"Every man has his breaking point"

Red, speaking of Andy Dufresne, in the Shawshank Redemption

On January 24th, I thought I'd reached mine...

When I was about 5 or 6 years old, I got my first football jersey.  It was a Pittsburgh Steelers, Mean Joe Greene replica.  I believe they beat the Rams that year in the Super Bowl.  It was my first football memory.  The combination of the Super Bowl victory and the sweet-looking jersey made me an instant Steelers fan.  Sometime, somehow, in the next year, I switched allegiances.  I don't recall how.  Maybe it was the Kramer-to-Rashad Hail Mary.  Maybe I thought being a Steelers fan was too easy.  After all, they had won all the Super Bowls I had ever witnessed... 

Just to clarify, I am not an advocate of violence against children (except for the ones on 'Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader'.  I've only seen about 5 minutes of that show - enough to find that, apparently, I am not) .  That written, for most of the last 2 weeks, I wanted to go back in time and slap my 6 year-old self upside the head.  Too easy?  Really?  To quote Mr. Hand, what are you 6 year-old Paul, on dope??  So many times, we, as Vikings fans, have been teased, only to be tortured by Darrin Nelson's drop, Gary Anderson's miss, taking a freakin' knee, Nate Poole's catch, and Spurgeon Wynn.  And despite the multitude of cruel near misses, I've always come back for more.  Maybe it was the naivete of relative youth, but within a few days of all those losses, I was over them.  I quickly got back to believing that next year would be OUR year...  

It's been over 2 weeks now since 12-men-in-the-huddle, the interception, and the OT screw job.  I am just now starting to come to terms with it.  Call me a pathetic whiner if you wish, as a rather curmudgeonly old sportswriter seems all too willing to do, while seeming to forget that he himself has a rather annoying whiny voice, and that local sports fans, even the whiny ones, do, in fact, help secure his gainful employement.  But I digress.  What made the Saints game so difficult for me was that when the Vikings had somehow overcome all the bumbling, fumbling, etc to get the ball to the 33 yard line, I just KNEW they were going to win.  It seemed so fitting that such a star-crossed franchise would finally break through in such a strange way.  Well, we all know what happened next.  (A disclaimer for what I'm about to write - I realize it's just a game and that there are far more important matters and questions to concern ourselves with right now, like earthquakes, the economy, and the location of the next Jersey Shore season.)  That game was flat-out devastating.  It had me questioning my Viking fandom.  Why would I keep subjecting myself to this type of misery?  It certainly didn't help that some buddies, my brothers, and I had a trip to Miami planned, only to end up spending Super Bowl weekend in the upper midwest during Snowpocalypse 2010.  The best analogy I can think of is spending an awesome 4 months with a really hot girl (the Super Bowl trophy, I guess?  Bear with me...), only to have her suddenly dump you.  Then, she twists the knife by marrying the popular guy who everybody loves (read: New Orleans, everybody LOVES New Orleans.  No, I'm not bitter...).  Sorry if that doesn't make sense - other than my wife, I haven't really dated any hot girls (I know what you're thinking - dude has an internet blog, I thought women would be taking numbers).  Anyways, I did what any obsessive, irrational, and slightly unbalanced fan would do - I took 2 weeks off from sports - almost entirely.  No KFAN.  No college basketball.  No ESPN - not even "the Ocho".    About 5 minutes of the Super Bowl.  I did check out the Strib a couple times to see what the Twins were up to (pretty good offseason by the way, with the potential to be borderline great with a Mauer signing), but that was basically it...

Until tonight.  I happened upon a MLB network recap of the 2004 major league baseball season.  The opening of the program showed Aaron Boone's pennant-clinching homerun for the 2003 New York Yankees.  By blowing a 7th-inning, 3-run lead to their biggest rival, that game may have been the most gut-wrenching loss in Boston Red Sox history.  Imagine blowing a 21-point, 2nd-half lead to the Packers with a Super Bowl berth on the line.  The following year, the Red Sox faced a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS following a football score-loss in game 3 (19-8).  Things could not have looked bleaker.  If you follow baseball at all, you know what happened next - the Red Sox, fueled by a combination of talent, desire, and anabolic steroids, made an unprecedented comeback against the Yankees on the way to their 1st World Series title in 86 years.  Keep the faith Vikes fans - it will happen.  Let's just hope it doesn't take 86 years...  

Thanks to you all for reading throughout this year.  I have enjoyed the opportunity to blog here and will continue to do so until they kick me out.  I opened this blog with a quote from one of my favorite films.  So I thought it appropriate to close with one:

"Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of [foulness] I can't imagine, or maybe I just don't want to.  Five hundred yards...that's the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile."   

With all due respect to Andy Dufresne, that can't have sucked as bad as January 24th...