Another NFL season has come and gone, with the great moments that the 2009 season provided Minnesota Viking fans slowly starting to fade into the ether. By many measures, the Vikings had a successful season, finishing the year with a 12-4 record and blowing out the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs before getting painfully close to a Super Bowl berth. The development of players like Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, the continued dominance of the Minnesota defense, particularly the front seven, and the whole Brett Favre magic carpet ride will make this one a season that Viking fans will talk about for a long time, for various reasons.
And yet, Viking fans feel a sense of frustration. . .at least, this one does. Why? Because another season has gone by without the Vikings reaching the ultimate goal, and with that continue their reign as the most successful franchise in pro sports to not get to the top of the mountain.
In the past decade, we've seen the New Orleans Saints. . .a team that didn't have a single winning record in their first 20 years of existence. . .a team that didn't win a playoff game until their 34th NFL season. . .a team whose owner not five years ago attempted to use the single worst natural disaster in American history to leverage a move to Los Angeles for his team. . .and a team that has a grand total of five post-season victories in their entire existence. . .hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Prior to that, we saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. . .a team that lost the first 26 games they took the field for. . .a team that has the second-worst winning percentage in NFL history (ahead of only the Houston Texans). . .and a team that has a total of six post-season wins. . .lift the Lombardi Trophy as well.
But the Minnesota Vikings. . .the franchise with the fifth-highest winning percentage in the history of the NFL. . .the team that has made more post-season appearances since they entered the NFL in 1961 than any team not named the Dallas Cowboys. . .the team that has played in more playoff games since 1961 (45 of them) than every team except Dallas (58) and Pittsburgh (51). . .a team that has produced ten Hall of Fame players (and it should be/soon will be 11). . .a team that has had a sub-.500 record only 13 times in their 49-season existence. . .has never been afforded the ultimate victory.
Since 1990, every team currently in the National Football Conference has represented the NFC in the Super Bowl at least once. Except the Detroit Lions. Oh, and the Minnesota Vikings.
The last time the Minnesota Vikings participated in the Super Bowl, yours truly had just reached the tender age of three. Three months, that is.
All of the above information is damn near impossible for my mind to reconcile. How the heck is it that a team can have such a high level of success. . .yet not have the level of "success" of the Saints and Buccaneers of the football world? It damn near makes me sick just to think about. Particularly watching last night's game with the constant thought in the back of my mind that that could have been us. . .hell, that should have been us.
Honestly, it's not even the fact that they've never gotten to the top before. . .it's the fact that they've found so many new, different, and exciting ways to kick us in the teeth just before the ultimate goal is reached. From "Hail Mary" passes to dropping passes at the goal line to perfect kickers missing field goals to losing conference championship games by 41 points to twelve men in the huddle. . .it never ends.
The best part?
That we're all going to get hyped up for the limited free agency season that's in store for the Vikings. . .and get excited for the draft. . .and for training camp. . .and whatever the Brett Favre circus brings us. . .and we'll all be lined up next September, wondering whether or not the Vikings will come up with another new and creative method to rip our hearts out. . .
Or whether or not we'll finally get to piss off the other 13 NFL teams that have never gotten a taste of a Super Bowl victory.
Does it still hurt like hell? Yep, it sure does. But just like every other year, we'll get over it and move on. And we're going to get to the same level of "success" that so many other NFL teams have gotten to. Why? Because we damn well deserve it, that's why, and screw anyone that says or thinks otherwise, because they're wrong.
I'll damn sure be here when it happens. I have a feeling most of you will be, too.