Vikings football flag

Vikings football flag (Photo by dean bertoncelj on Shutterstock)

Minnesota is one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world, and it’s home to several professional sports teams including the Timberwolves, Twins, and Vikings. The Minnesota Vikings are the oldest pro sports team in the great state of Minnesota. The team has been playing in the National Football League (NFL) since 1961 and they’ve been consistent contenders nearly the entire time. In fact, the Vikings went to a staggering four straight Super Bowls during the early ‘70s. Undoubtedly, the Vikings have had some all-time legendary football players come through the organization, but only a few can be called the best Vikings players of all time. 

Before we jump into the list of the best Vikings in team history, let’s take a moment to appreciate the fans who make it all possible. Fans love their teams so much that they’re willing to plan vacations around watching their favorite team play in person. A recent study found that the average sports fan is willing to travel a whopping five hours and 48 minutes plus spend $762.20 on tickets just to see their favorite team play live. 

Traveling to professional sporting events is nothing new for Americans. We love our sports and we’re loyal to our teams. However, another recent study suggests that simply getting out to watch a live sports event – whether it’s professional or amateur sports – is beneficial for your mental health. Scientists at Anglia Ruskin University say that attending live sporting events actually helps increase overall mental well-being and reduces feelings of loneliness. A survey of 7,000 adults found that those respondents who attended live sporting events scored better in terms of life satisfaction than those who had not recently attended events. That’s definitely a great reason to get out and watch the Vikings flex on their opponents this season. 

So, which players are considered the greats in Vikings franchise history? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 sports and football-related websites in an effort to bring you the best Vikings players of all time. Our list comprises the five most frequently listed players from across these sites. Think your favorite Viking was snubbed? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! 

aerial photography of NFL logo printed on field
NFL logo (Photo by Adrian Curiel on Unsplash)

The List: Best Vikings Players, According to Experts

1. Fran Tarkenton

The top spot on the list of the best Vikings players of all time belongs to legendary quarterback, Fran Tarkenton. He led the Minnesota Vikings to a staggering three straight Super Bowl appearances, and at the time of his retirement, he held every major NFL passing record. 

“Tarkenton helped the Vikings win their first-ever game, and he changed the league with his scrambling and short-passing game. At one time, he held every major NFL passing mark, and still ranks in the top 10 in most categories, despite the fact that he never played in a pass-happy NFL like many of the modern-day signal callers. He was the first of the legendary Vikings to be voted into the Hall of Fame and, for many fans, he will always be the most iconic player ever to don the purple and gold,” writes Bleacher Report.  

Tarkenton was magical on a football field, and his ability to extend a play with his legs made him extremely hard to defend. NFL defenses had never seen anything like Tarkenton before – he was like Michael Vick several decades ahead of schedule. 

“In his first game, he made history as the only NFL quarterback to pass for four touchdowns during their first start and led the Vikings to a legendary win. Over the next several seasons, even as the Vikings struggled to find their footing, Tarkenton continued to prove his merit. He earned his reputation as ‘The Scrambler’ because, in an era when it was practically taboo, Tarkenton was unafraid to run [with] the ball,” furthers Rookie Road.  

Tarkenton’s first game was a big win over the rival Chicago Bears. Tarkenton didn’t start the game, instead, he was called in off the bench. Tarkenton threw for four touchdown passes and ran another one in on the ground – the legend was born. The Vikings traded Tarkenton in the late ‘60s before eventually bringing him back a few years later. Tarkenton’s second stint with the team turned out much better than his first.  

“Fran Tarkenton is the best quarterback to come through the Vikings organization. He played 13 seasons with the team in two separate stints. He recorded 33,098 passing yards and 239 touchdown passes and is the team’s all-time passing leader. Tarkenton was a five-time Pro Bowler and was named the MVP and Offensive Player of the Year in 1975. In his MVP season, he led the league with 25 touchdown passes and recorded 2,994 passing yards,” adds Fox News

2. Alan Page

Next up on the list of the best players in Vikings history is none other than defensive tackle, Alan Page. Alan Page was the first defensive player to win a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award and his legacy in Minnesota is unmatched. 

“While it was his teammate, Carl Eller, who won the NEA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1971, it was Page who won the inaugural AP Defensive Player of the Year Award.  That year he became the first defensive player to win the AP Most Valuable Player of the Year. Page also had nearly 150 Sacks, was a six-time First Team All-Pro, and the heart of the defense. A three-team leader in Approximate Value, the ferocious pass-rusher also went to nine straight Pro Bowls, and was considered to be the finest Defensive Lineman of his day,” writes Not in Hall of Fame

Indeed, Page was the best defensive lineman of his era and he has a league MVP to prove it. However, it was his unorthodox style that made him so tough to block. 

“Page had a unique style of play, lining up at right defensive tackle a place where most would place their right hand on the ground, but instead he put his left. The different style worked for him as he was a terror for opposing teams in his 11 seasons with the Vikings. Page was such a standout with the Vikings he was named the NFL MVP during the 1971 season. He also was a part of all four of the Vikings teams that made an appearance in the Super Bowl,” furthers Clutch Points

Page led the Vikings defense of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The group was known as the Purple People Eaters, and they helped lead the Vikings to a staggering four straight Super Bowl appearances in the early ‘70s. Although Minnesota didn’t win any of those Super Bowls, the Vikings of the early ‘70s were no doubt a dynasty and a lot of that was due to Page’s high level of play on the defensive line. 

