Today in our Minnesota Vikings By The Numbers series, we come to the number 42. It might be the answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything, but it hasn’t been a great number for the Vikings, at least not in recent years. It actually took 12 seasons for someone to pick the number 42 for the purple, which seems like a long time.
The first player to wear the #42 for Minnesota was wide receiver John Gilliam. Gilliam came to the Vikings in 1972, his sixth NFL season, after a couple of years with the New Orleans Saints and three years with the St. Louis Cardinals. Upon his arrival in Minnesota, he became one of the league’s best deep threats, averaging at least. . .at least. . .21.6 yards per catch in his first three years in purple. He was only with the Vikings for four seasons, but was named to the Pro Bowl all four seasons he was a member of the team. He probably should have been named an All-Pro at least once (and probably more), but as our own Arif Hasan wrote in his article about Gilliam for his underrated Vikings series, he was passed over for receivers with less impressive statistics. In some cases, much less impressive.
In Gilliam’s four seasons with Minnesota, he racked up 3,297 receiving yards, a total that still puts him in the Top 10 in Vikings’ history in that category. He also 27 touchdowns, including at least seven scoring catches in three of his four seasons with the Vikings. He really is one of the more underrated Vikings of all time.
There really haven’t been a whole lot of other highlights for the #42 over the years for Minnesota.
We briefly mentioned Orlando Thomas when we talked about #43, and he seemed to be better with that number than he was with #42.
There was Darren Sharper but. . .you know, let’s not talk about Darren Sharper, huh?
Jerome Felton, who is pictured above, had a decent run for the Vikings as the team’s fullback from 2012 to 2014, including serving as the primary lead blocker for Adrian Peterson in his MVP season.
But this one, in my opinion, pretty much belongs to Gilliam. If you haven’t read Arif’s article linked above, it details Gilliam’s contributions to the Vikings pretty thoroughly. None of the other Vikings to wear the number 42 are really on his level.
Vikings that have worn the number 42:
- John Gilliam (1972 - 1975)
- D.J. Dozier (1987 - 1990)
- Harlon Barnett (1995 - 1996)
- Orlando Thomas (1997 - 2001)
- Jack Brewer (2002 - 2003)
- Darren Sharper (2005 - 2008)
- Jerome Felton (2012 - 2014)
On to the number 41 tomorrow, ladies and gentlemen. There’s going to be one pretty obvious choice there as well, from the looks of things, but we’ll be almost all the way through the 40s after that one.