Thanks to Jim Irsay, the Twitter-addicted owner of the Indianapolis Colts, an unspoken truth was brought forward – the Vikings might be in line for a Super Bowl.
There has been a general buzz among those who followed the Vikings stadium issue that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's visit to meet with state legislative leaders was to make a closed-door promise that the NFL would bring a Super Bowl to the Twin Cities.
To date, there is no concrete proof that such an offer was made, although the timeline of events dictates otherwise. When Goodell's plane emerged from the clouds messianic-style, the stadium bill was on life support. Goodell was the priest being called in for last rites. Somehow, some way, when Goodell left town, a groundswell of support emerged – both among Vikings fans and Minnesota lawmakers who were previously opposed or "on the fence."
To hit the fast forward button, the stadium bill made a miraculous recovery, threw away its crutches and danced out of St. Paul when the legislative session wound down. Mission accomplished! When examined in the aftermath, one of the predominant theories that emerged was a Goodell handshake guarantee of a Super Bowl being played in the Taj Ma Wilf. After the initial public-support earthquake subsided in Minnesota, the aftershocks quieted down and all that mattered was the Vikings staying, not how the deal got done.
In between comments and tweets about guaranteeing Colts fans, who have home and road Peyton Manning jerseys that are now painfully obsolete, that Andrew Luck will be signed and in training camp, he couldn't help but speak on the Super Bowl.
Full of vinegar after rave reviews of the Heartland Super Bowl, in which jaded national types enjoyed the folksy charm of Indiana and fans who bought tickets actually had a corresponding seat inside the stadium (we're looking at you, Jerry Jones), Irsay felt obligated to comment on bringing the dance back to the Indiana barn.
Keep in mind that the loss of Manning in Indianapolis would be tantamount to what Packers fans felt when Brett Favre wanted to keep playing and the Packers said they moving on with a young kid they like. Colts fans have compared Manning to Johnny Unitas – high praise indeed – but, in Indianapolis, Unitas never played for them. Peyton was their favorite son. He's gone from Indy, but not gone from the NFL. Fan support of the Colts has hit bottom and rightly so. Andrew Luck is an unproven commodity. The Colts drafted him because they stunk so bad last year that they had Luck on their radar in October. The fan base needs energizing. Nothing can do that like the "rainmaker" promise of hosting another Super Bowl.
The odds that the NFL will come back to Indiana are all but assured. But maybe not any time soon. When Irsay began huffing and puffing, he made a passing comment that shouldn't be underestimated.
In touting that Indianapolis is going to lobby to host Super Bowl XLVI in 2018, he made a remark that didn't draw a lot of local attention. The always-chatty Irsay not only said he thinks Indy should get in the Super Bowl rotation like New Orleans and Miami, he sized up the expected competition – Minnesota and San Francisco.
The 49ers are in the process of getting a new stadium done, as are the Vikings. February in the Bay Area isn't the most conducive for an outdoor game. A closed-roof roof in Minnesota – one that is being modeled on the best aspects of the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis that served so well this past February – is a much more attractive option. If there was a handshake agreement on bringing the Super Bowl back to Minnesota, Irsay may have opened the Pandora's box to get it done.
Before Wednesday, nobody put the Vikings on an official schedule for being considered to host a Super Bowl. On Wednesday, the Mouth That Roared (Irsay) let that cat out of the bag.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.