Ask yourself the following: which current player warrants a consideration as the Vikings' greatest player throughout history at his position... Or even as the all-time greatest throughout the league's history?
The first two players that should pop up in most people's mind is Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen.
Is Adrian Peterson the Vikings' Greatest Running Back Of All-Time?
In Peterson's case, the question is not even worth to be up to discussion after last year's MVP "9-yards-shy-of-single-season-rushing-record"-season. What further helps his case is that the Vikings don't have a very proud history at the running back position to give him strong competition. Adrian is statistically already light-years in front of former Vikings running backs. The next question is much more interesting...
Is Adrian Peterson the NFL's Greatest Running Back Of All-Time?
No, but he's on the right track.
Peterson is already among the top 5 running backs of all-time and Vikings fans already know this. Statistically, how can one argue against the single game rushing record and the single season rushing runner-up record?
People who argue against Peterson will bring up the career rushing yard list where Emmitt Smith is the all-time leader in career rushing yards. But let's be honest here! Who would you rather have on your team for one game or one season; Adrian Peterson or Emmit Smith? Emmit Smith was fortunate to play on a superb offense and to stay healthy for such a long time. The career rushing yard list not the best method to crown the best running back.
It's uncertain how long Adrian Peterson will stay elite. If we're lucky, he might be only halfway throughout his career. Peterson is 28 years old now and could play until he's 34 years old. Emmit Smith was effective until he retired at 35. Critics will say that Adrian will not last long in the league because of his violent running style. A positive sign is that from medical examinations, Peterson's body seems to be physically much younger than his current age. That's especially impressive considering the workload his body has endured over the years.
Take it from the words of James Andrews; the world-renowned surgeon who operated on Peterson:
"I can't believe it. For this guy to have played as much football as he's played his whole life, and not to have hardly any wear and tear, it's incredible. I've never seen a football player, especially one who runs and cuts as much as he does, with a knee in that condition. It's like a newborn baby."
Is Jared Allen the Vikings' Greatest Defensive End Of All-Time?
No, but getting very close.
In strong contrast to Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen has fierce competition in this category. The Vikings might have the most impressive history of defensive lineman than any other team in history. We have two Hall of Fame defensive ends in Carl Eller and Chris Doleman, including other great players like Jim Marshall; Therefore, crowning Jared Allen as the best Vikings DE will immediately put him in the discussion of being the greatest of all-time.
After the 2012 season, Allen has 117 career sacks which places him at number 16 on the all-time list. If Allen average 15 sacks per season (Allen's average over the past 6 seasons) for three more seasons, Allen will be 3rd on the all-time list behind only Reggie White and Bruce Smith.
With such a proud history, it's hard to call Jared Allen the Vikings' all-time greatest defensive end, but if Allen plays another 3 or 4 years at the same level then it would be hard to argue otherwise. He's "only" 31 years old so it's a realistic scenario. When you look at Allen's numbers, you'll see that he has been improving almost every year since his freshman year in college. Jared Allen practically broke the singe season sack record just two years ago.
Are there other active players who warrant a consideration?
Percy Harvin, albeit no longer with the team, makes a strong case for the best Vikings returner of all-time. Actually, I would say he is the best kick returner the Vikings have ever had. Harvin holds the Vikings record with 3 career KO returns and seems to always get positive yards. He might be the best returner currently in the league right now.
When speaking of pure tackling, Chad Greenway is moving up the Vikings' all-time list pretty fast.
Just take a look at Greenway's last three seasons:
2010 - 4th most tackles in the NFL
2011 - 3rd most tackles in the NFL.
2012 - 2nd most tackles in the NFL.
However, as a linebacker it will be tough to beat out the great Scott Studwell.
Blair Walsh had arguably the best season a kicker has ever had, but the fact that he was a rookie makes him simply ineligible for this discussion.
With that being said, Walsh holds several impressive NFL records:
Most Field Goals of 50 yards or more in a season - 10 (On top of that, he did it without missing a single kick over 50)
Highest Field Goal Percentage in a season by a rookie - 92.1%.
Most Field Goals made in a season by a rookie - 35.
In addition, Walsh already holds Vikings franchise records:
Longest Field Goal - 56 Yards.
Most Field Goals of 37+ yards in a game.
For more regarding active players and the Hall of Fame: