PJD is on a quasi-sabbatical for a while. We won’t be doing any real news updates for a week or so. Instead, we’re going to run a feature called Vikings Tales where PJD and several guest posters share stories that they have which may or may not peripherally relate to the Minnesota Vikings. Enjoy. Today’s post is courtesy of PJD himself …
2005 was a terrible, terrible year to be a Vikings fan. Really, it was the beginning point for where we’re at now in 2010. It was the year Culpepper shred his knee up, it was the year of the sex boat scandal, the first year that Zygi Wilf owned the team, but it was just another year where Viking fans tricked themselves into thinking the team was better than they really were. We all found that out when Big Ben came into Minnesota with the Steelers, before he was a known fister, and ended up fisting us at the Metrodome. I guess it was a lot of firsts for a lot of people. But above and beyond all of these items from the 2005 season, there is always one event that I’ll remember most; Paul Edinger’s 56 yards field goal to beat the Packers on October 23.
For the 2005 and 2006 seasons I had season tickets with a buddy of mine. Naturally, we’d both been to tons of games before, but 2005 was the first year that we established a normal pattern of behavior. By late October we had worked out where we would park, what time we would leave, which jerseys we would wear, where we’d go before hand to go drink, and all sorts of other minute details to come up during a normal Vikings game day affair.
The games we started off attending were a little touch and go. I remember sitting in our seats during 2005’s first game of the season against the Bucs and losing that one. My buddy was pretty excited though, because he had Cadillac Williams on his fantasy team, and Cadillac ran all over the Vikings that day. I kind of remember the Saints game and how the Vikings demolished them, but that Saints team had just gotten Katrina’d, I believe, so it was expected. There were lots of “Rock you like a Hurricane” jokes that were going around, both juvenile and inappropriate but, well … there were a bunch of drunk football fans. What were you expecting?
The third game was against the Green Bay Packers. Going into the game the Vikings were playing like homeless youth on the football field, sitting at 1-4 on the season. Culpepper was looking like shit and the defense was a sieve (big surprise!). I’m pretty sure my expectations were low going into the Green Bay game, but we had season tickets. We had to go. And early on, it looked like it clearly wasn’t going to be worth it, as the Vikings were down at halftime, 17-0.
I don’t know what happened to the team in the second half, and really I don’t care. As the clock ticked away though, the Packer lead was becoming smaller and smaller. In the fourth quarter it finally was tied 20-20 and the intensity in the Metrodome was palatable. I don’t write that to sound like I’m writing about some mystical quality of sport, or to go all Rick Reilly and Mitch Albom on people and mention a dead father or something. I write that because it was the truth. This was the first Packers and Vikings game I had been to live in my life, and there was something noticeably different about it than any other sporting event I had been to. Between the idiotic “Go Pack Go” chants that rang through the Dome, the balding, fat, and assuredly smelly best friends where one was a Packer fan and the other a Vikings fan that sat near us and gave each other crap all game long like high school virgins, and the random lonely Packer fan sitting next to my buddy, everything about this game was just different. And you could tell.
As the Vikings drove down the field in the waning seconds of the game, the entire stadium was standing on their feet. My buddy, his voice hoarse from screaming and excitement over the last quarter kept saying “this is it, we got this, this is it”. I didn’t think I really believe him, but the evidence was starting to appear on the field. Our seats were in section 201, on the north end of the Metrodome I believe. The Vikings were driving straight at us. With seconds left on the clock Paul Edinger was lining up for a 56 yard field goal. As he kicked it, the air grew still. I seem to recall a breath of silence from both Packer and Vikings fans in the stadium. As the kick slipped through the uprights the stadium erupted and my delirious friend started bear hugging me and high fiving random strangers in the stands. The Packer fans were dejected as expected, which made it all the better. The hair on my neck was standing and the place was absolutely electric as the celebration started.
I’ve only experienced that feeling at a sporting event one other time. The result wasn’t the same, but it was just as exhilarating. It’s almost overwhelming. It’s a moment where you get caught up in something and, collectively, no one has any control over it. It’s amazing when it happens, and isn’t something you can plan for. When you experience it though, you remember it. Unfortunately, Vikings fans also remember 2005 and how large of a mistake it turned out to be, but for one moment during the season, the team was selling hope, and I was buying it in drunken barrelfuls.