On the day I was born my dad brought two kid-sized footballs to the hospital—one red for Ohio State, one purple for Minnesota Vikings—and politely asked the nurse if he could put them next to me in the little plastic box they put you in when you’re minutes old. I guess the nurse said it was OK, because my dad still has the pictures of moments old me next to two footballs slightly bigger than my head. To this day, those little footballs sit on a shelf in my bedroom at my parents’ house in Minnesota.
When I was really young, before my little brother was born, my dad used to dress me up in a mini Ohio State cheerleader uniform on Saturdays, and a Cris Carter jersey on Sundays. We would sit together on the couch and watch the games as he told me things about the players and how the rules worked.
So it seemed fitting that on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at 7:15 p.m. (CT) I was once again sitting on the couch at my parents’ house with my dad watching the Minnesota Vikings about to lose embarrassingly. Again. All my life the Vikings have, for lack of a better phrase, fucked it up. My dad used to talk about this mystical Vikings team from long ago that actually won things, even making it into the Super Bowl four times (losing every time, of course). There have been rumors of curses over the years, and even Brett Favre couldn’t help us. The Vikings have always been down and out. Always. No one believes in us. And that was the feeling in my parents’ basement as we all bowed our heads in silence as the boys lined up for one more play before the clock ran out.
The next 10 seconds, as Paul Allen would say, are Minnesota history.
I’ve truthfully never cried at any sort of sporting event until last Sunday. And I was really trying hard to not let my dad see. For years, he and I have argued about football. I’ve pretended to not really care about football just to get a rise out of him. He gets so annoyed with me, and I don’t blame him. But the truth is, football is so ingrained into my being because of him that I have no other choice but to love it. My dad always says that, “everything you ever need to know about life is on the football field.”
It wasn’t until Diggs crossed into the end zone that I realized my dad has always been, as usual, absolutely right. Continue reading