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Top 10 Minnesota Vikings in NFL History

Updated on February 14, 2015

They've had a legacy of great defensive lines and high flying offense. Today I rank the top 10 Minnesota Vikings of all time.

The Vikings joined the league in 1960 as an expansion franchise. Since their first season, the Vikings have had one of the highest winning percentages in the NFL. They are also one of only six NFL teams to win at least 15 games during the regular season. The team has played in four Super Bowls losing all of them and losing all five of their NFC Championship game appearances since 1978. The team also has 12 former members in the Hall of Fame.

For this list, I look at the talent of the individual, what they meant to the team, and status as a pro bowler.

10. Anthony Carter

"AC" was an important part of Minnesota's offense in the 80's.

After the USFL folded, Anthony Carter's Miami contact was traded to Minnesota. He led the Vikings in receptions five of his first six seasons with the team. In the 1987 season, Carter helped his team reach the NFC championship. He set a then NFL playoff record with 143 punt return yards in their wildcard win over the Saints, and caught 10 receptions for a then NFL playoff record 227 yards in the Vikings 36-24 upset win over the 13-2 San Francisco 49ers in the divisional playoff round. The 642 all purpose yards he gained in the 1987 playoffs remain a single postseason record.

He left for Detroit after 1993 as a three time pro bowler. Carter finished his 11 seasons with just under 500 receptions, over, 7,700 yards, and 55 touchdowns.

9. Paul Krause

If Minnesota had won any of their Super Bowls, he would be remembered more than he is.

After spending his first four seasons in Washington, Paul Krause was traded to Minnesota. During his 12 seasons with the Vikings, he was one of 10 players to play in all four of the Vikings Super Bowl appearances. Krause recorded an interception in Super Bowl IV and a fumble recovery in Super Bowl IX. He was often referred to as the Vikings "Center Fielder" because of his success as an college baseball player and his ability to catch interceptions. In 16 seasons, he only missed two games.

Krause retired in 1979 as an eight time pro bowler and All-Pro and is the NFL's all time leading interceptor with 81. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.

8. Randy Moss

He possessed a size and speed combination the league had never seen from a wide receiver before.

As a first round pick in 1998, Randy Moss helped Minnesota become the NFL top offense. He was the offensive rookie of the year and set an NFL record for most touchdown receptions by a rookie with 17. In his first seven seasons in Minnesota, Moss was a five time pro bowler. Moss spent time with Oakland and New England before returning to Minnesota in 2010. His second stint with the team was short but he did notably catch Brett Favre's 500th touchdown.

His final years were spent in Tennessee and San Francisco. Moss retired with just under 1,000 receptions, over 15,000 yards, and 156 touchdowns and holds the single season record for receiving touchdowns in a season.

7. Jim Marshall

Playing 20 NFL seasons at defensive end, Jim Marshall is football's version of Cal Ripken.

As a member of Minnesota's "Purple People Eaters," Marshall was a forceful defensive end who posted an unofficial 127 sacks in 19 years in Minnesota. At one point he held the league record for most games played and games started. He's still holds the NFL record for the most opponents fumbles recovered with 30. Unfortunately for Marshall, one play can make or break a career. Other than losing dour Super Bowls, Marshall is most famous for his "Wrong Way Run" where he returned an opponents fumble in the wrong direction for a safety.

Despite this one play blunder, Marshall had a stellar 20 year career. One play should not be how he is remembered. With his teammates on the line in Alan Page and Carl Eller already in Canton, its time for Marshall to join them.

6. John Randle

He may be the craziest personality ever to set foot on the field.

Undrafted for being too undersized, John Randle signed with Minnesota and worked hard to make the team as a defensive tackle. Randle would record double digit sacks during nine of his 14 seasons, including a career-high and league-leading 15.5 sacks in 1997. He was known for eccentric face painting, trash talking on the field and his rivalry with Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre. He has more career sacks than any defensive tackle in league history with 137.5.

Randle spent his final three seasons in Seattle. He retired as the seventh all time leading sacker, a seven time pro bowler, six time All-Pro, and a member of the all decade team of the 90's. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.

5. Carl Eller

The "Moose" was the leading pass rusher for the Purple People Eaters.

A first round pick in 1964, Carl Eller set the blueprint for what the Vikings wanted to do defensively. Starting in his fifth year, Minnesota won 10 of 11 division titles and competed in four Super Bowls. During his career he amassed 133.5 sacks in his 16 seasons with 10 or more in seven of those years. He was the 1971 NFL defensive player of the year and only missed three games in his career.

He spent his final season in Seattle and retired after 1979 as a six time pro bowler and seven time All-Pro. Eller was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.

4. Adrian Peterson

He quickly established himself as the best running back playing today.

As first round pick in 2007, Adrian Peterson quickly burst onto the NFL scene. In his rookie year, he broke the single game rushing record. After being named the NFL rookie of the year, Peterson was named MVP of the Pro Bowl. After tearing his ACL towards the end of 2011, Peterson bounced back the next year coming just nine yards shy of breaking the single season rushing record. He was named both comeback player of the year and league MVP in 2012 for his efforts.

The only reason he isn't higher on this list is his fumbling problems he had in his firs few years. In his seven seasons, Peterson has amassed over 10,000 rushing yards, 86 touchdowns, has been named a pro bowler and All-Pro six times, and gas lead the league in rushing twice.

3. Alan Page

He was the heart and soul of the Purple People Eaters.

Alan Page was drafted by Minnesota in the first round of the 1967 daft. His unusual technique made him a force as a pass rushing defensive tackle. Page played in 218 consecutive games without missing one, during which he recovered 22 fumbles, made 148½ sacks, and scored three touchdowns. He also had three safeties, the second most in NFL history. He set a career high with 18 sacks in 1976 and is unofficially credited with five other seasons of 10 sacks or more.

Page spent his final 3.5 seasons in Chicago and retired after 1981. Page was name a pro bowler and All-Pro nine times, he's a member of the all decade team of the 70's, a two time defensive player of the year, and the only defensive tackle in league history to be named NFL MVP. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1988.

2. Cris Carter

He had the best pair of hands the NFL has ever seen.

After being released by Philadelphia because of substance abuse, Minnesota picked up Cris Carter for $100 in a deal that ranks right up there with the Louisiana Purchase. Carter quickly established himself as the league's best possession receiver. His boundary and one handed catches made him a popular highlight reel player. He even helped mold the team's next great receiver in Randy Moss.

Carter spent his final season in Miami as he left Minnesota as their all time leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. At the time of his retirement, only Jerry Rice had better stats in those areas. He retired as am eight time pro bowler, a three time All-Pro, and a member of the all decade team of the 90's. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.

1. Fran Tarkenton

He was the first quarterback to perfect the art of scrambling.

A third round pick in 1961, Fran Tarkenton came off the bench midway through the year to lead the team to a victory. He is the only quarterback in league history to throw four touchdowns in his first game. After feuding with head coach Norm Van Brookline, Tarkenton was traded to the Giants for four draft picks where he would spend five seasons. Tarkenton was traded back to Minnesota in 1972, for three players plus a first and second round draft choice. He led the Vikings to three Super Bowls in the 1970s, but lost all of them. In his 18 NFL seasons, Tarkenton completed 3,686 of 6,467 passes for 47,003 yards and 342 touchdowns, with 266 interceptions as well as adding 3,674 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on 675 carries.

Tarkenton retired after 1978 as a nine time pro bowler, Minnesota's all time leading passer, and the 1975 NFL MVP. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.

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