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Custom Troy Williamson Jersey Large

While the sports world remains shut down for the most part, the annual NFL draft was recently held on its normal time frame at the end of April.

Despite the complications with holding a draft essentially online, the event went off without a hitch and was actually well done considering the circumstances.

The Vikings entered the draft with a potpourri of needs, having lost Stefon Diggs in a trade with the Bills and a number of players on defense including starters Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Linvahl Joseph.

If the draft has taught us anything over the years, you don’t draft for need. You make your team better by getting the best players possible regardless of position.

Drafting for need often ends up in picks like Troy Williamson and Christian Ponder when better players are still on the board.

Luckily for the Vikes, general manager Rick Spielman has learned the art of the draft and despite maybe getting a little “trade happy” throughout the draft knows what he’s doing.

In round one, I don’t think the Vikings had any intention of drafting a wide receiver with either one of their two picks but when LSU’s Justin Jefferson was there at 22, it was an absolute no-brainer. Jefferson had 111 catches, more than 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns last year alone for a team that played nothing but elite competition. He looks the part that’s for sure and should be a great compliment to Adam Thielen.

At pick 25, Spielman shrewdly traded back to 31 and picked up a pair of extra picks and also stayed in front of the Chiefs to take cornerback Jeff Gladney from TCU. Gladney is the kind of defensive back I like, physical, ornery and disruptive. He will join third round pick Cam Dantzler from Mississippi State to form a nice two-headed monster to go along with young DB’s Mike Hughes, Kris Boyd and Holton Hill.

The Vikes flirted with a trade with Washington for left tackle Trent Williams but ultimately probably ended up with a better situation taking Ezra Cleveland of Boise State (many thought he would go in the first round) late in the second.

Williams would’ve put the Vikes in serious cap trouble and by not signing him probably allows us to keep franchised safety Anthony Harris.

DJ Wonnum is more of a project defensive end out of South Carolina, but you know who else was a project defensive end? Danielle Hunter.

Defensive tackle James Lynch out of Baylor – the Big 12 defensive player of the year – and Oregon linebacker Troy Dye – who led the Ducks in tackles four straight years – capped off a stellar fourth round.

From there, the Vikes continued to load up with prospects, and they came away with 15 picks overall.

Obviously nobody at this point knows how these picks will pan out, half of the first round picks won’t pan out. On paper, though, Spielman did a great job of filling needs and getting value with the picks.

The Vikings 2020 schedule was released May 7 as the NFL continues to move forward business as usual.

The beautiful early spring and the opening of local golf courses has been a godsend to many of us.

The Redwood Falls Golf Club has been busy and is in outstanding shape for early May.

Despite the COVID-19 virus limiting for now certain luxuries, there is a new positive vibe out at the club with return of Ryan Fernelius.

This should be a great summer.

The shocking passing of former co-worker Krista Daniels was once again a surreal moment that shows us how short life really is.

I’ll miss my weekly chats with Krista at her tanning salon and her pictures on Facebook.

Fifty-three is way too young. My condolences to her family.

She will be missed.

Custom Travis Taylor Jersey Large

For two centuries, people have witnessed a number of bonkers unexplained occurrences on and around the Utah Uinta Basin property known as Skinwalker Ranch. The working, 512-acre ranch has been home to all manner of weirdo things which sound like they’ve been taken straight from the plot of an X-Files episode, and now The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch on the History Channel has set out to see if science can actually help us understand what goes on there. But, just how dangerous is the ranch, really? Dr. Travis Taylor, who helped to study the site last year, has an answer for you.

Dr. Travis Taylor is an astrophysicist who, along with a team of researchers, spent several months of 2019 working at Skinwalker Ranch to locate mysterious phenomena and rigorously test it with the finest scientific equipment, in an effort to see if any of what they found could be explained. Dr. Taylor actually lived on the property during the week, staying there from June through early October, and when asked if the ranch was really all that dangerous, he gave a very compelling answer to myself and the other journalists who had to opportunity to speak with him.

There are dangerous phenomena that are occurring that we haven’t identified as to how or why they’re occurring on the ranch. And, we have scientific equipment set up in such a way that if you were to sneak on the ranch to take a look for yourself, you could create false data and lead us down a rabbit hole, or damage very expensive equipment. Or, worst-case, be exposed to a phenomenon that could cause some sort of physical harm to yourself, and there’s nothing we could do to help you in that regard. So nobody try and sneak on to the ranch. It would – it is – it’s extremely dangerous.

Ughughughhhhhh…Who else is severely creeped out just thinking about this statement? I mean, I know a lot of people are curious about alien activity, and seemingly inexplicable things, but the idea of hauling oneself to private property and trying to sneak around and see batshit stuff in person is something I will absolutely never understand. I like watching movies and TV shows about these things, but in no way do I want to encounter any of it on a personal level. So, keep your rando asses away from Skinwalker Ranch, OK?

As Dr. Taylor said, for one thing, you could damage fancy equipment or just mess up the measurements being taken by said equipment. That would be bad enough, but think about the possibility that something does go down while you’re there and you end up with your legs imploded or your internal organs suddenly on the outside of your body (I watch too much TV for these made up examples to have been any less gruesome). You’ll be out of luck, sirs and madams…and it’ll be your own fault.

In case that’s not enough of a warning, don’t worry. There are also potential human threats that abound when they don’t know who’s running around the ranch!

We might not know what you’re doing or even that you’re a person and [you] could be perceived as a threat. There are armed guards on the ranch to, you know, protect the cattle from predators, to protect us from if crazy people for some reason tried to come into the ranch and do harm, or from whatever if there are harmful phenomena.

While these are all, already, very good reasons for staying away from Skinwalker Ranch unless you’ve been 100% cleared to be there at the time you’re supposed to be there, and are following all of the safety protocols they have in place, it’s pretty clear that Dr. Taylor wants us to know that (even in those instances) it’s generally just not a safe place. Here’s one more warning, which should chill you to your Underoos:

I can tell you this, I will not allow my family to come visit me on the ranch. They can come outside the gates and say hi if they wanted to, but I would not allow them on the premises.

That’s it, you guys. If you don’t get Dr. Taylor’s point about how dangerous Skinwalker Ranch is now, well, the only thing that might help is watching The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch for yourself to see just what kind of madness went down while he was there.

The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch airs every Tuesday at 10 p.m. EST, but if you’d like to see what else is on the small screen right now, you can check out our Netflix schedule and what’s new on Hulu this month!

Custom Tony Williams Jersey Large

We haven’t seen a lot of excitement in a lot of our early installments of our By The Numbers series about the Minnesota Vikings, and the #94. . .well, it’s not going to break that trend. There have been quite a few players that have worn the number for the Vikings over the years, but only one that has really made a mark in the history of the team.

I speak, of course, of the man we affectionately refer to around these parts as Phat Pat.

