(This is a post I originally started writing for the Vikings blog to which I contribute, but, for reasons that will become obvious, by the time I finished it was unfit to post there. So I’m throwing it up on here instead, because. It is undoubtedly one of the dumbest things I’ve done.)
The start of training camp comes pre-loaded with natural optimism—have you heard? Every team is undefeated!—but we here in Vikings Land have a special knack for identifying negatives, no matter the time of year. One such wet blanket materialized earlier this week, when Packers CEO Mark Murphy began yapping about the potential for his team to play in Super Bowl LII in U.S. Bank Stadium:
“It’s going to be a lot of fun for all our fans to drive across the state when we’re in the Super Bowl in Minneapolis,” Mark Murphy told shareholders on Monday, via Aaron Nagler of PackersNews.com.
Obvious offseason antics aside, the hated Packers playing in—and potentially winning—the first Minnesota-hosted Super Bowl since 1992 is a real possibility. And, as Drew Mahowald pointed out on Twitter, it’s terrifying. Along with decades of superior relevance and a total skunking in the championship ring department, winning a Super Bowl on the Vikings’ home turf would be another big ol’ W for the Packers in the interstate rivalry. It would also be very Vikings; even without playing in the big game, they would still find a way to lose.
But fear not, purple faithful, because the Packers will neither win, nor participate in, this year’s Super Bowl. I am very confident in this prediction, perhaps as much as 85% confident. One could point to Green Bay’s recent string of playoff meltdowns—dating back to 2014—as reason enough to make this claim. But for me, it’s about something greater.
To understand why the Packers will not spoil the party in Minneapolis on February 4, you only need to look back to the 2016 presidential election.
Let’s take a gander back at the situation, pre-election: the country was in turmoil, our future was up in the air, and we had two starkly different candidates from which to choose. Growing unrest between socioeconomic classes and a disconnect between rural and urban citizens were just two of a host of factors driving an even deeper wedge between the two major political parties. And we had a decision to make: on one hand, a seasoned, mostly by-the-book politician who didn’t galvanize the way the previous president did, but presumably possessed enough decency to get the job done in a safe, if unexciting manner. And on the other hand, we had Donald Trump.
Now, I’ve personally never been a big fan of Hillary “Deleted Emails” Clinton (a little political humor for those of you inside the Beltway), but it became obvious as the campaigns rolled along, Clinton was the only reasonable choice. And that’s nothing against Donald Trump the man—it’s just that he had zero political experience, and the proposition of electing someone with those (lack of) credentials as leader of the free world would have been shaky at best. Also, he’s a stark raving lunatic.
And this is where it ties into football, and the idea of the Packers winning the Super Bowl in Minneapolis. Because in America, and in football—and what’s the difference between the two, really?—when the chips are down and the community is bordering on a catastrophic event, we come together and make it right. We reach across the aisle, put aside our personal differences, and do what’s best for the country—and the league.
And a Packers Super Bowl win in Minneapolis? While it would be downright devastating to the people of Minnesota, it would also be bad for the rest of the NFL, and America, too. Imagine our battered and beaten fanbase, already on the verge of a meltdown after decades of disappointment and underperformance, forced to watch Aaron Rodgers smugly hoist the Lombardi in on our home turf. This following the Vikings collapsing down the stretch again or flaming out in the first round of the playoffs, after—I don’t know—a biblical epidemic of injuries which leaves Case Keenum starting at quarterback for much of the season behind an offensive line featuring Everson Griffen at tackle. Or something like that.
Just IMAGINE the effect such an event would have on Minnesota. An already downtrodden people would sink even further into depression, driving proud institutions like 3M and Target into the ground, and sending shockwaves of darkness and pain across the upper midwest. The ripple would extend far past our borders, to be sure, and while the 300,000 residents of Wisconsin would laugh and feast, the rest of the nation would turn a solemn eye to Minnesota and wonder how a kind and loving God could be so cruel to one group of people.
The point is, it would be bad for everyone. Much like electing a political rookie who seems solely intent on furthering his own interests president would be bad. And this is where the will of the people comes in: when they see the ramifications of the wrong choice, they band together and do the right thing. They stop the madness.
It was quite impressive to see the American people do this leading up to last year’s election, and as the months marched toward November, it became crystal clear the nation would do the right thing and reject the volatile Republican. So clear, in fact, that I personally stopped paying attention a few weeks before the election. The people had spoken, and it was in the bag. Surely every major poll couldn’t predict the outcome incorrectly. It was a historical lock, they said, and that was good enough for me. I unplugged and went ice fishing for most of the winter, choosing to ignore politics until the next presidential election. That stuff can get depressing if you consume too much of it.
So with Hillary at the helm and national affairs presumably boring, I am confident the football community will similarly unite around the Minnesota Vikings in ensuring their hated rival does not embarrass them on what should be a marquee showcase for stadium, city, and state. Other teams will come to our aid, taking the extra motivation to continue the recent trend of ending the Packers’ season in devastating fashion. The league will have pity upon us, scheduling Green Bay as unfavorably as possible in the playoffs, and perhaps even suspending Aaron Rodgers without cause or evidence, as Roger Goodell is wont to do. And the fans will harness their innumerable power to make sure the Packers are treated as the enemy, a power that is not as tangible as others, but is no less real. Never underestimate the strength of belligerent people in large numbers.
It’s simple: the Packers will not win Super Bowl LII, because here in America, we don’t allow the bad guys to win.
Imagine a world in which the guy from The Apprentice is made the commander in chief of the most powerful military in history. Imagine Aaron Rodgers smiling for the cameras as green and gold confetti floats onto the turf of U.S. Bank Stadium. I, for one, am happy that neither of these worlds are one in which I have to live.