Sunday, May 8, 2022

Vikings All-Time Greats

 Vikings' All-Time Greats By Position: QB

This list will take into consideration several factors:
  • Career passing stats with the team
  • Success with the team
  • Overall career stats
Keep in mind, this is a subjective list, with lots of my own opinion thrown in.

10. Joe Kapp - Joe Kapp was a tough QB, although not necessarily skillful, but he had an iron will and a leadership quality about him that gave the Vikings much of their early swagger in the late 1960's. He helped them to their only NFL Title in 1969, when they beat the Cleveland Browns 27-7 on their way to Super Bowl IV. However, they unfortunately lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 23-7.

9. Randall Cunningham - Randall Cunningham was a great QB with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1985-1995, then retired after that season. After one season retired, he returned to join the Vikings as a veteran backup for Brad Johnson, the team's starter at that time. In 1998, Johnson got hurt early, and Cunningham made the most of his opportunity, leading the team to a 13-1 record. He also was 2nd in the 1998 AP MVP voting, 2nd in the AP Offensive Player of the Year voting, and 2nd in the AP Comeback Player of the Year. That last one was most fitting, as he threw for 3,704 yards, 34 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. He played one more season with the team, then joined the Dallas Cowboys for two more seasons before retiring.

8. Case Keenum - Case Keenum had one magical season with the Vikings after being a journeyman for the start of his career. In 2017, he lead the team to a 13-3 record, and completed one of the most amazing passes in the history of the Vikings as they beat the New Orleans Saints 29-24 in the Minneapolis Miracle game. The next week, however, the Vikings were beaten soundly in Philadelphia in the NFC Championship game, 38-7. Keenum didn't return to the team the next season, and has since had stops in Denver, Washington and Cleveland.

7. Warren Moon - Warren Moon is a Hall of Famer, and played in the Canadian Football League before joining the NFL. Moon played with the Vikings for two full seasons, and one partial season. He had decent stats with the team, but he only led them to one home playoff game, which they lost 35-18 to the Chicago Bears. Moon played four more seasons after that, two with the Seattle Seahawks and two with the Kansas City Chiefs, before retiring in 2000.

6. Brett Favre - Like Case Keenum, Favre was with the Vikings for a very short time, but for one season, the Vikings looked headed to the post season, and perhaps even the Super Bowl, with Favre. Favre made WR Sidney Rice a lot better than he actually was, and with Adrian Peterson, the Vikings had a pretty potent offense. Favre was playing like the old gunslinger he was, and lead the team to a 12-4 record. As the Vikings made the NFC Championship Game in New Orleans against the Saints, the Vikings seemed poised to make the Super Bowl for the first time since 1976. It wasn't meant to be, however, as Favre threw an ill-advised pass late in the game, which resulted in the Saints interception, and eventual game-winning field goal.

5. Wade Wilson - A native Texan, Wilson had a decent NFL career, playing for 18 seasons with 5 NFL teams. He was with the Vikings for 10 of those seasons, going 27-21-0 as a sometime-starter with Minnesota. His best seasons with the team were 1987-1989, and in 1987, he lead the team to the NFC Championship game after two playoff upsets, one over New Orleans 44-10 (in the Saints first ever home playoff game) and one over San Francisco 36-24. The Vikings were big underdogs for that game, as the 49ers were favored by 11 points. Washington eventually ended the Vikings playoff run, winning 17-10.the next week in the NFC Championship in Washington. That was also a strike year, as the Vikings played their first four games with mostly replacement players. Wilson retired in 1998 after having stops in Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas and Oakland.

