What If: Sports

10/21/2006
The kick that spawned 1000 tales of woe.
Before the 2000 season Jon predicted a Ravens/Vikings Superbowl. He was one game off his prediction. Keep in mind neither team even had "dark horse" status before the season. The teams could not have been more "randomly" picked. To this day it still remains one of the most impressive feats of sports prognostication.
Randy Moss, headed for the Pacific. Those of us who knew him best talk about him often. I swear the stuff he pulled. Sometimes it makes me sad, though, Randy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright and when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice, but still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my wide receiver.
Troy Glaus's homerun off JC Romero may have done the Twins' miracle season in.
I don't know if this is a picture or a drawing or what. Someone help me out here.
What if he stayed in black and red?
No, this is not me wanting to take the place of the entertaining, although fairly ridiculous, whatifsports.com. Rather, this is the first of what I hope to be a host of articles based on curiosity and wild speculation.

The format of the articles is as follows: I'll list a number of things I would like to see changed and take a stab at a potential new outcome of that change. Wanting to know the alternate outcome of something DOES NOT necessarily mean I would prefer the alternate outcome, it just means I'm curious. In this case my "what ifs" will be sports themed, and in this case I'd prefer most of the outcomes.

I hope you all join me with some of your own. Here's the catch though: You have to be as specific as possible with the event that would start the chain reaction to vastly alter history. "I wonder what would happen if the Twins beat the A's in the 2006 ALDS" isn't specific enough. "I wonder what would've happened if Torii Hunter doesn't give up a 2 run inside the park home run on a risky dive" is. I think you understand.

Anyway here we go:

What if Gary Anderson makes the field goal in the 1998 Vikings-Falcons NFC Championship?

I think Gary sort of gets an unfair shake in many ways with this kick. The kick has taken on such a lore you would swear that the Vikings were down 2 points with 1 second on the clock, do or die time, and Anderson managed to kick the ball straight sideways. In reality it would have just iced the game, and missed by nanometers up above the left upright. The Falcons still had to tie the game with a last minute touchdown and the Vikings still got the ball 2 times in overtime. Make no mistake though, that kick would have sealed the game.

The Vikings would have taken their once in a lifetime season to the Superbowl and would have had a good shot at winning it. The Falcons looked like a high school team against the Denver Broncos, the Vikings made a season out of making teams look like preschoolers. Would us Viking fans have gotten the monkey off our back? Would John Elway have retired if he lost that Superbowl?

What if the Vikings went without radio communications during 2000 NFC Championship 41-0 loss to the Giants?

Since we're not on this subject
I don't know if the subject has been specifically addressed on this site, but let me put this out on the Interwebs. The 2000 NFC Championship loss was about 100 times less painful then the 1998 Championship loss to Viking fans. People not in the know see the 2 games, see that they were both for a trip to the Superbowl, see 41-0, and assume Vikings fans must be tormented by that game more than the closer 1998 game.

To that I say this: Viking fans aren't stupid. We knew that we were playing beyond our means in 2000 and that no matter how far we went it was gravy. We knew we were that pesky team in the playoffs that was shaking things up and just might keep on sneaking through. In 1998 we were the team.

No one would listen to the argument that the 1998 Vikings deserve to be in the mention of greatest teams ever. So much emphasis is put on who happens to be standing on top of the pile when the dust settles, even though those same people will argue the "any given Sunday" aspect of football aspect makes it great. We all know that the Steelers weren't the best team in the NFL last year. For some reason though 5 years from now trying to make the argument they weren't will be considered ridiculous. They won it all, how could they not be?

The "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams and Peyton Manning's Colts have gone on season long point scoring fits and as week 16 rolls around I'll think to myself "Uh, oh. I wonder how close they are to breaking the Viking's scoring record?" I check and end up laughing, then being depressed every time. Know why? Because they aren't even close. Not even a little. Not even if they had the 2 highest scoring single games in NFL history to wrap it up. I think about that and the fact that we had the #6 defense behind that unprecedented offense and it makes me sad almost 10 years later. I got over the 2000 season 10 days later. 2000 was fun, 1998 was destiny, and we are haunted by it still.
I'm not outright calling the Giants cheaters. However, it should be noted that almost immediately following the game insurmountable evidence surfaced that the Giants were listening to the Vikings' communications throughout the game. (Also, they supposedly did so during their Eagles game)

The allegations weren't just a few Vikings related message boards either. There were national sports writers addressing the issue. The league even addressed the issue. Although, they addressed it by saying they weren't going to address it. It should be noted though that they didn't dismiss the claims. Tagliabue basically said "Unfortunately it probably happens all the time."

