Thursday, November 29, 2012

National Friday League, Week 13

Vikings-Packers Preview
The Vikings were swept by the Packers in '06, '07, '10, and '11. Mike McCarthy is 9-3 against the Vikings. The '09 NFC Title Game and the Packers' Super Bowl win in '10 followed by a 15-1 season in '11 did a lot to crush the spiritual energy I used to take to this rivalry. I'll try to buck myself up with some William Ernest Henley: "Under the bludgeonings of chance/My head is bloody, but unbowed."

Lambeau Field is nowhere near as scary as Soldier Field (hell, the Vikes won their only playoff game there, and handily at that). And if you're looking to talk yourself into a Viking win, I've got you covered.

--Aaron Rodgers has been sacked a league-high 37 times (this doesn't terribly comfort me: the Vikes could get 10 sacks and still be burned by Rodgers on 40 other plays).

--Adrian Peterson averages 5.8 yards per carry and leads the league with 1,236 and 1,421 yards from scrimmage and is capable of taking over a game at any time (this doesn't terribly comfort me: he took over the Seattle game as much as any RB possibly could but a poor defensive performance and completely absent passing game still meant the Seahawks won handily).

--In their last game (against the Giants), the Packer run defense looked ungodly bad, as the Giants' o-line opened big holes and Giant RBs evaded potential tacklers with apparent ease (OK, this comforts me--as long as the Vikes are in the game long enough to keep running).

--The Packers' current RBs average 3.1, 3.4, and 3.4 yards per carry (but I've seen plenty of bozos run over the Viking defense, and it's not like the Packers try to beat teams with their running game anyway).

--There are a lot of players on that Packer injury report (Clay Matthews' absence would make a big difference.

If the Vikings lose to the Packers for the fifth straight time, we can remind ourselves that the Vikes have a new stadium coming and they'll be here for years, and if we're patient our time for being better than the Packers will come again.

Choose an insult against Viking fans and stick with it.
If you're a non-Viking fan (like, say, a Packer fan) and you want to make fun of Viking fans, that's fine. But either we're fair-weather fans lacking loyalty to stick it out with a loser, or we root for a loser and are thus ourselves losers. We can't possibly be both. Lately I've been getting confused. It used to be that the go-to insult was our fair-weather unwillingness to stay with a losing team, but lately as the team has, um, sucked, the go-to insult is more about how pathetic we are rooting for a losing team. I mean, I get that I'm an inferior fan--I just want a single, consistent reason I'm an inferior fan.

Thomas Hardy's "Hap"
This week my lit class read Thomas Hardy's poem "Hap." Here's a simplified reading: the poet considers his own suffering, and says he would be comforted if he knew a malevolent god had willed his suffering. But this is not the case: it is chance that has made the poet unhappy. What galls him is that happiness or sadness is a matter of random hazard: the same indifferent happenstance that withholds happiness from him could have just as easily granted him happiness. There's no good reason for him to suffer while others are happy.

When I teach this poem, I mention it is my lot in life to root for the Minnesota Vikings. Why am I a Viking fan? Largely geography. And that is chance: I could have just as easily been born somewhere else. But I happen to be born where I root for a team that never wins the Super Bowl. And I ask the students, do you root for the Green Bay Packers? Good for you: you get to root for a team that sometimes wins Super Bowls. You didn't do anything to deserve that: it could have just as easily been different. But by happenstance, you get to be happy while I get to be unhappy.

I teach in Wisconsin; these examples usually go over well (at least students smile and laugh in the right spots--I think they help illustrate the poem to lead to better understanding as well!). If the Vikings win the Super Bowl someday, I may have to abandon some of my standby poetic illuminations. And that will be fine.

Other Interesting Games
Week 13 Games

Seahawks-Bears. Jay Cutler is growing on me. You want people like him in the NFL, don't you? The on and off the field intrigue is harmless, humorous, and interesting. Keep up the good work, Jay Cutler.  Just be you, man.

Patriots-Dolphins. I have this suspicion the Dolphins are kind of good. Not beat-the-Patriots good, but kind of good.

Buccaneers-Broncos. I will enjoy this game a lot more if these teams decide to abandon their bland, robot uniforms and go back to their unis from the '80s and '90s, when men were men and they wore winking swashbucklers and drunken horses on their helmets. Seriously, when I look through old football cards I always stop wistfully at cards of old Bucs and Broncos. Nostalgia is a pleasant drug.

Steelers-Ravens. If Ben Roethlisberger can come back and play well, I'll be starting Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace and feel good as I fight for a fantasy championship. If Charlie Batch is starting, I try to decide whether starting Brown or Wallace will hurt my team less. This is like deciding which of one's own testicles to punch.

Cowboys-Eagles. If you like watching the NFC East in primetime, you are probably a pretty happy person most of the time.

Giants-Washington. If you like watching the NFC East in primetime, you are probably a pretty happy person most of the time.

Have a good one, everybody. Except Packer fans.


  1. Since this is the weekend that we as Viking fans all cheer a little louder and cuss a more, I like to go and reread one of my favorite football post. A blog by a Packer fan by the name of FG Union a real salty ol' pop. He is such a good writer I think you will enjoy him. I usually recomend him to packer fans or people who enjoy other football writers. I just guessing but I think he was a teacher also.

    1. SupaFan:

      Thanks for the link. And nice to hear from you on comments board as well. SKOL!