Ya gotta believe

Get on the bus: Vikings fans are praying for an historic home field Super Bowl victory on Feb. 4. Photo by Henry Heyer-Walsh

We’ve never been here before, Vikings fans.

Rare air.

Me, I’ve spent my entire life rooting for the four-time Super Bowl losers out of the corner of my broken purple heart and have thus born TV witness to every godforsaken-to-great Vikings victory and loss, and I am here to say that we have never experienced anything quite like the simmering Super Bowl mania that is currently quietly but palpably percolating across the state, a wave of corporate civic chemical karmic energy that is ramping up with an unprecedented intensity that is sure to increase in the coming weeks.

Unless, of course, the Vikings being the Vikings, it all blows up this week. Or next.

But at the moment, it sure feels as if the Fates are with us, and the fantasy of the Vikings winning the Super Bowl in frigid downtown Minneapolis, thereby purging us of our purple purgatory and once and for all getting the King Kong off our collective back, is now a distinct possibility. And the euphoric deliverance that that single act of tribal cleansing would bring to the entire state cannot be overstated.

I mean, seriously. To quote pretty much everybody I know, how much fun would the party in downtown Minneapolis be on the night of Feb. 4 if the Vikings start the blue wave of 2018 with a purple wave down Hennepin Avenue, a la the Twins in ’87? How euphoric would that feel? Imagine…

Talking uncharted waters, purple party people, but not unrealistic. Tug McGraw legendarily rallied the 1973 New York Mets with the phrase “Ya gotta believe,” which became a mantra for the Miracle Mets’ World Series run, and at the moment it belongs to some of the longest-suffering sports fans on the planet.

Ya gotta believe!

But Minnesotans are a pragmatic and stoic lot, so few are saying any of this out loud. Jinxes, Jante Law, a decidedly buttoned-down approach to expressions of hope and an oft-burned lover’s wariness figure in, but I chalk up the relative heel-dragging of these pre-playoffs days to sheer disbelief. But this is real. This is happening. This could happen. The 2017–2018 Vikings are a damn good team and they’ve got a damn good shot to be heroes and make history.

Like every year, I’ve watched most of the games this season in my parents’ home with my family, all in all representing four generations of Vikings fans. Lucky for us, like so many Vikings families across and beyond Minnesota, we bond over the Vikes via the big screen and rarely if ever go to the games. We are the silent but passionate majority that the players never hear, but Lord knows we are out here in the void, screaming our lungs out, hoping to telepathically urge our warriors on.

The old men in the clan have suffered through more lost seasons than the rest, and some of us have more time remaining on this Earth than the others, and, well, no pressure lads, but a Super Bowl win would be a dream come true and would pretty much exorcise all of our angst for all of eternity.

Yikes. Ya gotta believe. Where’s my purple rosary?

The truth is, over the course of this season, I’ve found myself texting “Skol!” several times a week to grown men — even though I didn’t fully understand what I was texting until I dialed up Ted Glover, writing in the Vikings fanzine The Daily Norseman: “Back in the Middle Ages, rampaging bands of Vikings were roaming Europe and kicking the crap out of people. … At the end of the battle, Viking warriors would decapitate the king or leader of the tribe/army they had just vanquished and that night would drink from his skull — spelled skoll — as a sign of respect for the fallen opponent. … In battle, Vikings would urge each other forward by yelling ‘SKOLL’ to one another.”

I’m all in. So rise up, Vikings! In the spirit of your namesakes (turns out those frozen north-celebrating NBC Sports “Game Of Throne”-themed promos for the Super Bowl are spot-on), go forth and vanquish your enemies for the lot of us so that we may all belch out one huge historic cathartic barbaric yawp in the middle of the Nicollet Mall at midnight on Monday, Feb. 5.

You are young men, representing a long and storied and very painful tradition, so when your legs feel weak and you can’t catch your breath and you need inspiration, forget all the corporate ticket holders and fake fans and remember that there are many of us out in TV land, and we are sending you super powers from all ports across the state, infusing you with magic and luck and grace and new heights of athleticism, strength, concentration, courage and the kind of supernatural camaraderie that true teams are made of.

Ya gotta believe! And by that I mean everybody, the entire tribe: Woodbury to North Minneapolis; Edina to Grand Marais; Dinkytown to Two Harbors; Bemidji to Hibbing; Duluth to Minnetonka; Bloomington to St. Cloud; Lakeville to Bde Maka Ska; Chanhassen to Golden Valley; Northfield to New Ulm; International Falls to Zimmerman; Apple Valley to the jungles of East St. Paul.

Get on the bus: We need hardcore locals and homeboys and homegirls and transplants and newbies and immigrants and city slickers and country bumpkins and loners and non-joiners and cheerleaders and volunteers and all stripes of powerful purple people to rally the troops and foment the gathering storm of good energy that will push us, all of us, over for the win.

Winter is here. Now is our time. Ya gotta believe. I might have a heart attack before all this is over.

Take us out, Prince (from 2010’s “Purple and Gold”)!

the veil of the sky draws open

the roar of the chariots touch down

we r the ones who have now come again

and walk upon water like solid ground

as we approach the throne we won’t bow down

this time we won’t b denied

raise every voice and let it be known

in the name of purple and gold


Jim Walsh lives and grew up in South Minneapolis. He can be reached at [email protected]