Almost exactly 8 years ago on my other blog, I shared this story about Carl and his passion for the MN Vikings. At that time, the Vikings were headed to the Championship game against the New Orleans Saints. We were making plans for an all-expenses paid trip to Miami for the Super Bowl. Sadly it was not-to-be that year as the Saints won that game. I thought it was worth sharing this story again.
Thirty nine years. Forty-seven years. That’s how long my husband has been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings. Thirty nine Forty-seven long and often painful years. Thirty nine Forty-seven years of waiting and watching and hoping and praying.
It all started when he was 7 years old and his dad took him and his brother to a Chicago Bears versus Minnesota Viking game at Soldier Field. It was the Purple People Eater years…with 3 trips to the Superbowl in 4 years and domination across the gridiron. Offering to buy each boy a souvenir pin, his brother, Jim, picked a Bears pin and Carl picked a Viking pin. And thus begun a lifelong rivalry between brothers and loyalty to their chosen teams (although Jim has now switched his loyalties to the New England Patriots after his move to Boston).
When I first met Carl in college, his Tommy Kramer (the quarterback at the time) poster was my first glimpse into his obsession. I soon found out that Sundays during football season were off-limits. Watching games was an intense and emotional experience…one that I found too overwhelming and soon learned was better to just stay away from. When we married, I learned to just leave the house on Sundays to avoid the yelling and intensity. A loss on Sundays meant hours of bad mood and anger. And I learned to never, ever make plans on football Sundays. Boy, Kelly is lucky she wasn’t born in the fall on a Sunday. It would have been a toss-up for Carl to attend the birth or watch the Vikings. Actually, he would have demanded that the game be put on in the labor and delivery room :).
In college, when we would talk about the future, our future, we would jokingly imagine Carl working for the Vikings. That would be the ultimate accomplishment for him, we’d think. So, in college, Carl wrote to Mike Lynn, the general manager of the Vikings at the time, asking what an economics major needed to do to get a job with the Minnesota Vikings. Mr. Lynn’s advice was to get a Master’s degree in Sport Management, work hard and make connections in the sport’s field.
At that time, there were only 11 colleges/universities in the country with Sport Management programs, the only one in Illinois being at Western Illinois University. So while I completed my senior year of undergraduate work at the University of Illinois, Carl went off to WIU to complete graduate work in Sport Management, returning to the U of I to visit me every few weeks or so. After that long year of traveling back and forth, I graduated with my Bachelor Degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Carl graduated with a Master’s Degree in Sport Management and we were married a month later in our college town of Champaign, Illinois.
After graduation and our wedding/honeymoon, we headed off to spend the summer in Wichita, Kansas for Carl’s internship with the Wichita Wings Soccer Franchise. And thus began a 10-year career in various professional soccer positions…next with the Memphis Storm (Memphis, TN), University of Memphis Athletic Department, U.S. Soccer during the World Cup tournament in the U.S. in 2004 (Chicago, IL) and finally D.C. United (Northern Virginia). During that time, Carl also earned his C.P.A. certification and worked in public accounting for a number of years in between sports positions, solidifying a solid sport management and accounting expertise. All the while, Carl was making contacts and connections in the professional sports industry.
It was in 1998 while living in Northern Virginia and working for D.C. United as the Director of Finance that Carl got his big break. The Minnesota Vikings were sold to Red McCombs. Carl used his contacts to try to find someone who had a relationship with anybody in the new management. He did talk with a friend from soccer that had previously worked with the guy that was named the Vikings new general manager. Carl sent the general manager an email, dropping his friend’s name. When nothing came of it, we resigned ourselves to live happily ever after in my dream house in Virginia with Carl working in professional soccer for ever and ever. It was after the New Year in 1999 that Carl got the call from the general manager of the MN Vikings. The Vikings had a vacancy in the finance department. There was an opening for Assistant Controller. Was he interested? WAS HE INTERESTED?? Hello…this is what he waited his whole life for. The call that he always dreamed of. They flew him out to Minnesota for an informal interview but basically the job was his if he wanted it.
April 12, 1999, on Kelly’s 9th birthday, Carl began his life-long dream to work for the Minnesota Vikings! And was it a dream-come-true? Well, yes and no. Although Carl loved where he worked, he did not love what he did for them. Although he was promoted after a few years to Controller of the Minnesota Vikings, in charge of all things finance, including payroll, bookkeeping, audits, budgets and money-stuff like that, it was boring and repetitive work. He would have loved to be involved in other aspects of the team, like Salary Caps or Stadium Management. But truly, at that time, with the country in a recession and people losing their jobs all around us, he was grateful for a job with good benefits and fun perks (like an all-expense paid trip to the Super Bowl for him and his wife).
And in case you are wondering, what did working for the team do to his passion for the Vikings? It actually helped to soften him. Being involved with the team on a regular basis and having day-to-day frustrations with his job made him less emotionally attached. Given the choice, he would watch Anthony play hockey over watch an away game on television (nothing would keep him from a home game though…one of those great perks of working for the team was season tickets).
So for any young person with a far-reaching life-long dream, know that your dreams can come true. Your truly can do anything that you set your mind to. Carl is living proof!
(Written in 2010) Hopefully this post helps explain why this season is such a big one for our family. It’s been a long time coming. We’ve waited a long time for this. All the Viking fans have. We are hoping that this is the year they will go ALL THE WAY!
(Written in 2018) Well, that year wasn’t the year and this year wasn’t the year either. We really were hoping to FINALLY see the Vikings in a Super Bowl. And even better, at the new Vikings stadium in Minnesota. We even bought our airfare just in case. But no, another year of disappointment. And what’s even more amazing is that the Jaguars, Carl’s current employer, almost went to the Super Bowl this year as well. In fact, they did better in their championship game than the Vikings did. Two out of the final four teams were our ticket to the Super Bowl and neither one panned out. Darn it. I hate football.