In an unprecedented move for the NFL, it was announced on a blustery cold winter's day in late February that the Super Bowl victory secured by the Minnesota Vikings throughout the 2012 campaign is to be negated because of improper officiating throughout the season by the NFL's replacement refs.
The shocking move effectively wipes out the greatest achievement in Minnesota Vikings history, returns their Super Bowl record to 0-4 all time, and breaks the hearts of tens of fans across three counties. In addition to the Super Bowl win being vacated, the entire NFL season has been wiped from the slate – wins, losses, stats, records, and everything else – essentially returning the New York Giants as NFL Champions as they were the last franchise to win the league on record.
This, all because of the replacement refs.
It unfortunately is now a story book season that never truly was for the Minnesota Vikings. Their first Super Bowl appearance since 1977, the Vikings won a picture perfect game over the Baltimore Ravens, 34-33. Second year quarterback Christian Ponder led the team to victory with his final drive with a minute left on the clock, while rookie kicker Blair Walsh's game winning field goal split the uprights with distance to spare, despite it being kicked from an amazing 65 yards out. Since the kick, "Super Blair" was given the key to the city of Minneapolis, a lifetime stool at famous Al's Breakfast, and was allowed to wed any farm daughter in Minnesota of the surrounding states. But like the NFL records, these accolades have since been revoked for the former-hero, too.
While the records will never show it, the Vikings battled hard to get to that memorable moment. Starting the season 2-1 after a memorable win over the San Francisco 49ers (a franchise which would cease to exist once the Mayan Calendar rumor came partly true and destroy parts of California, wiping San Francisco and Oakland into the sea, but keeping the NFL teams at an even number of 30 to continue the season), the team really found their strengths and rattled off impressive wins over the Lions, Titans, and Redskins, before they suffered a physical and emotional loss to the Arizona Cardinals in week seven. It was then that Antoine Winfield appeared to die on the Mall of America Field, during a horribly brutal game which the replacement refs continually failed to get under control. With Winfield out of commission, the Vikings lost only their second game on the year, but used his passing as a rallying cry. They continued to win while secretly petitioning NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to allow them to win an extra couple of games to appease the state, much like the NFL did with New Orleans in 2007. Wins against the Buccaneers, Seahawks, and Lions put the Vikings at 8-2 after 10 weeks, good for first in the division heading into their bye week.
It was in week 13 though, the Vikings first game against the Green Bay Packers, that the replacement refs truly hurt the Vikings. In a freak play, a defensive end who wears #69 for the Minnesota Vikings flew in for a sack against the Packers' quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who accidentally lost his helmet and started making out with the Vikings' defensive linemen. After several minutes of groping, fondling, and minimal penile penetration, the replacement refs finally decided to call an unsportsmanlike conduct foul on BOTH players (instead of just Rodgers), kicking the pair out of the game and for the remainder of the season. The Packers continued their disappointing slide, while the Vikings were lucky to be able to insert play maker Everson Griffen, who became the first NFL player allowed to play with his shirt off for the remainder of the year. His new sack record of 28 sacks, an amazing stat to accumulate since he was playing on limited time throughout most of the season, will also be wiped from the record.
However, the Vikings finished with a 12-4 record, good enough to get them home field in the playoffs, but not a first round bye. They played a hard fought game against the Giants, and eventually again the 49ers before finishing their remarkable season with a Super Bowl victory over the Baltimore Ravens. It was only after the Vikings had accepted their first Lombardi trophy that Antoine Winfield rolled to the podium in a wheel chair, surprising the team with his smile, despite it looking like he'd never be able to walk again. It was then that the team's franchise running back, Adrian Peterson, aka Purple Jesus, walked to Winfield, touch him gently, whispered a secret into his ear, and then ascended to the Heaven's as his promise of a Vikings Super Bowl victory was achieved. As everyone watched stunned, Winfield stood, bowed, and vowed to become the Vikings head coach until his death. While the ascendance of Purple Jesus cannot be called back, the declaration of Winfield's coaching promise has been vetoed by the league because of the replacement refs season long failures as well. On the plus side, he is alive and can still walk.
All in all, it is a devastating day for Vikings fans. But with the 2012 season redux just on the horizon, the team has no option but to get back to work, now with Toby Gerhart as their leading running back. Will they be able to find the same success they found in 2012, this time with real referees? Only time will tell.