You know, my love for the Minnesota Vikings goes back to the 1970's. I was a little kid growing up in Richfield, MN, and some of my earliest memories were watching the Vikings with my Dad on Sunday, and him giving me a sip or two of Grain Belt.
My Dad. I think a lot of us give credit to our Dad for becoming Vikings fans. When you're a kid, Dad is a super hero, and you want to emulate him. One of those ways to emulate him for me was watching the Vikings with him, and my Dad telling me about all the players and teams.
Joe Kapp, Bill Brown, and the Purple People Eaters are The Best Players Ever. Every coach in team history besides Bud Grant has been/is an idiot, Drew Pearson pushed off, and moving into the Metrodome was 'the biggest damn mistake this team ever made.'
My Dad and I have had our ups and downs, like most father-son relationships. Most of the downs were caused by me being a pinhead, and my Dad, well, holding his ground and being a Dad.
And he turned out to be right almost every time, and largely because of him, I became a contributing member of society. Whenever we were having one of our disagreements, and there were more than a few, we'd get pissed at each other and not talk for a couple days or weeks.
And the ending of our disagreement was signaled by the Vikings, believe it or not. The way for us to get back to middle ground was to throw out something...anything, about the Vikings. And from there, we would get back to normal. A typical conversation would go something like this:
Me: Dad, I want to join the French Foreign Legion. (No really, I actually said this to him once)
Dad: Jesus son, that's the dumbest goddamn thing I think I've ever heard come out of your mouth. And that's saying something.
Me: YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT. IT WOULD BE GREAT!
Dad: Can you speak French? No. Do you want to live in a desert in Africa? No. Can you go to college in the Legion? No. And eventually you'll have to give up your US citizenship and become a French citizen. Quit being a dumbass. Go to college. Ohio State, a community college, I don't care.
Me: I WANT TO JOIN THE LEGION!
<storms out like a wuss>
Three days later:
Dad: Hey, son. Did you hear about what Les Steckel did at training camp?
Me: No, what did he do?
Dad: He had some sort of Ironman competition to start off training camp. He's already pissed off the veterans. Steckel is gonna be a disaster. What an idiot.
Me: Think it's too late for Bud Grant to come back one more time?
Dad: He ain't coming back. We're stuck with this moron for a few seasons. Have you decided where you're going to college yet?
Me: Yeah, I'm going to apply at OSU.
Dad: <smiling> So, no Foreign Legion?
Me: No, you have to learn French. That's stupid. And I don't want to be a French citizen.
Dad: Yeah, the only problem with France is that there's too many French in it. And there's no football over there.
Me: Yeah, that would be terrible
Dad: Well, with this idiot Steckel, maybe living in France wouldn't be a bad idea until he gets fired. No way we could get the games over there.
So thanks, Dad, for everything. For teaching me right from wrong, for instilling solid values in me that helped me become a successful husband and father in my own right, and thanks for giving me a love of the Minnesota Vikings.
Oh, and thanks for talking me out of joining the French Foreign Legion. That really was a stupid idea.