Pat Williams started his career with the Buffalo Bills, playing seven seasons in upstate New York before making his way to the Vikings prior to the 2005 season. The Vikings listed him at 317 pounds, but if he was an ounce under tree fiddy I would be shocked.

Williams formed one of the great defensive tackle tandems in team history with his counterpart Kevin Williams, being known as the Williams Wall while they were together with the team. They played a huge role in the Vikings’ run defense being basically impenetrable for a few years, as the Vikings led the NFL in rushing defense in three consecutive seasons. Not coincidentally, Williams was a Pro Bowler in all three of those seasons, and was named a Second-Team All-Pro in 2007. Phat Pat never did provide a whole lot in the way of a pass rush. . .in his six seasons in Minnesota, he collected just 7.5 sacks. . .but he was, without question, one of the best run stoppers of his generation.

Williams hung up his cleats following the 2010 season with the Vikings, and in 2013 signed a one-day contract so that he could retire as a member of the purple.

When you look at the list of the other players that have worn #94 in Vikings’ history, I think it’s easy to figure out why there isn’t a real debate to be had here.

Vikings that have worn the #94:

Chris Martin (1984)
Paul Sverchek (1984)
Tim Bryant (1987)
Thomas Strauthers (1989 – 1991)
Robert Goff (1996)
Tony Williams (1997 – 2000)
Pete Monty (2001)
Chuck Wiley (2002 – 2004)
Pat Williams (2005 – 2010)
Justin Trattou (2014 – 2016)
Yep. . .outside of Pat Williams, there isn’t a whole lot to write home about here.

We’ll continue our numerical journey through Minnesota Vikings’ history tomorrow!

Custom Tom Hall Jersey Large

SILVER SPRING, Md., June 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Whatever the structure or shelter, the history of humankind is deeply entwined with the fascinating story of where, how, and why we make our homes. CuriosityStream’s original three-part series The History of Home is a visually stunning journey around the globe and through time to discover the surprising histories and mysteries behind every room in the house. Narrator Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation fame guides viewers through every doorway and around each corner with his trademark wit and charm. The History of Home premieres exclusively on CuriosityStream worldwide beginning June 18, 2020.

“Now more than ever, where we live, where we shelter and where we seek sanctuary is an integral part of each of our lives. With The History of Home we wanted to deconstruct the concept of home to expose the surprising origins of the structures and rituals that surround us every day,” said Rob Burk, Head of Content for CuriosityStream. “We travelled the globe to provide intimate access to some of the most spectacular homes of all time, from famous structures like Highclere Castle — home to the series Downton Abbey — to Kirkjubøargarður, also known as King’s Farm, one of the oldest still-inhabited wooden houses in the world. The History of Home represents CuriosityStream’s unique approach to history; engaging, relevant and always entertaining.”

“I love our human capacity for building clever spots in which to cook our meat and make sweet love to our spouses,” said Nick Offerman, actor, master woodworker and narrator of The History of Home. “This series is such a beautifully embroidered paean to the varied results of that particular talent, so I was over the moon when they asked me to collaborate with their gorgeous work.”

The History of Home examines how the fundamental elements of daily life, such as the need for shelter, comfort, and sustenance, transformed our lives and made our houses homes. World-renowned architects, designers, craftsmen and historians share extraordinary insights on every “story” of the house; from the hallways to the kitchen, then upstairs to the bedrooms and bathrooms. Filmed in 10 countries across 4 continents, the series features 35 stunning locations and many more eye-popping homes. Each hour-long episode is shot with cutting-edge 4K camera technology including the Sony Venice; Sony’s state-of-the-art, full-frame cinema camera providing gorgeous visuals that invite viewers into each unique abode.

EPISODE 1 – “The Foundations of Home”
From humble mud bricks, to an Italian mountain with the world’s most prized marble, we start with the foundations of home. Explore the cave dwellings of our earliest ancestors and the wooden homes of Vikings, all the way to the soaring skyscrapers of modern metropolises. Some of the incredible locations on the itinerary include: a sleek, earthen eco-retreat built of lava; an ambitious archeological effort in France to build a medieval castle from scratch; Hampton Court Palace to explore the history behind King Henry VIII’s brick pleasure palace; Pasadena, California, where movie buffs will recognize an iconic American Craftsman home; and San Francisco, where we meet award-winning designer Yves Béhar who is designing homes of the future.

EPISODE 2 – “The First Story of Home”
Step inside the home to discover the fascinating origins of how our favorite rooms evolved. Feast in the original hall of fame at the world’s largest Viking Hall. Then, journey to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and its incredible kitchen where the beloved french fry may have been invented. You will need to be on your best behavior to sit with the lords and ladies dining with us at Highclere Castle (from Downton Abbey). And finally, explore the luxurious living rooms of Hearst Castle and meet interior designer to the stars Brigette Romanek.

EPISODE 3 – “The Second Story of Home”
Go upstairs to the most intimate rooms of the house — the study, the bathroom, and the bedroom. Working from home takes on new meaning in history’s greatest studies as we pull back the curtains on the rooms that made Mark Twain, Thomas Edison and Virginia Woolf. Next, dive into the dirty details behind the most private room in the house; the bathroom. After, we explore the boudoirs of French kings and queens at a castle 500 years older than Versailles and take a look inside the high-tech bedroom designs of the future. Finally, we will look to the horizon to see what the future of home on earth, and even on Mars, might look like.

The History of Home is the second installment in CuriosityStream’s “The History of…” anthology following its popular The History of Food series. The History of Home is produced for CuriosityStream by Roller Coaster Road Productions with Sarah V. Burns and Alex Sherratt as executive producers and showrunners. Rob Burk is executive producer for CuriosityStream.

Lonnie Warwick saw “Captain” Jim Marshall and accelerated.

The linebacker wrapped an arm — that formally and legally clotheslined opponents who dared to go across the middle of the field — around the defensive end.

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“I love you,” Warwick’s voice rose about the jovial chatter as Marshall sat at the head of a table in Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

Teammates and coaches from the 1969 NFL Champions gathered during Vikings Legends Weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the squad that claimed the franchise’s first victories in postseason games and advanced to Super Bowl IV. The festivities occurred during Week 3 and overlapped with Fantennial Weekend, a celebration of the NFL’s 100th season.

Members of the 1969 Team were hosted at TCO Performance Center for an intimate dinner and public Chalk Talk discussion led by retired WCCO sports anchor Mark Rosen. Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Vikings Chief Operating Officer Andrew Miller welcomed the Legends and their guests.

Vikings Ring of Honor Coaches Bud Grant and Jerry Burns opened the Chalk Talk. Sessions with Gene Washington, Ed White, Clinton Jones and Dave Osborn; Bob Lee, John Beasley and Bob Grim; Joe Kapp, John Henderson and Kent Kramer; Bobby Bryant, Paul Krause, Warwick and Dale Hackbart; Carl Eller, Marshall, Gary Larsen and Steve Smith followed.

