Celebrating one-year anniversary with a miracle

All I could see through the mob of people jumping up and down was a jersey with the name Diggs on it. The jersey flew around right along with the throng of people jumping up and down with glee.

It was just moments earlier that I saw gloom and doom on faces all along the bar inside Fuzzy’s on Main Street. One bar patron held his face in his hands. He couldn’t look. Mr. Fuzzy himself was red in the face, staring at the TV. Dean showed pain on his face as well. Joe was sitting right next to me. He yelled cuss words I can’t repeat in this newspaper. In the full year I have known him, I never heard him cuss once.

Then it happened so fast. With time ticking off the clock at US Bank Stadium, Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs jumped in the air as if he was one with the football gods. He grabbed that football thrown by quarterback Case Keenum, landed on his feet at the Saints 34 yard line, turned around and raced in between two defenders. They say It took only 10 seconds, but it seemed like an eternity before Diggs took his first step into the end zone for the winning touchdown. But the cheers had already begun. The celebration was on.

I looked over to other side of the bar toward Mr. Fuzzy. I think I saw tears in his eyes. If so, they were tears of joy.

I turned away for just a moment toward Joan, who was sitting on the other side of me. We looked at each other in disbelief as if we had just witnessed a miracle. A Miracle in Minneapolis that is.

We originally walked into Fuzzy’s Bar to celebrate my one-year anniversary in Marshall. A year ago on a Saturday night I drove into Marshall for the first time. I was to start my new job as editor of the Independent on Monday. But that Sunday morning I needed to find a place to watch my Green Bay Packers play the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional playoffs. In the first column I ever wrote for the Independent, I described my first experience at Fuzzy’s Bar. I decided to watch the game at Fuzzy’s because of the its name on the sign in front of the building.

“I quickly thought of Fuzzy Thurston who was an offensive lineman for the legendary Vince Lombardi,” I wrote. “The sign also had a green background. I realized it was the closest to Green Bay I was going to find in Minnesota. I walked into the Main Street tavern. It was full of patrons so I had to walk halfway across the bar before I found an empty barstool.

As I took off my coat exposing my Packer colors I looked around. I didn’t notice any dirty looks. So I sat down just before kickoff. Even Joe, who was sitting next to me, offered a welcome to Marshall. The bartender didn’t seem too concerned.

“But as the game progressed, I got excited at times. Knowing where I was, I tried to contain my emotions. But I did meekly yell out a few times. I couldn’t contain myself. So by halftime, my true identity was out. Not only did Joe let me know he is a Viking fan, but he was pulling for the Cowboys.

“We normally don’t allow Packer fans to sit at the bar during the game,” another patron said. “They sit in the back at the tables. But because the Vikings are not playing, we are letting you sit at the bar.”

Well, Dean was the first person to greet me as we walked toward the bar before the game started this past Sunday. He was the one who told me Packer fans weren’t allowed to sit at the bar. He assured long ago he has forgiven me for being a Packer fan. I was welcomed to sit at the bar any time despite what he said during my first visit.

And Joe was sitting on the barstool next to me, just like it was that first day.

Yes, I would have written a different script for my first anniversary in Marshall. The Packers would have been playing in the game, instead of the Vikings. But I did witness a miracle. And I watched the game with my first friends in Marshall.

I have to admit, it’s been quite a year. I’m learning a lot about agriculture and enjoying meeting so many interesting people who live in southwest Minnesota. I covered parades. I wrote about clowns in rodeos, beer drinking polka players, a mayor, a fire chief and farmers.

I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. Even dealing with the Viking fans at the Independent who enjoy reminding me what NFL team is king in Minnesota. Just the other day a co-worker, who will go unnamed, spray painted with purple the words “SKOL” and “Viking fans only” on the snow banks in front of our parking spots. I once got my paper delivered at home with “SKOL” written on it.

I get the message. I might even wear a purple jersey on Feb. 4 if the Vikings play in the Super Bowl. After all, got to pull for the NFC North. And just maybe, I might experience another miracle.

But next year — the Pack will be back.