Ranking the All-Time 25 Players Minnesota Vikings Fans Hate Most
Minnesota Vikings fans hate the Green Bay Packers. Minnesota Vikings fans hate the Chicago Bears. Minnesota Vikings fans hate the Detroit Lions. And then Minnesota Vikings fans hate the Green Bay Packers some more
Such is life amid the spirited rivalries of the NFC North Division. The Black and Blue division got its nickname from the fierceness of the rivalries and the physical nature of the division dating all the way back to the 1960's.
Any Vikings fans would probably tell you that the Vikings' biggest rivalries are with the Packers and the Bears (due to the Lions being long-time also-rans in the division). So how close are the historical matchups with the hated Packers and Bears? Entering the 2012 season, the Vikings regular season record against those two stands at 100-101.
So it would make sense that the lion's share of those making any long-time Vikings fan's "most hated" players list, the majority would come from their division rivals.
Vikings fans are a long-suffering lot. Only two teams have gone longer than Minnesota's 35 years without a Super Bowl appearance: the Jets, at 43 years, and the Chiefs at 42 years. Of course the difference being that at least those teams won their Super Bowls.
The Vikings history is one that lends itself to a lot of self-hate. Many of the most reviled characters in Vikings history come from within: Brad Childress, Les Steckel, Bob Schnelker, Gary Anderson among others.
There is another list of players who dominated the Vikings over the years, but never really provoked hatred; they were just great football players who conducted themselves the right way. It would be kind of hard to "hate" Walter Payton, Joe Montana, Steve Young or Barry Sanders.
There will be others added to the Vikings "hate" list in the coming years. As of now, the likes of Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh and Matt Forte haven't inflicted enough psychological trauma on Vikings fans to make the all-time list.
So here we go: The 25 most hated players in Minnesota Vikings history.
25. Terence Mathis, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Terence Mathis had a brilliant career for the Atlanta Falcons, finishing as the Falcons all-time leader in both receptions and touchdown receptions.
Having said that, the 5'10", 185-pound sixth-round draft pick out of New Mexico had no right to show up Randy Moss and Cris Carter in the 1998 NFC Championship game. Mathis killed the Vikings with six catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Dirty Birds to a huge upset over the most productive offense the league had seen to that point.
Mathis was built like a gnat and was just as bothersome in that game. While most Vikings fans reserve most of their hate from that game for Dennis Green and Gary Anderson, Mathis was the key cog for the Falcons.
Mathis was a huge reason the 1998 Vikings remain the best team to not play in the Super Bowl.
24. Brian Urlacher, LB, Chicago Bears
Brian Urlacher is a bad ass.
If you made a cartoon character that was going to play middle linebacker for the Monsters of the Midway, you'd come up with something that looked pretty much exactly like Urlacher.
Nobody since the days of Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke has personified the Black and Blue division quite like Urlacher.
Urlacher has been a beast for the Bears since coming out of New Mexico in 2000 (Two slides, two guys out of New Mexico, maybe we should make Ryan Cook an honorary member of this list).
Make no mistake, Vikings fans have the utmost respect for Urlacher; everybody who enjoys football does. But for Vikings fans, he's a huge pain in the ass.
23. Len Dawson, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
As much as the Falcons had no business beating the Vikings in the 1998 NFC Championship game, the Kansas City Chiefs had even less credentials to take on the Vikes in Super Bowl IV.
The Vikings were heavy favorites heading into the game; most of the football world still looked at the NFC as the far superior league and dismissed Namath's Jets win in the previous year's Super Bowl as a fluke.
In what would set the tone for a decade of disappointment, the Vikings laid a huge egg in the Super Bowl. Dawson and the Chiefs' dynamic, AFC-style offense ran roughshod all over the vaunted Purple People Eaters, winning the game without much of a fight.
Dawson broke the game open with a long touchdown pass to Otis Taylor late in the third quarter, putting a stake in the hearts of all Vikings fans.
