Are Less Frazier bumper stickers on their way to Minnesota cars?
If the Vikings don't turn things around, they may well be. In the 51-year history of the franchise, the Vikings' low-water mark came in 1984. In a tip of the hat to George Orwell, Big Brother was watching over the Vikings – an enigma named Les Steckel.
Steckel, whose military background was brought to the practice field, became synonymous with failure in terms of Vikings football. If you want to see what his training camp was like, watch Platoon, Apocolypse Now or Porkchop Hill. The Bataan Death March came to Mankato and the living envied the dead.
Ironically, that team, which went 1-3 in the preseason and 3-13 in the regular season, played and beat Atlanta – the Vikings' opponent tomorrow – twice. They came out gangbusters in the preseason opener vs. the Falcons, putting the pedal to the metal and stuffing the Birds 37-6 on Aug. 4, 1984. It would be more than a month until they would win again, which was also against the Falcons.
That helped them to a 2-2 start, but then they lost five straight and, after beating Tampa Bay to improve to 3-7, the team lost its last six games. Bud Grant, who had retired the previous season, was pulled back off his deer stand to clean up the mess Steckel made – a Ground Zero punctuated by thousands of Vikings fans driving around with the hot Christmas stocking stuffer of '84 – bumper sticks that proclaimed "Less Steckel!"
The Vikings of 2011 are in danger of pressing that dubious record of futility. While it can't match up to the singular ineptitude of that team, the records could be starkly similar. After posting their third win of the season, the 1984 Vikings lost their final six games by scores of 45-17, 42-21, 34-3, 31-17, 51-7 and 38-14. The 2011 Vikings don't have a slate of opponents capable of handing out those sorts of beat-downs, but the sledding isn't going to be easy for a 2-8 team looking to win five or six before all is said and done.
The Vikings are prohibitive underdogs against the Falcons Sunday and return home for a pre-Christmas matchup with Baby Jesus Tim Tebow and his Denver Broncos. Given the Vikings' struggles in the second half, he could continue his legacy of playing like garbage for 56 minutes only to erase it with four minutes of magic. Next is a trip into Detroit, where the Lions are waiting for the Christian. Then comes New Orleans, which may be battling for a first-round bye, Washington and Chicago, which hopes to have Jay Cutler back.
None of those games are going to be easy wins. Do the Vikings have the ability to beat teams like the Broncos, Lions, Redskins and Bears? Sure they do. Will they? With only two W's on the ledger through 10 games, nothing is guaranteed.
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.
A fight to avoid past futility
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