What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Unless you live under a rock in a cave at the bottom of a crater on the dark side of the moon which only gets service from Comcast, you know last Sunday the New England Patriots knocked off the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. You also know that Super Bowl Sunday has become an ersatz holiday; a combination football, food, booze, and for one team, the proverbial thrill of victory.
So, why am I telling you that? Some have accused me of simply trolling the teams in the big game with Dubsism’s Why You Shouldn’t Cheer For series.
The reason why I do this is actually rather simple. Anything that I might call an “ersatz holiday” is pretty fucking obviously a big deal, which means as the largest sporting event in America, it draws in all the casual fans who don’t pay attention to football until the first Sunday in February. That means geeks like me who watch all the sports we can need to provide crucial information the newly-arriving fan may not know.
Let’s talk about that trolling angle for a minute. If in fact I’m going to be accused of such a thing, then why wouldn’t I do it about a team which a) was the genesis of the very first post on this blog, and b) the team which arguably has the greatest legacy of post-season futility?
That’s right…there can only be one team that fits that description; the Minnesota Vikings. Fans of the Purple have yet to hoist the trophy named for the legendary coach of their most-hated rival (which in and of itself is pants-shittingly funny), yet they’ve really had the most shots to do it. The Vikings are the last pre-merger NFL Champion; the AFL-NFL merger didn’t finalize until 1970, which makes the Purple’s 1969 NFL crown the last one which didn’t get a Super Bowl Trophy.
No team has been to more conference championship games than Minnesota. No team has lost more conference championship games than Minnesota. You know Viking fans would have loved the Patriots to lose on Sunday; a loss which would finally break the three-team log jam for the most Super Bowl losses at 4. Granted, the Buffalo Bills still share the Vikings’ 0-4 level of Super Bowl pain, but Minnesota’s torture has to be so much worse because before and after that Jim Kelly era in Buffalo, the Bills were largely irrelevant in the post-merger NFL, which until recently was never the case for the sons of the North Star state.
If you go back the NFL of the 1970’s, each conference only qualified four play-off teams, and in the NFC, you could bet your safely bet your house, your car, and your left nut that three of them would be the Dallas Cowboys, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Minnesota Vikings. To be honest, I always had a bit of a soft-spot for those 70’s Vikes, because as a life-long Philadelphia Eagle fan, I’d rather gargle with a homeless HIV-patient’s vomit than root for the Cowboys, and the Vikings always seemed to be the team to expose those fraudulent Pat Haden-Lawrence McCutcheon L.A. Lambs.
Having said that, I spent fifteen years being the Jane Goodall living amongst the Grape Apes known as Viking fans, which means I got see much of their pain first-hand. This is why I have a list of ten moments which I know have to be like passing ground glass for Vikings’ fans. What’s even worse is that many of them occur in the same game. That makes it hard to rank them in a “top ten” list style, which is why I will work back in time to catalog some of my favorite reasons why the Vikings haven’t won a Super Bowl.
2009 NFC Championship Game:
This is the game that Vikings fans love to point to the “Bounty-Gate” era New Orleans Saints and the perception of their “dirty play” as the reason they lost that game. Nothing could be further from the truth. There’s three distinct moments in that game where the Vikings pissed away a golden opportunity to capture that silver Lombardi trophy.
Face facts. The Vikings fumbled six times in that game, losing three of them. The bell-cow of the Viking offense, the NFL player formerly known as Adrian Peterson committed two of them, one of them the “torpedo through the hull of the Lusitania” drop-job right before the end of the first half.
Of all of them, Peterson’s drop at the end of the first half was the most damaging, because if that fumble doesn’t happen, the Vikings likely score, and head into halftime with a lead. If that happens, the Vikes have a lead and the ball to start the 2nd half.
2) The 12 Men In The Huddle Penalty
The 2009 NFC title game at New Orleans is as painful for Vikings fans as 1999. But the team had the game won despite five turnovers and numerous mistakes. The Vikings were driving to kick a game-winning field goal to beat the Saints and called a timeout. Inexplicably, 12 players came out of the huddle onto the field and they received a 5-yard penalty.
3) Brett Favre Doing What He Did Better Than Anybody Else
After the inexplicable “12 men in the huddle out of a timeout” penalty, Brett Favre was faced with getting the Vikings into field goal position. He had Bernard Berrian open down the field for an easy completion, or he could have scrambled for a few yards, picked an easy first down, and stopped the clock by getting out of bounds. Instead, he commits a football cardinal sin by forcing the ball back across his body into the middle of the field, which led to the game-sealing Tracy Porter interception. The rest is history. Nobody was better at that game-killing mistake than Favre.
2000 NFC Championship Game
The fact this game, forever known in Minnesota simply as “41-0,” came on the heels for the previous year’s “Take a Knee” debacle had to be the ultimate salt in the wound for Vikings fans. It wasn’t bad enough that this was arguably the most humiliating loss in the history of the franchise. It wasn’t bad enough it became obvious this team quit in the middle of the second quarter. It wasn’t even bad enough that this team got roasted down the sideline by fullback/” guy you never heard of” Greg Comella. Comella scored one of his two career touchdown on that play, and it was the one that hammered one of the final nails into the Purple coffin.
