We’re into the part of the offseason in the NFL where you’re going to see a lot of lists. Many of them will rank players or teams or position groups, while some others will take a more historical tack. A list that was started by the folks at Football Outsiders yesterday falls into the later category, and whether or not it reflects favorably on the Minnesota Vikings is a matter of one’s personal perspective.
FO has started compiling a list of what they call their “Anti-Dynasty” rankings. It’s designed to measure the worst stretches for teams throughout the history of the NFL, and you can get a handle on the process for scoring things in their initial post about it. Per their scoring system, FO came up with 58 instances of teams scoring at least 30 “Anti-Dynasty” points, marking them as having some of the worst stretches in 101-year history in the NFL.
The first list describing each team involved in the table came out yesterday, and at the end it highlights the “Fabulous Five,” or the five NFL franchises that have never had a stretch in their history that netted them 30 “Anti-Dynasty” points in any given time period. The Vikings are on that list. Here’s what FO had to say about that:
But it’s the 1961-1963 Minnesota Vikings who take the crown as the most impressive of the five; the franchise that has existed the longest without ever being truly terrible. It took just four seasons for Minnesota to rack up its first winning season, and its record of 10-29-2 early on only nets them 22 anti-dynasty points. More so than any other franchise, the Vikings have just never been very bad for very long. They have only had five seasons with more than 10 losses in their history.
This is spot-on. The Vikings have never had a stretch where they’ve been a truly terrible football team year after year after year. When they hit rock bottom, they rebound fairly quickly. For example, they’ve gone 3-13 twice since the advent of the 16-game schedule. The first was the Les Steckel season of 1984, and within a few seasons the Vikings made their run to the NFC Championship Game and had gotten themselves, largely, back on the right track. The other was the 2011 season that was affected by the lockout, and the Vikings were back in the playoffs again in 2012. So, while the Vikings have had bad teams, they’ve never really had bad stretches.
Yes, I know that the Vikings have never gotten the ultimate prize, and FO addresses that as well.
They’re not terrible—they’re heartbreaking, or disappointing, or underachieving, however you want to think about it. If this were a list of the most agonizing teams in history (note to self, possible list for next year), the Vikings would be at or near the very top. But if you don’t care much for postseason success, and just want your team to win more often than they lose, year-in and year-out, the Vikings are the team for you. My God have mercy on your soul.
I don’t think there’s anyone denying this, either. It brings about the old question of whether or not you’d take a stretch of the team being bad for 6-7 years in a row (or longer) if there was a championship involved somewhere. Yes, I know we all want to see the Vikings take home the big trophy, but there’s something to be said for, largely, giving yourself an opportunity to be part of the equation in most years, too.
If you look at the table that’s in the first linked post, you’ll see a lot of other NFC North representation. The Packers are on the list twice for a total of 19 seasons (1948 - 1958 and 1973 - 1980), the Bears are on the list once for a total of seven seasons (1969 - 1975), and the Lions. . .oh, the Lions. . .are on the list three times for a total of 26 seasons (2001 - 2015, 1946 - 1949, and 1984 - 1990). But the Vikings don’t make the list at all.
I said that what you make of this is entirely based upon your personal interpretation and, ultimately, what you value as a fan. So, what do you make of the Minnesota Vikings being, perhaps, the greatest “Anti-Dynasty” in the history of the NFL?