The “Unwritten Rules” of baseball brigade has been out in force the past week ever since Fernando Tatis Jr. did the unthinkable and hit a grand slam on a 3-0 count in the eighth inning despite being given the take sign with his team already up by seven runs. The Slam Diego Padres’ young superstar was blasted by the baseball purist guardians of said rules-that-aren’t-written-down-yet-everyone-should-abide-by. Others came to his defense, as always happens when the unwritten rules debate re-ignites. It’s a fun little tradition that fans of America’s Pastime engage in at some point each season – even during pandemically induced truncated seasons apparently.
Of course, unwritten rules aren’t just for baseball. They exist in football, too.
You know, stuff like…
- Defenders shouldn’t level a ballcarrier who’s laying up to step out of bounds.
- Rookies need to keep their mouths closed and ears open… and carry the veteran’s shoulder pads off the practice field.
- Thou shalt not touch the quarterback during practice.
- Never discuss another player’s contract. That’s his business.
There’s seemingly no shortage of these unwritten rules for players and teams, yet I’m not sure anyone has broached the topic of unwritten rules for sports fans. If they have, I can’t find them written down anywhere… wait a minute. My bad. Obviously, they’re not written down. Unwritten rules merely get discussed, debated… and occasionally broken.
Therefore, I’m endeavoring to do what’s never been done by making a list – yes, writing down – the unwritten rules for a sports fanbase. And since you’re on a website that covers the Minnesota Vikings and probably read the title of this article, you probably already know the particular fanbase to which I’m referring.
I present to you (some of) the Unwritten Rules for Vikings Fans.
THE PACKERS ARE THE ENEMY
Let’s just get this one out of the way first, as this Minnesota cottage industry could be an entirely separate list. In fact, it just might be in the buildup prior to Week 1 when the Vikings and Packers are set to kick off the season at US Bank Stadium. [Insert winking emoji face here.]
In the business, we call that foreshadowing.
Anyway, I had to include this obvious one on the list or its omission would have stood out like a sore thumb – or a sober Packers fan if you will. Anyway, it is known that the second favorite team of any Vikings fan is whichever team is playing against the Packers that week. More on this when we do a deep dive in a few weeks.
Let’s move on.
ADHERENCE TO PESSIMISTIC FATALISM
Nothing will ever end well for the Vikings.
Those who have been fans of the team for a few generations know this to be true somewhere deep in their bowels. Admitting it is the first step to becoming a true Vikings fan.
Younger Vikings fans will scoff at your negativity, but they’ll learn. Someday they’ll know better. They just haven’t been beaten down by decades of unfulfilled potential as well as playoff and Super Bowl embarrassments. They haven’t had the life sucked out of them by prime-time nationally televised debacles and anguishing losses that always happen in the most painful, ridiculous, heartbreaking, unnecessary way.
It will always be something: a last-minute Hail Mary, an uncalled penalty, missed field goal, injuries or just crapping the bed against an opponent that they should beat. It’s better to never get your hopes too high. Let the soul of your Vikings fandom remain dead to its core in order to avoid the pain. Because there will be pain. Oh, there will be pain.
This belief system shall remain in place until and unless the Vikings win the Super Bowl someday. If that happens, feel free to shed this deeply rooted gloom and commence partying.
DON’T TALK SUPER BOWL SUCCESS WITH FANS OF OTHER TEAMS
Much like one should never get involved in a land war in Asia, Vikings fans should avoid getting involved in a discussion about Super Bowl success or lack thereof with fans of other teams… especially that cheesy team to the East.
If the fan of another team ever disses your Vikings, don’t come back at them with, “Oh yeah, well when’s the last time your team ever won a Super Bowl?” or “Yeah, but your team hasn’t won a Super Bowl in 28 years! Boom! Roasted.”
Not so fast. You’re falling right into their trap.
Remember: the Vikings have never won a Super Bowl. They’ve lost four and didn’t play well in any of them. The last time they even played in one, something called “Up with People” was still the featured halftime attraction.
Instead, keep your counter-arguments based on something else — head-to-head records, statistical measures, Pro Bowl players, better stadium amenities, nicer uniforms, the quarterback’s flow, the wide receiver’s drip. Literally anything but Super Bowl comments.
NEVER MENTION LES STECKEL
If you need to ask why this is an unwritten rule, it would be better that you just Google his record as head coach of the 1984 Vikings. Then read about the silly military-style training camp workouts he put the team through. Things will become clear pretty quickly.
Just keep his name out of your mouth.
