Of course I did. Yet, despite the fun on the field, all those other problems ...
Nothing succeeds like success. And nothing turns brains to mush like success, either.
After a monthlong sports binge that has included a new Gophers stadium, a ritualistic adoption of our hated rival's chieftain (Brett Favre, who led the Vikings over his old team, the Packers, on Monday night) and an extra-game triumph for the Twins that got them a last-minute ticket to the baseball playoffs, we Minnesota fans are emotionally spent, physically exhausted and not fully in possession of our faculties.
We are like fresh-faced sailors from the flatlands at the end of a tipsy three-day shore leave: Smiling as we stagger, bleary-eyed and ripe for picking. The big dopes.
The pickpockets already were circling, even before last Monday night's Vikings win at the Metrodome, which was taken as a sign from the football gods that, yes, it's time to get planning underway for a new, nearly $1 billion Vikings football stadium.
The much-maligned Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, nearing the end of its 28th season of service, is 12 years younger than Brett Favre, who turned 40 on Saturday. But it has been condemned by the only people who count around here. Not by the fans, not by the athletes and certainly not by a community that despite all the disrespect we have dished out has always embraced the Dome like a dowdy but beloved old aunt. No, the Dome has been doomed by billionaires who profit handsomely from it but who demand more.
They always demand more.
Next spring, a new, half-billion-dollar publicly financed baseball park will open in Minneapolis and it will also, for the first time since 1982, open the game to the elements. This back-to-the-future is good for us, we are told, but it didn't seem so great when I was a boy watching the Twins at the old Met when it was snowing or blowing or raining, even if it was the same blessed rain and snow that was falling on the faces of Harmon and Rod Carew and Tony O and the other icons of past glory.
On Tuesday night, as our modern Twins beat the Tigers in the cozy confines of the Dome, it was blowing and cold and rainy outside at Target Field, where they will play next year. Good luck with that, Minnesota. You may want your lid back.
But the battle has shifted to the new football field that the Vikings are demanding: Months after he unilaterally unallotted a billion from the state budget and set in motion a chain of events that will make life in Minnesota meaner for many thousands, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has climbed on the purple bandwagon and given Vikings' owner Zygmunt Wilf what Wilf has wanted since buying the team in 2005:
Last month, Forbes estimated that the Vikings franchise is worth $835 million. Although that's only good for 31st place on the list of 32 NFL team values (up from dead last a few years ago), it also represents a handsome 40 percent rise since the Wilf family bought the team for $600 million. It's tough to put on the poor mouth when your business is appreciating almost $60 million a year, but Wilf has gone door-to-door (in all the best neighborhoods) pleading for a handout.
Usually, this kind of behavior only gets you offers of a one-way bus ticket out of town. But billionaire beggars always get a good hearing, and with the town delirious over the arrival of Saint Favre, the Vikings without a loss, and everyone still ga-ga over the minimiracle of a Twins' postseason appearance, good judgment has taken a hike and Minnesota has taken leave of its senses.
The governor put a new Vikings stadium into play with an open-field reverse. After saying for several years that the state is not in a position to help build a billion-dollar temple to pigskin, Pawlenty called an audible. We need the Vikings because they are exciting, he said. "They bring a lot of joy to a lot of people in our state."
Really? I know Pawlenty is 10 years younger than I, but even he should remember the four Vikings Super Bowl disasters. No one who has seen their father cursing in front of the TV set on Sundays in Minnesota should talk about the Vikings and joy.
Purple is the color of agony.
Sports as a diversion from the problems of life? Good.
Sports as a substitute for real life? Not so good.
It has been a lot of fun this fall, with the Vikings resurgent and the Twins surprising and hockey returning and all the rest. But when we are billions short and beset by problems on every side, all of the cheering is beginning to feel a little forced.
And when the fun is over, we'll need our brains back.
Nick Coleman is a senior fellow at the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy & Civic Engagement at the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.