What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Editor’s Note: Today’s pain sharer is a long suffering fan of the Minnesota Vikings. That’s too bad, because from all accounts, DBE is a pillar of his community. He’s an elder in his church, he’s raised a respectable family, and he gets better jobs than you do. DBE is the essential well-respected man about town, which means he’s everything J-Dub isn’t.
But one thing DBE has in common with J-Dub is he’s an informed sports fan. You’ll be able to see that as you peruse this piece. While it won’t explain why a well-read and respectable guy would have anything to do with Dubsism, we can at least get a glimpse into why this upstanding citizen likes to spend his football Sundays screaming in horror and pain at his television.
J-Dub: How long have you been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings?
DBE: Well, for depression and sorrow I could have taken the easy route and gone with the Minnesota Timberwolves (you could write volumes on that team which should be known as the “Black Hole of Hope”) but I am going to go with the Minnesota Vikings, as they are a more interesting group to talk about. I have been a fan of the Vikings since about my second year of college in Minnesota. So, to answer the question, 1989… which this fall makes 29 years of self-induced pain. By the way is that picture at the top Vladimir Lenin or Brad Childress with his head in his hands? I always mixed those two up, but that drawing could probably pass for either one. My guess is Lenin, based on the 3-piece suit.
J-Dub: The graphic is actually Sigmund Freud, because many of our readers are fans of teams which have driven them into a need for psychotherapy. It’s just hard to tell because we air-brushed out the cigar…and the cocaine.
It’s funny you mention the “Lumber Cubs” not only because they were featured in a previous installment of Tales of Depression and Sorrow, but because we were both in college at the same time in the same general piece of the world, we remember that team from jump ball #1. I remember driving down to Minneapolis to see them when they still played in the Metrodome and thinking “Holy shit, they actually found a sport this place is worse for than baseball.” It actually wasn’t bad for football though.
So, what made you become a fan of the Vikes?
DBE: Why I became a fan is a bit of a mystery to me. I was not a Viking fan growing up. I remember rooting against them when they played John Madden’s Oakland Raider team in the Super Bowl. I guess I have a soft spot for teams that are perennial under dogs (0-4 in Super Bowls qualifies easily), which means I probably should be a Buffalo Bills fan as well.
Being dunked in the tank of Vikings fans during college was part of the reason that I started watching the team. It was also something to talk about with my oldest brother, who was a Viking fan. The rest of it was some players that I really liked were drafted by the Vikings.
J-Dub: I’ve got a guy doing this with Buffalo later this season, so I’m sure that “0-4” thing is going to pop up there as well. Speaking of players you liked, who is your all-time favorite Viking?
DBE: That’s a tough one. I think I would have to go with Randall McDaniel. The whole “bowed-leg stance” and pancaking defensive linemen was simply awesome to watch. He was so good for so long. Typically when players get to the end of their contracts, most fans regret the team signing them for that long. I was hoping they would sign McDaniel for 3 more years.
McDaniel never really seemed to “lose a step” his entire career. Cris Carter, John Randle, Gary Zimmerman, Henry Thomas, Chris Doleman, and Joey Browner were all on that same team and were all players I really liked watching play. There were lots of other guys I liked on subsequent teams.
J-Dub: Henry Thomas was a character. A lot of people never knew Thomas was an avid bowler, and for a while he rolled on a team for a neighborhood hole-in-the-wall bar in St. Paul with former Minnesota Twin Kent Hrbek. Everybody knew who Hrbek was, and since he was the “star,” it took quite some time before anybody figured out the gigantic guy known simply as “Hank” was also the Vikings’ nose tackle.
As long as we are on the subject of Vikes with connections to the people, we both have North Dakota roots. Were you one of those guys who had a Jim Kleinsasser jersey?
DBE: I did not have a jersey, but I was a fan of his. Kleinsasser was a guy who was hard not to cheer for, as he came from the University of North Dakota and played a really tough/physical style of football. Sort of a more talented “John Kuhn”-type of player. He is on the short list of all-time favorite players on several Vikings blogs I read…stuff you get when it’s spring and there is nothing better to do than talk about your all-time favorite players. Kleinsasser appears on people’s list regularly, and it’s not hard to see why given his “lunch-pail” style of play he had during his entire career.
