Now that I’m a blogger, I’ve been told that I need to learn the art of the click-bait headline. For a guy who was raised on the 20th Century’s journalistic compass, the daily newspaper, I’ve always appreciated a snappy headline as an attention grabbing device—but bristled at the modern era’s never-mind-if-it’s-true, clicks-first mentality.

In my career, I have worked for both the old-school Star Tribune and newer dot-com startups, and I know the drill from both sides, but don’t like the implications. Journalism may be dying, while clicks have become a form of currency. From the writer’s perspective, it’s “the more they click, the more they love you”. Really, though, it’s the more they love a tantalizing idea—which, almost by definition, the clickbait headline will never pay off. It’s basically faux journalism’s answer to the fake Tinder ad. Tell a tall tale, and worry about the truth later.

I’m way above that kind of shallowness, and I’m committed to truthful, hard-reality-based reporting and opinion But…hey, it’s 2021…and…maybe it’s time I started playing the game…right?

Right you are. So, in the interest of giving the internet what it wants, here are some Vikings-specific clickbait headlines I’m considering using for my upcoming columns here at PurplePTSD. Read ‘em and weep:

  • AARON RODGERS COMING TO MINNESOTA – Why in the name of Brett Favre wouldn’t any self-respecting Viking fan click on this headline? You did! Of course he’s coming to Minnesota—on November 21, when the Vikes host the Packers. I probably should have saved that one for November, but then again, will a misleading headline even be necessary during the media pandemonium that is Packers week here in the Twin Cities?
  • VIKING LINEMEN FINALLY LEARNING TO PASS BLOCK – Here’s a concept that seems so tantalizing yet so far-fetched that I suspect the clicks might not materialize. And yet…. could it be happening–for real–right before our very eyes, right now???
  • KIRK COUSINS COVID-19 SCARE CONFIRMED – as we all watch Kirk leverage the possibly-better pass-blocking in front of him, excellent play calling, his own improved decision-making, and the incredibly gifted skill players around him, we are slowly, steadily, starting to believe. Kirk Cousins can be a difference-maker on this Vikings football team. I fully expect that something will torpedo this whole notion, and if we’re going to be torpedoed, it’s probably going to be in a very Vikings-like big, nationally-buzzed about way. And what’s more buzzed about and polarizing than a hot Covid storyline? This clickbait headline would be a superb way to take advantage of our worst fears.
  • ZIMMER: “VINYASA YOGA HAS CHANGED MY LIFE” – Admit it, you’d want to see a lead photo of Coach Zimmer doing a downward-dog.
  • VIKINGS RUMORED TO BE THIRD TEAM IN BEN SIMMONS TRADE TALKS – thank goodness for the Timberwolves, says all Viking fans who do not pour their emotions into the fate of the local basketball team. The Wolves can always be counted on to make a 1-2 start feel almost palatable, given the years of near-constant losing, bad decision-making, and now front office dysfunction. For those of us who spread our passion across pro teams here in town, we’re so desperate for a Ben Simmons deal to happen—just to boost our Wolves Esteem, if nothing else—that we’re liable to click on anything that even pretends to improve the chances for this much-hoped for deal to become reality.
  • SPIELMAN ADMITS HE “DOESN’T REALLY GET” THE SALARY CAP – From the way he has boxed himself (and the Vikings, and all of us) into a corner with his cap management each of the last two seasons, this would seem plausible enough to grab the clicks. Come to think of it, is it really “clickbait” if it’s true??
  • JUSTIN JEFFERSON TO APPEAR ON “DANCING WITH THE STARS” – Justin and The Griddy are so ready for a reality-show moment. I know there are thousands of fans out there who want this to be true. It will be worth the click, even if it’s not.

MINNESOTA SUPER BOWL BOUND –Last, but least – the least believable headline of the bunch. This would be the clickbait equivalent of Lucy pulling away the football. We’ve all been through the emotional equivalent enough times, and we keep coming back for more. So, surely we’ll all click on this headline every time, no matter how obvious it is that it just isn’t true.
So, yeah – I think I’ve got the hang of this clickbait thing now. Armed with a whole collection of Viking Clickbait Headlines, I have to decide – do I ignore my moral compass, join the rest of the blogosphere, and just go for the clicks? Or do I stick with my guns and tell it like it really is? All you have to do is click on my next byline to find out.