Bandwagon-jumping opens old wounds
The 2017 playoffs have expanded my horizon as an NFL football enthusiast.
As a disappointed Minnesota fan who watched my team fall apart after opening the season with five wins, I’ve been relegated to being a bandwagon jumper.
So for the past two weeks, my support has gone to the teams that are playing the Green Bay Packers.
It’s as if my sole existence centers around finding some team that can eliminate my hated rivals of NFC North, and much to my dismay, it hasn’t happened yet.
Of course, there is a price to pay in order to become a bandwagon jumper.
In my case, I had to reopen some old wounds by throwing my support to the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys.
One might think I’m still bitter about the 41-0 beat-down New York delivered to Minnesota in 2001, but that would be a wrong assumption.
The scar I received from the Giants came from a regular season game that I attended at the Metrodome in 1986, which happened to be the season New York captured its first Super Bowl title.
Leading 20-19 late in game, and with the Giants facing something like a fourth-and-17 situation, the Vikings had the future champs on the ropes.
Then Phil Simms completed a desperation pass that gave the Giants a first down, which enabled them to kick a game-winning field goal in the final minute.
The image of that fourth-down conversion still haunts me to this day, but not as much as our playoff loss to Dallas in 1975.
I wasn’t at Metropolitan Stadium when Cowboy quarterback Roger Staubach completed the infamous Hail Mary Pass to Drew Pearson for a 50-yard touchdown that gave Dallas a 17-14 win.
I was a television viewer that fateful day, and what I witnessed was nothing less than a gut-punch that knocked the wind out of my lungs because I’ll go to my grave believing the referees should have flagged Pearson for offensive pass interference.
Now that Green Bay has disposed of both New York and Dallas, I’ll have to swallow some more pride when I side with the Atlanta Falcons for Sunday’s NFC Championship game.
No Vikings loss was more devastating to me than the 1999 NFC title tilt against the Falcons because I was absolutely sure that the 16-1 Minnesota team would win that game and make it back to the Super Bowl for the first time in two decades.
That, of course, didn’t happen.
The heartbreak Atlanta delivered that day still lingers, but I’ll need to get over it by Sunday.
After all, my loathing of the rival Packers runs deep through my bloodstream.
And if the Falcons can keep Green Bay from advancing to the Super Bowl during Sunday’s 2 p.m. game, don’t be surprised to see me doing my rendition of the “Dirty Bird Dance” on my driveway around 5 p.m.