There are a lot of significant dates in the history of the Minnesota Vikings, but few carry more historical significance than 28 January. That's because on this date, 55 years ago, the Vikings were awarded to Minnesota as the National Football League's 14th franchise.
The Vikings were originally slated to join the American Football League, as the AFL awarded a trio of Minneapolis businessmen. . .Bill Boyer, H.P. Skoglund, and Max Winter. . .a franchise in their league in August of 1959. However, five months later, after a significant amount of pressure from the National Football League, they backed out of their agreement with the AFL to join the more well-established NFL. They were told that the team would begin play starting with the 1961 season.
The search for the team's first head coach, from all accounts, was a bit of an adventure. The team's first choice was Ara Parseghian, who at the time was coaching at Northwestern University. Parseghian agreed to interview with the Vikings as long as everything was kept secret from his current employer. However, a young. . .well, younger. . .writer from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune named Sid Hartman blew that idea, as he wrote about it for the paper, and Parseghian went back to Northwestern. (He would go on to coach at Notre Dame.) The team then made a run at some Canadian Football League coach named Harry Grant. . .you can call him "Bud". . .before settling on Norm van Brocklin.
The Vikings have had a great deal of success since joining the National Football League. Since entering the league in 1961, they have the one of the highest regular season winning percentages in the league. Of course, there's always going to be the stigma of not having won a "real" championship (since a lot of people like to whine and cry when it's pointed out that the Vikings were the 1969 NFL champions). The Vikings are probably the most successful NFL team. . .if not the most successful team in all of professional sports. . .without a championship. Hopefully this is something that's going to change sooner rather than later.
But, it all got started 55 years ago today. The NFL hasn't gotten a whole lot right lately, but they did manage to get giving a team to Minnesota right, at least.