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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fish Out of Water: A Vikings Fan and a Super Bowl

Seattle, Washington

You can take the man out of the misery, but you can’t take the misery out of the man.

My lifelong love affair with the Minnesota Vikings is bookended by Darrin Nelson’s drop and Tarvaris Jackson hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Along the way, I’ve enjoyed such heart-warming NFC Championship Game moments as Gary Anderson’s miss, 41-doughnut, and a complete domination of the New Orleans Saints that was foiled by five horrific turnovers.

I even had the pleasure of covering the Christian Ponder draft pick at Winter Park as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.

Love hurts.

I left Minnesota for Chicago in 2011, where I spent a year exchanging barbs with Bears fans. And yes, the Bears still suck.

Work brought my family to Seattle 18 months ago, and this time I instantly connected with fellow football fans through a common bond—failure. Zero combined Super Bowls. We shared bad beats over double IPAs. They’d tell me about their 12th Man, and I’d tell them about mine (thanks again, Naufahu Tahi). I rolled my eyes at their optimism. Indeed, the “12” is a living, breathing entity woven into the very fabric of Seattle. It’s in their DNA, in the strand where we Vikings fans exhibit self-loathing and pessimism.

My wife instantly glommed on to the Seahawks because she liked their “outfits,” and soon my baby girl was born a native Seattleite. Technically, I was outnumbered in my own house.

And I was fine with that. I actually found the Seahawks to be quite likable: a dominant defense, a power running game, and Houdini under center. I never experienced the 1970’s, but that formula sounds awfully reminiscent of the Vikings’ Purple People Eaters, Chuck Foreman and Fran Tarkenton.

I’ve been treated to a steady stream of “trader,” “bandwagon,” and “true fan” jabs over the last few weeks. Those labels were expected, and they’re coming from all the expected places. My response is that, after experiencing the energy a Super Bowl brings to a city, the sense of community it brings to neighborhoods and workplaces, and the smiles it brings to a whole generation of kids, I’m not sure how any warm-blooded football fan could avoid being swallowed by the euphoria.

Tomorrow morning, a Super Bowl parade will go right by my downtown office window. Surreal. That’s bucket list material. Sure, I’m a guest at someone else’s party, but I’m still going to enjoy the view from the mountaintop.

I’ll always bleed purple. There’s no cure for the terminal illness that is my Vikings fandom. But I can get back to breaking down Matt Cassel stats next week.  


  1. This is awesome. Great article Ryan! I hope you post to this blog more often. Always great having you on FFW!

  2. Even if no one is wearing purple, I'm happy for you that you'll get to experience a Super Bowl parade in person, Ryan!