Much like the #49 that we talked about a little more than a week ago, the #39 is a bit of a strange number across the National Football League. There haven’t been a lot of great 39s that I can recall, but the Minnesota Vikings had one that was pretty outstanding, and is often underrated by fans, I think.
The Vikings selected cornerback Carl Lee out of Marshall University in the seventh round of the 1983 NFL Draft. A highly consistent player, Lee played for the Vikings for eleven seasons, and intercepted at least one pass in every year he wore purple. His best season came in 1988, when he was named a first-team All-Pro for a season that saw him intercept eight passes, returning two of them for touchdowns. He was also a three-time Pro Bowler, garnering that honor in 1988, 1989, and 1990. Lee finished his career with the Vikings in 1993, and played for the New Orleans Saints in 1994 before announcing his retirement.
A few honorable mentions for this one:
- Running back Hugh McElhenny is probably on the short list on the best 39s in NFL history, but he was near the tail end of his career when he wore the number for the Vikings for two seasons in 1961 and 1962.
- Punter Bobby Walden wore the number 39 for the Vikings for four seasons. I just point that out because it would have been pretty unusual to see a punter wearing a number in the 30s.
- Husain Abdullah made his way up from special teams to a starting safety spot in his four seasons in Minnesota. He wasn’t spectacular, but he wasn’t terrible, either. He was reportedly in line for a contract extension from the team, but left the NFL for a year to go on a religious pilgrimage with his brother, Hamza, before coming back with the Kansas City Chiefs.
That’s just about it for the number 39, ladies and gentlemen.
Vikings that have worn the number 39:
- Hugh McElhenny (1961 - 1962)
- Bobby Walden (1964 - 1967)
- Mark Kellar (1976 - 1978)
- Carl Lee (1983 - 1993)
- Adimchinobe Echemandu (2005, and one of the best names in team history)
- Husain Abdullah (2008 - 2011)
- Nicholas Taylor (2012)
- Jabari Price (2014)
We’ll move on to the number 38 tomorrow, ladies and gentlemen!