“The former Notre Dame Golden Domer was the 15th-overall pick by the Vikings in 1967. In his second season, he was named to the first of eight consecutive Pro Bowls. In ’69, he was named All-Pro for the first of what would be six times. And in 1971, he became the first defensive player to earn NFL Most Valuable Player honors. His career would end with a three-plus year stint with the Chicago Bears. Playing football was a job Page did very well,” adds Fansided

3. Randy Moss

The third spot on the list of the best Vikings players of all time belongs to one of the best wide receivers the NFL universe has ever seen – Randy Moss. He was absolutely dominant in his years with the Vikings, and he’s undoubtedly one of the top players in franchise history. 

“When it comes to sheer dominance and game-changing ability, few players in NFL history can rival the electrifying presence of Randy Moss. Known for his remarkable speed, mesmerizing catches, and unrivaled deep-threat capabilities, Moss redefined what it meant to be a wide receiver in the modern era… During his seven seasons in Minnesota (1998-2004), Moss shattered records and created moments of pure magic. His partnership with quarterback Daunte Culpepper became one of the most lethal connections in NFL history. Together, they tormented defenses with a barrage of explosive plays, leaving a lasting imprint on the franchise,” explains Defiant Takes Football

Moss is easily one of the best wide receivers to ever play in the NFL. NFL fans had never seen a rookie wide receiver dominate the league quite like Moss was able to do in 1998. Along with fellow Hall of Fame wide receiver Chris Carter, Moss helped form one of the highest-scoring offenses in NFL history. 

“Randy Moss is one of the best players in Vikings history, despite being one of the most controversial too. When he wasn’t scoring touchdowns and smashing defenders, he was out causing controversy. When he wasn’t causing trouble, Moss was an incredible player. In his first seven seasons with the Vikings, he caught a whopping 90 touchdowns,” furthers Philly Influencer

90 touchdowns over seven seasons is well over 10 touchdowns every year. That type of production made Moss one of the deadliest weapons in the entire league and the Vikings knew how to utilize his talents. Moss is perhaps the best deep-threat wide receiver the NFL has ever had. 

“Perhaps no player in the history of the franchise had such an immediate and dynamic impact as Moss. When he burst onto the scene as a rookie in 1998, Moss set the league on fire, catching 17 touchdown passes and rolling up over 1,300 receiving yards. Teams in the NFC North changed their draft strategies just to find cornerbacks able to contain Moss. They never did,” adds Bleacher Report

4. Randall McDaniel

Up next on the list of the best players to ever play for the Vikings franchise is offensive lineman, Randall McDaniel. He primarily played guard, but his presence on Minnesota’s offensive line went beyond his position. 

“He dominated for the Vikings for a very long time. Not to mention he caught a touchdown pass both in the regular season and in the Pro Bowl. To cap it off, he immediately became an elementary educator upon retiring,” writes Lineups

McDaniel was a pro’s pro, and he always showed up to play hard on Sundays. He was a consistent offensive lineman who the Vikings could pencil in as a Pro Bowler every season. 

“Randall McDaniel, or Mr. Consistent set the NFL record for appearing and starting in 12 consecutive [Pro] Bowls. He featured in one of them for the Buccaneers but he started the other 11 for the Vikings. One of the best offensive guards the league’s ever seen and the greatest to play for the Vikings,” explains Philly Influencer

McDaniel primarily played left guard, which is one of the most important positions along the offensive line. McDaniel was a versatile and athletic guard who could pull block on power running plays or create a comfortable pocket for quarterbacks on passing plays. 

“Arguably the greatest Offensive Lineman in Vikings history, Randall McDaniel took over the starting Left Guard position immediately following being drafted 19th overall from Arizona State. McDaniel was known throughout the NFL for his speed and strength and the versatile way he played his position. In his sophomore season, McDaniel was named to the Pro Bowl and would do so again in the next 11 seasons,” adds Not in Hall of Fame

5. Adrian Peterson

Rounding out the list of the best players in Minnesota Vikings history is legendary running back, Adrian Peterson. Adrian Peterson had one of the most electrifying rookie seasons the NFL has ever seen, and he continued that dominance as his career progressed. 

“Known as ‘All Day’ for his relentless running style, Adrian Peterson exemplified the spirit of the Vikings with his unwavering determination and physicality. From his arrival in 2007 until his departure in 2016, Peterson became the face of the franchise, leaving an indelible impact on the field. His combination of power, speed, and agility made him a nightmare for defenders to bring down, as he consistently piled up yards and broke records,” explains Defiant Takes Football

“All Day” was a nickname given to Peterson because he seemingly kept getting stronger and more powerful as the game went on. It’s not that Peterson got stronger, defensive players got sick of tackling him. He was a powerful runner who punished defenders brave enough to come up and make a tackle on him. As games wore on, Peterson became tougher to bring down. 

“Not only is Peterson one of the best players in Vikings history, he is one of the best running backs to play in the NFL. Outside of Brett Favre, Peterson didn’t have strong quarterback play, which is a big disappointment, because of his standout play. Peterson’s best season was in 2012 when he rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. For his efforts that season he was named the league’s MVP,” adds Clutch Points

Peterson’s 2012 season was truly special and he was only a few yards shy of the NFL single-season rushing record. Unfortunately, his team couldn’t capitalize on his effort that season. Despite some of the issues around him, Peterson dominated the league for years to come. 

“Peterson would become the third youngest to 10,000 Rushing Yards, all of which was done in a Vikings uniform, and led the NFL in Rushing Yards three times while doing it.  Peterson’s 2012 season was his best where he rushed for over 2,000 Yards and captured the consensus MVP.  He would suffer a setback that took him out most of 2014 but came back in 2015 to once again win the Rushing Title,” furthers Not in Hall of Fame

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About Matthew Sherdan

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