[size=13pt]Column: Are you ready for some Vikings’ football[/size]

Thursday, September 7, 2006 9:47 AM CDT
Jon Laging, Talking Sports

It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over. Kids are going back to school, days are cooling and the Minnesota Vikings are about to play their first meaningful game. So far nothing dramatic has occurred with the team. Sure, there has been personnel turnover and now we have some strange players manning the 22 positions and field goal kicker. However, the object remains the same. Win enough games to appear in the end of year playoffs. This year it might be a little more uncertain what kind of team will appear on the floor of the Metrodome, what with the new players and coaching staff and starting quarterback Daunte Culpepper with another team.

This summer the team has continued pretty much along the conditioning lines of their Mankato past, but they have worked hard at acquiring free agents and Coach Childress has not been as fan friendly as the dismissed Mike Tice. (By the way, Tice is now making almost as much as he did in Minnesota, $900,000, without near the pressure.) Sure there is a new defense. Isn’t this the fifth new defense in the last five years? And a new offense which appears to be similar to the set Jerry Burns put in for Bud Grant and Fran Tarkington a few decades ago. However, neither the offense nor defense are new innovations. The defense will be cover two, initiated by Viking defensive coach Tony Dungy when he went to Tampa Bay. And they’ll be playing the dink and dunk offense known as Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense. We Minnesotans all know who should be given the credit for the offense and it isn’t Bill Walsh.

So the offense and defense are standard issue and the team culture remains the same. The players breaking the law and the coaches apologizing for them.

This year marks the 46th year the Vikings have made their home in Minnesota. I have been a strong fan of the Vikings for all those 46 years. Even when I was living in Kansas City Chief country I was a huge pro football fan and when the Monday Night Football game went on the air, it became an important part of life for me and football fans everywhere. Monday morning didn’t seem near as bleak when you could look forward to Monday night and televised football. Monday Night Football with Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell and “Dandy” Don Meredith.

You lived and died with your hometown football team. During the height of this football craze the Vikings came to the front. Four Super Bowls. At one time Coach Bud Grant could have been elected governor. He was a real athlete and coach, not an ersatz replica like Jesse Ventura.


It was a lot of fun watching our Vikings march through the playoffs defeating such teams as the Los Angeles Rams and their “Fearsome Foursome” on the way to the Super Bowl. There would be two weeks of hype and then our team, our tribe, our state, would lose soundly. It got so toward the end of the Vikings’ Super Bowl appearances that I dreaded them playing the game, for I knew I would have to endure a week of hazing at work. Although by the fourth loss the losses had become commonplace and they only stacked it on me for a couple of days.

Because of past failures of the Vikings it has become harder and harder for me through the years to again fly the purple flag. I will, but guardedly.

(Jon Laging writes a regional sports column from his home in Preston.)