The Minnesota Vikings have a long and proud history, with twelve players or coaches in the Hall of Fame, and 21 players and coaches in the Vikings Ring of Honor. For all those accolades and accomplishments, though, the Vikings have only retired six numbers:
10--Fran Tarkenton, QB
53--Mick Tingelhoff, C
70--Jim Marshall, DE
77--Korey Stringer, OT. RIP, big man.
80--Cris Carter, WR
88--Alan Page, DT
The problem with retiring numbers is that you get to a point where you run out of jerseys to issue to players. So I understand the pure logistics of the problem, and the issue the team would run into if they retired too many of them. Yet I can't help but think there are a couple numbers the Vikings should consider retiring.
Jersey #81, Carl Eller/Anthony Carter: Okay, this is one I haven't understood for a long time, and it's a number that needs to be retired right now. Carl Eller is an NFL Hall of Famer, and the rush end of the now mythical Purple People Eaters. Eller was a force off the edge for 14 years, and was the most feared linemen on one of the most feared defensive lines in NFL history. Eller's career should be enough to retire #81 on its own, but when you add in the accomplishments of Anthony Carter, who wore that number from 1985-1993, this is about as no-brainer a move as I can think of. Carter is third all-time in team history in receiving yards, and is second to only Cris Carter in most consecutive games with a reception, at 105. And with a franchise that is noted for some painful playoff failures, his 1987 playoff game against San Francisco stands out as the greatest single playoff performance by any Vikings player to this day.
Jersey #26, Robert Smith/Antoine Winfield: These two former OSU players have been two of the best Vikings players in the history of the franchise. Smith, after a slow start to his career due to injury, ended up as the Vikings all-time leading rusher when he retired at the end of the 2000 season. He was a silky smooth runner that rarely turned the ball over. He still holds the Vikings record for most consecutive rushing attempts without a fumble, at 478, and as much as I love Chuck Foreman, Smith is the best running back in Viking history not named Adrian Peterson. As for Winfield, he is the best free agent acquisition in Vikings history. He wasn't a pure shutdown corner, but he was pretty good, and pound for pound was the best tackler in the NFL for over a decade. His statistics aren't eye popping, but Winfield had a knack for making the big play, and just how valuable he was to the Vikings became apparent when he was cut about this time last season.
Jersey #93, John Randle/Kevin Williams: John Randle might be the biggest underdog story in NFL history, going from undrafted free agent to the NFL Hall of Fame. His style, non-stop motor, and warpaint made him a fan favorite for a decade, and he retired with more sacks than any other defensive tackle in NFL history. He ended his career as the best DT in team history not named Alan Page, and will be forever beloved in Minnesota. Sadly, we say goodbye to Kevin Williams after 13 years, and he is the latest in a long lineage of stellar defensive linemen. Williams' statistics aren't as eye-popping as Randle's, with less than half the total sacks, but Williams was as disruptive in the middle as Randle was in many ways. He had a borderline Hall of Fame career, and although he was never as loud or as brash as Randle, he was just as effective.
Jersey #84, Randy Moss: What can you say about Moss? He evokes strong emotions on both sides of the fence on this. On the football field, I don't think I've seen anyone as dominant from the wide receiver position in NFL history, atleast from a pure talent perspective. When Moss was on, he was unstoppable, plain and simple. Unfortunately, it was Randy who decided when he would turn it on and off, and when he was off, he was a pain in the ass. But if you can separate some of the off the field antics from what he accomplished, you have a strong argument to retire his numbner
Of all these numbers, 81 should definitely be retired, and the Vikings should honor both Eller and AC, but that's just me. From a wildly homerish Ohio State point of view, retiring #26 and honoring Winfield and Smith would be awesome, but that's admittedly more of a longshot than #81 is. But it would give the Vikings five former OSU players with retired numbers, which would kick some major league ass (Winfield, Smith, Marshall, CC, Stringer).
But what about you guys? Any numbers I didn't mention that the Vikings should retire, or is the whole retiring of numbers kind of a silly exercise?