What’s actually the worst part for Viking fans is their team was actually a 10-point favorite that day against the New York Giants. But on that day, the G-Men scored first, then Moe Williams’ fumble on the ensuing kickoff set the tone for the rest of the day. New York had a 14-0 lead two minutes into the game, led 34-0 at the half, but it was over long before that. and the Vikings never had a chance.
1999 NFC Championship Game
1) “Taking A Knee”
The 1998-99 season saw the Minnesota Vikings offense roll through NFL defense like the real Norsemen did to Scandinavian fishing villages. Minnesota was home to highest-scoring offense in the NFL history to that point. Despite that, head coach Dennis Green chose to crawl into a turtle shell when he had a chance to win the NFC title game against the Atlanta Falcons. With less than a minute to play and the game tied, he opted to take a knee and go to overtime with home field advantage instead of potentially driving the field for a game-winning score.
Specifically, he’s got 23 seconds, two timeouts, an unstoppable wide receiver/quarterback combination in Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper respectively, and he only needs about 30 yards to set up one of the best kickers the game has ever seen in Gary Anderson.
The game goes into overtime, the Vikings lose, and Viking fans will never forgive Green. To this day, this is still known as the “Take a Knee” game.
2) Gary Anderson – Wide Left
To this day, I believe this was the football gods fucking with Dennis Green. The Vikings had Atlanta beat in the 1999 NFC title game, and would have easily been the favorite to win the Super Bowl had Gary Anderson not missed a 38-uard field goal which would have given the Vikes a 10-point lead with only minutes to go in the 4th quarter. Instead, the Falcons get the ball back, tie the game with seconds to go, and Viking fans everywhere lost faith, which set the stage for the “Take A Knee” fiasco.
3) The Guy Who Never Got Any Blame For This, But Deserved It
That ignominious title belongs to “golden boy” wide receiver Randy Moss, who before ultimately wearing out his welcome in Minnesota for various and sundry bad behavior could do no wrong in the eyes of Viking fans. That has to be why none of them…and I mean NONE of them…seem to remember that it was Moss who dropped a sure-fire touchdown pass which necessitated the Gary Anderson field goal attempt in the first fucking place.
1988 NFC Championship Game
The subject of my favorite Viking joke of all time:
Q: Do you know why Darrin Nelson hasn’t made it home from the game yet?
A: Somebody painted a goal line across his driveway.
If you don’t get it, just tell it to an old-school Viking fan. They’ll explain it to you while they cry into their lutefisk.
1977 Super Bowl vs. Oakland Raiders
Just like “41-0,” The Vikings came into this game a favorite, and left it like Napoleon retreated from Russia. The Raiders jumped out to a 19-0 lead, and never looked back. The Raiders intercepted Minnesota twice in the fourth quarter, one for a 75-yard touchdown. The final score was 32-14, but it never was really that close.
1975 Super Bowl vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
This game was one of two Super Bowl in which the Vikes honestly didn’t have a chance. On offense, they could only manage a paltry 119 yards of total offense; only 17 of those being rushing yards against the famed “Steel Curtain” defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers. At least the Vikings also couldn’t stop the Steeler offense, which racked up 333 total yards, powered by 158 rushing yards from Hall of Famer Franco Harris. The score was 16-6, but it might as well have been 166-6 as the Vikings were thoroughly manhandled by the Steelers.
1974 Super Bowl vs. Miami Dolphins
The most interesting fact about this game is that it was the first Super Bowl not played on the home field of an NFL team, it was played at Rice University Stadium in Houston. It was also the last to be played with the goal posts at the front of the end zone rather than along the end line. The game itself wasn’t nearly that interesting.
At first these teams seemed fairly evenly matched. It was the Dolphins third consecutive Super Bowl appearance. They posted a 12–2 record during the regular season, then defeated the Cincinnati Bengals and the Oakland Raiders in the playoffs. The Vikings were making their second Super Bowl appearance after also finishing the regular season with a 12–2 record, and posting play-off victories over the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys.
In reality, the Dolphins dominated the Vikings by scoring 24 unanswered points during the first three quarters, including two touchdowns on their first two drives. Minnesota’s best chance to threaten occurred with less than a minute left in the first half, but Vikings running back Oscar Reed fumbled at the Dolphins’ 6-yard line, and the Vikings never recovered. Miami’s lead in the second half. Miami’s Larry Csonka became the first running back to be named Super Bowl MVP; both his 145 rushing yards and his 33 carries were Super Bowl records at the time.
1970 Super Bowl vs. Kansas City Chiefs
In a scene similar to the 2009 NFC Championship Game, the Vikings lost this Super Bowl 23-7 largely because they had major issues hanging onto the football. Minnesota gave away three interceptions and lost two fumbles in the game. Worse yet, the Viking must have missed the flight to the game; they only managed 67 rushing yard for the entire game.
Speaking of being an Eagle fan, in order to deal with my own lifetime of post-season frustration, I’ve learned to pick something upon which I can hang my football hat. The Philadelphia Eagles have not won an NFL Championship since 1960, but when they did that, they did something no other NFL team ever did. The 1960 Philadelphia Eagles were the only team to beat a Vince Lombardi-coached team in an NFL Championship Game.
If you’re a Viking fan, perhaps its’ time to embrace that 1969 NFL Championship as your moment.