With Lindsay Whalen returning to her native Minnesota to play after the Lynx-Sun trade this past week, she has a lot to be happy about. Not that she didn't like her time with Connecticut, mind you. It's just that well, home is home.
Especially when you love home as much as Whalen does. And for her, "home" is also Vikings football. Good as this week has been, Whalen will be a bit grumpy if a certain team in purple doesn't win Sunday.
"I have been a Vikings fan for as long as I can remember," Whalen said. "I would always watch the games with my dad, and then at halftime we would play catch. Then the rest of our Sunday mood was determined by if the Vikings won or lost.
"I once did not go trick-or-treating because the Vikings played on Monday night. I used to go to church on Saturday night so I could watch all of the pregame shows on Sunday morning and not miss any of the start of the game. My Aunt Mary would take me to one game a year, and that was always a highlight of my fall."
Of course, the team that Whalen's Vikings are playing Sunday afternoon, the Dallas Cowboys, has similarly passionate, lifelong fans. One of them being the Seattle Storm's Ashley Robinson, who grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas, and hangs a Cowboys jersey on her mantel every game day.
WNBA players, like many professional female athletes, tend to be sports-viewing junkies. So we asked Whalen and Robinson a few questions about how passionate they are about their favorite NFL teams.
"I have been a Cowboys fan since birth. So, 27 years," Robinson said. "That's the way I was brought up. We love some Jerry Jones around these parts."
Whalen (Minnesota) and Robinson (Tennessee) both played in Final Fours in college, so they know how to handle nerves. Yet both acknowledge sometimes that watching their favorite NFL teams can be more of a trial than playing themselves.
"[Tony] Romo can have me on edge," Robinson admitted, "but he has made me and all of Dallas rally behind him."
Whalen said, "I guess I would say I am still more anxious/nervous for my games than the Vikes' games. But it is close. And it will get more intense the further we go in the playoffs."
Ah-hah! So Whalen fully expects the Vikings to keep advancing all the way to the Super Bowl.
"Mission Miami!" she said.
Not so fast, says Robinson.
"We are going to the Super Bowl this year," she said. "And repeating next year, so we can win in front of the hometown crowd." (Super Bowl XLV will be at the new Cowboys Stadium that cost a gazillion dollars.)
OK, well somebody's going to be unhappy by late Sunday afternoon.
"Our whole city mopes and boycotts anyone that has something smart to say after a loss," Robinson said. "But, when we win, we get it rocking in D-town!"
Whalen said being a competitive athlete herself has helped her gain a little more perspective on Vikings wins and losses.
"It used to ruin my Sunday and part of Monday at school if they lost," Whalen said. "But now I think I let the games go easier. I think playing college sports and pro sports has helped me to understand how hard it really is to win and how hard the players work during the week to prepare."