October is when the NFL turns into a sea of pink, which is a reminder that colors, like music, smells and/or odors, can be a very powerful tool with the power to change anyone's mindset. Having to face, with my wife, breast screenings, biopsy, MRI's, CET scans, blood tests, EKG's, various surgeries (mediports, etc.), followed by 16 weeks of nauseating kemo entwined with complete loss of energy, complete hair loss, double mastectomy followed by reconstruction, with additional surgery for breast implants, followed by ovary removal ... that color pink reminds us all that breast cancer touches every part of humanity. When two of the three closest woman in your life, knowing one is your daughter and the others are your mother and wife, have been diagnosed and battled with breast cancer, you find yourself coming to terms with all of life's adversities all at once. Your life's focus changes ... and your life changes forever. My heart goes out to all that have had to not only face this incredible adversity but also to the ones that have lost loved ones in this horrendous sea of adversity.
Over the years, there are a number of alarming statistics and hard facts that involve this franchise that require a similar type of symbolism to change its historic course. Unfortunately, we are all creatures of habits and we also are blind to the immersion into what is and what is not acceptable. Take for instance what Mike Zimmer is now facing. Many individual pieces of his puzzle have been provided by others, which is both good and bad. It is of fact that it takes at least six weeks for someone to practice something new that will replace an unacceptable or poor behavior. Now consider the following monumental problem. These athletes have had years of reinforcement of their negative or poor techniques. Said another way, a top athlete can overcome poor technique by having incredible skills to make up the mistake. At this level, everyone's skills are at a high level where you cannot make up much by relying upon ingrained poor technique. Now consider having years of negative reinforcement at every level of play, where the poor technique is reinforced. To put this in perspective, Archie Manning reinforced positive technique with both Eli and Peyton and today we see benefits in the form of results. It is now quite easy to see the monumental task in front of Mike Zimmer in that he has players that will always revert back to poor techniques, that might have worked in the past at some level. The problem is athletes generally can't discern the difference between something that worked once, or that works sometimes versus something that has a high degree of success. It's like teaching kids how to hit, where if they guess the number ... they get a hit. With poor technique they are made role six dice to match that guessed number and as their technique improves, they whittle the number of dice down to one, where in time they might even get down to a coin flip. The problem is that the player almost never sees themselves as the problem and they definitely can't see how many dice that they have in their hand ... but every good coach that is worth their salt can discern exactly what's in their hand, as they get picked apart, week after week. Reverting back to what you might think might work (poor technique), is never a good idea. If your a player, you should count your blessings that someone has taken the time to remove the dice from your hand.
If you were to consider the Hall of Fame, what you would see is that the Minnesota Viking franchise is well represented with a large contingent of enshrined. The problem is that there are no Super Bowl championships to go along with all these athletes. What this clearly indicates is individual achievement, which should be considered alarming, considering this is a team sport. In short ... there is a missing element where we now ask, "How could this have occurred?" The answers are hard indeed but what is clear is that in Minnesota ... the individual comes first ... and everything else doesn't matter. Now consider the following question. Does what, that came before these present players, does it all matter or can we all just be allowed to walk away from it as if history doesn't count? Does this franchises history apply to Ziggy or is he allowed to just walk away from it all? Does the player that stands next to you matter? Does the Viking Nation matter? Do your coaches matter, in that wouldn't it be important to you to reward all of that hard work, sweat and sacrifice on their part proving that not only were you right but they were right too? Does the franchise ... go onward in time ... both backward and forward ... and does that matter? Well the answer to these questions are obvious. Just as Super Bowl coronations mean something to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 49ers, or Cowboys ... so to, does all of this history matter to the Minnesota Vikings. We have to consider more than just what is positive. Maybe this is why other organization have hoisted the hardware ... and we ... have not.
