McFeely: Have mercy on Vikings fans today
Yes, this might be the year. Case Keenum or not, this could be the year the Minnesota Vikings win it all. Or, more likely given history, it could be another year when the team rips out the hearts of its fans and crushes their souls, leaving purple-wearing heaps sobbing by the side of the road—just like it has for the 56 previous years.
The Vikings begin another quest for a Super Bowl title today, hosting the New Orleans Saints in a playoff game in Minneapolis. If they beat the Saints and win one more game, the Vikings will qualify for the Super Bowl, which will be played at their own U.S. Bank Stadium.
Minnesota, you might know, has never won a Super Bowl. It lost the big game four times more than 40 years ago and more recently has failed spectacularly just trying to get there. The Vikes have somehow managed to find new and creative ways to jab a stick in the eye of their fans in the playoffs since last reaching the Super Bowl in January 1977.
There was Darrin Nelson's dropped pass at the goal line against Washington. Gary Anderson's missed field goal against Atlanta. Remember the 41-0 shellacking versus the New York Giants? Or Brett Favre's interception against the Saints? Blair Walsh's shanked short field goal against Seattle was the latest.
That is a long and legendary list of crashing and burning.
It is no wonder, then, that Vikings fans are gun-shy. More than a few have resigned themselves to the idea that it won't be if the Vikings fail to win (or even qualify for) the Super Bowl, but when and how they will pour the opportunity down their leg.
The Vikings have a fine team and are favored to at least reach the big game, now that our guy Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles is out for the year with a knee injury and backup Nick Foles is not exactly North Dakota Tough.
Minnesota has its own quarterback issues, with the journeyman Keenum filling in for injured Sam Bradford who was filling in for injured Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings are so far down their depth chart they can almost see Josh Freeman. Keenum has played well enough, though, and with a defense so stout it could stop President Trump from tweeting, Minnesota is only three wins away from the trophy.
Vikings fans, though, know those wins will be as easy as a round-trip flight to Mars. There is too much history, too much scar tissue, to believe otherwise.
So if you see a Vikings fan in church or at the grocery store this morning and they seem to be staring off into space in a cold sweat, their hands shaking, their face twitching ... have mercy. They have seen things no human should have to see, and they are preparing to see something new and just as horrible. The playoffs are starting and they know this might not end well.