The number 43 has not figured all that prominently into the history of the Minnesota Vikings. Of the ten players that have worn the number in team history, only two had it for more than two seasons. One was long snapper Brody Heffner-Liddiard, who snapped for the team from 2001 to 2003. The other was part of the Purple People Eaters era and was a very solid player in his own right.
Or Wright, as the case may be.
Nate Wright didn’t start his career in Minnesota, as he got to the Vikings in his third year in the NFL after stops with the Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Cardinals. Wright got to Minnesota in 1971, and by 1973 was teaming with Bobby Bryant to form one of the great cornerback duos in Vikings’ history. He started all but one game for the Vikings at left cornerback from 1973 to 1978, and remained with the team through the 1980 season, when he announced his retirement.
Wright’s 31 interceptions still stand as the fifth-highest total in team history, and though he never received any individual accolades for his play on the field, he was still regarded as a big part of those Vikings’ defenses of the mid-to-late 70s. Sadly, one of his more famous plays is one of the more infamous ones in NFL history, as Wright is the player that the dirty, rotten, cheating receiver Drew Pearson pushed off of in the 1975 NFC playoffs to job the Vikings out of what should have been a victory.
(Yeah, Drew Pearson pushed off, and plenty of people are still sore about it.)
The only real honorable mention here goes to safety Orlando Thomas. Thomas wore the #43 for his first two seasons before switching to the #42. In the two seasons he wore the number 43, he intercepted 14 passes, including a league-leading nine picks as a rookie in 1995. He was also named an All-Pro that year. Thomas passed away in 2014 following complications from ALS.
Vikings that have worn the number 43:
- Will Sherman (1961)
- Gary Hill (1965)
- Brady Keys (1967)
- Nate Wright (1971 - 1980)
- Jeff Colter (1984)
- Jimmy Smith (1987)
- Orlando Thomas (1995 - 1996)
- Greg Briggs (1997 - 1998)
- Brody Heffner-Liddiard (2001 - 2003)
- Maurice Hicks (2008)
Tomorrow, we move on to the number 42 on our numerical journey through the history of the Minnesota Vikings.