We have officially moved into the 20s in our Minnesota Vikings By The Numbers series, and we’ll start with the #29. While the player that currently wears the number for the Vikings, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, might be the best cornerback in the National Football League right now, he has a ways to go before he catches the greatest player in Vikings history to ever don that number.
That honor goes to the first #29 for the purple, safety Karl Kassulke. Kassulke was actually drafted by the Detroit Lions in the eleventh round of the 1963 NFL Draft, but was waived by Detroit before he ever played a game and wound up with Minnesota. He wound up starting twelve games for the Vikings in that 1963 season, and started 117 of his 131 career games in purple overall, including starting at safety in Super Bowl IV against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kassulke was known as a very hard hitter at safety, but had good skills in coverage as well. He collected 19 interceptions during his career as a Viking, and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1970. Sadly, his Vikings career was cut shorter than anyone would have liked. Prior to training camp in 1973, Kassulke was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, forcing him into retirement. He passed away in 2008 at the age of 67.
We do have a couple of honorable mentions for the number 29, though.
- Brian Williams had a decent run at cornerback for the Vikings from 2002 to 2005. In his four seasons in purple, he picked up 12 interceptions, including five in a 2003 season that saw him lead the NFL in interception return yardage. He moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars before the 2006 season and was actually in the league until 2011.
- For most teams, running back Chester Taylor would probably get a distinction like this. Taylor came to the Vikings in 2006 and rushed for over 1,200 yards in his first year in purple. He also holds the record for the Vikings’ longest run from scrimmage with his 95-yard touchdown scamper against the Seattle Seahawks in 2006. He got bumped out of the starting role by Adrian Peterson, but still proved to be a capable third-down back for the rest of his time in purple.
- We’ve already mentioned Rhodes, but he has nowhere to go but up in this conversation. Again, he might be the best cornerback in the league right now, and is likely only going to continue to get better as he enters his peak years.
Vikings that have worn the number 29:
- Karl Kassulke (1963 - 1972)
- Randy Poltl (1974)
- Phil Wise (1977 - 1979)
- John Swain (1981 - 1984)
- Jamie Fitzgerald (1987)
- Darrell Fullington (1988 - 1990)
- Charles Evans (1993 - 1998)
- Chris Rogers (1999)
- Wasswa Serwanga (2000 - 2001)
- Brian Williams (2002 - 2005)
- Chester Taylor (2006 - 2009)
- Lito Sheppard (2010)
- Xavier Rhodes (2013 - present)
Tomorrow, we’ll get to the number 28. Gee. . .any guesses?