Dawson is by all accounts a very nice man, but to long-time Vikings fans, he'll forever be on the hated list.
22. Tony Dorsett, RB, Dallas Cowboys
The silky smooth, vastly underrated Cowboys superstar running back always seemed to run wild on the Vikings every time the teams locked horns.
Dorsett makes our list not because of his back-breaking 11-yard touchdown as a rookie that sealed the Cowboys' win over the Vikings in the 1977 NFC Championship game, but for the little jaunt he made against the purple on January 3, 1983.
Monday Night Football, the entire football world watching and Dorsett covers 99 yards of Metrodome turf to set an NFL record for longest run from scrimmage. The Vikings have looked foolish many times on national television, but Dorsett's romp is up there among the worst.
21. Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler will rise a few spots on the list before all is said and done.
The Chicago Bears quarterback is brash, cocky, pouty, entitled and a genuine pain in the ass.
But boy, can he sling a football.
Cutler went through a couple of disappointing seasons in Denver before being shipped off to the Bears and he really looks like he's coming into his own in Chicago. He's never had a lot of weapons to throw to, but that has changed now in Chicago and Cutler could have a monster season in 2012 and for several years to come.
Let's just say there's nobody Vikings fans would like to see Jared Allen throw to the turf more than the baby-faced pouter with the rocket arm.
20. Devin Hester, KR, Chicago Bears
That picture you see is one of the scariest sights a Minnesota Vikings fan can see on a football field.
Vikings fans don't so much hate Hester as they do every special teams coach and punter/kicker over the years who decides it's good idea to kick the ball to Hester.
Four of Hester's NFL-record 18 return touchdowns have come against the Vikings to go with the countless other long returns he's burned Minnesota with.
Hester is one of the most mercurial players the league has ever seen and he seems to take a little extra joy in running rampant against the Vikings. How about we kick away from him in 2012?
19. Conrad Dobler, OT, St. Louis Cardinals
Well, everyone hated Conrad Dobler.
Dobler, the hyper-intense offensive tackle for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1970's was known for being the dirtiest player in the league. Dobler reveled in his reputation and went out of his way to make enemies.
The Vikings were no different than any other team and Dobler had some intense battles with the likes of Alan Page, Carl Eller and Jim Marshall. Dobler was the kind of player who would knock you on your ass and then instead of helping you up after the whistle, he'd knock you on your ass again.
18. Michael Vick, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Obviously anyone who loves dogs has their issues with Michael Vick, but he lands on our list not just for his legal transgressions, but for those he wrecked on the Vikings as well.
Vikings fans already hated everything to do with the Atlanta Falcons since the 1998 NFC Championship game. The Chris Chandler days were long gone in Atlanta by the time 2002 rolled around and Vikings fans were hoping for some measure of revenge against the Falcons.
It wasn't to be. Michael Vick didn't just beat the Vikings, he toyed with them. Vick lit the purple defense up for 173 yards on just 10 carries and accounted for 346 of Atlanta's 379 yards of offense. Vick topped it off with a 46-yard touchdown in overtime that made the Vikings defenders look like kindergartners.
17. Ken Stabler, QB, Oakland Raiders
Kenny Stabler was just an old-school, AFC badass of a quarterback.
With his southern drawl and his flowing locks, he was everything the buttoned-down Bud Grant hated about the "1970's athlete."
So it was the free-wheeling, John Madden and Kenny Stabler-led Oakland Raiders against the old-school, line-up-straight-for-the-national-anthem Minnesota Vikings in the 1977 Super Bowl.
It was no contest.
Stabler was a masterful 12-of-19 for 180 yards and a touchdown in leading the silver and black to a dominating win in what be the Vikings last appearance in the Super Bowl to date.
Vikings fans hated Stabler because he didn't even look like he was trying hard as he spread the ball out to his bevy of receivers including Cliff Branch, Fred Biletnikoff and Dave Casper.
The Vikings got owned. We hate getting owned.
16. Kevin Butler, K, Chicago Bears
Ugh, Kevin Butler, even just the name can make any Vikings fan cringe.
