Today, Bill Simmons put up some of the "deluge of emails" he received with fans clamoring for their franchise to be considered as the "most tortured." Maybe I have my mind on backwards, but the whole thing seems weird to me.
I'm supposed to be proud that the Vikings were #2 on his list? In fact, I'm supposed to be upset that they aren't #1? The pride that's supposed to come from supporting a losing team is just like how Minnesotans handle winter - slightly off, a little weird and definitely illogical. "We're tough because we can handle cold weather 6 months out of the year, every year." Are you sure you're not mistaking "tough" with "stupid"?
I refuse to do the self-pity thing, and the Saints loss was a good example why - I never let my guard down. Those who do, well... do so at your own risk. Don't mistake tough for stupid.
I've heard a lot of people say the Saints loss was "worse than 98." Well, you're entitled to think that, obviously. But that is completely crazy to me, for many reasons. Mainly because there have been SO MANY horrible losses in my lifetime, let alone the entire franchise's history, that if you let your guard down even for a second, you get what's coming to you. If you haven't learned the hard way, after so many lessons, after so many examples that are plain as day, then I don't know what to tell you.
I prepared myself accordingly with a post titled "No Expectations." This wasn't built on a silly whim - this was earned, from years of garbage. Observe, the six worst losses of my lifetime coming into this season:
6. Week 16, 1997 - Detroit 14, Vikings 13. At the Metrodome, Scott Mitchell to Herman Moore with 3 seconds left. Part of an absolutely brutal stretch of games to close out the '97 season. Started out 8-2 and looking like this was finally going to be the breakthrough year they could build on, only they lost five straight, this one being the worst, the loss in New York to the Jets being a close 2nd.
5. Week 3, 1995 - Dallas 23, Vikings 17, OT. This was an ESPN Sunday night game at the Metrodome. The Cowboys were at the height of their powers, a huge test for the Vikings who had a really talented team, the most talent under Denny Green up to this point. The Vikings scored with 30 seconds left in regulation, Moon to Carter, to force OT. Emmitt Smith won it for Dallas, taking it 31 yards down the left sideline. I remember being forced to go to bed but I stayed up and listened to the end on the radio. Totally crushed.
4. 2000 NFC Championship - New York Giants 41, Vikings 0. I've written about this one before - I don't think it's that bad of a loss considering the Vikings had no right to be where they were. Still, a complete embarrassment. I stopped watching after it was 14-0 in the first two minutes and thirteen seconds. It was over.
3. Week 17, 2003 - Arizona 18, Vikings 17. They had just destroyed the Chiefs the week before. They were supposed to be on a roll heading into the playoffs. The Cardinals were 3-12. The NFC was weak and there wasn't a true favorite outside of Philly who always choked anyway. The worst part of this one - not only did I see this coming after Arizona scored to make it 17-12, but their loss allowed the Packers to win the division and sneak into the playoffs. Plus my boss at the time, a lifelong Packers fan, called me immediately after to laugh at me.
2. 1987 NFC Championship - Washington 17, Vikings 10. I was 5 years old and just assumed the Vikings would win because 1, they destroyed the invincible 49ers in San Francisco, and 2, the Twins had just won the World Series so it only made sense to me that the Vikings would win too. This might have been my favorite Vikings team ever - Doleman, Millard, Browner, Studwell, Henry Thomas, Carl Lee, Kramer (when he wasn't hurt/hung over), Hassan Jones, AC... this is really the team that should've done it because the Niners win was such a huge upset. This is also known as the Darrin Nelson Game.
1. 1998 NFC Championship - Atlanta 30, Vikings 27, OT. Already did a running diary thing on this. Would rather not go through it again. But to say the Saints loss was worse than this is absurd. This was by FAR the most fun season ever, they were DESTROYING teams, obliterating every NFL record for offense, they were huge favorites at home, and they choked. Hard.
Now, you're telling me, after all that, I'm supposed to expect to think that I won't get kicked in the nuts the second I think I see light at the end of the endless tunnel? Please. I take no pride is sitting through all that garbage. I just make sure my expectations aren't insane. That's why I say the '87 team should've been the one - nobody saw it coming.
I blather on here a lot about the "writing on the wall." After so much losing over the years, you become like a parent who scrutinizes every potential mate their son or daughter brings home, looking for flaws. You assess their potential - for the best and for the worst. That's why I took last year's Week 2 loss to the Colts so hard. The season might has well have been over - they were given tons of opportunities, blowing them one by one, proving to everyone that they can't hang with the best when it matters most. The rest of the season practically didn't matter. And it was only Week 2.
Every Vikes fan has a "last straw" point, and that was mine. Seems weird that it would be that particular game, but that's just how I felt. We definitely knew after that game Childress wasn't going to be The Guy, Tar-Jack wasn't The Guy, and we'd still be waiting for the Vikings to be bad enough to get rid of them until we can resume the search for The Guy. More waiting. Years of waiting.
So when I say I'm not as deeply wounded by the Saints loss as previous losses, it's like saying I wasn't phased by all the gore in Saw XIV compared to Saw I. I'm desensitized.