The Vikings’ heartbreak continues

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The second highest scoring offense in National Football League (NFL) history failing to make the Super Bowl 1998. A prolific scoring attack led by Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss losing to the New York Giants 41-0 in the 2001 playoffs. Blair Walsh missing a twenty-seven yard field goal wide left in January of 2016. Reaching four Super Bowls in seven years, and losing every single one; the Minnesota Vikings and its fans have seen it all in the franchise’s fifty-five years. Well versed in playoff failures, the Vikings recently experienced a new kind of heartbreak––one that was completely out of their control.

On August 30, 2016, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater strutted onto the practice field feeling more confident than ever. Just two days earlier, Bridgewater completed twelve of sixteen passes for 160 yards in two quarters, en route to a 23-10 victory over the San Diego Chargers in the third game of the preseason.

While still an exhibition game, the third preseason game is considered a dress rehearsal for the regular season, as most starters will play significant time for both teams. For Bridgewater, it was even more important, as he attempted to go from a quarterback who didn’t take risks and kept his team in games, to a quarterback who can go out and win a game based on outstanding individual performance.

Bridgewater certainly looked the part: throwing a perfectly placed sideline out route to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and later—on the same offensive drive—zipping a 27-yard pass between two defenders and into the hands tight-end Kyle Rudolph for a touchdown. Everything was going perfect for the Vikings––too perfect, it seemed.

Two days after that glorious preseason victory––which was the first football game held in the new U.S. Bank Stadium––Teddy Bridgewater took a routine three-step drop in practice, but crumpled to the ground in the process. Something was very wrong.

My Minnesota Vikings are cursed. I’m so devastated.”

— Nathanael Ashton-Piper

Bridgewater’s left knee dislocated, causing what was later identified as a complete tear of his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and other structural damage. “Source confirms tibiofemoral dislocation, ruptured ACL for Bridgewater. ‘Trainers may have saved his leg and career by quick action,’” injury expert Will Carroll said on Twitter. Bridgewater suffered a tibiofemoral dislocation; moreover, his femur misaligned with his tibia.

The Vikings and its fans were heartbroken once again––but this was different. With a defense that’s been built up by head coach Mike Zimmer to punish opposing offenses, the Vikings were entering the Super Bowl conversation. Still, though, they needed consistent play at the quarterback position.

Teddy Bridgewater ended what was a revolving door at quarterback––and was poised to have a breakout year. Since 2006, the Vikings have started twelve different quarterbacks, but over the last two years, Bridgewater has been the team’s starter.

Contrary to other NFL teams without a Super Bowl victory, the Vikings are a team with top notch management, medical staff, and scouting and drafting personnel. That’s what makes being a Vikings fan so tough.

Teams like the Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, and Detroit Lions are poorly managed, don’t draft well, and aren’t in the Super Bowl conversation year after year. Three times in the last twenty years, the Vikings have reached the National Football Conference (NFC) championship game, and each time they’ve lost in gut-wrenching fashion – failing to make it to the Super Bowl.

“My Minnesota Vikings are cursed. I’m so devastated,” I tweeted that back on August 30, and perhaps it’s true. Maybe the football Gods hate us, maybe it’s just our own bad luck, or maybe we are just a team that chokes in big moments. Regardless, it’s looking like we will have to wait a couple more years for the coveted Lombardi Trophy. In the meantime, all Vikings fans can do is continue to support the team and have faith in the process.