Joe Mellenbruch addresses his personal struggle as a Minnesota Vikings fan and why Vikings Nation should remain vigilant despite an opening-week loss in Detroit.
I was seven years old when I suffered my first real Minnesota Vikings disappointment.
Picture this: The winter of 1999, an excitable young Vikings fan, donned in virtually every piece of purple clothing he owned, sitting anxiously in front of his television, watching his 15-1 heroes battling it out for a berth in the nation's premier sporting event. His eyes watching attentively, finger nails chewed down to the bone, heart beating faster with every tick of the clock.
It was a sure thing. It was our year. There was no way we would squander this unique opportunity at pro football immortality. No way.
And then, Gary Anderson reared his short, nearly-perfect right leg.
I don't need to re-describe the grim details for you, because you already know them. It pains me to even dwell on such a forgettable memory, to relive the disappointment of watching the Atlanta Falcons storm the Metrodome turf, tears streaming down my defeated face, confused anger coursing through veins.
It's a feeling that all Vikings fans know too well. It's our history, our unfortunate legacy: a football program plagued by missed opportunities and seasons that "might have been."
But Viking fans are known best for their resiliency. No matter how soul crushing the disappointment, and no matter how frequently those disappointments occur, we suck it up with unrivaled malleability and vigor.
We missed out on the Super Bowl again? So what. This is our year.
And season after season, we fans come to the harsh realization that our wait for an NFL championship will have to wait another year. Yet here we stand. No matter how many times fate punches us in the mouth, we stand up with defiant hostility, ready for a fight, and this season, Vikings Nation is primed for another scrap.
Minnesota became the NFL's surprise team in 2012, rebounding from an ugly 3-13 record the season before to capture the NFC's final postseason berth. In a season highlighted by Adrian Peterson brilliance and a few promising moments from a young, talented defensive unit, our expectations began to rise as high as a booming 50-yard Blair Walsh field goal.
No one expected the Vikings to accomplish what they did last season, which made our playoff loss in Green Bay a bit easier to bear. But now, there are no excuses. We aren't a last place team anymore. We're a playoff team.
After what was an improbable run last season, 2013 really could be our year.
Obviously, the team's performance in Detroit yesterday didn't shine a whole lot of light on our postseason ambitions, but I urge you, don't let one game determine your outlook for an entire season. Wear your purple resilience on your sleeve with unsubmissive pride. After all, we've had plenty of practice in that regard.
There are still 15 games to play, 15 games for this team to show the league just how good it can be.
Consider Sunday's loss to be an unfortunate speed bump on the road to what could be a special journey for this team.
So keep the faith, Vikings Nation, and say those magical four words with me again, just like we always have: This is our year.
This is our year.