Sometimes the pain just won't go away.
It's been 10 years since the Vikings made the first of their two NFC Championship Game runs, but former Vikings safety Robert Griffith still finds it hard to believe that the Vikings never made it the Super Bowl, especially in 2000 – when the team got crushed 41-0 by the Giants in a game where some have speculated the Giants stole their signals.
Although no longer playing the game, Griffith remains very busy and very much involved with football. He is working with Dennis Green for the San Francisco entrant in the fledgling UFL as a defensive coaching assistant. He is also doing San Diego Chargers pre- and post-game shows for the flagship station of their radio network, as well as working for the NFL Network and providing color commentary for a couple Mountain West college football games after the conclusion of the UFL season.
But, despite having plenty to keep his mind busy, Griffith still has a problem coping with the playoff losses that ended their magical 1998 season and the 2000 season, which has its share of conspiracy theorists. For his part, Griffith said those teams remain a mystery to him, even all these years later.
Appearing on "The Dugout Sports Show with Glenn & Brock" out of Cleveland over the weekend, Griffith said there was something missing from those teams that got exposed in the playoffs.
"It's weird when I look back on my career with Minnesota," Griffith said. "Yes, we had some extremely talented teams, but we were never firing on all of our cylinders. If you look back at the 1998 team, we had an explosive offense that could score. We got up on a lot of teams and were able to patch together a pretty good defensive effort, but did we have a dominant defensive effort? I can honestly say ‘no.' We were always missing a piece here or there that got exploited down the stretch."
For those who aren't Vikings fans, the 1998 NFC title game with the Falcons is viewed as one of the greatest postseason games of all time. The 2000 championship game is another story. While the frustration felt by the Vikings in the loss to Atlanta was emotional, it was explainable. The Giants loss wasn't.
"In the playoffs we were never able to put it all together at one time," Griffith said. "We lost the championship game (in 1998) and in 2000 – my last season there – I have no idea how we get blown out in the championship game, but it was a bit eerie how that game unfolded."
How it unfolded was that the Giants got up big in the opening minutes, thwarting the Vikings at every turn, and Griffith believes there was a different power at play than just incredible game-planning and play-calling.
"There is no way that that team gets blanketed 41-0 without a little questionable situations," Griffith said. "I don't want to name any names, it just felt like we went into a situation where we could not win. They're stealing our signals and that kind of thing. I have no idea if they were, but it was really an eerie day."
If ever there was a case that could be made for a team having the other team's signals, it would be that awful day at the Meadowlands. The Giants could do nothing wrong and the Vikings could do nothing right, and Griffith still doesn't buy the explanation that the Vikings team was simply outplayed.
"There's no way that that team we fielded gets blanketed 41-0," Griffith reiterated. "I have no proof. Nobody has any proof. You would be hard pressed to tell me that it was a really equal playing field. When we hit the field, they were everywhere we were trying to be. It was almost like they knew the call. I have no evidence and I'm not going to speculate, but that team was definitely better than a 41-0 drubbing"
When asked if he thought the alleged stealing of signals happened on offense or defense, Griffith said he believed it was perpetrated on everyone.
"I would say both," Griffith said. "Whenever they made a check on defense, they knew exactly where we were at and what we were doing. It was almost like every play we had called, they had the counter to it. I've never been part of a game more lopsided than that."
The stories of the alleged hacking into the Vikings signals have become part of the lore of the game that has carried on over the years. The Giants denied it, claiming the Vikings just have sour grapes after one of the worst championship game beat-downs in league history. But others remain skeptical, including Griffith – who believes that the loss to the Giants wasn't just a matter of one team imposing its will on the other.
"I've played in a bunch of football games, but have never felt like there was more to just playing football in that game than that day," Griffith said.
Griffith doesn't doubt signal-stealing theory
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