I’m Not Afraid of Another Vikings Playoff Failure
Today (January 9) is the 41st anniversary of the last time the Minnesota Vikings played in (and lost) a Super Bowl. January 9, 1977 was 45 days before I was born. The Vikings have not been back in my lifetime.
They have been close four times. They were a Wild Card underdog in 1987 when they got bounced by the Washington Redskins. I was 10 years old and I cried. But I wasn't really sad because they were lucky to be there and got hot.
1998 was the year. The Purple went 15-1 and couldn't do anything wrong until the NFC Championship. Denny Green got greedy and thought it would be a good idea to not run out the clock with a 20-7 lead with 1:18 left in the half.
Instead he let Randall Cunningham and his two-second windup go out and try to throw the Vikings to another score right before the half. The Falcons got a strip-sack and the ball and eventually a touchdown.
Then after 25 minutes of a sluggish second half, Gary Anderson happened and missed a 38 yard field goal that would have given them a 10 point lead and likely the game. Instead they blew the lead, and the game.
I was depressed for two weeks. That one hurt.
In 2000 they got back to the NFC Championship and I remember being not excited about the Vikings odds of making the Super Bowl. They went 11-5, but lost their last three games and limped into the playoffs. They were the #2 seed, but never thought they were that great. They weren't and the Giants destroyed them 41-0.
2009 was an insane year. Brett "Bleeping" Favre was the quarterback that year. It was surreal. A quality quarterback was the only thing the Vikings needed and they were great!
I'll never forget the Hail Mary against San Francisco or Favre sticking it to the Packers twice. After listening to ESPN gas bags talk for a week about how the Vikings, at home in the Metrodome, had no chance to beat the Cowboys in the Divisional round, I took great joy in watching the purple run up the score on the scourge of Texas.
But then they had to go to New Orleans and take on the dirty pool Saints. Between the cheap shots on Favre, which eventually got head coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams suspended, and Adrian Peterson dropping the ball all over the place, and Favre's boneheaded interception, they choked it away again in overtime when the Saints booted a field goal.
I was angry but got over it quick.
I've had my heart broken three times (2000 didn't really hurt). Every time there was a big weakness I knew could beat them. In 1987 they were playing with house money, but were hot. In 1998 the defense was not good and it was banged up. In 2009 the defense was apt to not stop a high flying offense and Favre and Peterson could turn into turnover machines at any second.
This year I feel completely different. First off, being paranoid of failure in the past never helped me feel better. I'm no longer going to participate in the fatalistic practice of hoping it wouldn't but still waiting for the bad thing to happen.
I also feel like the 2017 Vikings are a more solid and well rounded team than any of the past teams. With past teams when they lost games they were often not good losses. This year when they lost, sans the Pittsburgh game, their two losses still had a chance to be wins.
Mostly I think the Vikings are just due. The planets have aligned. It's the year they host the Super Bowl and they have a team capable and an odds on favorite to make it. I said on the air back in September, with insincere confidence, that the Vikings were going to be the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. I'm not worried about a jinx anymore.
But I'm still not going to watch anymore games from my recliner this year.