GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Let’s start today's Riff by accentuating the positive.
Our women’s basketball team, the Minnesota Lynx, have won four WNBA titles, tied for most in league history.
Our Major League Baseball team, the Minnesota Twins, have won the World Series twice, and looooong ago (decades, if you're counting) we had a professional men’s basketball team called the Lakers that won five league championships.
I think that pretty much covers Minnesota's list of successes from a professional major sports perspective.
At the University of Minnesota, the Gopher football team has actually won seven National Championships (or so Wikipedia claims), the last coming in 1960.
The men’s ice hockey team have been crowned as National Champions five times, while the women’s team tops that mark with six NCAA Championships, and an American Women’s College Hockey Alliance Championship to boot.
The Golden Gopher Baseball and Wrestling teams have each won three National Championships, while the men’s golf and men’s track and field teams claim one apiece.
If you want to find Minnesota’s TRUE sports dynasty, at least at the Division-1 level, you need to two-step over to the U of M Dance team who’ve won 12 National Championships... all of them coming since 2003!
Now I’m SURE I’ve missed somebody, and I freely acknowledge that there is much success Minnesotans can celebrate at lower and amateur sport levels.
That said, here in Minnesota, we’re about as bad as it gets when it comes to this pro sports thing. Not only don’t our teams ever win, but as it turns out we don’t even know how to lose.
That's ironic because with all the experience we’ve had in getting our collective hearts torn out, time after time and year after year, you’d think we’d have it down to a science, but we just don’t.
This point was driven home to me when I heard that fans of the New Orleans Saints were planning to boycott this year’s Super Bowl. Sure, my initial reaction was, “Oh wait. Please, no, not that." (Big yawn) But after giving it some thought, I’ve decided that you have to respect the fact that Saints fans are refusing to take their injustice in the recent NFC Championship game lying down.
I thought it was a joke at first when I heard two Saints season ticket holders had filed a lawsuit against the NFL following the interference penalty seen across the world (ad nauseam), but now comes word that while they’re not going to get justice... they did get an apology.
NFL league attorneys issued a statement saying “Because the officials on the field are humans, like the players and coaches, errors will happen. The NFL parties do not dispute that they have previously advised the Saints, including the club’s head coach, that one or more penalties for pass interference or illegal helmet-to-helmet contact were mistakenly not called late in the NFC Championship Game, and that the NFL would like its officials on the field to make these calls.”
Previously, NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron told Saints head Coach Sean Payton that no action could be taken because “overruling the Referee on the field and directing that a penalty be called is not within the Commissioner’s discretion under rules 15, 17, or any rule.”
Is there a statute of limitations on Dallas WR Drew Pearson pushing-off Nate Wright to catch the game winning touchdown in the Cowboys 17-14 win over our Vikings in the 1975 NFC divisional playoffs?
I demand punitive damages!
But now I understand that Saints fans are taking it a step further. They’re going to organize what they’re calling the “Boycott Bowl”, where fans are being encouraged to forgo the Rams vs. the Patriots and instead watch a replay of the 2010 Super Bowl, where (spoiler alert) the “good guys” win!
Excuse me? The “good guys?"
You ARE referring to the 2010 New Orleans Saints, right?
The same franchise and team that instituted (and was penalized like none before it) “Bountygate?” The Saints who were busted operating a system where Saints players were paid bonuses for intentionally trying to injure players on the other team? The one where players like Vikings quarterback Brett Farve (still feels funny to write that), who took shot after bone-jarring shot during the 2009 NFC Championship game?
When uncovered, Bountygate drew the most severe sanctions in the then 92-year history of the NFL. Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely, Saints Head Coach Sean Payton got suspended for a year, and assistant GM Mickey Loomis was suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season.
But then we got our revenge for that didn’t we, with last year’s Minneapolis Miracle, right? You remember, when the Vikings stunned the Saints and ‘Who Dat’ nation with Stefon Diggs last-second touchdown!
The Vikings went on from there to win the Super…
Oh, that’s right, this is Minnesota. The Vikings went on to Philly where they were edged in the final seconds by the Eagles, 38-7 (insert eye roll here)
That’s OK, this is Minnesota. Heck we’ve done that before. Anyone remember 41-doughnut?!
In hindsight, what the heck were we thinking?
WE should have boycotted last year's Super Bowl! That way, we wouldn’t have had to be nice to all those Eagles fans who beat-up and threw full beer cans at Vikings fans in Philly two weeks prior, and watch them not only make themselves at home.... but actually win the Lombardi trophy in OUR backyard.
Of course they did. This is Minnesota, where bad things happening to us in sports is carved in ice.
Forgive me... I’m going to go watch my VHS highlight tape of the Golden Gophers 1996-97 Men’s basketball season (Final Four appearance thrown out due to academic fraud) while I’m waiting for the NFL network to re-run the highlights from all four of the Vikings Super Bowl losses.
Only in Minnesota... Seriously.