Historically, one of the strengths of the Minnesota Vikings has been the defensive line. From the Purple People Eaters all the way up to the law firm of Williams, Williams, and Allen (and Edwards, I guess), it has been rare to see a Vikings team that hasn't been strong up front.
In light of Detroit Lions' defensive tackle Nick Fairley declaring himself and Ndamukong Suh to be the best pair of defensive tackles in the National Football League, Dan Pompei of the National Football Post decided to take a look at what he thought were the best defensive tackle pairings in the history of the league. The Vikings are featured not once, but twice among those duos. . .and neither of them are the famed "Williams Wall" of Pat Williams and Kevin Williams.
The first one should be pretty familiar to much of our older generation of Vikings fans. . .the tandem of Alan Page and Gary Larsen.
Between them, they made it to 11 Pro Bowls and four Super Bowls as members of the famed Purple People Eaters. Page was the play maker, while Larsen did the dirty work. This pair was enhanced by two great defensive ends in Carl Eller and Jim Marshall.
Alan Page might be the greatest overall player in Vikings history. And he might be the best defensive tackle in the history of the league (yes, even to this day). Larsen, on the other hand, was sort of the "lost man" among the Purple People Eaters. As Pompei said, Larsen did a lot of the dirty work and allowed Page, Marshall, and Eller to gain a great deal of prominence as a result.
The other pairing is one that a lot of Vikings fans should be familiar with, the early 90s duo of John Randle and Henry Thomas.
Both players were exceptionally quick and explosive. They made a lot of plays in the backfield, and when they weren't making plays themselves, Randle and Thomas were helping teammates make plays.
Randle is a Hall of Famer, and deservedly so. Nobody for one minute questions how great he was. Henry Thomas was no slouch himself, racking up 56 sacks in his eight years in a purple jersey from 1987 to 1994. Thomas and Randle played together in Minnesota for five seasons (Thomas already had three seasons under his belt when Randle arrived in Minnesota), and worked incredibly well together.
Who's your favorite pairing of Vikings' defensive tackles? Do you think the Williams Wall stacks up to the two duos named by Pompei in his article?