I caution you by saying it’s early and it’s only the pre-season, but the Vikings are working hard in 2012 to make their fans proud of the Purple & Gold. Over the last two years, the organization’s focus has been on securing a new permanent home for future Vikings home games.
Even with the team finishing 6-10 and 3-13, the mission was stadium, stadium, stadium. Obviously the Arden Hills site failed and Minneapolis again strong-armed its way home arguing that downtown at the Metrodome site made the most sense. Now that the Wilf brothers have secured their legacy financially with a new stadium, maybe their team will be a winner one day soon.
As long as the Vikings have been playing football, they have never won anything. No world championships yet. Their NFC Championship game appearances in 1977, 1987, 1998, 2000 and 2009 all were heartbreaking experiences.
Combine that with 0-4 in Super Bowls, and I think you are getting the picture. History is written by winners.
Give or take a few years since 1961, however, the Vikings have always been relevant or competitive with great players. Even if they break your heart, they put up a fight. Maybe now the focus has returned from fighting politicians to battling opponents on the football field.
Last year, Pro Bowler Jared Allen was the Vikings’ best player with 22 sacks, breaking Hall of Famer Chris Doleman’s single-season sack record. Allen said, “We have a young team, but I’ve reminded some of the guys we are professional football players.”
The Vikings have lost 11 straight games to Chicago, Detroit and Green Bay combined. Last year, the Vikings and the St. Louis Rams were the worst home teams in the NFL, going 1-7. Only the Rams and Indianapolis had worse records overall, going 2-14.
After beating Buffalo 36-14 last Friday at home before an announced crowd of 56,000 to gain a win and maybe a fresh start, just maybe this organization is ready to fight again. You get no excuses in the NFL. Why? Because the salary cap is the same for all 32 teams now. The better stadium situation you have, the better chance you have to compete.
In the NFL, every year it seems a team that finished last the year before makes the playoffs the next season. That means the Vikings, Rams, Tampa, Washington, Kansas City, Colts, Browns or Bills could be moving up.
The crowds in Mankato this summer were noticeably smaller this year; apathy is setting in with fans. “Training camp was long and hard,” said Allen. “We had pads on every day but one. Coach Leslie Frazier was harder on us. We are going to be a smarter, more disciplined fundamental team. When you go 3-13 and kind of clean house the way we did, it’s evident.”
Last year, the Vikings scored 340 points and allowed 449. Only one team allowed more points, Tampa Bay, with 494. NFL stands for “not for long.”
The NFC North is stronger than ever. It’s on the Vikings and Frazier to get up to speed. Winning at home and beating division foes is critical. Adrian Peterson is back healthy again, eight months removed from knee surgery.
The next pre-season test for the Vikings is Friday vs. San Diego.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.