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The Best Minnesota Vikings Not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Offense)

JW NixSenior Writer IIMarch 16, 2011

The Best Minnesota Vikings Not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Offense)

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    Minneapolis almost had two professional football teams in 1961. A year earlier, the American Football League planned on putting a franchise in the "Twin Cities."

    The National Football League, who had a 40-year-old agreement with Ole Haugsrud, pressured the AFL to move their team. That team headed to Oakland and became the Raiders.

    Haugsrud once owned the Duluth Eskimos, who are linked to the Washington Redskins. He named his new expansion team the Vikings because that, and the colors the team would use, was the name of his high school football team in Wisconsin.

    Hall of Fame quarterback Norm Van Brocklin was named the first head coach of the Vikings. He had just retired as a player, having led the Philadelphia Eagles to a title in 1960. The first Vikings draft saw them acquire Fran Tarkenton in the third round.

    Though Van Brocklin and Takenton had a fiery relationship, the future Hall of Fame quarterback known as "The Mad Scrambler" grew with the team.

    The team had one winning season and one .500 season in seven years under Van Brocklin, but "The Dutchman" drafted several key Vikings that would eventually make the team one of the best.

    Three of the six men who have had their numbers retired by the team were acquired by Van Brocklin, but that did not stop him from being fired after the 1966 season.

    Minnesota then hired a guy who actually grew up in the same Wisconsin town as Haugsrud, and attended that same high school the Vikings were named after.

    Bud Grant had already had success as a coach in the Canadian Football League. He was a two-sport star who had won an NBA Championship as a player, and he still owns a CFL record by intercepting five balls in one playoff game. He had also been a start two-way player for the Eagles, but had bolted to the CFL after contract issues.

    Grant coached his CFL teams to four titles in 10 years. He was lured to the Vikings, where his beliefs in discipline and poise would steer the Vikings into quickly becoming a powerhouse. His first year was met with a losing record, and Grant would not have a losing season again until 1979.

    Minnesota reached the Super Bowl four times between 1969 and 1976. The stars of the team were on the defensive side of the ball. They were the "Purple People Eaters."

    The offense was also stacked, featuring a few Hall of Famers and several Pro Bowlers. Though the Vikings never won a Super Bowl, they were certainly one of the greatest teams in modern NFL history.

    The team began rebuilding slowly in 1977, but Grant keep them competitive for the most part. He took them to the playoffs four times in seven years. The future Hall of Famer retired for a year, but was coaxed back to coach one more season until retiring for good.

    The post-Grant years have been met with mixed results. They have been to the playoffs 14 times since 1986, but have failed to reach a Super Bowl. Some think the reason for this was a move the franchise made in 1982.

    From their first year up until that point, the Vikings played in Metropolitan Stadium. It was an outdoor arena that gave the Vikings a huge advantage. Teams would walk into a blizzard, only to see the Vikings running around without long sleeves. The mental battle was won right there.

    The team moved inside to a domed stadium in 1982, and it is no coincidence the lack of Super Bowls soon followed. They are getting ready to move into a new stadium again, one that has a retractable roof. Old school Vikings fans are hoping the team never closes the roof and lets the snow back onto the gridiron once again.

    Here is a list of some of the best Vikings not yet inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Several more belong with the 10 already enshrined, but some believe the lack of Super Bowl trophies has kept many from attaining their deserved respect.

    See my profile page for a link to the defense.

Quarterback: Tommy Kramer

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    Kramer was drafted in the first round of the 1977 draft for the express purpose of one day supplanting aging Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, who owned virtually every NFL record for a quarterback during that time. He sat and learned for two seasons, then Tarkenton retired. Kramer took over in 1979 and soon became known for his flair for the dramatic moment.

    He was known as "Two Minute Tommy" because he often led Minnesota to victories late in the game.  One of his more famous moments came on a one-handed catch by Ahmad Rashad on a "Hail Mary" pass as time expired against the Cleveland Browns.

    It secured the Vikings a division title. Kramer threw for a career-best 3,912 yards and 26 touchdowns the next year, despite missing two games. Kramer had taken over the Vikings when an aging team was rebuilding.

    The offensive line was an area affected by mass retirement, so it was often porous while Kramer was there. He took a huge pounding, despite having a quick release. The punishment he took led to injuries, causing him to miss 20 games in 1983 and 1984. 