Vikings Host 1969 Legends Weekend
View images from the Vikings 1969 Legends Weekend at the TCO Performance Center.

“Oh, great memories,” Marshall said after the event. “Anytime you see old teammates, they all look old. That’s a joke that they’ll appreciate because I’m the oldest.”

Grant summed up the essence of an evening filled with emotions.

“I’ve said this many times, if you’ve got good memories, you can entertain yourself, and we’ve got a lot of good memories,” Grant said. “We’ve been entertaining ourselves since 1969.”

And entertaining others — from the fans that filled Metropolitan Stadium in all types of weather to those who gathered in September for an anniversary trip through Vikings history with players and coaches that helped create it.

“It’s just a thrill to get all of us back together again and to see how we’ve all grayed,” Marshall said. “We had a love affair with each other. We knew what we wanted to accomplish, and we went out and challenged each other.”

Marshall 1969

Gone but not forgotten were the cold, metal folding chairs that players once huddled around a chalkboard and film projector for in-week meetings in the depths of Midway Stadium. They’ve been replaced by thick-cushioned theater seats with armrests, writing surfaces and cupholders, and a video screen that drops from the ceiling and displays content from a computer.

Side note: The Jan. 4, 1970, edition of the Minneapolis Tribune reported on the morning of the 1969 NFL Championship that a five-ton computer message board would provide “instant analysis.” The computer journeyed 25,000 miles during the 1969 season and made the trip to New Orleans for Super Bowl IV.

Accomplishments

“This team, in that year, was as good of a team that we had with the Vikings,” Grant said.

How good?

The Vikings…

… won a dozen consecutive games after a 1-point loss at the New York Giants and finished a league-best 12-2. The only other loss (10-3) swung on a defensive touchdown in sloppy weather in Atlanta. In between, the Vikings scored 50-plus points thrice and recorded the first two shutouts in team history (31-0 at Chicago and 27-0 at Detroit on Thanksgiving).

… set a record for fewest points allowed (133) in a 14-game schedule. The record lasted until 1977 when Atlanta limited foes to 129 on the season.

… led the NFL in yards allowed (2,720), cutting in half the 5,593 yards allowed in 1961.

… did not allow a touchdown in the first quarter of any game (two field goals were all that 14 opponents totaled in opening periods).

… forced 47 turnovers (30 interceptions and 17 fumble recoveries).

KappvsBrowns-portrait
Kapp tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in Week 2 in a 52-14 thumping of the defending NFL Champion Baltimore Colts. The contributions Kapp made to the team with his heart trumped any by his arm.

Receiver John Henderson described him as a “true inspirational leader.”

“Every play in the huddle, you make eye contact with him and could see the passion in his eyes and his desire to win and perform, to execute,” Henderson said. “That inspired us as players to do the same. We didn’t perhaps have the greatest talent on our team, but we had an attitude, and Joe had a lot to do with that. He was scrappy, he would give his body up, and if he could do it, we felt like we could do the same thing, so we played for each other.”

Kapp famously turned down a team MVP award at a banquet, elevating the Vikings “40 [players] for 60 [minutes]” rallying cry.

Receiver Bob Grim noted that “40 for 60” may have made the Vikings the first football team with a “mission statement.”

grim-portrait
Backup quarterback and punter Bob Lee said Kapp’s success was that he “didn’t push himself in certain directions on other people.”

“He led by example, good and bad, but he was a great leader, and we’ve been great friends for an awful long time,” Lee said.

Kapp, when speaking to the crowd, again focused on team.

“I think it’s very unique in a person’s life when you can meet people that have a goal, whatever it is, and accomplish it,” Kapp said.

Prevailing sentiment

A considerable amount of success by the 1969 Vikings — and the teams that followed during Minnesota’s decade of dominance — can be attributed to the 1967 offseason.

TingelhoffandKapp-portrait
Minnesota hired Grant and brought in Kapp from the Canadian Football League, then capitalized on three first-round picks that led to the selection of Clinton Jones, Gene Washington and Alan Page in the first 15 selections. Grim was tabbed in the second round, and Bobby Bryant was a steal in the seventh, which is fitting since he nabbed 51 career interceptions.

Gary Larsen, a Minnesota native acquired by the Vikings in 1965, credited Grant for team building through his approach.

“Bud did a good job of making us get together and get close. I spent three years in the Marine Corps, and I think part of his philosophy was that of a drill instructor,” Larsen said. “He never treated anybody unfairly. Everybody was treated alike, and sometimes being treated alike wasn’t all that good, but it did cause you to come together as a group. If you were in a platoon of 75 men, and everybody was treated alike, all of a sudden, that group is one.”

LarsenvsDetroit-portrait
The devastation wrought by the original Purple People Eaters — Larsen, Page, Marshall and Carl Eller — landed the entire starting defensive line in the Pro Bowl, the first and only instance of such in NFL history.

“I still remember being down on the field, and the Coliseum announcer said, ‘Now playing the defensive line for the NFC, the Purple People Eaters of Minnesota,’ ” Larsen recalled.

Bryant led the Vikings with eight interceptions that season, but he said it started up front with the defensive line and linebacker trio of Wally Hilgenberg, Warwick and Roy Winston.

“If a defensive back playing behind Jim and Carl and Gary and Alan couldn’t get a lot of interceptions, he didn’t deserve to be playing,” Bryant said. “I didn’t have to make a lot of tackles, either, with Lonnie and Roy Winston and Wally Hilgenberg. Those guys on the ’69 team were as good as any in the league. You didn’t want to run across the middle when Lonnie was playing middle linebacker because, back then, clotheslines were legal.”

EllervsLions-square
Nicknamed “Bones” because of his thin stature, Bryant figured out several “things you had to do to play” for Grant.

“He said, ‘You don’t have to be the biggest, you don’t have to be the fastest. You better not be the dumbest, but you better be disciplined,’ ” Bryant said. “We learned what he meant because we had some years we were really good physically, but if they made too many mistakes, you would read that they were traded.”

Tight end Kent Kramer, who played in San Francisco (1966) and New Orleans (1967), landed in Minnesota in 1969. He was with the Vikings two seasons before playing his final four with Philadelphia.

“I got to play in a couple of other places, but there was more unity and togetherness here than any other place, and that came from the organization, the coaches and our leaders,” Kramer said.

Self-described “journeyman” safety Dale Hackbart said, “The time that I spent with the Vikings has been the best time of my life.”

“It resurrected my confidence in my ability to perform,” Hackbart said. “What made me perform was I had had so much bad luck on other teams, it was probably on me, and when I got to the Vikings, and then Bud Grant came along, I said to myself, ‘I’m never going to let anyone down again, including myself.’ ”

Lamentations

The magical season and its aftermath have not been without lamentations.