OWNERSHIP OF A RANDY MOSS JERSEY
You must currently own or have at one point owned a Randy Moss jersey. This isn’t up for debate. From 1998-2004 Moss jerseys were everywhere in Minnesota: Target, Kohl’s, Walgreens, even the airport. They came in every color and every size. They were the Vikings’ equivalent of the Twins’ Homer Hanky. They were mandatory. They were omnipresent.
Even now there’s no excuse not to have one. Go pick one up at a garage sale or at Savers and don’t come back until you have one.
STRAIGHT CASH HOMEY
Dovetailing off the unwritten rule above… it is imperative that when you are paying for anything in cash, you must utter Moss’ famous phrase, “Straight cash, Homey!” whenever possible.
I don’t make the rules. I’m just here to list them.
If you find the situation too awkward to belt out “Straight cash, Homey!” it’s okay to just think it in your head and then come back to it later and tell someone that you were thinking it. For instance, let’s say you throw a $20 (aka Peter Gammons) in the offering plate at church as it’s being passed around from pew to pew… probably not the best time to go with it.
Just revisit it later and all will be forgiven.
For the younger Vikings fans: cash is that paper money stuff your dad carries in his wallet. It’s the predecessor to plastic cards.
RECOGNIZE THE STRONG HANDS OF JOEY BROWNER AND ADRIAN PETERSON
In addition to always doing the “Straight Cash, Homey!” thing, Vikings fans must at all times be prepared to marvel at the strength of Joey Browner’s hands and the crushing handshake of Adrian Peterson.
From 1983 to 1991, Joey Browner terrorized offenses. He was an imposing player on a level few ever achieve. And he had the strongest hands in football. Every single Sunday, the announcer doing color commentary during Vikings’ telecasts was contractually obligated to mention that Browner had the NFL’s strongest hands. Heck, Browner may have had the strongest hands in the world. He could take down a ballcarrier with one hand. Heck, he could take down a charging bull with one hand.
Years later, when Peterson was breaking records for the Vikings, the commentators would regale their audiences with anecdotes of shaking hands with Peterson when they met during the week. These stories were always accompanied by a chuckle. “Man! Be careful when you shake his hand. He has a vice grip! Ha! Really strong handshake! It’s formidable!”
Stay frosty out there. Always be ready to drop a Joey Browner strongest hands or Adrian Peterson death-grip handshake line if the opportunity presents itself.
CONVICTION THAT JIM MARSHALL BELONGS IN THE HALL OF FAME
He may not have the official stats to back up this claim. He might have only gone to two Pro Bowls and was never voted All-Pro because he played in an era with other legendary players. But dammit, Jim Marshall played in 282 consecutive games, never missed a down, recovered all the fumbles, and he was the leader of the Purple People Eaters.
Besides, Bud Grant called him the best player who ever played for him.
He belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because he just does. There’s no room for debating this if you are a Vikings fan. It must be part of your creed.
BELIEF THAT DREW PEARSON PUSHED OFF
I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating because our list would be incomplete without its inclusion. Drew Pearson pushed off against Nate Wright on the Hail Mary play that enabled the Cowboys to beat the Vikings in the 1975 playoffs. Wright did not overrun the play nor did he slip. He was pushed and a penalty should have been called. The Vikings deserved to win that game. Fans who witnessed it are bitter to this day and they should pass down that bitterness to future generations of Vikings fans.
I know I’m beating a dead horse with this, but it would be irresponsible of me to not include awareness of this fact on the unwritten rule list. Vikings fans of all ages need to know that this happened and hold it against the Cowboys and the referees forever.
PARTICIPATION IN THE SKOL CHANT
This holds true whether you love the Skol Chant or think it’s dumb that the Vikings ripped it off from the 2016 Icelandic World Cup Football (Soccer) team… which they did.
It’s just one of those things you have to do if you call yourself a Vikings fan.
When the Skol Chant begins — whether you’re at the game, in a bar, watching at home with friends and family, or just having a nice little brunch at Perkins when some member of the VWO stands up from his Tremendous Twelve and breaks into it – you have to participate. You don’t have to like it, but you might. Regardless, you have to do it and act as if you enjoy it. Life isn’t fair.
Note: This specifically does not extend to doing The Wave – which is dumb and should have been banned for the sake of humanity at least 20 years ago.
There you have it. Those are 10 of my unwritten rules for Vikings fans, but I know there are many more out there. Feel free to reach out on Twitter with your contributions. The best ones will receive John Tuvey’s world-famous Jell-O Shot recipe – perfect for tailgating!