J-Dub: I didn’t think so, but we have a common friend who did. Every time I’d go over to his house for a football Sunday cook-out he would be wearing it. I always thought it fitting as this was from a guy who had an abnormal amount of body hair…considering I always thought Jim Kleinsasser looked like somebody tried to shave a Bigfoot. And as far as jerseys go, if I wasn’t the first person not related to Carson Wentz to have his Eagles’ jersey, I want to know who was…
But you also mentioned liking guys on “subsequent teams.” Like who?
DBE: There were quite a few players I liked to watch. Robert Smith was an exciting player. Matt Birk was an all-time great center. Ed McDaniel was a really good later round pick at linebacker. Kevin Williams at defensive tackle was a great player and never quite got his due in Pro Bowl counts that he should have. Antoine Winfield was a great tackler at defensive back, possibly the best Minnesota has ever had. Adrian Peterson (for all his fumbling and personal problems) is a no question Hall-of-Famer and impossible not to mention on this list. Jared Allen was the sack machine that made defense in Minnesota fun to watch again. Steve Hutchinson will be a hall of famer as well one day. Brian Robison was a huge late-round surprise that was a very solid defensive end for a lot of years. Joe Berger was a gritty guard who beat the odds and played at a high level for the Vikings.
As for today’s team, it’s hard not to cheer for Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs. Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith are truly great on defense. Linval Joseph was a great free agent signing who doesn’t get much credit. Everson Griffen was a great 4th round pick who just makes plays and Pro Bowls. Eric Kendricks can make plays side line to side line. Danielle Hunter may be the next great player in the making for Minnesota. I like all those guys, and most are locked up for quite some time to come. I have high hopes for this version of the Vikings.
J-Dub: You mentioned Adam Thielen. You can go all the way back to the University of North Dakota’s Dave Osborn; the Vikings always have that one guy who is from “around here” (that’s a very popular phrase in Minnesota for those of you who never lived there). We already talked about another North Dakota kid in Jim Kleinsasser. South Dakota gave them one of the last “straight-on” kickers in Rick Danmeier, and now there’s Minnesota State-Mankato’s Adam Thielen. Do you remember a receiver back in the late 80’s named Jim Gustafson?
DBE: I had to look him up on Google (apparently all useless knowledge really is on Google). I’m sure I heard about him years ago, as most people like the “local kid makes it” story. Vikings have had a long run of undrafted free agents who seem to hang around a while and play at high levels. Of course John Randle is the ultimate UDFA with a gold jacket for the Vikings.
J-Dub: I can’t forget the guy because another one of my NoDak friends had a Viking’s jersey made with his #80 on it (yes, this guy pre-dates Cris Carter). He lives in Connecticut now and shows up at the occasional Patriots game. He’s really easy to spot in that crowd because he’ll be the only one in a purple #80 jersey, and the name on the back isn’t Carter.
Who is your “brother-in-law” player (meaning guy you hated, but you tolerated him because he was on your team) and why did you pick them?
DBE: Percy Harvin is the obvious choice for me. He was a big-time talent, and an even shittier teammate and human being. You could almost excuse the Vikings taking him as they were so short at wide receiver. Cris Carter was about ready for his AARP card when Percy was drafted in 2009. Percy was always an injury or a migraine away from being a Pro Bowler every year. Harvin managed to back into a Pro Bowl in 2010 after DeSean Jackson decided he couldn’t play (tweaked his knee).
Everybody knew Percy could play, but all the fans knew he was a piece of shit as a human. His crappy attitude permeated his teams. If it wasn’t for Brett Favre throwing to him, I don’t think he would have ever amounted to anything on a football field. Percy coming to blows with two former teammates in Seattle was a laugh riot. Harvin’s picture should be officially recognized as the definition of “Locker Room Cancer” in the dictionary. The best thing that I could have ever imaged happened to the Vikings when we got a 1st round pick back from Seattle, which we turned into Xavier Rhodes. I think we all know who won this trade.
