Is this the Vikings' year?
If you are the Minnesota Vikings and the Super Bowl eluded you by a field goal last year you have to feel like this could be your year.
All it will take is healthy and productive Brett Favre, a few less fumbles by Adrian Peterson, another big year from Minnesota receivers Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian, Visanthe Shiancoe and Percy Harvin, and a defensive line that includes Pat and Kevin Williams for the entire season. Throw in a healthy E.J. Henderson and Antoine Winfield and who knows? Maybe the Vikings will be playing in their first Super Bowl since 1978 next February? Of course, you could just call this season another crapshoot.
Brad Childress will be the man that takes the Vikes to the Promised Land if the trip is to made. "Chilly" has a big nut to crack because it has been 33 years since the Vikings played in a Super Bowl.
There was a time that the Vikings made it a point of going to the Super Bowl. They had a coach by the name of Grant and he is still the man that all other Minnesota coaches have been measured by, even after he retired from the coaching ranks for good in 1986. Grant's teams won 10 playoff games. In 18 seasons, Grant led the Vikings to a 158-96-5 regular season record. His teams made the playoffs 12 times and won 11 division championships.
The Vikings were among the elite of the NFL in the football-crazy 1970s. They were considered to be in the same class as the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys. Those were pass-happy teams that were led by veterans and played smart football. Grant was a head coach that never allowed heaters on the sidelines and made his players hand the ball to an official after they scored. He wanted tough, experienced professionals on his team.
Grant was famous for wearing the same face all the time. You always knew when Don Shula, John Madden and Hank Stram were mad but with Grant it was different. Not that he could not get mad. After Stram's Kansas City Chiefs upset Minnesota 23-7 in Super Bowl 4, the sawed-off head coach ridiculed the Vikes. Grant's club hosted the Chiefs in the first game of the 1970 season and beat them 28-10. It was just a workmanlike victory for the Vikes but I read later that if Grant could have beaten them 78-10 he would have done it. He hated what Stram had done.
The world of pro football has changed a ton since Grant walked off the field for the last time but when it comes right down to it football is still about blocking and tackling. Make the other team beat you, do not beat yourself. That is why the Vikings fell one victory short last January. Above all, show some class.