All is right with the world. The Green Bay Packers have been eliminated from the postseason. The Packers gave a strong effort in the chilling atmosphere that was Lambeau Field on Sunday, but their efforts came up just a little short. Vikings fans were able to exhale as Phil Dawson hit a last-second field goal to send the Packers out of the postseason. Fans can now sit back and enjoy the rest of the NFL slate of playoff games without fear of a division rival sneaking through the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl.
My personal battle with Green Bay and their fan base goes back to my days in grade school. Walking through the hallways of the Winona Area Catholic school system you could always sense a rift among students when it came to football loyalty. The hallways were separated by purple and green. The tensions were not as heated as the Polish and Irish rivalries that used to split Winona into two, but they were always spirited and present. Most kids got their allegiance through their fathersí rooting interest, but every once in a while an errant, but passionate Buffalo Bills fan would pop up. The rulers of the roost, (or at least so they thought) were the Packer fans. You would get into an argument with one of them about which team was better, and they would always get to the topic of Super Bowl championships and your teamís lack of them. Conversation over.
This was all destined to change with the 1998 Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings finally had a team that could put the Minnesota faithful out of their collective misery. A real shot to get one of those trophies of our own. I remember the first showdown against the Packers that season as if it was yesterday. It was Monday Night Football, my Boy Scout troop crowded into my scout leaderís basement. Two separate televisions were set up, one television for Vikings fans, and the other television for Green Bay fans. Every time a touchdown was scored the victorious squad would rush over to the opposing television and razz the other side. The Vikings, led by dynamic rookie Randy Moss, found the end zone more times than the Green and Gold. The Purple proceeded to go on to beat the Packers and most of the rest of league handily that year, finishing with a stout 15-1 record. The Vikings were Super Bowl bound and everyone on the playground knew it. Taunts were made and those who took up the cause of the purple held their heads high for once.
Then Gary Anderson happened. The Vikings were poised to win, and managed to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory. It felt like I had been punched in the stomach, and that my dog had just died. Green Bay fans were out in full force the Monday after the game. I gritted my teeth and had to admit defeat. They had won this time.
Needless to say, I was not upset by Green Bay losing in the playoffs this last weekend. I know what it feels like to lose the dream of a playoff run, and I was happy to see Green Bay go. No additional ammunition will be given to Packer fans to fire at Vikings fans this year. Welcome back to the bottom Packers, I hope the fall didnít hurt too much.