Vikings Bashing Officially Begins

As expected, the first national salvo against the Vikings was launched this week and it won't be the last. But, take heart Vikings fans, they said the exact same ugly things in 1998.

Dennis Green used to love to collect national preseason football magazines, especially those that annually predicted his Vikings to finish last -- something he could use as motivation or as fodder when asked for an interview with the same publication. Denny loved to stick the needle to someone he proved wrong.

Up until the 1999 season, coming off a 15-1 record-setting year, the Vikings were always picked at the bottom of the division. While writers tried to predict the future by jumping on the Bucs Super Bowl and Lions playoff bandwagons, the Vikings were invariably picked fourth or fifth -- only to make the playoffs every year.

Those days are over, and the first shot across the bow came this week as Street & Smith, a national publication better known for its baseball coverage, came out with a blast to the Vikings at more than one level.

Not only predicting a repeat of last year's 5-11 season, which would be better only than Detroit, S & S had a fantasy football section that was embarrassing to the Vikings at best -- or perhaps embarrassing to the publisher.

As bad as the mag was to the Vikings defense -- picked 30th among 32 teams -- Daunte Culpepper was rated 10th among quarterbacks with a comment to the effect that the Vikings offense is in shambles and that his numbers will suffer. More galling is that he is rated behind Kansas City's Trent Green, who is on a short leash with Dick Vermeil and will be benched if he doesn't produce immediately.

The broken legs from jumping off the bandwagon continued as the publication ranked Michael Bennett No. 27 among running backs, two slots behind fossilized retread and fantasy poision Emmitt Smith, placed Randy Moss at No. 5 among wide receivers with the tag that he will be double-teamed on every play and ranked retired Cris Carter at No. 21 among wideouts -- no other Viking WR was rated in the top 50.

Vikings fans had better get used to seeing this in the coming months, as more national publications predict gloom and doom for the Vikings. Granted, most won't be going to press in mid-May like S & S did, but the message is clear -- most NFL observers at the national level don't think the many changes the Vikings have made will make a difference. Perhaps that will put even more of a fire under the new-look Vikings.

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