With the Minnesota Vikings at 10-2, trembling football fans are biting their knuckles and speaking in those particular phrases of Nordic fatalism such as “Yeah, but,” “Even if” or a humble “Let’s take it one week at a time.”
It’s prudent language, the better to tone down any chatter that Minnesota might not only host the Super Bowl — but compete!
(Shhhhh. Cripes, keep it down.)
It’s been 40 years — 40 years! — since the Vikes’ last trip to the Super Bowl in 1977. Moreover, that was their fourth appearance in seven years, also playing (and losing) in 1970, 1974 and 1975.
Scholarly papers document Scandinavian reserve. Minnesotans can recite such homespun expressions as “If you never expect anything, you’ll never be disappointed.” And “pretty good” is pretty much deemed good enough.
So little wonder that even talking about the home team being in the Game of Games feels like tempting fate.
A postgame tweet last Sunday by Sen. Amy Klobuchar got hundreds of likes: “What a game! Our Vikings are on a roll: They’ve now won the last EIGHT games in a row! Let’s keep it going! Can you say ‘Super Bowl?’ ”
But it also prompted a response from the droll Twitter account known as Indignant Minnesotan: “***OBLIGATORY UNJINX TWEET*** We never win the big games, guys. There’s no way we’re going to the Super Bowl. Just not happening.”
A similar “Whoa, kids” tone was on the Minnesota Vikings Fan Group’s Facebook page:
“This is awesome, but next week is a must win, because if we lose to Carolina, even if we win, we could get knocked down to a 3rd seed if Seattle and New Orleans continue to play the way they have.”
On the “Purple Thoughts” Vikings forum on Scout.com, a post from GoVikes115999 headlined “I don’t think the Vikings taste defeat again” likewise prompted a tap-the-brakes response from cerberus54.
“Let’s take it one week at a time. If they don’t have any brain farts, very possible. … Really, if any fanbase deserves seeing their team [in the] Super Bowl, it would be us with the past torture we have been through.”
One fan at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station even texted home: “Man, how are the Vikings going to break our hearts this season?”
After last Sunday’s win over Atlanta, Star Tribune sportswriter Michael Rand polled his Twitter followers as to whether the Vikings’ win streak has them feeling emboldened or terrified. “Terrified” was winning by a two-to-one margin.
A history of devastation
Superstitions are coming out of the closet. One social media poster, NikeMoss, recounted his realization that his casual donning of an away jersey during a home game and a home jersey during an away game coincided with the Vikings’ two losses.
“Ever since I realized my mistake and made sure to wear the correct color, we are perfect,” he posted.
Want commitment? Before Sunday’s away game, as the family gathered for a holiday photo, his wife wanted everyone in purple. “Obviously, family pictures aren’t worth as much as a Vikings win,” he said, “so I was the only one in my white jersey!”
There may be no more serious fans than the 350 members of the Viking World Order. Vice president David “Diggz” Garza of St. Paul said that members’ reactions differ with their history with the team.
Looking back, he recalled that the 1977 Super Loss was one of his first memories as a young fan. But it doesn’t take a memory of actual Super Bowls to make a Vikes fan wince.
Take 1998, when the team won a phenomenal 15 games led by rookie Randy Moss, only to be upset by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game when place-kicker Gary Anderson missed a field goal for the first time that season.
“Disappointment is not the right word,” Garza said. “Total devastation is a better way to describe it.”
But he said that the loss brought younger members into the fold, seeking solace among those who’d built up some serious scar tissue.
Yet while the collective pain of die-hard Vikings’ fans is real, the situation is not unique. Thirteen teams have yet to win when they’ve competed in a Super Bowl, and four teams have never made it to the game.
And while the Vikings are oh!-and-four in their championship history, the Buffalo Bills, a veritable dynasty in the 1990s, lost in four consecutive Super Bowl appearances.
So maybe we need to relax and just enjoy the ride.
Take it from Garza, whose purple football helmet sprouts Viking horns: “I myself won’t count any chickens until they’re hatched,” he said prudently. Then he confessed: “But I can’t help but feeling a li’l excited.”