EDITOR’S NOTE: This well-written open letter to the Minnesota Vikings was penned by longtime Post Bulletin subscriber Steven Rowland of Chatfield. Mr. Rowland offers his frustration, which is shared by many Vikings fans, and opinions about his favorite football team. Enjoy!

Perhaps it is best to begin with some information about myself. My name is Steven Rowland, and I have lived in Chatfield most of my life. I attended the University of Minnesota in the late 60s, but did not graduate.

I have been a fervent Minnesota Vikings fan since they arrived into the National Football League. In fact, I have been a Minnesota Vikings fan since before any of the current players or coaches were even born!

I have attended games at Metropolitan Stadium and have been a season ticket holder at the Metrodome, TCF Stadium and currently at the fabulous U.S. Bank Stadium. I was a past President and part owner of Rowland Well Co., Inc., but retired as of Jan. 1, 2018.

I’ve been married to my wife Nancy since Jan. 29, 1977; son Greg and daughter Michelle are, and always will be, Minnesota Vikings fans! I am still working on my grandchildren, Amelia (3½) and Graham (1½). I have an engraved “Super Bowl Bound” paver near the Vikings ship. That is enough about me, as I actually want to talk about our Minnesota Vikings.

If you have ever been a Vikings “FAN” you certainly know what a disappointment it is, and, perhaps, this is true of any professional sports team. Disappointment is one thing, however, this year I am not disappointed but rather angry.

Please excuse my prose and my jumping from one thing to another; I am not a professional writer, I merely write from my battered heart. Last year, the Vikings started with a fantastic season of 13 wins and three losses. They had a great start in the playoffs and then they don’t “show up” in an embarrassing prime-time loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game.

UNMET EXPECTATIONS

Sure, the Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl, but I digress. Whatever happened to our “star-studded” NFL-leading defense? Statistics are a bench mark but results and wins are the only true gauge of success. So, as a Vikings fan, we learn — early on — to be disappointed and relegated to “there is always next year!”

This “next year” thing absolutely has to stop.

The Vikings came into the 2018 season as a favorite to make it to the Super Bowl. After all, they have the ownership, players and coaches to do just that, and moves were made to actually improve the team. They added an excellent quarterback upgrade in Kirk Cousins, got their fantastic running back, Dalvin Cook, back from injury, added Mike Hughes in the draft, and they added a few other pieces here and there.

Hey, they already had Latavius (Murray), Stefon (Diggs), Kyle (Rudolph), Danielle (Hunter), Adam (Thielen), Eric (Kendricks), Trae (Waynes), Pat (Elflein), Anthony (Harris), David (Morgan), Harrison (Smith), C.J., Everson (Griffen), Xavier (Rhodes), Linval (Joseph), Marcus (Sherels), etc. Obviously, we, as fans, went into the season with the highest expectations. We were rewarded with a lackluster 8-7-1 season. How is it possible that we sunk so low and out of the playoffs?

How is it possible that we can not even “show up” for a prime-time game? Where did our stifling defense go for the 2018 NFC championship game as well as most of this season? Why is it VERY SELDOM that we can even beat a team north of a .500 winning percentage? Why are we unable to show our fans that we can “Defend the North” in a must-win — win and get into the playoffs — game at our home, U.S. Bank Stadium?

I do not blame our new quarterback ‘Captain Kirk.’ Unfortunately our offensive line, due to multiple injuries, was unable to give him a reasonable amount of time to get the play off. No, I blame our beloved coach, Mike Zimmer, Mr. (Rick) Spielman and ultimately Zygi (Wilf).

I have always defended Mike Zimmer due to his defensive genius, often seen in his illustrious career. Sure, his clock management is ludicrous, but I still think he may be able to get it together for the 2019 campaign.

HOLD THE COACH, GM ACCOUNTABLE

Mr. Zimmer MUST be a coach of our whole Minnesota Vikings team and not just the defense!

The offensive coordinator does, in fact, work for Zim and must be held accountable if Zim feels a change is needed.

Seriously, Zim, you waited far too long to get rid of our previous offensive coordinator who lacked the ability to think outside the box and call a game that was not very predictable.

