The Minnesota Vikings: the iTunes of Quarterbacks?

Barely anyone downloads full albums these days. We just pick and choose a couple songs. Doesn't it sort of feel the same way with Vikings and quarterbacks?

Yes boys and girls, especially the four or five that noticed I haven't posted since my Haiku immediately after the NFC Championship game, I'm finally back.

I'd like to tell you that I've spent the past few weeks aimlessly wandering the streets like Ron Burgundy after he gets fired. (MILK WAS A BAD CHOICE!) I'd like to say that the Vikings' kick-to-the-groin-with-a-steel-toed-boot loss sent me into a downward spiral of depression and loathing. That getting thisclose to the first Minnesota Super Bowl of my lifetime was an unbearable pain and I simply couldn't bring myself to write in this space until a sufficient amount of time had passed. And I guess it's partially true--I took the loss pretty hard, just like a lot of you did. Even for the Vikings, that was a new and creative way to improbably pry defeat away from the jaws of victory. Writing my usual array of tasteless jokes and taking potshots at all things NFL just didn't feel right for a while.

But I'll be honest. I'm engaged to a super-duper planner and most of my free time has been devoted to helping plan the wedding. We've been engaged for all of 27 days and we already have the date, wedding party, church, reception, photographer, DJ, guest list with addresses, wedding website, and the bridesmaids' shoes taken care of. (Plus we're close to deciding on her dress, the caterer, and a purposely-cheesy "save the date" video. Told you she's a super-duper planner.)

Before I dive into the confusing analogy hinted at in the title, I'd like to officially congratulate the New Orleans Saints on their Super Bowl title. I still don't think they were a better team than the Vikings this year, but dammit they earned that championship. It's always nice to see a franchise get their first title because it gives us hope that one year it will finally be our year. I just wish we took the fast track to glory like New Orleans did. Only 43 years for your first championship? Talk about a spoiled fan base!

(Note: My two favorite results from the Saints' victory: the return of the Peyton Manning Face and Oprah's priceless epic fail when she tried to wipe off Drew Brees' birthmark. See the video below.)

When Oprah asked "Who kissed you?", Brees should have replied "Um, God I guess."

OK back to the Vikes. I'm getting married on August 21st of this year, which should be...wait for it...right around the time Brett Favre makes his annual return from retirement! Since history tells us we'll have at least 5 or 6 months to beat the Favre situation to death, I'll focus on more of a big-picture view of our Beloved Purple and the quarterback position.

So what do iTunes and the Vikings quarterbacks have in common? Let me explain.

Back in the day, if you really liked a song you went to the store and bought that artist's entire album. Even if you hadn't heard any other songs you picked up the record/tape/CD to play your favorite song over and over. This especially held true if you had BMG or Columbia House. Remember that? Twelve CD's for one cent?! HELL YES I WILL!! Most of the time you were lucky if two or three other songs on the album were good. Sometimes you lucked out and you liked everything you heard, but those occasions were pretty rare.

(Side note: The top five "Columbia House Era" CDs of my formative years in no particular order: Pearl Jam - Ten; Snoop Doggy Dogg - Doggystyle; Dr. Dre - The Chronic; Guns N' Roses - Use Your Illusion I & II; and Nirvana - Unplugged in New York. The bottom five: Shaquille O'Neal - Shaq Diesel; Jesus Jones - Doubt; Ugly Kid Joe - As Ugly As They Wanna Be (it only had six songs!); Bryan Adams - Waking Up The Neighbours; and EMF - Schubert Dip. Hope that trip down memory lane was fun for at least a few of you.)

Since the advent of Napster, which eventually morphed into the likes of Kazaa, Limewire, and now iTunes, people don't really have that issue anymore. If you like a song on the radio, you just hop on iTunes and download that one song for 99 cents. (Or you could very easily download it illegally like I do for all my music, but I don't want to get into a moral discussion here.)

It's definitely nice that you know what you're getting, save some money by not purchasing the whole album, and save yourself from some dreadful songs that might fill up the rest of the album. On the other hand, you might be ripping yourself off of the true "experience" of the band or artist. Sure, you might not like a few of the songs when you purchase the whole album. But lots of times you can find a few gems that most people haven't heard before, making your experience unique from everyone else. Sometimes it's cool to hear everything an artist creates instead of just getting what you heard on the radio. Unfortunately, today's music industry seems to be gravitating more towards one-hit wonder American Idol rejects and ringtone rappers. It's getting harder to latch on to an artist you like because they might be gone before you know it.

Which brings us to the Vikings' quarterback situation. Regardless of whether Favre retires or not, I feel like we only got to enjoy one (or two) songs of a classic album because Green Bay gave it to us after they got sick of listening to it. I kind of feel like we're the guy that thinks Kings of Leon is this awesome new band that just came out a couple months ago. (I loved Kings of Leon a couple years ago before the radio beat them into unconsciousness.) If you go back the past 20 years since free agency took off in the NFL, Favre is just the latest single-serving quarterback we've had at the helm. Jim McMahon. Warren Moon. Randall Cunningham. Jeff George. Gus Frerotte. Since the days of Tommy Kramer and Wade Wilson, only Daunte Culpepper and Brad Johnson have really felt like "our guys"--the full albums rather than the 99 cent download. Unfortunately, neither Pep nor Johnson's albums were all that great.

By contrast, look at the two Super Bowl quarterbacks. Colts fans have enjoyed Peyton Manning through thick and thin. All the "music" hasn't been outstanding, but they got to watch their "artist" develop from someone that struggled winning the big game into one of the best quarterbacks of all time...and then even back to someone that struggled winning the big game. But Indy fans have been able to enjoy Petyon's entire catalog of work.

Drew Brees is a little different of course, but I'd liken him to an artist who put out some decent music in his career and then changed labels after a couple albums. The new label (in this case, the Saints and Sean Payton) allowed him to be more creative and really flourish as an artist.

I guess what I'm saying is that it would be really cool to have that "I knew the band when they were just starting" feeling as a Vikings fan. If Favre does retire, the first guy on the list to replace him would be Donovan McNabb--yet another iTunes download for the Vikings. Even if Favre or McNabb lead us to a title in 2010, it will still feel like we didn't get to enjoy the full experience. (By the way, this is JUST FINE for me if we win the whole thing. I'm getting to the point where I'd be willing to start Charles Manson at QB if you guaranteed us a title.)

I do realize that today's NFL makes it tough to hold on to a player for more than a few years. But it would be nice to get that feeling that Patriots fans have. Or the feeling that Ravens fans or Lions fans or Falcons fans may have a few years down the road. "Yep, that's our quarterback--we loved his music before anyone else was listening to him."

I suppose we technically have that opportunity with Tarvaris Jackson, but I just think he's more Jesus Jones than Pearl Jam.

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