Herald Journal Columns
September 11, 2006, Herald Journal / Enterprise Dispatch

Vikings’ fans remember Washington

By Matt Kane

Put the women and children to bed, it’s purple and gold time.

What’s that? Tonight’s Vikings game against the Redskins starts at 6 p.m. Central Standard Time?

Well, then nudge the wife and wake the kids, and have them put on their best Helga helmets and purple jerseys — current or throwback style, we don’t care — so they are ready for some football.

Even though they seem to flush our hopes and dreams away like yesterday’s lunch come December, the Vikings are still the biggest show on FieldTurf in Minnesota.

But fans must wait six days before the turf show begins at the Metrodome against Carolina.

Tonight, the Vikings are in the nation’s capital to play the Washington Redskins.

The more recently inducted Vikings followers might think of the names Clinton Portis, Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El when they think of the Washington Redskins, but, for those of us who have a few decades of NFL and Vikings football-watching under our enlarging belts, surnames like Theismann, Monk, Riggins, Green and Williams come to mind.

True Vikings fans would love to forget a number of these former Redskins.

Especially Art Monk, Darrell Green and Doug Williams from the list I mentioned.

These four players donned the burgundy and gold in the 1980s, more specifically — Minnesota fans might want to sit down for this — Jan. 17, 1988, during the NFC championship game.

If you remember, the Vikings were down by seven points late in the fourth quarter at RFK Stadium, and, from the Washington six-yard line, Minnesota couldn’t put the ball in the end zone. The big play of the drive was a dropped pass by Darrin Nelson near the goal line. The Redskins held on to win the game 17-10, and went on to beat Denver 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII.

Look on the bright side. If the Vikings would have made it to the Super Bowl and lost, it would have been the fifth time the franchise had done so. The Buffalo Bills would have had to make it one more time and lose, just to match Minnesota as the worst Super Bowl team in NFL history.

Okay, okay, I know, enough talk about the heart-breaking past. Tonight is a new season of Vikings football that starts with a clean slate.

If you are still whimpering over the 1988 playoffs, to cheer up, remember there is no Mike Tice on the sidelines this season.

He may have been good for a few quotes and sound bites for us media-folks, but his Herman Munster impression was getting old.

Now, the Vikings have someone who people describe as a no-nonsense — although the preseason NFL police blotter might disagree — coach, in Brad Childress.

Childress’ track record is impressive. As the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, he won four straight NFC East titles, and went to the Super Bowl.

But, then again, he was the offensive coordinator, not the head coach. And he had Donovan McNabb at quarterback, and, in 2004, the year the Eagles went to the Super Bowl, McNabb was throwing to a productive Terrell Owens.

This season, Childress must get the Vikings, a team that traded away its versions of Owens and McNabb (Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper) in consecutive seasons, to pick up a new system if it wants to win under him this season.

Having Brad Johnson should help with the transition. And Johnson is starting the season in a familiar place, Washington, D.C., where he played two seasons, one impressive, with the Redskins. He passed for 4,005 yards and 24 touchdowns in 1999.

If Johnson can put up those numbers this season, the Vikings have a real shot at playing in Miami Feb. 4, 2007. That’s the site and date of Super Bowl XLI.

And, if the Vikings bring home the Lombardi Trophy (like most of Red Sox nation did with Bill Buckner) Vikings fans will easily forgive Darrin Nelson.

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