The thing about it is that they were like the kid who cheated a little too well on a test in class. The kid who was struggling to pass tests at all and then got 102%, including the extra credit question that got half cut off by the copy machine. If the Vikings blitzed they ran the perfect counter blitz play. If the Vikings ran they played run, if they passed they played pass.

Whether or not they cheated is a moot point. This is my "what if" list and I would be curious to see what would happen if the Vikings stopped giving them an opportunity.

The Vikings, though already outplaying their true talent level, matched up well against the Ravens and could have taken that Super Bowl. Would the media be ranting and raving about the Baltimore D, and Ray Lewis in particular, as much if that happened?

What if the Vikings didn't trade Randy Moss?

I was really depressed when the Vikings traded Randy Moss. I thought the addition via subtraction argument was moronic. Not only in this instance, but I think you would have a hard time making the case for any attitude based example for addition via subtraction in the sports world. People can pontificate all they want about the TO-less Eagles and how much better off they are. It's clear as can be looking at the stats that that claim just isn't true.

Here's the thing that doesn't get enough play when it comes to stellar receivers. They change the game regardless of whether or not they touch the ball. Did the Vikings ever truly have as good of a running game as it looked like they did during Moss's tenure? I suspect the fact that 3 guys kept Moss occupied, and started every play 20 yards off the ball helped everything else flow a little more smoothly.

Would Culpepper still be a Viking if Moss never left? Would they still be putting up numbers together? Will this trade have as big of an effect on history as the Herschel Walker trade? Does the Walker trade deserve its own "What If?"

What if J.C. Romero didn't give up a homerun to Troy Glaus in the 2001 Angels-Twins ALCS

To be honest I don't remember if this was the "closest" of the games the Twins lost during this series. All I know is that if they took game 3 the series would have gone back to the Dome, and who knows what happens from there? The "Contraction" Twins could have come out of no where to be the World Series champs. That would have made for quite the story. Thankfully either way the story didn't end with contraction.

What if Drew Pearson got flagged for offensive pass interference in the 1975 NFC Championship Game?

It's a cruel twist of fate that not only have the Vikings lost 4 Superbowls, but that perhaps their best two teams didn't even have a chance to even do that. In 1975 the Vikings went 12-2 after starting 10-0. They had the #4 Offense and the #1 Defense. They outscored their opponents 2:1.

The Vikings led the playoff game in question 14-10. The Cowboys found themselves with 44 seconds left on the clock and 4-16 from their 25, no time outs remaining.

Roger Staubach threw a pass to Drew Pearson who came down out of bounds. Dallas was awarded a pushout as it was ruled Nate Wright had nudged Pearson out of play.

With 24 seconds left Staubach threw what came to be known as the "Hail Mary." It was a 50 yard desperation bomb, again to Pearson. Pearson shoved Viking DB Nate Wright and bobbled the ball before managing to pin the ball between his elbow and hip.

Despite the Vikings' protest the play stood. The game was stopped after a referee was hit in the head by a rogue whisky bottle. Fran Tarkington would find out after the game that his father had suffered a heart attack during the game. Many speculated the non call had actually caused the heart attack.

Years later Pearson admitted to Vikings runningback Chuck Foreman that he did in fact, and intentionally for that matter, push off.

What if T.O. drops the Touchdown pass in the 1998 Packers-49ers Playoff game?

Many people believe that this is the moment that made Terrell Owens T.O. Prior to the game winning catch Owens had been dropping passes left and right. He had been absolutely killing his team all day. One has to wonder what it would have done to his ego if he got open and dropped that game winning touchdown. Can one play make a player into a "Superstar" or send them into oblivion? Who knows, but I would be curious to find out.

