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Minnesota Vikings By The Numbers: #85

This one takes it back to the old school

NFL: Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Rhett Ellison wore #85 for the Vikings, but he’s not the best Viking ever to wear it.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

We’re on. . .belatedly. . .to the #85 in our Minnesota Vikings By The Numbers series. We went with a picture of Rhett Ellison, the most recent Viking to wear the #85, but he’s really not close to the best member of the Vikings to ever wear the number. This one really comes down to a couple of old school receivers. Both of these guys were before my time, for the most part, so what I can tell you about them is largely limited to what I can find stat-wise.

The first one, chronologically, is Paul Flatley. Flatley, who played for the Vikings from 1963 to 1966, averaged 16 yards per catch when he was with the Vikings, and scored 17 touchdowns. He was in the top ten in receiving yards in two of his five seasons with the Vikings, climbing has high as sixth in the league in 1966 and earning him a spot in the Pro Bowl that season. Flatley later moved on to play three seasons for the Atlanta Falcons before bowing out of the league after the 1970 season.

For my money, however, I think the nod goes to Sammy White, who played for the team from 1976 to 1985. The Vikings drafted White in the second round of the 1976 NFL Draft out of Grambling, and he went on to have a very good career for the Vikings. He made it to the Pro Bowl three times, and for his career caught 393 passes for 6,400 yards and 50 touchdowns. He’s still fifth in team history in receiving yardage (our #86, Jake Reed, passed him by 33 yards for fourth place) and seventh all-time in receptions by a Viking.

A couple of honorable mentions I want to throw out there:

  • Bob Schnelker, the first player to wear the #85 for the Vikings, went on to be the team’s offensive coordinator under Jerry Burns. (And it wasn’t his g** d*** fault. F***ers.)
  • I know a couple of folks mentioned Brent Novoselsky, he of the two career touchdowns. But one of them clinched a division title in 1989, so that was cool.
  • Jermaine Wiggins is a Viking I’ll always have a soft spot for, because hey. . .who doesn’t like fat guys hurdling people and trying to breakdance after touchdowns?
  • I may be the only person that owns a Greg Childs jersey, because I thought he was going to come back strong and went and got one made by a knockoff shop in Korea a completely legitimate source.

But, like I said, I think this really comes down to two guys.

Vikings that have worn the number 85:

  • Bob Schnelker (1961)
  • Tony Adams (1962)
  • Paul Flatley (1963 - 1967)
  • John Hilton (1971)
  • Gary Ballman (1973)
  • John Holland (1974)
  • Sammy White (1976 - 1985)
  • Steve Finch (1987)
  • Brent Novoselsky (1989 - 1994)
  • Greg DeLong (1995 - 1998)
  • Andrew Jordan (1999 - 2001)
  • D’Wayne Bates (2002 - 2003)
  • Jermaine Wiggins (2004 - 2006)
  • Greg Camarillo (2010 - 2011)
  • Greg Childs (2012)
  • Rhett Ellison (2014 - 2016)

So, have at it, ladies and gentlemen!


Who is the greatest Viking to wear the number 85?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Paul Flatley (1963 - 1967)
    (30 votes)
  • 96%
    Sammy White (1976 - 1985)
    (790 votes)
820 votes total Vote Now

Tomorrow we have the #84. Yeah, plenty of suspense there.