My football emotions — the final 10-seconds

______________________________ January 14, 2018

A deluge of memories flushed over me when I watched the Minnesota Vikings play the New Orleans Saints tonight — more specifically as I watched my Vikings play those Saints.
     I’m not a die-hard Vikings fan, not one who holds seasons tickets nor watches every single game. Yet I’m devoted, with my heart in the games I watch, and my rooting for the team every season. Every experience in supporting the Vikings over the years, becomes its own aspect in my life. Tonight, so much of it came back to me in an exciting few hours.
Prelude: The maverick Vikings fan
My parents neither confirmed nor denied it — when I told them I suspected they’d put my crib in the living room every Sunday afternoon during Vikings games, they only smiled.
     I suspected this because I was emotional about the Vikings. My heart celebrated every victory, and suffered every defeat. Even as I journeyed beyond my home state of Minnesota, I remained a Vikings fan. Not a pro football fan, yet indeed a devotee to the Vikings.
     While I lived in Madison, as a rival deep in Green Bay Packers territory, and as I lived in Chicago, a rival deep in Bears territory, I remained unwavering. I watched games alongside fans of my rival teams. They razzed me and I razzed back like a champion, no matter how good or bad my Vikings fared. We compared team track records, and I oft declared, “Someday the Vikings will win a Super Bowl!”
     Now while I’m in Kansas, I face no Vikings rivals, as their team, the Kansas City Chiefs, is in a separate division. Because of that I cannot drum up enthusiasm from Kansans regarding the Vikings at-all. The only chance the two teams would challenge one another would be if they both made the Super Bowl.
This Play-off season
     No chance I will feel rivalry with my Chiefs fan pals. The Chiefs made play-off season, yet fell out the running last Saturday against the Titans. That game was on while I was at a dinner party with my friend Eddie. During pre-dinner mingling, I chatted with friends over appetizers and wine in the dining room, while Eddie and other Chiefs fans congregated in the living room to watch the game. The Chiefs lost at a 22-21 final score, Eddie told me, after the game ended and we all pulled up to the dining table.
     I felt for him. Yet, well, the Chiefs were out. I had this Sunday to look forward to. At 3:30 p.m. Central Time my Vikings took on those Saints.
The game tonight
     Eddie invited me to a gathering with friends around 5. I declined, reminding him of the Vikings game. He winced and shrugged. His Chiefs were done. The season was over. Lest perhaps the Super Bowl, he had no interest in football till then.
     Also out were the Bears, and the Packers. As I watched the game tonight, I wondered who of my previous razzers were thinking of me …. while I was thinking of them, with smiles.
     All these folks were with me tonight, as I turned gaze to the big screen TV, and the surreal feel of witnessing my Vikings go live in the playoffs. 
     
The Vikings clinched the first half at 17-0. Yet in the second half the Saints came back hard with two touchdowns, and kept it at a 3-point game, then a one-point game.
The final 10-seconds — in slow motion
     The time clock ticked away, and stopped at 10 seconds.
     The Saints at 24, Vikings at 23. Time-outs on both sides were gone. My Vikings had to succeed 25 yards to reach Field Goal range, in hopes of tagging three points to lead.
     My thoughts hit two aspects of my football emotions and experiences:
1. Aw shucks, I’d have to bear through these next seconds, and witness my Vikings lose. The meagre consolation would be I could share with Eddie a commonality in dropping out of Playoffs — both our teams losing by one point.
2. Hmm. Over my years as a Vikings devotee, when the fellows lost in a major game like this, they lost early and big!  They did not hold long like the team did tonight. This is not the way the Vikings lose.
3. Yet now my Vikings were at last chance to make Field Goal range, and too far from it. They were to lose late and short. And my heart sunk … again.
     There’s always next year. Oh gosh, I had to raise my chin to that again. I would.
     But wait!
     A Hail Mary pass was thrown long — and caught! Hope!
     The Vikings made field goal range, and now would jaunt a couple steps out of bounds to stop the clock. Hallelujah!
     Yet he didn’t jaunt out of bounds. He ran. He was going for a touchdown. A touchdown! What, what?
     Touchdown! He made it!
     My Vikings took the game! I was in shock — while jumping and woo-hooing.

And now …
     I relish a memorable game, with its place in my heart, and feel so glad to have witnessed it.
     Yet there’s one more game to make it through, before my Vikings have chance to play in the Super Bowl. They play the Eagles next week!
     I brace myself.

 

 

 

 

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