As some of you know, I have had a long running series remembering the best non-Hall of Fame players on each franchise. Since the NFL is teetering now, Goodell looks like he is dying with multi-colored skin and lipstick, and March Madness, hockey, and baseball are in the front...thought I'd submit two ALMOST All-Time Teams for the Gabbers today. Miami can be found in the NFL section.
Remember : These Are The Best Vikings Who Are Not Yet, And Maybe Never Will Be, Inducted Into The Pro Football Hall of Fame
Quarterback : Tommy Kramer
Kramer was drafted in the first round of the 1977 draft for the express purpose of one day supplanting aging Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, who owned virtually NFL record for a quarterback during that time.
He sat and learned for two seasons, then Tarkenton retired. Kramer took over in 1979 and soon became known for his flair for the dramatic moment. He was known as "Two Minute Tommy" because he often led Minnesota to victories late in the game.
One of his more famous moments came on a one-handed catch by Ahmad Rashad on a "Hail Mary" pass as time expired against the Cleveland Browns. It secured the Vikings a division title. Kramer threw for a career best 3,912 yards and 26 touchdowns the next year despite missing two games.
Kramer had taken over the Vikings when an aging team was rebuilding. The offensive line was an area affected by mass retirement, so it was often porous while Kramer was there He took a huge pounding despite having a quick release. The punishment he took led to injuries, causing him to miss 20 games in 1983 and 1984.
In his 13 years as the primary starting quarterback, Kramer lasted an entire season twice. He often found himself picking his carcass off the turf after being blasted by another defender. Another reason for defenders to key on him was an erratic rushing attack.
Minnesota had halfbacks Ricky Young, Ted Brown, and Darrin Nelson as the main running backs in Kramer's area. Though Brown had two effective seasons running the ball, these backs are most noted for their receiving abilities.
Young, one of the great pass catching backs in era, Brown, and Nelson had over 900 receptions with Kramer. Brown's 1,063 rushing yards in 1981 was the best run support Kramer ever had.
Though he missed three games in 1986, Kramer had perhaps his finest season.. He made his only Pro Bowl and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Kramer led the NFL in quarterback rating, adjusted yards gained per pass attempt, and adjusted net yards gained per pass attempt.
His next three seasons were littered by injuries. Kramer missed 24 games over that time and lost his starting job to Wade Wilson. He joined the New Orleans Saints in 1990, but appeared in one game. He then retired.
Replacing a legend is never an easy thing to do, and it is harder when the team is trying to rebuild. Despite all of the missed games, Kramer is second in franchise history in wins, games played, passing attempts and completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. No Vikings quarterback has been sacked more either.
He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings Team put together in 2010. Kramer is the only Viking to ever win the Comeback Player of the Year Award. "Two Minute Tommy" is truly a Vikings legend.
Joe Kapp, Wade Wilson, Randall Cunningham, and Duante Culpepper deserve mention.
Fullback : Chuck Foreman
Foreman was drafted in the first round of the 1973 draft by the Vikings. He went to work right away, leading the team in rushing, touchdowns scored, and finishing second in receiving. He was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and to the first of five straight Pro Bowls as Minnesota reached the Super Bowl.
He was just as special in his second season. Foreman led the team in rushing receiving, and touchdowns both in the air and on the ground. His 15 total touchdowns that year led the NFL. The Sporting News named him NFC Player of the Year as the Vikings reached the Super Bowl again.
The 1975 season was one of his best. He was named First Team All-Pro after leading the NFL with a career best 73 receptions, while churning out 1,070 yards on a career high 280 carries. Foreman also ran for a career high 13 scores, adding a career high nine more off receptions.
His 22 touchdowns was an NFC record at the time. He was fighting O.J. Simpson for the NFL record, as well as trying to lead the league in rushing, receiving, and scoring. In the last game of the regular season, the Vikings headed into Buffalo.
Foreman went wild in just under three quarters. He had already scored three times, had nine receptions, and 85 yards rushing in a snow storm. Simpson was attempting to pass the 22-touchdown record he had tied Gale Sayers with the season before.
