Welcome to the first in a series of slideshows that will power rank the greatest Minnesota Vikings of all time by position. Each week, a different position will be featured. The best Vikings to ever take the field at that position will be ranked from fifth to first.
How does a guy get on the list?
It's all about being a Viking. While stats will certainly be taken into account, there will be other, more subjective, criteria as well. There's a certain feel to those classic Vikings, standing on the sideline at Met Stadium in freezing conditions with steam roiling out of their face masks. Those are the quintessential Vikings to many fans.
There are certain players (Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson) who would have fit perfectly in that era. Those are true Vikings. Other players (picture Sammy White on the Metrodome turf) would have been fun in ANY era.
These lists are filled with players who simply epitomize what it means to be a Viking.
The first group will be the kickers. While it's a much easier job to be the Vikings kicker than it used to be (sorry, Fred Cox), it's still a pressure-packed position. Without a good kicker, a team can fade from playoff contention in a hurry.
Click on as we power rank the top five kickers in Minnesota Vikings history.
(All statistics courtesy of pro-football-reference.com)
Rick Danmeier came from Sioux Falls College to the Vikings in 1977. He made the team and was the Minnesota kicker until midway through the 1982 season.
Though he wasn't spectacular, Danmeier was steady, and he holds two distinctions in Vikings history. He was the last kicker the team employed at Metropolitan Stadium (and the first to kick in the Metrodome), and he was the last straight-on kicker in the NFL when he retired.
Those things alone make him the honorable mention choice for the top five kickers in Vikings history.
Danmeier had a very strong year in 1981, hitting 21-of-25 field goals and racking up 97 points for a Minnesota squad that finished 7-9. Oddly, he missed three extra points that year.
For his career, Danmeier scored 364 points and hit 66 percent of his field goals.
Anderson after a game-winner
The name Gary Anderson evokes bittersweet memories for Vikings fans. The diminutive kicker from Syracuse by way of South Africa compiled the best statistical season in team history in 1998. Anderson went 35-of-35 on field goals and 59-of-59 on extra-point attempts.
However, most fans will remember Anderson more for missing a field goal in the NFC Championship Game. The Vikings, who finished the season 15-1, eventually lost that game to Atlanta in overtime.
It's too bad that Anderson, who kicked for the Vikings from 1998-2002, will be remembered more for the one kick that he missed than the many that he made. He hit nearly 85 percent of his field goals with the Vikings and tallied 542 points in his five years in Minnesota.
For his career, Anderson totaled 2,434 points, good for second on the all-time list. He was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013, but wasn't inducted. Anderson kicked for five teams over 23 NFL seasons and is truly one of the best kickers in league history.
Anderson would actually rank higher on a list of the best kickers in NFL history than he does on this one. He is fifth because the bulk of his career was spent in Pittsburgh. Oh, and there's that one he missed....
Fuad in 1995
A member of the Vikings from 1990 through 1995, Fuad Reveiz comes in at No. 4 on our list of the best kickers in Vikings history. Reveiz came to the Vikings from Tennessee, after growing up in Bogota, Columbia. He developed his kicking skills playing soccer in his native country.
Reveiz wasn't as accurate as Gary Anderson, only hitting about 78 percent of his field goals for Minnesota, but he personified the Nordic image that Vikings fans love. Reveiz actually looked like a football player. He stood 5'11" and weighed 225 pounds. It wasn't unusual for Fuad to kick off, then run down the field and get in on the tackle. Reveiz didn't look, or act, like a kicker.
Reveiz's best season with the Vikings was 1994, when he hit 34-of-39 field goals and all 30 of his extra point attempts as the team went 10-6. His 132 points were good enough to earn him a trip to the Pro Bowl following the season.
While Anderson was certainly valuable to the squad, Reveiz was a true Viking. That's why he's No. 4 on this list.
Longwell lines one up
Ryan Longwell, like Gary Anderson, could easily make the list of top five kickers for two teams. Longwell came to the Vikings in 2006 after nine stellar seasons in Green Bay. He spent six years in Minnesota, racking up 633 points. That's good for the third spot on the team's all-time scoring list.