If Owens drops that pass (or the refs see Rice fumble the ball with his knees approximately 10 feet off the ground) the Packers win that game. They would have gone to Atlanta. Maybe they win, maybe Jamal Anderson or Chris Chandler get hurt. Maybe the Packers come to the dome for a 3rd and final drubbing of the season and Gary's kick doesn't take place at all.

What if Kirby Puckett doesn't get hit in the head by a pitch?

September 28, 1995, Dennis Martínez's pitch hit Kirby Puckett in the head knocking him to the ground. Kirby would suffer a broken jaw and a burst blood vessel in his mouth. The amount of blood at the scene was reportedly "unbelievable." It was the last regular season pitch of his career.

He tore it up during the following spring training until he awoke one morning with a large dark spot in one eye that would later be diagnosed 20/200. The doctors claim the two incidents are unrelated but it certainly couldn't have helped. My Dad was very upset when it happened because 3 of the bigger risks for glaucoma are, being Male, being black, and having trauma to the eye. Glaucoma screening should be a regular test anyway, let alone factoring in the recent eye trauma. It should have occurred to someone to check. (Glaucoma is treatable, so obviously they didn't catch it.)

Kirby could have gone on to play many more years. That gets said a lot, but I don't think people really put it into the proper context. Cal Ripken played 20 years. That would put Puckett's retirement in 2004. Mark McGuire played 15 years - that would be 1999. In other words it wouldn't be too inconceivable to put Puckett on that 2001 "contraction team". Makes you doubt the word contraction would have been brought up regarding the Twins at all.

Those who knew Puckett well said that he changed after that pitch. He was depressed and let his health deteriorate. Makes you wonder where he'd be now if he just retired a couple years ago.

What if Brett Favre Stayed A Falcon?

I've tried to focus on events that would have a large, direct, cause and effect. The "make or break" singular events that would have had a clear singular, different outcome. Whether the alternate outcome is assured or speculation is a moot point. So I haven't spent a lot of time going over "butterfly effects," that was somewhat on purpose. In this case I'm going to digress a bit.

I think it would be really cool to see how the NFL would look right now if Favre stayed put in Atlanta. First off obviously Green Bay Packer history would be drastically different. I couldn't even take a stab at who would be Quarterbacking there. If Favre did stay in Atlanta there's no guarantee he ever would have seen the light of day. He was a cocky disruption who partied too much (missing the team photo because he was out too late the night before) and who's only role on the team seemed to be the running butt of Jerry Glanville's jokes. (If there is a hell, and for some reason Glanville ends up there, he should be forced to watch one short clip repeatedly. The clip of him telling Favre, in full view of the rest of the team, there would need to be 'three train wrecks, a car accident, and a plane crash' before he would play. You may be hard pressed to find a clip that a coach comes off as a bigger jackass at the time, and a bigger moron when history has run its course. It also makes you wonder what sort of inefficient system the Falcons used to get their players to games.)

In fact, if you think about it, it isn't really a stretch to think it's a possibility for him to not have been traded to the Packers. If anything it's a stretch to think it DID happen. If a GM today pulled the trigger on a #1 pick for a jackass, party animal, 3rd string QB, who then failed the physical he would be on the street before the ink was dry.

Let's say for the sake of argument Favre did have a similar career in Atlanta to his one in Green Bay. Would Vick be a Charger and LT be a Falcon? Where would that put Rivers and Brees? If you then take into account the fact that teams would most likely have drastically different draft picks in the first place the league could look like shuffled deck of cards.



I think I'll stop there, it's been fun. I'd really love to see some of your own (or taking mine and running wild with them.) Until next time.

-Jeremy Lindgren wonders 'What if he hadn't spent hours writing this article?'
2887.gifAlex - I don't need to get steady I know just how I feel
10/17/2006 @ 12:24:40 PM
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What if TO drops the ball in the Packers-49ers playoff game in 1998?

No one is too suprised because TO is a talented guy but has a tendancy to drop easy catches. He goes on to have himself a Randy Moss like career (you know, runs over someone in San Fran and gets traded to the Raiders never to be heard from again).

Steve Young is so upset that he has a non-impact concussion on the spot and retires then instead of 3 games into the next season.

The first what if on this page reads "Gary Anderson makes the field goal in the 1998 Vikings-Packers NFC Championship?" The Packers go on to get sweet revenge against Denver 31-28.

The Packers decide that Ron Wolf is about to abandon them anyway, so they give Holmgren the GM duties in addition to head coach. Holmgren, Favre, and Shaun Alexander lead the Packers to 3 more Super Bowl wins, all against the Patriots.
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8968 Posts
10/21/2006 @ 01:56:18 AM
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Note: Alex's previous comment was made after my unfinished article was leaked and before he knew that I did plan to mention the T.O. play.
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matt.jpgMatt - Nutcan.com's MBL
10/21/2006 @ 07:35:39 PM
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Last year (2005) there was a little discussion in the comments section of the week 14 NFL picks, about what would have happened if the Packers had drafted Barry Sanders. Since it applies here as well, I'll repost my take here:

The Packers draft Sanders in '89. The next year (1990) the combined weapons of Barry Sanders and Sterling Sharpe help backup QB Anthony Dilweg to shine in relief of an injured Don Majkowski who is released at the end of the season. In 1991 the Packers (under Dilweg/Sanders/Sharpe) go 12-4 and win the Super Bowl. They repeat the next year with a 14-2 regular season record and win 2 more titles before the decade is out (1995, 1997). Dilweg, while never Montana/Marino/Elway great, is good enough (think Phil Simms) and goes onto a Hall of Fame career.

Sterling Sharpe doesn't injure his neck and plays a full Hall of Fame career. He is considered by many to be the 3rd best receiver of all time (Rice, C.Carter) when all is said and done, and people refer to Shannon as Sterling's little brother.

Barry Sanders never has a reason to want out of football and goes on to obliterate Walter Payton's All-Time rushing record, amassing over 20,000 yds and 175 TDs in his career. He is rightly considered, far and away, the Greatest Running Back of All-Time (screw Jim Brown). Needless to say he joins Dilweg and Sharpe in Canton.
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scott.jpgScott - Ma'am, can you make sure your computer is turned on?
10/23/2006 @ 09:53:58 AM
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The Brett Favre thing: Reggie White never would have been a Packer. And the Packers would have been forced to move to Milwaukee.
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Scott screwed with this at 10/23/2006 9:55:06 am
scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
10/23/2006 @ 09:56:28 AM
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I'm curious why Sharpe doesn't injure his neck? Is this related to Favre being a Packer?
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scott.jpgScott - Ma'am, can you make sure your computer is turned on?
10/23/2006 @ 09:58:40 AM
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Oh nevermind, Matt's was a Sans Favre comment.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - Robots don't say 'ye'
10/23/2006 @ 10:02:14 AM
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Well it has reached the point where Favre may as well just stab his recievers and get it over with. They drop like flies. I'm thinking it's the constant jump balls that leave the receivers hanging up in the middle of the field.

I actually was going to bring up tht Reggie White may never have come, but I forgot to by the time I actually got down there.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
10/23/2006 @ 10:06:25 AM
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The Sanders scenario of Matt's has potential, plus it leads to a possitive result (Sanders and Sharpe being 2 of the best at their position all-time). Favre not coming though leads to just more losing.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
10/23/2006 @ 11:37:31 AM
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What if Andre Dyson had made it that extra yard? or about a foot for that matter. First Overtime game ever? Or would the rams have blocked the extra point?

What if the Jews in Florida had correctly voted for Gore rather than mistakenly voted for Pat Buchannon in 2000.

What if Bill Clinton hadn't had an affair with the intern. Or even better, what if he simply just admitted to it under oath? Would it even be that big of in issue today? Or is the issue more so that he lied under oath than what he lied about?

What if Bart Starr slipped on the goalline play that lead to the Ice Bowl victory. Or, what if the officials had called a false start on the right guard for the Packers who jumped a split second early on that very same play?

What if NutCan never came to be. Where would we all be now?
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newalex.jpgAlex - 3618 Posts
10/23/2006 @ 12:38:16 PM
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What if the Music City Miracle never happened?

Most likely, Scott would never have referred to Kevin Dyson as Andre Dyson.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - Pie Racist
10/23/2006 @ 01:05:23 PM
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Andre Dyson is an actual player though. He's a CB on the Jet's and is Kevin's little brother.

