Thursday, May 17, 2012
National Friday League: The End of Urgency?
Since the ending of the Vikings' '98 season, I've followed football with the desperation to see the Vikings win a Super Bowl right now. Sometimes it felt like a physical pain knowing that the Vikings had never won the Super Bowl. Each game carried such intense significance, had to be watched with such emotional fervor, because it was one necessary step toward making this the year the Vikings win the Super Bowl.
But I don't feel that way anymore.
Part of this is aging: as the memories of seasons watched accumulate, it is easier to recognize that this season is not the only season, and before long there will be even more memories of seasons watched, and so it is easier to feel there will be more chances.*
Part of this is the Packers winning the Super Bowl in '10. I desperately wanted the Vikings to win their first championship before the Yankees of football won another one, and seeing** the Packers win was as bad as I thought it would be. But it's done; it happened. Football goes on. Is it really going to be so awful if the Packers win yet another before the Vikings win their first? Yes, but not cataclysmic as it was then.
But mostly its the stadium. Part of that desperation was the knowledge that the Minnesota Vikings may have until only 2011 to exist. At least one Super Bowl win for the storied Minnesota Vikings before they moved would have made things palatable. It is something like a beloved TV show ending its run: you're sad it is ending, but you also will have some closure and after all you'll always have those DVD sets to return to. But losing the Vikings without seeing them win a Super Bowl would mean 50+ years of memories that are also a little sad, empty, and unfulfilled. There would be a futility in trying to rewatch those metaphorical DVDs.
But not now! When the Vikings lost that devastating game, one of the things I wrote about was fear of relocation, that "I should be so lucky as to spend the next 50+ years being disappointed by the Vikings." Well now (God willing) I'll get that chance. Year after year, decade after decade, the Minnesota Vikings will be putting a team together, playing a full NFL schedule, and trying to win as many games as possible to make the playoffs, and if they make it, trying to win one playoff game at a time.
We still may never see the Vikings win the Super Bowl, but the clock winding down our opportunity to see it is no longer tied to the Metrodome lease. That clock is now tied to something darker, but (hopefully, anyway) not quite so close.
*and there are other personal reasons that need little elaboration here: natural maturation, learning to live with long-term patience, focusing attention on other interests, yada yada yada.
**well not exactly seeing, as I didn't watch it. But in some ways the following season, with the constant references to the world champion, is just as bad. And I work in Wisconsin, so...
Lingering Stadium Thoughts
--I don't know how much credit Mark Dayton deserves for the new Viking stadium: whoever was governor when the Metrodome lease ended was the most likely governor to usher in a new deal, so it is mostly a matter of timing (in hindsight it seems silly anybody ever thought a deal would be done before 2011 or 2012). Still, he made it a major legislative priority (another governor might not have), and the stadium deal was a long, complex, compromised, evolving process, and another governor might have handled that process in a different way that might not have resulted in a deal. I'm not making a partisan plug here (like I said, the timing was the crucial factor), but after a messy process, Dayton deserves credit for accomplishing his priority.
--I think it might be fun to try ignore as much as possible about the stadium design and construction, and just be awed when it is finally built. This will be impossible, of course, for anybody who does things like, say, watch football games, read about football, or drive through Minneapolis.
--Someday soon I will have to write an ode to Thunderdome, a much-maligned, misunderstood, but in its own way beautiful building.
I know I that of any of the subjects I shouldn't argue with Bill Simmons on, it is Celtic history. Still, I found this statement strange:
"By the time Pierce's career wraps up, we'll remember him as the fourth greatest Celtic behind Russell, Bird and Hondo (in that order). There's just no way around it."
Bob Cousy was All-NBA 1st team 10 times (Paul Pierce was only even All-NBA 2nd team once), won six championships (Pierce has one), won an MVP (Pierce was never close), and led the NBA in assists and assists per game eight straight seasons (Pierce has led the league in points once, and in free throws made and attempted once). Granted there's extreme difficulty in comparing a playmaker whose prime was the '50s to a scorer whose prime was the '00s, but if measured by the context of their time, Cousy needs to be up there.
Kick Ass Links
It's here! It's here! The part of the off-season when players make outlandish predictions about their next season's statistical achievements! Making it the unofficial start of the Fantasy Football Preparation and Speculation Season! Reggie Bush, ladies and gentlemen (Roto Arcade).
One Minnesota legislator tried (and failed) to add an amendment to the stadium bill preventing blackouts (Yahoo!). That's an idea I've supported for a long time: if we're handing over public money, we should get to demand some concrete things in return, such as no blackouts. Dan Wetzel explores the anti-blackout logic and history.
Baseball and memes (Good).
The Staples Center will host six playoff games in four days (NY Times).
Mike Tanier at Football Outsiders on concussions:
"I sincerely believe that in 20 years, we will be watching and enjoying football, and that concussions and post-concussion symptoms will be manageable medical problems that we have learned to avoid in many cases and treat responsibly in the others. American football used to have problems with severe spinal injuries and on-field deaths, first at the turn of the 20th century and later before World War II. Rule, equipment, and attitude changes have made these tragic events rare. Concussions will never be quite as rare, but I believe long-term concussion symptoms will come to be contained as medical knowledge grows and football practices evolve."