(With the Minnesota Vikings season ending prematurely last Sunday in Minneapolis I was reminded of a column with that headline that I wrote 25 years ago as the Vikings seemed headed for a trip to the Super Bowl. The team finished the regular season 15-1 and then lost in overtime in the playoffs to Atlanta when a win would have gotten the team to the Super Bowl. This column was written in October when hopes were high, maybe too high, just as they were for many Minnesota fans during the 2022 13-4 season.)
It's probably a good thing the Minnesota Vikings had a bye week Sunday after blowing out the Green Bay Packers the week before.
Why? Because it's given everybody, even the most avid Viking fans, a chance to come down to earth after the thumping of the Bushers in their own backyard last week. It was a magnificent victory, no argument. On that night the Vikings were way better than the Green Bay Cheeseheads. And the StarTribune's headline — "Grilled Cheese" — was even better.
And I suppose I really shouldn't be too critical of those who have gone overboard, even though there are 11 games left in the season. On Sunday the Vikings play the woeful Washington Redskins who are off to their worst start (0-6) since 1961. I had a friend in the U.S. Army who was from the Washington area and he was fond of calling them the Deadskins, an appropriate name for that team again this year.
Why am I not yet ready to anoint the Vikings as God's gift to pro football? Two falls ago the Vikes had just crushed Green Bay and were about to play the 1-3 New York Giants, a team about as bad as the Redskins. I sat in Giants Stadium that day and watched the Giants upset the Vikings and help turn a good start into another so-so season for Minnesota.
I've not been a believer in Denny Green teams thus far. This one might be different but that hasn't been proven yet. A good step in the right direction would be to crush the awful Redskins Sunday and then come out of the next two games at Tampa Bay and Detroit with at least one win.
I've got a picture hanging in my office of Minnesota wide receiver Sammy White reaching for a pass in the last Viking game ever played at Met Stadium in 1981. The opponent was Kansas City and you can see snow in the background on the sidelines and fans bundled up in the stands. It's a good reminder of the time when football was outdoors and the Vikings at least had a chance to win their division.There was a long stretch of years when the team didn't fold every time it got in a race for a division title.
When the Vikings needed a win late in the season we would stomp our boots on the wooden bleacher boards in the north end zone, clap our mittened hands together, and the Vikings would win, sometimes because they made the plays and sometimes, it seemed, because the other team would fail miserably in the cold Minnesota outdoors.
Who cared if you had to leave a minute early at halftime to get in line for the too-few restrooms, just so you could make it back to your seat in time for the second half? Sometimes when the Vikings were well ahead, someone would be designated to run to the bratwurst stand a few minutes before halftime. The brats were grilled back then, not steamed as they are now at the Dome, and you usually ended up with mustard and sauerkraut on your face because it was hard to eat them with gloves on in the below-freezing weather.
One Sunday we left a game and the tires of some cars were frozen into ice that had formed from puddles in the parking lot during the game. We sat thorough rain, sleet and then snow that day. Battling the elements was fun most of the time. It kind of put us in tune with the players who were running around with short sleeves while the opposing players were freezing on the sidelines, huddled in capes.
Now we have a team with a lot of legitimate stars, as those teams did then, and this year's players should be able to make a breakout season a reality. They should steamroll the Redskins right off that artificial turf Sunday in the Dome and the fans should do their yelling even before commanded to do so by the scoreboard operator.
Will this be the year? You'd think so. By the time the Vikings play on Dec. 3 against the horrible Chicago Bears, who are 1-5 right now, this Vikes should have this thing all wrapped up. Then we can quit talking about those old Viking teams that COULD find a way to win a game that mattered.
Jan. 17, 1063 - Princeton beat Ogilvie 64-40 as Dean Hansen had 20 points and Steve Odegard 15. The Tigers also beat Cambridge 64-43 as Steve Lindell led with 22. Hansen had 18, John White 11 and Odegard 10 . . . Jerry Sandberg led the Kenby Aces League with a 587 series and Bob Dahlberg had a 578.
Jan. 18, 1968 -Tom Enger scored 24 as Princeton lost 59-56 to Mora. He was second in conference scoring at 17.3 . . . Henry Errebo (95 pounds) and Bob Backlund (175) were the only winners in a 31-14 wrestling loss to St. Cloud Cathedral. Three Tiger wrestlers had draws.
Jan. 19,1973 - Tom Holbrook had 18 points and 18 rebounds in a 63-50 win over Milaca, Chuck Young scored 14, Dave Mingo 12 and Mike Solhieim 11 . . . Security Federal stayed unbeaten with a 76-74 win over Teachers in the city basketball league. Mike Arnold (28) and Tom Peterson (15) led the losers and Jerry Bergeron (26)and Luther Dorr (19) led the winners.
Jan. 10, 1978 - Bob Koelman had 18 as Credit Union beat Marv's 68-47 in a game between the top two teams in the city basketball league . . . Michelle Ziegler had three first places in Princeton's gymnastics victory over Chisago Lakes . . . Carl Erickson's 5:29.2 set a PHS record in the 500-yard freestyle,
Jan. 20, 1983 - Goalie Al Doebler got the shutout in a 3-0 win over Cambridge. Ronald Hurt scored twice and brother Richard Hurt once . . . The boys basketball team beat Pine City 67-52 as Nathan Murphy had 19, Tom Blomberg 14 and Brian Dorr 12. The team also beat Onamia 56-51 as Tom Hallbeck (14 points), Blomberg (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Dorr (10 rebounds, 9 points, 6 assists and 3 steals) led the way.
Jan. 21, 1988 - Princeton took a 31-6 halftime lead and beat Mora in girls basketball 45-27 despite 42 turnovers. Mora had 32. Judy Bornholdt led Princeton with 17 points . . . Jay Wilson and John Priess each scored two goals in an 8-1 win over Sauk Rapids . . . Eric Minks had 22 points and 12 rebounds in a 58-39 win over Chisago Lakes.
Jan. 14, 1993 - The girls basketball team headed for a showdown with North Branch (both were 5-0) by beating Chisago Lakes 56-37. Corrine Lundell (16 points, 11 rebounds), Shelley Ziwisky (12 points) and Heather Carlson (11 points) led. It was Lundell's 30th straight game with double figures in points . . . Bryan Opskar, a 1991 PHS grad, was playing Junior A hockey with the Fargo-Moorhead Junior Kings.
Jan. 15, 1998 - PHS (5-2, 2-1 in the RRC) lost 58-56 to Chisago Lakes as Nate Terborg and Jeremy Olson each had 13 points. Olson was leading the team in scoring at 19.6 a game. . . Chris Anderson won two events and swam on two winning relay teams as the swim team beat Columbia Heights 103-78.
Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (32 years) and has written about sports in the Princeton area for the past 55 years.)