by Patrick Marek
On Christmas Eve I had just settled down for my long winter’s nap, when I heard a suspicious clatter coming from the front porch. There have been a lot of break-ins in Winona lately, so I grabbed my trusty Louisville Slugger, bounded down the stairs, and threw open the front door. I stopped dead in my tracks. It was the creepiest Christmas sight imaginable....Brad Childress in a Santa suit!
“This is the best Christmas present ever,” I thought, as I brought the bat back and prepared to send Santa on a one-way trip on the Polar Express. “Wait!” Childress screamed. “Because of my misdeeds, I have been charged to visit those whose advice I have not heeded, and unveil the ghosts of Vikings past, present, and future.”
Before you could say “what to my wondering eyes should appear,” the already huge Childress forehead began to churn like holiday eggnog, and finally transformed into an LCD television screen.
It was the ghosts of Vikings past. I stood, horror stuck, as my worst purple and gold memories were replayed. Four Super Bowl chokes, Hank Stram’s giggling mockery, Drew Pearson’s push off, Tommy Kramer’s knee turned into confetti by LeRoy Selmon, Cunningham taking a knee against the Falcons in the NFC Championship game, and Gary Anderson missing wide left. I pinched myself, hoping to wake from this terrible dream, but it was no use. I was treated to Hershel Walker losing a shoe, and then pushing a bobsled, then the 42 donut game against the Giants. Finally it was off to the New Orleans Superdome for another NFC Championship game, and Naufahu Tahi getting called for being the 12th man in the huddle when we had the winning field goal in our grasp.
Talk about being a Christmas Grinch! I was ready to stagger off the porch when the Ghosts of Christmas present (this season) began. I thought things couldn’t get worse. I was wrong. It started with the Vikings begging Brett Favre to come back and went downhill from there. I watched Jared Allen turn into a missing person, Adrian Peterson become an ordinary running back, Cedric Griffin collapsing in pain with a shattered knee, and Randy Moss poisoning the team. Lowlight after lowlight revealed the Vikings 2010 season turning into one huge Percy Harvin headache. Then came the most painful images. The eviction from the Metrodome to Ford Field and TCF Stadium, and the Vikings quitting on their coach, their fans, and themselves. The last scene featured a mutt wearing a Vikings jersey, howling at the moon.
“Please Santa, I mean Brad, depart from my porch before these painful memories ruin Christmas, and make me lose my tasty dinner of oyster stew and prime rib,” I pleaded. “No,” maintained Childress. “Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. So don’t turn away from this glimpse from the near future.”
There it was. The Vikings were back in the NFC Championship game. This time we were once again playing the Saints. We were down by two points and were driving into field goal range. The Vikings were on the 20 yard line with ten seconds left when Naufahu Tahi was called for a false start. By NFL rules an offensive foul with under two minutes to play results in an automatic run off of (you guessed it), ten seconds. We lose again, in the worst possible way.
“At least they won’t be able to blame me for that one,” Childress said, as he dashed out the door. And he heard me exclaim, as he drove out of sight, “You signed Tahi! You should have kept Tony Richardson, you jerk!”
Here’s hoping things get better in 2011. Who knows? Maybe we’ll find Michael Vick under our tree.