What the Minnesota Vikings lack in championships, they deliver in entertainment and chaos.
The sentiment has proved true throughout the franchise’s history. A plethora of legendary coaches and players have come up just short of the ultimate prize. In between those few glimpses of excellence, countless unexplainable moments of disarray put this mid-market franchise on the national map more often than it should be.
The 2020 season, of course, is chaotic for everyone. Preseason games were canceled. Offseason team activities did not happen. Fans aren’t allowed in many stadiums and a seemingly everlasting list of safety protocols have been installed to slow the spread of a deadly virus that has firmly gripped the United States in a pandemic.
But on Tuesday morning, news broke that an NFL player had tested positive for COVID-19 for the first time in the regular season.
The Tennessee Titans, Minnesota’s Week 3 opponent, had eight members of the organization, including three players, test positive for the virus.
All Titans personnel will now be working remotely until Saturday at the earliest, pending more test results.
Due to contact tracing protocols instituted by the NFL, the Vikings have also shut down in-person operations out of an abundance of caution. Additionally, the status of Minnesota’s Week 4 game in Houston is uncertain as the team goes through the proper testing to ensure the virus has not entered the organization.
Reports say the Vikings will not re-enter their facilities until all of their COVID-19 test results come back negative.
The 2020 season isn’t even a quarter of the way through the season, and it’s already starting to resemble the infamous 2010 campaign. The circumstances were different, sure, but the uncertainty, the disarray and the disappointment are vivid in both seasons.
The current Vikings entered the 2020 season fresh off one of the most impressive playoff wins in the franchise’s history. Minnesota went on the road and defeated the New Orleans Saints in perhaps the toughest stadium in the league. The Vikings lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round, but they had put the league on notice.
One global pandemic and several key roster departures later, the Vikings entered this season a shell of their 2019 selves. They are 0-3 and look nothing like a playoff team.
Rewind 10 years, and the Vikings were just coming off one of the best seasons in the franchise’s history. Brett Favre quarterbacked the Vikings to the doorstep of a Super Bowl appearance before a heartbreaking loss at, ahem, the Superdome in New Orleans.
The following season could not have been more unpredictable. Injuries plagued the team early on, and a slow start was suddenly too much to overcome. Rifts blossomed between players and coaches. Minnesota traded for Randy Moss and then waived him after four games because he and the head coach didn’t get along. Shortly after that, said head coach was fired.
And of course, the Metrodome roof collapsed and left the Vikings without a stadium, forcing them to play one home game in Detroit and another home game at the University of Minnesota. Plus, a Week 16 date with Philadelphia was postponed two nights because of a massive snowstorm, and the Vikings played a Tuesday night game.
Through it all, the Vikings finished the 2010 season a disheartening 6-10.
The 2020 season already has a similar feel. Minnesota has been grossly disappointing through three weeks and is plagued by injuries. The presence of COVID-19 in the Titans organization has already thrown a wrench in Minnesota’s normal preparation schedule for this week’s matchup in Houston, and the very real possibility looms that the game will be rescheduled to another date.
In 2010, it didn’t take long for the vibe surrounding the Vikings franchise to be one of anticipation for the next nutty, weird, preposterous event. That same vibe is starting to build around the franchise now, and the Vikings fan base might as well buckle up and enjoy the roller coaster ride.