Longwell graduated from Cal in 1996 and began his Packer career in 1997. Over nine years in Green Bay, Longwell tallied 1,054 points and is still the Packers' all-time scoring leader. His NFL total of 1,687 points is good for 13th in league history.
Longwell moves past Anderson and Reveiz on this list due to his accuracy and his prolific output. Longwell hit 86 percent of his field goals for the Vikings and averaged over 105 points a season. Until Blair Walsh arrived on the scene, Longwell was the Vikings' career leader in field-goal percentage (minimum 75 attempts).
Longwell was cut prior to the 2012 season because of a combination of salary concerns, short kickoffs and the arrival of sixth-round draft choice Blair Walsh. Longwell signed with Seattle just prior to playoffs last year and will likely get a call from someone when training camps open this summer.
Blair booms one
Many Vikings fans were scratching their heads in 2012, when the Vikings used a sixth-round draft pick on kicker Blair Walsh from Georgia. That concern turned to downright consternation when the team jettisoned longtime kicker Ryan Longwell after rookie minicamp in May.
Those concerns seemed utterly justified. Most teams don't spend draft choices on placekickers when they already have a solid veteran on the roster. Even worse, Walsh had a subpar senior season at Georgia, only hitting 21-of-35 field goals. He missed more kicks in 2011 than he had in the previous three years combined.
It turned out that Minnesota GM Rick Spielman had it right. Walsh took the NFL by storm. The rookie hit 35-of-38 field goals and all 36 of his extra-point attempts to total 141 points. That performance earned him first-team All-Pro honors and a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Walsh also set an NFL record by going 10-of-10 on field goals from 50 yards or more. His leg strength and astonishing accuracy provided a mostly pedestrian Vikings offense with a dangerous weapon. Walsh also displayed his strong leg on kickoffs, often booting the ball deep into the end zone for touchbacks.
Though Walsh is obviously a work in progress, his outstanding rookie season is enough to boost him to No. 2 on our list. He could move down if his performance wanes, but he could also move up if he continues at his current pace. It's not often that a player entering his second year makes the list of all-time greats for a storied franchise, but it's impossible to argue with Walsh's success thus far.
If you ask 25 Vikings fans over the age of 25 who the greatest kicker in Minnesota Vikings history is, chances are you're going to hear the name Fred Cox roughly 20 times.
Cox came to the Vikings after a strong college career at Pittsburgh. He joined the team in 1963 and was the Minnesota kicker until 1977. He was also the team's punter in 1963.
Not as accurate as Walsh or Longwell, or as prolific as Anderson or Reveiz, Cox tops this list because he was a mainstay on the Minnesota roster during the most dominant run in team history. Cox was the kicker in all four of the Vikings' Super Bowl appearances, and his 1,365 points still top the team's all-time scoring list.
Cox topped 100 points four times in his career, even though teams only played 14 games each season. He was a first-team All-Pro selection in 1969 and was chosen for the Pro Bowl in 1970. He retired in 1977 as the second-leading scorer in NFL history.
As good a kicker as he was, Cox might have been an even better businessman. He spent many years as a chiropractor after his NFL career was over, and is also credited as the inventor of the Nerf football. (Cox invented the football. Robert Witt is the inventor of the Nerf material.)
When Minnesota fans think of the greatest Vikings of all time, they often hearken back to the glory years of the late 1960s and the 1970s. Those teams were famous for their voracious defense and their intimidating presence on the frozen Met Stadium field. Those who bleed purple recall the names Tarkenton, Page, Eller, Marshall and others.
Add Fred Cox to that list. His place in team history and in Vikings lore make him the No. 1 kicker in Minnesota Vikings history.
Check in next week for the next power ranking of all-time Vikings.
Is someone on the list that shouldn't be there? Have a player you'd like to nominate? Speak your mind in the comments section below.
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