Top 5 Viking Quarterbacks of All Time
While others concentrate on the current Viking Roster and their exploits on and off the field, I am going to take a look back at the glorious and heartbreaking history our favorite team. First off is the quarterback, the most important position on the field and arguably all of team sports. This list includes two Hall of Famers and one soon to be Hall of Famer.
5. Randall Cunningham – He was the Vikings quarterback in what is arguably the greatest offense season in Vikings History in 1998. He threw for 3704 yards, 34 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions in 14 games that season. We were one missed field goal from returning to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1976 season. Unfortunately, the next season he proved to be somewhat ineffective and gave way to Jeff George partway through the season. He then moved on to Dallas for one season and Baltimore in 2001 before retiring after 16 seasons. He will be forever associated as a Philadelphia Eagle where he had three pro bowl years and was considered a top tier quarterback.
4. Daunte Culpepper – Daunte was drafted with the 11th overall pick in 1999 making him only the second quarterback that the Vikings had drafted in the first round. He essentially did not play in his rookie year but took over the starting reins in 2000 and made the made the first of his three trips to the pro bowl. In 2004 he had his best season throwing for a league leading 4717 yards, a Vikings record of 39 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He also ran for 406 yards and 2 touchdowns. In 2005 he suffered a devastating knee injury which would end his career as a Viking and would relegate him to back up status for the rest of his career as he was never the same quarterback after the injury.
3. Warren Moon – Our first Hall of Famer on the list. He was inducted in 2006 as a Houston Oiler where he spent the first 9 years of his career. Moon came to the Vikings in 1994 and was a member of the team for 2 ½ seasons going to the Pro Bowl in both 1994 and 1995. In 1995 he threw for a then team record of 33 touchdown passes to go with his 4,228 yards. He was released halfway through 1996 when Brad Johnson was elevated to the starting quarterback position and he refused to take a pay cut to serve as Johnson’s backup.
2. Brett Favre – The future Hall of Famer joined the team for the 2009 season and had arguably the best season of his career. He joined the team during training camp and went on to throw for 33 touchdowns, 4,202 yards and only threw 7 interceptions. The Vikings advanced to the NFC Championship game only to lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champions, New Orleans Saints. Brett returned in 2010 after the Vikings sent a private airplane with some veteran players asking him to return. The magic was not there for a second season. He threw for 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions before sustaining a sprained shoulder and upon his return from that injury, he suffered a concussion ending his season and his career.
1. Fran Tarkenton – The greatest quarterback in Viking history and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a Viking. He joined the team as a 3rd round draft pick in 1961, the Vikings inaugural season. He came off the bench in his first game to replace George Shaw throwing 4 touchdown passes and running for a fifth. He became known as “The Scrambler” due to his ability to keep plays alive and avoid the pass rush. Fran was traded to the New York Giants after the 1966 season where he played through the 1971 before being traded back to Minnesota for the 1972 season. His second stint with the Vikings was when he achieved his greatest success in leading the team to 3 super Bowl appearances in 4 years, unfortunately, losing all three games. He won the MVP award following the 1975 season as well as capturing All Pro honors. He made All-NFC in 1972 and 1976 as well as 2nd team All-NFC in 1974. When he retired following the 1978 season, he was the career leader in pass completions, attempts, yardage and touchdowns as well as rushing yards by a quarterback
Honorable mentions would go to Joe Kapp, Tommy Kramer, Wade Wilson and Brad Johnson who all had respectable Viking careers but could not match the top five. Next time I will take a look at the top five running backs in Viking history.