    In his 13 years as the primary starting quarterback, Kramer lasted an entire season twice. He often found himself picking his carcass off the turf after being blasted by another defender. Another reason for defenders to key on him was an erratic rushing attack. 

    Minnesota had halfbacks Ricky Young, Ted Brown and Darrin Nelson as the main running backs in Kramer's area. Though Brown had two effective seasons running the ball, these backs are most noted for their receiving abilities.  

    Young, one of the great pass-catching backs in the era, Brown and Nelson had over 900 receptions with Kramer. Brown's 1,063 rushing yards in 1981 was the best run support Kramer ever had. 

    Though he missed three games in 1986, Kramer had perhaps his finest season. He made his only Pro Bowl and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Kramer led the NFL in quarterback rating, adjusted yards gained per pass attempt and adjusted net yards gained per pass attempt. 

    His next three seasons were littered by injuries. Kramer missed 24 games over that time and lost his starting job to Wade Wilson.

    He joined the New Orleans Saints in 1990, but appeared in one game. He then retired. Replacing a legend is never an easy thing to do, and it is harder when the team is trying to rebuild.

    Despite all of the missed games, Kramer is second in franchise history in wins, games played, passing attempts and completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns. No Vikings quarterback has been sacked more either. 

    He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Team, put together in 2010. Kramer is the only Viking to ever win the Comeback Player of the Year Award. "Two Minute Tommy" is truly a Vikings legend. 

    Joe Kapp, Wade Wilson, Randall Cunningham and Duante Culpepper deserve mention.

Fullback: Chuck Foreman

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    Foreman was drafted in the first round of the 1973 draft by the Vikings. He went to work right away, leading the team in rushing, touchdowns scored and finishing second in receiving.

    He was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and to the first of five straight Pro Bowls as Minnesota reached the Super Bowl. He was just as special in his second season.

    Foreman led the team in rushing receiving and touchdowns, both in the air and on the ground. His 15 total touchdowns that year led the NFL. The Sporting News named him NFC Player of the Year as the Vikings reached the Super Bowl again. 

    The 1975 season was one of his best. He was named First Team All-Pro after leading the NFL with a career best 73 receptions, while churning out 1,070 yards on a career-high 280 carries. Foreman also ran for a career high 13 scores, adding a career-high nine more off receptions. 

    His 22 touchdowns were an NFC record at the time. He was fighting O.J. Simpson for the NFL record, as well as trying to lead the league in rushing, receiving and scoring.

    In the last game of the regular season, the Vikings headed into Buffalo. Foreman went wild in just under three quarters. He had already scored three times, had nine receptions and 85 yards rushing in a snow storm.

    Simpson was attempting to pass the 22-touchdown record he had tied Gale Sayers with the season before. As Foreman ran out of bounds after an errant throw, a fan pelted him in the eye with a snow ball.

    With his vision blurred, he sat out a few plays, but returned to catch a touchdown pass to tie Sayers and Simpson for the record. His eye was bothering him, so he had to sit out the rest of the game for precautionary measures. Simpson would later set the record with his 23rd score in the Vikings' 35-13 rout.

    Foreman lost the rushing title the next day, when Jim Otis of the Saint Louis Cardinals passed him by six yards. In the end, a disgruntled fan cost Foreman a chance at history. 

    He duplicated his 13 rushing touchdowns in 1976, while pounding out a career-high 1,155 yards on the ground and catching 55 balls. His 14 touchdowns led the NFL, and the UPI named him NFC Player of the Year. Minnesota reached the Super Bowl for the third time in his career. 

    The 1977 season was his last Pro Bowl year. He ran for 1,112 yards and scored nine times total. Though he caught 61 passes and ran for 749 yards in 1978, the wear and tear of carrying the Vikings offense caught up to him. 

    He spent 1979 on the bench, being replaced by a pair of pass catching backs named Ricky Young and Ted Brown. He was traded to the New England Patriots in 1980, but was rarely used. He then retired. Foreman was more than a powerful runner with soft hands.

    He was especially nimble, earning him the nickname "Spin Doctor." He would accomplish these feats on the icy Minnesota tundra in an era were fields were not kept up like they are today. The 132 points he scored in 1975 is still a Vikings record by a non-kicker, and it ranks second best overall.

    He held the team record for most rushing yards until Robert Smith passed him in 2000, and he has the second most rushing attempts in Vikings history behind the great Bill Brown. He is tied with Smith and Adrian Peterson with 52 touchdowns on the ground, but Peterson appears likely to set the record the next time he plays.

    Foreman's 336 receptions are just three behind Ted Brown as the most by a running back in Vikings history, and ranks ninth best overall. His 73 receptions in 1973 was a NFL record by a running back until the Vikings' Ricky Young broke it in 1978.

    Foreman is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings, as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams. He has also been inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor. 

    Some Vikings fans may prefer the rugged Bill Brown in this slot. He was a scoring machine with soft hands, just like Foreman. Some would say put both in the backfield together, which also works. 

    I chose Foreman because he was basically the first version of the versatile fullback you could lean on running or passing the ball. There was nothing Foreman couldn't do on the gridiron for six spectacular years. He may be the best fullback in Vikings history. 

    Bill Brown and Tony Richardson deserve mention.

Halfback: Robert Smith

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    Smith was Minnesota's first-round draft choice in 1993. He contributed very little his first two seasons and was mostly used as a receiver. Though he carried the ball much more the following two years, Smith fought injuries and missed 15 games over that time. 

    He came into his own during the 1997 season, rushing for 1,266 yards and catching a career-best 37 balls. He also averaged a very impressive 5.5 yards per carry, which was the best of his career. 

    Smith followed that with his first Pro Bowl year in 1998 after running for 1,187 yards and churning out six rushing touchdowns. He ran for 1,015 yards in 1999 despite missing three games. 

    His 2000 season was his best, as well as being the only time in his career he was able to play an entire season. Smith made his last Pro Bowl after setting career-high marks of 1,521 yards and seven touchdowns on 295 carries. He also averaged 5.2 yards per carry. 

    Despite reeling off four straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons and being only 28 years old, Smith retired after that 2000 season. He noted his injury plagued career as one of the reasons for his early exit, despite perhaps just entering his prime. 

    Smith is still holds the Vikings record for most rushing yards in a career and his four 1,000-yards rushing seasons is a team record, though Adrian Peterson tied it in 2010. Smith accomplished all of this and fumbled the ball just nine times in his whole career. 

    He was always making the big play for the Vikings. Smith's average touchdown run was 27.2 yards, which is an NFL record. He had four consecutive years where he ran a football 70 yards or longer. 

    He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings, as well as being a member of their 40th Anniversary Team. There is no question that Robert Smith was a special player in the short time that he wore the Vikings uniform. 

    Brent McClanahan, Michael Bennett, Dave Osborne, Tommy Mason, Darrin Nelson, Ted Brown and Ricky Young deserve mention.

Wide Receiver: Cris Carter

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    Carter was drafted in the fourth round of the Supplemental Draft in 1987 by the Philadelphia Eagles. He had to go into the supplemental draft because he lost his senior year of eligibility at Ohio State University after signing a contract with an agent.   

    The 1987 season is best known as being shortened by a players' strike. Carter was rarely used, catching two touchdowns off five receptions, though he did return 12 kicks. He would only return one kick the rest of his career. 

    Kenny Jackson, the Eagles' first-round draft pick in 1984, was not working out as a starter opposite Pro Bowler Mike Quick. Carter was inserted into the starting lineup and grabbed 17 touchdowns off 84 receptions over two seasons. The Eagles were known for their swarming defense and athletic quarterback during this time.

    Their head coach, Buddy Ryan, was a defensive expert, but the Eagles offense could not score in the playoffs and were bounced out in their first game in both years Carter started. Ryan suddenly cut Carter after the 1989 season, with the reason that all Carter did for the Eagles was "catch touchdown passes."

    The truth was that Carter was abusing drugs and the wide receiver credits his being cut as the wake up call that saved his life. Minnesota claimed him off the waiver wire right away. He spent his first year in Minnesota backing up Anthony Carter (no relation) and Hassan Jones.

    Though the Vikings started three receivers seven times in 1991, he supplanted Jones as the starter and would hold that spot the remainder of his Vikings career. One of Carter's strengths was his conditioning and durability. Though he missed four games because if injury in 1992, he played every other game possible for Minnesota.

    Except for his rookie and final seasons, those would be the only four games that he missed. His 1993 season was the first of eight straight Pro Bowl years. He became one of the very best receivers in the NFL over this time.

    Carter caught a career-best 122 pass in both 1994 and 1995, becoming the only player in NFL history to have that many receptions twice. He led the NFL in receptions in 1994, and his career-best 17 touchdown receptions in 1995 led the league as well. 

    The Vikings had a revolving door at quarterback during Carter's time there. Seven different men were the primary starter in his 12 seasons with the team.

    Despite all the lunacy and confusion, Carter was a beacon of steady leadership and consistent production. Carter had 86 or more receptions in seven of his eight Pro Bowl years. He had 90 or more catches five times.

    He also grabbed those touchdowns Ryan mentioned. Other than the 17 scores in 1995, he led the NFL with 13 touchdown catches two times. He was in double figures in touchdown receptions in five of his Pro Bowl years. 

    What made his production even more special, other than the ever-changing quarterback, is the fact he had to share receptions with future Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, Pro Bowl wide receivers Jake Reed and Anthony Carter and Pro Bowl tight end Steve Jordan. 

    Besides his eight consecutive Pro Bowls, he was named First Team All-Pro twice. He holds the Vikings record for Pro Bowls by a wide receiver, and only Moss has been named First Team All-Pro more.

    Just two Vikings Hall of Famers, Alan Page and Randall McDaniel, have represented Minnesota more at the Pro Bowl than Carter.  Though he caught 73 balls for six scores in 2001, the Vikings let the 36-year-old receiver go. He joined the Miami Dolphins the next year, but appeared in just five games and retired. 

    Carter holds the Vikings records of receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches for a career. He also holds the single-season Vikings record for receptions and is tied with Moss with touchdown receptions. 

    He has been a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame three times so far. He ranks third in NFL history with 1,101 career receptions, fourth in career receiving touchdowns with 130 and eighth in career receiving yards and total career touchdowns.  

    Carter has a feel-good story attached to his career, one that has now extended to where he provides analysis on television. With career on the ropes because of drugs, he rebounded and became a leader.

    Most recall him serving as a mentor to Moss. He won the Bart Starr Man of the Year Award in 1994, the Bryon "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year Award in 1998 and the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 1999. 

    Besides the 17 NFL records he either owns or shares, he is a member of the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team. He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings, as well as being a member of their 40th Anniversary Team. The Vikings have retired his jersey and inducted him into their Honor Roll.

    His induction into Canton is inevitable, the only question left is the year it will happen. The Vikings have had a huge amount of great receivers to play for them, but Cris Carter may be the best ever.

Wide Receiver: Sammy White

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    White was drafted in the second round by Minnesota in 1976. He started immediately and exploded on the NFL. He was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after catching a career best 10 touchdowns while getting 906 yards on 51 receptions.

    The Vikings reached Super Bowl XI, where White would make a play to be remembered forever. The Vikings were trailing early to the Oakland Raiders and forced to throw on third and long. The ball hung in the air as White and two Raiders ran to it.

    There was a tremendous collision that eventually sent White's helmet flying. Though he hung onto the ball, the impact of the hit forced him to sit out of several plays. White did come back to lead the Vikings with five receptions for 77 yards and a score in the Raiders' 32-14 victory. 

    What some fans do not remember was the catch White made in the Vikings' playoff win over the Washington Redskins that year. Those who recall it often say it is amongst the best circus catches in NFL history. 

    While Chuck Foreman and Brent McClanahan both ran for 100 yards, White led the team with four catches for 64 yards. Two went for score, but the first was the best. 

    Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton slightly overthrew White on a post pattern, but a diving White got a hand on he ball, batting it in the air. He crashed to the ground, but kept his eyes on the football. 

    Squirming on the ground, he stretched out to keep batting the ball in the air, juggling it as he squirmed to get his body underneath the ball. He achieved this after several yards, then continued to snake his body on the ground until he crossed the goal line to put the Vikings up 14-3. 

    He was named to the Pro Bowl in his rookie year, an honor he would achieve the next season after averaging 18.5 yards on 41 receptions and scoring nine times.

    White was considered a top-flight receiver able to beat you with speed and precise route running. He continued to be the Vikings' top receiver the next three years, culminating in having one of the best seasons of his career in 1981.

    He set career-high marks with 66 receptions for 1,001 yards. After the strike-shortened 1982 season, White's next two years were met with nagging injuries. He still was able to average a career-best 19 yards a catch in 1984.

    After being able to suit up for just six games due to injury in 1985, he retired. He left the game as the Vikings all-time leader in receiving yards and touchdown catches, as well as second in receptions.

    White still ranks fourth in touchdown catches, fifth in receiving yards and seventh in receptions. Wide receiver is a position Minnesota is deep in tradition and excellence, where choosing anyone is not the wrong choice.

    I selected White for not only his postseason greatness, but the fact he was at his best in the much harder 10-yard chuck rule era. Only Ahmad Rashad had to deal with this, as far as Vikings receivers with more receptions, and he finished with just seven more catches than White.

    The rest on the list, with more catches than White, are men who encountered the much easier 5-yard chuck rule in a much more offensive friendly era. Yet Sammy White was able to average over 16 yards on 393 receptions, while finding the end zone 50 times.

    He wasn't just spectacular, he was tough, proving much of his career to be amongst the best wide receivers in Vikings history. He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings, as well as being a member of their 25th Anniversary Team. 

    Anthony Carter, Ahmad Rashad, John Gilliam, Paul Flatley, Koren Robinson, Bob Grimm, Jerry Reichow, Jake Reed and Gene Washington deserve mention.

Tight End: Steve Jordan

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    Jordan was the Vikings' seventh-round draft pick in 1982. He spent his first two years backing up Pro Bowler Joe Senser and Hall of Famer Dave Casper. He earned the starting job in 1984.

    Besides 38 receptions, he had the only rushing attempt of his career and scored from four yards out. He had a career-best 68 receptions the next year, but failed to score. 

    Things changed in 1986, where Jordan would earn the first of six consecutive Pro Bowl honors. Besides being a consistent receiving threat, his blocking improved every year. He also never missed a game over this stretch of time. 

    Jordan began to get injured in 1992. He missed two games that season and the next, though he was productive with 57 receptions in his last year as a starter. Jordan was only able to suit up for four games in 1994, then retired. 

    He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings, as well as being a member of their 40th Anniversary Team. No Vikings tight end has more Pro Bowls, receptions, receiving yards or touchdowns caught than him. 

    He still ranks third in Vikings history in receptions, sixth in receiving yards and seventh in touchdown catches. Minnesota has had quite a few good tight ends wear their uniform, but Jordan may be the best of them all. 

    Joe Senser, Byron Chamberlain, Bob Tucker and Stu Voight deserve mention.

Tackle: Grady Alderman

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    Alderman was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 10th round of the 1960 draft. He spent his rookie year on the bench, playing both guard and tackle. Detroit left him exposed to the Vikings' expansion draft in 1961.

    Though Minnesota got several good players, including Hall of Fame halfback Hugh McElhenny, Alderman was their finest selection. He started at left tackle day one.

    Alderman started every game he played over the next nine seasons, missing just one game over that span. Though the Vikings were struggling as a team, he quickly stood out. 

    The 1963 season was his first of five consecutive Pro Bowl honors. The team have five losing seasons in their first seven years of existence, but people recognized the work of Alderman. He played in an era where players and coaches voted on who would get that honor. The Vikings steadily improved, and Alderman was a consistent force each year.

    The offensive line was one of the reasons for the improvement, with Pro Bowlers Mick Tinglehoff at center and Milt Sunde at guard. It would get even better whn Hall of Famer Ron Yary and Pro Bowler Ed White were added later on. Though his Pro Bowl streak ended in 1968, it was the first year the Vikings won their division.

    Minnesota repeated as division champions the next year by winning 12 of 14 games. Though the team would win 12 games three more times up until 1973, it was a franchise record until the 1998 team won 15. 

    The Vikings are the last NFL Champion before the NFL and American Football League officially merged in 1970. They reached Super Bowl V that year before losing. Alderan was named to his last Pro Bowl, as well as earning his lone First Team All-Pro nod. 

    The last five years of his career were peppered with injuries, but he helped Minnesota keep winning. The team lost just 11 games in four of those years. Alderman would miss the first three starts of his career in 1970, and miss three more the next year.

    He also missed the second game of his career in 1971. Now 36 years old in 1974, Minnesota took him out of the starting lineup for the first time in his career. He appeared in every game but one as a reserve.

    The Vikings reached their third Super Bowl in his career with them, but lost. Alderman then retired. His 194 games played is still the seventh most in Vikings history. Few players in the history of the game were as reliable.

    Alderman missed just three games in his 14 years with Minnesota. A masterful technician, he always took on the other team's best pass rusher. He also had to block with knowledge of the avenues Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Takenton might take off running to.

    Tarkenton was known as the "Mad Scrambler," so blockers would have to stay blocking on plays longer for him than other teams had to. Alderman is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings, as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams.

    Alderman was an alert player who pounced on 13 fumbles in his career. He was somehow left off the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team, despite going to the Pro Bowl more than two of the three tackles selected. One, Bob Brown, is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Brown went to the Pro Bowl four times in the 1960's and the other selection, Ralph Neely of the Dallas Cowboys, went twice. The six Pro Bowls he played in are tied with 11 other Vikings as the fifth most in franchise history, and it is the most ever by a left tackle.

    He is the first tackle in team history to be named First Team All-Pro. Alderman was named Second Team All-Pro five times. What fans forget with all of his longevity, durability and excellence is how he accomplished all of this despite being one of the smaller left tackles in the game.

    Alderman stood 6'2" and weighed 247 lbs. in an era where blockers were not allowed to extend their arms and use their hands like today. Surviving alone shows how stellar he was with his technique.

    Then you factor in all of the accolades he attained in his career as his teams went from the basement of the NFL to becoming a dominant squad for many years.  I can only guess his exclusion from Canton is some sort of punishment for the Vikings failing to win a Super Bowl. He hasn't even gotten close in the voting process, which is a head scratcher. 

    Not only is he still the greatest left tackle in the history of the Minnesota Vikings, but Grady Alderman is most certainly worthy of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Tackle: Todd Steussie

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    Steussie was drafted by the Vikings in the first round of the 1994 draft. He started at left tackle immediately, and would start every game of his career with Minnesota.  

    He was also extremely durable and dependable, missing just one game with the Vikings. On a Vikings offensive line that had a Hall of Fame guard and Pro Bowl center, Steussie gained notice for his own excellent play. 

    At 6'6", 330 lbs., he was a mountain of a man on a team with one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Stuessie was given a Pro Bowl nod in both 1997 and 1998. Stuessie became a free agent after the 2000 season, so he signed with the Carolina Panthers.

    Lasting three years with the team, he appeared in the Panthers' Super Bowl XXXVIII loss. He was a salary cap victim in 2004 and was released. After playing the next two seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Stuessie joined the Saint Louis Rams in 2006. He was hurt the next year, able to play in just six games, then retired. 

    Tim Irwin, a true Vikings legend, was considered heavily for this slot. Stuessie accomplished Pro Bowl honors, and Irwin did not. Though both are excellent players who were underrated when they played, Stuessie's accolades give him the nod here. 

    Korey Stringer, Tim Irwin and Steve Riley deserve mention.

Guard: Ed White

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    White was drafted in the second round of the 1969 draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He was placed at left offensive guard, against his wishes, after being drafted. He earned the starting job mid-way into his second year.

    He also ended up playing defensive tackle towards the end of the 1970 season, after injuries ravaged the defensive line.  White would go on to team up with Hall of Fame tackle Ron Yary and center Mick Tingelhoff to give the Vikings one of the best offensive lines in the NFL during the 1970's.

    The Vikings would appear in four Super Bowls during White's tenure in Minnesota. Three appearances were between 1973 to 1976.  The Vikings won the last NFL Championship in 1969 before the NFL-AFL merger.

    In 1974, he was named the the UPI Second Team All-Conference, and was named by the Newspaper Ent. Association's First Team All-NFL.  Before 1975, White was switched to right guard and was named to his first Pro Bowl that year.

    He would be named to the Pro Bowl the following two seasons as well.  In 1977, White was injured and was only able to start eight games. Before the 1978 season, he was traded to the San Diego Chargers for running back Rickey Young.  

    He would earn his last Pro Bowl nod in 1979, and was one of the first players to be named to the Pro Bowl from both the AFC and the NFC in his career. White played with the Chargers until 1985. When injuries hit the Chargers offensive line in 1984, White ended up starting at right tackle for 13 games.  

    He would then be moved to left guard for his final NFL season, and started every game. He was named the Chargers' Offensive Lineman of the Year from 1983 to 1985. White was inducted into the San Diego Charger Hall of Fame in 2004. He is also one of the 50 Greatest Chargers and is a member of the San Diego Hall of Champions.

    White was extremely athletic and incredibly strong. He was the the NFL arm wrestling champion and once stated he hasn't lost an arm wrestling match since he was in high school, to a man 200 lbs heavier than him. White was also noted for his exceptional intelligence on the field.  

    He has often said he disliked playing on the offensive side of the line, and thought he would have been a much better player on defense. Still, he was one of the best in his era. Many of his contemporaries have long said White belongs in Canton.  White also made his teammates better just by practicing against him daily.

    Hall of Fame defensive tackle Alan Page, Pro Bowl defensive tackles Gary "Big Hands" Johnson, Louie Kelcher and Hall of Fame defensive end Fred Dean all have praised White for making them better players. White was one of the most complete offensive guards in the NFL throughout his career.

    Stats for guys who play his position are ignored by most.  The most a fan notices a guard is when he makes a mistake. This is a big mistake that has been made for years, and still continues on to this day. The culprits are those who vote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  

    Ed White may not be remembered by many of them, but he is certainly respected by those who played against him, or watched him play. It is time to correct the mistake of not having inducted him into Canton. His 241 games played was a record for an offensive guard when he retired.

    He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings, as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams.

Guard: Milt Sunde

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    Sunde was drafted in the 20th round of the 1964 draft by the Vikings after having grown up in Minneapolis and attending the University of Minnesota. 

    After a rookie year of being a reserve, he earned a starting job at left guard in 1965. Sunde then earned his only Pro Bowl nod the next season, joined by left tackle Grady Alderman and center Mick Tingelhoff. He got hurt the next year, appearing in 10 games.

    The Vikings moved him to right guard in 1968, where he split starts with Larry Bowie. He took over the starting job the next year as the Vikings became the last NFL Champions before they merged with the American Football League. 

    He held the starting job until 1974, when new acquired Andy Maurer took over. The Vikings went to the Super Bowl in 1973 and 1974, but lost both times. Sunde retired at the end of the 1974 season. 

    Minnesota has had several great guards in the franchises history, but Milt Sunde was the first to ever go to the Pro Bowl. A perfect scenario for the local kid who made good against all odds. He is a member of their 25th Anniversary Team. 

    Terry Tausch, Wes Hamilton, Larry Bowie, David Dixon and Charles Goodrum deserve mention.

Center: Mick Tingelhoff

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    Tingelhoff was an undrafted rookie signed by the Vikings before the 1962 season. He earned the starting job at center in the second preseason game of his rookie year.  It was a role he would not relinquish until he retired after 1978.

    He made his first Pro Bowl in 1964, and would attain that honor every year until 1969.  The 1969 season was the year the Vikings were crowned NFL Champions and went on to play the AFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV before losing. He was named to the 1,000-Yard Club in 1969, honoring the NFL’s top blocker.  

    In 1970, he was named to the First Team All-NFL by both the Pro Football Writers and Pro Football Weekly. He was named First Team All-Conference by the Associated Press and Pro Football Weekly.  He was named Second Team All-NFL by Newspaper Ent. Association and Second Team All-Conference by the UPI.

    The Vikings went back to the Super Bowl in 1973 before losing to the Miami Dolphins.  The Vikings returned to the Super Bowl the following season, but lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Vikings continued to be an NFL powerhouse throughout the decade and returned to Super Bowl XI in 1976, but lost to the Oakland Raiders.  

    He retired after the 1978 season, having started every game the Vikings played his entire career. His 240 consecutive starts were then the second most in NFL history, thirty starts behind his Vikings teammate Jim Marshall.  

    The only player in Nebraska University history to enjoy a longer NFL career was Tingelhoff's Husker teammate, Ron McDole, who spent 18 years in the league from 1961 to 1978. Tingelhoff has been inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor and has had his No. 53 jersey retired by the franchise.

