We’re well aware that the Minnesota Vikings have never ascended to the top of the mountain in the National Football League. (Yes, we know that they won the NFL Championship in 1969, but nobody really counts that.) We also know that they’ve come close more times than we can count. . .or more times than we’d like to re-live.
However, the folks from Football Outsiders have summed up just how heartbreaking this team has been for its fanbase throughout the years, as they’ve declared the Vikings’ franchise from 1966 to 1980 the “Champions of Heartbreak” for being consistently good but never winning the big one.
You can read the methodology that FO used in constructing their rankings right here. . .it’s pretty extensive and I don’t want to crib the whole thing in this space. To briefly summarize it, it’s made up of three parts: win-loss records, playoff runs, and the Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings. The summary of the Vikings from 1966 to 1980 reads like this:
Their DVOA and regular-season records are more than enough to give them a top-five spot on this countdown, but it’s a decade’s worth of playoff failures and flops that make them legends. The Minnesota Vikings are your kings of heartbreak; we may never see a team so good come up so short so frequently ever again.
No, we probably won’t. . .particularly not in the salary cap era, where teams never seem to be that bad for that long, with a couple of rare exceptions.
Sadly enough, that era of Vikings football wasn’t even the only one that makes the Football Outsiders’ list. The Vikings from 1986 to 2000 are also on there, and even crack the Top 10. More than any portion of the earlier group that we showed you, there’s one paragraph in this description that basically sums up the entirety of Minnesota Vikings football:
Other franchises will claim they are the most tortured in NFL history—and you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out who ends up at No. 1—but the Vikings are unquestionably, undoubtedly, and undeniably the most frequently heartbroken team in the NFL. They have played 61 NFL seasons. For 30 of those seasons, they have been in the middle of a top-10 all-time heartbreak dynasty. And that’s before you include some of their smaller periods of pain—both the 2003-2009 Tice/Childress teams and the 2015-2019 Zimmer era end up with 300-plus heartbreak points themselves. Add in years like that, and more than two-thirds of Minnesota seasons have been part of an era of disappointment. Long live the king.
Yep. . .that’s us. Getting kicked in the groin more frequently than anyone else before declaring that, you know, it could have been worse.
All of this gives us the hope that, one of these days, our favorite football team can stop appearing at or near the top of lists like these and find themselves hoisting the big silver trophy. Until that finally happens, however, this is what the Vikings’ legacy is. Here’s hoping that it changes sooner rather than later.