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Additional Minnesota Viking Commentary

NFL's Identity Crisis
It's Christmas morning 1998, and one by one, my young children take turns carefully stacking my unopened gifts by my side, while I watch them opening theirs.  After they opened all of their gifts, I'd have each one of them take turns opening my gifts, one by one, when to my horror, they pulled a Minnesota Viking 1998 Division Champion shirt from it's wrapping.  My wife sees the immediate sickened look upon my face and she asks, "What's wrong".  My immediate and involuntary response was to blurt out, that her special present for me, was in fact a curse.  There was no way to put this hurtful ordeal back into Pandora's box.       

How could my wife possibly understand the peril of the NFL's identity crisis ... an unintended mistake that she will now never make again.  As it turns out, the words on that shirt, due to the NFL's identity crisis ... were written in stone, as the Vikings eventually lost in the NFC Championship round, and are today only known as the 1998 Central Division Champion's.  

The NFL identity crisis is mired deeply into the concept of the winner of super bowl rings, and the winners of the losers ring, as if that was all that mattered.  Yes we have the division title and the wild card monikers, but these distinctions are mired in chaos.  The counter argument to the NFL's concept is the elevating NCAA's basketball tournament "Sweet Sixteen" or "Final four", which describes the very real achievement of these teams successes, which in fact describes the level of play at which that team lost in the tournament.  It is a complete mystery how the NFL could have missed out on such a immensely popular marketing concept that could potentially means millions of additional revenue to every NFL owner.  Maybe its Pete Rozelle's initials that should appear on every uniform and every field ... as he was the greatest marketing mind that has ever lived.   

If you are a true Minnesota Viking fan, one of the greatest moments in Viking history occurred on January 9, 1988, when we actually defeated Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers, on our way to the NFC championship game ... one of the most improbable runs of the recent era.  What that team did was beyond special.  However, since we lost in the Championship game, you'd actually have to search deeply into the history books to see how we are actually remember by history.  We were in fact not a normal Wild Card Team as they expanded the playoff format in response to the anomalies of 1987 strike season.  In a time of quick slogans and one liners, that virtually describe every aspect of team, we'd are forced to point out, long hand, that our 1997 team was the loser of the NFC championship game.  Wow .... that sounds promising!   Now doesn't that just grab the essence of that 1987 team.  

Far be it from me to try to change history, but my wife did purchase a Purple People Eaters Shirt as well as the Sheb Willie 45 RPM single.     

In addition to our standard established monikers, we should also establish a ranking system, with new monikers, which immediately describe the essence of a teams level of accomplishment:
1. Super Bowl Champion
2. AFC or NFC Champion
3. NFL's AFC or NFC Pro4 or Power Four or Quad Four or Select Four or Smack Four or Elite Four, which should accomplish two objectives.  The moniker should immediately label this teams accomplishment as an elite participant in the championship game.  In reality it actually describes the losers of the championship game.  Keep this is mind ... as Viking fans, we are all carry Nelson's drop at the goal line as a special moment in time.   
4. NFC or AFC Devastator.  This name should immediately invoke the thought of an ousting, a wedge, an extricator, an obstructer, an impeder, a jammer, or a hinderer.  This particular moniker describes a team that jumped from the ranks of just being a playoff wildcard team to a team that defeated a division champion.   
5. AFC or NFC North Division Champion  
6. AFC or NFC Wild Card

What really sticks in my craw is calling the opening round of the playoffs the Wild Card round.  He dude ... my team worked hard to accomplish a division championship.  Division Champions don't assume the name Wild Card team if they lose in the first round.  Calling the 2nd round a divisional round also lacks marketing appeal to its real significance and more importantly ... its level of achievement.        

The Viking Ghost Writer
Date: January 2, 2008

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