The three regrets most frequently expressed were 1) not winning Super Bowl IV; 2) the contract dispute that kept Kapp from returning with the Vikings in 1970; and 3) Marshall has not yet been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Vikings staged a comeback victory over the Los Angeles Rams for a 23-20 win in the Western Conference Championship. Minnesota then defeated the Cleveland Browns 27-7 in the 1969 NFL Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl IV.

Goalpost

Kapp’s grit was on full display against Cleveland. He rushed eight times for 57 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown that gave Minnesota an early lead and added a 75-yard touchdown pass to Washington, who became the first Viking to record more than 100 receiving yards in a playoff game.

Vikings Ring of Honor fullback Bill Brown, who passed away in November 2018, told Sid Hartman for the Jan. 5, 1970, Minneapolis Tribune that Kapp was a “gutty ball player.”

“If he can’t do it one way, he will find another way to get the job done,” Brown told Hartman. “When Joe takes the ball and runs it the way he did against the Browns, it’s just an inspiration to the rest of the backs.”

BillBrownAction-square
The Vikings, however, faltered against the Chiefs the following week in New Orleans. Minnesota was outgained on the ground and committed five turnovers. Unable to work out a deal and take a shot at redemption, Kapp landed with the Boston Patriots. Two years later, the Vikings traded to reacquire Fran Tarkenton, who had been a third-round pick in 1961.

Marshall’s time with the Vikings began in 1961 just days before the team’s first season. Ask anyone on the roster whose guidance they valued the most, and Marshall is almost certain to be mentioned early in the response.

Not only did he play the entirety of Minnesota’s first two decades, starting all 270 regular-season games and the first 19 postseason games in Vikings history (including four Super Bowls), but he shaped the dynamics of the locker room.

Page&Marshall-square
Marshall overcame sickness, soreness and even hospitalizations in setting an NFL record with 282 consecutive regular season games played and 277 starts that stood for decades. He set the NFL record for opponents’ fumbles recovered with 29 (tied by Hall of Famer Jason Taylor) and recorded 127 career sacks. Even though Marshall was a significant player for one-fifth of the NFL’s first 100 seasons, he has been overlooked for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Laughs

The Vikings Donut Club has become quite the tradition for the current Vikings, who gather in the athletic training room on the morning before games for a sweet treat and camaraderie.

Eric Sugarman

@EricSugarATC
The @Vikings 🍩 Club meets the @NFL WILDCARD weekend – we prefer donuts to beignets! Skol Vikings! Thanks for the support @YoYoDonuts

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The current group has almost a cult following on social media, as well as special T-shirts. Unbeknownst to most, they’re actually connecting to the Vikings of yore.

Jones and White relayed humorous stories from their respective rookie seasons of 1967 and 1969 when they were tasked with providing donuts for teammates.

“I bought about 12 dozen donuts — donuts that I was raised on, day-old donuts. So I brought the donuts, and they said, ‘What’s this?’ … They threw the donuts at me,” Jones laughed.

White was the only rookie to make the squad two years later.

“It was expensive, but they were good donuts, so I didn’t have any thrown back at me,” White laughed.

YaryWhiteAction-squar
Steve Smith, a versatile backup, also shared a humorous story of how Grant’s emphasis on not fumbling stuck with him.

“We were playing the Bears at the Met, and they had just scored a touchdown. It was near the end of the game, and they were going to do an onside kick. I was on all of the special teams. The kicker kicks it, and it comes right to me. I’ve got the ball in my arms, and there’s all kinds of daylight, ‘Man, I’m gonna go.’

“I started running and I felt someone tugging at the ball,” Smith continued. “The very first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Whatever you do, don’t fumble. Get on the ground now.’ I rolled over and I’m on my back, and I’ve still got the ball. It’s Dick Butkus, facemask-to-facemask, foam coming out of his mouth. He was swearing at me and telling me I was some sort of a punk that should have fumbled. ‘What can I tell you, there’s a greater power than you.’ ”

Lasting Legacy

1969 Vikings Are Honored at Halftime of Sunday’s Game
On the eve of Super Bowl IV, Kapp told Hartman:

If we lose this one, everything we’ve accomplished will be forgotten.

While the ultimate goal of that team still remains for the Vikings, the success of the 1969 team and the era it brought forth are remembered and celebrated.

It set the stage for a dominant run in the ’70s that included eight NFC Central Division titles and three more appearances in the Super Bowl, the last of which was against the Raiders 43 years ago.

At halftime of Minnesota’s win over Oakland this past September, Grant delivered comments as he was joined on stage by all of the attendees from the night before along with Oscar Reed, Milt Sunde and Fred Cox, who has since passed away.

The program also included posthumous recognitions of Karl Kassulke, Paul Dickson, Jim Vellone, Earsell Mackbee, Tom Hall, Wally Hilgenberg, Grady Alderman, Ed Sharockman and Bill Brown; coaches John Michels, Bus Mertes, Jack Patera and Bob Hollway; original equipment manager Jim “Stubby” Eason and original athletic trainer Fred Zamberletti.

The attendees from the 1969 team were part of more than 100 Vikings Legends who reconnected.

“When you’re looking back, everything is in the blink of an eye,” Grim said. “When it’s out in front of you, it’s a different situation.”

About CuriosityStream
Launched by media visionary John Hendricks, CuriosityStream is one of the world’s leading independent factual media companies. Our documentary series and features cover every topic from space exploration to adventure to the secret life of pets, empowering viewers of all ages to fuel their passions and explore new ones. With thousands of titles, many in Ultra HD 4K, including exclusive originals, CuriosityStream features stunning visuals and unrivaled storytelling to demystify science, nature, history, technology, society, and lifestyle. CuriosityStream reaches over 13 million subscribers and is available worldwide to watch on TV, desktop, mobile and tablets. Find us on Roku, Apple TV Channels and Apple TV, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV and Sprint and Google Chromecast, iOS and Android, as well as Amazon Prime Video Channels, YouTube TV, Sling TV, DISH, Comcast Xfinity on Demand, Cox Communications, Altice USA, Suddenlink, T-Mobile, Sony, LG, Samsung and VIZIO smart TVs, Liberty Global, Airtel, MultiChoice, StarHub, Com Hem, Totalplay, Millicom, Okko, and other global distribution partners and platforms.

Custom Todd Steussie Jersey Large

Former Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Todd Steussie recently took some time to sit and talk with us at The Viking Age about his experiences with the team.

Back in 1994, the Minnesota Vikings used their first-round pick in that year’s draft on California offensive tackle Todd Steussie. He went on to play for the Vikings from 1994 to 2000 and he was a key part of their success during that time period.

Currently, Steussie is the executive vice president for PontentiaMetrics, an analytics firm with a primary focus on healthcare. He has been working on a new product initiative to help NFL teams utilize the predictive qualities of player tracking data.

