"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sound the trumpets, football is near!

I have never looked forward to football season so much in my life. We know the Minnesota Vikings will be interesting regardless of what the won-lost record says. We will get reacquainted with our "old friend" the HHH Metrodome, where the Minnesota Vikings are now the only big-time tenant.
The Dome motif is becoming very Vikings-specific with lots of purple around, according to what I've read.
The Metrodome was such a reliable rock for Minnesota sports fans over the past era. It has life left in it, as we'll be very clearly reminded when the Vikings take to the artificial turf there for the new campaign.
It's nice to see the Dome still viable. The decibel level will soar there again.
Lately it's the aggravation level that has risen among Vikings fans, due to the predictable ambivalence of their quarterback. Green Bay felt this circus had become too distracting. Minnesota took a chance on this Mississippi boy and he took us for an interesting ride last season. Of course, he was surrounded by superior talent.
He failed to dispose of a so-so Chicago Bears team late in the season, and for that we saw home field advantage slip away for the duration of the playoffs. That probably cost us a Super Bowl berth.
Brett Favre eventually threw one of his trademark "what was he thinking?" interceptions against the Saints in New Orleans, and this gave us a hangover for the off-season.
Experts have said that Favre had his best-ever season last year. I would say that the NFL has been continually tweaking the rules to encourage more of a passing game. Not just more passing but passing of more of a crowd-pleasing kind, with receivers hit in stride as they sprint downfield. Not the under-the-coverage stuff.
The astute Favre saw these developments and figured he could punch down on the accelerator, which he definitely did. He had the receivers and the line to make it all work, defying what his age might have suggested.
Kurt Warner capped off his NFL career with spectacular passing numbers, taking advantage of the game's more wide-open direction. Warner, an NFL senior citizen like Favre, battled Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs in a game epitomizing the new NFL look of frequent passing.
Warner's Cardinals and Rodgers' Packers battled in a pinball type of playoff battle. Back and forth and fast and furious. Entertaining, yes, but too much of a good thing?
Passing can get cheapened just like Barry Bonds cheapened home runs. The NFL is a precious entertainment product competing for the entertainment dollar in a most crowded universe of attractions. Not even the NFL can take its success for granted. So the game's architects are delicately managing the product to deal with the short attention span created by our limitless new media universe.
In the old days, Curt Gowdy could describe a dull NFL game with frequent off-tackle runs, and everyone just went home at the end of the day and picked up their paychecks. No one can afford that anymore. The NFL is looking closely at pre-season games as being a liability. Which they are. The most exciting thing about the Vikings' pre-season games will be to see when or if Brett Favre shows up for them.
There has even been talk that Favre could bypass the early portion of the real season, giving his apparently injured ankle more time to heal. This would be quite a drastic accommodation. Should we then root for the Vikings to lose so the door stays open for Favre? Oh, of course not.
But if Tarvaris Jackson catches fire, the way I think he can, how can you risk interrupting the momentum? It's all so distracting and disrupting. And Favre seems to be the only athlete capable of demanding that accommodation.
There is only one way that all of this will be worth it: if the Vikings win the Super Bowl. Anything short of that, and the season fades into obscurity. The odds are long.

What about those "rodents?"
The U of M Gophers are a distant second in terms of attracting the interest of Minnesota's fandom. Last year the novelty of a new stadium wasn't enough to attract the kind of student body support that the U expected. That's a very disappointing sign.
I have written before on this site that Division I football in Minnesota would benefit from an in-state rivalry. I have wondered if it might be practical for St. Cloud State to take the kind of steps we've seen with NDSU of Fargo. Any better suggestions?
The Gophers - "our beloved rodents," as scribe Patrick Reusse has long called them - will be the target for negative recruiting now because of the potential for playing in cold weather games up here. The Gophers sought the Metrodome in the first place to overcome this. Life can be perplexing.
Many season forecasts have the Gophers finishing at the bottom of the conference. People of my generation (boomers) have gotten gray or silver-haired waiting for the U of M football team to do something truly special. Lou Holtz gave us a glimmer of hope. But after that it was back into the abyss where we are now with coach Tim Brewster, another here-today-gone-tomorrow spoke in the wheel (i.e. a future answer to a trivia question).
In another month or so we'll all be mesmerized by the Vikings. It will be a joy to watch ESPN Sportscenter on Monday again.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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