Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings were one of the better teams in the late 1960s and early 1970s, usually finishing first in their division (after the post-1967 collapse of the Packers). The Vikings appeared in Super Bowls 4, 8, 9, and 11, but lost all of them.

#225 Fran Tarkenton - Tarkenton quarterbacked the Vikings from the team's inaugural 1961 season (as a rookie) through the 1966 season. He spent the next 5 seasons as the New York Giants QB, before being traded back to the Vikings for QB Norm Snead and others prior to the 1972 season. Here, Tarkenton is pictured in his Giants' jersey from the 1971 season. (In the early 1970s, the Vikings jerseys had a much more bluish tone than the bright purple jerseys of the 1960s, so they look similar to the Giants' blue jerseys.)

#71 Bob Lee - Lee was the Vikings punter and backup quarterback. Bob's rookie season was 1968. He spent much the 1970s shuttling back and forth between the Vikings and the Falcons.

#166 Clint Jones - Jones led the Vikings with 9 touchdowns in 1970. He was also a top kick returner for the Vikings. Clint was a rookie with the Vikings in 1967.

#218 Gene Washington - Gene's rookie season was 1967, and in just 4 years he became the Vikings' all-time career leader in TD receptions. He made the Pro Bowl following the 1970 season. In the 1970s there were 2 wide receivers in the NFL named Gene Washington. The other more accomplished and better known Gene Washington played for the 49ers.

#290 John Gilliam - John began his NFL career in 1967 with the Saints. After 2 seasons in New Orleans and 3 with St. Louis, he joined the Vikings in 1972. He played in Minnesota for 4 seasons, starting every game and making the Pro Bowl each year. He played with the Falcons in 1976 before finishing his career in 1977 with the Saints and Bears.

#104 Ron Yary - Yary was an All-American lineman at USC, and won the Knute Rockne award in 1967 as the top college lineman. 1972 is his 5th season with the Vikings.

#194 Fred Cox - 1972 is Fred's 11th season with the Vikings. After not playing during his rookie season of 1962, he scored over 100 points in 4 of his next 8 seasons.

#20 Carl Eller - Eller's card is somewhat unusual in that he's the only Viking wearing the white jersey, and he's one of only a handful of players to be shown wearing a helmet. If Topps was going to use a helmeted photo, you would think they could at least not airbrush out the Vikings horns!

Eller was a regular for the Vikings since his rookie year of 1964, and made the Pro Bowl for the last 4 seasons. Back in the day, there were a few teams with "named" defensive lines. In the mid-1960s, the Rams had the "Fearsome Foursome" (ends Deacon Jones and Lamar Lundy, tackles Merlin Olsen and Rosie Grier). In the mid-1970s, the Steelers had the "Steel Curtain" (ends L.C. Greenwood and Dwight White, tackles Joe Greene and Ernie Holmes). Between those 2 eras was Minnesota's "Purple People Eaters" (ends Carl Eller and Jim Marshall, tackles Alan Page and Gary Larsen).

#336 Jim Marshall - Jim Marshall started EVERY game during his 20-year career (1960-79). After playing with the Cleveland Browns as a rookie, he went to the Vikings for the team's inaugural season. (I'm surprised to learn that he's not in the Hall of Fame.)

#300 Alan Page - Alan Page was the Vikings' #1 pick in the 1967 draft. He played 11 1/2 seasons for the Vikings, and 3 1/2 seasons for the Bears. During his 15-year career (1967-81), he started every game except for 3 games in his rookie season. He made 9 Pro Bowls, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988.

#53 Charlie West - West was a rookie with Minnesota in 1968. On the back of his card, instead of an interception record, it has his punt return record. Charlie had a 98-yard punt return in his rookie season. Later in the 1970s, he played more as a defensive back.

Also check out the 1967 Vikings.

Next time: Pittsburgh Steelers

No comments: