The Top 10 Minnesota Vikings Quarterbacks of All-Time
With 40-year old Brett Favre having quite arguably the best season of his career in Minnesota, this writer started thinking about a few other veteran quarterbacks who came to the Land of a Thousand Lakes and found the Fountain of Youth, if only for one season.
But there's more than just a bunch of one-hit wonders in Minnesota's history. The franchise is filled with a rich tradition of great quarterbacks dating back to when the Vikings joined the NFL in 1961.
The only criteria for this list is that each quarterback had to lead the Vikings to the playoffs at least once, leaving the top ten fair game for just about any former Vikings quarterback to have a shot at making the list.
But let's be honest: Only the best Minnesota signal callers made this list.
10. Wade Wilson (1981-1991)
Wade Wilson spent 10 years in Minnesota, going in and out of the lineup and never really producing an elite season.
However, he stuck around for quite some time, while helping the Vikings get to the playoffs in three straight seasons from 1987-1989.
During that span, Wilson guided the Vikings to a solid 19-10 regular season record, while tossing 38 touchdowns.
He was never an elite performer, and his career stats with the Vikings back it up, but when it came to crunch time at the end of the season, Wilson performed admirably, and prove to be quite the serviceable quarterback.
9. Rich Gannon (1987-1992)
Gannon was always known for his longevity in the NFL, playing until age 39, because he started his season by sitting on Minnesota's bench for his first three seasons, and then served as a back-up for the Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chief (before starring for the Oakland Raiders).
The point is, before he had his mid-career crisis, and after he wasted away on the bench for three years, Gannon actually looked to be a fairly solid quarterback.
The numbers weren't elite, but Gannon did manage to top 2,000 yards in two different seasons, while passing for at least 12 touchdowns in three consecutive campaigns.
Impressive? Not at all, but Gannon proved to be a serviceable player who could effectively lead his team, going 19-16 as a starter in Minnesota, although he never guided them into the postseason.
Gannon ended up having a good career by putting together some elite seasons in Oakland, and while he didn't break-out while in Minnesota, he displayed some raw ability and was a part of the franchise for six seasons.
8. Tommy Kramer (1977-1989)
Kramer, while a solid quarterback with decent stats, did not have the luxury of being on a lot of quality Minnesota teams, and managed to guide the Vikings to the playoffs just three times in 12 seasons, while registering just two playoff victories.
However, he's still deemed a moderate success at the position because he did guide them into postseason play, his numbers were elite in three different seasons, and his longevity with the team is fairly impressive.
His main knocks are the fact that he was often injured, and that he was not a very accurate passer.
Still, Kramer lasted 12 seasons in Minnesota, going 54-56 as a starter, while throwing 159 touchdowns and passing for nearly 24,775 yards.
7. Warren Moon (1994-1996)
Moon was an extremely prolific quarterback in both the CFL and NFL, and didn't disappoint from a numbers stand-point while leading the Minnesota Vikings.
At the ages of 37 and 38, put up back-to-back 4,200+ yard passing seasons in Minnesota, before getting injured in his final season with the team in 1996, which eventually led him to the Seattle Seahawks.
For him to play at such a high level at his age was very impressive, and he did so at a time when Minnesota's greatest division foe, the Green Bay Packers, were cruising to division titles, and sporting a suffocating defense.
Moon's story in Minnesota was a mixed bag, but he did accomplish what he originally set out to do by coming to the Vikings in 1994, as he led the Vikings to the playoffs, despite losing their first game.
At age 39, Moon had his best season in nearly five years, as he passed for 33 touchdowns and topped 4,000 yards.
He only had a three-year stint, and it resulted in one brief playoff appearance, but few can forget Moon's magical seasons at age 39, as well as his first season with the team.
6. Randall Cunningham (1997-1999)
Cunningham returned to the NFL in 1997 after retiring from football as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1995.
Initially brought on as a backup to then impressive starter Brad Johnson, Cunningham wasn't needed until his second season with the team, when Johnson went down for the season with a broken league.
With the help of rookie receiver Randy Moss, Cunningham posted career-highs, as he threw for 34 touchdowns, and had a passer rating of 106 (the only one above 91 for his career).
Cunningham also helped the Vikings develop an extremely potent offense, which helped them finish the season at 15-1.
The Vikings marched to the NFC Championship game behind Cunningham in 1998, only to see their season ended when their trusted kicker, Gary Anderson, missed a game-winning field goal near the end of the game.
Cunningham played the next season as the starter, but after ineffective play, was replaced by veteran Jeff George.
That marked the end of Cunningham's time in Minnesota, but he will undoubtedly live on in the hearts of Vikings fans forever, after delivering an unforgettable season in 1998.
5. Joe Kapp (1967-1969)
Kapp only played with the Vikings for three seasons, and only lasted in the NFL for four, but will always be known as the first quarterback to lead the Vikings to the promised land (almost).
Kapp had his best season (19 touchdowns) in 1969, as he guided the Vikings to a 12-1 record as a starter in the regular season, and then helped them win two playoff games, before losing in the Super Bowl.
He won't be remembered for anything other than his magical 1969 season, but for Vikings fans, he'll never be forgotten.
4. Brad Johnson (1992-1998, 2005-2006)
As a ninth round pick by the Vikings out of Florida State back in 1992, Brad Johnson was never expected to take over and be the next Fran Tarkenton.
Heck, just living up to Wade Wilson's "legacy" would have sufficed.
But Johnson sat on the sidelines, learned the offense, and slowly developed into a bright, young signal caller.
He finally took over as the starter in 1996 at the age of 28, after Warren Moon went down with an injury, and he held onto the starting job the following season after Moon left for Seattle.
Johnson was impressive in his first eight starts in 1996, leading the Vikings to a decent 5-3 record, while tossing 17 touchdowns.
The next season, as the full-time starter, Johnson threw for 3,036 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just 12 interceptions as he led Minnesota to an 8-5 record.
He started the 1998 season hot, throwing seven touchdowns in two Vikings wins in the first two weeks, before breaking his leg and giving way to veteran Randall Cunningham.
Johnson would leave to go play for Washington the following season, but returned to Minnesota in 2005 to play two more seasons, before playing his final season as a pro with the Dallas Cowboys
Johnson finished his Vikings career with over 10,000 yards passing 64 touchdowns, and just 48 interceptions.
He goes down in Vikings history as one of it's more poised passers, as he was always extremely comfortable in the pocket, as was a very accurate passer (62 percent as a Viking) and had a solid record as a starter, going 28-18.
3. Brett Favre (2009-??)
Favre's tenure in Minnesota isn't over yet, but even the most casual of Vikings fans has to be loving what they've seen so far.
At the time of this article, Favre and the Vikings are heading into an NFC Championship showdown with the New Orleans Saints, giving Favre the chance to get the Vikings back into the Super Bowl for the first time since the days of Fran Tarkenton.
If Favre can complete the mission and bring Minnesota it's first championship trophy, it's hard to argue him not moving to the top spot.
With an amazing season filled with game-tying/winning passes, and emotional victories over his former team (Green Bay Packers), Favre's 2009 season is one that will never be forgotten.
His 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and 4,200+ yards all add up to one of the best seasons ever seen by a Viking quarterback, as well as one of the future Hall of Famer's personal best year's.
2. Daunte Culpepper (1999-2005)
Despite a successful career in Minnesota that felt like an eternity of dominance, Culpepper actually only registered three full seasons as the starter, with three other seasons that had him dealing with injuries and missing two or more games.
Regardless, Culpepper has to be included in this list, as he was a huge part of the offensive revolution going on in Minnesota, and also helped Randy Moss blossom into the star that he is today.
Culpepper was a perfect blend of size and poise, with a rocket arm and the intelligence to know when to heave it deep to his main weapon, and when to take off running.
He had the ability to plow over defenders like a running back, while also possessing excellent accuracy (69.2 percent in 2004).
2004 was easily Culpepper's finest season in Minnesota, as he passed for over 4,700 yards, and threw for 39 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions.
Despite all of his individual accomplishments, Culpepper struggled to lead the Vikings into the post-season, guiding the Vikings to the playoffs just twice in his career, winning just two games.
He finished with remarkable numbers for having started just six seasons, as he thew for over 20,000 yards and 135 touchdowns. Add in his rushing stats, nearly 2,500 yards and 29 scores, and he's easily one of the better Vikings quarterbacks of all-time.
1. Fran Tarkenton (1961-1966, 1972-1978)
Tarkenton wasn't just the greatest quarterback in Minnesota history. He is easily in the argument for being the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.
Tarkenton was an extremely prolific passer and a great leader, while being able to change games with his legs, while also possessing the adequate decision-making and poise to make sound decisions and lead his team down the field on a consistent basis.
With three Super Bowl trips to his name, there's no denying Tarkenton's ability to lead a potent Vikings offense during his career, while also being able to win big games, although he was never being able to claim a Super Bowl title.
Tarkenton still stands in the NFL record books in third place with 342 passing touchdowns, and is in the top 10 in almost every major passing category.
On top of all his gaudy numbers, as said previously, Tarkenton was a born winner, going 91-73-6 while in a Minnesota uniform.
With Brett Favre having had the season he had in 2009 with the Vikings, it's arguable that Tarkenton is no longer the best quarterback to ever play for the Vikings, but due to his longevity with the team and multiple trips to the Super Bowl, the top spot still belongs to the "Mad Scrambler."
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