicians continually finish second, the wins were very welcome.

I continued to follow the Vikings on through the years, but I really didn’t realize how much my Vikings fever had subsided until a librarian asked me why I wasn’t watching the Vikings on draft day? I know some of you reading this could care less about the NFL draft day. Well, it appears I’ve joined the group with better things to do. If you were a gung ho fan, you’d be glued to the TV set, either applauding or deriding the Vikings’ choices. I wasn’t and I realized that I really didn’t care that much about the drafting of a back-up cornerback. Most of you would agree that is not that important, but it was also a wake-up call for me.

What had happened to my enthusiasm? As I looked back over the near 50 years of Vikings mania, I realized that my lack of interest wasn’t due to any one occurrence but rather an accumulation of Viking missteps. It wasn’t due to the four Super Bowl losses or even the several losses in NFC title games. It wasn’t the losses. After all, I had gone through the nasty 90s with the Twins and remained a fan.

I am not the Vikings fan I once was after watching excess celebrations of commonplace tackles and the “don’t care” attitude of Randy Moss. The “Love Boat,” bar fights, police harassment and other instances of their attitude. It seems that many Vikings felt they were above the law.

They are no longer owned by Minnesotans. Prior to the Wilfs, they were owned by a used car salesman, who when he was unable to get a new stadium built had to settle for doubling his money. They are now owned by a New Jersey land developer who appears to want to continue his profession in Minnesota.

As I have gotten older, I have turned more and more to the Twins, who seem to be normal folks that take time to talk to their fans, make a special effort to be nice to kids and contribute to Minnesota communities.