NFL - NFC NORTH
2021-2022 TEAM LEADERS
If not for a calculated business decision by the founding owners of the Minnesota Vikings, the Oakland Raiders, now of Las Vegas, might never have been a thing. When the AFL was plotting its creation in 1959, one of the charter franchises was to be in Minnesota with the three-headed ownership group of Bill Boyer, H.P. Skoglund, and Max Winter, who also was part owner of the Minneapolis Lakers of the NBA. But what the group really wanted was an NFL team, not a team in the new AFL. So when the opportunity came along to have an expansion NFL team that would begin play in 1961, the group forfeited its AFL franchise. That open spot then went to the Raiders, and the Minnesota ownership group was forced to add Ole Haugsrud because of an agreement he made with the NFL in the 1920s when he sold them the Duluth Eskimos. The Vikings was the chosen nickname to reflect the large Scandinavian American population of the region. Norm Van Brocklin became the head coach when first choice Bud Grant turned down the job. An expansion draft was held, and later the Vikings selected halfback Tommy Mason with the first pick in the amateur draft. And in the first-ever game for the Vikings, new third-round draft pick Fran Tarkenton threw four touchdowns to beat the Bears. The Minnesota Vikings, the NFL’s 14th team, was off and running.
Championships by the Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings are one of the 12 current NFL teams to never lift the Lombardi Trophy. They are not; however, one of the four NFL teams to never play in a Super Bowl. They have, in fact, played in four Super Bowls, losing all four.
1969 NFL Championship
When the Vikings won the NFL in 1969, we were already in the Super Bowl era, so it isn’t recognized as a championship season. But it was still pre-merger, so technically, it was an NFL Championship they won when they beat the Cleveland Browns 27-7. The Vikings had a great season, finishing 12-2 and beating the Rams and Browns to make the Super Bowl. However, in Super Bowl IV, it was the Kansas City Chiefs winning, 23-7.
1973 NFC Championship
By 1973 Fran Tarkenton was back at quarterback, and the defense was back among the elite. Wins over Washington and Dallas put the Vikings back in the Super Bowl, but the Miami Dolphins were making a third straight Super Bowl appearance and won for the second straight season, 24-7.
1974 NFC Championship
Hoping to shake off the stigma of being the first team in NFL history to lose two Super Bowls, the Vikings had another great year in 1974 and beat the Cardinals and Rams to win back-to-back NFC Championships. But it was not meant to be in Super Bowl IX, and the Steelers sent Minnesota down to defeat for a third time in the Super Bowl, 16-6.
1976 NFC Championship
There was one final try for the group that included Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman, Alan Page, Carl Eller, and Jim Marshall, who at this point was 39. Minnesota was the top seed in the NFC once again and easily beat Washington and the Rams to advance to Super Bowl XI. But with John Madden as their head coach, the Raiders won 32-14, handing the Vikings their fourth Super Bowl loss.
Key Stats by the Minnesota Vikings
Only two teams in NFL history have played in as many as four Super Bowls without winning at least one: the Vikings and Bills. Along with those four conference championships, the Vikings have won their division 20 times, including four times since realignment created the NFC North. They have been in the postseason 30 times in their history. Prior to the Vikings, there were three attempts to have professional football in Minnesota. The Minneapolis Marines lasted from 1921 to 1924, that team was reincarnated into the Minneapolis Red Jackets for the 1929 season, and the Duluth Eskimos were in the NFL from 1923 to 1927.
Top Players in Minnesota Vikings History
Quarterback Fran Tarkenton retired from the NFL with 47,003 passing yards and 342 touchdowns. The nine-time Pro Bowler was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986. Joining Tarkenton in the Hall of Fame from those 1970 Super Bowl teams is safety Paul Krause, a three-time First-Team All-Pro, offensive tackle Ron Yary, a six-time First-Team All-Pro, and center Mike Tinglehoff, an undrafted free agent that became a five-time First-Team All-Pro. Anchoring the famed Purple Eaters of those Super Bowl teams was defensive end Carl Eller, a Hall of Fame inductee in 2004, Alan Page, a Hall of Fame inductee in 1988 and Minnesota state Supreme Court Associate Justice, and Jim Marshall, one of just five Vikings to have his number retired. Hall of Fame Vikings in more recent years includes offensive lineman Randall McDaniel, Gary Zimmerman, and Steve Hutchinson; wide receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss; and defensive tackle John Randle.
Top Coaches in Minnesota Vikings History
The Vikings had hoped to hire Bid Grant away from the CFL to be their very first head coach in 1961. He turned them down then, opting to stay with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, where he had also been a player. Six years later, however, the Vikings asked again, and this time he said yes. Grant was a four-time Grey Cup champion in Canada, and in the NFL he coached his teams to four Super Bowls and a total of 168 wins. He was the CFL Coach of the Year in 1965 and the NFL Coach of the Year in 1969. From 1968 to 1980, he won the NFC Central in 11 of 13 years. In his professional coaching career, Grant made the postseason in 20 of his 28 seasons. Bud Grant actually began his professional sports career as a member of the Minneapolis Lakers and won an NBA Championship with them in 1950. The next year he was a defensive end with the Philadelphia Eagles before switching to wide receiver the next year. Dennis Green is the next most successful coach in Vikings history, winning four division titles in his ten seasons in Minnesota.
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