If you ask John Kurkosky how long he’s been rooting for the Minnesota Vikings, he’ll tell you it’s been a pretty long time.
To be specific, since “they got the Purple People Eaters tag.”
For those of you that want to do the math, that’s fine with him. Kurkosky has stuck with this team for years, and he doesn’t expect to leave its side anytime soon. Kurkosky used to attend the season openers at the Metrodome. Early on, he loved watching some of those classic names that all Vikings fans will recognize: Jim Marshall, Alan Page, Carl Eller, Chuck Foreman and Fran Tarkenton—or “Fran the Man,” as Kurkosky says.
Later, he watched Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Brett Favre come through the line.
And now, Kurkosky couldn’t be more excited to watch a new Vikings roster and new coaching system compete for a chance to make the NFL Playoffs. This fan is a believer in head coach Mike Zimmer, now entering his second season in Minnesota. Coming from someone who remembers watch the great Bud Grant at the helm, this is high praise. Kurkosky said the following:
Zimmer has brought a lot of hope. I think and hope he will be a great coach; we are starting to see him build a team that plays and works hard together and puts in that extra effort for a game victory. I believe he will make these players have more confidence in themselves, which will consequently bring more effort and more victories.
Along with lots of others who bleed Purple, Kurkosky is optimistic about the upcoming season. Not only does Minnesota have Zimmer leading the team, but running back Adrian Peterson will be back on the field and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has one year under his belt.
“Teddy has yet to prove that he can beat a ‘500’ team,” Kurkosky said, “but we will really get to see what he’s made of when regular season starts and we see his leadership abilities and durability. I like to refer to Teddy as “T.D. (Touchdown) Teddy,” and I’m hoping the tag fits and sticks.”
Kurkosky acknowledged that lots of fans had been waiting for a different quarterback, and he hopes Bridgewater will be the answer for the franchise. The last solid QB Minnesota had on its roster was Brett Favre, and Kurkosky likened the excitement surrounding Bridgewater to the atmosphere of the team when Favre was on the field.
“You could feel it,” he said. “It was in the air then, and it’s in the air now.”
As far as how many wins the Vikings will get this season? Kurkosky is shooting high, betting between 10 and 12 victories when all is said and done.
While most sports fans may have their ways of getting pumped up for the season—tailgating, starting a fantasy football league, breaking out their jerseys—Kurkosky has quite a different outlet. A musician at heart, Kurkosky wrote and recorded a song to capture feelings headed into the 2015 season.
“Let’s Play Football, Minnesota Vikings” centers around the excitement of everything coming together this year: Bridgewater, AP, new coaches and a new stadium in the works.
“I thought about [the song] for three or four months, and then I put it together in an hour or two with words and rhythm […] When people ask me how I get the words—I hear them as they fall out of my head,” Kurkosky explained, laughing.
Kurkosky has loved music for almost as long as he’s loved the Vikings. He has been writing and singing his own songs since the 1980s, although he’s never officially been part of a band. Kurkosky occasionally sings in church or as entertainment for nursing home residents.
Interestingly, he says he’s especially known for his fishing songs, many of which are on YouTube. For the past six years, Kurkosky has set up shop at the annual Fishing Klinics for Kids event in Buffalo, MN. He snags several sponsors for the day and hires a band to back up for him.
“There’s lots of stuff for the kids, and they get a taste of learning to fish, which I also love to do.”
When putting together “Let’s Play Football,” Kurkosky said he created the concept and let the band do the rest. He especially credits Paul Diethelm, former lead guitarist for Johnny Lang. Diethelm now has his own band, Slip Twister, which has played for Kurkosky on several occasions. In this most recent project, Diethelm played lead, rhythm, bass and drums. In addition, he’s highlighted in the song’s solo.
“He called [the solo] the Tarkenton Scramble,” said Kurkosky. “I called it the Teddy Shuffle.”
Why did he write the song? For the same reason he writes every song. To give joy and excitement to other people. With the newest Vikings mix, he hopes it will generate even more enthusiasm for fans as they gear up for another year with their team.
And as for Kurkosky, he will keep writing, he will keep singing, and he will keep believing in the Minnesota Vikings.
“At 64 years old, who really knows?” Kurkosky laughed. “I’m just lovin’ every day of life.”
Play-by-Play with John
Favorite lake to fish on? Pleasant Lake (Annandale, MN)
If you could hang out with one Vikings for a day, who would it be? Really hard question! Probably Chad Greenway.
Favorite music artist? Lots of them! I love the 60’s & 70’s bands, the Beatles, Stones, Dion, and I’m a country music lover, also.
Game you are most looking forward to in the 2015 season? Green Bay (like most fans) and also Denver.
Next song in the works? Always another song… Thinkin’ about when we’re in the 2018 Super Bowl. I believe “It Could Happen.”