Those darn Dallas Cowboys have done it again, haven’t they?
They went and ruined the mood of many a Minnesota Vikings fan by signing Everson Griffen last week – in the midst of a pandemic no less.
Why would those scoundrels do such a thing to y’all? It’s like ‘dem Cowboys are always fixin’ to mess with Vikings fans. Of course, trolling the Vikings fan base (probably) isn’t really a top priority of the Cowboys. It just feels that way.
Hate is a strong word. So, rather than suggest that fans “hate” another team, I went with “despise” for the title of this particular article. It felt a little softer. I almost went with “loathe.” That would have worked as well. However, you should feel free to substitute your own feelings verb to describe your posture toward the Cowboys. You’re in the trust tree — a safe space to lean into your anger.
The Griffen signing triggered a lot of unresolved emotions in Vikings country – so, in an effort to do a little venting on behalf of the legions of Vikings fans that visit this here corner of the Interweb we call Zone Coverage, I came up with a list. It’s not unlike Arya Stark’s list in Game of Thrones. Only in this list, we’re not vowing to kill anyone. Rather, we’re just listing the transgressions of one entity (the Dallas Cowboys) against another (your Minnesota Vikings) as a means of dealing with the rage/sadness (again, use your own words).
You’ll either find this to be therapeutic or gut-wrenching, I’m not sure which. I’m not a trained therapist, nor do I play one on TV. And I don’t think I’ve ever stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. In other words, the list that follows may just make things worse. I’m not sure.
Whatever the case, here are the Top 10 reasons why Vikings fans really don’t like those mean Cowboys.
INSIDER SECRETS FROM QBS
Who likes a good conspiracy? For more than a decade, starting in the mid-1990s, the Cowboys made a practice of nabbing former Vikings quarterbacks under the guise of having them serve as backups. The real purpose was probably much more clandestine: The Cowboys likely wanted to shake them down for insider secrets from Winter Park. Allegedly. They wanted all the Vikings’ dirt: the playbooks, the signals, the play-calls, the tendencies and game plans. They probably even ultimately obtained compromising photos of prominent Vikings players from the Love Boat incident. We don’t really know. It’s all conjecture by various sources. And by various sources, I mean me.
Think about it — Wade Wilson spent 10 years with the Vikings (1981-1991). Then, following pit stops in Atlanta and New Orleans, Wilson spent three seasons with Dallas (1995-97) as a backup. Next, after Randall Cunningham left the Vikings following the 1999 season, where does he wind up? With the Cowboys in 2000. They even got Brad Johnson involved. Johnson spent seven total seasons over two stretches with the Vikings, from 1994-1998 and 2005-06. Immediately following that second stint with the Vikes, he signed with Dallas as their backup in 2007 and 2008. Of course! Who knows what kind of subterfuge resulted from these underhanded tactics by the Cowboys’ brass?
MARION THE BARBARIAN
In a crafty move that was less about conspiracy and more about taking “one of us” away, the Cowboys drafted Minnesota’s own Marian Barber III in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft right out from under the Vikings’ noses. “Marion the Barbarian,” as they called him, went to Wayzata High School and was a standout at the University of Minnesota, where his dad starred for the Golden Gophers more than two decades earlier. He went on to lead the Cowboys in rushing three straight seasons, from 2007-09 and was a Pro Bowler in 2007… along with Vikings rookie Adrian Peterson.
THE EVERSON GRIFFEN SIGNING
The latest incidence of Cowboys-on-Vikings “crime” comes in at number eight on our countdown. Griffen had a good season in 2019, though some would point out he faded down the stretch. Nevertheless, Mike Zimmer is a big fan and said he wanted him back. Many Vikings fans would have welcomed him back with open arms, too. Yet he signed a one-year contract worth $6 million with the Cowboys — a deal the Vikings would have been able to afford under their salary cap. Maybe not everyone at Vikings headquarters was keen on bringing Griffen back. Maybe Griffen wanted to turn the page. The Cowboys were eager to facilitate the separation.
