Turning 50: A Look at The History Of The Minnesota Vikings

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Turning 50: A Look at The History Of The Minnesota Vikings
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The 2010 season will mark the 50th year of the Vikings in Minnesota. Now with the return of Brett Favre and most of the starters returning from a magical 2009 season hopes are obviously high. The thing is though, when they talk about this season, fans are hoping Favre can bring us our FIRST, yes I said it, FIRST Super Bowl in franchise history.

The Vikings have been in existence for 50 years and its been 41 years since the merger and still no Super Bowl victory. Sadly, this is the first thing non fans think of when the Vikings are mentioned and it is because of their history of "choking" during big games in the playoffs that keep them from getting the respect they deserve. Here are some facts I am going to bring up before I break down the decades:

The Vikings have a .555 all time franchise winning percentage in the NFL which is the 5th highest in the league. They are one of only 5 NFL teams to achieve 15 wins in the regular season (Gary Anderson can be thanked for not getting the 98' team to the Super Bowl). They have 24 playoff berths since the NFL-AFL merger which is tied for second MOST in the league with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They also have a collection of 18 division championships which is the third most in the NFL and more than the Packers, Bears, and Lions. They also have 10 members in the Pro Football Hall of Fame which believe it or not is actually more than teams that actually have won the Super Bowl.

Now with all that you'd think the Vikings would have won a Super Bowl by now. Well, you'd be wrong. Whether it's a curse or not, Vikings fans will pray that Favre can be their savior.

Now I will break down each decade in team history. 

1960's: Whenever a team first joins a league not much is expected from them right away. However, the Vikings jumped on the scene in their very first game when Fran Tarkenton threw four touchdown passes in an upset of the Chicago Bears. However, the team finished 3-11.

Coach Norm Van Brocklin would continue to struggle throughout the 60's and posted a winning season only once. Van Brocklin would resign and Tarkenton was traded. Bud Grant was then hired to replace Van Brocklin and took over in 1967. After a losing record in 1967, Grant's Vikings came away with their first ever division championship in 1968 but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Then something clicked in 1969..... The Vikings, which included HOFers Alan Page, Carl Eller, Ron Yary, Paul Krause and (non Hall of Famer) QB Joe Kapp, went 12-2 which was the best record in the NFL and won the 1969 NFL Championship. It looked like the Vikings would get their first Super Bowl victory here, but lost to Kansas City in Super Bowl IV.

Grade for the Decade: C- (Because of their horrible early records, they bring down the success in the late 60's).

1970's: Led by the famous defensive line known as the Purple People Eaters as well as the return of Fran Tarkenton, the Vikings dominated the NFC along with the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams. they won 3 NFC Championships (Two against the Rams and the other against the Dallas Cowboys) and always seemed to make it into the playoffs.

However, they never managed to actually bring home the Lombardi Trophy. They lost to the Steelers, Dolphins and Raiders. With all the talent and Hall of Famers the Vikings of the 70's had, it is still hard to believe they couldn't pull it off.

Grade for the Decade: A- (If they had actually WON a Super Bowl, then they would've gotten the +).

1980's: The team won the division again in 1980 and made the playoffs in 1982 but struggled after that. They had posted a franchise worst 3-13 record under Les Steckel in 1984. They would not get a winning record again until 1986 when Jerry Burns took over.

Then things began to look up in 1987 by pulling two upsets in the playoffs by beating the 12-3 New Orleans Saints and the 13-2 49ers. However they lost to the Washington Redskins in the NFC Championship. The Vikings would again reach the playoffs in 1988 and 1989.

Grade for the Decade: C+

1990's: The first two years of the 90's could probably be credited with the notorious Herschel Walker trade. The team posted a 6-10 record in 1990 and an 8-8 record in 1991 which was the last season for Jerry Burns. In 1990 however, the team didn't know what kind of players they got without even using the draft when they picked up Cris Carter and undrafted rookie John Randle.

In 1992, Dennis Green was hired and has perhaps been the most polarizing coach in team history. He got the Vikings the division crown and led the team to the playoffs in his first year and in five of his first six. However Green only had won playoff win in a last second come from behind victory against the New York Giants in 1997. 

But in 1998, the Vikings looked like the team of destiny. With the help from rookie WR Randy Moss, the Vikings set a then scoring record led by a comeback season from Randall Cunningham. The team went 15-1 and killed the Arizona Cardinals in the divisional round. People were picking them to win the Super Bowl left and right until the Atlanta Falcons came into the Metrodome and shocked the Vikings in their own house. Cris Carter would later say he felt he would "never win a game again" after their match with the Flacons. 

The team once again made the playoffs in 1999 but were eliminated in the second round by the St.Louis Rams.

Grade for the Decade: B+

2000's: The Vikings began the decade with an appearance in the NFC Title game against the New York Giants. However they were killed 41-0 and the Giants would move on to lose the Super Bowl to the Baltimore Ravens. Then they fell off a cliff in 2001 by going 5-11 and 6-10 in 2002. It looked like they would make the playoffs again in 2003 but blew a 6-0 start by going 9-7.

This was followed by a forgetable 2004 season but was highlighted by a road win in the playoffs against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The team would not reach the playoffs again until they won the division in 2008. Then in 2009 longtime rival Brett Favre signed with the Vikings and led them to the NFC Championship where they lost to the Saints in overtime.

Grade for the Decade: C+

Looking at all that, one can wonder when the Vikings will actually win the Super Bowl. Whether it will be next year or never, until they actually do they will always be looked at as a cursed franchise.

Other Things.....

Hall of Famers: Bud Grant, Jim Finks, Fran Tarkenton, Alan Page, Paul Krause, Ron Yary, Carl Eller, Randall McDaniel, John Randle and Gary Zimmerman (I know he went in as a Bronco but he had a longer stint with the Vikings).

Playoff Berths: 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2009.

Division Championships: 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2008, 2009

Conference Championships. 1969, 1973, 1974, 1976

Super Bowls: 0......... And with that I end this article.

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