J-Dub: A few years back, Dubsism was doing the short-lived video blog “Dubs-Cast.” There were only seven episodes made, because for some reason the only ones which ever got any viewers where when I talked about golf of all things. But the one I did about Percy Harvin got me the most hate mail of any of those. It only got like fourteen views, but every one of them sharpened up their purple crayon to tell me what an asshole I am because I said the same thing…the Vikes dodged a serious salary cap bullet by unloading this guy when they did and got a 1st-round pick for him to boot.
But you also mentioned Brett Favre. The very genesis of this blog was the day King Brett I signed with the Purple. Were you one of those guys who had the math at Favre + Vikings = Super Bowl?
DBE: I really liked the signing of Brett Favre by the Vikings. I knew they had a shot at the SB with a real QB throwing the ball. Hey, the Vikings were one INT away from the SB that I think they would have won, if they just hold on to the ball and kick a field goal. Without Favre, they were an 8-8 or 9-7 team. With him, they were two plays from the Super Bowl. An incomplete pass and a field goal to win the game. That’s hard for anybody to argue.
As a huge plus, Favre’s signing pissed off every Packer Fan I knew. I lived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin for 9 years, so I knew a lot of Packer fans. Nothing gets a Packer fan angrier than a Purple Favre jersey. I don’t get it, but I think it is very funny Packer fans somehow think it’s sacrilegious or something. Which is even funnier given Favre’s history (pain-killer addiction and harassing female side line reporters half his age) makes that sacrilegious attitude so much more ironic.
I really hated the “bend a knee” recruitment every year thing the Vikings did to get him to play. “What the hell Brett, do you want to play football or not? Oh, here’s $20 mil, does that help any?” That diva part of Favre to get him to play each year was just silly. Play if you want to play. Retire if you want to retire, but the Brett Favre “hokey pokey” was tiresome for me.
I can understand Favre going to the Vikings was annoying for Packer fans, but I don’t recall Alan Page going to the Bears giving off nearly as much “stink face.” Yes, the best Viking to ever live suiting up in a Bears uniform was tough to watch, but that was at the end of his career. He wouldn’t retire and wasn’t able to play at a high level anymore.
Favre was similar, but a bit different. Favre did have 3 good years left in him after the Packers (plus his last year with the Vikings which was about NFL average). I believe the Packers were right to let him go (as Aaron Rodgers was clearly ready) and I think Favre was right to sign with the Vikings and stick it to his old team, which he did several times. It’s the way of the NFL. I just wish he could have thrown that one damn pass away and the story would have been completely different.
J-Dub: Who is your “bad, but hot girlfriend” player (meaning guy who you loved but you knew was bad for your team) and why did you pick them?
DBE: This has to be the easiest of these questions. He is also a Hall of Famer…none other than Randy Moss. He was the guy you knew was a pain in the ass. He was just so damn good that every fan looked the other way at the antics. They just watched the stats/highlights. The “I play when I want to play” bullshit earns him this award on its own. Everybody knew his attitude was a problem. There would be seasons when he would zip his lips and just play. It was only a matter of time before he ran over a traffic cop, got caught with weed, or directly challenged the coaches’ authority.
But I loved watching the bombs sailing over the heads of the other team’s defenses. The fantasy points were fun, but every Viking fan knew he was a lousy teammate.
J-Dub: What is your personal highlight moment for being a Viking fan?
DBE: I have several. The Brad Johnson touchdown pass to himself was awesome. The Brett Favre throw to the back of the end zone on the last play of the game against San Francisco was incredible. The all-time play for a Viking fan must be Stefon Diggs’ catch last year in the playoffs to win on the last play, in the playoffs. Could not believe it. Nearly turned off the game before the finish. Flipped it back in time for the snap and the screaming. My screaming.
J-Dub: There was a lot of screaming in my house that day too…Mrs. J-Dub is a big-time Saints fan. Now the other side of the coin. What is your personal low-light moment for being a Viking fan?
DBE: I have two. The 1998 NFC Championship Game…Gary Anderson, who had not missed a field goal all season went wide left by just a few feet. The Vikings lost by 3 in overtime. That moment was bad, but the next one was worse.
Roll forward 10 years, Brett Favre has the Vikings on a what should have been a winning drive in the NFC Championship Game. All they had to do is not turn the ball over with a tie game. The ball is at the 38-yard line. Favre escapes right and throws back across his body (as he did all the time) but Sidney Rice doesn’t come back for the ball. Favre throws a pick with :07 on the clock. The Saints end up winning in overtime. How painful a memory! The Vikings at least had a solid chance to win it. They were headed to the Super Bowl. The worst is that I think they would have beat the Colts and ended the 0-4 Super Bowl record. This one probably hurts the worst of all as a Vikings fan.
J-Dub: The irony is that championship game loss against the Saints might be my personal sweetest sports moment as it came as the “I told you so” moment in a two-year long running gun battle with Viking fans over the whole “Favre ain’t getting you to the Super Bowl” thing. That’s why every dry-erase board at my office looked like this the very next morning.
Having said that, I went through all this and more when I did a chronology of Viking futility. That means based on what you’ve just listed, not to ask you to speak for Viking fans everywhere, but I need three things explained.
I guess I was thankful that the Vikings did not go to the Super Bowl as they would have been absolutely torched by the Ravens, who beat the shit out of the Giants. If you’ll recall, this loss by the Giants to the Ravens was a top 5 all-time blowout (34-7). It may have been the first 60-point win differential in a Super Bowl.
In my view, the NFC Championship beating saved the Vikings from an all-time ass whooping from the Ravens. Much like the Bears over Patriots, Redskins over Broncos, 49ers over Broncos, Cowboys over Bills, or Seattle over Broncos, it would have been awful. As bad as 0-4 is in Super Bowls is, it’s much better than 0-5 with a historically bad ass-kicking on the Viking’s record. If the Viking’s win one SB, I would prefer a SB record of 1-4 over the Broncos two wins and several historically bad losses. Of course, it’s hard to top Buffalo losing 4 SB’s in a row, one of them an all-time blowout to the Cowboys. If Scott Norwood makes that last field goal, the Vikings would be the worst Super Bowl team in history. Right now, it’s clearly Buffalo.
J-Dub: I’m not sure I can go with “clearly Buffalo,” but that sounds like an idea for a future installment of “Point-Counterpoint,” so I’m not going to chase that here. Was there ever a moment when you considered changing teams? If so what caused that moment? If not, why?
DBE: I don’t think I ever seriously thought about changing teams. There were many moments of dreadful draft picks and coaching choices. As mentioned, I never liked Denny Green, but the team played hard for him. Brad Childress was simply terrible, but his teams were successful despite him. I had hope for Leslie Frazier as a head coach, but he turned out to be a total joke. He was simply incapable of leading a team.
Frazier was so bad that the Vikings hit rock bottom when he started Josh Freeman on Monday Night Football. All the assistant coaches knew Freeman wasn’t ready to play. He quite honestly never should have played in the NFL. He did not have the head to be an NFL QB, but on October 21st of 2013, Leslie Frazier started Freeman on 14 fucking days of preparation! If Freeman had 14 seasons of preparation in the same offense, he MIGHT have been ready.
Frazier’s own position coaches told Frazier that Freeman wasn’t even close to being ready. Frazier ignored all the pleas to not play him and told the press all the coaches felt Freeman was ready. He admitted Freeman didn’t know all the offense, but he was ready to start using a scaled back offense. In reality, all the coaches were well aware Freeman didn’t know any of the offense. He couldn’t even call the plays in the huddle. Freeman managed 190 yards and a pick. He threw 33 incompletions that night. Freeman never played again for the Vikings and Frazier was fired in early December of 2013.
All that crap ushered in the Mike Zimmer era. As bad as the team performed in 2013, 2014 to current has been pure joy. It’s like swallowing a terrible tasting pill to feel better in the long run.
