Like many of the teams I've made, I found a pattern of eras with the Vikings. The Vikes enjoyed a great deal of success in the 70s, not so much in the 80s, some more in the late 90s, and recently. We have a few representatives from the 70s, none from the 80s, some more from the 90s, and one from the more recent teams. It's no surprise that the team success comes when there are multiple franchise greats on the field.
1. Fran Tarkenton, QB (2014 Panini Prizm)"Fran the Scram" would fit right in in today's NFL. He fits the mold of good passing skills on a fast athlete. When he retired in 1978, he was the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He still leads the franchise in both of those categories. He was well-known for his ability to scramble in the pocket and make plays, making him unique in the era of dropback passing. He rushed for over 2,500 yards over his 13 seasons in Minnesota. He also quarterbacked the team to
2. Adrian Peterson, RB (2012 Score)The Vikings all-time leading rusher, Peterson was an explosive runner every time he touched the ball. In 10 seasons with the Vikings, Peterson put up 11,747 yards and 97 touchdowns. He led the league in the former category three times and the latter twice. After tearing his MCL in December of 2011, Peterson famously returned in time for Week 1 of 2012. That season, he rushed for 2,097 yards and an NFL MVP award. Age has started to slow him down since he left Minnesota, but he is a surefire Hall of Famer and a slam dunk for this team.
3. Cris Carter, WR (1992 Impact)Carter spent 12 seasons in Minnesota. In that time, he became the team's all-time leader in receptions (1,004), yards (12,383), and touchdowns (110). I remember him best from Tom Jackson and Chris Berman on NFL Primetime, saying, "All he does is catch touchdowns," every time he scored. And he scored a lot. He led the league in touchdowns on three separate occasions. Carter was named to the All-Decade Team of the 90s and finally got his due in the Hall of Fame in 2013.
4. Randy Moss, WR (1999 Collector's Edge Fury)Arguably, Randy Moss was the most explosive, dangerous playmaker in NFL history. He led the league in touchdown catches five times in his career, three times while with the Vikings. While he spent only eight years in Minnesota, he made the most of his ability during that time. As a Viking, Moss made five Pro Bowls and received three of his four 1st Team All-Pro nods. He left as the team's second-leading receiver in touchdowns (92). receptions (587), and yards (9,316), averaging 15.9 yards per catch.
5. Randall McDaniel, G (1994 Ultra)For the 1990s, Randall McDaniel was the offensive guard in the NFL. Need proof? How about 12 consecutive Pro Bowl seasons from 1989 to 2000? Or seven 1st-Team All Pros in nine seasons from 1990-1998. He was widely regarded as the best at his position. It's no surprise that he was named to the All-Decade Team for the 90s, and, later on, the Hall of Fame.
6. Carl Eller, DE (1972 Topps)Sitting at the top of the Vikings all-time Approximate Value rankings is Carl Eller. Eller spent 15 years with the Vikings, as one of the famed Purple People Eaters. It was Eller and his mates who comprised the backbone of the Vikings squads who made four Super Bowls in the 70s. Though stats for a defender at the time are hard to come by, Eller's achievements speak volumes about his status in the league. He made six Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams, including four straight from 1968-1971. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2004.
7. Alan Page, DT (2011 Upper Deck)Alan Page, Eller's linemate, made his first Pro Bowl in 1968, the same year that Eller did. While Eller made four consecutive starting then, Page started a string of nine straight. From 1969-1975, he was named All-Pro six times. To further demonstrate his dominance, Page was named NFL MVP in 1971. He is one of only four defensive players to win the MVP award, and the only defensive tackle to do so. The Purple People Eaters were indeed frightening, and Page most of all.
8. John Randle, DT (1994 Coca Cola Monsters of the Gridiron)Shown here dressed as a monster, John Randle was probably scarier on the field. With his trademark face paint, Randle harrassed opposing QBs all day long. His 114 sacks pace all Vikings, though that achievement really can't be compared to some of the great defensive linemen of the Vikings' past. Randle played 11 seasons in Minnesota, all through the 90s, and was named to the All-Decade Team. He was also inducted to the Hall of Fame.
9. Paul Krause, S (1978 Topps)Krause played a decade in Minnesota and retired 40 years ago. In all that time, nobody has surpassed his 53 interceptions for the franchise. He was voted to the Pro Bowl six times and made the All-Pro Team in 1975. That year, he picked off 10 passes and returned them for an average of 20.1 yards. He was a great ballhawk and playmaker, and another integral part of the Purple People Eaters defense.
Defense has been the name of the game for Minnesota. Players that I really wanted to include but couldn't fit in, such as Chris Doleman, Jim Marshall, Joey Browner, and Kevin Williams all played on the defensive side of the ball. Given that Doleman passed away yesterday, I truly would have loved to honor him here. And while he had a Hall of Fame career, he just couldn't get past the high standard his fellow Vikings have set, especially on the defensive line. Looking at the defensive players representing the team's most successful decade, the 1970s, it's easy to see why they were able to win four NFC titles.
Some notes on this series:
- This includes Super Bowl Era players only.
- The "nine" in Franchise 9 is to fill a page in a binder. There is no intent to fill a roster or even a starting lineup.
- A player can represent multiple teams.
- I tried to find a balance between steady producers with longevity and explosive players with shorter careers. Time with the team does count for something, as does impact with the team.
- For a link to Franchise 9 lists that I have already posted, click here.
- This is all subjective, so I'd love to hear whom you would choose!