When LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA title earlier this year, many people pointed to the fact that the Cavs had never won a title. With the Chicago Cubs dominating the 2016 baseball season, there is great excitement that this year may bring their first title since 1908. On the PGA Tour, Dustin Johnson broke through an excellent career without winning a major when he captured the United States Open in June.
If one believes in foreshadowing....
The angst Minnesota fans feel toward never having won a Super Bowl is unique. The Minnesota Twins won in 1987 and 1991 to shed a state-wide winless championship streak that went back to the days of the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1950s. The Minnesota Lynx have won three titles (2011,2013,2015) in a short span. However, most presently consider only the four major men's sports as legitimate titles in the mythical hunt for city-based championship titles. And that is too bad, because the Lynx are highly successful and deserve greater attention.
What makes the Vikings situation uique is that they are probably the most successful sports franchise without a title. Certainly they are the winningest NFL team not to have won a Super Bowl. Minnesota ranks tied for 8th overall in winning percentage among all franchises. The following is a list of those teams ahead of Minnesota.
Note that the first three categories include pre-merger years dating back to 1920 for some.
Chicago Bears, .572 win percent, 96 seasons, 25 playoffs, 3 Super Bowls (SB) appearances, 1 SB win.
Dallas Cowyboys, .569 win pct, 56 seasons, 31 playoffs, 8 SB appearances, 5 Super Bowl wins..
Green Bay Packers, .568 win pct, 95 seasons, 31 playoffs, 5 SB appearances, 4 Super Bowl wins..
Miami Dolphins, .561 win pct, 50 seasons, 22 playoffs, 5 SB appearances, 2 Super Bowl wins.
San Fransisco 49ers, .553 win pct, 70 seasons, 26 playoffs, 6 SB appearances, 5 Super Bowl wins.
Boston/N.E. Patriots, .548 win pct, 56 seasons, 23 playoffs, 8 SB appearances, 4 Super Bowl wins.
New York Giants, .543 win pct, 91 seasons, 31 playoffs, 5 SB appearances, 4 Super Bowl wins.
Those are the only teams that have won a greater percentage of their NFL games than our Vikings. Between those seven teams there are 40 Super Bowl appearances and 25 Super Bowl wins. Minnesota and Baltimore would be next, tied for eighth....
Minnesota Vikings, .542 win pct, 55 seasons, 28 playoffs, 4 SB appearances, 0 Super Bowl wins.
Baltimore Ravens, .542 win pct, 20 seasons, 10 playoffs, 2 SB appearances, 2 Super Bowl wins.
Continuing the list Denver would be next with 3 Super Bowls in 56 years. The Indianapolis/Baltimore Colts have won 2 Super Bowls in 63 years. The Oakland Raiders are next, winning 3 Super Bowls in 56 years. Only the Cleveland Browns have a winning percentage and have not won a Super Bowl like Minnesota. Their history is rich with NFL Championships, having won 8 over their 69 year existence. Last of note is the most successful of all NFL franchises in terms of Super Bowl wins...
Pittsburgh Steelers, .527 win pct, 83 seasons, 29 playoffs, 8 SB appearances, 6 Super Bowl wins.
The numbers help demonstrate the anxiety/stress we Purple fans feel. There is only one franchise in the NFL that has made the playoffs at a greater percent than Minnesota, and that is the Cowboys. The Vikings have 28 playoff visits in 55 years. Fans can generally expect to make the playoffs every other year. Dallas has 31 appearances in 56 years. No other franchise can make that claim. Not Green Bay (31 playoff visits in 95 seasons). Not Chicago (25 playoff visits in 96 years). Not Pittsburgh (29 playoff visits in 83 seasons). The Cowboys and VIkings are the only two franchises that have been to the playoffs more than they have stayed home.
Only nine teams (of 31) have made it to more Super Bowls than Minnesota. Only one has more division titles in the same amount of years (Dallas 22, Minn 19). Only one has been in more playoffs in the same amount of time (Dallas 31, Minn 28).
Minnesota has elite numbers in the NFL. Just no Super Bowl win.
So we enter 2016 as hopeful as any in recent memory. Since 2009 and Brett Favre we have not seen this much hype toward a successful season. That team, and the 1998 Minnesota Vikings who went 15-1, are easily the two best shots we have had to return to the Super Bowl. Both ended tragically, not unlike the loss last season to the Seahawks in frigid TCF Bank Stadium on a missed chip shot..
And while both of those teams were very good, many feel this year's team is their equal. While the offense of the 1998 team could probably never be matched by this group, nor the quarterback play of the 2009 team and Favre, one could argue that the 2016 defense is better than any Vikings' team since the 1970s. And as the saying goes, "Defense wins Super Bowls".
The local and national media have given encouraging words toward this purple season. Many have cautioned that only a much improved offense can help Minnesota leap frog by top teams in the NFC like Seattle, Carolina and even Arizona. Vikings' administration did their part by adding offensive linemen through free agency, and then drafting a receiving weapon for Norv Turner's passing game. The addition of Laquon Treadwell, combined with the improved play of Stefon Diggs and/or Charles Johnson, gives Teddy Bridgewater a chance to air out his 31st ranked passing offense of 2015. And of course, the additions at offensive line in the off-season might also help the 29th overall offense that was mostly Adrian Peterson last year.
We have suffered for years and years waiting to break through with a Super Bowl win. Lesser teams, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, already have a Super Bowl win despite a career .385 win percentage. With zero Super Bowl wins Minnesota is grouped with teams like San Diego, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Detroit, Jacksonville and Atlanta. The difference is, those teams have all lost more than they have won. The Lions have made the playoffs only 16 times in 86 seasons. The Bucs 10 times in 40 seasons.
It's not right.
The 2016 brings great promise. A strong coach locked into a contract. A much improving young defense, already 5th in scoring last year. One of the greatest running backs in the modern era, and he is healthy. If the passing game can get on board...It may be the chance to finally end the drought of a great franchise with everything but a Super Bowl win. It seems to be the year for it.