Its latest foray into the world of countdowns is to rank teams according to their fan base’s “pain ratings.” The Vikings were all over NFL.com’s home page Wednesday as they checked in at No. 5 in the rankings and, if you read the story, you wonder who could possibly be ahead of them. It’s one thing if you’ve struggled as a franchise forever – like Detroit and Cleveland – but the Vikings’ pain has come from being tantalizingly close to greatness only to have it snatched away from them.
The list was pretty exhaustive, despite no mention of the Original Whizzinator, the Metrodome roof collapse, the Brett Favre junk mail scandal, Troy Williamson or Darrin Nelson – all worthy of franchise lows.
Vikings fans love their team, but their hearts have been broken too many times. It started with Super Bowl IV in January 1970. The Vikings had one of the most dominant defensive seasons in history. After allowing 24 points in their first game of the season, the Vikings never allowed more than 14 points in any game after that, while scoring more than 50 points three times. They were a double-digit Super Bowl favorite against Kansas City – everyone thought the Jets the year before were merely a fluke for a AFL win in the Super Bowl. That was the start of a history of disappointment that has dogged the Vikings franchise.
The prosecution brief for the Vikings malaise began there, but has continued for the last 45 years. The Vikings have made the playoffs 25 times in that span. Only Dallas (27) and Pittsburgh (27) have made the playoffs more times. Both of them have won their share of Super Bowls. The Vikings have none, despite four attempts.
Kicker Gary Anderson was named the “Patron Saint of Pain” for the franchise. He became the first perfect kicker in the history of the NFL, making all 35 field goals and all 59 extra points during the 1998 regular season – only to miss a 38-yard field goal that would have put away the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game. Perhaps never have Vikings fans felt their still-beating hearts ripped from their chests like that loss.
They also pointed out several other classic gaffes in franchise history. Among them?
It will be interesting how NFL.com defends having four teams rated higher than the Vikings because the pain the Minnesota fan base has endured has been at a high level, not just the Detroit/Cleveland annual doldrums that consistently make them an early drafter every year.
When you look at the Vikings in their totality, they have been a franchise that is akin to dating the most beautiful girl in college – when thing were going well, things were the best ever, but, in the end, your heart got broken.
That is the definition of pain, my friends. Let’s see what they come up with in the Not-So-Fab Four that exceeds the Vikings’ pain.