I’ve been watching TV for an hour trying to find a channel, a program, a highlight where Blair Walsh doesn’t shank left a chipshot 27-yard field goal that gives the Vikings a 12-10 win over the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs yesterday. I can’t find it. But such is life in the Matrix.
Yes, the Matrix. I’ve been trying to convince my family of this for years now. Perhaps at last they will see what is plainly in front of them. And around them. None of this is real.
It’s the only explanation that can possibly make sense of this. I live inside a computer generated reality where evil programmers delight in devising bizarre and novel ways to inflict hurt on me, a fan of both – wait for it – the Iowa Hawkeyes and Minnesota Vikings. Ah, now you begin to understand.
Never mind that I’ve now had my heart ripped out twice in ten days. The Hawkeyes: the slow, steady cancerous death of something you cannot stop. The Vikings: the phone call you never expected. (Sometimes it is hypothetically asked, which one is worse? Never mind, they both suck.)
How else can four blowout Super Bowl losses for the Vikings and four blowout Rose Bowl losses for the Hawkeyes over more than four decades be explained? Even a blind squirrel can find a nut. Eight times in the big game, and never once even close? Please. Clearly we’re inside a computer, living out a holographic, programmed fantasy.
And if the big games don’t convince you of the truth of it, then how do you explain all the other times when the impossible happens, like a knife between the ribs. Like the first play, the first play! of the Rose Bowl, as I’m removing a strand of cheese that’s drifted silklike against my chin from my first bite, my first bite! of nachos, and Christian McCaffrey rockets untouched 75 yards for a Stanford touchdown. Yeah right. Like that could happen in real life. Prepare for a month to stop one player, and the first time he touches the ball, 11 defenders can’t even touch him.
Or like yesterday’s game.
The shame of this game, compared to the Hawkeye’s Rose Bowl debacle. is that except for three plays, the Vikings outplayed Seattle in what was a vintage game of attrition played in minus zero conditions. When the two lines faced off for each play, it was like a herd of buffalo in Yellowstone, so much steam rose up from the field. (And didn’t seeing crusty old Bud Grant lumber out to midfield in a polo shirt bring an ice cube from your tear ducts?)
Facing that weather, and a monster of a Seattle defense, the Vikings slowly carved out an impressive 9-0 lead by the start of the fourth quarter. But that’s how the Matrix programmers show their cruelty. By luring you in, awakening in even the most hardened cynic whose faith is coarsened with the scar tissue of a thousand cuts – McClanahan’s fumble, Anderson’s miss, Favre’s, Favre’s, What the heck was that? – the thought that maybe this time it will be different. And once you fall for it, once you dare welcome belief into your heart, then they have you. Now they can strap you to the wheel and start pulling on the rope.