Hartman: Losing the Super Bowl is a painful, lasting memory

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 2, 2014 - 8:48 AM
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Dolphins running back Larry Csonka plowed past the Vikings defensive line during Miami’s 14-7 victory in Super Bowl VIII on Jan. 13, 1974, in Houston. That was the second of the Vikings’ four Super Bowl losses over a stretch of eight seasons.

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The last time that the Vikings reached the Super Bowl was in January 1977, when they fell to 0-4 in the NFL title game.

If you go back to that 1976 season and consider the teams that were in the NFL at the time, you will find that only three other teams have had longer Super Bowl droughts than the Vikings’ run of 37 years:

The Lions have had the longest wait, having never been to the Super Bowl; the Jets haven’t been to the Super Bowl since beating the Colts after the 1968 season; and the Chiefs haven’t been since beating the Vikings the following year.

Kansas City won Super Bowl IV 23-7 in New Orleans, and it did so with some of the greatest talent that money could buy. In 1963, Lamar Hunt, the multimillionaire owner of the American Football League team, had outbid the Vikings for Gophers star Bobby Bell with a salary offer almost double what the NFL team bid. Hunt paid the price necessary to get the best players.

Miami, like Kansas City, had better talent than the Vikings when the Dolphins beat them 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII in Houston. That Miami team lost only two games one year after going undefeated, a feat no team has matched since; it was also the Dolphins’ third Super Bowl appearance in a row.

The Vikings faced Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XI, and like Kansas City and Miami, the Steelers were one of the best teams in NFL history, led by such great players as Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene, Dwight White, Ernie Holmes and L.C. Greenwood.

Then the Vikings’ fourth loss came at the hands of the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XI, a team that had a number of Hall of Famers, led by Fred Biletnikoff, Fans on NFL.com voted that team the greatest in NFL history in an online bracket two years ago.

No doubt in Bud Grant’s mind, the 1975 Vikings team might have been the best he coached. If it hadn’t been for Dallas’ Hail Mary pass from Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson in the final seconds of the Divisional round, that Vikings team might be in the same class as all those other all-time greats of the NFL. The Vikings would have had a good chance of beating the Steelers, who defeated the Cowboys 21-17 in Super Bowl X.

The loser of the Denver-Seattle game Sunday will find out that the fact it won a conference championship doesn’t mean a thing to fans.

All is forgotten if a Super Bowl team can’t win it all, and the only fans that go away with good memories are the ones that cheer for the victor.

Vikings sought revenge

There’s a little sidebar to the Vikings’ loss to Kansas City. The Vikings opened the 1970 season against the Chiefs after falling to them the year before in the Super Bowl.

For one of the only times in his coaching career, Grant showed the film of the loss in the Super Bowl to the team the night before that season opener.

Grant was upset because the late Hank Stram, coach of the Chiefs, had been wired to a microphone and kept ridiculing the Vikings on TV during the Super Bowl.

The result of the teams’ matchup was the Vikings beat the Chiefs 27-10 to open the 1970 season. They completely dominated that game to get some revenge.

Gophers miss Andre Hollins

The Gophers men’s basketball team has now lost to Nebraska and Northwestern, two teams that started slowly but are now playing well. Coach Richard Pitino said part of the reason for the two losses is the fact that Andre Hollins has been sidelined by an ankle injury.

“We need him back; 16 points. He’s one of the better guards in the league,” Pitino said following Saturday’s 55-54 loss to Northwestern at Williams Arena. “It’s silly for us to think that it’s going to be easy to replace a guy who scored 1,000 points and could be one of the all-time leading scorers in school history.

“We need him back. He’s extremely important to us. We’ll continue to rehab him, trainers do a great job with him. Hoping for Purdue, but I highly doubt it. We’ll see.

“We’re trying to keep him in shape, certainly doing a couple different things on the bike, got a good warm-up in today. You can’t understate how important he is to our team. We just need him back. It’s hard to score. We’ve got a good perimeter attack with him there, he has 16-17 points a game and we have to replace it somehow.”

Pitino said the Wildcats simply made more plays down the stretch.

“Certainly a disappointing one, but you’ve got to give them credit, they made big plays when they needed to and we did not,” he said. “Plenty of basketball to be played. This is a tough one, so we have to find a way to regroup with these guys and get them back feeling good about themselves and confident on Wednesday.”

SID’S JOTTINGS

The Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year award was given to Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant. That’s just an indication of how highly this young man is rated as a coach all over the country. He has appeared in more football clinics than maybe any other high school coach.

Kickoffs weren’t a part of the Pro Bowl, so Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson didn’t get a chance to show his great ability in that part of the game. Patterson did return three punts but picked up only 1 yard on the three.

• The Gophers are expected to announce the names of six preferred walk-ons Wednesday when the names of the 2014 scholarship players are announced: Apple Valley defensive back Davis Anderson; Butler County (Kan.) Community College fullbacks Miles Thomas and Riley Ohafah; Perham long snapper Payton Jordahl; Roseville quarterback Jacques Perra; kicker Emmit Carpenter of Ashwaubenon (Wis.); and Brainerd punter Logan McElfresh.

Dave Joerger, coach of the Memphis Grizzlies is a former resident of Staples where he played basketball for coach Lynn Peterson and then played basketball at Moorhead State. Joerger had a happy homecoming when the Grizzlies beat the Timberwolves at Target Center on Friday.

In 1983, Mike Lynn, general manager of the Vikings, made a deal with the Houston Oilers that brought tight end Dave Casper and quarterback Archie Manning here. Well, Casper is in the news this week, returning here from Milwaukee to work for Northwest Mutual. Archie Manning, of course, is the father of Peyton.

Former Vikings running backs coach James Saxon has officially joined the Steelers staff. Don’t be surprised if eventually defensive backs coach Joe Woods and defensive assistant Mike Singletary join him there.

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