As Foreman ran out of bounds after an errant throw, a fan pelted him in the eye with a snow ball. With his vision blurred, he sat out a few plays but returned to catch a touchdown pass to tie Sayers and Simpson for the record. His eye was bothering him so he had to sit out the rest of the game for precautionary measures.
Simpson would later set the record with his 23rd score in the Vikings 35-13 rout. Foreman lost the rushing title the next day when Jim Otis, of the Saint Louis Cardinals, passed him by six yards. In the end, a disgruntled fan cost Foreman a chance at history.
He duplicated his 13 rushing touchdowns in 1976, while pounding out a career high 1,155 yards on the ground and catching 55 balls. His 14 touchdowns led the NFL, and the UPI named him NFC Player of the Year. Minnesota reached the Super Bowl for the third time in his career.
The 1977 season was his last Pro Bowl year. He ran for 1,112 yards and scored nine times total. Though he caught 61 passes and ran for 749 yards in 1978, the wear and tear of carrying the Vikings offense caught up to him.
He spent 1979 on the bench, being replaced by a pair of pass catching backs named Ricky Young and Ted Brown. He was traded to the New England Patriots in 1980, but was rarely used. He then retired.
Foreman was more than a powerful runner with soft hands. He was especially nimble, earning him the nickname "Spin Doctor". He would accomplish these feats on the icy Minnesota tundra in an era were fields were not kept up like they are today.
The 132 points he scored in 1975 is still a Vikings record by a non-kicker, and it ranks second best overall. He held the team record for most rushing yards until Robert Smith passed him in 2000, and he has the second most rushing attempts in Vikings history behind the great Bill Brown.
He is tied with Smith and Adrian Peterson with 52 touchdowns on the ground, but Peterson appears likely to set the record the next time he plays. Foreman's 336 receptions are just three behind Ted Brown as the most by a running back in Vikings history, and ranks ninth best overall.
His 73 receptions in 1973 was a NFL record by a running back until the Vikings Ricky Young broke it in 1978. Foreman is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams. He has also been inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor.
Some Vikings fans may prefer the rugged Bill Brown in this slot. He was a scoring machine with soft hands just like Foreman. Some would say put both in the backfield together, which also works.
I chose Foreman because he was basically the first version of the versatile fullback you could lean on running or passing the ball. There was nothing Foreman couldn't do on the gridiron for six spectacular years. He may be the best fullback in Vikings history.
Bill Brown and Tony Richardson deserve mention.
Halfback : Robert Smith
Smith was Minnesota's first-round draft choice in 1993. He contributed very little his first two seasons and was mostly used as a receiver. Though he carried the ball much more the following two years, Smith fought injuries and missed 15 games over that time.
He came into his own during the 1997 season, rushing for 1,266 yards and catching a career best 37 balls. He also averaged a very impressive 5.5 yards per carry, which was the best of his career.
Smith followed that with his first Pro Bowl year in 1998 after running for 1,187 yards and churning out six rushing touchdowns.He ran for 1,015 yards in 1999 despite missing three games.
His 2000 season was his best, as well as being the only time in his career he was able to play an entire season. Smith made his last Pro Bowl after setting career high marks of 1,521 yards and seven touchdowns on 295 carries. He also averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
Despite reeling off four straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons and being only 28-years old, Smith retired after that 2000 season. He noted his injury plagued career as one of the reasons for his early exit, despite perhaps just entering his prime.
Smith is still holds the Vikings record for most rushing yards in a career and his four 1,000-yards rushing seasons is a team record, though Adrian Peterson tied it in 2010. Smith accomplished all of this and fumbled the ball just nine times in his whole career.
He was always making the big play for the Vikings. Smith's average touchdown run was 27.2 yards, which is an NFL record. He had four consecutive years where he ran a football 70 yards or longer.
He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of their 40th Anniversary Team. There is no question that Robert Smith was a special player in the short time that he wore the Vikings uniform.
Brent McClanahan, Michael Bennett, Dave Osborne, Tommy Mason, Darrin Nelson, Ted Brown, and Ricky Young deserve mention.
Wide Receiver : Cris Carter
Carter was drafted in the fourth round of the Supplemental Draft in 1987 by the Philadelphia Eagles. He had to go into the supplemental draft because he lost his senior year of eligibility at Ohio State University after signing a contract with an agent.