    Tingelhoff's omission from Canton is one of the most confusing of all players still awaiting induction. The numbers are obvious. He was one of the most dominant centers of his era, and defined the true definition of an iron horse.  

    You can easily note his consecutive starts streak, the fact he was a Pro Bowler six straight seasons and was part of the most dominant team in the NFC during the 1970's.  The Vikings were a well balanced offense that scored points off the ground and via the air.

    Tingelhoff snapped the ball to such great NFL quarterbacks like Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton and Pro Bowler Joe Kapp. He also helped pave the way for Vikings fullback Chuck Foreman and others to gain huge chunks of yardage.  

    Much of the yardage Tarkenton acquired through the air to set a then-NFL record in passing yards and passing touchdowns were helped along by Tingelhoff's protection. He was a sound technical blocker who used his intelligence, grit and determination to get the job done better than most centers who ever played the game.  

    The fact that the voters have passed on him over these years truly shows many hardly pay attention to the battles in the trenches. There is absolutely no question that Mick Tingelhoff belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings, as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams.

    Matt Birk and Jeff Christy deserve mention.

Kicker: Fred Cox

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    Cox was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1961, but he failed to make the team. Minnesota quickly picked him up and used him as both a punter and kicker in his rookie season. He punted the ball the only 70 times of his career that season. 

    Now concentrating on just place kicking, Cox began to stand out. He led the NFL in field goal attempts and makes in 1965. Cox led the NFL in field goal percentage and field goal conversions in 1969, earning him a First Team All-Pro honor. 

    His 1970 season was his lone Pro Bowl year. Cox led the NFL in field goal attempts and makes while scoring a career best 125 points. Though he never scored over 100 points again, Cox scored 85 or more points five times. 

    He retired after 15 seasons in 1977, having played in 210 games for the Vikings. He is the Vikings' leader in points scored for a career. Three of his seasons still rank in the top 10 scoring seasons in team history. 

    Cox still ranks in the top 25 in NFL history in points scored, field goals and extra points attempted and made. Cox leads the Vikings in all of those categories as well. He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings, as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams. 

    Many people might recall Fred Cox as the person who invented the Nerf football, but hopefully they also remember that he is the greatest kicker in Minnesota Vikings history. 

    Fuad Reveiz and Gary Anderson deserve mention.

Kick Returner: Darrin Nelson

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    Nelson was a first-round draft pick, and the seventh overall, of the Vikings in the 1982 draft. Though the season was cut short by a players' strike, Nelson was seldom used that year. He spent the next two years where he was sporadically used, but he showed great skill as a receiver and return specialist.

    He set career highs in 1984 with 39 kickoff returns for 891 yards, with 23 punt returns. Nelson returned 16 punts the next year, but was never asked by the Vikings to return punts again.

    He also set career high marks with 200 carries for 893 yards and five scores that season. The 1986 season was his best as a pro. He toted the ball 191 times for 793 yards while setting career highs with 53 receptions for 593 yards and three touchdowns.

    He then began to frustrate the Vikings the next two seasons because he couldn't stay healthy. Minnesota then created a blockbuster trade in 1989 known as the "Hershel Walker Trade," which also gets called the "Great Train Robbery."

    The Vikings received Walker and three draft picks from the Dallas Cowboys, as well as a draft pick from the San Diego Chargers. Minnesota used a pick on Jake Reed, while the rest of the picks did not work out. Dallas got three first and second-round draft picks from the Vikings, as well as five veteran players that included Nelson.

    Minnesota used one of the Vikings' draft picks to select Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith. Nelson refused to join the Cowboys, so he was jettisoned to the San Diego Chargers. He did so little for the Chargers that they cut him after the 1990 season. Minnesota picked him up off waivers. 

    He lasted two years with the Vikings, backing up Walker and returning kickoffs. Nelson retired after the 1992 season. He has the seventh most rushing yards in team history and has the fourth most receptions by a running back in team history. 

    Nelson is the Vikings all-time leader in kick returns and kick return yardage. He is a member of their 40th Anniversary Team as a kick returner, and was the best the Vikings ever had do it until Percy Harvin arrived on the scene recently. 

    Buster Rhymes, David Palmer, Eddie Payton, Brent McClanahan, Clint Jones, Hershel Walker and Qadry Ismail deserve mention.

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