Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hope: to cherish a desire with anticipation

That’s the official definition of the word hope. In NFL football terms this time of year, it translates to…this is our year! With the unbelievable parity in the NFL, where only five teams haven’t made the playoffs in the last five years (Arizona, Buffalo, Miami, Houston and Detroit), every fan of every team has uncontrollable optimism right now. It’s flying through the roof. Every time you pick up the paper or listen to a sports talk radio show, you hear stuff like; “He’s gained 30 pounds of solid muscle this summer, he’s going to rip running backs heads off this year” or “Since spending all year in town in the off-season, I haven’t seen better chemistry between a QB & a WR then these guys have going right now.” July is always a good news month for NFL teams. We love July! Everything you're hearing seems to be positive, unless of course you’re the Atlanta Falcons. That’s a completely different monster. Anyways, after awhile the constant positive feedback you’re hearing masks the actual reality of your favorite NFL team.

Look no further then the Detroit Lions. I bet that city is going nuts right now. On a scale of 1-100, where do you think their optimism level is at? I’d put it at about 823. Jon Kitna is predicting a 50 touchdown and a 10+ win season for the Lions. I guarantee fans in Detroit are talking themselves into this right now. I’d put money on it. In all fairness, I’d probably be right with them. You already have a perennial receiver stud in Roy Williams and you supposedly just added the best potential receiver in the last 25 years in Calvin “Hobbs” Johnson. Throw a healthy Kevin Jones and Mike Martz’s circus style offense, you could debate this is going to happen until you’re blue in the face. The reality is, the Lions were 3-13 last year and Kitna threw 21 passes. If you need the math, it’s seven more wins and 29 more touchdowns for Mr. Kitna. The jury is still out on this prediction, but it makes you think doesn’t it? With the history of teams bouncing back after a crummy year, who says the Lions can’t be the New Orleans Saints of this year? The Saints had seven more wins last year then the previous year. As a Viking fan, I’m terrified. We’re not getting those predictions in Minnesooootaaaa.

Look, we (as in the Vikings) never lose to the Lions. Not never, but recently it’s pretty darn close. We are 16-4 against the Lions the last 10 years and we’ve never finished below them in the standings the last 10 years. That’s a pretty nice run. Now, some journeyman QB who looks like a BMX all- star has me all messed up. More then likely, we aren’t going to pass the NFC Champion Chicago Bears, but I thought 2nd place and a chance at a wild card spot was attainable. Now, who knows? What if BMX boy is right?

Detroit might be high on optimism, but here in Minneapolis it’s a little lower I’m afraid. Just recently as last year this franchise got a new owner, a new head coach and now we have a brand new quarterback. In life, new usually equals good. New car, new house, new girlfriend, new (lower) weight, etc... The list goes on. Well, our owner has never been involved in any sort of sports franchise before, our head coach is a proven coordinator with one (bad) year of head coaching experience and our brand new shiny young quarterback is a who’s that guy. Like, when we traded to draft this coyote in the 2nd round in 2006, you said: “Who’s that?” Not good my friends. Not good...

So, as camp starts this week, that’s where this Minnesota Viking fan optimism falls. I’m trying to talk myself into another year of an owner that sounds like a piece of candy (Zygi), a coach that looks more like a big buck hunter then a head coach (Childress) and a quarterback, which is by far the most important position in football, that is still wetting his pants (Tarvaris Jackson or T-Jack). I’m in the wait and see mode right now with the Vikings. My confidence level isn’t as high as 823, but it’s about 347. What? Is that too high after that rant? Come on baby, we got Adrian “All Day” Peterson. I’m not moving to Detroit quite yet...

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