I'm also assuming he meant "First overtime Superbowl ever"
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - Robots don't say 'ye'
10/23/2006 @ 01:19:38 PM
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I'm also assuming he didn't mean to jump the gun on the non sports "What If's"
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
10/24/2006 @ 01:03:48 PM
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St. Louis 1999- PF 609; PA 301
Vikings 1998 - PF 624; PA 347

St. Louis was close. Also, from 1999 through 2001, St. Louis Averaged 590.33 points per season. The Vikings from 1998 through 2000 averaged 506 points per season. The Packers from 1995 through 1997 averaged 513.67 points per season. So not only is St. Louis' "Greatest show on turf" a well deserved title, the Vikings aren't even in 2nd in my "rule of three" example here. Their unbelievable year was impressive nonetheless, but one year probably doesn't merit a title like "Greatest Show on Turf."

My source
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
10/24/2006 @ 01:11:46 PM
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Broncos 1996-1998; 533.33 points per season
Bills 90-92; 521 pps

Upon re-reading your segment on this, I realize that you aren't really complaining about the lack of notice for the Vikings, just that the Vikings should have won based on their rediculous dominance of that season. But I still feel it is my duty to add insult to any injury incurred by a rival:) Plus, it's fun manipulating stats!
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Scott perfected this at 10/24/2006 1:12:06 pm
fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - No one's gay for Moleman
10/24/2006 @ 01:29:48 PM
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I also never implied the Rams didn't deserve the "Greatest show on turf" title. Just that with a couple weeks left in the season I'd think to myself "Man they MUST have passed that record by now." and they weren't even close.

I didn't realize how close they actually did come in the end though.
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question_mark.gifDan (Disgruntled Vikings Fan) (Guest)
12/21/2006 @ 12:32:14 PM
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Unfortunately, I have been a Vikings fan now for over 37 years, and I have missed watching maybe 5 games during that stretch, (most of those misses during the Tes (oops, I mean Les) Steckel season.

So needless to say, I know a thing or 2 about disapointment and suffering, and especially the haunting question "What if?".

But no matter what, one thing that is certain though is that when it comes to the Vikings, no matter how good they may look any given season, no matter how many points they might score, what their overall record is, whatever... will in the end ALWAYS do the worst possible thing, at the worst possible moment.

Whether it passing on Marcus Allen in the 1982 draft in favor of "Disco Darren" Nelson, or trading the franchise for a fat, slow, 3.4 yd per carry looser like Herschel friggin Walker which essentially resulted in handing the Cowboys a Superbowl dynasty, or the "brilliant" Denny Green deciding to stop the most potent offense in NFL history by taking a knee on 3rd down (when, incidentally they had been moving the ball very effectively in that drive and all season)to force overtime against the Falcons in 98', or trading Moss for a "oh so fast" draft pick that can't even catch the goddamn ball, instead of trading up for QB Jay Cutler, (or at the very least a receiver who can catch,) or passing on Warren Sapp, or Jevon Kearse, while opting for "stars" like Demitrius Underwood... you name it. If there's a way to choke in a critical situation, they will find it... Every time.

But above and beyond all that, all the miscues, fumbles, and bad decisions that the Vikings have built their legacy on, the one thing that still makes me nearly vommit when I think about it, is the Drew Pearson push off in the NFC Championship, in the play that has since that time been labled "The Hail Mary".

As much as I respected (and feared) Roger Stabauch, to this day I still despise "America's Team", because of all the Vikings teams that could have won the Superbowl, ...that was it, and that was OUR YEAR.

Indeed, "What if"?? What if the ref had made that interference call? What if we had drafted Jevon Kearse or Warren Sapp? What if the Vikings hadn't knelt down? What if Gary Anderson hadn't shanked the field goal? What if Oscar Reed hadn't fumbled on the 4 yd line? What if we had taken Emmet Smith instead of trading 3 years of our draft picks for Herschel Walker? What if I were a Steelers fan?

Yes, those are powerful words: "What if"
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - The pig says "My wife is a slut?"
12/22/2006 @ 04:39:56 PM
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Thanks for the comment Dan.

There could be an entire "What if" article based only around the number of things that had to have gone wrong for the Vikings to lose that game in 1998.
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