Whether a participant or a spectator, sports always has been a part of my life. It has provided me with entertainment, and it also has been a great teacher of various life lessons. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to cheer one of my favorite teams to victory, and, in turn, was reminded of a very important lesson.
As a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, the playoffs can only mean one of two things. The team either will not make the playoffs, or they will make the playoffs, only to lose. Their playoff losses tend to be ones that leave fans feeling like our beloved team has been cursed and sentenced to NFL purgatory. They have been to the Super Bowl four times without a ring to wear home, and they have not appeared in the Super Bowl since 1976. For over fifty years, Vikings fans have rooted for some of the greatest players to play the game, only to end each season with dashed hopes and refrains of wait until next year. Only to have the next year yield more of the same disappointing results. And the next year. And the next year. And every year after that.
Despite the annual agony of defeat, I have remained loyal to the Vikings, and each season, the team has taken to the field, ready to make it their field of dreams come true. Every season has given me reasons to cheer and to cringe. This season, though, gave me much more than I expected, both on and off the field.
As Stefon Diggs ran into the end zone to score the winning touchdown, with no time remaining, against the Saints, I was surprised and elated. Moments earlier, I had replayed the blown 17 point lead in the second half and the blocked punt in my mind, and the ghosts of playoff losses of the past taunted me. I kept thinking, Here we go, again. Thankfully, the Vikings thought differently.
After the game, I could not get enough of the replays, interviews with the players and coaches, and commentary by football analysts. As I watched, listened, and continued to shed tears of joy, a few themes emerged that transformed this thrilling victory into something more.
During several post-game interviews, it became apparent that there was more to winning the game than that last play. Some called it sheer luck or divine intervention, and while you could make a case for both, there was more to it than something so random.
When the team gathered around Case Keenum in that final huddle, he called an aptly named play that led to what is now referred to as the Minneapolis Miracle. He called seven heaven and said, I’m gonna give somebody a chance. That somebody was Stefon Diggs, and his touchdown left Vikings players, coaches, and fans in seventh heaven.
At no point in that huddle did the team recount their history of playoff losses or resign themselves to being victims of the alleged playoff curse. They did not dwell on the fact that they were being led by a third string quarterback and that one of the stars of the team had not even been drafted. They put aside a season riddled with injuries. They ignored the fact that the only other two playoff teams who had overcome a 17 point or greater deficit had gone on to victory. They were not paralyzed by the past, as they focused only on the moment at hand, and they turned it into a moment that no-one will ever forget.
Most of us will never play in a game of this magnitude or score the winning touchdown, but we all have our own stories that we tell ourselves. Some of these stories inspire us to persist and grow, while others enslave us and keep us mired in defeat and failure. It is easy to stay stuck in a story that you do not want to be in and to wait until next year, but that resignation robs of us those unexpected moments of greatness. Success is not guaranteed, but staying on the sidelines and throwing in the towel guarantee failure.
In addition to taking away an amazing memory of yesterday’s win, I also am taking away the reminder that anything is possible, even when it seems as if history may be repeating itself. Now, Vikings, bring it home!!!
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story