I stopped being a sucker for bread and circuses a few years ago. My irritation with the NFL had been growing for years before that.
Free agency destroyed team loyalty among players and coaches, and even team coherency in most cases. Officiating has been inconsistent at best, and smacks of fixing at its worst. And bad calls have affected the outcome of big games in recent history. But the last straw is the league’s descent into cultural Marxist PC activism. In collusion with other SJW-controlled organizations, for instance, the Nasty Faggotized Leftists bullied Georgia’s governor into overturning the will of the people to trample religious liberty in favor of LGTB thought police.
Despite all this, I still like football. When I happen to be in a place where someone has a game on, it’s a big temptation to get engrossed. At one point, I was a football fanatic. I played it with 110% effort, both on the field and in the sandlot. And when I didn’t play, I watched. When there was no game to play or watch, I read about it. I had every Superbowl outcome memorized–all the way back to the Packers’ 35-10 shellacking of the Chiefs in ’67.
History inspires me to imagine various “what if” scenarios, and sports history is no exception. So, what’s my dream matchup for the Superbowl?
Minnesota Vikings vs. the Buffalo Bills.
The Bills were originally from the American Football League, and won the AFL championship in ’64 and ’65, before O.J. Simpson ever lined up in their backfield.
The Vikings were the 1969 NFL champs.
Both teams are 0 & 4 in the Superbowl however.
So the ultimate argument in favor of this Dream Bowl is that one of these cursed teams would have to win that Lombardi Trophy (that is, assuming it wouldn’t end in a scoreless tie after quadruple overtime).
Both franchises have had teams that were good enough to win the Big One, yet they underachieved at the moment of truth and lost to lesser teams.
And while I’m dreaming, why not draft team rosters from history?
The dream Buffalo team isn’t hard to pick. I don’t know much about the AFL Champion Bills, so I’d go with the Marv Levy would-be dynasty with Jim Kelly and Thurmon Thomas on offense; Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett on defense.
Had they won that first one in 1990, their subsequent three-in-a-row Superbowl appearances likely would have turned out much differently. Winning big games becomes a habit, and it’s still fairly rare for a team that has won that prize to lose it the next time.
And the Bills were the better team in 1990. The loss is blamed on the kicker for missing a gimme field goal, but it was really the Buffalo receivers who lost the game. Neither Kelly nor Thomas committed a turnover all game. In fact, Kelly was laser-accurate, hitting his receivers on the numbers all day…only to have them drop the ball for drive-killing incompletions. New York, with a lackluster ball-control strategy that gave them a lopsided time-of-possession, squeaked it out by one point. That Buffalo team never got their groove back in the Big Game, despite a record four-straight appearances.
I’m more familiar with the Vikes, and so the choice of would-be dynasty is harder to make. The old Purple People Eater lineup seems like the obvious choice. The only team to ever send the entire defensive front four to the Pro Bowl in the same season was also the first team to ever make it to the Superbowl four times. But whether with smashmouth Joe Kapp or scramblin’ Fran Tarkenton at quarterback, the offense was always lacking in something. They never had a great offensive line, a big receiving threat, and a marquis running back all at the same time. There was only so much even a spectacular defense could do.
It’s hard not to finger the 15 & 1 team from 1998, with a red-hot Randall Cunningham under center, explosive runner Robert Smith in the backfield, and both Chris “All He Does Is Catch Touchdowns” Carter and phenomenal rookie Randy Moss as a deep-threat tandem, while John Randle anchored a respectable defense. That record-setting season came to an end with a game that was also blamed on the kicker, which is understandable–Gary Anderson had been perfect all season, then shanked what would have been the winning kick before overtime.
But that game’s outcome should have never rested on the kicker’s leg, either. John Randle was playing hurt in the game, which allowed the Atlanta Falcons to run up a high score, and Coach Dennis Green’s idiotic play calling made it a one-two punch…in their own face. For instnce: your guys (the most powerful offense the league had ever seen) have a first-and-goal with seconds left on the clock and the game’s outcome in doubt…what play do you call? With all the weapons they had, any number of plays would have given them the margin of victory. Green chose to have Cunningham take a knee to end regulation.
As fantastic as that team was, they turned out to be a flash-in-the-pan. Their next season was lackluster and they choked even worse in subsequent playoff appearances.
My choice would probably be the strike season wild card team, with Wade Wilson at quarterback, Anthony Carter at Wide receiver, and D.J. Dozier in the backfield. But they were slopping over with talent on both sides of the ball. Their defense had a young Chris Doleman and Keith Millard on the line, and defensive backs like Joey Browner and Reggie Rutland shutting down opposing passing games.
That roster is hardly remembered today, because despite winning their division a couple times and sending record numbers of players to the Pro Bowl, they never quite gelled as a team, and didn’t have the heart to win the big games.
Except for that exceptional 1987 post-season, when the flu and a crucial dropped pass ended their Cinderella Story in the 4th quarter of the NFC Championship at RFK Stadium.
Who would I choose to coach them? If it had to be a Minnesota coach, I’d choose Bud Grant.