Bob Bestler | Vikings, Packers test loyalties with face-off

01/04/2013 3:04 PM

01/04/2013 3:05 PM

First, let me congratulate the Clemson Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks on their last-minute bowl victories.

And let me say hats off to the Carolina Panthers for winning their final four games, a kind of whipped cream topping on an otherwise sodden season.

See what a homer I am?

Now let me discuss my two real football loves, both from far away: my home-state Minnesota Vikings and my adopted-state Green Bay Packers.

I don’t exactly obsess over either team. I don’t own any of their signature products, unlike a certain guy I know who buys everything ``Pittsburgh Steelers,’’ from socks and belts to a shiny black-and-yellow Steelers golf cart.

But I’m still a huge fan.

I followed the Vikings from their first kickoff, back in the early ’60s, when a scrambling quarterback named Fran Tarkenton provided more thrills than my first girlfriend.

I experienced football highs when they made it to the Super Bowl no fewer than four times, then skidded back to earth when they lost every one of those Super Bowls, usually by embarrassing scores.

When I moved to Wisconsin, the once-great Packers were in the doldrums; nevertheless, Green Bay became my team and Minnesota became a memory.

The Packers had a hapless quarterback named Lynn Dickey and I joined thousands to, as a bumper sticker put it, “Back the Pack til the Pack Gets Back.’’

That happened with Brett Favre and his successor Aaron Rodgers and suddenly it was easy to cheer for Green Bay, even across all these miles.

I still like the Vikings, except when they play the Packers -- and that brings me to my current dilemma.

The two teams play each other Saturday night in the first round of NFL playoffs and I am twisting every which way to find one to cheer for.

I usually go with the one that has the best chance to get to the Super Bowl -- meaning, in recent years, the Packers -- but this year there is no clear favorite. In fact, the Vikings have won their two regular season games, despite all my exhortations.

So now I’m truly torn. Who do I like? I’ll tell you when the game is over, but you can bet I’ll like the winner -- whoever it is.

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