No doubt you are aware of today’s playoff game between the heavily-favored Seattle Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings. The temperature in Minneapolis at kickoff was six degrees below zero, one of the coldest NFL games ever played. The Vikings came out strong and mostly dominated play. But a fluke play that started with a bad snap, together with a Vikings fumble, gave the Seahawks a 10-9 lead. Then the Vikings drove for the winning score. Head coach Mike Zimmer managed the clock expertly, but with a mere 26 seconds to play, kicker Blair Walsh inexplicably missed a 27-yard field goal that would have won the game. That’s like a 99% certainty, but somehow he missed. This video was filmed by my son-in-law and his brother, who were at the game. They thought they were documenting the winning kick:
The debacle was, of course, all over Twitter.
Vikings Win!!! ? pic.twitter.com/xAMXGLxd79
— Sneaker Pics (@SneakerPics23) January 10, 2016
Lots of Minnesotans went to local sports fields or their back yards and kicked 27-yard field goals. Here is an example:
Vikings fans are taking the loss well pic.twitter.com/yd8RijYVNb
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 10, 2016
Commenters crabbily point out that the kid in the video isn’t facing a ticking clock or onrushing 300-pound linemen, and the trajectory of his kick was low enough that it would have been blocked. Whatever. Minnesotans get the point. Laura Ingraham noted that her 7 year old son kicked an 18-yard field goal earlier today. That hurts, if you are a Minnesotan.
Of course, kicking field goals is probably harder than it seems, even if it is all you do and you are getting paid
a million three million dollars a year not to miss from 27 yards. This guy also tried to replicate Walsh’s kick:
If you want to know what it feels like to be a Minnesota sports fan, this video, retweeted by our pal Hugh Hewitt, may help to explain:
Vikings fans generally were depressed after today’s game:
— Al Smizzle (@AlZeidenfeld) January 10, 2016
Here is a funny thing: today’s fiasco was actually predicted by Ace Ventura, only in the movie, it was the Super Bowl. That is the only thing that could make it worse:
The thing with the laces? That actually happened.
While Minnesotans have generally taken a harsh attitude toward our field goal kicker, a few are more understanding. This tweet is by the Minnesota Twins closer, Glen Perkins. Who is, not coincidentally, a Minnesota native:
That's like blowing a save w/ 2 out nobody on and a 3 run lead, which I think I've done.
— Glen Perkins (@glenperkins) January 10, 2016
It hurts to lose, but we Minnesotans will get over it. We have a lot of experience in that department. On days like today, we like to recall the magical Autumns of 1987 and 1991, when our Twins somehow broke the jinx and went all the way. When old men gather around stoves during our bleak midwinter evenings, they remember the heroes of those days–Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, the vastly underrated Greg Gagne, the combative Dan Gladden, Frankie “Sweet Music” Viola, “Bruno” Brunanski, Jeff “The Terminator” Reardon, Rick Aguilera, and all the rest. Somehow, those Twins put the Minnesota sports jinx to rest and won the ultimate prize. Minnesota sports fans keep their memory alive.
Of course, we haven’t forgotten Bud Grant, either. Grant was an All-America in both football and basketball. Has anyone else done that? I doubt it. Grant’s style was laconic–he often went duck hunting on Sunday mornings before games, when other coaches were feverishly studying video–but he didn’t miss any details. At one point, he made his team practice lining up for the National Anthem because he thought they looked sloppy. Grant led the Vikings to four Super Bowls, all of which they lost. But that is another story.
It is safe to say that Bud Grant was, and is still, a conservative. Today he gave Minnesota sports fans the one image that we will treasure after the sting of today’s defeat is gone. With a temperature of six degrees below zero, Grant strode out to midfield to toss the coin for the opening kickoff dressed in a short-sleeved polo shirt. Twitter went mad. As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, the 88-year-old Grant won the internet. This is one of many tributes:
Bud Grant is the man pic.twitter.com/b1Ts22d1Db
— Jake Magnell (@JakeMagnell) January 10, 2016
OK, one more:
— Mark Ollig (@bitsandbytes) January 10, 2016
Quite a few years ago, when I was a college student, I had friends who liked to say “The South shall rise again!” I thought that was weird. But after decades as a Minnesota sports fan, I can relate. The North, too, shall rise again. It just may take a while, and I might not be around to see it.