Another Vikings season is in the books. Another year without a championship.
But to St. Paul superfan Mark Solis, it's the journey, not the wins and losses, that makes for a fun season. A member of the Viking World Order fan group, the East Side resident enjoyed the team's resurgent 13-win season in 2022. But really, he said, true fans stick with their team through thick and thin.
Eye On St. Paul recently shared lunch and Vikings talk with Solis, 38, to compare notes on favorite players and other NFL cities. This interview was edited for length.
Q: How long have you been a Vikings fan?
A: I became a Vikings fan in 1998, in the fall. That was like when I really got into football.
Q: Was it because of that 15-1 season?
A: Well, at the time I wasn't aware that we were 15-1. I just enjoyed seeing them on TV. I didn't always live in Minnesota. I lived in Oklahoma City. And at that time, I was into football, but I didn't have a preference.
Q: How did you become a member of Viking World Order?
A: I started in 2016, the wheels got spinning so to speak. At that time, I was already friends with a majority of VWO members.
Q: How did that happen?
A: I guess it all started when I was looking for Vikings fan groups and I just happened to come across them when I was messing around on social media one day. "You know what? I'm going to join this group." And the rest was history from there.
Q: Why was that important to you to be part of a fan group?
A: Well, when I first joined, it had a lot to do with representing the home team. Team spirit. But after a while, I got to see what the Viking World Order was really about. I'd expressed interest in joining in 2014, but I hadn't immediately gone through with it. But I still socialized with everyone.
Q: To become a member, what do you have to do?
A: For starters, you have to hang around. Get to know everyone. Then you need someone to be your nominating member. Then there will be a prospect period of a year.
Q: Are there things you have to do?
A: Just the usual, like attending games, attending charity events and functions.
Q: How many games will you attend in a season?
A: About half the home games. Some away games, too.
Q: What stadiums have you been to?
A: The first one was Lambeau Field in Green Bay. There was the Los Angeles Coliseum in L.A., when the Rams were playing there. Then again in California, in Carson, to see the Chargers. Then there was the State Farm Stadium in Arizona, in Glendale. Ford Field in Detroit, Mich. And Soldier Field in Chicago.
Q: What's your favorite away stadium?
A: It would have to be So-Fi Stadium. That's where the Rams and Chargers play.
Q: People like to say it's hard being a Vikings fan. What's is it like to deal with the ups and downs?
A: I've been dealing with the ups and downs ever since I became a fan. Putting it simply, I deal with it to the best of my ability. I've been representing them, even when they were 3-13. They could have been 2-13 and I would still wear the colors. If you really like your team, you're going to stick with them no matter what.
Q: What was your favorite game this year?
A: I went to Soldier Field for the first time in my life. That was one of my favorite trips. I went down there for the whole weekend. I got friends who are Vikings fans and I have friends who are Bears fans.
Q: Who is your favorite Vikings player of all time?
A: Adam Thielen.
Q: Who is the best Vikings player you've seen?
A: Past? Randy Moss. He was one of the reasons I got into it. I still have his jersey.
Q: Who is the best Vikings quarterback you've seen?
A: I never understood the hate towards him, but Kirk Cousins.
Q: What do you think is going to happen next season?
A: We're definitely going to overhaul the defense. We got rid of [defensive coordinator Ed] Donatell. And defense wins championships.
Q: Of the other teams you've seen, which one has the best fan base?
A: Personally, my favorite AFC team, the Chargers.
A: They're electricity — pun intended by the way. I was legitimately looking for a Vikings-Chargers Super Bowl. But that is one plan that won't come to fruition, unfortunately.
Q: Do you think you will see the Vikings win a Super Bowl in your lifetime?
A: [Pauses] Yes ... someday.