Minnesota Vikings’ All-Time Rushing Yardage Leaders
The Minnesota Vikings have been an NFL team since 1961, and though they have almost always been competitive, it’s worth noting that the Vikes have gone to the Super Bowl four times and lost all four contests. They share that sad fact with the Buffalo Bills. Anyway, the Vikings have also fielded some great running backs, and here is a list of the all-time Top 10 in rushing yards for them:
Robert Smith (6818)—Robert Smith played his entire (relatively short) NFL career with the Vikings, from 1993 to 2000. Before that he starred at Ohio State and before that at Euclid High School in Cleveland. Smith retired at the age of 28, not wanting to put his body through the punishment of day-to-day action in the NFL. He also leads the Vikings all-time with 6818 rushing yards. Smith’s best season was 2000, one of two Pro Bowl seasons, when he rushed for career highs in yards (1521) and touchdowns (7), adding another 348 yards and 3 TDs as a receiver.
Chuck Foreman (5887)—Chuck Foreman remains an icon in Minnesota, and played all but one season for the Vikings (1973 to 1979). Foreman ranks second in Vikings history with 5887 rushing yards, and his career high was 1155 yards in 1976. But Foreman’s best overall season was 1975, when he was a first team All-Pro by rushing for 1070 yards with 13 rushing TDs, while catching 73 passes for 697 yards and 9 more touchdowns; giving him 1761 total yards and 22 total TDs.
Bill Brown (5757)—Bill Brown played one year in Chicago before playing the rest of his career with the Vikings, from 1962 to 1974. Brown ranks third in Vikings history with 5757 rushing yards, and his best season there was 1964. That year, Brown went to the Pro Bowl by rushing for career highs in rushing yard (866) and receiving yards (703) with 16 total touchdowns.
Ted Brown (4546)—Ted Brown played his entire career in Minnesota, from 1979 to 1986. Brown ranks fourth in franchise history with 4546 yards on the ground, and his best season was 1981. That year, Brown rushed for a career best 1063 yards with 6 TDs, and also caught 83 passes for 694 yards and 2 more touchdowns. He also scored a career high 10 rushing TDs in 1983.
Dave Osborn (4320)—Halfback/Fullback Dave Osborn played most of his career for the Vikings, from 1965 to 1975. Osborn ranks fifth in rushing yards for the team all-time with 4320. His best season was 1967, when he notched a career high in rushing yards (972), with 272 receiving yards and 3 total TDs.
Darrin Nelson (4231)—Darrin Nelson had two tours of duty with the Vikings, 1982 to 1989, and again in 1991 and 1992. Nelson ranks sixth all-time in Vikings’ history with 4231 rushing yards. His best season was 1985, when he had a career high of 893 rushing yards, as well as 301 receiving yards and 6 total touchdowns.
Tommy Mason (3252)—Tommy Mason played for the Vikings from 1961 to 1966, and still ranks seventh in team history with 3252 rushing yards. Mason’s best season in Minnesota was 1963 when he was first team All-Pro with 763 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 40 receptions for 365 yards, and 2 more TDs as a receiver.
Michael Bennett (3174)—Though Michael Bennett has battled injuries a lot recently, he had some great seasons for the Vikings during his tenure in Minnesota, from 2001 to 2005. Bennett ranks eighth in Vikings’ history with 3174 rushing yards, and his best season there was 2002. That year, Bennett made the Pro Bowl by rushing for 1296 yards with 5 touchdowns, and added 351 yards and another TD as a receiver.
Terry Allen (2795)—Terry Allen played three seasons in Minnesota, 1991, 1992 and 1994. He ranks ninth in team history with 2795 rushing yards, and his best season there was 1992, with 1201 rushing yards, 13 TDs, and career best 478 receiving yards with 2 more touchdowns out of the backfield. That also gave Allen his career best yards-from-scrimmage total of 1679.
Adrian Peterson (2652)—It’s amazing that in less that two full seasons, Adrian Peterson already ranks tenth in Vikings’ history with 2652 rushing yards as I write this in 2008. Peterson had 1341 rushing yards, 268 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in 2007 as a rookie, and in 2008 is on pace for 1748 yards on the ground, which would be a Vikings’ single-season record. And we fully expect Peterson to climb a few notches on this list rapidly in the next few years.