The Viking Age was lucky enough to get a chance to speak with the former Minnesota lineman and in the first part of this two part interview, Steussie talks about everything from watching the 1998 NFC Championship, the legacy of former Vikings head coach Dennis Green, and former Minnesota running back Robert Smith retiring early.

The Viking Age: Were the 1998 Vikings the best team that you were a part of during your career?

Todd Steussie: Yeah, that’s no question. We were (known as) ‘a juggernaut’ . On paper, I’ve been a part of a bunch of good teams. But as you know, you’ve still got to play the games and unfortunately we ended up a little short on that side against Atlanta.

It’s still the most bitter pill for me to swallow in my career. (With) the Falcons, we would probably beat them nine out of ten times, but that’s why the NFL (playoffs) isn’t a series. It’s one game and you’ve got to be better than the other team in that one game and the Falcons were.

But they were also 14-2. By no means, a slouch team.They had players that could bring it. But it was a difficult game and it continues to be a difficult game to reconcile.

TVA: Have you ever gone back and watched the 1998 NFC Championship game?

TS: I watched it right afterwards. It was the next morning, I came in early. I could never sleep after a game very well until I got the game out of my head by watching it and being able to process what happened. Reconcile what I thought happened versus what did happen. It helps kind of settle things for me at least.

But maybe like two years ago I watched that show “Missing Rings”. Then I came across one of those NFL classic games on NFL Network and it was the last half of that game.

It’s kind of interesting this far removed now. It’s not that I’ve forgot about certain events, obviously I remembered how it ended. But the ebbs and flows of the game, you forget some of that detail.

Anyways I watched that as my wife walked in said, “what the heck? Why are you watching that?” (But) how can you not? I wasn’t necessarily planning on watching it. But probably if I saw it was on tomorrow I would watch it again.

TVA: What made the Vikings such a good team during that 1998 season?

TS: I think it was a bunch of things. It was almost building for a few years. It was a rare environment (compared to) today’s football because that team was essentially the same 35 guys for about five years.

There was always the ebb and flow of the 15 guys at the top of the roster, but for the most part things were pretty consistent. Guys that you don’t necessarily think about on a given day, the Orlando Thomases, Eddie McDaniel, the Chris Walshes. We had a tremendous chemistry as a team.

It was the same offensive system with Brian Billick over and over again refined, honed, improved. From an offensive line standpoint, we got past the previous couple of years where we had a decent amount of churn.

Going back to 95, we were rotating Dave Dixon and John Gerak. It was the only time I’ve ever seen, maybe the only time I’ll ever see, where John Gerak was the third down guard. He would run in and pass protect for one play and then he would run back off the field and Dave Dixon would come back in. (It was) bizarre.

TVA: You were a part of two Vikings teams that made it all the way to the NFC Championship, 1998 and 2000. Unfortunately you guys lost both of those games, but was either one of those losses an easier pill to swallow than the other?

TS: Oh yeah. The New York Giants game was over before it began. It’s frustrating, but it wasn’t discouraging in the same way. It wasn’t demoralizing, it wasn’t as emotional.

We were down 21-0 (in 2000) before we even knew what happened, it was so quick. At that point as an offensive lineman, you kind of bat down the hatches a little bit. You know all we’re going to be doing is throwing the ball.

Thank goodness I had an easy matchup (against Cedric Jones). But I felt so bad for (Vikings right tackle) Korey Stringer on the other side of the line because he had Mike Strahan. Mike knows it’s a pass, every single play. We’re not running the ball, this isn’t a draw. It was just a bloodbath.

TVA: Your head coach during your entire time with the Vikings was Dennis Green and sadly he passed away last year. Is there one thing that sticks out to you the most whenever you think about coach Green?

TS: It’s hard to really narrow it down to one thing in particular. The thing that really stands out compared to other coaches that I’ve played for was how much he treated and respected you as a man and an individual. He wasn’t so imposing in terms of rules and restrictions and everything had to be done his way. He gave everybody some latitude to do things the way they thought they needed to be done.

He had a saying, “I’ve never fined one guy, I’ve cut a bunch of them, but I’ve never fined a guy.” It kind of speaks to that. It’s like, “you know what, I’m not going to wind up telling you everything you have to do. But in the end, if it’s a problem, you just won’t be here.”

A lot of coaches don’t empower players to make their best decisions and stuff. (But) it didn’t always work out. Guys weren’t angels on the team and that’s no different than any other (team). But in general, the vast majority of guys are good guys. They’re guys that are going home to their families every night.

Denny thought, “you know what, if you guys show that you can handle it, I’m willing to give you guys a little bit of flexibility and the ability to make your own decisions.”

TVA: Coming off a 2000 season in which he led the NFC in rushing, Vikings running back Robert Smith made the surprising decision to retire from the NFL after just eight seasons in the league. Do you remember what your reaction was back when you found about him retiring?

TS: I knew that he was thinking of that for awhile. He used to see guys like (former Vikings running back) Bill Brown be all beat up and I just think he never wanted to (be like) that. He always had bigger plans.

He always kind of had one eye on what would be his next life and I think that he wanted to be able to not be basically crippled. I respect him for that decision. It’s pretty hard (after leading) the NFC in rushing that year to say, “I’m done.”

I thought it would even get more attention than I really felt that it did at that time. It was probably a big deal in Minnesota, but it didn’t seem to have the national spotlight the way you think it would.

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The history of Heisman Trophy award voting is littered with snubs. Typically, it’s the quarterbacks receive preferential treatment because the position is the most important on the field and they can affect a team’s record more than anyone else.

Adrian Peterson rushed for nearly 2,000 yards as a freshman at Oklahoma and lost out to USC’s Matt Leinart for that reason. Plenty more running backs and wide receivers have experienced the same, like Pittsburgh’s Larry Fitzgerald, San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk and California’s Chuck Muncie in 1975.

If the award is given to the NCAA’s best player that year, and the best way to determine that is through individual statistics, then a logical college football fan has to wonder how Mark Ingram won (no, stole) the award over Toby Gerhart in 2009.

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2015 isn’t the 1st Heisman race between Alabama & Stanford RBs. In 2009, Mark Ingram edged out Toby Gerhart. #TBT

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First, some background.

In all of the Alabama Crimson Tide‘s years, they had never produced a Heisman Trophy winner. All the championships, banners, rings and All-Americans couldn’t buy them one. Ingram became the first Heisman Trophy winner in Alabama history, but he wouldn’t be the last ‘Tide player to accept the award in New York City. See: Derrick Henry.

Then you have the fact that Alabama went a perfect 14-0 that season under head coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide stomped the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game and then Texas, 37-21, in the BCS National Championship Game against fellow Heisman hopeful Colt McCoy. He finished as the third-place vote-getter.

Voters probably felt pressured to give it to Ingram. But take a look at his numbers and you’ll find he didn’t really deserve it. That’s why Ingram received 227 first-place votes and won the award by just 28 total points, the closest margin between two finalists in the history of the award.

