We are the champions of the world. NFL Champions! Our proverbial high water mark. It's January 4, 1970. We just defeated the Cleveland Browns 27-7. It lasted all of 7-days. The legend was that Bud Grant redirected the team from attack first ... rip their heads off ... and we'll sort stuff out later into a defensive concept that was far from our Viking identity. Opening day 1970 solidified that... a 27-10 bit of Berserker Brutality. The very thought of a different defensive style may have caused an immediate & indelible rift throughout the team on that day... as if the Super Bowl really didn't matter. Ever since, we and this franchise have been cursed. Never tasting the bittersweet fruits of endeavor.
When I read about my beloved Vikings I hear the words ... rebuilding ... young ... rookie ... with future team won-loss records that reflect a non-winning campaign. We hear excuse after excuse in regard to Ponder's inabilities ... as if he doesn't have a body of work ... that body that is now greater than that extended to Tarvaris Jackson & with continuity that was never extended to Jackson. That is a fact. The number of games really doesn't matter ... but the perspective does. We accept Ponder's ineptitude placing this team week after week into that site ... that place ... that location, where the team has little to no chance of winning the game ... before "The-Ponder-Stats" are lopped on ... as if it mattered. We're not interested in stats ... our interest lies within championships. Here's the rub! If Ponder were to actually succeed in positioning this team ... to actually threaten the big dogs in the power rankings, like the 49ers ... where he was hell bent on taking their bone ... that team would absolutely annihilate him. After all, he's a rag doll that has been protected well behind a very stout wall. As such, we forgo our championship aspirations for his passive posture & presence, settling for the deer in the headlights. To be direct ... Championships will never be settled this way. There is no way the Vikings can risk having their total investment in the LIE be crushed before our eyes. Might that very thing be at our doorstep.
Back on July 10, 2009, the Ghost Writer mused about standing mere feet from the Dead Zone. Within my fingertips was the Phillie's Word's Series trophy, the Steelers Lombardi Trophy, and the Penguin's Stanley Cup ... all housed TOGETHER for a day at the PA state capital. A year of Pennsylvania dominance. You see, in Pittsburgh, unlike within the confines of my beloved franchise, they are expected to win an NFL championship every year. On some of those years they are forced to accept defeat. It's not the same. Since 1966 I've personally been waiting patiently ... we've all waited long enough. You are expected to win now! The only person that is buying into sometime-in-the-future awaits the swinging door. No one ever expects to win a championship as sometimes it is thrust upon you ... into your lap ... as if the strings of destiny tug at your heart ... upon your every breath. The NFL defies explanation ... upon every step. In this league there is only the "very few" fortunate ... and the vanquished.
Jupiter (click on map above) is known as the vacuum cleaner of our galaxy. Jupiter disappeared for awhile as it was hidden behind the sun ... the earths most vulnerable position ... away from it's champion. I'd like to think that Jupiter's transition through Taurus is like a rope that is lassoing all that bad Karma (the curse), bringing this franchise back to a team of champions.
As for Erin Henderson, sitting his melon may mean that he's available for the remainder of the season, whereas if he had played on Sunday, it might have been reoccurring. I can't help but think back to that 2009 New Orleans Championship Game were Erin was de-cleated & blind sided on a Bush punt-return-bounty, where the PERP, turned toward the New Orleans bench, whirling his hands around his ears, with his tongue out signifying the knock out ... with his proverbial hand out (bounty cha-ching). That image was etched into my mind forever. Today, Erin lives with the results that is now part of his history ... forever ... where the NFL commissioner's plan is to treat it like it never happened. FOR SHAME! Erin has been an absolute stud. His admissions also indicates that he's a class act all the way & a stand up guy. We wish we could take it all away, like washing our hands, but we can't. Maybe the commissioner will wake up one day and realize "THIS". Immediate ejections must become part of the game because if you get ejected you just might lose your job. That ... and only that ... will be the first step toward protecting the NFL and its players. "Better an ejection ... than scrambled eggs for brains." "True!"
The never ending warnings have now been realized. Coach Mike Singletary is now dangerously thin at linebacker, a position that historically has caused this franchise ulcers. McKenzie, Erin's replacement, is savvy & quite capable however what is behind him is a concern. Will Jasper Brinkley be exposed playing a role for which he's is not suited? To be direct, Marvin Mitchell is a mystery, Audie Cole is unproven although compelling. Larry Dean in my book raises red flags ... not quite a linebacker ... not quite a safety ... not quite a Viking?
