The 10-part documentary currently airing every Sunday on ESPN about Michael Jordan, The Last Dance, is all the rage right now. Without many live events, The Last Dance is the most talked-about thing in sports.
The documentary brings up an interesting question: If ESPN were to create a 10-part documentary on the Minnesota Vikings, what would it cover?
Minnesota has definitely provided enough material over the years to deliver an entertaining watch. Whether it’s preposterous quarterback knee injuries, love boat parties, unbelievable missed field goals and some fascinating personalities, the story of the Vikings franchise might be more entertaining than any other team.
Below is a short list of topics worth covering in the documentary.
My conclusion from this list: Sure, the Vikings franchise has experienced disappointment, mischief and missed opportunities. But at least it’s been entertaining.
PURPLE PEOPLE EATERS
It is a crime that the Purple People Eaters never won a Super Bowl. The Vikings dominated the NFL in the late 1960s and 1970s because Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, Alan Page and Jim Marshall were terrorizing opposing offenses to a degree maybe no team ever has.
Minnesota earned a berth in Super Bowl IV, Super Bowl VIII, Super Bowl IX and Super Bowl XI. Somehow, Minnesota was steamrolled in every one of them. The Vikings scored a total of 34 points in those four games. In three of them, Fran Tarkenton was the Vikings’ quarterback. That just doesn’t add up.
Also, Bud Grant deserves a Super Bowl from his tenure as Vikings head coach. It’s dumb he never got one.
Everything about the 1998 season needs to be covered in this documentary. Randy Moss might warrant his own documentary. But his arrival and quick destruction of the league must be covered. Randall Cunningham and Dennis Green stepping into the spotlight as men of color succeeding in roles normally performed by white men is an underrated aspect of that season to look back on.
But that offense has to be the main focus here. Cunningham, Moss, Cris Carter, Jake Reed and Robert Smith. How does a defense stop that? (Hint: defenses didn’t stop it). The trio of Moss, Carter and Reed might be the best wide receiver trio of all-time.
And of course, much of this section would need to be focused on Gary Anderson. The dude was an absolute machine all season long, and just so happened to miss the one kick he couldn’t miss in the NFC Championship Game. He could have missed so many other field goals that were ultimately meaningless to the 15-1 Vikings. Instead, he missed that kick.
Anderson has become somewhat of a scapegoat for Vikings fans from that season. It’s worth remembering that Minnesota was still ahead by a touchdown and simply needed to keep the Atlanta Falcons from reaching the end zone in the final minutes of regulation to earn a trip to the Super Bowl. Everything about that collapse is exceptionally Minnesota.
The 2005 season might not jump out as a season that needs to be put under the microscope for this documentary. But looking back, it was bananas. This was immediately after Minnesota had traded Moss to Oakland and the future of the franchise was squarely on Daunte Culpepper. He completely shredded his knee while the Vikings were well below .500, and the season seemed to be lost. That injury effectively ended Culpepper’s career right after an MVP-caliber season in 2004.
Then the unthinkable happened. Brad Johnson came out of nowhere to spark a six-game (six!) winning streak, and suddenly the Vikings were in the playoff race before they collapsed in the final weeks and missed out on the playoffs and ultimately ended Mike Tice‘s tenure as head coach.
The 2005 Vikings didn’t have a lot of big names, and that’s probably why that team flies under-the-radar. But, goodness, that season was sneakily bonkers.
BRETT FAVRE JOINS THE VIKINGS FOR MAGICAL 2009 SEASON
I mean, of course this will be covered — and should be covered at length. Brett Favre joining the Vikings was a seismic event in the NFL. The Hall-of-Famer had spent 15 seasons wrecking the Vikings as a member of the archrival Green Bay Packers. Then he joined the purple and gold to wreck the Packers twice. That’s all-time entertainment.
The 2009 Vikings campaign was as electric as it gets, particularly both Packers matchups. The Week 4 Border Battle on Monday Night Football sticks out. Favre shredded his former team in front of the entire world right after he threw the miracle touchdown pass to Greg Lewis to beat San Francisco the week before. After those moments, Vikings fans had the sense the 2009 season was about to special. And it was.
The 34-3 demolition of the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round of the playoffs was perfect too. The Vikings were invincible. Fans weren’t scared of the Saints whatsoever, even at their stadium.
And the rest is history. The 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty, BountyGate, Favre’s interception over the middle of the field, the phantom pass interference in overtime, the new overtime rules as a result of the game, etc. Vikings fans know the whole story.
MAGICAL 2009 SEASON UNRAVELS COMPLETELY IN 2010
Nobody could have imagined a worse way to follow the 2009 season than whatever the heck happened in 2010.
Just about everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. Injuries plagued the offense so much to the point that they traded for a receiver in the middle of the season.
Surprise! It was Randy Freaking Moss. That lasted four weeks before Brad Childress quickly lost his patience and cut him, turning the entire fan base against the former coach.
Then the stadium caved in and just gave up trying to host Vikings games with a straight face. Minnesota was forced to play a home game in the stadium of a division rival, at Ford Field in Detroit. Just think about that.
A few weeks later, they had to play on a Tuesday! Minnesota’s Week 16 game at Philadelphia, which was originally scheduled for Sunday night, was wiped out by a snowstorm. So instead, Joe Webb had to pick apart the Eagles on a Tuesday night. Just as everyone expected.
It’s impossible to document the Vikings franchise without mentioning the two miracle finishes that will go down in history forever: the Miracle at the Met and the Minneapolis Miracle.
The Miracle at the Met doesn’t carry quite as much significance being that it was a regular season game. However, the game did have major playoff implications as Minnesota needed a win to clinch the NFC Central division. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns were 10-4 and trying to clinch a playoff berth.
Tommy Kramer threw two touchdown passes to Ahmad Rashad in the final two minutes, including the 46-yard walk-off Hail Mary, to send the Vikings into the playoffs and Metropolitan Stadium into pandemonium.
Fast forward 37 years and the Vikings, somehow, are 13-3 and hosting a divisional round playoff game after a surprisingly successful regular season. Case Keenum found Stefon Diggs along the sideline and Diggs, thanks to New Orleans safety Marcus Williams‘ hilarious missed tackle attempt, jogged into the end zone as time expired to stun the New Orleans Saints.
What happened the following week in the NFC Championship at Philadelphia does not need to be discussed.
The Minnesota Vikings franchise is rich with entertainment, and not all of it is positive. Here are some other topics that could be covered in the documentary.
In hindsight, the Herschel Walker trade essentially handed the Cowboys a bunch of Super Bowls. That’s fun.
It’s easy for younger fans to forget the significance of Korey Stringer‘s sudden passing. That really sucked. The NFL quickly adopted new regulations to ease the training camp conditions for players that are still in effect today.
And yeah, 2016 is also bizarre, topped off by Mike Zimmer’s eye failing him miserably to the point where he needed a bunch of surgeries. That calendar year also included Blair Walsh‘s playoff field goal miss in January. Fun!
This hypothetical documentary might need more than 10 episodes. There’s too much entertainment to be had with this cursed franchise.
Perhaps the 2020 season will add to the drama.