Gerhart, who played alongside quarterback Andrew Luck and for head coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, outperformed Ingram in nearly every category. But the Stanford Cardinal finished just 8-5 and 6-3 in the Pac-10. Despite all its star power, Stanford found itself outside of The Associated Press Top 25 final rankings.

The Heisman Case for Toby Gerhart

Gerhart was not the fastest back. He couldn’t cut on a dime or bounce outside and burn a defender. Heck, he wasn’t even much of a threat in the passing department. But he was a freakin’ bruiser who wore down defenses.

I’ll put Gerhart and Ingram’s numbers in one of those “Player A/Player B” comparison formats and let you decide who deserved the hardware.

Player A: 1,871 rushing yards, 5.5 avg. per carry, 28 touchdowns, 157 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs, 2,028 yards from scrimmage
Player B: 1,658 rushing yards, 6.1 avg. per carry, 17 touchdowns, 334 receiving yards, 3 receiving TDs, 1,992 yards from scrimmage
Player A finished second in balloting. Player B finished first. Player A, of course, is Mr. Gerhart. Player B is Ingram. To me, it’s pretty obvious Gerhart deserved it but was snubbed because his team wasn’t playing in the national title game at the end of the season.

That’s not to say no one else was worthy of the NCAA’s highest honor. The field was undoubtedly strong.

McCoy threw for 3,500 yards at Texas. Clemson’s C.J. Spiller totaled 1,715 yards from scrimmage. Tim Tebow, attempting to join Ohio State’s Archie Griffin as the only two two-time winners, threw and rushed for a combined 3,805 yards at Florida. Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh put up 12 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss, but a defensive player hadn’t won since Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997.

Boise State’s Kellen Moore, Houston’s Case Keenum and Cincinnati’s Mardy Gilyard deserve mentioning but all fell victim to their weak conferences.

But Gerhart’s numbers should’ve been too eye-popping to ignore.

Take, for example, how the 6-foot running back totaled more than 100 rushing yards in 11 of 13 games. Or how he rushed for 223 against an Oregon team that finished ranked No. 11, 178 against the No. 22 USC Trojans and a cool 205 against Notre Dame.

Gerhart wasn’t just padding his stats against the weaker teams, he was destroying the best teams in the Pac-10.

Justin
@Jfeeezy
· Aug 15, 2018
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Dennis Dixon- Oregon QB 2004-‘07
2x All-Pac 10
2007 Pac-10 OPOY
2007 All-American

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Toby Gerhart- Stanford RB 2006-‘09
2009 PAC-10 OPOY
2009 All-American
2009 Heisman Runner-up
-28 Rushing TDs in 2009 (Led NCAA)
3522 career rush Yards, 44 career rushing TDs

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Ingram, a sophomore who played high school ball in Flint, Michigan, had his moments. The 246-yard outburst against South Carolina and pair of 100-yard rushing games against the Longhorns and Gators all stand out.

I get that Gerhart wasn’t the NFL prospect or complete football player Ingram was. The Minnesota Vikings selected him in the second round (51st overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft and he amassed just 1,675 yards over six season between the Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars mostly in backup roles. Ingram, on the other hand, has 6,000 rushing yards to his name and is still going strong with the Baltimore Ravens.

But Gerhart put up better numbers that year. He was the better player over the course of the 2009 season.

Peterson ran for nearly 2,000 yards as a freshman in 2004. Faulk’s 1,700 yards from scrimmage in 1992 wasn’t good enough to best Miami quarterback Gino Torretta’s 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Fitzgerald hauled in 22 touchdowns on 1,672 receiving yards yet lost out to Oklahoma’s Jason White in 2003.

Unlike his snubbed counterparts, Gerhart was directly up against another player of the same position. And he outperformed him. He was unfairly penalized by the Heisman voting system because of his team’s record, something he couldn’t control.

If that’s gonna be the case going forward, maybe we need to trash the Heisman and create a whole new NCAA MVP award that doesn’t take into account team record.

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Not so long ago, Jamon Goodwine was growing up on the cardinal red and silver gray side of Moncrief Road, and absorbing the family stories about the game that the neighborhood highlighted on every calendar.

Now, as a Raines senior tackle in the heart of the defensive line, he’s taking their lessons to heart.

“They always told me Raines-Ribault is a big game,” Goodwine said. “Don’t get caught in the lights.”

The giants are many and the history is rich.

Terry LeCount. Derrick Alexander. Brian Dawkins.

Kelvin Martin. Chris Terry. Laveranues Coles.

New names will join that list of Raines and Ribault football legends when the Northwest Classic celebrates its 50th edition Saturday, writing the latest chapter in a half-century of history at 2 p.m. Saturday inside the Trojans’ Alvin White Stadium.

The excitement has built up for a week, from Friday pep rallies to the benefit dinner to the alumni basketball game to Thursday’s media day for players, coaches and administrators from both schools at Ribault’s Winton Drive home, reliving the memorable moments in the classic meetings that have marked 49 years of a neighborhood rivalry passed down from fathers and uncles and brothers to today’s generation.

Just ask Ribault wide receiver J’Waun Johnson, steeped in the Trojans’ Columbia blue all his life — uncles Charles Brown and Roland Johnson both played in Northwest Classics past. Now, he also gets a chance to live that game-day experience.

“When I started playing football at Ribault Middle, they were telling me about the Raines-Ribault game and how I was going to be able to come here,” Johnson said.

For Raines head coach Deran Wiley, the trip to the Northwest Classic is one that he’s been making since the 1980s.

The first one, he recalled, was in seventh or eighth grade, looking on from the stands of the old Gator Bowl. As a sophomore, he watched but didn’t take the field. Then as a junior in 1991, he made his debut, one more step on the way to a college career at Louisville and eventually the coaching role he’s held for more than a decade.

“It never gets dull, any year,” Wiley said. “It’s always exciting, some of the best time of the year.”

The series has seen the giant venues — the game drew crowds to the Gator Bowl and Jacksonville Municipal Stadium during its earlier days — before settling down to become a pure neighborhood festival, with a day of tailgates and parades across two Northwest Jacksonville schools separated by barely half a mile.

Raines leads the all-time series 35-14 — they’ve won consecutive state championships to raise their all-time total to three, while Ribault still seeks its first — and holds a slightly superior record of 3-2 to the Trojans’ 2-3.

But records don’t mean much in this series, where the surprises are many, and even in just the last 25 years, so are the memories:

1996: Ribault’s Jermaine Roberts, normally a running back, enters on defense for a crucial late stand and grabs the game-sealing interception at the 2 with 1:35 to, preserving an 8-7 Trojans victory.

1999: Jerome Smith rushes for the tie-breaking 11-yard touchdown with 17 seconds left and John Napier intercepts a heave to the end zone on Raines’ final possession, giving Ribault a 22-15 victory, concluding a perfect regular season and clinching the Gateway Conference title.

