Minnesota Vikings

Sun, 07 Feb 2010 18:48

The History of the Minnesota Vikings

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The color purple is usually associated with royalty. Aptly named, the Minnesota Vikings are the men in purple in NFL. The team has always strived to be football royalty and have actually succeeded to show that they are. From a spectacular debut to winning bursts and constant evolution, the Minnesota Vikings have proven time and again that they are worthy of the color.

Examining their origins

Though the team played their first game as the Vikings near the beginning of the '60s, professional football in Minnesota went back as far as the 1920s. The Twin Cities, Minneapolis, and St.Paul had a resident football team called the Minneapolis Marines/Red Jackets. This particular NFL team played during the 1920s and 1930s. After the Minneapolis Marines/Red Jackets stopped playing, there was a time when the area did not have a professional football team to cheer for. Before the late '50s, Minnesota residents did not know that a very popular professional football team would be arising locally. This team would be getting rid of the boredom that the football lull had brought. It would also be creating a powerful roller-coaster of emotions among the fans.

Bill Boyer, Max Winter, and H.P.Skoglund, who were Minneapolis businessmen, were given a franchise in the National Football League (NFL). The three joined forces with Bernie Ridder in January 1960 to forfeit their franchise from AFL, and, instead, they had been given NFL's 14th franchise. The first game was scheduled during the following year. Ole Haugsrud, who sold his Duluth Eskimos back to NFL, became part of the team due to an agreement he had with NFL back in the 1920s. This agreement resulted in Haugsrud getting a 10 percent "commission" from any Minnesota team, current or future ones included.

Beginnings: the Vikings set off to sail

When the Vikings finally set sail in September 17,1961, everyone took notice. It was a grand debut, worthy of the majestic color and the powerful name. The team started out slow but after rookie quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, began playing for the team, he was able to secure four touchdowns that helped the Vikings win over the Chicago Bears with a commanding 37 to 13 victory.

This was not, however, the first Viking sighting. The Minnesota Vikings first played an exhibition game against the Dallas Cowboys the month before. It was not until ten days later, in September 27, 1961, that the team secured the Viking name. This was very appropriate as Minnesota served as the country's center of Scandinavian-American culture.

The Vikings' outstanding start, however, was followed by seven consecutive losses. This lend speculations on whether the first win was a fluke. Maybe the other teams were still surprised by the newly minted team. The first season's last place finish was capped by the second season's disappointing run.

The year 1963 was a much more successful year for the Vikings. The team wanted something better than their satisfactory 5-8-1 record so they hired Jim Finks as general manager. He was successful with the Calgary Stampede.

The rest of the '60s proved to be solid seasons for the Vikings except for the 1966 and 1967 seasons. These consecutive years were plagued with losses that even landed them in last place in the Central Division in 1967.

The '70s: near the end of the first run

During the second decade of the Vikings' run, the team managed to shine in terms of their defense. The early '70s saw the success of what was well-known as the "Purple People Eater" defense. This outstanding defense had made Alan Page only the third defense player to be awarded a "Most Valuable Player" in the history of the NFL.

While the Vikings made it to the Super Bowl in the early '70s, the team felt early cracks in 1972 when they displayed mediocrity in their games that led them to a 7-7 season. Chick Foreman, as running back, helped re-energize the fallen team in 1973. Foreman was able to nab the Offensive Player and "Offensive Rookie" awards that year. The Vikings displayed spectacular form that same season.

The decade was satisfactory. The team managed to place in three Super Bowls in just a span of four years, a proof of sustained good performance. However, the original team was facing another problem--aging.

The '80s: a beginning of a new era

The '80s did not see the Vikings leaning significantly toward either winning or losing. There were disappointing seasons that saw a few bursts of brilliance. However, there are also winning seasons that start off with consecutive wins only to be tainted by a series of huge losses. Some of the reasons for the sudden turnarounds are injury and even just plain "losing gas." In 1987, it was the players' strike that made things difficult for the team. Though the players' started the season with a strong showing, the strike distracted the team. Not only that, some of the strong players were part of the strike. When these players returned, however, the team managed to make it to the playoffs because of the next winning games. The Vikings' championship bid was ended by the Washington Redskins. The game was close until the fourth quarter, which began the winning stretch for the Redskins at a 17 to 10 lead.

Another event to note was the hailing of the first Viking to ever make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986 - Fran Tankerton.

The '90s: terrible starts and exciting finishes - and vice-versa

The '90s saw the end of some Viking careers. Because of injuries, Herschel Walker was struggling in his games. This contributed to mediocre games that resulted in losing streaks early in the 1990s. Note that Walker was acquired from the Dallas Cowboys only in 1989. The running back had a spectacular start with his new team. The Vikings actually won the three of the first four games played with Walker. It was unfortunate that the running back had to be plagued with injuries only the year after. He was released by the team in 1991. Not much later, Coach Jerry Burns resigned from a job that he was dedicated to for 20 years.

New coach Dennis Green led the Vikings to five wins in the first six games of the 1992 season. However, it was not a perfect season. The Vikings later experienced moments of mediocrity, which led to fans asking whether the players were in the game to win it.

The rest of the decade was peppered by false starts and winning endings. Unfortunately, there were also spectacular starts that ended in despair. An example of such is 1995's new quarterback Warren Moon's winning first season. The following year was not so great.  In fact, it was terrible, just because Moon was out.

The 21st century: energized by new blood

As with any other decade, fresh football talents serve to re-energize the Minnesota Vikings. However, injuries and other misfortunes had devastating effects on the team's performance. The death of offensive lineman Korey Stringer due to heatstroke in 2001 was worse than a mere misfortune.

In 2002, Mike Tice was hired as the Vikings' sixth head coach. Again, with someone new, the team was able to perform well. The team was even able to manage to beat the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins to the point of taking away these rival teams' chances to make it to playoffs.

The Minnesota Vikings currently have fresh blood and Hall of Famer Brett Favre. Having the former enemy as quarterback is making the Vikings win several games in a row in 2009. Again, the team starts off great with a newcomer. Fans need only to stay tune to see if the winnings can be sustained.