The 1987 season is best known as being shortened by a players strike. Carter was rarely used, catching two touchdowns off five receptions, though he did return 12 kicks. He would only return one kick the rest of his career.
Kenny Jackson, the Eagles first-round draft pick in 1984, was not working out as a starter opposite Pro Bowler Mike Quick. Carter was inserted into the starting lineup and grabbed 17 touchdowns off 84 receptions over two seasons.
The Eagles were known for their swarming defense and athletic quarterback during this time. Their head coach, Buddy Ryan, was a defensive expert, but the Eagles offense could not score in the playoffs and were bounced out in their first game in both years Carter started.
Ryan suddenly cut Carter after the 1989 season, with the reason was that all Carter did for the Eagles was "catch touchdown passes". The truth was that Carter was abusing drugs and the wide receiver credits his being cut as the wake up call that saved his life.
Minnesota claimed him off the waiver wire right away. He spent his first year in Minnesota backing up Anthony Carter (no relation) and Hassan Jones. Though the Vikings started three receivers seven times in 1991, he supplanted Jones as the starter and would hold that spot the remainder of his Vikings career.
One of Carter's strengths was his conditioning and durability. Though he missed four games because if injury in 1992, he played every other game possible for Minnesota. Except for his rookie and final seasons, those would be the only four games that he missed.
His 1993 season was the first of eight straight Pro Bowl years. He became one of the very best receivers in the NFL over this time. Carter caught a career best 122 pass in both 1994 and 1995, becoming the only player in NFL history to have that many receptions twice. He led the NFL in receptions in 1994, and his career best 17 touchdown receptions in 1995 led the league as well.
The Vikings had a revolving door at quarterback during Carter's time there. Seven different men were the primary starter in his 12 seasons with the team. Despite all the lunacy and confusion, Carter was a beacon of steady leadership and consistent production.
Carter had 86 or more receptions in seven of his eight Pro Bowl years. He had 90 or more catches five times. He also grabbed those touchdowns Ryan mentioned. Other than the 17 scores in 1995, he led the NFL with 13 touchdown catches two times. He was in double figures in touchdown receptions in five of his Pro Bowl years.
What made his production even more special, other than the ever changing quarterback, is the fact he had to share receptions with future Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, Pro Bowl wide receivers Jake Reed and Anthony Carter, and Pro Bowl tight end Steve Jordan.
Besides his eight consecutive Pro Bowls, he was named First Team All-Pro twice. He holds the Vikings record for Pro Bowls by a wide receiver, and only Moss has been named First Team All-Pro more. Just two Vikings, Hall of Famers Alan Page and Randall McDaniel have represented Minnesota more at the Pro Bowl than Carter.
Though he caught 73 balls for six scores in 2001, the Vikings let the 36-year old receiver go. He joined the Miami Dolphins the next year, but appeared in just five games and retired.
Carter hold the Vikings records of receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown catches for a career. He also holds the single-season Vikings record for receptions and is tied with Moss with touchdown receptions.
He has been a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame three times so far. He ranks third in NFL history with 1,101 career receptions, fourth in career receiving touchdowns with 130, and eighth in career receiving yards, and total career touchdowns.
Carter has a feel-good story attached to his career, one that has now extended to where he provides analysis on television. With career on the ropes because of drugs, he rebounded and became a leader. Most recall him serving as a mentor to Moss.
He won the Bart Starr Man of the Year Award in 1994, the Bryon "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year Awards in 1998, and the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 1999.
Besides the 17 NFL records he either owns or shares, he is a member of the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team. He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of their 40th Anniversary Team.
The Vikings have retired his jersey and inducted him into their Honor Roll. His induction into Canton is inevitable, the only question left is the year it will happen. The Vikings have had a huge amount of great receivers to play for them, but Cris Carter may be their best ever.
Wide Receiver : Sammy White
White was drafted in the second round by Minnesota in 1976. He started immediately and exploded on the NFL.
He was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after catching a career best 10 touchdowns while getting 906 yards on 51 receptions. The Vikings reached Super Bowl XI, where White would make a play to be remembered forever.
