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Lunchbreak: Hartman Revisits Coverage of 1969 Vikings for 50th Anniversary

Starting tonight and going through Sunday, the Vikings are hosting their annual Legends Weekend, during which they will host more than 100 players and coaches for a variety of festivities that will culminate with the Vikings-Raiders game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The weekend will include a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Vikings 1969 NFL Championship team. The team also is celebrating Fantennial, with multiple events in honor of the NFL's 100th season.

Minnesota defeated Cleveland in the final NFL Championship Game before the AFL-NFL merger. The Vikings then went on to face the Chiefs in Super Bowl IV and were defeated 23-7 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of that season, longtime reporter Sid Hartman for the Star Tribune resurfaced excerpts from a column he wrote following the Vikings first appearance in a Super Bowl. Hartman, who will turn 100 years old in March and predates the NFL, wrote the following:

The fact is that the Vikings were 12-point favorites and everyone thought they would dominate the Chiefs.

But in my column following that difficult Super Bowl loss, Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant, who was 42 years old then, told me that when he was game-planning for the Chiefs he knew they were going to be a big challenge.

"In probing the films of three games, we couldn't find a weakness in their defense," Grant said. "They have big, strong linemen, outstanding linebackers and a great secondary."

Hartman recapped the specifics of the game, during which the Vikings had multiple turnovers en route to the loss.

Just nine months later, the Vikings opened the 1970 season against the Chiefs and got what Hartman called "a small amount of revenge" with a 27-10 win.

"Today we proved that the defense of the 1960s can beat the offense of the 1970s," Grant told Hartman then. "We proved that we can play with the best of teams – including the Super Bowl champions."

The Vikings would go to three more Super Bowls under Grant — losing 24-7 to the Dolphins in 1974, 16-6 to the Steelers in 1975 and 32-14 to the Raiders in 1977.

The legacy of those Vikings teams has always been wrong. They're often considered unlucky or poor performers in big games, but the fact remains that only three head coaches in football history have taken their team to more Super Bowls than Grant did with the Vikings.

Those clubs were a dynasty for a decade, and it started in 1969.

Vikings 'in good hands' if Eric Wilson starts Sunday

It's never ideal when a starting player is dealing with an injury, but having a reliable reserve makes all the difference.

Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson started in place of Ben Gedeon, who has been dealing with a groin injury, at Green Bay in Week 2 and was ranked as the fifth-highest linebacker in Week 2 by analytics site Pro Football Focus. Gedeon remained on the Vikings injury report this week; fellow linebacker Anthony Barr also is on the injury report.

Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press said the Vikings "are in good hands" if they need to start Wilson on Sunday. He wrote:

Wilson filled in for Barr last season when he missed three games with a hamstring injury. Wilson started four games in 2018 after starting none in 2017 as an undrafted rookie.

[…]

Against the Packers, Wilson was in for 48 percent of the defensive plays (34 of 71), about double Gedeon's usual workload. In addition to being used in the base defense, Wilson remained in the game at times in a nickel role.

"I tried to do whatever I could to impact the game," Wilson told Tomasson.

While it's too early to say if Wilson will be called on to start again against the Raiders, he assured that he'll be ready in the case he is.

"I'll try to physically change the game," he told Tomasson. "They'll want to run the ball, so we need to be physical and be stout against the run."

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