It’s that time of year. Everyone seems to be abuzz, but I can’t say I’m quite there yet.
Perhaps it’s the busyness of work, or the (admittedly irrational) stress of gift-buying, or figuring out my schedule over the holidays, but the excitement of the season hasn’t quite sank in for me yet. Heck, even seeing a wonderful rendition of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ by none other than turn-of-the-century hip-hop star DMX wasn’t enough to do the trick. (Seriously. That happened. Here’s the link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPXWZxtDooY)
Oh. I’m not talking about Christmas or New Year’s. I’m definitely ready for those and getting into the spirit (aside from the aforementioned gift-buying issue). In the famous words of former Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Mora, I’m “talkin’ about PLAYOFFS?!?!” (Again, a link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7fjDS0jKiE)
Yes, not only do the holidays make this a wonderful time of year, for football freaks such as myself, the home stretch of the regular season is great fun. Pouring through the “if Team X wins and Team Y loses or ties and Team Z gets beat by more than 40 points, then Team X clinches a playoff berth” scenarios is strangely fun, especially when your team is involved.
I have glanced over the Vikings’ playoff scenarios, and I know the odds of them getting in are still relatively high barring a major collapse (he typed while furiously knocking on his wooden desk). But I haven’t dissected them, memorized them in anticipation for next week’s games as I have in years past. I guess I’m probably just a bit out of practice, seeing as they’ve only played meaningful games in December three times during the last seven years.
I don’t think it has anything to do with cynicism, either. I know the bandwagon has gotten a bit lighter with the “Purple Paupers” (as my middle school principal used to call them) losing three of their last four. But I’ve never been a “bandwagon” guy when it comes to my teams. (Seriously, during the 38-7 beatdown they took against Seattle, the thought, “If I’m gonna enjoy the good games, I’ve gotta stick with ’em through this” crossed my mind. I watched until the clock hit zero.)
I’m not sure if that’s loyalty or masochism. Probably a little of both.
Either way, there are three games left in the regular season with each game (hopefully) growing in importance from here out. I have a feeling that sometime Sunday afternoon, win or lose, I’ll get swept up in the season and realize my team is in a playoff race. Aside from the excitement of Christmas and the New Year, I’m guessing not much will distract my fandom from that point until the season ends.
As I said, the Vikings haven’t been in this position very often lately. To be honest, I’m hoping I can keep from getting TOO swept up in it; I’d like to at least slightly curb my enthusiasm. I want to enjoy this joyous time of year and be thankful my team has something for which to play. Admittedly, this will likely be much easier said than done.
That said, here’s wishing everybody a happy and exciting stretch-run. Oh, and Merry Christmas, too!