THE 1996 WILD CARD GAME
In a game that many in these parts would just as soon forget, the Cowboys obliterated the Vikings 40-15 in the 1996 Wild Card Game. Led by Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, the Cowboys led 30-0 at halftime and then coasted in the second half. They probably even pointed at laughed at the Vikings’ sideline at some point. This was merely the precursor to the embarrassing 41-donut loss at the hands of the Giants in the NFC Championship Game four years later.
THEY’RE THE COWBOYS
Seriously, sometimes NFL fans – be they fans of the Vikings or any team – don’t even need a reason to dislike the Cowboys. They’re the Cowboys. Few people outside Dallas-Fort Worth truly like the self-proclaimed “America’s Team.”
STEALING THE NORTH STARS
Technically, the theft of the Minnesota North Stars was more about the awfulness of Norm Green. However, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Cowboys had something to do with the North Stars being stolen from the “State of Hockey” and moved to the puck hotbed of Dallas. It feels like something the Cowboys would have their hands in. Just because we can’t prove it doesn’t mean it’s not true. Let’s all agree they were involved in the larceny. Oh, and “Norm Green (still) sucks!”
TONY DORSETT’S 99-YARD TOUCHDOWN RUN
Everything about this was putrid. It happened during the final regular-season game of the strike-shortened 1982 season, on Jan. 3, 1983. It was broadcast on Monday Night Football, where the Vikings always seemed to save their most embarrassing moments for a national audience. It took place in the first season at the Metrodome, which was a dark, dingy-looking place on TV despite being brand new, and the field was an awful combination of bouncy, off-green turf with yard lines that weren’t painted on and partially worn away by the second half. It was gross. And then, with only 10 men on the field and the ball backed up their own goal line, the Cowboys handed off to Tony Dorsett, who sprinted past the Vikings’ defense for the first 99-yard touchdown run in NFL history. And now Vikings fans get to see this abomination every time they show all the great highlights in NFL history. Neat.
THE 1977 NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
The Vikings could have gotten to another Super Bowl, you guys. On Jan. 1, 1978, they met the Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game at Texas Stadium for the right to go to Super Bowl XII and play the Craig Morton-led Denver Broncos. It wasn’t the best Vikings team, but even without the injured Fran Tarkenton, they seemed every bit as good the Broncos that season. Alas, on New Year’s Day of 1978, the Cowboys easily handled the Vikings, beating them 23-6. The Vikings could only muster a pair of Fred Cox field goals that day. They wasted an iconic win over the Rams in “The Mud Bowl” in the Divisional Round to get to Dallas. And just like that, the Cowboys’ “Doomsday Defense” snuffed out the dreams of Vikings fans everywhere.
THE HERSCHEL WALKER TRADE
Oct. 12, 1989, is a day that will live in infamy with Vikings fans. A little more than a decade after the Cowboys prevented the Vikings from advancing to the Super Bowl, the Vikings made a trade with Dallas for what they thought would be the final piece to a Super Bowl roster. The Herschel Walker deal involved 18 players: Walker and four draft picks went to the Vikings; Darrin Nelson went to the Chargers… and four players plus eight draft picks went to the Cowboys. The draft picks fortified a Dallas franchise at its nadir while gutting the Vikings. The picks included the Vikes’ first and second-rounders in 1990, 1991 and 1992. The Cowboys turned those picks into Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Darren Woodson and others in subsequent deals. Scholars maintain this remains the most lopsided trade in sports history.
THE HAIL MARY
The play for which the term “Hail Mary” became mainstream isn’t just the low-point in Vikings-Cowboys history, it might be the low-point in Vikings franchise history. We all know what happened by now. On Dec. 28, 1975, at good ol’ Metropolitan Stadium, the Vikings held a 14-10 lead over the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Game with 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter. From the shotgun, Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach heaved the ball 50 yards towards the corner of the end zone, where Drew Pearson clearly pushed off on Vikings corner Nate Wright and reeled in the underthrown pass for the win. It ended the season for what I consider to be the best Vikings team of all time.
Would they have gone onto win the rematch in Super Bowl X against the Pittsburgh Steelers? Vikings fans never found out… because of those dastardly Cowboys.