Well, ever since former standout Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre “retired,” there has been talk about him joining his arch-rival. It’s been an on again, off again courtship, to say the least. But last week Favre finally became a Minnesota Viking.
I must admit, I’m skeptical that Favre has still got it and can help turn the Vikings around. For me rather, the whole Favre thing just brings back a lot of Vikings memories.
I guess in North Carolina most people these days follow the Panthers, but back when I was growing up here in the 1970s we Tar Heels didn’t have a pro team to cheer for — at least we didn’t have one in our backyard anyway. So, for whatever reason, I became a Vikings fan.
Maybe it was their purple uniforms, the reputation of the “Purple People-eaters” for defensive toughness, or maybe it was the fact that they simply had one of the best teams in the NFL when I was a kid, I don’t know — but I was a Vikings fan then and still am.
Of course, the thing about being a Vikings fan back in the ’70s was that you had to get used to the emotional rollercoaster of great victories but no Super Bowl rings — ’cause the Viks just couldn’t quite get the job done. (And the last few decades they just haven’t been able to do the job at all. Sometimes I think they lost their mojo when they went to that domed stadium in 1982!)
The first year I followed the NFL and pulled for the Viks was 1969-70. Their quarterback was an awesome, tough guy type named Joe Kapp, and he had a stellar season that year. There were some incredible moments: a great come-from-behind victory over the Rams in the playoffs and an amazing win over Detroit in the snow on Thanksgiving Day. Kapp ultimately led Minnesota to Super Bowl IV, where they were heavily favored but suffered a disappointing loss to Kansas City, 23-7.
Then quarterback Fran Tarkenton returned to the Vikings (in ’72 I think), and after he settled in they had a run of really good seasons, though of course they were never able to win a Super Bowl, losing the big one three times to the Dolphins (’74), Steelers (’75) and Raiders (’77). And who could forget the great team that lost to Dallas with that “Hail Mary” pass in the first round of the playoffs in 1975?
Returning to the here and now, I think the thing Brett Favre represents to old Vikings fans like me — and maybe young ones too — is another shot at a Super Bowl ring. Just as we looked to quarterbacks such as Kapp and Tarkenton to make the difference 35-40 years ago, today we look to Favre.
But it’s a long shot, I know, especially with Favre now 39 years old. And it comes as a real shock for me to realize that he was born (October 1969) during the season Kapp and the Viks had their great run!
Anyway, if the Favre story has peaked your interest in him, you may want to check out Brett Favre: The Tribute by Sports Illustrated or Favre: the Man, the Legend, edited by Joe Funk.
Greensboro Public Library’s holdings also include plenty of recent books on pro football generally, including: The Paolantonio Report: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players, Teams, Coaches, and Moments in NFL History by Sal Paolantonio with Rueben Frank; That First Season: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and Set It On the Path to Glory by John Eisenberg (on order); War Without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football’s NFC East by Mark Maske; Brand NFL: Making and Selling America’s Favorite Sport by Michael Oriard; Pro Football’s Fifty Toughest Players by Neil Reynolds; Tailgating, Sacks, and Salary Caps: How the NFL Became the Most Successful Sports League in Sports History by Mark Yost; The Long Snapper: A Second Chance, a Super Bowl, a Lesson for Life by Jeffrey Marx; Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker; The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Walsh with Steve Jamison and Craig Walsh (on order); and The Glory Game: How the 1958 NFL Championship Changed Football Forever by Frank Gifford with Peter Richmond.
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