We are nearly through the 70s in our Minnesota Vikings By The Numbers series, as we’ve reached the number 71. As you’d expect for a number in the 70s, this one is going to be dominated by offensive linemen.
The first prominent #71 in the history of the Vikings was offensive tackle Doug Davis, who was drafted by the Vikings in 1966. A fifth-round pick out of Kentucky, Davis almost immediately stepped in at right tackle, and started 12 games as a rookie. He also started the majority of the team’s games from 1967 to 1969, and was eventually supplanted as the starter at right tackle by future Hall of Famer Ron Yary. Davis played his entire career with the Vikings, leaving the NFL following the 1972 season.
It took a while before we had another truly impactful #71 in Minnesota, and in 1994 the number went to big David Dixon. Dixon started out with the Vikings in 1992, but didn’t make the team and spent 1993 on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad before coming back to Minnesota for good in 1994. He played sparingly in his first three seasons, but finally took a hold of the starting right guard spot in 1997 and wound up starting 122 of the team’s 128 games from 1997 to 2004. He was the second Maori to play in the National Football League, and was an integral part of one of the best offensive lines in Vikings’ history in the team’s run to two NFC Championship Games in three years.
Dixon wasn’t smaller than many people, but one guy that he would be smaller than is our other prominent #71, right tackle Phil Loadholt. Loadholt was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma, and immediately stepped in to be the Vikings’ starting right tackle in that incredible season. He and Davis are the only rookies in Vikings history to start Week 1 of a season at right tackle. He missed one game as a rookie, and then started 86 consecutive games at right tackle. He suffered a season-ending pectoral injury in 2014, and his comeback in 2015 was halted by a torn Achilles that, ultimately, forced him into retirement.
Vikings that have worn the number 71:
- Ed Culpepper (1961)
- Doug Davis (1966 - 1972)
- Dave Boone (1974)
- Steve Niehaus (1979)
- John Vella (1980)
- Mark MacDonald (1985 - 1988)
- Derek Burton (1987)
- Ken Clarke (1989 - 1991)
- Bernard Daffney (1992 - 1993)
- David Dixon (1994 - 2004)
- Jimmy Kenney (2008 - 2009)
- Phil Loadholt (2010 - 2014)
- Andre Smith (2016)
That’s a look at the #71 in Minnesota Vikings’ history, ladies and gentlemen. Tomorrow, we move on to #70. . .the one number that there can be absolutely, positively no debate over.
Who is the greatest Viking to wear the number 71?
This poll is closed
Doug Davis (1966 - 1972)
David Dixon (1994 - 2004)
Phil Loadholt (2010 - 2014)