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Today the Minnesota Vikings host the Dallas Cowboys in a divisional championship game. The winner goes on to the Conference championship game against the New Orleans Saints next Sunday. The loser goes away, end of season. This playoff match-up has happened before and the ending was not pretty. In 1975, this match-up gave origin to the commonly used football term "the Hail Mary Pass". Shortly after, "America's Team" was coined accompanied by the return of Ronald Reagan and Anita Bryant. Those were dark days indeed.
The game came down to the minute and fifty seconds. The Vikings were in the lead 14-10 and had the Cowboys deep in their own territory at the 15 yard line. With the Viking's defensive front four famous for it's intense pass rush, the game seemed to be nearly over with the Vikings the victors. The Cowboys managed to move the ball midfield and with only 26 seconds left, Rodger Staubach throws a long pass to Drew Pearson. Pearson was well covered by the Vikings defender Nate Wright. In fact, Nate Wright appears to have a play on the ball until his head snaps back and he goes flying off in a near 90 degree angle clearing the way for Drew Pearson to make the catch and walk in for the game winning touchdown.
A suspicous person might have suspected that Drew Pearson gave Nate Wright a big push in the back to move him out of the way (like maybe perhaps a referee?). The people in the stadium seemed to think that was the case. The players on the Minnesota Vikings believed that was the case. The national TV viewing audience believed that was the case. Unfortunately, Drew Pearson did not walk up to the ref and say "I am sorry sir, but in the heat of the moment and while you were staring at that pretty blonde cheerleader, I gave my friend Nate Wright a big push in the back so that I could catch the ball and not he. This was a selfish act, a breach of the rules and I am sorry. The ball and the game belong to the Vikings." No, this did not happen. The moral leadership, the coaches of the Dallas Cowboys had a teachable moment but did not take advantage. "Sir, we must apologize and inform you that one of our players broke the rules on that last play and to accept the resulting touchdown would bring shame and disgrace to our fine organization. Instead of admitting the error of one of their reports, like a caring father might do for his young son who has broken a neighbors window, the Dallas Cowboys coaches and owners remained silent and accepted the victory.
No flag was called, the touchdown counted and the famous Minnesota nice turned very ugly. Trash was thrown on the field including a Jack Daniels bottle that hit a ref on the head but not the ref that blew the call. Future Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice, then all-pro defensive tackle Alan Page was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. Fortunately, time ran out and the game was over before things turned even uglier. From that minute, an intense loathing for all things Dallas began in Minnesota and has been handed down from generation to generation.
So as you watch todays game and listen to the crowd know that they are not just yelling and screaming. They are howling as if they have practiced for 35 years. The crowd does not want the Cowboys defeated, they need to be destroyed. They want to hit the Cowboys until they start to cry and then hit them again.
Have fun at the playoffs and do not smoke.
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