During the 2009 regular season, nine games into it, Minnesota Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf was so excited about the 8-1 start, he gave Head Coach Brad Childress a generous contract extension. The extension was generous for two reasons. Firstly, because the amount was reported to be between $4,000,000 and $5,000,000 a year for four years, and secondly, because Childress had exactly zero playoff victories to show for his first three seasons.
Given that the initial contract was not due to expire until after the 2010 season, the owner could have waited until after the 2009 season to decide on what type of extension to give, if even then. After the extension, the Vikings promptly went 5-4 (including post-season) over the next nine games. A team built to go to the Super Bowl; didn't.
The Vikings had nine players selected to the Pro Bowl, their AP Offensive Rookie of the Year not even being amongst them, their 40-year old future Hall of Fame quarterback had probably his best season ever, the defense led the NFL in sacks, the offense scored the second most points in the league, the schedule was the second easiest in the league, and the coach - largely due to a coaching blunder - failed to get them to the Super Bowl.
The Vikings failed to win a Super Bowl, because after driving the ball into field goal range to secure the NFC Championship, the coaching staff sent 12 men into the huddle following a timeout. Following a timeout! The ensuing penalty for having too many men in the huddle, took the Vikings out of field goal range to win it, and now the New Orleans Saints - a team the Vikings pushed all over the field that day - holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy. That all-elusive and coveted trophy, the Minnesota Vikings have yet to ever hold.
A team as loaded as the Vikings should not have come up short this year. They should not have gone 4-5 (including post-season) on the road. Battling for the top seed in the playoffs down the stretch, they could not afford to lose to a 5-8 Carolina Panthers team and a 5-9 Chicago Bears team. In fact, truth be told, the Vikings were...very fortunate (ok some would call it lucky), to escape with home wins against the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Does anyone really believe that if that NFC Championship Game is played in Minnesota instead of New Orleans, that the Vikings don't win that game by at least two touchdowns?
Blowing games against teams that should be beaten, ultimately comes down to a coach not getting the best out of his team. The Vikings being at, or near at their best week in and week out, should have wound up with the best record in the NFC, should have gone to Miami, and judging by the outcome, should have beaten the Indianapolis Colts to win their first Super Bowl.
The Vikings underachieved, they came up short. The man whose responsibilty it is to prevent underachievment, already received a generous contract extension after the first nine games of the season, perhaps the second nine games were a bit more revealing.