Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shrug and post

I had this mythology of timing built up in my head. The 1976 Minnesota Vikings went 11-2-1 in the regular season, and won their NFC playoff games by 15 and 11 points. They got to the Super Bowl, where they got throttled by the 13-1 Oakland Raiders, a team in the midst of five straight AFC Championship Game appearances. The 1977 Vikings weren't as good and missed the Super Bowl, where they would have faced the Denver Broncos, a team that got shellacked by the Cowboys and really wasn't a major playoff factor in the '70s outside of that one season. If the timing had been different, if the Viking decline didn't begin in '77, if the Vikings had peaked a year later, they could have been the ones shellacking Denver, right? Denver was a fluke Super Bowl team, right? That was the year they actually could have actually won, instead of all those other years playing the likes of Pittsburgh, Miami, and Oakland (that Kansas City upset and Drew Pearson's pushoff to cost the '75 Vikings a Super Bowl notwithstanding), right?

Well, funny things happen when you look at the numbers. The '77 Broncos were 12-2, featured the league's top run defense, and had some better internal numbers than the '76 Raiders (the '76 Raiders ranked 7th in point differential with 8.1 ppg, the '77 Broncos ranked 3rd with 9.0 ppg, the Raiders had 10.0 expected wins, the Broncos 11.4). Well, mightn't the Vikings gotten pummeled by the Broncos that year, too?

Why am I bothering to write this? Because I had a nice little post planned about the luck of timing, about cosmic hazard, and did a little research for it. I might have compared the Vikings to the Seattle Supersonics of the mid-90s (good records but lost in the first playoff round during both seasons of the Jordan vacuum, then busted through to the Finals during Jordan's return and the 72 win season--bad timing for peaking). Then I did a little research and my fun little post about Chronos fell to pieces all around me when I learned the '77 Broncos were good. If I were a paid columnist on a deadline, I might either go with the idea anyway (frame it the way I want, ignoring contradictory evidence), abandon the idea and call some contacts to see if I could build a column out of an interview (hey there, Minnesota player X, what's been different during Y?), or I'd bluster about something that's easy to bluster about. But my deadlines have to do with preparing syllabi for fall (just a few short steps away from being done), and I blog for amusement (either my own or yours, as long as somebody is entertained). So when my post idea falls apart around me, I just tell you about it.

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