In the past year there have been a lot of changes. A new man at the very top of the organization. A new coaching staff being led by an unproven assistant with a spotty track record. New training camp philosophies. An aging quarterback who has won it all and made his share of mistakes. An assortment of running backs that seem like the ghosts of fumbles past, present and future. Virtually no special talents on offense. A defense that will rely on new linebackers to make roughly 987 tackles if they expect to be competitive. Yes folks, your Minnesota Vikings will be interesting this year. And by "interesting" I mean "terrible". But that doesn't seem to be the general perception on the ol' newsstand does it?
Why is it that two teams, ours and theirs, seem to have many of the same questions yet one team's fans (hint: they include grown men wearing long blonde pigtails) are expecting a wild card and the other team's fans (hint: they are awesome) are expecting 4-12. Why is that the Vikings believe they have a shot in this league? The predictions have always been ridiculous but this is over the top.
Is it just the enjoyment some folks get out of piling on when a team has failed for the first time in 14 years? I'm sure that's part of it. Some articles about the fate of the 2006 Packers seem to imply that not only will the team be employing a special brand of crappiness this season, they act as if that's just the beginning. I'm half expecting the next season preview I read to imply that due to the team's unrelenting suckiness all the apples in door county will rot on the trees. The rotten apples will then attract bees (say, roughly 9 million of them) and the bees will attack the good citizenry of Green Bay. The result will be many decent bar stories and several odd swelling issues due to repeated stinging. And at the end of it all Mark Chmura will complain that it's Favre's fault.
So why the absence of this melodrama in Grimaceville? (I realize it doesn't make sense to call Minnesota "grimaceville" if you're picturing a person grimacing in disgust. That may be apt but kinda misses the point. I was referring to the large, amoeba-like fella from the McDonald's ads that happens to be the same unfortunate color of the vikings. Which is to say, Purple.) I think a large part of it has to do with the prior regime. Most Vikings fans knew that Mike Tice was an idiot because every time he said something it sounded idiotic, which is usally a good indicator of idiotness. Most Packers fans are on the fence with the whole Mike Sherman firing. It's hard to leave mediocrity behind. We could be much worse or much better, we don't know. With the Vikings they assume that by simply replacing Tice they'll be better. I can't say I blame them. I just find it interesting.
Keep an eye on the commentary about these two teams and help me figure this out. If nothing else it'll be fun watching all the confused fans in Minnesota as they stumble around wondering why their boys are 6-10.