A disturbing fact is that we lost a game that could have easily been won and it's not for the reasons that you think. Our special teams, at this juncture, could be a lethal striking force, where instead ... complacency has become the devils workshop. Our special teams are poised to explode on the scene as never seen before. Our sports beat know it as fact and still they sit firmly upon their hands. The pieces are ready to fall in place & I'm personally as impatient as a child locked into a candy store. How is it that you cannot see this ... it is as clear as an azure river. This 53 man roster is desperate for change & shaking up. Historically, once you made a 53 man roster, little changed other than by injured reserve and that my friends is old school thinking. There is a hall of fame linebacker sitting on someone's practice squad and we need to find that diamond in the ruff. We also need that 4th "Scat" running back that can return both punts and kickoffs with both blazing speed and change of direction quickness. This is the difference maker in every weeks contest. It's time to move now. The number of moves shall be simultaneous and it shall be two. The franchise must be shaken at it's very foundation. Complacency! Spit it out! Now!
So what are my expectations for tomorrow versus the 49ers, in regard to Christian Ponder. Allow me to be direct in stating that no one wants the visual of a slow motion car wreck ... similar to Favre in the championship game ... but it's difficult to veer our eyes from the ones we love so dear. On the other hand, there is absolute hope that is something akin to Perseus that will re-emerge on this day. This time it will be undeniable and without question.
On September 17, 1961 an individual arrived on the scene. On that day versus the Chicago Bears his play transformed an investment. This stellar 1-day accomplishment forced the hand of an 18 year struggle within the NFL ... and a Hall of Fame career. Look back to Fran's Hall of Fame stats as upon the day of his retirement, all of his prior contemporaries where so far from this new standard as to be laughable today. In other words it was nothing like the way the HOF quarterbacks stats are all bunched together today (except that Iron Man Stat ... as if that mattered in the NFL). When Fran Tarkenton speaks of giving Christian Ponder continuity ... a chance to develop into an elite NFL caliber quarterback ... he was speaking directly from his own very painful experiences. Being first ... breaking through the barriers ... is always a painful experience. The Dutchman, Norm Van Brocklin had no such illusions. The Dutchman, Fran's tormentor, was the prototypical pocket passer, of no equal. His stats to this day are still unequalled. To put it all into perspective, Packer Head Coach Lombardi lost only one playoff contest and that was to the Dutchman ... The 1960 NFL Championship. On the other hand, Sir Francis's survival was in his absolute art ... that never ending 6th sense ... equal to no one. He created a new brand of football, that was flatly rejected by the entire league, and is still in evolution today. He caused absolute fits with every team that he faced ... including his own 1969 Viking franchise ... as if that never mattered ever. In my opinion, Fran's plea today is the correct method however it has been directed at the wrong individual ... but it's never too late to change the course of this great Viking Ship. Ponder will never ... and I mean absolutely never ... will become an elite championship level quarterback. Further investment at this point is futile. This will all come to head tomorrow. It is within it's destructive hand. I am it's witness.
Just a few short days ago, in five minutes, one could see RG3 trying to fit within a mold that succeeded for exactly 1-week. My grandmother could sniff out this debacle. Under Shanahan it has always been, it is my way or the highway, however in time you will see what will be known as "RG3 Football" ... the creation of true art & its evolution.
What is so troubling to me, on this day, is a clear prejudice. If Fran Tarkenton had applied his 1961 opening day accomplishment measuring stick to Joe Webb's outstanding & incredible feats, with virtually little to no actual true investment into his soul, Fran might be singing a different tune today. How could he miss it? It pains me to say this but why can't he see the god-like-stature behind the color of Joe Webb's skin? To put this in perspective, when Fran spoke of Bret Favre he was correct (final interception in the championship game ... reinforcing his Green Bay legend), but he was absolutely incorrect in regard to measuring the effect of one man & his ability to transform the nation. Sir Francis, with all due respect, Christian Ponder has never done anything near the level of a true champion however there is an individual that has absolutely amazed the nation. His name is Joe Webb. Sir Francis, my plea is to dissuade your attempt at being the "Political Ponder Shill" and to open your eyes and your heart ... to embrace our destiny. All are entwined within the destinies of these deserving legends: Jim Marshal, Ed White & Mick Tingelhoff.
Who was it that said, "There is no way a black man is going to run my team"? You better have an answer to this question ... as it's coming upon the heals of a petulant & rambunctious nation. We can endure no more. You don't run this team ... history does ... ;-)
The Viking Ghost Writer
Date: September 22, 2012