Richard Martin

Are The Vikings Cursed?

Created on Aug. 22, 2013 6:00 AM EST

Minnesota Vikings fans want answers. Instead the preseason has brought more questions.

And after two losses in which the team was badly outplayed, their fears are running rampant.

Like members of a strange cult, Purple Pride wants to believe in Christian Ponder. Instead he throws one pick in two attempts in the first game and plays poorly the second. True believers in Ponder are few and far between.

Vikings fans have long collective memories. Though, fortunately, not the nastiness. The dark moments from the past are too well-known: the time the ref swallowed the whistle in a 1975 playoff game against the Cowboys and let Drew Pearson get away with pass interference against Nate Wright ... the 1999 NFC conference championship against the Falcons,  .... the extended nightmare against the New Orleans Saints with Brett Favre’s terrible interception when the Vikes had a chance to win the game (recently he said he “choked”), and a horrible call in overtime that helped the Saints win.

The long nightmare of bad memories includes Leslie Frazier’s long-ago predecessor, Les Steckel, who engineered the Vikes’ first three-win season back in 1984. It should be a great relief to all of us that the real Marines have performed much better than Steckel. 

There’s the death of Korey Stringer. How many teams have had to deal with that?

Yeah, I know, put your victimhood where the sun don’t shine. But you have to understand it’s not mine. These are not traumatic to me; I’ve had plenty of terrible personal experiences to replace those, and I’ve come to see them as natural and possibly healthy. These are part of the collective memory of those unfortunate enough to have been drawn to the Vikings as a team to root for. 

And I have to say that, assuming there is such a thing as a sports curse, the Vikings are up there with any team. The Boston Red Sox “curse” is over. Like the Red Sox, the Giants have won twice.

What about the Chicago Cubs who haven’t won in more than 100 years? They were a bit unlucky in 2003 (cue Steve Bartman) but I believe they were not as good as the Florida Marlins, who were loaded with great pitching and did a favor for America by beating the New York Yankees.

You could make a case for Cleveland’s teams. Yet they haven’t been good often enough to be in the Vikings’ class, once you get past the ‘60s when the Browns were awesome.

I don’t believe in curses. To me, what happened was that the four Vikings squads that reached the Super Bowl were pretty good, but faced great teams. That part was just bad luck. And their best teams -- 1975, 1998 and 2009 -- didn’t reach the Super Bowl. It happens.

The Twins, for example, were lucky in 1987: They faced a good, not great, Cardinals team missing its only power hitter, Jack Clark. Both the ’87 team and the ’91 team had the great luck to have home-field advantage. In both series, the home team won every game.

Don’t tell me there’s no such thing as luck. Don’t be absurd. If the opponents’ top player is hurt and can’t play, or if your own best player is hurt; if the team you can’t beat gets knocked out before you face them, it doesn't make sense.

There’s no such thing as a curse either. What’s difficult about being a Vikings fan is that  the team has been good more years than not, raising expectations for a multitude that dreams of Super Bowl victory.

If they were poor every season it would be less painful. It would be like having the hots for some woman you know will never fall for you.

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