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Why the Minnesota Vikings have Never Won a Super Bowl

Updated on October 7, 2015
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Coming from Minnesota I've heard a lot of jokes involving the Minnesota Vikings, but perhaps the most memorial ones involve their notorious reputation for messing up their most important football games. If the wording of the best one I recall wasn't a bit too vulgar to include in this hub, I honestly couldn't think of a more appropriate way to begin this article because, as any Minnesota Vikings fan knows, if there's one thing the Vikings have a long history of being good at, it's blowing big games. Since the NFL and AFL merger of 1970 they've been to the playoffs twenty-five times, the NFC Championship game eight times, and the Super Bowl four times, and still have no Super Bowl victories to brag about. Only the Buffalo Bills have been to the Super Bowl as many times without a victory, and they've made the playoffs about half as many times as the Vikings since 1970. It would be fair to say, the Vikings have missed more big opportunities than any other football team in the NFL.

So how could a professional football team with amongst the most wins in the NFL since becoming a franchise still be seeking their first Lombardi Trophy? I'm sure football experts could think of numerous reasons: everything from curses originating with Leif Ericson, to tragic draft trades, but in the mind of this mere layman football fan, three fundamental reasons can summarize the Viking's lack of success in the big game:

(1) FIRST STRING QUARTERBACK ISSUES: The Vikings have not had a stable and talented quarterback since Fran Tarkenton left the team. Since the Vikings' memorial MVP quarterback retired his purple jersey in 1978, only Tommy Kramer and Daunte Culpepper have served as the team's starting quarterbacks for more than three full seasons, both of whom were talented, but certainly not hall of famers like their predecessor, Scrambliin' Fran. While Warren Moon, who started for the Vikings for two full seasons in the mid-nineties also later made the Pro Football's Hall of Fame, I'm sure most fans would agree that at close to thirty-eight years old when he first replaced Jim McMahon as starting quarterback for the Vikings, he was far too over the hill to make a big impression during this time. If I personally remember correctly, while talent wasn't lacking, his age could likely have been attributable to the fact that he was too injury prone and unpredictable to ever be a superstar for the team, like Frantic Fran most certainly had been. While the Vikings have definitely had some brushes with other talented quarterbacks since the late 70's as well: Randall Cunningham in the 1998-99 season, Jeff George in the 1999-2000 season and, most recently, Brett Favre in the 2009-2010 season, to name perhaps the three most prominent, these brushes were always with veteran quarterbacks approaching the final days of their careers. Ultimately, they were never with any quarterback who could've offered a long-term commitment to the team. Struggling with the starting quarterback position for over thirty years now has been costly for the team and, in my opinion, perhaps the primary reason why they still haven't won the big game;

(2) HEAD COACH ISSUES: The Vikings have not had an experienced and talented head coach since Bud Grant retired in 1983. During Grant's tenure with the Vikings from 1967 through 1983 he led the team to four Super Bowls, three NFC championship games, one league championship game, and eleven division championship games. With the exception of his first season as the Vikings head coach, he also never allowed the Vikings to win fewer than seven games in a season throughout his entire tenure coaching purple jerseys. To exemplify what a difference a good head coach can make for a professional football team, his successor, Les Steckel's first season coaching the Vikings in 1984 amounted to a mere 3-13 record. While Grant consequently came back from retirement in 1985 very briefly to coach the Vikings once again, during which time he was unable to restore the team adequately to achieve another winning season, there's no question Bud Grant has been unrivaled by any subsequent Vikings head coaches. He was without a doubt the best head coach the team has ever had. The Vikings have had chances to pick up talented and experienced head coaches since Mr. Grant's departure in mid 80's, Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden, to name a couple, but they have failed to take advantage of any of these opportunities. Typically opting for less experienced and more affordable head coaches instead, the Vikings have not made it to a Super Bowl under any head coach other than Bud Grant;

(3) BAD LUCK: While luck is something any professional team should certainly not rely on to obtain victories, everyone knows it still exists, and can frequently determine the outcome of big games. With regards to the Vikings, it seems to have worked to their disadvantage far too many times in far too many big games over the past thirty five years for one to ignore the notion that bad luck indeed has played a fundamental role in their failure to ever bring home those longed for Super Bowl rings. The Vikings have lost their last five NFC Championship games, four of which were lost by seven or fewer points, and two of which were lost in overtime. A lot of experts believe the Vikings would've won Super Bowls in both 1978 and in 1999 had it not been for bad fortune in their nail biting defeats in the NFC Championship games during both those years. While every professional team can look back on games that were lost as a result of bad luck, and while bad luck should never be an exclusive excuse for failure, with the Vikings in particular I doubt anyone who follows professional football closely can deny that it has nonetheless been excessively costly for a number of decades.

