When hope dies

Let none ever say the football gods are not cruel:

In January of 1975, after the Vikings lost to the Steelers in the Super Bowl, Emmett Pearson made a promise. He wouldn’t shave his beard until the Vikings won a Super Bowl. He kept that promise, too.

Most likely, Pearson never figured he’d live another 38 years without shaving – a trim, maybe – and die with his beard intact.

The fan from Welch Township, Minn., who got a bit of attention a few years ago when the Vikings almost made the Super Bowl, died at 83 years old on Monday, according to his obituary.

Pearson was 31 years old for the Vikings’ first season in 1961, and lived until he was 83. And he never saw his team win it all. The Vikings lost four Super Bowls and had a good chance to win it all a few other times, most notably 1998 and 2009, only to fall short in heartbreaking fashion in the NFC championship game.

Anklebiters and other critics would do well to keep this in mind when they’re trying to get my goat: I’ve been a die-hard Vikings fan since I was a little boy. What can you possibly do beyond what the the No-Name Defense, the Steel Curtain, John Madden’s Raiders, Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Denny Green, Gary Anderson, Brad Childress, and Tracy Porter have already done?

Some people consider me heartless. But then, what Vikings fan isn’t?

My theory is that it was probably the Josh Freeman debacle that killed the poor guy. When you’re resorting to starting Christian Ponder after exhausting every other possible option, it is eminently clear that there is no hope.