MINNEAPOLIS - In six days, Vikings fans went from planning playoff parties to pure panic.
Why do Vikings fans immediately go to that dark place after one loss?
"I think that is just pure past. It's the history," said Dr. Justin Anderson, the founder of Premier Sport Psychology in Edina.
Oh, what, this history?
- Super Bowl 4: 23-7 loss to the Chiefs
- Super Bowl 8: 24-7 loss to the Dolphins
- Super Bowl 9: 16-6 loss to the Steelers
- Super Bowl 11: 32-14 loss to the Raiders
Thanks for reminding us, Dr. Anderson, you sports psychologist specializing in performance and leadership.
"One of the reasons why breaking cultures or breaking slumps for teams that have had previous poor history of performances is because there is all of these limiting beliefs about the team. And, unfortunately, the Minnesota Vikings have snakebit so many Minnesotans - being a fan of the team for so many years, I can attest to this - you just become, 'Well, here we go again,'" said Anderson.
Sure, but after Sam Bradford finished off the Saints with three touchdowns last week, what could go wrong?
-Oh, what, Bradford missed practice?
-Oh, what, he had to have an MRI on the same knee he had two major surgeries on?
-Oh, what, now he's hurt?
"A lot of times we see athletes that have had injuries in the past tend to nurse that injury a little bit more and protect it a little bit more," said Anderson.
Bradford set an NFL record last year for completion percentage in a single season, yet the Vikings did not extend his contract. Could that affect this situation with an athlete?
"I think the thing you'll see in the Pro's is that those guys have to look out for themselves. And, they do. And, especially if they're not protected, they don't have a contract after this year, my guess is that he's getting information from those around him that are helping him make some of those situations that are saying - 'Hey, be careful out there because this is an important year for you, and if you really are injured don't play through it,'" said Anderson.
How would that go over with his teammates?
"Football is still one of those old school, be tough, be tough, play through pain, because most of those guys are coming out of every game with some really pretty significant ailment. It's pretty amazing how banged up these guys get. So, when they see somebody not playing or potentially not playing, it shakes things up," said Anderson.
Could that explain Mike Zimmer's surly-ness after Sunday's loss to the Steelers?
"Often times we see behind the scenes there's a lot more going on than what gets reported to the press, or what gets reported to the media. And so I think coaches have to walk that fine line of protecting that personal health information, as well as trying to be transparent, and sometimes I think they miss on that. And then when they get called on that over and over again, my guess is that he meets that with a defensiveness of sort of, 'Hey, back off,'" said Anderson.
But the weight of this franchise is heavy; those four Super Bowls losses, and since then four more heartbreaking NFC Championship losses in 1987, 1998, 2000 and 2009.
That's why today, one loss feels like a lost season - and it makes us so angry.
"Winning a Super Bowl would be the easiest way to break that. I think when you have a certain amount of personality on the team that can break that tradition, create a different culture, create a different way of interacting with the community, I think that can break it," said Anderson.