Sports allegiances can confuse.
Should you cheer Thursday night for the architects of the Minneapolis Miracle, even if one of them isn’t wearing horns and the other recently seemed to want out?
Should you cheer for one of the greatest athletes ever to play for the Vikings even if he embarrassed the organization?
Should you believe in Kirk Cousins’ recent brilliance and the Vikings’ abrupt change of direction, or allow the reputation he built in Washington to taint what he’s done the past three weeks?
As Case Keenum and Adrian Peterson return to Minnesota, Cousins stares down the team that refused to sign him to a long-term contract, and Stefon Diggs promises not to hug Keenum as they reunite at the site of the Minneapolis Miracle because: “That’s not my girlfriend or nothing,” Diggs said, laughing.
Here is a list of instructions on who Vikings fans should cheer or jeer at U.S. Bank Stadium:
Adrian Peterson: Cheer and jeer
Cheer him because he was one of the best players and most dedicated athletes in Vikings history.
Boo if you don’t like child abuse.
Case Keenum: Cheer
Minnesotans love to mourn the ones who got away. David Ortiz. Aaron Hicks. Ryan Pressley … should I stop? Sorry: Kevin Garnett. Randy Moss. Rich Gannon. Percy Harvin. Chauncey Billups. Should I stop? I’ll stop.
In one way, Keenum is the perfect Minnesota athlete. He played his best when he was with the Vikings. Before and after his stay in Minnesota, Keenum was a career backup quarterback who played himself out of every starting role he was given.
The real Minneapolis Miracle was winning 13 games with Keenum at quarterback.
Dan Snyder: Jeer
Should the Pohlads spend more? Maybe. Will the Wilfs be the latest Vikings owners to fail to win a Super Bowl? Maybe. Does Glen Taylor own the Star Tribune and thus get a free pass in this sentence? Maybe.
Whatever you think of Minnesota owners, please understand that we’re in pretty good shape because none of them is Snyder, Washington’s self-caricaturing owner.
You have to understand that the professional football team that plays near Washington, D.C., is by far the most popular sporting entity in the region. Under Snyder, they play in a lousy and inconveniently placed stadium in which fights constantly break out, and they make stupid decisions and disappoint annually.
The Washington nickname: Jeer
Kirk Cousins: Cheer while holding breath, if that’s possible
He’s coming off the best three-week stretch of his career and should be motivated to torch his old team. But do you trust him? The answer to that question is locked in a time capsule that won’t be opened for another couple of months.
Rick Spielman: Cheer
He’s been the Vikings’ chief decisionmaker for so long that you can always refer to his biggest mistakes, but on Thursday night he might have a rookie seventh-round draft pick, Bisi Johnson, stepping into the starting lineup to replace a star, Adam Thielen, who went undrafted. Johnson would play alongside Stefon Diggs, who was a fifth-round draft pick.
That’s quality scavenging by Spielman.
Bill Callahan: Cheer, if you wear purple
Washington’s interim coach established the run so well last week that his team scored zero points. Fun fact: Callahan has never used the words “forward” and “pass” in the same sentence.
Stefon Diggs: Cheer and jeer
He’s produced two consecutive big games, but you have to squint to overlook flaws in his redemption story. He’s dropped at least three passes the past two weeks, one of which should have been a touchdown and another he deflected for an interception. Diggs needs to improve his highlight-to-mistake ratio.
NFL schedule-makers: Cheer
What looked like a difficult schedule at the beginning of the season is about to yield a 6-2 start and an easier-than-expected stretch run for the Vikings. This is beginning to feel a lot like 2017, when the Vikings got a dozen good breaks, including an injury to Aaron Rodgers, and took advantage of most of them.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib