Twelve seconds left in the game. The Minnesota Vikings have the ball on the New Orleans 38-yard line. All Brett Favre needs to do is hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson and let him get three or four yards and set up Ryan Longwell, the kicker, for a long kick to win the game. The Vikings line up in a run formation, and Favre starts jawing at the offensive line, signaling audible. Hut, hut, hike, and Favre takes a three step drop, ignoring the roving nickelback hungry for an interception. Classic Favre laser, and sure enough, said nickelback dives in for the interception. The New Orleans Saints take over possession, run out the clock, and win the game in overtime with a short drive down the field, ending with a 40-yard field goal.
This happens to be exactly what I was afraid of. Brett Favre broke my heart, once again. When Favre was signed by the Vikings shortly before the season began, I wrote in this very publication, “There may not have been a more ironic situation in the history of sport. The Minnesota Vikings have turned to the man who has been a thorn in their side for over a decade and a half. The franchise’s most infamous enemy is also the man who needs to win it a Super Bowl this year.” I remembered those words consistently all season, and now that the season is over, I can definitively say that it was not worth it. I spent all year hoping against hope that this man would not fuck up, and he did not even come close. Instead, he turned in his best statistical season in his storied career. A 68.4 completion percentage, 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, and he ended up with a quarterback rating of 107.2 In comparison, his next best quarterback rating was 99.5, and that was in 1995, the first of his three straight MVP years. I spent the entire season being a Favre apologist, telling everyone that maybe he had finally figured everything out. He had finally minimized his mistakes and allowed the playmakers around him, such as Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and the always electrifying Adrian Peterson to do the heavy lifting in the Vikings’ offense. Sure, there were times when things looked grim, such as the ugly road losses to the Arizona Cardinals, the Carolina Panthers, and the Chicago Bears, but their home record was spotless, and if anybody were to know how to win in the playoffs, it was the experienced veteran quarterback flinging the pigskin for the Vikings.
The playoffs came, and being a Vikings fan, I was cautiously optimistic. A first round bye meant that my team had a week to rest and study tape of their potential opponents. Then came the second-round match-up against America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys. Judging solely by the media’s opinion, the Vikings had no chance. The Cowboys were the hot team coming into the game, with a fearsome defense and America’s sweetheart at quarterback in Tony Romo. The Vikings blew the Cowboys out 34-3, silencing the detractors.
So the match-up was Saints-Vikings in the NFC Championship game. The Saints had the public sentiment, what with the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina storyline and everything. As a Vikings fan, I couldn’t have been happier to ruin a great storyline. But as stated in the opening paragraph, Favre made a Favreian mistake by forcing a throw into traffic late in the game, trying to get his team into better field goal position to win the game. Being a Vikings fan, I knew that some sort of tragedy was awaiting me, though I was hoping that said tragedy would occur in the Super Bowl.
Left to pick up the pieces of my shattered hope, I could not help but look back. I had avoided getting excited about the possibilities of a Favre-led Vikings team for months, but once he was signed, I had no choice but to put my hopes in the gunslinger. He led me on for 16 games, showing far more signs of brilliance than signs of impending doom. He took me on a wild ride, ending with an enormous letdown in the NFC Championship Game. One would be hard pressed to find a Vikings fan in the state of Minnesota that would trade this season for a middling 8-8 season led by backups Tarvaris Jackson or Iowa State alum Sage Rosenfels. But I would trade that in a heartbeat in exchange for selling my soul as a Vikings fan to cheer for the son-of-a-bitch that found a way to break my heart one last (?) time. 31-28. Brett Favre made a Brett Favre mistake at the end of the game, and it ended up costing my team a Super Bowl berth. To take a line from The Hives, “Hate to Say I Told You So.”