Thursday, January 26, 2012

Extending the Olive Branch

Yes, my Packers lost the other weekend.  I’m upset, I’m going to let this one hurt for a little bit- but I’m not going to go around telling people, “I knew they would do this to me, why did I get attached?”  Not only is that not the Packer way, there’s no way that could ever be the Packer tradition.  If you didn’t notice, our team wins. Not Yankees capacity, but as my buddy has convinced me, they’re the St. Louis Cardinals of Football.  (They have a comparable amount of championships, they’re an overlooked Midwestern city that bleeds for their team, etc…)
            What this loss does for me (did I mention I was at Lambeau?) is get me ready for the next big win.  It might not even be the Super Bowl to which I’m looking forward, but if and when we have another playoff win, this Lambeau/Giants Playoff Mini-Jinx will be over and it will be pandemonium. 
            Not all teams’ fanbases are sure they have this to look forward to, however.  Some have not had that big win for a while, or have just had playoff wins lead to bigger playoff losses.  Some have had juggernaut teams with inexplicable collapses, coaches who unwittingly destroy their teams’ chances, veterans who choke in the clutch, role players that become infamous for what they did wrong.  Year after year.  And yet the fans stick around.  I’m talking, of course, about the Minnesota Vikings and their fans.
            And our team (yes, I own part of them now) should take some of the blame.  We did probably ask Brett at just the wrong time (for a tenth time) if he was sure he didn’t want to un-retire, and so went ahead with the lottery-pick QB who’d been sitting on our bench for three years (and would later lead us to a Super Bowl win), and so forgot to leave his spot open when he did say, six months after his first announcement, that he wanted to un-retire.  And then we shouldn’t have put in the poison-pill clause when we sent him to the Jets, and made him trick them into releasing him after that season with the promise that he was for sure retiring this time, but then put it into his head that a certain divisional rival of ours might need a QB.  And then to top it all off, we made him have one of the best seasons of his career, but then cap it off with a crushing pick thrown in the waning moments of regulation of the NFC championship game.  Sorry about all that.
            In all honesty, I would have said I told you so to all of you about that, but that would be like saying I could have foreseen all the misfortune to come.  Randy Moss coming back, dissing Tinucci’s, then leaving.  The stadium roof collapsing, Favre having a sub-par year, and then your arch-rival winning the Super Bowl.  I can’t think of a much bigger fall-off from one year to the next for any team in recent memory.  But that might just be the Curse of Favre…
            With all this being said, the Viqueens (see what I did there?) have had some of the worst fortune of any team in any sport ever.  SI, in their first “Overrated/Underrated” Issue named the Vikes the Underrated Hopeless Obsession.  They don’t get as much national media attention, but lately they've been gaining notoriety very quickly.  One of the main characters on the hit CBS show How I Met Your Mother is a big Vikings fan from Minnesota, and the team has been involved in several storylines throughout the course of the series.  But this is happening with good reason.  The only other sport that seems to have as prominent of Curses or Jinxes is baseball, and their group has been thinning of late.  The Rangers may be establishing themselves as one, but it’s probably only a matter of a few seasons for them.  And in the past ten years, there have been four world champs who won for either the first time ever, or the first time in fifty or more years.  So the Vikings will soon be alone atop the pantheon of sports jinxes.  Hey, it’s better than nothing.
            What makes the idea of a Curse so fascinating in football is their system of revenue sharing and parity.  In theory it makes it so that every team has an equal shot to win.  In theory.  But despite this, and raucous and die-hard fans, the Vikings have not only managed to not win the big game, but also get very close and break your heart.  Should we go over them?  Ninety-eight: Gary Anderson; Oh-Nine: Favre and AP; Eighty-Seven: Anthony Carter; the Giants blowout; the Hail Mary Game; the Choke in Arizona.  Not to mention four Super Bowls- one of which they were huge favorites in.  But that’s what makes the dry spells interesting.  It’s not the Cubs or Lions, who are just pathetic year after year.  I honestly think that in some ways you guys are lucky.  Whenever that big win comes, you guys will have pandemonium.  Remember Sawx in Oh Four?  That was nothing.  This state will be the happiest place on earth for two years.  At that future (possibly completely theoretical) time, I am going into my room and not coming out for… a while.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Playing by Myself

After hiding behind a dumpster, escaping down a sidestreet and getting to the main drag into the Vatican, I found myself safe and back with my friends.  One of them got a water bottle hurled in her direction and then the idiot driver started to hold up traffic in the Vatican while staring me down.  I would later get chewed out by Kip, our trip’s assistant lead, probably with good reason.
Why would I even do this, you’re asking?  Maybe you’re not asking.  Maybe you know me and you don’t need to ask, or have come to expect stuff like that.  But most- make that some of the things I do have an explanation.  During one of the first years up at Many Point Scout Camp, one of the older scouts made up this game called Car Touch.  The main idea was to touch passing cars.  Since these were all dirt roads and there were usually a lot of people walking along them, this wasn’t such a bad idea.  But the idea was still to be discrete about it.  You still didn’t want people to know you were touching their car.  I held on to this ritual throughout most of the rest of my growing up, and I still do it on occasion.  Sometimes I give myself arbitrary points based on the quality of the touch.  But I don’t really care if anyone else is playing with me.  I imagine some people somewhere are, and that’s enough.
The incident I just described probably should have quelled my desire to play this game, though, right?  Well, it didn’t.  Playing the game now reminds me of that story, and about that whole month overseas, which was one of the most fun times of my life and I think even a turning point, or a coming-of-age period for me.  And I think there’s even more to it than that.
I’ve realized this game helps me to understand that cars themselves don’t hurt people, it’s the people carelessly driving and the people carelessly walking that endanger us all.  We are all just people, moving from one point to another, and we all have to watch out for each other.  While some are taking a different form of transportation, it doesn’t mean that at a later point the pedestrian and the driver won’t be in the opposite situations.  Was it dumb to assume that people in a foreign country would take kindly to my harmless game?  Probably.  But at least in America, I know that I can walk close enough to the car, even when it’s moving, to touch it, so it must not be inherently dangerous.  It thereby helps me to understand what a safe distance from the car is, which is good for both when I’m walking and when I’m driving- in the latter case, knowing what a safe distance from the pedestrians is.  I never want to touch cars that are going too fast, just like I never want to assume that pedestrians are going to see me driving and/or try to avoid me.