Despite the misfortune of no Super Bowl wins to date, Minnesota's beloved professional football team are still the Vi-"kings" of the NFL in my book. I encourage Vikings fans to continue wearing their purple jerseys with pride, as I believe our year is indeed coming soon.


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    • lukemike92 profile image
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      lukemike92 2 years ago

      And btw, Atlanta wreaked in the '99 Superbowl, (their one and only Superbowl appearance).

    • lukemike92 profile image
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      lukemike92 2 years ago

      Yes, the Vikings lost 41-0 in the NFC Championship game against the Giants in 2001. I'm sure that one had very little to do with bad luck, and a lot more to do with the team merely falling apart in a big game, (although rumors did linger about illegal audio signal theft by the Giants during that game, no charges were ever brought, and even if the rumors were true it wouldn't have excused the Vikings' horrible performance that day). However, occurring two years after the Falcons game in '99, I think it's quite safe to assume the Vikings were a much different team at that time. As such, the same conclusion involving luck cannot be made about the '99 NFC Championship game. With regards to the '99 game, the simple fact is, when you go into OT, you're statistically the better of the two teams playing, you win the coin toss, and you choose to receive, even if you choke a bit under pressure after kickoff you still should have no good excuses for losing the game in the end. There's no question that bad luck played it's role in the Vikings' loss that day. It was inevitable Gary Anderson would eventually miss a field goal, but it had to be his most crucial FG attempt of the season? And referees will sometimes miss calls, but to miss that clear roughing the kicker penalty, which would have brought the best FG kicker in the league that season ten yards closer to an already close goal post for the FG that would have won MN the game? It was also inevitable the Vikings offense that season, (one of the best in NFL history), would have some bad drives, but two of those bad drives had to come back-to-back during OT of the most important game that year? Easy interceptions will additionally get dropped occasionally, but the simplest pick-off imaginable, (Chandler's pass right into the arms of Robert Griffith during the Falcons' final fourth quarter drive), which would've ended to game for Atlanta just happened to go down in the books as a missed opportunity. The Falcons had a good team also that year, and they played a good game against the Vikings, but under the circumstances they still had to have felt like the luckiest men alive having come out of it victoriously. The Vikings beat the Falcons in the season opener the following year in Atlanta, but that didn't even come close to making up for the horrible misfortune in the '99 NFC Championship game. They've been to far more Playoff games and Super Bowls than the Falcons as well, yet both teams are still in the same boat, (no rings). So has bad luck played a significant role in their misfortunes? You do the math.

    • profile image

      falcons fan 2 years ago

      Greatest day ever 1 17 99 falcons beat vikings. Vikings had a chance to get back but lost giants 41 to 0. If I were a vikings fan I would have been digusted at 41 to 0.

      Tony Martin number 80 my all time favorite falcon. Peace

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 3 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Great article. I still think that the '98 Vikes w/Dennis Green was one of their best teams ever. In fact I think it was one of the best teams to not get to a Super Bowl. They were at home against an overachieving Falcon team. It was a complete team. I know I was surprised when they lost. Would have beat the Broncos. Anyway, good luck. Hope you have a good draft. Voted up.

    • lukemike92 profile image
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      lukemike92 4 years ago

      And fun to remember.

    • EJ Lambert profile image

      EJ Lambert 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      It was his last great season. Fun to watch.

    • lukemike92 profile image
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      lukemike92 4 years ago

      No need to remind me of the '09 Favre foul up. Least the old Gunslinger still has the Minneapolis Miracle to boast about.

    • EJ Lambert profile image

      EJ Lambert 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

      To me, the two Vikings teams that had the best chance to win the Super Bowl were the 1974 and 2009 groups. In '74 they ran into a good Steelers team that wasn't quite at their historic level of dominance yet. Minnesota was close most of the game and had a chance to narrow the gap after a special teams mistake by Pittsburgh. Sadly the resulting drive ended in an interception and the Steelers put the game away.

      In '09, as everyone probably remembers, all Brett Favre has to do is scramble for the first down and run the clock down so his team can kick a field goal. Instead he makes a terrible decision, throws into traffic, gets intercepted and the Saints go down and win. I believe Minnesota had a good enough team to beat Indianapolis that year in the Super Bowl.