The Super Bowl participants are a reminder of the parity in the NFC and the unbalance in the AFC. It's also a reminder of just how rare the Vikings' Super Bowl drought has been compared to other NFC teams.
For those who consider themselves to be football historians – both long-term and short-term – the opponents for Super Bowl XXV should have been obvious. History said it would be the Packers and the Steelers and history was right once again.
Over the last eight years, we have seen the differences that have been made in the NFL. Surprisingly, the changes have turned the game into rival leagues – the NFC, where anybody can rise up and make it to the Super Bowl, and the AFC, where three teams have throttled the competition.
The Packers became the eighth different team over the last eight seasons to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Not only have eight different teams made it the final showdown since the 2003 season, but all four divisions have been represented by two different teams (New York and Philadelphia in the East, Green Bay and Chicago in the North, New Orleans and Carolina in the South and Arizona and Seattle in the West). Parity is alive and well in the NFC. The same can't be said in the AFC.
In that same eight-year span from 2003-10, only three teams have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl – Pittsburgh, New England and Indianapolis. The Steelers and Patriots have each gone to three Super Bowls and the Colts went to the other two. Their stranglehold on the biggest piece of the pie has made for a long Super Bowl drought in the AFC for a lot of teams, while the NFC has been share and share alike.
If you are a hard-core Vikings fan with a tender constitution, click your home page now and go to another story. You won't like what you're going to read. We're waiting … give them a minute … they should be gone by now … OK, here's the bad news.
Over the last 20 years, seven AFC teams haven't made the Super Bowl – New York, Miami, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Houston and Kansas City. The 20 Super Bowl berths were held down by just nine teams, with Buffalo and New England combining for seven of them. The Super Bowl club has been pretty exclusive, making those conference championship hats hard to come by legitimately.
In the NFC, it's been a far different story. Incredibly, 14 of the 16 teams have made it at least once to the Super Bowl. Green Bay and Dallas did it three times, the Giants and Rams did it twice and 10 other teams have gone once each. The other two? The Vikings and the Lions. There aren't many clubs in the NFL in which the Vikings and Lions are the only members. This is one both teams want to end.
If there is any consolation, in all likelihood, the Redskins will re-join this dubious club next year.
The Vikings may be looking to make another raid of the Canadian Football League. The team is reported to be a frontrunner to sign DE Phillip Hunt, who worked out with the Vikings Dec. 18, according to FOXSports.com's Adam Caplan. He is known to have worked out with at least four other teams, including the Patriots, Eagles, Texans and Browns. The Vikings officially signed wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux Tuesday and have a history of raiding the CFL. Linebacker/special teams ace Kenny Onatolu was snagged from the CFL as well. Hunt had 19 sacks over the last two seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
For those wondering why the Vikings seem to be the only team jumping on CFL players, they also made a couple of late-season practice squad raids as well, there are set guidelines for NFL theft of CFL talent. CFL players are forbidden to sign with NFL teams during the regular season. This year, that meant no CFL player could sign prior to Jan. 3. The window in which to sign players ends Feb. 15 – a day before free agency in the CFL begins.
We may be seeing an improved quality of football in the CFL next year. Given the "Scorched Earth" stance that NFLPA Chair DeMaurice Smith is making about negotiations, there may be many more fringe NFL players that may want to give the CFL a chance to showcase their talent. It may cost them the 2011 season, but, the way things are going, there are doubts about the potential of a full 2011 NFL season, so, for some players, the risk may be worth the reward.
Former University of Minnesota star running back Laurence Maroney was arrested late Monday night in St. Louis on booked on gun and drug charges. Maroney, whose attorney claims has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, was one of five people arrested late Monday on suspicion by police officers that occupants of the Infiniti Q56 were smoking marijuana. When police searched the vehicle, they found a .45-caliber handgun, a 9mm pistol and a .223-caliber rifle in addition to marijuana. In something of a cryptic statement, which may shed some light on the St. Louis P.D.'s version of the story, department spokesperson Erica Van Ross said that Missouri state law acknowledges valid conceal-and-carry permits, the law prohibits possessing a gun while under the influence of drugs. The clear implication is that Maroney is believed to be one of the suspected car occupants smoking marijuana. Maroney was traded by the Patriots to Denver in September for a fourth-round draft pick. He played in just four games with Denver, rushing 36 times for just 74 yards. Despite being just 25, there are going to be some doubts about whether his NFL career may be at a crossroads.
From the You Can't Make This Up Department comes this: Herschel Walker, a player who singlehandedly turned two franchises around in 1989 – 21 years ago, mind you – is now dabbling in the outer reaches of the Mixed Martial Arts arena. In a conference call prior to his second MMA fight, Walker said he still runs a 40-yard dash in under 4.5 and could help an NFL team. The two teams on his wish list are the Falcons and the Vikings. It's assumed the Falcons are because he wants to play for the professional team in the same state that he wowed scouts (and broke the NFL's back when it came to allowing underclassmen join the NFL) for the Georgia Bulldogs. Keep in mind, he played at the same time in pro football as Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier, who has been out of the game for 25 years.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.