J-Dub: You rattled off some impressive names in terms of coaches who frustrate the bejeezus out of fans, and I’m positive there’s more coming. As an Eagles fan, I can do the same thing…Rich “Decline The Penalty And Punt” Kotite, Ray “What’s A First Down?” Rhodes, and most recently, that talking turkey-loaf known as Chip Kelly.
This looks as good a time as any to get after the proverbial “elephant in the room.” Having worked in the broadcast media in the Twin Cities for the better part of a decade, I’ve got my take on Dennis Green, but I want to hear yours first…after all, you’ve already said you didn’t like him. Why?
DBE: I never liked Denny Green as a coach and I thought the team won despite his shitty methods of building a team and one-sided coaching. Denny taking a knee with two-time outs and under a minute to play in the 1st half of the NFC Championship game was just Denny being Denny. Stating he should get some ownership of the team was him wanting what he didn’t earn. Denny throwing out random threats to sue Twin Cities reporters was an obvious character flaw. He just appeared as unstable as many of the troubled players he drafted.
The biggest reason I didn’t like Denny was that he was very poor at building an NFL team. Remember he was the GM and Coach. He drafted players like Dimitrius Underwood in the first round. Dimitrius’ own college coach recommended to the entire NFL that they don’t draft Underwood AT ALL! Dimitrius had real mental issues, but Denny knew better. When Dimitrius predictably went off the rails, Denny just shrugged his shoulders and said it didn’t matter because he was an “EXTRA” 1st round pick, so no big deal. Denny was unaccountable for his actions. He couldn’t admit failure. He was always ready to pat himself on the back for the draft successes (which there were quite a few) but never took ownership of the many failures/missed opportunities.
Denny the coach was a roller coaster ride of great offense and poor defense. Ultimately, I call Denny an overall poor coach because he snuck by on riding highly talented but troubled players. They played hard for him for a while and then failed him when things got tough in big moments. If Moss didn’t fall to him in the draft, he would have been fired seasons earlier. His lack of assembling a real defense was his true downfall. He was a good offensive coach but truly historically poor coach when it came to defense, time management, and keeping control of the team, which was due to the highly questionable character of many players he drafted. He drove the team to many regular season victories but was at best mediocre in the playoffs. It seemed the team was almost constructed to fail by design and Denny was incapable of realizing the problem because he could not admit his own faults.
J-Dub: Like I said, having been part of the broadcast media in the Twin Cities during the Denny Green era, I can tell you that for the most part he was a well-liked guy by all the writers and reporters I knew who covered the Vikings, with two major exceptions. I’m not going to mention any names because both of these people are lawsuit-happy. If you’re familiar with the Twin Cities sports media, you can probably figure out who I’m talking about.
Anyway, the point is these two are the reason why the relationship between Green and the media deteriorated as much as it did. When Green got there in 1992, the Twin Cities’ sports media damn near threw a ticker-tape for him because of the hatred they had for Jerry Burns. But during the first five years when Green couldn’t get out of the first-round of the play-offs, there started to be criticisms, most of which at first were fair. But Green couldn’t handle the fact that the media who worshiped him were starting to turn on him, so he got personal with the loudest critics.
This led to a response-in-kind, which led to the aforementioned threats of lawsuits, which led to a complete invasion of Green’s personal life in the form of floating rumors that Green had a long-standing mistress that he forced to have an abortion. That story fostered more threats of legal action by pretty much everybody involved. As one would expect, this level of dysfunction seeped onto the field, and the only way Green could have saved his job after “41-0” was to win a Super Bowl that following season.
We both know that ended. Speaking of endings, if the Vikings re-located to another city, would you remain a fan? Why or why not?
DBE: I think this depends on the circumstances. If the Minneapolis decided that the Vikings had to stay in that concrete block called the Metrodome, which cost all of $60 Million to build, and they would not pony up for a new stadium, then I would truly have considered cheering for the Vikings in their new location. If the city doesn’t want to support the Vikings, then they don’t deserve them.
