Ahem. Ugh. So, yes, I was a fool, again. They broke my heart, again. Now I’m back to ignoring the NFL, again.
But… and for sure this is straight out of the silver linings playbook, but after much wound-licking and soul-searching, I’ve come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t trade the Minneapolis Miracle and the feeling it gave me and the entire state for absolutely anything.
I mean, how much once-in-a-lifetime fun was that? You watch sports your whole life to feel that particular jolt of adrenaline, disbelief and joy, therefore my going-forward mantra is: Never mind the Philly Fiasco, and never forget the Minneapolis Miracle.
Yes, a hometown Super Bowl appearance would have been a good party, but the Patriots and Eagles and corporate America and the NFL and all the big winners can suck it; I’ll take those 10 seconds that led to that unprecedented feeling of universal elation shooting through the land, a thing of amazing, incredible and singular beauty whose memory will forever bring a jumpstart to my heart and a smile to my face, and, like the song said and like many Vikings fans have said since, they can’t take that away from me.
Seriously. Unlike most Super Bowls, people will be talking about Case-to-Diggs for the rest of their lives, because we, yes we, went from heartbreak to elation in the blink of an eye and everybody went to bed that night dreaming their impossible dreams, realizing that prayers do get answered and knowing that we’d live to fight another day. Oh, what a feeling!
Loser talk, I can hear the Brady-Trump brigade saying, and I’m sure snickering Patriots fans everywhere are bored with all their winning ways and titles by now, but the truth is that those sad bastards will never know the good-for-the-soul, tried-and-true ritual of putting a positive spin on a huge pile of poop. That’s how we do here. We like it here. We put the “oof” in “uff da.”
“The great tragedy is always better,” philosophized my nephew Matt during the third quarter of Sunday’s Vikings-Eagles game viewing party-Irish wake. Our heroes were still within 17 points, but the lad, schooled as he has been on the lovable loserdom lore of his home state, was already doing what every Vikings fan learns to do from birth: dealing with another soul-crushing loss by whatever means necessary, and dealing with it fast.
The day after, he doubled-down on the tragedy theme by posting the definition: “Tragedy (from the Greek, tragoidia) is a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in audiences. While many cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, the term tragedy often refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of Western Civilization.”
It we, and we’re far from alone. One of the most rabid Vikings fans I know, Matt, cuts hair at Winston’s Barbershop in Uptown and talks to his clients about life, philosophy and the Shakespearean nature of the purple and gold. My time in his chair is often spent talking about how the Vikings bring our family together and how it gives strangers something to talk about. Something painful and tragic, but something.
“We’ve known for years in psychology that feeling connections and affiliations with others is important for well-being,” Daniel Wann, author of “Sports Fans: The Psychology and Social Impact of Spectators,” told the Huffington Post in 2016 (the year the Vikings collapsed after a 5-0 start). “What fandom allows you to do is to gain those connections, which then in turn provides you with social and psychological health. All these people are going to be your friends and your comrades, even though you don’t know their names, you’ve never seen them before, and you’re probably never going to see them again. But you feel this important sense of connection to the world around you.”
The truth is, I’ve never felt more of a connection with my fellow beleaguered Vikings fans than I did that Sunday night of the Minneapolis Miracle. I witnessed it from a bar at the bottom of Lutsen Mountain, as desolate a winter location as there exists on this planet, and found myself jumping up and down and hugging my brother, buddies and strangers like never before.
In that moment, an antenna connected the lot of us and we were all on the same purple passion frequency. Friends who were at USBS reported unfettered joy and open weeping. Friends from across the state and all over the country posted their purple euphoria. A public defender buddy of mine told me about a client of his who described watching the Miracle in prison as “amazing.” Lo and verily, for one brief shining moment we were all Stefon Diggs, racing into the end zone towards hope and endless possibility.
Hours afterwards, I lay in my Lutsen hotel room, grinning to the sound of my bedmate and brother giggling in his sleep and his muttering, “I can’t believe they won that [bleeping] game.” We were in Lutsen to play a gig the next night, and as he laughed-snored, I gazed out at the snow falling on the mountain and the stars over Minnesota, and thought about how good life was at that very moment, and made a promise to myself right then and there that no matter what happened next, I would keep that diamond in my heart forever.
Especially over the next two weeks, when reminders of the Woulda Coulda Shoulda Bowl mock us from every street corner.
Jim Walsh lives and grew up in South Minneapolis. He can be reached at [email protected]