2000: Ribault’s Marlon Jones returns a Raines kickoff 89 yards to the end zone with 1:39 remaining and the Trojans emerge on top, 26-20.

2001: The Vikings’ Darrell Pullins rushes for the game-winner from 10 yards for a 24-18 overtime victory. The game was noted for a late controversy — a Ribault kickoff return touchdown with two minutes to go was nullified when officials ruled the Trojans had dropped the ball before crossing the goal line.

2008: A gamble pays off in overtime: Raines coach Cedric Thornton elects to go for two and the victory, and Julius Frazier scores the game-winner for a 22-21 Vikings victory.

2009: The Javon Bell Game. The Ribault receiver catches five passes for 146 yards and all four Trojans touchdowns, including the game-winning 33-yard pass as time expired, to win 27-21 and snap an eight-game Raines streak in the series. That score forced a three-way district tiebreaker the following Monday, sending Ribault and Baker County into the playoffs at the Vikings’ expense.

2015: Ribault ends the four-year series run of an undefeated Raines team that ultimately advanced to the state final, sealing the 19-14 victory on an interception by Brandon Thomas with 26 seconds to go.

2018: A Javon Bonsell strip-sack highlights a smothering afternoon of defense from Raines, a 14-6 winner against Ribault in a game that kept the Vikings on course for their third state championship.

A whole lot of history.

“I never really thought I would be a part of something like this,” Goodwine said. “It’s a good opportunity, good experience to be a part of rich tradition to go out there and ball for my brothers, past Vikings, the alumni, everybody.”

That tradition isn’t lost on Ribault head coach Lin Shell, who will be entering his first Northwest Classic in charge of the Trojans.

“Everybody’s excited,” Shell said following last Friday’s victory against Lee. “It’s going to be an exciting atmosphere. It’s a classic game, 50 years of the same game, man, a lot of tradition.”

But this game isn’t just about remembering the past — it’s also about pressing forward into a postseason future.

For the first time in nearly a decade, Raines-Ribault holds extra meaning as a district contest, moving from its traditional Week 11 date in November to the heart of the schedule with big-time stakes on the line.

Raines, after earlier wins against Stanton and Paxon, can take a big step toward sealing District 4-5A honors with a victory.

Both teams, too, are coming off emotional victories in Week 7.

Ribault once more showed its defensive strength, forcing five takeaways and scoring three defensive touchdowns to knock off Class 6A Lee. Raines made an overtime two-point gamble pay off, defeating Sandalwood on Jaylin Griffin’s dash to the end zone.

Saturday’s game will also draw a different kind of spotlight, the television cameras of WJXT, as Jacksonville’s signature high school rivalry completes its second quarter-century.

“I feel like a very fortunate guy to see it from the stance of a fan, a player and now a coach,” Wiley said. “It’s a remarkable thing.”

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The combination of recent success and an influx of regional talent at the high-school level created a rare opportunity for Louisiana-Monroe in recruiting.

With four postseason appearances in the past five years to sell, ULM took advantage of the window and gained four 2020 verbal commitments over the past two and a half months.

D’Marcus Hall, a 6-5, 190 lb. small forward from Shreveport’s Calvary Baptist Academy, became the first pledge in August. Mesquite, Texas-Horn High School shooting guard Zaakir Sawyer (6-4, 175) and point guard Elijah Tate (6-3, 175) from in-state powerhouse Baton Rouge-Madison Prep followed in September.

The Warhawks added another piece in St. Mary’s of Natchitoches power forward Thomas Howell (6-8, 195) in October.

ULM men’s basketball coach Keith Richard said the program’s recent success has benefited recruiting. The Warhawks have made four postseason appearances in the past five years.
ULM men’s basketball coach Keith Richard said the program’s recent success has benefited recruiting. The Warhawks have made four postseason appearances in the past five years. (Photo: Phil Sandlin, AP)

“I don’t know that we could have done eight or nine years ago what we’re currently doing,” ULM head coach Keith Richard said. “That obviously comes with timing and branding and winning some games, which has led into a lot of good things in recruiting so far with the signing day coming up in November.”

Assistant head coach Ryan Cross did the legwork, but an assist from current squad member Langston Powell put ULM over the top. A homegrown standout at West Monroe High School, Powell hosted Hall, Sawyer and Tate when the trio visited campus on August 31.

“What I love the most about Langston is he wanted to come here and that’s helped us open a door in our in-state recruiting,” Richard said. “There’s no question having him here has benefitted this program and his enthusiasm for this place rubs off on everyone.”

Though injuries limited Hall to only 12 games at Calvary last season, he made the most of them and averaged 20 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Those numbers were enough to secure an honorable mention Class 2A All-State selection from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

Howell’s was voted first-team All-State in Class 1A by the LSWA during a junior season that saw him score 22.2 points with 17 rebounds per game for Division IV quarterfinalist St. Mary’s. Tate was a key contributor on a Madison Prep team that captured its fifth consecutive state championship.

Sawyer was a first-team All-District 11-Class 6A performer last year at Horn. Sawyer’s father, Talance Sawyer, was an all-state football player at Bastrop High School and the recipient of the News-Star’s Paul Martin Award in 1995 for the area’s top multisport athlete. The elder Sawyer played college football at UNLV and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 1999.

The early signing period for Division I men’s basketball begins on Wednesday, November 13.

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The 2010s had everything for the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings saw the return of Randy Moss, the cutting of Randy Moss, the firing of head coach Brad Childress, off-field cell phone allegations for Brett Favre, the Metrodome roof collapsing, playing a “home” game in Detroit, and another game got pushed from Sunday to Tuesday night due to a snowstorm. Oh yeah, that was just the 2010 season.

After a three-year stretch of inconsistency with head coach Leslie Frazier, the team hired Mike Zimmer and the team has been competitive ever since, reaching the playoffs three times since 2015 along with a trip to the NFC Championship in 2017. The decade was much like every other decade of Vikings football: a competitive team that was rarely flat-out bad, yet still couldn’t reach the promised land along with off-field issues that leaves one scratching their head. To celebrate, here we will look at the best players of the decade on the offense.

Minnesota Vikings All-Decade Team: Defense

2010s Minnesota Vikings All-Decade Team: The Offense
Quarterback: Kirk Cousins

If not for a catastrophic knee injury prior to the 2016 season, Teddy Bridgewater would likely still be the Vikings quarterback. Bridgewater is the only other player up for consideration here, but since Cousins started all but one game in two seasons (being rested in week 17 of 2019) and won a playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, he gets the nod. His massive contract and expectations from fans will always hang over Cousins, but as a Viking he has 56 touchdowns to 16 interceptions while completing 69.7 percent of his passes. Bridgewater only threw 28 touchdowns to 22 interceptions, so this is an easy decision.