A kicker who tries to be tough? Butler, with his rolled-up sleeves and tough-guy attitude was just too much to take for Vikings fans. What Butler had going for him was a lot of tough guys around him on the mid-80's Bears.
But seriously, a kicker?
Butler played right into the bad-boy attitude that the Ditka Bears had in the 80's, always smirking after field goals and trying to pretend he was remotely part of the big bad Bears.
I mean, he was a kicker.
15. John Riggins, RB, Washington Redskins
John Riggins, "The Diesel," made life miserable for a lot of defenses during his career.
The flamboyant Riggins was always causing trouble both on and off the football field. Wearing a mohawk early in his career with the Jets, Riggins quickly let it be known that he marched to the beat of his own drum.
Riggins was out of football for a while, holding out during the 1980 season, before returning for several of the best seasons of his Hall of Fame career.
Riggins was certainly a workhorse and he showed the Vikings all of his power in a divisional playoff game in 1982. Riggins had 37 carries for 185 yards and a touchdown, leading the Redskins to an easy 21-7 win. He was blunt force trauma to a franchise that prides itself on being tougher than everybody else.
14. Roger Staubach, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Okay, it's obviously pretty hard to say you "hate" Roger Staubach.
The Hall of Fame quarterback and Naval Academy grad was pretty much the All-American boy. He was the steady, consistent, always-do-the-right-thing rival to the Vikings' play-with your-hair-on-fire quarterback, Fran Tarkenton.
Tarkenton and Staubach were the two best quarterbacks in the NFC in the 1970's and both teams were convinced they had the better of the two. Tarkenton had better numbers, but Staubach seemed to be more clutch.
The Vikings went 1-3 against the Staubach-led Cowboys in playoff matchups in the seventies. All Vikings fans know that that record should actually be 2-2 and that certainly adds to the hate. Plus the Cowboys would go on to win a couple of Super Bowls, something Francis and the Vikings never did.
All Vikings fans will still say that Tarkenton was the better player.
13. Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay Packers
The wild-haired, wild-boy linebacker for the Green Bay Packers has become something of a poster boy for the Vikings fans' hatred of the Packers.
The Packers have won the last four meetings between the teams and Matthews is a constant thorn in the Vikings side. He seems to be all over the field and what irks a lot of Vikings fans is that Matthews likes to stay just as active after a play as he is during it.
Matthews is the prototypical guy you love to have on your team, but you sure hate him when he's on the other side.
Especially if that other side is the Packers.
And we hate that hair.
12. Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
The name Franco Harris still bothers Vikings fans.
The plodding, workman-like running style of Harris was in direct contrast to the Vikings' star running back of the day, Chuck Foreman, who Vikings fans would have taken any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Unless it was Super Bowl Sunday.
Franco and his stupid beard and his stupid teammates took the Vikings to the woodshed in the 1975 Super Bowl, which was, along with Harris' running style, one of the most boring ever played. Harris methodically ground out 158 yards on 34 carries, making mince meat of the Vikings' robust defense. Meanwhile Foreman, the Vikings' electric, swashbuckling back was punished all day long by the Steel Curtain and finished with just 18 yards on 12 carries.
Obviously Harris is one of the all-time greats and his numbers speak for themselves, but he has no place in the hearts of Vikings fans.
11. Hank Stram, Head Coach, Kansas City Chiefs
This is a player's list, so we only have room for two coaches on our most hated list.
But no list of people Vikings fans hate would be complete without one of the most dastardly coaches to ever go up against the beloved purple.
Hank Stram, the Hall of Fame coach of the Kansas City Chiefs lives in infamy for Vikings fans as the giggling, hideous little troll who led the Kansas City Chiefs to their shocking win over Minnesota in Super Bowl IV.
Stram was cocky and confident heading up to the game and his brashness was appalling to Vikings fans, who thought they were due more respect from the coach of the team we were going to crush in the Super Bowl.
