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It’s like schadenfreude, but even better

NFC Championship - Los Angeles Rams v New Orleans Saints
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Hi kids. How about those conference championship games, huh?

You know, I’m in my 50’s now, and a grandfather. They say you tend to mellow out with age, and for me, that’s true in many respects. The old type-A personality in me is pretty much gone, and I’ve learned to appreciate things in life I should have learned to appreciate a lot earlier in life. I no longer think what I do for a living equals who I am, and staying angry and holding grudges serves no purpose. Forgiveness and serenity are powerful things in life, and they help an unsettled soul find peace.


Sports grudges are something unique and different, though. As a fan of the Minnesota Vikings, we all have a ‘defining moment’ in our fandom, where we connected with past generations of fans who have witnessed franchise misfortune on an almost cosmic scale.

For me, it was the 1975 ‘Hail Mary’ game against Dallas. For folks younger than me, it was the 1998 NFC Championship. For fans younger than that, it was the 2009 NFC Championship. The first two were brutal, but they were also occurred in a time before social media became such a force in society.

The 2009 NFC Championship was the first defining moment of Vikings futility for a new generation of fans, only now the full weight and power of social media was on display. I had just started writing on the front page here at The Daily Norseman the week of that game, and me, Chis, and Eric had to figure out what to write in the aftermath of the game. The thing I remember the most about being new here was the amount of Saints fans that came over and said, basically ‘one call doesn’t decide the game’ and blah blah blah just get over it in response to our complaints about the egregious officiating that we felt cost the Vikings a legit shot at the Super Bowl.

In the weeks and months that followed and the Bountygate scandal broke, I developed an intense sports hatred for the Saints, Sean Payton, and Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator who ran the bounty program. As a matter of fact, for almost my whole time as a front page writer here, I’ve referred to that team as the Ne[FUCK THOSE GUYS]ints.

But as the years have gone by, I’ve softened my feelings towards the Saints team. As most of you know I’m an Ohio State fan, and the Saints have a bunch of former Buckeyes on their roster. WR Michael Thomas is one of the most dynamic young players in the game, and I just flat out enjoy watching him play the game of football.

The Saints have also had a roster turnover to the point that I think the only player left on their team from the 2009 season is Drew Brees, and as much as I try to generate some animosity towards the dude, I can’t. He’s likeable, and he’s going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Finally, the last thing that happened that caused me to not feel such hatred towards the team is the Minneapolis Miracle. That expelled a lot of demons for me, and almost all the animosity I had towards the Saints and the 2009 NFC Championship disappeared instantly. I know for some fans, they’ll never be over that game, no matter what happens. It’s your ‘Hail Mary’ game, and I understand. For example, The 2009 playoff beatdown of the Cowboys didn’t make the Hail Mary game feelings go away for me, so if the Minneapolis Miracle didn’t help you get over the Bountygate Game, I get it.

But as much as I’ve learned to not dislike the Saints, I’ll never wish anything but professional agony for Sean Payton. Every time his team suffers a miserable loss, I rejoice. Not in the team’s failure, but in his personal agony. The Germans have a word that means, roughly, taking pleasure in someone else’s misery—’schadenfreude’.

For me watching Sean Payton agonize over his team losing in a torturous manner?

Let’s call it Paytonfreude.

Nothing has given me more NFL pleasure these last two years than watching Sean Payton getting karma handed back to him, and paid with interest. The Minneapolis Miracle was all the sweeter because it was against him and the Saints, and of course it propelled the Vikings to the NFC Championship.

But yesterday? Yesterday gave birth to full on Paytonfreude for me, and I loved it. And I also love the irony in Saints fans screaming about a bad call, and how the NFL should overturn it, and give them a re-match.

Considering, you know, how much they tried to tell us back in 2009 that one call doesn’t determine the outcome of a game, I have one thing to say:

Get over it. You aren’t getting a re-match, no matter how many people sign your stupid petition. It holds about as much weight and value as Green Bay Packers stock.

Because one call isn’t the difference between winning and losing, as you liked to point out back then. How about you just run the ball and don’t throw it? How about you score touchdowns on your first two drives instead of kicking field goals? How about your Hall of Fame QB doesn’t throw a brutal interception, at the worst possible moment? THIS ISN’T TAMPA BAY, MAN! THIS IS THE SUPER BOWL!

Yet that said, most of my Paytonfreude feelings are reserved for one Sean Payton, the coach of the Saints.

I also had some reactions to some tweets about how the refs screwed the Saints over:

I think I also spoke for Vikings fans everywhere when Troy Aikman was talking about the 2009 NFC Championship as they showed highlights of that game waiting for overtime to begin:

Still, when I realized the Saints lost, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly happy, knowing Sean Payton lost in agonzing fashion, two years in a row:

Then Payton conducted his post game press conference. To me, it felt a lot like this:

My reaction to his thoughts on the call?

What’s that, Adam Schefter?

Again, I don’t care. Actually, I rather enjoyed it: