Yes, it's going to be another article about Minnesota Vikings' quarterbacks and, specifically, Christian Ponder. But you know what? We've got PONDER-MANIA RUNNIN' WILD, BROTHER! WHATCHA GONNA DO, BROTHER. . .WHATCHA GONNA DO!?
Ahem. . .moving on.
The 2011 season marks the 51st season that the Minnesota Vikings have been a part of the National Football League. They've had great players at pretty much every position on the field, even at the quarterback position. But if you look at the way that the quarterback position has looked since the start of their existence, you can see why Viking fans might be getting a little excited at the idea of having a guy behind center that could actually be a starter for the long-term.As ESPN's Kevin Seifert points out, in the Vikings' entire existence, they have only had three quarterbacks that have been the team's primary starter for more than three seasons. Fran Tarkenton was the Vikings' primary starter for thirteen seasons covering two different stints with the team (1961-1966 and 1972-1978). Tommy Kramer was then the primary starter from 1979 to 1986, a seven-season span. The only other quarterback in Vikings' history to be considered the team's primary starter for more than three seasons was Daunte Culpepper, who held the reigns for five seasons from 2000 to 2004.
Those three are, generally, considered the three greatest quarterbacks in the history of the team, with Tarkenton clearly being the top guy and the other two being placed in whichever order you personally prefer. They cover 25 of the first 50 years of the Vikings' existence. The other 25 years? Well, it's kind of ugly. . .as Seifert points out, we're talking about either journeyman quarterbacks (like the Gary Cuozzos, Rich Gannons, and Wade Wilsons of the world) or, more recently, big-name quarterbacks at the end of their careers (Warren Moon, Brett Favre, Randall Cunningham, Jim McMahon, and Brad Johnson v2.0).
Why is this? Well, because the Vikings have, by and large, done an absolutely pathetic job of drafting at the quarterback position. According to this list from Bob Sansevere (which was done before the 2011 Draft, which is why Christian Ponder isn't on it), the Vikings drafted 22 quarterbacks in their history. Prior to Ponder, they had only taken two quarterbacks in the first round. . .Kramer in 1977 and Culpepper in 1999. The rest? It can basically be summed up with the word "ugh." Here it is.
1961: Fran Tarkenton, Georgia, third round. Became a hall of famer.
1961: Mike McFarland, Western Illinois, 20th round. Never really made it.
1963: Mailon Kent, Auburn, 20th round. Never really made it.
1968: Jim Haynie, West Chester State, 15th round. Never really made it.
1969: Brian Dowling, Yale, 11th round. After Vikings cut him, played briefly for the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers. More famous for being the inspiration for the character B.D. in the Doonesbury comic strip by Yale classmate Garry Trudeau.
1970: Bill Cappleman, Florida State, second round. Played in one game as a rookie with the Vikings and seven games with the Detroit Lions in 1973, and that was it.
1972: Neil Graff, Wisconsin, 16th round. Played a few seasons as a backup, but not with the Vikings.
1973: Mike Wells, Illinois, fourth round. Never really made it.
1976: Bill Salmon, Northern Iowa, 10th round. Never really made it.
1977: Tommy Kramer, Rice, first round. Two-Minute Tommy replaced Tarkenton and made it to the Pro Bowl in 1986.
1979: Steve Dils, Stanford, fourth round. Primarily a backup, he cobbled together a 10-year career with the Vikings, Rams and Falcons.
1981: Wade Wilson, East Texas State, eighth round. Guided the Vikings to the 1987 NFC championship game.
1985: Steve Bono, UCLA, sixth round. Hung in the NFL for 14 years and played with six teams -- mostly as a backup.
1987: Brent Pease, Montana, 11th round. Played two seasons with the Houston Oilers after the Vikings dumped him.
1992: Brad Johnson, Florida State, ninth round. Had two tours of duty with the Vikings; in between, he won a Super Bowl with the defense-minded Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
1993: Gino Torretta, Miami, seven round. Won the Heisman Trophy in college, flopped in the NFL.
1995: Chad May, Kansas State, fourth round. Never really made it.
1999: Daunte Culpepper, Central Florida, first round. When he was good, he was very good; when he was bad, he stunk it up. When he was good, he played in three Pro Bowls with the Vikings.
2006: Tarvaris Jackson, Alabama State, second round. Given plenty of chances, but he just couldn't cut it as a starter. Maybe if somebody signs him he can kick-start his NFL career.
2007: Tyler Thigpen, Coastal Carolina, seventh round. The Vikings wanted him on their practice squad but, once he was released on waivers, the Kansas City Chiefs snatched him. He had 18 TD passes in 2008; Tarvaris Jackson's career high was nine TDs in both 2007 and 2008.
2008: John David Booty, USC, fifth round. Never really made it.
2010: Joe Webb, Alabama-Birmingham, sixth round: Started two games last season, but the Vikings sure don't appear to see him as the future at QB.
So, if Ponder-mania does, indeed, seem to be running wild, it's probably because the young man looks like an oasis in the desert of Vikings' quarterback history. I sincerely hope that our faith is not misguided. I don't think that it is.