The Minnesota Vikings won a wild affair on Sunday, with the newly coined Minneapolis Miracle going down as arguably the most stunning finish in NFL history. With 10 seconds left in the game and trailing 24-23, Case Keenum connected with Stefon Diggs down the sideline, and Diggs raced to the end zone for the game-winning touchdown as time expired.
As wild as this play was, when we take it frame by frame, it’s easy to see most of the reasons it worked out. Keenum needed to find the sideline to get into field-goal range. He threw high, and Diggs went up and used his skills to get it. New Orleans Saints rookie safety Marcus Williams ducked his head while likely trying to avoid a pass interference call. It blocked another Saints defender and sprung Diggs for the touchdown.
That all makes plenty of logical sense, but SB Nation engineer and longtime Vikings fan Frank Bi has another theory as to why the play worked out:
I WAS WEARING ONE PAIR OF PANTS FOR THE FIRST HALF, CHANGED TO ANOTHER PAIR OF PANTS AT HALFTIME, THEN THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT I DID AND TOOK MY PANTS OFF ON THE LAST PLAY AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED!!!!— Frank Bi (@FrankieBi) January 15, 2018
Yes, Frank changed out of a pair pants that he felt were not helping the Vikings, and that was immediately followed by the Minneapolis Miracle — ipso facto, the Vikings pulled out this miracle because Frank took off his pants. (Yes, he was not wearing pants on the final play.)
The logical brain and the sports fan brain
I attended law school from 2007 to 2010, and during that time, I was taught to think in a different way. I walked away feeling like I could be a more logical thinker, which is a critical skill for an attorney. That being said, as a fan of the San Francisco 49ers, I will never not think I was partially responsible for their epic comeback against the New York Giants in the 2003 Wild Card Round.
The 49ers were getting pummeled in that game. The 49ers gave up 24 unanswered points to trail 38-14 with 4:27 remaining in the game. After a Matt Bryant field goal put the Giants up by that tally, I got up and walked around my coffee table. It was mostly just to try and destress a little bit. Two minutes and 24 seconds of game time later, Jeff Garcia connected with Terrell Owens for a touchdown and a subsequent two-point conversion to cut the lead to 38-22.
Naturally, my first thought was, well, I walked around the coffee table and they scored, so maybe there’s something to it. I proceeded to spend the remaining hour or so of the game walking around my coffee table — and the 49ers won.
If I were to pull myself out of my fandom and just view this as a neutral observer with no interest in sports, I would realize the insanity of it. But sports fans are so hooked on the high of winning (well, except for Browns fans) that the coincidental becomes the correlated. I wasn’t on the field at Candlestick Park that day, but I was a key contributor to that victory.
And it never goes away
Many of us here at SB Nation have spent some amount of time working in a newsroom, be it for a college paper or for other newspaper or digital media organizations. Some of those organizations take the idea of separating fandom from journalism a little more seriously. If you have gone from fan to newsroom, you might think you have lost your fandom, and with it the superstitions and insanity that rule your life. As SB Nation Senior Editor Nate Scott can attest, no, you do not lose it:
I was born and raised in New England, and thus I root for the Patriots. Or at least, I grew up rooting for the Patriots. I’ve since become a hardened, grumpy journalist who doesn’t root for much of anything at all. This is mostly because I worked for years in a newsroom — not this one, it should be said — where I wasn’t allowed to cheer for my teams in any way. (Seriously, you’d get a speaking to if you even let out a yelp at a big play in the newsroom.)
Last year, I found myself with the night off for the Super Bowl, the first time I hadn’t worked for the big game in years. Some friends, none of whom were Patriots fans, invited me and my now wife, then fiancee, over to watch the game for a laid back, adult party. They asked if I cared if I’d just be watching the game with casual fans. “Of course not,” I said. “I’m a journalist, guys. Impartial. I don’t care one way or the other what happens.”
You know where this is going. What was a lovely wine and cheese party with the game on in the background soon became “Nate screaming obscenities while 15 people look on, awkwardly, as Nate’s fiancee stares at the floor and wonders if she really is going to go through with marrying this man.” (For the record, ha, she did.) I had been freed of all journalistic constrictions and thus, fueled by a comeback, become a madman.
I, the pro, the impartial guy, soon was screaming at people who dared move chairs after the Patriots got the first score back. As I had started eating chips at one point, out of nerves, at halftime, I would not allow myself to stop. By game’s end I was sick on Tostitos and congealing guacamole. I had fully lost it.
By the time the Patriots had completed the comeback, nearly everyone had left the party — scared off by my insanity. All that remained were two tired hosts, one grumpy fiancee, and a delirious idiot rolling around on the floor.
There’s one video of that night. See if you can guess which one is me.
With great power comes great responsibility
Most any hard core fan can point to a story of a superstition that resulted in a win (or a loss) for their team. Given that it is a proven fact that such superstitions obviously impact the game, a nefarious sort could potentially monetize said superstitions.
Noted San Francisco Giants fan and McCovey Chronicles editor Grant Brisbee saw a ridiculous run of success from 2010 to 2014. His Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014, and a true Giants fan became a believer in even-year magic.
Grant grew a beard during each of those postseason runs, and given that the Giants won each time, well, clearly that was a key factor. In 2014, as the Giants prepared to face the Kansas City Royals, Grant made an indecent proposal to Royals fans. He was willing to shave his playoff beard for $5,000. Royals fans did not pony up, but Grant was very much willing to sell his Giants down the river for some quick cash:
If the Giants had gone to the World Series again in 2016, I have little double Grant could have cashed in big time with this same offer.
Your friends and family might think you’re crazy when you refuse to leave a specific seat on the couch during the Super Bowl. They might get sick and tired of you wearing the same shirt every day for the month of October. They might walk out of the room as you walk around a coffee table for hours on end. They just don’t get it.
But you know what? We know you’re on to something. We know sports superstitions do work, regardless of how silly they might seem to others. We believe you. So hop in the comments and tell us your favorite story of a superstition that resulted in a win. Or maybe you slipped up in your practice and it cost your team a big game.
No superstition is too crazy!