4. Daunte Culpepper - Daunte Culpepper came to the Vikings as the 11th pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. They were looking for a replacement for Randall Cunningham, who was the incumbent starter in 1998. They also had Jeff George, who was the starter for most of 1999, so Culpepper had to wait a year. In training camp in 2000, Culpepper showed lots of promise, and was named the starter. He had a great first season as starter, leading the team to an 11-5 record and a playoff bid. throwing for 3,937 yards, 33 tds and only 16 interceptions. In 2002-2004, Culpepper solidified his hold as the starter with his best season being 2004, when he threw for a league-leading 4,717 yards, 39 tds and just 11 interceptions. Culpepper was all set for another solid season in 2005 when, in a loss in Carolina to the Panthers, Culpepper seriously injured his knee, and didn't play the rest of the season. Unfortunately, the injury effectively ended his career. He tried playing four more years, one each for Miami and Oakland, and two with Detroit before retiring in 2009.

3. Kirk Cousins - The subject of Kirk Cousins is definitely a sore subject for most Vikings fans. Either you like him or you don't. Either you want him as the team's starter or you don't. Either you think he'll lead them to the Super Bowl or you don't. There's no middle ground with him. He came to the Vikings in a trade with the Washington Commanders at the end of the 2017/start of the 2018 season. The previous year, Case Keenum led the Vikings to the 2017 NFC Championship, and wanted more money in the offseason. The Vikings turned to Cousins, thinking they finally had their QB of the future, to lead them to the Super Bowl. That hasn't happened yet, which is one reason people think he isn't the answer and signed him for way too much money. In this offseason, he signed an extension, which has further infuriated 1/2 the fanbase. To be realistic, he hasn't yet delivered on his promise, it's true, but he has had a mediocre to poor offensive line in front of him, and has gone through several offensive coordinators in the past three years. He has finally gotten some offensive line help, as the Vikings have signed several veterans this past offseason, as well as drafted a guard in this year's draft. I look for Cousins to make another leap forward this season, and fulfill some of the faith they have placed in him. We shall see!

2. Tommy Kramer - Two-minute Tommy was one of my favorite Vikings players back in the late 1970's/early 1980s. Drafted in the first round of the 1977 draft out of Rice, Tommy backed up Fran Tarkenton for two seasons. Tarkenton broke his leg in a game in 1978, and decided to retire. Tommy took over a Vikings team that was aging and transitioning to younger players. Kramer played for the Vikings for 13 seasons, and was the starter for 7 of those seasons. Throughout his career, Tommy had his ups and downs, but played with heart and grit. His record as a starter was somewhat mediocre, but he stuck with the team and led them to several amazing wins, including the Miracle at the Met in 1980, a last-second win over the Cleveland Browns, 28-23. Ahmad Rashad caught a Hail Mary pass from Kramer in the corner of the field and backed into the end zone for the winning catch. That game also secured the Vikings the division title over the Detroit Lions. Kramer also made the All-Pro 2nd team in 1986, as well as a Pro Bowl berth. 

1. Fran Tarkenton - What is there to say about Fran Tarkenton that hasn't already been said? Nine-time Pro Bowler, 1975 NFL MVP, 1975 Offensive Player of the Year, 124-109-6 record as a starter. He was also voted to the AP All-Pro First Team in 1975, and was voted to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1986. He was the starter for the Vikings for 13 seasons, and at the time of his retirement, he held the following NFL records: Most Passing Completions, Most Passing Yards, Most Passing Touchdowns. He also ran for 3,674 yards which, added to his total of 47,003, totaled 50,677 total yards. 

In 1972, Tarkenton was traded away by the Vikings to the New York Giants. He reportedly did not get along with Norm Van Brocklin, the Vikings coach at the time. He spent 5 seasons starting for the Giants, and was traded again, this time back to the Vikings, before the start of the 1972 season. For the next 7 seasons, he led them to three Super Bowls, numerous division titles, and NFL supremacy. The Vikings were one of the top winningest teams in the NFL during the 1970's, and Tarkenton had a lot to do with that. His scrambling ability was legendary, and frequently frustrated teams' pass rushers to no end. Tarkenton was the original "Scrambler", and pretty much continued it throughout his career. Since he retired, the Vikings have not had a "franchise" QB since.

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