Favre fan explains his ad request

Ben Nelms placed the ad pleading for Favre's return in the Hattiesburg American and Monday was feeling the good and bad repercussions of putting himself out there publicly. He explains what drove him to place the ad in this guest column.

I am from Missouri. I live in Wisconsin. And I'm a Vikings fan. Go figure.

By now maybe some of you have heard about an irrational (I call it Quixotic) attempt to get the attention of a certain quarterback who is likely helping his mom pave a new driveway down there in the land of "crooked-letter, crooked-letter ‘I', humpback, humpback, ‘I'…" Mississippi. Okay, I admit it – that was me tilting at windmills. (A man's got to throw across the body every once in awhile, right? They don't all end in interceptions, after all.)

You can read the text of my full-page ad in the Hattiesburg American's Monday edition here by clicking on this VikingUpdate.com story. In there, you'll see a short back story on how a Missouri boy came to root for the purple team, and you'll hear my stream-of-consciousness open letter to #4, and many of you will likely wonder why in tarnation a guy would spend his entire 2010 football budget on March 1 printing an ad in a paper that Favre likely doesn't even read. (I'm reminded of a Jim Carrey line from Dumb and Dumber: "So you're sayin' there's a chance!" But I digress.)

I can try to break it down for you. In doing so, ask yourself if any of my thoughts echo your own – I have a feeling they might. So here goes nuthin' …

Look, I work my tail off. I have my own company inventing products to make radiation therapy safer and more effective, and my mind is always at work. There are a few things that will "turn off" my racing brain long enough to recharge, and one of them happens to be Vikings football. It's a guilty pleasure I afford myself half of every year. Sometimes, those half-years really bite. But sometimes they don't. And this past year most certainly did not bite at all. It was a great ride.

Game days had a little extra flavor in 2009, did they not? A bit more electricity in the air, pop in the purple, and buzz in the beer, right? Yep. Just admit it – you had fun in 2009, maybe even more than in 1998 when most games were nail-biters only waiting to see how many TDs Randy Moss and Cris Carter would grab from Randall Cunningham. I drove up from Wisconsin to the Metrodome for three games this year (San Francisco, Cincinnati, and the Dallas playoff game), and it was different in there. In a good way. High fives were higher and fist bumps were, what, bumpier? I don't know, but it was great.

Was it Favre all by himself? No, I of course not, but what made 2009 special was the friendship of the team – the fact that it looked like they were having fun, enjoying each other, and playing a good game all at once – and I have to think that Favre catalyzed much of that. Just remember Percy Harvin's first NFL TD catch (first game of the season against Cleveland) and how a 40-year-old veteran tackled a 20-year-old rookie in celebration? Come on, man, that's the good stuff right there. That was fun.

Selfishly, I admit, I would love to have (at least) one more season with that flavor to it. There's no denying that it's fun to root for a Favre-led offense, so I decided to do something about it … something irrational and expensive and easy-to-get-teased-about-by-all-these-Packer-fans-around-me. Thus, the ad. I signed the ad anonymously "A Vikings Fan" figuring, or hoping, that the spirit of it would speak for a great many Vikings fans. I hope I did not let anybody down in that regard. I wrote the letter in a veritable instant and never edited a word thereafter, thus the "what is this guy talking about?!" feel of it. (Hey, I watch Brad Childress and Favre press conferences during the season, and this thing wasn't too far off, so I ain't alone, folks.)

The ad is generating a little activity here in Wisconsin. Already Monday morning, I had a local Wisconsin news crew drive to my office to interview me about the ad, as they had picked up the story off the Star Tribune's wires. It was running at 6 p.m. Monday on the CBS affiliate station in Madison, WI, and believe it or not, that was the first time any of my friends knew I even pulled this stunt. No joke. I expect to get a lot of calls Tuesday from my Packer-loving friends. It will be mostly good-natured I'm sure, though I should mention that one Packers fan website has already called for the Packer nation to "ferret this rat out and drive him either A. out of our fine state, or B. into Lake Mendota."

Hmm, bitter anyone?

Regarding the TV interview, I should mention that the cameraman turned out to be a Vikings fan, too, along with his wife. He posed to me a very insightful question. He asked (paraphrasing here): "We're Vikings fans, and don't you feel like the inevitable letdown will hurt more now, after doing this?" (I assumed he was referring to the letdown of not making the big game. You know, 12-men-in-the-huddle, take-a-knee type heartache.) Well when he asked, I all of a sudden knew exactly how to answer. Here is what I said …

Once a year, right about mid- to late-January, I ask myself: "Why the heck do I live in Wisconsin and put myself through these winters? It's cold and bleak and I'm sick of it." Yet then again, once a year, June rolls around, then July, August … and the wildflowers are in bloom and the lakes are splashing and the brats are cooked outside and it's a rare day when I can't just leave the windows open 24-7 … and I say to myself, "Ah, I remember. THIS is why I live here!"

And that's a lot what it's like to be a Vikings fan. Somehow, some way, it's worth it over the long haul. And 2009 sure was worth it.


Viking Update Top Stories