As we move along to #78 in our Minnesota Vikings By The Numbers series, we have a number that clearly comes down to two particular players, both of whom played along the offensive line.
Chronologically, our first prominent #78 is offensive tackle Steve Riley. Riley was a first-round selection of the Vikings out of USC in 1974, and after a couple of seasons of playing part-time, became a fixture on the Vikings’ offensive line. Of the 138 career games he played for the Vikings from 1974 to 1984, he started 128 of them. He did have one season where he missed multiple games, playing only 5 games in 1978, but only missed one other start from 1976 until the end of his time in Minnesota.
The other famous #78 in Vikings’ history is a man that most of today’s fans are more familiar with, that being center Matt Birk. Birk, a guy that played his high school ball at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul. . .and who, if you were unaware, went to Harvard. . .took over the Vikings’ starting center job in 2000, and went on to be a six-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro. He started 123 of the 146 career games that he played for the Vikings before moving on to the Baltimore Ravens in 2008.
Since offensive linemen don’t have any real statistics to speak of, and Riley was a little bit before my time as a Vikings fan, it’s sort of hard to compare the two, but they’re really the only two players that have worn the #78 in Vikings’ history that really merit a mention. Unless you count Bob Sapp, who is far more famous for beating people up than for anything he accomplished as a Viking.
Vikings that have worn the number 78:
- Howard Simpson (1964)
- Jerry Patton (1971)
- Steve Riley (1974 - 1984)
- John Scardina (1987)
- Mike Hartenstein (1987)
- William Gay (1988)
- Barry Bennett (1988)
- Chris Hinton (1994 - 1995)
- Bob Sapp (1997)
- Matt Birk (1999 - 2008)
- Patrick Brown (2010)
- Troy Kropog (2012)
- Jeremiah Sirles (2016 - present)
That’s the list for #78, folks. Tomorrow we move on to #77, and what might be one of the tougher decisions of this entire list.
Who is the greatest Viking to wear the number 78?
This poll is closed
Matt Birk (1999 - 2008)
Steve Riley (1974 - 1984)