Just Win, Baby

When the Steelers and Seahawks meet Sunday, the world will be watching. In the process, as the Vikings can attest, failure on the biggest stage of all has its price.

The Vikings are something of a laughable footnote to the history of the Super Bowl. Along with the Bills, the Vikings are one of just two teams in NFL history to make it to big show and fail on four occasions. They played four different opponents in the span of seven years and lost all of them. Along the way, players and coaches from the Chiefs, Dolphins, Steelers and Raiders all cemented their places in history with Super Bowl victories. Unfortunately for the Vikings, their inability to finish the deal has left them in the attic of history -- many of their great accomplishments collecting dust in the shadow of those teams that won in the Super Bowl.

There can be arguments made that the Vikings teams of 1969 and 1974 were among the greatest teams of all time. The 40-for-60 Vikings of 1969 had one of the most oppressive defenses in the history of the game. The 1974 Vikings had a balance on offense and defense rarely seen. And, if you ask former Vikings of that era, the 1975 Vikings may well have been the best team of all and they never saw the light of day in that Super Bowl -- thanks to the infamous Hail Mary pass by Roger Staubach.

The Super Bowl produces heroes, and new ones are formed every year. Even if injuries were to shorten his career at this point, because of his Super Bowl success, Tom Brady has likely already had his ticket to Canton punched. The same has been true in the past for players who had solid numbers throughout their careers, but truly shined on the national stage. Lynn Swann, for example, never had a single 1,000-yard receiving season. But, his acrobatic, ballet-inspired catches in the Super Bowl made him a Hall of Famer.

The Vikings, on the other hand, have been the flip side of that coin. Players who had careers that were worthy of Hall of Fame induction were denied or delayed, many are convinced, because they never won a Super Bowl. Although the 1969 Vikings were NFL champions -- the AFL and NFL merged the following year -- the lack of success in the Super Bowl has been seen as a major contributing factor to the team not having more busts on display in the Hall of Fame.

For the Steelers and Seahawks, Sunday will be a chance for both of them to stamp their own imprint on history. Pittsburgh has only been to the Super Bowl once since Terry Bradshaw led them to a fourth title and had fans chanting, "One for the thumb." For Seattle, it will be a first trip to the Super Bowl in the 30-year history of the franchise and an opportunity for history to smile on them as first-time competitor -- much like it did on the Ravens and Rams over the last decade.

The Super Bowl is where dreams will be made for one team and dashed for another. Just ask the Vikings of the 1970s. One Super Bowl win and things would be a lot different for many of them.

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