Beginning play in 1961, the Minnesota Vikings are among the 15 youngest franchises in the NFL. They're also one of the 12 teams that has yet to win a Super Bowl. Just because the Vikings haven't been around as long or claimed their first Lombardi Trophy, however, doesn't mean they haven't churned out some of the league's top talents over the years. Among the most successful organizations without a Super Bowl title, the Vikings already have 22 representatives in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, not to mention dozens more who were -- or are -- considered among the best of their generation.
With that in mind, we decided to crown the Vikings' all-timers, digging through team history to single out the Franchise Five. CBSSports.com's Franchise Five dives into five most impactful people in each NFL's team history. Our rules here bind us to pick just one quarterback, three non-quarterback players and one head coach.
Just about every generation of Vikings football is represented in our list, with some of the best playmakers to ever suit up in the NFL among the selections:
QB Fran Tarkenton
Vikings career: 1961-66, 1972-78
Daunte Culpepper (1999-2005) was briefly among his generation's top signal-callers, and Tommy Kramer (1977-89), Randall Cunningham (1997-99) and Brett Favre (2009-10) all had their time in the
sun frozen tundra, but Tarkenton was literally a game-changer. A nine-time Pro Bowler who set just about every passing record while winning NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year during his second stint with the team, the slender Georgia product led Minnesota to three different Super Bowls in a span of four seasons.
While he could never bring the Lombardi Trophy to the Twin Cities, Tarkenton was one of the biggest reasons for the Vikings' 1970s surge, not to mention one of the league's first dominant dual-threat QBs. To this day, he ranks sixth in career rushing yards by a QB, behind only Michael Vick, Cunningham, Cam Newton, Steve Young and Russell Wilson.
Coach Bud Grant
Vikings career: 1967-83, 1985
There is absolutely no competition for Grant in this department. A local guy who graduated from Minnesota, he went straight from a playing career to a head coaching role in 1957, with the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and rivaled his pristine CFL record running the Vikes for the better part of two decades.
After a 3-8-3 debut, Grant led the team to 11 NFC Central titles in 13 years, establishing the Vikings as a true conference power. Four Super Bowl appearances in his first nine seasons couldn't net him a ring, but his teams' remarkable annual consistency is comparable to what Andy Reid did in Philadelphia and Kansas City decades later, making him one of the most accomplished coaches in football history. Grant's 151 career wins still rank in the top 20 all time, and his 18 total years with the club mean he's coached almost 30 percent of the franchise's combined games since 1961.
Vikings career: 2007-16
Still running strong at age 35 with the Washington Redskins, Peterson embodied the term "workhorse running back," and in fact was the Vikings' offense for much of his time in Minnesota. Fumbles were an issue for the hulking ball-carrier, and nearly his entire 2014 season was wiped out due to off-field issues, but those are about the only nitpicks you can make on a Hall of Fame career.
With at least 1,200 rushing yards in each of his first four seasons, seven straight years of at least 10 touchdowns and, perhaps most notable of all, a record-breaking 2,000-yard season one year after a serious knee injury, Peterson wasn't just the best Vikings RB of all time but one of the best to ever play the game. Before departing in 2017, the Oklahoma product racked up an NFL MVP award and thrice led the league in rushing, totaling more than 11,700 yards on the ground.
WR Randy Moss
Vikings career: 1998-2004, 2010
If Peterson is the thunder of all-time Vikings, then Moss is the lightning. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018, the former first-round pick managed to play alongside all kinds of franchise greats (Culpepper, Cunningham, Cris Carter, etc.) and still stand out as the superstar of the bunch. Moss wasted no time carving out a career as one of the best deep threats of all time, averaging a whopping 19 yards per catch while scoring a league-leading 17 touchdowns as a rookie, then proceeded to post five more 1,200-yard seasons in the next five years.
Moss led the NFL in TD catches two more times with Minnesota, including during a 111-catch, 1,632-yard showcase in 2003, and despite a polarizing relationship with the team that extended into his short-lived 2010 reunion, saw his awe-inspiring Vikings run pave the way for even more historic success, like his record 23-TD season with the Patriots in 2007.
DT Alan Page
Vikings career: 1967-78
One of just 11 Vikings to appear in all four of the team's Super Bowls, Page is best known as one of the defining members of the "Purple People Eaters," the 1960-70s defensive line that helped fuel Minnesota to NFC dominance. A nine-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro honoree, he's also a two-time Defensive Player of the Year recipient and one of just two defenders to win NFL MVP since 1971.
Unofficially credited with six different double-digit sack seasons and 238 straight game appearances, Page went into the Hall of Fame in 1988 and is still regarded as one of the best interior D-linemen to ever take the field. As a bonus, he remains a staple of the Minnesota community, serving as a state Supreme Court judge from 1993-2015.
- WR Cris Carter
- OG Randall McDaniel
- DE Carl Eller
- DT John Randle
- S Paul Krause