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Minnesota Vikings' Best Draft Picks--Carl Eller

Our fearless leader Chris started off this series by rehashing some of our worst off the field memories in Vikings history that didn't include a Lake Minnetonka boat ride with what can only be considered a Cincinnati Bengals-like list of terrible, horrible, putrid, draft picks.

The only thing that was missing was stripes on the helmet and Akili Smith.  Imagine if the Vikings had selected Smith instead of Daunte Culpepper in 1999?  The first two picks in that draft would've been Akili Smith and Dimitrius Underwood...yikes.  Would've made 2005 look like a Hall of Fame class, no?

It was a nice stroll down memory lane--if you consider running for you life from Jack the Ripper 'nice'.

Well, let's put all the talk of crappy draft picks and crappy stadium deals away for now, and talk about some good stuff.  Very good stuff.  Hall of Fame/Vikings Ring of Honor stuff.

Let's talk draft picks that kicked ass, shall we?  Let's talk Carl Eller.

The thing that I love about Carl Eller as a player is...everything.  He went to the University of Minnesota, where he was a two time All American and was the cornerstone of a defense that was the last Gopher team to win the Rose Bowl and a National Championship.  A first round pick by the Vikings in 1964, he was also drafted by the Buffalo Bills of the AFL, and fortunately for Vikings fans, Eller chose Minnesota and the NFL.

All Eller did for the next 15 years as a member of the Vikings was absolutely dominate from the defensive end position.  Teaming with Jim Marshall, Alan Page, and Gary Larson (and later Doug Sutherland), Eller was one quarter of one of the greatest defensive fronts in NFL history, the Purple People Eaters.  Eller started as a rookie and lead the Vikings in tackles for loss.  Over the course of his career on the Bloomington prairie, he registered over 130 sacks.  (Sack totals are unofficial, as they weren't made an official NFL statistic until 1982).  He registered double digits in sacks 7 times in his career, and from 1975-1977 he recorded 44 sacks.  That's right, at the end of his career, he averaged 15 sacks a season.  

He only missed three games throughout his career, and played in 168 straight at one point.  He was also named All-Pro 6 times, recovered over 20 fumbles, and had an uncanny ability to block a kick, recording 10 of those in his career, and if I had to guess, I bet 7 of them were from the 1975-76 seasons.  Those teams always...always blocked a field goal or punt, and it seemed it was Eller that did it.

Eller was a key player in the golden era of Vikings football that saw them dominate the NFC Central for a decade and helped the Vikings make 4 of the first 11 Super Bowls.

The University of Minnesota has honored Eller by naming the team's defensive player of the year award after him, he was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2002, and in 2004 he was FINALLY elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.

After his career ended, Eller took up acting for awhile.  Probably his best known part, and one where he really had to stretch, was also his best.  He appeared in the 1974 movie Busting, where his character was...and I'm not kidding...named a 'tall black man'.

I love the Purple People Eaters era of the Vikings, because those are the teams I grew up watching, and one of my favorite players from that team was, and still is, Carl Eller.

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