Herald Journal Columns
Dec. 19, 2005, Herald Journal / Enterprise Dispatch

All I want for Christmas is . . .

By Matt Kane

I already have my two front teeth, so a pair of pearly whites is not on my Christmas list this year.

A Vikings’ Super Bowl victory, now that’s another story. Since 1961, every Minnesotan has been wishing upon every star for one belated gift – an NFL championship.

But every year on Christmas morning and in the days and weeks that follow, Minnesotan’s close their eyes and cross their fingers as they reach into their stockings in hopes they will pull out something special. But every year when we take our hand out of the stocking all we find is. . .an oversized ring?. . .Airline tickets to Miami, Tampa, San Diego, Tempe or wherever the Super Bowl was to be played that year?. . .What about a simple hand-written guarantee signed by Santa Claus, himself, and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue?

Nope.

Nope.

And, nope.

For when we remove our hand and open it, all we reveal is another lump of almost-coal.

But, wait a minute. This year is different.

Instead of starting out strong and gaining a flood of expectations like they did during so many of the Randy Moss years, this year’s Vikings team took the low road of appearing to be a basement team with a 2-5 record at one point.

That’s the plan. Sneak into the playoffs, sneak by a first round team and then storm through the second round and NFC championship game, and, finally, cruise through Super Bowl XL at Ford Field in Detroit like a paranoid mustang.

Don’t laugh just yet.

This team is different than those Purple People Eaters of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the throw it deep days with Moss, Chris Carter and Jake Reed.

This year’s team has already shown the demeanor of a champion. With their infamous “Love boat” incident, the Vikings are stealing a page from the book “Behaving like a Champion,” penned by Michael Irvin and ghost written by the rest of the 1990s Dallas Cowboys.

Lets think ahead to what it would be like next season if the Vikings come in as the returning Super Bowl champions.

Brad Johnson would no longer be with the team because those in the know don’t think he can win in the NFL anymore.

Daunte Culpepper would be fumbling all over the field again, and we would welcome back Onterrio Smith with the first giveaway of the season – Whizzinator bobble-head night.

I can picture the media guide now.

No action shots of Darren Sharper returning an interception for a touchdown or Koren Robinson catching a touchdown pass. It would be plain and simple with head shots of Culpepper, Fred Smoot, Bryant McInnie and Moe Williams. One each of the front of their faces, and one each of both sides of their faces with, of course, their numbers under their picture. No, not the Nos. 11, 27, 74 and 20 they wear on their jerseys, I’m talking about the numbers given to them by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department.

A real collectors item for die-hard fans.

I know, it’s all wishful thinking, but it’s time to get back to present day. Besides, we don’t want to get our hopes up because we all know what happens when we do that.

Remember the 1998 NFC championship game against Atlanta.

But maybe subliminally that’s why we like our Vikings, because they get our hopes up only to send us home cussing. They wouldn’t be the same franchise if they sent us into spring off a win.

Like the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball, maybe we like being the lovable losers and waiting ‘til next year.

So maybe when we have our hands deep in that stockings, we are secretly slipping our fingers past the glory that comes with the big ring, airline tickets and guarantee, and, instead, we are searching for the disappointment that accompanies the chunk of almost-coal.

I’ve finally figured it out. Everyone on Santa Claus’ naughty list must be a Viking fan.

Actually, with the way heating costs are on the rise, that lump of coal could be valuable. When it comes to leaving us warm inside, coal wins out over the Vikings every year.


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