If a new owner purchased the team and decided to move them to say San Antonio because that’s where the owner wanted the team, then hell no, I would never cheer for them again. In that event, I would only hope that Minneapolis or the state of Minnesota would sue the new owner for the rights to the name Minnesota Vikings, including the rights to their history. I could stomach an expansion Viking team being bad for 10+ years. I could not cheer for the (insert city here) Vikings if they were moved under these circumstances.
J-Dub: If there was one personnel decision you think could have changed your team’s fortunes, what was it and what would you have done differently?
DBE: It’s hard to believe but there were two instances that were so obvious that they are mind boggling events to me. I am an admitted draftnik. I am one of those guys watching on Saturday when 99% of the fans are on to something else.
The worst decision was the Vikings not taking Marcus Allen instead of Darrin Nelson in the 1982 draft. They had the #7 overall pick and Marcus Allen was a perfect fit in my opinion. Marcus was a tough runner who could always get positive yardage and catch the ball out of the backfield. He made huge plays for the Raiders and led them to a Super Bowl. A lock as a Hall of Famer when he retired. Nelson was the same guy who was unable to score a touchdown late in the 1987 NFC Championship Game against the Redskins. Vikings needed a big play, but Nelson got stuffed inside the 5 and the Vikings lose by 7. In my gut, I know Marcus Allen sticks that play in for a touchdown.
My all-time runner-up for obvious bad decisions was not taking Warren Sapp in the 1995 draft. They took Derrick Alexander instead. Sapp had a Hall-of-Fame career and he dominated the line of scrimmage for a decade for Tampa Bay. Alexander played four unspectacular seasons for the Vikings and one more for Cleveland before hanging up the cleats. No matter how much screaming at the TV I did, I just could not get them to announce they were just kidding and really took Sapp. The choice was too obvious. It was simply impossible to believe they were so stupid as to miss out on Sapp.
There were several other terrible picks, such as Troy “Lobster Boy” Williamson, DJ Dozier, and of course Dimitrius Underwood in 1999, THE Denny Green special.
J-Dub: What was your toughest off-field moment?
DBE: Off-field issues have plagued the Vikings for decades. I think the Love Boat incident had to top everything. Fred Smoot sourcing women from Atlanta & Florida (apparently exotic dancers from Minnesota didn’t quite cover it, so he actually shipped dancers in from the South). The massive black eye it gave the team was hard to shake. The “Love Boat” ensnared Fred Smoot, Daunte Culpepper, Bryant McKinnie, Pat Williams, Moe Williams, Nate Burleson, and Troy “Lobster Boy” Williamson. This guy couldn’t catch a cold but apparently could catch a hooker on a boat.
The poor bastard who had to clean up the used condoms, KY Jelly, and stray G-strings should have at least got a tip from Smoot, but nope. Mike Tice was no disciplinarian, but this little stunt pretty much sealed his fate and he was fired at the end of the season in 2005. It then ushered in the head coaching tenure of the angry science teacher, Brad Childress.
J-Dub: First, there’s a reason I always called Mike Tice “The Dildo.” Secondly, now that I’ve worked in the obligatory “dick” joke, we don’t have to talk about “The Whizzinator.” But back to your point, let us not forget Brad Childress was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator before he got the head coach gig in Minnesota. That meant watching the Vikings offense in those days with a Vikings fan was like watching baseball when the guy on the mound is tipping his pitches. I knew what “Chilly” was going to do because I’d seen it all before. 3rd and long just outside of field goal range? Here comes a “draw” play. 4th and inches in the “red zone? Get ready for a toss-sweep to the most Galapagos tortoise-like fullback on the roster.
If you could wave a “magic wand,” what is one thing you would change?
DBE: If I could wave a magic wand and change something about the Vikings’ history, again it would be having them draft Marcus Allen in 1982. My assumption is that Allen would still have been running strong for the Vikings in 1989, and the Vikings would have never made the worst trade in modern-day sports, the Herschel Walker deal. As a reminder, Mike Lynn shipped 5 players out (including Darrin Nelson – see above) and EIGHT fucking draft picks, including 3 first-rounders, 3 second-rounders, a third and sixth rounder for Walker and another collection of draft picks. To say this trade was a disaster worthy of mentioning in the same breath as the Titanic (both the boat and the movie) is a massive understatement.
