We have reached the number 12 in our Minnesota Vikings By The Numbers series, and there have actually been quite a few players that have worn it over the years. However, of all the 12s in Minnesota history, there was only one that made any sort of significant impact.
When the Vikings drafted Percy Harvin in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, it wasn’t certain quite where he’d fit into the offense. Was he a receiver? Was he a running back? Was he a return specialist? As it turned out, Harvin could do all of those things and do them incredibly well.
Harvin was the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2009, a season that saw him catch 60 passes for 790 yards and six scores, as well as add in two kick return touchdowns. His peak season from a statistical standpoint was 2011, where he flirted with 1,000 yards receiving and scored a total of nine touchdowns. Unfortunately, he had a bit of an ugly exit from Minnesota, as he was injured in 2012 and had apparently frayed his relationship with then-coach Leslie Frazier so much that, even after he was healthy, the Vikings asked him to stay away from the team.
Harvin only played four seasons with the Vikings, but he put his name in the Vikings’ record book a few times. He broke the record for return touchdowns by a Viking by going the distance five times, a record that was eventually tied by Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels. Despite only playing for about three and a half seasons (because of injuries), he still ranks 9th in team history in receiving yardage, and is fifth in team history in career kick return yardage.
Outside of Harvin, we once again find a collection of backup quarterbacks at #12.
- Steve Dils was a backup for the team for six seasons. He got an opportunity to start 12 games in 1983 and wasn’t all that good.
- Sean Salisbury, probably best known as the guy that Dennis Green inexplicably benched Rich Gannon for, actually had a winning record for the Vikings and threw more touchdowns than interceptions. Still, not great.
- Gus Frerotte was on the ridiculously long list of “quarterbacks that a lot of people thought were better than Daunte Culpepper when they were backing up Daunte Culpepper but were actually not better than Daunte Culpepper in any way, shape, or form” when he was on the team in 2003 and 2004. He came back to Minnesota in 2008, and actually went 8-3 in 11 starts (despite throwing more interceptions than touchdowns).
But, this one pretty easily belongs to Percy Harvin, I think. We’ll never know what he could have accomplished in Minnesota if he could have gotten along with the coach, but when he was on, he was pretty spectacular.
Vikings that have worn the number 12:
- Tom McNeil (1970)
- Neil Clabo (1975 - 1977)
- Steve Dils (1979 - 1984)
- Sean Salisbury (1992 - 1994)
- Daunte Culpepper (1999)
- Lee Johnson (2001)
- Gus Frerotte (2003 - 2004, 2008)
- Billy McMullen (2006)
- Percy Harvin (2009 - 2012)
- Jeff Locke (2013)
- Josh Freeman (2013)
- Charles Johnson (2014 - 2016)
Tomorrow is number 11, folks. We’ll see you back here then!