Stram wore a microphone for NFL Films and his high pitched ranting and laughing on the sidelines is poison to the ears of all Vikings fans. It was the first of four Super Bowl losses for the purple and it is truly the loss that will never go away.
10. Antonio Freeman, WR, Green Bay Packers
Antonio Freeman was a pretty darn good football player for a lot of years for the Green Bay Packers.
But something would happen to him when the Packers played the Vikings. Freeman would turn from the steady, reliable receiver that he was into a combination of Jerry Rice, Bob Hayes and Steve Largeant.
Favre to Freeman was a combination that had Vikings fans crawling for cover for years.
However, it was November 6, 2000 on Monday Night Football that Freeman earned his top-10 status as a most hated player for Vikings fans.
With the game in overtime, Favre threw up a 50-yard prayer that had no hope of being completed as Freeman had fallen to the ground around the Vikings' 10-yard line. Well, then no less than the ghost of four Super Bowl losses intervened. Vikings defender Chris Dishman tried to bat the ball away, but instead batted it right to the lying-down Freeman.
The rest is top-10 hatred history. Freeman scampered into the end zone for the win as a shocked Al Michaels famously broadcast, "he did what?"
9. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Let's face it, Aaron Rodgers will be a permanent fixture on this list for years to come (at least until he signs with the Vikings in 2020).
Rodgers has done one of the hardest things to do in sports; he's replaced a legend. Biding his time and doing his duty as a backup behind Brett Favre for three years in Cheesetown, Rodgers has taken over and is putting up numbers that would make Favre proud.
With a Super Bowl already under his belt and an awesome ad campaign to back it up, Rodgers is a constant reminder to Vikings fans on who has current sway in the long-running rivalry.
Rodgers seems like a good guy and is certainly a helluva football player. He enters 2012 as perhaps the best player in the league.
But he's the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, so Vikings fans hate him.
8. Dick Butkus, LB, Chicago Bears
Dick Butkus might have been the toughest player to ever step on a football field. We might have had him higher on this list, but we were afraid to.
Butkus was a mean, ornery, dirty, football machine. He had no regard for his body and certainly for nobody else's as he crushed people Sunday after Sunday in his time in the league.
The Bears weren't very good during Butkus' career, but he was so singularly good that teams dreaded playing Chicago. There was never a game off, a quarter off, a play off.
Butkus played with a passion that bordered on maniacal. He played to hurt people. And he played very, very well.
7. Jack Tatum and Willie Brown, DB's, Oakland Raiders
Intimidation was no small part of the Oakland Raiders' arsenal in the 1970's.
They played rough, borderline-dirty football and they were more than happy to get in your face and tell you about it.
In what was supposed to be a pretty good football game, the Raiders gave the Vikings a beat-down in the 1977 Super Bowl and the tone was set pretty early on when Jack Tatum almost decapitated Vikings wide receiver Sammy White. White held on to the ball as his helmet went flying and he looked like he'd been hit by a cannon ball.
Willie Brown took a Fran Tarkenton pass 75 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that took the lead to a laughable 32-7. It might have looked to Vikings fans like their team was playing in slow motion, but for the rest of the world, Brown's touchdown will live on in perpetuity as a slow motion memory: Brown's intense face in close up as he runs the length of the field.
6. Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Terry Bradshaw never doubted for a moment that the Pittsburgh Steelers would beat the Minnesota Vikings in the 1975 Super Bowl.
Bradshaw was loud, brash and cocky and it drove Vikings fans crazy. The Vikings were led by the stoic Bud Grant and Bradshaw's devil-may-care attitude rubbed Minnesota fans the wrong way. With his Louisiana drawl and his boorish behavior and play on the field, Bradshaw was a confounding mix.
Bradshaw won ugly and he won often. He carried a very dismissive attitude towards the purple leading up to the big game and then he went out and backed it up. His numbers were far from impressive, but he won. Terry Bradshaw almost always won.
