In the past, there have been some historically great football players that have played in the purple and gold. What I bring to you today are the six best players of my lifetime, or of the last 30 years or so. Listen, I am only 28 years old so I am going to stick to my lifetime and speak about players I have watched for myself. Sorry to all the “old heads” who won’t see Carl Eller or any other Purple People Eater on here.
We’re going to start with my favorite player to ever don the purple and gold for the Minnesota Vikings, Randy Moss. Yeah he was a bit of a diva in his day, but looking back at it, what receivers aren't? Randy Moss was the most electrifying player in the NFL from the day he stepped out onto the field. In his career, Moss was a six-time pro bowler, was voted onto the first team All-Pro list four times, and he set the NFL single season receiving touchdown record as a Patriot. Moss was much more than a diva in Minnesota. Throughout his tenure with the Vikings, Moss had 587 catches, 9,316 yards, and 92 touchdowns. I still remember the Thanksgiving game against the Dallas Cowboys like it was yesterday. In that game, Moss had 3 catches, 163 yards, and 3 touchdowns. I’m not sure anyone has ever been more productive on a three-catch day in NFL history, and it will go down as one of the best performances on Thanksgiving day in NFL history.
Sticking to the vast history of great Minnesota receivers, next up, Cris Carter. The Vikings retired Cris Carter’s number 80 making it so no one else could ever wear that number. The Vikings have only retired six numbers of former players, so that should say it all. Other than that, CC only managed to become an eight time Pro-Bowler, was voted to the first team All-Pro team twice, and is currently keeping warm in his gold NFL Hall of Fame jacket. Carter may have had the single greatest set of hands in the NFL. His ability to pluck the ball out of the air with one hand was unlike anything the NFL had seen. On top of that, he had the uncanny ability to get two feet inbounds no matter where he was. Now days it seems routine, but Carter was a visionary, a true pioneer of highlight catches. As a Viking, Cris Carter had 12,383 yards, 1,004 catches, and 110 touchdowns.
Switching to the defensive side of the ball, next on our list is none other than Jared Allen. Also known as the QB wrangler, Allen set the Vikings’ single season sack record with 22.0 sacks in 2012, breaking the record previously held by Chris Doleman. Jared Allen was a five-time pro-bowler, was a four-time first-team All-Pro, and of course the all time Vikings’ single season sack leader. Jared Allen was mostly known for his “wrangle” sack dance where he did a hog tie move after a sack. To true football fans, Allen was more known for terrorizing opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks alike. In his 6-year span with the Vikings, Allen had 85.5 sacks, 246 solo tackles, 104 tackles for loss. He also added 4 interceptions, 4 safeties, and a touchdown. It was announced earlier this year that Jared Allen will not be a part of the 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame class. Does Allen deserve to be inducted into the Pro-Football Hall of Fame? I think yes.
Adrian Peterson is next in line. Also know as “All Day,” Peterson was a five time pro-bowler with the Vikings, was a three-time first-team All-Pro, won the NFL MVP in 2012 (beating out Peyton Manning), and he is the all-time Vikings leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. In his ten-year tenure with the Vikings, AP had rushed for 11,821 yards and 97 touchdowns. Peterson also broke the NFL record for most rushing yards in a game with 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers in 2007 while adding 3 touchdowns. He also broke the NFL record for most rushing yards in a half at 253 during the second half of that same Chargers game. Currently, AP sits at #2 for most rushing yards in a season ever at 2,097.
Rounding out the top 5 of my Vikings legends of the past 30 years is John Randle. Randle was a seven-time Pro Bowler, was elected to six first team All-Pro honors, and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. John Randle was a certified beast. Although he was a bit smaller in stature, at 6’1” he was a wrecking ball. Randle racked up 137.5 career sacks, most of which came with Minnesota. He and current Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald are the only defensive tackles with 100 plus sacks in their careers. Randle had 8 seasons with 10 or more sacks in the NFL and 35 games with multiple sacks. Pound-for-pound, John Randle was the strongest man on the field in every game he played, but was also very shifty and able to get around and under lineman very easily. He has some of the best defensive highlight tapes you can find, but he had some of his best highlights in his pre game speeches. He was a natural leader of men, and a very humorous person in general.
The last of the Top six greatest Vikings of the past 30 years is none other than Randall McDaniel. Boy, could we use a mauler like him in 2023. McDaniel was a twelve time Pro Bowler, a seven-time first-team All-Pro, and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. McDaniel was drafted from the Arizona State University as the 19th overall pick in 1988. The guard played 14 NFL seasons with majority of his career spent in Minnesota from 1988-1999. He also had a 202 consecutive games played streak, which for a mauler of a guard is very impressive. Being one of the best run and pass blocker combos ever, McDaniel only allowed 1.5 sacks during the Vikings 15-1 1998 season, while running backs averaged 5.4 yards per carry when rushing to his side of the line. Man, I would love to see the Vikings get a guy like this again.
After almost 30 years of bleeding purple, there are many names that were up for debate to put into this list, but these six Vikings legends are at the top of mine. Like I said earlier, I am only ranking players I have personally witnessed play for the Vikings, so I apologize to anyone here who was hoping to see older legends of the purple and gold.