Excitement has been building and the red blood normally flowing through the Minnesota body is slowly dulling and darkening into the deep, thick purple that flows through a Vikings fan for 6 months of the year. Scrolling through Twitter, as social media tries its best to bring me down like the rest of society, I can’t help but notice all of the Vikings’ record predictions I’m seeing. Naturally, Minnesota fans are tempering expectations. It’s the easy argument this year. Nobody is calling for an epic collapse, with the Vikings returning 19 of 22 starters plus Kirk Cousins, but you’re seeing a lot of rational thought around the idea that a 13-3 season is just a difficult thing to bring to fruition, especially two years in a row.
Plus, we don’t have to look any farther than our own recent history to give even more credibility to that difficulty. The Vikings have had 3 NFC Championship Game runs since their dominance in the 70’s (which also ended in heartbreak as most know). The three seasons that followed those heartbreaking games ranged anywhere from disappointing to downright disastrous.
So, let’s look back; shall we?
The Disappointing (1999-‘00):
Following the great 1998 season, where an infamous missed FG (one of them) in the NFC Championship proved to be the only force that could stop Randy Moss & Co. that season, the Vikings entered Training Camp 1999 as bigger favorites than Hillary Clinton at the start of the 2016 election season. Both scenarios also ended quite similarly. After beating the Falcons in a Week 1 revenge game, the Vikings lost 4 of their next 5 and were bitch-slapped by the reality of life in the NFL. You need to bring it every game and every season. Nobody walks through that league.
However, the team would rebound to make the playoffs and even secure a victory in the Wild Card round over the Cowboys. But, that’s all the further they’d make it as the St. Louis version of the “Greatest Show on Turf” outscored them in an epic dome shootout that ended with a ridiculous playoff score of 39-47.
I started with the letdown of the ‘99-‘00 season just to get you lubed up. Because, it gets a lot worse from there.
The Disastrous (2001-‘02):
After the frustration of the season referenced above, the Vikings came back for vengeance in the ‘00-‘01 season. The focus out of camp was much more evident as they started the season with a perfect 7-0 record. However, they finished in frustrating fashion, losing their last 3 games, but still backed into a first round bye with an 11-5 record.
After disposing of the Saints with ease in the Divisional Round, we all know what happened in New York the next week vs the Kerry Collins-led Giants…
Returning most of the key pieces from that NFC Title game squad, the Vikings had high expectations again, entering ‘01-‘02. When you have Randy Moss, Cris Carter, and Daunte Culpepper coming off of 4K yards and 33 TD’s the year before, that’s what happens. This time however, the disappointment of a year that fell far-short of our expectations didn’t linger into the playoffs. It sucker punched us like a bad WWE script.
The team started 1-3 and it didn’t get much better from there. After a 5-10 start, Dennis Green was fired and so we began the Mike Tice era. He would only go on to ruin the rest of our time with Randy Moss, coaching 4 seasons, and finishing over .500 only half of the time with uber-talented teams (9-7 record both years over) and only making the playoffs once (2004 | 8-8).
2010 Brett Favre (2010-‘11):
And that, of course, brings us to the Brett Favre saga. He came in the most dramatic of fashion to play Jesus for a wine-thirsty franchise he once despised for a legendary 2009 season that will forever live in Minnesota infamy for many reasons that we don’t need to live through again. Favre should have done two things after that Saints game. He should have called the New Orleans police and charged their football team with multiple accounts of assault and attempted murder (among possible other charges), AND he also should have retired FOR GOOD. Instead, he popped some more pain meds and let his teammates drag his old ass onto the field for one more comeback season. I mean, it was most of the same characters so what could go wrong, right?
Brett should have realized his mistake and slipped back into hibernation after the first game vs New Orleans, when the offense was only able to muster nine points in a loss. It didn’t get much better from there. Favre would lose his consecutive games started streak after getting beat to shit for 13.5 games and the team would stumble to a 6-10 record that would bring an end to Brad Childress’ head coaching career and result in the drafting of Christian Ponder and the free agency signing of Donavon McNabb…
Minneapolis Miracle to Philadelphia Letdown (2018-‘19):
And here we are again. Another life-changing Minnesota Vikings season, that ended in another mind-numbing NFC Championship embarrassment, brings on a new year with most of the same team and VERY lofty expectations. Are we in for another heartbreak season after an entire offseason of hype and….. hope?
You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out. I’ll drop my record projection in part 2 of this article. Come on, this is already almost 1000 words. Nobody wants to read more than that in one sitting.
See you tomorrow…
Minnesota Sports Fan @RealMNSportsFan