Now consider the following facts. Viewer discretion is advised as the facts may cause blood to shoot from your eyes in Viking Rage. As the Vikings took the field on January 11, 1970 there were a grand total of five (5) Super Bowl participants: Green Bay, Oakland, Kansas City, Baltimore Colts, and New York Jets and just two (2) crowned Super Bowl Champions. Today there are nineteen (19) crowned Super Bowl Champions and twenty-eight (28) of thirty-two (32) teams that have participated in the Super Bowl, leaving Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville and Detroit as the only non-participants. Keep in mind that Cleveland has five (5) NFL championships with the Bulldogs, Rams and Browns where that same Brown's franchise has won and additional two (2) Super Bowl championships under the Baltimore Ravens as the championships follow the franchise. The Cleveland Browns resumed operations in 1999 however, the reality is that a brand new franchise was installed, where they paid cash to keep both their name and records, which is now an abomination of NFL history, as it skews Cleveland's rights to its actual history. Does Jim Brown belong to Cleveland or to that franchise in Baltimore? The Detroit Lions have secured four (4) NFL championships in their history. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans joined the NFL as new franchises in 1995 and 2002 respectively. By comparison, the Viking franchise was the first to lose four (4) Super Bowls and has participated in eight (8) NFC/NFL championship games. It is the only team in NFL history that was allowed to hold a NFL championship for eight (8) glorious days but of course it has all been ripped away from history. This franchise has not appeared in a Super Bowl since the 1976 season which was 38 years ago representing the 3rd longest drought in Super Bowl history when comparing what is now a Cleveland Brown skewed history. So you might ask, how does this franchise overcome a history of individuals playing a team sport knowing that bad habits are almost impossible to break? Now ask yourself the question, what does this have to do with either symbols or colors as reminders, to be used as useful tools, as powerful reminders, as compared to the sea of pink that is now apart of October's in the NFL?
As it's witness, let me tell you that October 2nd's loss to the Green Bay Packers doesn't even begin to rate in the history of this Viking Franchise. When considering the issues of this franchise, what first comes to mind is character. Keep in mind that just because you are a character doesn't mean that you have character. It is then that we think of this franchises greats that tower over players like Randy Moss, Chris Carter, or most of the recent entrants into the NFL's Hall of Fame. Keep in mind that there are many that will never be considered for the Hall ... that maybe should ... based upon their character alone. So, ask yourself the question, "Who were the ones of greatest Vikings Character ... the players of all time?" Now consider this ... by comparison winning the Super Bowl is easy. What is hard is getting there ... taking your best shot ... facing the potential of your team losing the Super Bowl ... something that lasts forever. In my book, players like Joe Kapp, Alan Page, Jim Marshall, Bill Brown, Fran Tarkenton, etc., ... it is these individuals that faced the demon with character ... and came up short, that are the Vikings of Greatest Character because they risked all as a team. In my minds eye, these are the bravest men, and therefore my role models, where I'd like to believe that we've all associated our lives with these characters for all time.
As we are all aware, it is the victors that get to write history, but in doing so, it is from their perspective to write that history ... as if they alone ... counted. It is from this perspective where they can paint the picture that the other Super Bowl participant was nothing more than a loser, rather than what they actually were. Here's some news for you ... the lore of Steve McNair lives on. The reality is that there has been many enormously brave entrants into the worlds greatest contest, that had no business becoming Super Bowl Champions. They just made sure they were there ... and by doing so ... they collected the NFL's greatest prize. To anyone that witnessed it, the Buffalo Bills wide right field goal was literally inches from erasing the New York Giants from history but history doesn't remember it that way . In other words, Bill Parcell's took a shot, knowing that to win the NFL's greatest prize, like the lottery ... you got to play in it, to win it. On that day, the wrong team won it all. If it wasn't for two incredible plays, Eli Manning would have been erased from history forever and would probably be hitting the bricks today. Imagine Randy Moss being weighted down with hardware. The most important point here is that the Viking Nation has to be brave enough to risk it all, and face head on, the possibility of losing it's 5th NFL Super Bowl Championship. Until that happens, you're not in the lottery and you have no hope of winning it all. In retrospect, what 34 consecutive years of Super Bowl futility means is that no Viking team has risen to the level to be an entrant ... taking it's shot .... at the NFL's greatest prize. Said another way, all these prior 34 Viking teams lacked both the courage and character to rise to the challenge. It's like that idiot who said he'll never host another Super Bowl party, if the Vikings were to be one of the participants. You won't have to, as the entire Viking Nation will be walking and hovering around that stadium, where ever that might be, like a nest of insatiable zombies. It will be good fodder for 90+ thousand people within a stadium that couldn't care less who was playing on that day.
As we all know, the NFL has very strict guidelines in regard to game day attire. To be direct, there is nothing that should be done to belittle that proud Viking uniform on game day as to the ones that identify with those horns ... we wear them proud ... always. As the owner of this franchise, what the players can be forced to wear upon the practice field is another matter. It is here that symbolism can be tied into the concept of team.
