Why There’s Hope For A Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl Victory
“A team is only as strong as it’s weakest player.”
I’m not a fan of that expression, partially because I know how it feels to be the weakest player and partially because if it were up to me, I’d simply replace the worst player on the team. But I digress.
Why bring it up then? It’s because nowadays, too many people analyze teams that way. A player has a bad game or a rough stretch of games and suddenly he’s garbage, and so is the team if they don’t replace the player immediately.
It’s simply not a fair judgement. There’s more to a team than meets the eye. A team wins and loses together, rolls with the punches, celebrates the good times, and changes individuals for the better.
For the longest time, I’ve felt that something wasn’t right with my favorite team — something big. I’d been so distracted with news about President Trump, Minnesota Vikings transactions, and solar eclipse updates that I hadn’t been able to see it clearly.
Then, I had an epiphany while I was in Chicago last month. Here’s how it unfolded;
Before I left for the “Windy City,” I chatted with a coworker (and baseball expert) about all the great Cubs players from the past that were unable to win a ring while in Chicago; Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Sammy Sosa, Greg Maddux, Kerry Wood, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks and so on. For whatever reason, that conversation stuck with me.
As I sipped on a cold beer outside of Wrigley Field on a hot, sunny afternoon, my girlfriend invited a couple (we had never met) to sit down with us to pregame. As we got to know them, the gentleman recanted how the Cubs were considered “cursed” until they won the World Series last year. Between you and me, I’ve often felt the Vikings were also…you know. So I listened closely.
“The players were great, but to quote Roger Staubach…in any team sport, the best teams have consistency and chemistry.”
His quote also stuck with me.
As we parted ways and headed to our seats I couldn’t help but think of all the great Vikings I’ve seen in my lifetime who also fell short of the main objective; Cris Carter, Randy Moss, Randall McDaniel, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, Todd Steussie, Matt Birk, John Randle, Jared Allen, Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, and many more.
When we reached our seats I took a moment to peer out to the wall of ivy. Then suddenly, either because of the buzz or a moment of clarity, it hit me. My mind stopped racing and it all made sense:
The Vikings are not cursed; they’re divided.
Allow me to explain. Like the Cubs, the Vikings have had some incredible players throughout the years (a few are listed above). These individuals led their respective teams on some epic postseason runs, but never to the Promised Land.
Why, you might ask? It’s because those teams were missing something important that every great team possesses: unity.
I guess the simplest way to put it is to quote Al Pacino’s character in Any Given Sunday; “Either we heal now as a team, or we will die, as individuals.”
The Vikings haven’t performed like a well-knit team since the days of the Purple People Eaters. Throughout all the turmoil and ‘bad luck’ over the last few decades (I’m not going to list all the negatives moments by choice), the organization has not yet, in the words of Pacino, healed as a team.
Individual accomplishments have been plentiful and fun, but they can only take a team so far. Adrian Peterson’s single-game rushing record, Randy Moss’ single-season record for receiving touchdowns as a rookie, and Sam Bradford‘s single-season completion percentage record are perfect examples. They’re great, but they don’t bring home the bacon.
If you asked someone to name the major factors that helped the Cubs on the way to their championship, team camaraderie would be at the top. David Ross, the Cubs’ backup catcher who became the oldest player to hit a home run in World Series history (and runner-up in Dancing with the Stars), was both the clubhouse leader and inspiration of that team. And guess what, they went all the way.
Like the Cubs, the Vikings could also draw inspiration from their most beloved player.
Teddy Bridgewater possesses an uncanny ability to be a leader (that’s likely a major reason Sam Bradford’s contract hasn’t been extended). He naturally brings people together. It’s in his blood. If and when he makes it back to the playing field, his teammates will rally around him.
Now, I’m not here to preach “everything happens for a reason,” even though I like that analogy. What I am saying, is that the Vikings must unite, as a team, before they can reach their ultimate goal.
Fortunately for the team, head coach Mike Zimmer is already on board.
“When we win games around here we’re going to win them as a team and lose them as a team,” Zimmer said at Tuesday’s press conference. “So we want to continue to try and get everybody better and work together.”
Now, it’s up to the players to follow his lead.
For those of you who have been part of a team that has done something special, you know what it takes. A great team is a group of individuals that believe they can accomplish great things. A player is only a player, no matter how talented they are. How you work together makes all the difference in the world.
“Unity breeds hope.”
Now that’s a much more accurate expression relating to team sports. That’s what the Vikings have been missing.They may need the return of Bridgewater to find it.
If you’re going to take away one thing from this article, let it be this: It took the Cubs over 100 years to win it all again. Be patient.