5. Mel Blount, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Many in the know say that there were very few more intimidating players in the 1970's than Mel Blount, the Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame corner who helped shut down the Vikings offense in the 1975 Super Bowl.
At 6'3", 205 pounds, the muscular Blount was quite simply one of the best cornerbacks to ever play the game. Built like a linebacker, but able to play the corner, Blount was a scary matchup for any receiver and a punishing tackler on even the biggest of backs.
Blount was perhaps the best ever at the "bump and run" style of defending. Once Blount "bumped" a receiver he was either out of the play or completely thrown off from his route.
Blount earned his spot on this list by dismissing the Vikings over the course of the week leading up to the game. Blount insisted that they would have no problem with Fran Tarkenton and that there were several quarterbacks in the AFC who were much better than Tarkenton.
Blount cemented his spot when, after dominating the Vikings exactly like he said he would, said in his post-game comments that playing the Vikings was easier than a regular Steelers practice.
4. Jim McMahon, QB, Chicago Bears
Jim McMahon was very easy to hate.
The truth is, McMahon wanted to be hated. He thrived on it. From his days at BYU and then all through his professional career, McMahon was an envelope-pusher who seemed to take an adolescent's delight in upsetting authority.
With his mullet and headbands and rolled up sleeves, McMahon became the poster boy of the dominating 1985 Chicago Bears. He was the punk-rock quarterback.
McMahon helped author an 8-1 stretch for the Bears over the Vikings in the mid-80's. He was never a great quarterback, but he was certainly a winner.
We hated him. He loved it.
3. Gregg Williams, Def. Coordinator, New Orleans Saints
There's a great debate amongst Vikings fans on which NFC Championship game loss was more painful, the loss to the Falcons or the more recent loss to the Saints.
Well, we all know which one was more painful to Brett Favre.
The Saints' win over the Vikings is now forever marred by Bountygate, the hurt-for-pay plan set up by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams that probably earned Williams a lifetime ban from the NFL.
Favre was hit late several times and hobbled badly by one of the late hits on his ankle.
Gregg Williams will forever be a bad guy in the eyes of all Vikings fans. To green light such unsportsmanlike conduct is just flat-out wrong and Williams deserves whatever his punishment ends up being.
2. Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay Packers
Only Brett Favre could be on both the most hated and most loved Vikings of all-time list.
When Favre signed on with the Vikings after a disappointing stint with the New York Jets, there was plenty of hand-wringing among Vikings fans. Talk about sleeping with the enemy.
And then we saw him play. On our side. Wow.
Favre tormented Minnesota fans for years with his heroic play and all of the things that went along with being Brett Favre. The press conferences. The drama. The holdouts.
But it was his play that killed Vikings fans. The dude could play. He was an awesome force on the football field and his battles with the Vikings were absolutely epic.
The fact that Favre gave the Vikings the best season of his career was an odd, but fitting end to his career.
You can love him or hate him, but you can't deny how damn good he was.
1. Drew Pearson, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Vikings fans don't know much about Drew Pearson, the man. What they do know is that he cheated and got away with it.
The Vikings should have played in four straight Super Bowls, but Pearson cheated and got away with it. Late in the fourth quarter at Met Stadium, the Vikings are moments away from victory and a trip to the Super Bowl.
It's fourth and 17 with the Cowboys deep in their own territory. Staubach throws a sideline pass to Pearson, who is clearly out of bounds, but the Cowboys get the call and stay alive.
Under 30 seconds left and the Cowboys are at the 50-yard line. Staubach throws up a Hail Mary and Pearson gives a little shove to Nate Wright before barely snaring the ball and stepping into the end zone.
You're kidding me.
For Vikings fans who were around back then, it was a dagger through the heart. My mother, the nicest woman any of us will ever know, but a hard core Vikings fan back then, glared at the television with the rest of us. When field judge Armen Terzian was hit in the head with a whiskey bottle moments after the play, my saint of a mother hissed, "good, he deserves it!"
Minnesota fans hope Drew Pearson lives a long and happy life. But he pushed off.