On that practice uniform, if it were up to me, each Viking player would be made to wear a 1" wide by 2" strip of yellow cloth, to be individually sewn onto the back of every practice uniform, for each year this proud Viking franchise fails to win the NFC championship game. This would be done with the following caveat. If the Vikings win the championship game and qualify for its shot at the NFL's greatest prize, all the yellow ribbons would be removed from their practice uniform the following year. If they find a way to win the Super Bowl, the Vikings color changes from yellow to gold as the reigning Super Bowl champion.
Everyone, and I mean everyone knows what a yellow stripe, or even and entire yellow back of patches means. It is a sign of cowardice where although you may in fact not be a coward it would be a constant reminder that you are apart of this organization, not so much to remove the stripes from your back, but to do your part in removing those stripes from the back of absolutely everyone around you. It is what any good father would do for his child ... so to, he will do it for others, that is, if it bothers or irritates him enough. If it doesn't bother you ... then you don't belong here. Believe me ... the incessant repetitive bad habit of individualism, will take a back seat, if there is a constant symbolic reminder that can be removed from my sight, by changing my focus from individual to team. United we stand ... Divided we fall.
So at this point, you might ask, "Why would my entire team have to pay for 34 years of futility as it includes players that were not even apart of my team?" Here's your answer. Just as Tony Romo or Colon Kaepernick benefits from prior Super Bowl championships, as members of the Cowboys and 49ers franchises respectively, so to do you benefit from that which will bring you the NFL's ultimate prize. Men don't hide from adversity. They confront it and change the outcome into their favor.
Up to this point, the only thing that may have mattered to you was the size of your contract and maintaining your health so that you'd get paid. After all, you believed it was nothing more than a business. Maybe all you cared about was NFL records, fantasy points, and making it to the Hall of Fame. You team mates mattered ... but not that much where from time to time you found a way to hang them all out to dry. Does this sounds like our most recent contest in Green Bay? Well those days are over. For some, after Thursdays tilt ... they already have one foot out the door and you have no one to blame but yourself.
Maybe it's too much to share this visual embarrassment out in public, while the world watches this team practice, all the while asking what's with the new yellow stripes. Maybe the owner, and the organization as a whole is not yet angry enough to make you wear these badges of shame out in public, where you can count yourself lucky, but that time is soon approaching. The absolute futility of individualism can only go on for so long. On the other hand, in a private organizational meeting, the owner could present one modified uniform, with its hand sown badges of shame upon it. Maybe every key member of the Vikings would be made to take his turn sowing one of the 34 patches onto the back of that uniform as a reminder that as part of this team ... they have a hand in the fight ... the struggle. In each successive year, the entire organization can watch the owner sow on the prior years yellow badge of shame where it even could be done when they announce each years new 53 player roster. Maybe then players will come to comprehend that this special franchise is more like a fraternity and is much more than just a business. Something that goes beyond money and that they can carry through their entire lives. Maybe this symbolism could even be apart of a secret fraternity right, where each member would be sworn to secrecy, as to not disclose this organizations cumulative shame. Who knows, eventually we could look forward to the day that we could refer to each successive team as proverbial yellow bellies. Oh yes ... you carry the shame of your brothers ... as the Green Bay Packers just made you come to the realization that this is Title Town.
Finding myself standing in Rick Spielman's shoes, his first move should be to pick up the phone to speak with the Caroline Panthers. Rick should be offering his 30+ game starter Christian Ponder for Joe Webb and possibly a player like Zach Line as a kicker. It's never too late as Christian needs to resurrect his career and it just will not happen in Minnesota. With Joe Webb on board, he'd be a viable back-up quarterback that would keep fans in the seats in that eventuality as well as to perform as a week to week active special teams player. In Joe's eyes, all he wants to do is play. Carolina may no longer have an active use for Joe Webb where parting is such sweet sorrow. It's worth a shot as Spielman has got to address his quarterback situation. Ponder at the controls ... one more time ... will lead to a riot. Spielman has to make a move to protect Teddy Bridgewater. The trade deadline of October 28th is looming where the primary reason that you want Joe Webb back is that he was a beloved member of this franchise where he won't ruffle feathers and his main prior adversary (Ponder) is no longer relevant. If Speilman is desperate for good Karma ... Joe's your man.
Even if the owner chooses
not to do this ... the metaphorical stripe is still there nonetheless.
Although Cris Carter could never adequately put his NFL strife into words what
is clear is that all he wanted was the opportunity of ditching those