December 29, 2003


VIKINGS CONQUERED: There are a few expectations that every football fan has, even in the unpredictable world of the National Football League. One is that if your team gets off to a 6-0 start, they will make the playoffs. Another is that if they are able to beat a team (Kansas City) that themselves got off to a 9-0 start, they should also be able to defeat at least one of the four worst teams in the league (Giants, Raiders, Chargers, Cardinals). And a third is that if all your team needs to win its division is a Week 17 victory over the single worst team in the league, and if they are leading by 13 points with five minutes left, that your team will manage to pull out the victory.
You would think wrong, if your team is the Minnesota Vikings. Then again, you'd also think your team would manage to make its first-round draft pick in time to beat the clock…
The Vikings entered Week 17 needing any one of three results to clinch the NFC Norris Division title- a Seattle loss to San Francisco, a Green Bay loss to Denver, or a win themselves over the sorry, no account Arizona Cardinals. None of the three results, alas, came to pass, as the Seahawks and Packers both won, and the Vikings gave up two touchdowns in the final two minutes to lose to Arizona, thus spoiling what would have been the first year in history in which Minnesota teams in all major sports qualified for the playoffs.
Watching the finish was the most uncomfortable football moment since the Joe Namath "I want to kiss you" interview.
Thus concludes a season which began with the team neglecting to make their first-round draft pick on time, continued with owner Red McCombs entering the locker room to berate his players after a Week 7 loss knocked them all the way down to 6-1, and featured the Vikes losing to the league's four worst teams. The entire season was plagued by McCombs' whining about the team's "need" for a new stadium to line his pockets- which has only had the effect of hurting the ballpark chances for the Twins, who actually do need one. Now that Art Modell is selling the Ravens, McCombs officially becomes the worst owner in pro football. Yes, you could make an argument for the Cardinals' Bill Bidwell, but then, which team won on Sunday?
According to Patrick Reusse of the Strib, the lack of playoffs may lead to the firing of coach Mike Tice. Now I've been clear all along in my low opinion of Tice, and my belief that he had no business being hired as an NFL coach in the first place. But for McCombs to toss him at this point, after two years as the lowest-paid head coach in the league, would be nothing less than backstabbing, especially after the year Tice spent as Red's locker-room Narc when Denny Green was still coach.
Oh well, at least Tice will always have a spot warm on George O'Leary's staff at Central Florida…

Posted by Stephen Silver at December 29, 2003 02:52 PM
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