I've been following this franchise for almost my entire life, since the mid 1970's. When I was a kid, they had a run of on the field success that saw them go to four Super Bowls, and I got to watch several guys that would go on the the NFL Hall of Fame.
When Met Stadium began deteriorating, the Vikings (well, the state of Minnesota) built a domed stadium, the Metrodome, on the cheap. The good news was that the Vikings would stay in Minnesota, the bad news was that although it served it's purpose well, the Metrodome quickly became outdated as a modern facility. The Vikings had a few years and seasons of success, yet they never quite achieved the level of success that the Purple People Eaters saw.
And in both of those eras, and throughout team history, some sort of hard luck seemed to follow the Vikings. On the field, there is a litany of heartbreak and defeat that I really don't want to go into again. Let's just say it began in Super Bowl IV, and it's carried all the way to the 2009 NFC Championship game, with stroke after heart attack after smashed TV screens and broken dreams all along the path.
As to stadiums, the old Met was an erector set of a baseball stadium that they shoe horned a football field into. There wasn't any clearance between the back of the end zones and the stands on either end of the field, and teams were on one sideline, splitting the field at the 50. Looking back for me, it was a nostalgic time, but really, it was a terrible stadium for watching a football game. And by 1981, it was downright dangerous, as there were structural issues with the facility that made it unsafe as a sports venue. It was still sacrilege to erect a mall there, but I digress.
They needed a new facility.
The Metrodome, although it has also hosted a Super Bowl, never seemed to be a franchise changing moment or facility for the Vikings, at least in a positive way. A lot of fans (and by a lot, I mean the folks that can now be considered the 'old white guy crowd', ahem YES THAT'S ME OKAY FINE) thought the Vikings actually lost a little mystique as a franchise when they moved indoors. They still had a tremendous home field advantage, but the franchise was never able to match it's success in getting to the Super Bowl once they moved indoors.
And I don't think noise beat the elements of the Met in December, but that's just me.
Yet, over the course of the last couple seasons, fortune seems to be smiling on this franchise. What was thought to be a team getting ready to leave the state has turned into an approved stadium bill, and when it's built, a facility that will rival any on the planet.
That facility turned into an improbable choice to host Super Bowl LII, with Minnesota being picked over favorite New Orleans, and it will be a chance for Minnesota to showcase our state and our stadium to the entire planet.
And yeah, I'm putting the cart before the horse here, but when you look at this new coaching staff and the talent they're assembling, I can't help but get excited, and think to myself that the Vikings that we're watching get drafted today will be the core group of guys that could put the Vikings as one of the teams on the short list for appearing in Super Bowl LII.
Admittedly, I'm writing this on little sleep, and on the heels of watching my Homeland getting selected to host one of the biggest sporting events in the world, so maybe I'm getting too optimistic here, but you know something?
After 40 plus years of pessimism and waiting for the other shoe to drop, it's time to get positive about this team, the new coaching staff, the new stadium, Teddy Bridgewater, and hosting a Super Bowl. Why?
The stadium was dead in the water. Better luck next time, Minnesota. Maybe next year. Then not only wasn't it dead, it passed in record time for a bill moving through the legislature.
The Vikings blew their chance to get a potential franchise quarterback in the draft, after they had an opportunity to get one early on. Better luck next time, Minnesota, maybe next year. Then Teddy Bridgewater fell in to their laps.
New Orleans was going to get that Super Bowl bid. Better luck next time, Minnesota. Maybe next year. Then they won. And oh yeah...FUCK THOSE GUYS.
Franchise changing moment, turning the corner, things looking up--use whatever phrase you want. I am of the belief that the events of the last couple of seasons (new stadium, new coach, last few drafts) are milestones in the history of this franchise, and twenty years from now, when we look back on it, we'll look at these events and say:
"Here. It all started right here."