The reminders are everywhere. Like our mosquitoes on a warm summer night, you can’t escape them.
Billboards along the daily commute illuminate advertisements. Windows on downtown skyways welcome visitors. Nicollet Mall is awash in ice sculptures, corporate tents and stage lighting.
Nothing about the Super Bowl coming to town is subtle. It blares like a megaphone in your ears. LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED!
Now close your eyes and consider what might have been. Too soon?
Of course it is. Frustration over a glorious opportunity squandered requires a certain amount of time and distance to fade.
This week could have witnessed the mother of all Super Bowl celebrations had the Vikings not forgotten to pack their A game before departing for Philadelphia.
No NFL team has played a Super Bowl in its home stadium. History beckoned. The Minneapolis Miracle created a sense of destiny. The stars looked perfectly aligned. The entire state would have come unglued in hysteria and revelry.
So how is the hangover going?
It’s one thing for a team to lay an egg one step from the Super Bowl. It’s diabolically dreadful for a team to host the Super Bowl two weeks after laying that egg.
That leaves the Vikings, their fans and our lovely metropolis in an awkward position in becoming the center of the sports universe this week. Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak captured the mood perfectly in a tweet a day after that 38-7 debacle in Philly.
“Super excited about Minneapolis hosting the Super Bowl,” Rybak said, “but after yesterday’s Vikings loss I feel kinda like I’m bartending at the wedding of the girlfriend who dumped me.”
Except, imagine if the groom had thrown beer cans at you and screamed vile things as he ripped your heart out. But, yes, by all means have a splendid week here.
Minnesota Nice will be put to the test this week. Hopefully people can put on a brave face and enjoy this iconic event and take pride in showing a worldwide audience all the wonderful qualities of our state.
But it’s just not the same as those visions of sugar plums. The way the Vikings played against the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game remains hard to comprehend or explain. Probably the most common text message sent across Minnesota as the final seconds ticked off was a simple acronym: WT ... well, you know.
Mike Zimmer’s vaunted defense crumbled. The offense committed killer turnovers. The runaway train nature of it was stunning.
The Vikings organization owns a tortured history of body blows in big moments with Super Bowl losses, 41-donut, Gary Anderson Wide Left, 12 Men in the Huddle, Blair Walsh Wide Left. This one deserves its own special place in the Purple Pit of Misery.
The kicker would have been if the Eagles took over Winter Park as their practice facility this week. Alas, the Eagles will use the Gophers facility, while the Patriots set up shop at Winter Park.
Super Bowl week has officially arrived. Downtown has been transformed. Many people have worked tirelessly for months to put on a good show. Hopefully, we shine.
A man was overheard downtown last week saying he probably won’t watch the Super Bowl because he’s too depressed and disinterested after the Vikings’ loss. Maybe others feel the same way, though ratings will be through the roof, as always.
The Vikings’ playoff history has become that Charlie Brown scene when he tries to kick a football and ends up flat on his back after the ball gets yanked away at the last second. The miracle finish in the most recent game played at U.S. Bank Stadium gave the impression that maybe this time Chuck would finally boot the kick.
Instead, same result.
The Eagles proved to be the superior team and earned the right to face the Patriots in Super Bowl LII in our backyard.
Does it feel like bartending at your ex’s wedding? If so, sneak a free drink and try to ignore what might have been.