Metrodome Collapse: Another saga in the Vikings’ cursed history

After a 2-5 start, the Vikings season was essentially over, but Mother Nature put the exclamation point on a deflating season by dumping 17 inches of snow on the Metrodome, causing it to collapse and literally deflate.

It was the most entertaining thing to happen at the stadium all season.  Don’t worry, there are plenty more jokes where that came from.  Seriously though, I’ve watched that video at least twenty times. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxuxNLf87_Y

Seeing an avalanche of snow burst through the Teflon roof like a pass rusher through the Vikings porous offensive line is pretty enthralling.  The video gets more thrilling when you key in on the maintenance worker who narrowly escapes disaster aboard his trusty forklift. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rf5sGFtopkM&feature=player_embedded

The forklift guy sensed danger just in time and sent his vehicle hurtling across the sideline toward shelter.  Apparently, he wasn’t even on duty at the time but stayed to help out because the highways were blocked anyway.

The maintenance man has chosen to remain anonymous and has declined interviews.  In an interview with City Pages, his boss says the collapse survivor received, “No day off but a large pat on the back.”  He’s a harder worker than I am.  I would have milked the disaster for all its worth.

The 5-7 Vikings had to play the Giants in Lions Stadium.  The season was on the brink.  We had to win out the rest of our games to have a realistic shot at the playoffs.  The odds were stacked against us.  We had lost homefield advantage and our starting quarterback, but if we prevailed against all odds we could turn our season around.

In front of a ragtag crowd of stubborn Vikings fans, bored Detroit locals taking advantage of the free tickets, and Giants faithfuls, the Vikings crashed and burned.  Brett Favre’s sprained shoulder stalled his consecutive game streak at 297.  And back-up quarterback Tarvaris Jackson dealt another blow to the Viking psyche by yet again proving his mediocrity.  With Brett Favre set to finally transition fully from football player to Wrangler spokesperson after this season, the Vikings are left with a giant gaping hole at QB.

Thus, this season is further proof that the Vikings are cursed.

The curse goes back to Superbowl IV.  In 1969, the year before the AFL and NFL merged into one league, the Vikings—with a stingy defense led by a punishing D-line nicknamed the Purple People Eaters—won the NFL championship.  The Vikings were favored to win the Superbowl but were trounced by the AFL’s Chiefs in an upset victory.

The Vikes returned to the Superbowl in ’73, ’74 and ’76 seasons, but were demolished by the Dolphins, stonewalled by the Steelers, and romped by the Raiders, in that order.  Having lost four Superbowls in eight years, the Vikings have not returned since.

The cursed Vikings have appeared in 9 NFC championship games—the most of any team without a Superbowl victory.  The most devastating of those losses was in our 15-1 season in ’98.  Our explosive offensive was dismantling opposing defenses.  Rookie phenomenon Randy Moss looked like a lightning bolt with shoulder pads and Velcro hands.  Our kicker, Gary Anderson, hadn’t missed a field goal or extra point all season.

We had faith in Gary when we lined up for a 38-yard field goal to seal our victory in the NFC Championship game versus the Falcons.  Tragically, Gary missed wide left by inches, and the Falcons marched down the field, scored a touchdown to send it to overtime, and their Anderson (kicker Morten Anderson) hit a 38-yard field goal to steal the victory and dash our Superbowl hopes.  Ten-year-old me was depressed for weeks.

Two years later, the Vikings returned to the NFC championship game.  This time we got completely destroyed as the Giants won 41-0.

We slipped into mediocrity briefly before a magical 2009 season that saw our longtime nemesis Brett Favre take the reins off our team.  At 40-years-old, Brett took us to the NFC championship game once again.  All that stood between us and a trip to the Superbowl was the New Orleans Saints.

Just like ’98, victory was in our hands.  We were charging down the field late in the game and were already in range for a 50-yard field goal to win the game.  With 19 seconds left, Brett Favre’s pass was intercepted.  The game went to overtime and the Saints won the toss coolly drove down the field and their no-name kicker, who had a much inferior season to Anderson in ’98, nailed a 40-yard field goal to seal the deal.

Most Vikings fans, ignoring the curse, expected the 2010 season to go smoothly and give us another shot at the Superbowl.  Except for Sidney Rice, who was injured, we had all our star players.  Of course, this season has shown how quickly a team can go from Superbowl contender to a pack of bumbling morons.

Some optimistic Vikings fans tried to turn our slow start into a positive.  If we kept on losing, we might have a shot at earning the first pick in the 2011 draft.   We could draft a legitimate quarterback—many are predicting Andrew Luck—and get ourselves out of our QB dilemma.  However, our brief mid-season recovery got us to 5 wins and guaranteed we would not garner the first pick in the draft.

Maybe we will pull a franchise quarterback out of our early-to-mid first round pick, but, if the curse has anything to do with it, we probably won’t.  Like always, we probably stumble into some success, get tantalizingly close to a Superbowl—or maybe even a Superbowl victory—only to have disaster strike us at the last possible moment.

It’s the Vikings’ paradox: good enough to get your hopes up, but never good enough to win it all.

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