Please do not deliver the following gifts to the Vikings:
(Cue guy in red suit to jump chimney now -- quit rapping on Mary Poppins)
1. The Drafted Messiah
Super bowls are not won by the messiah. This is a myth spun in the lying city of New York on Madison Avenue, centered around Joe Namath. (I even suspect the guy who dictated that copy had a lisp. More often, the messiah has some name that ends in “s”, like “Jesus” or “Moses”.) The messiah does not actually win the Super Bowl. Super Bowls are not won by one person, place, or thing, but by teams. (Remember that the other kid from Pennsylvania in January of 1969 (Johnny U.) could not play in that game due to injury.) It wasn’t Broadway Joe who prevented Jimmy Orr, John Mackey, and Willie Richardson from scoring a ton that day. (Imagine-- to take a word of wisdom from the late Lennon-- if the final score had been Colts 56, Jets 16.)
Fans typically believe in the messiah until they learn better. In Cleveland in 1985, his name was Bernie Kosar. As smart as Frank Ryan, with a throwing arm to match the hated Terry Bradshaw, and a throwing style more unconventional than even the as-yet unknown Brett Favre, Bernie was not even taken in the regular draft. Oh,no. Surely he was the second coming of Otto Grahm. He arrived (like Cris Carter) in the supplemental draft, just like the shining star of Bethlehem, a clear leading indicator he was the chosen one of virgin birth. (Note: Browns’ fans had lost faith in running backs as the messiah. Jim Brown had forced coach Paul Brown to leave, then he left football himself, and the late Ernie Davis had died on the cross of leukemia before even performing any pro gridiron miracles.) The answer had to be: A Franchise Quarterback! (Not!)
Sure, Bernie did lead an amazing comeback against the hated Elway in the 1987 AFC Championship, until that fateful moment that one Ernest Byner was three, clear yards from that tying touchdown with a minute left in regulation, and he had a funny, Ernest feeling in his heart: Hey, where’d that darn football go? I had it just a second ago. Not the kind of legendary ending that the ancient prophets had promised, folks, eh? Like an old Billy Joel song, Bernie was later down in Miami playing in the following decade when the Browns nearly went extinct.
Football is a team sport, just like basketball. (Ask Clevelanders what they think of LeBron now.) Teams win championships. Nobody carries the team on his back. Ask Michael Vick what the heck he’d have done without DeSean Jackson and his other receivers opening up those running lanes.
Scratch the messiah. As Stevie once said, superstition ain’t the way.
2.The Conquering Head Coach
Forget that other fabled-hero myth version. Did Bud Grant do it? If you can’t afford a stadium, what makes you think you can outbid the Giants for that former Browns’ special teams guy, Bill Cowher at this point in history? You’re the ones with no Super Bowl ring, not Bill. Cleveland once tried that coach trick too: They fired Bill Belichick. Great.
Nix the coach. Fans can’t ever spot one until he’s hoisting a trophy in his hand, a sort of catch-22.
3. A New Stadium
They don’t teach history in very many schools these days. History is not politically correct anymore. Someone could play the "I'm personally offended" card. This novel educational decision virtually assures that fools are condemned to repeat it. So, gentle, jolly, ho-ho-ho reader, you may never even have heard of a place called Cleveland if you grew up in the twenty-first century. A new stadium? They said it would happen there when they were good and ready or else the rich dude was buying. They had paid for a new baseball stadium (in which we currently know that the Indians have never yet won the World Series), and we can’t afford to do a football stadium now (while the prices are low due to a recession). It was just a matter of time. Well, that train left the station on time, and Art Modell was on it, and he made away with everything but the team name and the jerseys, and he never looked back, smiling and winning a Super Bowl for Baltimore a tad later. (Take that, Joe Namath and the evil state of Indiana Jones!) So much for Art having way too many financial ties to that Ohio city which they told me as a kid was the Best Location in the Nation, but grew up to be hailed as the Mistake on the Lake, that infamous town where they got so confused that they set the river on fire. (There but for the grace of George Burns go you or I.)
History will pass you by if you flunk it. Expect coal in the stocking, including the air pollution you'll get from burning it.
Your Humble Servant, Elgar
P. S.: Oh, what do they really need in Minnesota, you ask? Okay, I’ll fess up: Get them a clue. It takes a village to grow a football team. Just saying no won't cut it.