Hi kids, how are we doing with the Zimmer hire so far? It's been an exciting couple of days for our favorite football team, hasn't it? We have a new coach, a very well respected offensive coordinator, and an up and coming defensive coordinator. Or we will, very soon, depending on reports in the Twitterverse.
I'm really excited about the Mike Zimmer era in Minnesota. I've read a lot about him, both in traditional and social media, and I have yet to find a bad thing written about him, by either local press, former players, current players, or NFL experts/insiders. He seems like the right guy at the right time for the right team. And when I go to sites for Bengals fans, like the Cincy Jungle, there's nary a negative comment about Zimmer. In this day and age, having universal respect/admiration from local/national press, players, AND fans is a trifecta of impossibility. I honestly can't think of a time where there was a coach hiring, either in the NFL or major college football, that has drawn this much praise without a hint of criticism. It seems like a home run hire in every respect, and the Vikings, for all their warts in coaching decisions in recent years, nailed this one.
So, why do I have this nagging feeling? Now, to be clear, it isn't about Zimmer, or the staff he's assembling. I couldn't be happier about how things have transpired, and I really feel, for the first time in a long time, that the Vikings are a lot closer to consistently contending than they have been in recent years, maybe since the mid to late '90's under Denny Green.
But I have over 50 years of history and black clouds trying to tell me that Something Wicked This Way Comes. Maybe Christian Ponder will be given a 10 year, guaranteed contract extension, or the new stadium will be built with asbestos and condemned before the first game is played, or in the draft Rick Spielman snorts five lines of cocaine while Minnesota is on the clock and they go punter/long snapper/Joe Mauer/pass/Western Kentucky Mascot/OJ Simpson/Jerome Simpson gets busted by the FBI while making 7th round pick on stage in Radio City Music Hall.
Why? Because I am a Vikings fan. And for every good thing that happens with this franchise, two bad things seem to happen in short order. Trade for Favre and go to NFC Championship? Twelve men in the huddle and a back breaking, across the field interception instead of a trip to the Promised Land. Beat Green Bay and get to the playoffs? Christian Ponder injured and Joe Webb forced to start a playoff game. Beat Green Bay in the playoffs in 2004? Randy Moss gets traded and Daunte Culpeppr's knee gets shredded. Set an NFL record for most points scored in a season? Wide right and Robert Griffith drops game ending pick in the end zone.
Look, I get the sentiment. And I'm just as guilty...probably more so than many of you...of thinking 'how are they going to screw this up?' when something good happens to our favorite franchise. We've had this thing go South more often than bird migrations over the years, so it's okay to feel this way. And I would submit that if you DON'T have this nagging 'what's gonna happen?' feeling, you're not really a Vikings fan, or you haven't been one long enough to endure something that crushes your sporting soul. In recent years, I've used that feeling of dread more as a comedic defense mechanism than anything else, just so the agony and frustration doesn't overwhelm me like it used to.
But you know something? It's time. It's time to remove this cloud of doom over our franchise. I'm not saying Mike Zimmer is going to win the Super Bowl this year or even next. I know that's what we all want. But before we can even think about that, we need to get rid of this nagging feeling of doom that follows us around, tugging at us, telling us 'here I am, and I'm not going anywhere. And I'll pop up just when you're expecting me to, be it on the field or on Lake Minnetonka.'
In all my time as a Vikes fan, which goes back to met Stadium and the Purple People Eaters, I've never been as excited for an incoming coach as I am for this guy. Well, with maybe the exception of Bud Grant's curtain call season, just to get the Les Steckel year wiped from my mind once and for all, but this ranks right up there.
The on the field results, for the most part, haven't been great since the Wilfs took over as owners. Slowly but surely, though, this franchise has turned a corner. The off the field stuff, for the most part, is largely a thing of the past. Sure, there's still a DUI here and there, but the days of an out of control Love Boat mentality is gone. The hideous Metrodome is gone, being dismantled, deflated, and soon to be demolished, and in it's place will be a stadium that will be cutting edge, and the talk of the NFL.
Now we have a coach that wasn't given the job because he did okay in disaster management, nor did the Vikings hire an offensive coordinator who never called the plays, nor did they hire a guy that was the cheapest option for a penny pinching owner. They've hired a no-nonsense football man, a defensive expert who shoots straight and gives you blunt honesty, with a proven track record of winning. And he's assembling a staff of well respected NFL guys that know how to win, too.
Don't wait for the other shoe to drop, because I have a feeling those days are over.