Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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Vikings have fallen off cliff in level of interest

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: November 15, 2013 - 9:43 AM

When is the last time we've seen interest in the Vikings fall off the cliff with Minnesota's sporting public as rapidly has been the case over the past couple of weeks?

There have been instances in past Novembers when people seemed as bored with the Vikings as they do today, but what seems different is the rapidity with which we went from giving the Vikings full interest to the yawns that now exist.

We weren't all that worked up about the Vikings in 2011, but that was from the start of what everyone figured was going to be a lousy season -- not something that went kerplunk at the halfway point of the schedule.

There was also a fairly long stretch in the last decade, from the departure of Randy Moss to the arrival of Brett Favre, when the local temperature for the Vikings was moderate ... interested, but not frothing at the mouth.

The magnificence of Adrian Peterson and the unexpected trip to the playoffs in 2012, along with the arrivals of Greg Jennings from the Packers and three first-rounders from the draft, had us frothing over the summer, as the Vikings prepared to assemble in Mankato in training camp.

We went from frothing with excitement to frothing with anger when the regular season opened and the losses started. We screamed about the play of Christian Ponder at quarterback, and demanded an answer to our question, "What in Hades happened to this defense?''

There was finally a victory in London, when Ponder (allegedly injured) was sidelined in favor of Matt Cassel. There was a revival in interest when Josh Freeman was signed after his release in Tampa Bay. He was named the starter for the Monday night game vs. the Giants on Oct. 21, and we were all zeroed in on what would take place in New Jersey.

It was horrendous, and the Vikings quickly pulled the plug and went back to Ponder.

We weren't exactly ready to give up the preoccupation with the Vikings, not with Green Bay coming to the Metrodome the next Sunday, and then a game in Dallas on the first Sunday of November. Midseason games with the Packers and the Cowboys are always going to maintain a large level of interest in Vikingland.

They were both losses that kept the locals complaining about Ponder and the defense -- and as loudly, about the coaching of Les Frazier and his coordinators, Bll Musgrave (offense) and Alan Williams (defense).

The Vikings won their second game of nine last Thursday vs. Washington. Ponder had a good night. I heard neither cries of celebration nor complaint after that one. Mostly, the response from the sporting public was a shrug.

The Vikings play in Seattle on Sunday, with Percy Harvin scheduled to play his first Seahawks game.

The anticipation, in the circles where I make my living anyway, has been close to non-existent. We've moved on. And the big reason for that is for the first November in years, there are other places to go:

The football Gophers are 8-2 and off this weekend, waiting for the arrival of Wisconsin next Saturday and this biggest game to be played in TCF Bank Stadium.

The Wild has the look of one of the best teams in the NHL, while also writing the remarkable story of Josh Harding in goal.

The Timberwolves, with Ricky Rubio running the show, already have had nights when they are the Cirque du Soleil of the basketball court.

Heck, right now there might be more drama on whether the Twins will sign Bronson Arroyo and Ricky Nolasco as starting pitchers than what happens with the Vikings in Seattle.

Anyhow, good luck vs. Percy, fellas. We'll all be watching. Or maybe not.

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