OK, so the offensive line is injured. Why not actually use our fantastic running backs, Cook or Murray? Perhaps try some screens or short, quick passes to keep the opposing defense on their heels ... similar to what other teams constantly do to us?

I know it is a wildly out there theory, but maybe take a page from the Bears head coach Mr. (Matt) Nagy?

I am angry about what has happened to this star-studded team that can’t seem to get out of its own way. These players are the best of the best and must be put in better situations to succeed and exhibit their immense talent.

They make MILLIONS of dollars during their careers, and they MUST be held accountable. They must show their excellent character and commitment to their community, which happens to be the only area where our Minnesota Vikings actually have excelled!

We, the taxpayers, built them (and Zygi and Co.) a world-class stadium as their home. Not to mention, a brand-new TCO Performance Facility has been built for their practice and mini-camps that, again, is world class.

We, as diehard Viking fans who bleed purple realize that these players and coaches are not machines, but we deserve much more. We support them through the place kicker wars, that, apparently may have finally been dealt with.

We, as regular people work all of our lives to be able to feed, clothe and house our families. We don’t make millions of dollars, but for the most part, we get the job done. We must expect excellence from the players whose job is to play football at the highest level as possible. Quite frankly, our Minnesota Vikings have failed in an epic way for too many years.

Do other organizations have better facilities to hone their talents? Do they possess football knowledge not available to us? Do they have better players than we do? Are they just LUCKIER than us? Do they cheat without getting caught? Do they have more money to spend on players? Do they have more fan support to tip the scales? Do they have a crystal ball to prepare them for future games?

Or do they demand more competence, dedication and accountability from the management, coaches and players? My opinion is that the final question above is what this organization really needs.

They must do a much better job from the absolute top to the very bottom of the organization. Mr. Zimmer must coach the whole team, not just the defense. He has to lend his formidable expertise to both the offense and the defense while continuing to evolve in his management and knowledge of this game we all love.

Mr. Spielman must address the offensive line because it is truly OFFENSIVE! This is an area that Mr. Spielman and Zim have obviously ignored for the last two years. Why? Is it because they are not on the defense?

Yes, I am angry because the time of disappointment must be in the rear-view mirror. Zygi and Mark (Wilf), you absolutely must demand excellence and accountability from everyone, including yourselves, if the Minnesota Vikings are to make it past the “also ran” reputation that they have owned for almost 60 years. Your people must absolutely believe in this team as much as the fans that have supplied unquestioning and almost fanatical support for a team that means so much to us, as well as the wonderful State of Minnesota, the MINNESOTA VIKINGS!

I will turn 70 years of age in June. I have put away a little cash, here and there, for many, many years, to be able to attend a Super Bowl to watch the Minnesota Vikings compete at the highest level in football. I could be gone tomorrow and never have been able to witness that dream. Pretty sad and probably pathetic that I maintain this wish, but if these Minnesota Vikings can get it together, perhaps I may realize my dream before I end up on the wrong side of the grass.

Hey, it’s easy to sit back, “armchair quarterback” as it is, and throw stones. It is time for us to throw boulders instead, to wake this organization up. We must demand the same dedication, excellence and accountability that we have, each and every day, to be successful in our own underpaid lives.

Mr. Spielman, Mr. Zimmer, all the other team personnel and players, it is way past time for you to do your job and release our Minnesota Vikings from the mediocrity that we have wallowed in for almost six decades. No more excuses will be allowed. Injuries? Next man up! Bad luck? Get over it. Harsh weather? Train and dress for it. Outside influence and problems? Concentrate on your job. Let’s put in the work and show the rest of the WORLD that we, the Minnesota Vikings, can and will defend the North and will rise to the pinnacle of the NFL that the fans have deserved for many years.

I will always LOVE these Minnesota Vikings and cheer them on until my last breath. Perhaps you feel I have been too critical, but fortunately I have toned down this letter from the immediate aftermath of our final game of the season. As Spock would say, “I have been and always will be your friend”…. PLEASE do not continue to let down your extremely dedicated fans and right the ship!

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