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How I Became A Viking Fan

Posted by LOTGK on November 30, 2007

How did you ever become a Minnesota Viking fan? I get asked this question a lot being that I’m from Ohio and so close to the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Well, I owe it all to my father. The biggest Cleveland Browns fan in the world. Yes, that’s right, my father.

You see, back in the early 1960’s, we didn’t have cable TV, ESPN, NFL Network, or the Internet. We had three channels and only one game to choose from on Sunday. No Saturday or Monday night football game to choose from. Just Sunday’s game was available. Being that we lived in Boardman, Ohio, a suburb of Youngstown, only the Browns game was televised. Dad, my two older brothers and me would gather round the TV in the den and watch the mighty Browns.

I learned from my dad that the Browns were the best team in the NFL, had the best coaches, players, uniforms, and stadium. Any other team, coach, or player paled in comparison to the mighty Browns. Until that fateful day.

One particular fall afternoon the Browns were not televised and in its place was the Minnesota Vikings led by quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Fran Tarkenton was a scrambling QB who had a knack for eluding defenders and pulling out games with amazing plays and finishes. Dad decided to watch the game and I did to as well. My brothers left and went outside to play. After about 10 minutes into the game, Tarkenton was scrambling all over the field searching for an open receiver. My dad uttered something to the effect that he made a good play. What was this! Did dad just praise another player, a player not wearing a Browns uniform? I must have heard wrong.

A few more minutes passed and dad smiled and commented on how Tarkenton got away again and completed another pass. He then said that he was a good player and that he would be a good QB for the Browns. WHAT!!! This time I knew I heard correct. This was mighty praise indeed coming from dad. The rest of the game we watched, laughed, and talked about Tarkenton and the Minnesota Vikings and how they were a good team.

The game ended with Tarkenton throwing a touchdown pass to win the game and we both cheered as if we had been Viking fans forever. This memory stuck in my mind but the next week the Browns were on TV as scheduled. Updates came about the other games being played and I saw the Vikings were winning again. My dad didn’t seem too interested though. He was of course, a die hard Browns fan for life. I however, became a fan that Sunday my father and I watched the game together.

In the 60’s, it was hard being a fan outside the local radius. The local newspaper only gave small blips of information on the rest of the NFL. I had to watch the Sunday game to see updates, not highlights mind you, just quick updates, as the announcer would read them during a slow period. However, sometimes the newspaper would have a longer write up on the Vikings and actually name players and what they did and how they scored. These stories I treasured and cut from the paper and kept them in my room upstairs.

In the following years, my father would bring home sports magazines and they would have several pages on the Vikings with pictures of the players, the starting offense and defense, and how they each did last year and how they were doing that year. These magazines were priceless to me. My two older brothers would also help out and bring the Sporting News paper articles on the Vikings each week. They would take them from the high school library. I would read every sentence about ten times knowing that they had to return them the next day.

As I got older, I got Viking jerseys for Christmas and birthdays, and the 1970’s entered the era of modern NFL football coverage. Yes, we would now be treated to several games televised on Sunday and one on Monday night. I could watch the game on channel 21 or the game on channel 27 hoping that the Vikings would be one of the games. We had two TV’s at this time so dad could still watch the Browns but I could watch the Vikings when they were on. And yes, dad allowed me to stay up late when the Vikings played on Monday night.

The 80’s ushered in even more games and sports channels like ESPN kept me up to date on the Vikings. I subscribed to a Minnesota Vikings news service, The Viking Update reported only on the Vikings and had plenty of pictures and personal articles on all things Viking. The 90’s brought me the satellite TV and I was able to tune in the Vikings each and every week. The Internet came a few years later and I had all the Viking news at my fingertips in the blink of an eye.

A few years ago, I was watching the Vikings play and my son sat down to watch with me. Robert Smith, an Ohio State alumnus running back for the Vikings was running wild. My son saw him break a long 60-yard run for a TD and several other long gainers. Smith was one of the fastest players in the NFL at the time and my son said it looked like Smith was just gliding out there on the field. Patrick, my son was hooked. And we’ve been watching ever since.

Skol Vikings!!!

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2 Responses to “How I Became A Viking Fan”

  1. Max Jackl said

    That guy the red arrow is pointing to, well, that’s not me.

  2. PurpleNewJersey said

    I was actually crying a little when I read this. I first became conscious of being alive just as the Purple People Eaters were almost at their height…like 1970-71. The Vikings had a strong following in New Jersey. Often, an arguement on the block would break out not about the Giants vs. the Jets, but about Carl Eller vs. Alan Page.

    And it was always difficult to follow the Vikings in the 70s, just updates during the unwatcheable NY football team games, magazines, and Monday NIght, and of course, when they were in the playoffs.

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