Shockingly, Cleveland had already offered the Cowboys multiple 1st-rounders for Walker and Lynn had to sweeten the pot to get Dallas to take the Vikings offer. Worst of all, Mike Lynn didn’t get buy-in from his ferret-faced coach Jerry Burns who really didn’t want Walker in the first place. Burns made Walker run out of a split backfield, rather than the I-formation where he was enormously successful during his career. Burns really didn’t give a shit from which formation Walker wanted to run the ball. It was Burns’ way or the highway. We all know how this turned out.
Walker wasn’t on the team after 1992, running for three mediocre seasons for the Vikings. Jerry Burns was gone after the 1991 season, as he refused to change his offense to suit the talent. I guess swearing at the press for years and telling the fans to go fuck themselves wasn’t enough to get Burns fired but getting in the way of Mike Lynn’s mega-trade for Walker was. The Vikings set sail on the Denny Green era 1992, who also replaced Lynn as the de facto general manager.
J-Dub: I asked this question about Favre, and I ‘m going ask it about Marcus Allen. Given what you just said, do you think Allen would have been the difference maker in the sense that if he were a Viking in January of 1988, he makes the score Darrin Nelson couldn’t, and that leads to the Vikings ass-hammering the Broncos in the Super Bowl?
DBE: Put simply, YES! There were two instances the Vikings could have won a Super Bowl after the Purple People Eaters were done. This was the first of two truly disappointing seasons. I already mentioned Darrin Nelson and the 1987 NFC Championship Game. In my mind, Marcus Allen goes for 6 on that play, no questions asked. I really do be believe the Vikings would have won that game and they would have dominated the Super Bowl over a completely over matched Denver Broncos team. Letting this game slip through their fingers was again purely due to the poor draft choices in my mind. The other Super Bowl miss was the interception by Favre in the NFC Championship game which I discussed above where I think they would have dominated the Indianapolis Colts.
The longer I am a fan of the NFL, the more I am convinced that the NFL is won or lost on draft day and free agency. I think that’s what makes the NFL so entertaining as a league. I can tell you right now one of 3 teams that WILL win an NBA title next year! It’s boring as hell. There is no surprise. Could anyone come close to doing that for the NFL? How many non-degenerate gamblers would have bet their house mortgages on the Eagles to win the Super Bowl vs. how many would have felt quite comfortable betting on the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA title last year? There are so many worst-to-first division winners now in the NFL. The league goes up and down like a yo-yo. This is what makes the league so interesting.
J-Dub: If Mike Zimmer brings a Lombardi trophy to Minnesota, does he become your favorite Vikings’ coach? Doug Pederson got the job done for me in Philadelphia, but as an old-school Eagles’ fan, I’m always going to have a soft spot for Dick Vermiel. That’s why he just got a Dubsy Award named for him.
DBE: Well, Zimmer is already in my top two Vikings coaches of all time, so I guess my answer would have to be yes. In my view, it doesn’t take anything away from Bud Grant’s stellar coaching career if Zimmer wins a Super Bowl with the Vikings. Different era’s, styles of play, offensive focused football (today) vs. defensive focused football (1960’s and 70’s). Zimmer just has that old school, hard-nosed defense, “kick them in the teeth”-type of style, but his attention to detail is refreshing (versus say the last 5 Vikings coaches). His focus on good pass defense is in my view is the key to winning a Super Bowl. We’ll see if he does win one, but I have high hopes for this team the next few years, as Zimmer and Spielman have assembled a really good team.
On the flip side, Zimmer getting beat like a drum in last year’s NFC championship game is concerning to me. His defense coming apart in the process is the most troubling part. The defensive line was missing something in the playoffs last year, so signing Sheldon Richardson at DT this last off season may be the biggest signing of the year. Philly having a great offensive line was the key to their win, as it made their entire offense click that day and gave Foles plenty of time to throw the ball. It was all down hill from there.
