Sid Hartman: Another Super Bowl stirs hard memories

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 5, 2012 - 12:50 AM

Bud Grant was asked his reaction to those who bring up to him every year the Vikings' four Super Bowl losses.

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Former Vikings coach Bud Grant

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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Every year when Super Bowl time approaches, we hear from people who are critical of the fact that the Vikings participated in four Super Bowls, and lost them all.

Bud Grant, who coached all four of those teams, was asked his reaction to those who bring it up to him every year.

"Well, it probably bothers other people more than it bothers me," said the Hall of Fame coach. "To survive in this business, you can't have a backwards look. You lose a game and then you have to move to the next one. You can't look back and say we could have, would have, should have. When it's over, it's over."

No doubt coaching in the Super Bowl is certainly different than in the regular season and playoffs leading up to it.

"It's a different routine," Grant said. "You have to go into it and enjoy all the hoopla that goes into it. You have to go along with all the press and all the promotion and you have your family there and you have to go into it with an idea that you're going to enjoy it and have a good time."

Looking back on his four Super Bowl appearances, Grant said: "When we played Kansas City [in Super Bowl IV in 1970], we were maybe a better team than they were, but they won that day. We played them the opening game the next year and we beat them handily, basically the same teams."

The Vikings lost to the Chiefs 23-7 in the Super Bowl, then defeated them 27-10 in the 1970 season opener.

At Super Bowl VIII against Miami in 1974, Grant recalled that they nearly beat the Dolphins in 1972, when Miami went undefeated. "We almost beat Miami up here [the Vikings lost 16-14]. ... We maybe should have beaten them at home here. In the game, we were down on the goal line and we fumbled, and we ran the kickoff back the second half way down the field and they called a penalty and brought it back. I think we were as good as they were, but they won that day."

Regarding Pittsburgh, who beat the Vikings 16-6 in Super Bowl IX in 1975, Grant said the Vikings probably had a better team.

"Pittsburgh, we played in New Orleans [at Tulane Stadium], not a very good game, not a very good field, not a very well-played game on either side -- we were just as good as Pittsburgh, but on that particular day they won. I don't think that they went on to have more success after that, but we were as good as any of those teams."

The Vikings beat the Steelers during the 1976 regular season.

About Oakland, who beat the Vikings 32-14 in Super Bowl XI in 1977, he said: "Oakland probably had a better team than we did, we were on the downstroke and they were on the upstroke."

The following December, the Raiders beat the Vikings again, 35-13.

"I think the football played today is better than when we played," Grant said. "The players are better. They're bigger, stronger, faster. It's a better game, although as I've told you before, I think it can be improved upon."

Grant favors the Patriots to beat the Giants in this year's Super Bowl.

"I think New England should probably have the advantage," he said. "I think with their record and their team. New York is coming on, it's when you play people as much as anything. New York is playing their best football right now, but New England is also playing their best football, that's why they're there. If one team gets four turnovers and the other gets one, then the team with more turnovers is going to win."

Childress excited to return to coaching

Former Vikings coach Brad Childress could have sat out of coaching in 2012 like he did the past season and still be paid under terms of his contact with the owners of the Vikings.

But he wanted to work, and the Vikings will pay him the difference between what they still owe him and what he will make as new offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns.

"I guess if God's great gift is work, his other great gift is rest," said Childress, who was fired by the Vikings during the 2010 season. "While I took a rest last year, it was just kind of a pause after 33 years. It was great to watch it go on from afar, if you will. I think it just recharged my battery. It just gives you a little different perspective.

"I mean, I said to my wife, whether it was watching college football on Saturday or the pros on Sunday, I said, 'I don't know why I'm doing this to myself.' "

Childress said that Browns coach Pat Shurmur and he actually signed their contracts on the same day when they got their first NFL jobs with the Eagles in 1999.

"He came from Stanford and I came from Wisconsin and he coached the tight ends and I was coaching the quarterbacks at the time and eventually he ended up coaching the quarterbacks and I became the offensive coordinator," Childress said. "What you learn is, you pass the same people going up as you do going down, and you can't forget where you came from."

Jottings

The Vikings sold a total of 589,477 tickets during the 2011 season, an increase of 90,670 (18 percent) over the season before, according to the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operates Mall of America Field. Ticket income was $47.3 million, an increase of $5.9 million (14 percent) over last season. The Vikings' share of the concession sales was $989,061 and increase of $200,870 (25 percent) from 2010. A big part of the difference is that during that season, there were two fewer games at the Dome because of the roof collapse on Dec. 12, 2010.

Some six combinations of architectural firms and contractors have been asked to design the proposed new Gophers baseball field and present them to University of Minnesota officials by Feb. 15. Once the architect and contractor is picked to build the stadium, the winning design will be presented to the Board of Regents some time in May. The board is expected to approve the winner at its June 7 meeting. Groundbreaking would come shortly after. The word is that Dick Ames and Ames Construction's contribution to the cost of the stadium will be some of the heavy work.

The success of the Timberwolves has resulted in a 205 percent increase in ratings over last season. Ratings for the first 13 games of the 2012 season were 112 percent higher than the first 13 games of last season.

Apparently, New Jersey Nets coach Avery Johnson was impressed with the Wolves in their victory over his team Friday. He predicted that the team has the size and ability to make the playoffs.

The first practice and tryouts for the then-Boston (later New England) Patriots were in 1960, and coach Lou Saban signed several local players, including former Gophers Bob Soltis and Gino Cappelletti, who spent 10 years with the team as its kicker.

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