Running Back: Adrian Peterson

An easy selection on the list. The future Hall of Fame running back ran for nearly 1,300 yards in 2010 and then 970 yards in 12 games in 2011 before tearing his ACL on Christmas Eve. Peterson made a miraculous recovery, coming back to play week one in 2012. Then, Peterson not only played but he went on to carry the Vikings to a 10-6 record while rushing for 2,097 yards, eight shy of Eric Dickerson‘s single-season record, and won league MVP. Peterson added two more 1,000 yard seasons before he left following the 2016 season. Despite off-field troubles regarding his child that split the fan base, Peterson was still one of the best Vikings of the entire decade.

Wide Receiver: Adam Thielen

The story of Adam Thielen has been repeated thousands of times, so even though it’s great, we’ll cut right to the chase here. Following three seasons of working his way from practice squad to special teams to a spot on the starting roster, Thielen broke onto the scene in 2016 as he racked up 967 yards and five touchdowns. He showed that the campaign was no fluke in 2017 when he caught 91 passes for 1,276 yards. In 2018 he eclipsed 100 receptions for the first time in his career and caught a career-high nine touchdowns. And despite a hamstring injury nagging him in 2019, Thielen played an instrumental part in the team’s wild card victory over the Saints, catching seven passes for 129 yards and a spectacular reception to set up the victory.

Wide Receiver: Stefon Diggs

Despite being traded to the Buffalo Bills following the 2019 season, Diggs’ on-field impact will never be forgotten in Minnesota. He racked up 365 receptions for 4,623 yards and 30 touchdowns from 2015 to 2019. And, of course, he is remembered for being on the receiving end of the Minneapolis Miracle. While his off-field antics were much-publicized in 2019, his impact was undeniable as he still torched defenses for 1,130 yards on only 63 receptions and six touchdowns. He did this without Adam Thielen at full-health for a good portion of the season as well.

Wide Receiver: Percy Harvin

Harvin is the last of the receivers on this list and, honestly, there isn’t much competition. Even though the Vikings had Adrian Peterson during Harvin’s time, the offense revolved around Harvin in 2011 and 2012. He also returned kicks, so his impact was unquestioned. The team threw him screen passes and ran end-arounds just to get the ball in his hands as he eclipsed 1,000 scrimmage yards in 2011. Before injuries ended his season in 2012, Harvin actually carried the Vikings offense even more than Peterson did before Peterson knocked off any post-injury rust. Much like Diggs, the off-field antics became too much and he was eventually shipped to the Seattle Seahawks following 2012.

Tight End: Kyle Rudolph

This is the easiest decision on the list. There simply isn’t any competition for Rudolph. Not only do Rudolph’s 47 touchdown receptions rank first all-time among Vikings tight ends, they rank him fifth all-time among all receivers on the team. His 425 receptions in the decade also place him fifth all-time among all receivers on the team and second among all tight ends. Despite a reduced role to begin 2019, he got more involved with the offense late and caught the game-winning touchdown against the Saints in the playoffs.

Left Tackle: Riley Reiff

The only real competition here would have been former No. 4 overall pick Matt Kalil, but Kalil’s massive inconsistency was too much to ignore. Reiff isn’t perfect, but he’s a middle-of-the-road left tackle who usually holds his own. On top of that, Reiff has been the quiet but unquestioned leader of the offensive line since 2017 and can play with a mean streak.

Left Guard: Charlie Johnson

This is a hard one. The 2010s were not a great era for interior offensive linemen for the Vikings. While Steve Hutchinson is a Hall of Famer, it isn’t because of anything he did in 2010 and 2011 with the Vikings when his knees began to fail him. We’re going to go with Johnson here just because his slide inside to guard from 2012 to 2014 coincided with some great rushing performances from Adrian Peterson.

Center: John Sullivan

Sullivan started 77 of 80 games for the Vikings from 2010 through 2014. A cerebral and solid interior player, Sullivan was the most consistent part of the Vikings offensive line during the first half of the decade before two back surgeries forced him to miss the entire 2015 season. He played alongside Charlie Johnson in 2012 as Peterson had his historic campaign. He was then cut prior to the 2016 season. His tenure lasted longer than Joe Berger, the only competition on this list, so that gets Sullivan the nod.

Right Guard: Brandon Fusco

The Slippery Rock prospect made his way into the starting lineup in 2012 and became a decent starter. As the Vikings line shuffled over the years, Fusco would jump to left guard every once in awhile as well. Despite not being overly dominant, Fusco was a solid run blocker, again part of Adrian Peterson’s most productive campaigns.

Right Tackle: Phil Loadholt

While Brian O’Neill looks to be well on his way to possibly becoming a better player than Loadholt over the course of his career, Loadholt still started 74 of 80 games prior to an injury in the 2015 preseason essentially ended his career. The 6-8, 345 pound mammoth could get beat by speed rushers in the passing game but if he got his hands on an opponent, it was over. Another piece of Peterson’s 2012 MVP campaign, Loadholt was at his best as a run blocker when he could maul on smaller defenders.

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We’ve almost completed the 30s in our Minnesota Vikings By The Numbers series, as we’ve now reached the #31. There really hasn’t been a whole lot of impact from the players that have worn this number in team history, but let’s take a look at a few players anyway.

We’ll start with Clancy Osborne, who played for the Vikings’ inaugural team after coming over from the San Francisco 49ers. Osborne was second on the team in interceptions in the Vikings’ first season with 4 (Rip Hawkins had 5), and started 22 of his 28 games for the team over his two seasons in Minnesota. He left the team following the 1962 season and played for two seasons with the Raiders before he was done with football.

Rick Fenney was drafted by the Vikings in the eighth round of the 1987 NFL Draft, and played his entire five-year career for the Vikings. Primarily used as a fullback, Fenney was second on the team in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in 1989, which was his most productive season. He also had 30 receptions that year, good for fourth-highest on the team.

Scottie Graham had a decent run as a Viking, at least for a couple of seasons. A mid-season signing in 1993 following an injury to Robert Smith, Graham wound up leading the Vikings in rushing that season despite playing just seven games (and starting only three). He wound up sticking with the Vikings for a total of four seasons.

And, honestly, there really isn’t a whole lot else to talk about concerning the #31 in the history of the Vikings. Jerick McKinnon had the number for his first two seasons, but then switched to the #21 before last season. Maybe he was on to something.

Vikings that have worn the number 31:

Clancy Osborne (1961 – 1962)
Darrell Lester (1964)
Willie Spencer (1976)
Eddie Payton (1980 – 1982)
Rick Fenney (1987 – 1991)
Eric Everett (1992)
Scottie Graham (1993 – 1996)
Duane Butler (1997 – 1998)
Don Morgan (1999 – 2001)
Jason Perry (2002)
Rushen Jones (2003 – 2004)
Will Hunter (2006)
Marcus McCauley (2007)
Chris Cook (2010 – 2011)
Jerick McKinnon (2014 – 2015)
We will wrap up the 30s tomorrow, everyone!