J-Dub: You’re a Vikings fan, I’m an Eagles fan. These are two teams who have shared more than one “big-name” player. So, let’s play a game of “Rapid Fire.” I’ll name a few of these guys, and you give me a response in 25 words or less. I’ll start with a name which has already been mentioned, Herschel Walker.
DBE: UGGGHHHH!!! Next.
J-Dub: I remember after your Vikes pawned him off on my Eagles, and hearing one of the blow-dries on ESPN quip that Walker might get three tea,m in the play-offs; the Cowboys, the Vikings, and the Eagles.
DBE: I hated Buddy Ryan…but thanks Buddy for the free Hall-of-Famer.
J-Dub: He wasn’t free. The Vikes had to pony up $100 to claim him off waivers. Besides, Carter was a head case in Philadelphia, and had we kept him, he would have been like having hubcaps on a tractor because this is when the Eagles plunged into the depths of the Rich Kotite – Ray Rhodes era. And I loved Buddy, but “all he does is catch touchdowns” is one of the great cement-headed soundbites of all-time.
DBE: That guy had an arm that never quit. Those rainbow 70-yard passes to Moss were a thing of beauty. I really liked Cunningham.
J-Dub: Best running quarterback I ever saw, and like you said, he had Dirty Harry’s chrome .44 magnum bolted to his right shoulder. That was until Opening Day 1992 in Green Bay when he got his knee shredded. That was the season all Eagles fans thought we going to kill off that whole “Super Bowl” thing and in the first quarter of the first game, our quarterback is on a golf cart on his way to Dr. James Andrews. To this day, I want Bryce Paup dead.
Next guy…Gary Anderson.
DBE: Well he was a Hall-of-Fame Kicker, regardless of the miss in the NFC Championship game. An all-time great kicker.
J-Dub: I’ll buy that. We already have an issue here when it comes to dealing with kickers. Besides, for Eagles fans, we can’t forget the barefoot guy (Tony Franklin) or the fat guy with half a foot (Tom Dempsey).
Give me your thoughts on Sam Bradford.
DBE: Sam could injure himself walking into the stadium. A good QB who was never able to stay healthy.
J-Dub: My wife is my witness to this. I was a Nick Foles fan all the way back to his college days at Arizona. Words don’t describe how flaming pissed I was when the Eagles traded him for Bradford, whose knees were already made of Spaghetti-O’s by this point. But then we got Wentz and the rest is history.
DBE: I loved Millard. An extremely tough defensive tackle. Great player. Should have listed him in my all-time favorites.
J-Dub: The guy was a complete psychopath. Don’t get me wrong, that was a great quality in a guy who blew up NFL offensive lines in a manner which made the German blitzkrieg of France seem civilized. He just didn’t know when to turn it off.
“My arms are deadlier weapons than your guns!” is the timeless quote from Millard during a confrontation with Bloomington, Minnesota police which almost got him shot. Stuff like that coupled with two DWI arrests and a severe knee injury in 1990 spelled the end of Millard’s time in Minnesota. By the time he got to Philadelphia, he was a bag of used-up bones, and watching the skeleton of once-greatness trying to replace the likes of Jerome Brown and Reggie White was truly pathetic. To his credit, he got his issues figured out, and did some coaching later in life.
Last question. You’re four weeks into the Kirk Cousins era in Minnesota. What’s your entirely premature verdict on this guy?
DBE: Thumbs up on Cousins. His offensive line has been a work in process so far, but he has put up really good numbers and if not for Laquon Treadwell he hasn’t turned the ball over either. I have been very impressed with him. I would have to say he was worth every penny so far of that $84M guaranteed contract. Plus, he is not a cocky arrogant jerk, which is a huge bonus.
J-Dub: This is where we will wrap this up…as an Eagles’ fan, I’ve got to head over to Sam’s Club and get my “Stadium-Pack” of Duracells and get my battery-chucking arm loosened up for your Vikings coming to town on Sunday.
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