The Vikings were trailing early to the Oakland Raiders and forced to throw on third and long. The ball hung in the air as White and two Raiders ran to it. There was a tremendous collision that eventually sent White's helmet flying.
Though he hung onto the ball, the impact of the hit forced him to sit out of several plays. White did come back to lead the Vikings with five receptions for 77 yards and a score in the Raiders 32-14 victory.
What some fans do not remember was the catch White made in the Vikings playoff win over the Washington Redskins that year. Those who recall it often say it is amongst the best circus catches in NFL history.
While Chuck Foreman and Brent McClanahan both ran for 100 yards, White led the team with four catches for 64 yards. Two went for score, but the first was the best.
Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton slightly overthrew White on a post pattern, but a diving White got a hand on he ball, batting it in the air. He crashed to the ground, but kept his eyes on the football.
Squirming on the ground, he stretched out to keep batting the ball in the air. Juggling it as he squirmed to get his body underneath the ball. He achieved this after several yards, then continued to snake his body on the ground until he crossed the goal line to put the Vikings up 14-3.
He was named to the Pro Bowl in his rookie year, an honor he would achieve the next season after averaging 18.5 yards on 41 receptions and scoring nine times. He was considered a top-flight receiver able to beat you with speed and precise route running.
He continued to be the Vikings top receiver the next three years, culminating in having one of the best seasons of his career in 1981. He set career high marks with 66 receptions for 1,001 yards.
After the strike-shortened 1982 season, White's next two years were met with nagging injuries. He still was able to average a career best 19 yards at catch in 1984. After being able to suit up for just six games, due to injury, in 1985, he retired.
He left the game as the Vikings all-time leader in receiving yards and touchdown catches, as well as second in receptions. White still ranks fourth in touchdown catches, fifth in receiving yards, and seventh in receptions.
Wide receiver is a position Minnesota is deep in tradition and excellence, where choosing anyone is not the wrong choice. I selected White for not only his postseason greatness, but the fact he was at his best in the much harder 10-yard chuck rule era.
Only Ahmad Rashad had to deal with this, as far as Vikings receivers with more receptions, and he finished with just seven more catches than White. The rest on the list, with more catches than White, are men who encountered the much easier 5-yard chuck rule in a much more offensive friendly era.
Yet Sammy White was able to average over 16 yards on 393 receptions while finding the end zone 50 times. He wasn't just spectacular, he was tough. Proving much of his career to be amongst the best wide receivers in Vikings history.
He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of their 25th Anniversary Team.
Anthony Carter, Ahmad Rashad, John Gilliam, Paul Flatley, Koren Robinson, Bob Grimm, Jerry Reichow, Jake Reed, and Gene Washington deserve mention.
Tight End : Steve Jordan
Jordan was the Vikings seventh round draft pick in 1982. He spent his first two years backing up Pro Bowler Joe Senser and Hall of Famer Dave Casper.
He earned the starting job in 1984. Besides 38 receptions, he had the only rushing attempt of his career and scored from four yards out. He had a career best 68 receptions the next year, but failed to score.
Things changed in 1986, where Jordan would earn the first of six consecutive Pro Bowl honors. Besides being a consistent receiving threat, his blocking improved every year. He also never missed a game over this stretch of time.
Jordan began to get injured in 1992. He missed two games that season and the next, though he was productive with 57 receptions in his last year as a starter. Jordan was only able to suit up for four games in 1994, then retired.
He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of their 40th Anniversary Team. No Vikings tight end has more Pro Bowls, receptions, receiving yards, or touchdowns caught than him.
He still ranks third in Vikings history in receptions, sixth in receiving yards, and seventh in touchdown catches. Minnesota has had quite a few good tight ends wear their uniform, but Jordan may be the best of them all.
Joe Senser, Byron Chamberlain, Bob Tucker, and Stu Voight deserve mention.
Tackle : Grady Alderman
Alderman was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 10th round of the 1960 draft. He went to college at the nearby University of Detroit Mercy. Alderman and Kansas City Chiefs guard George Daney hold the distinction of being the last players from the school to have played in the NFL.
The football program was disbanded in 1964 despite having put 62 players in the NFL and once winning a national championship. Alderman is a member of the schools Hall of Fame.
He spent his rookie year on the bench, playing both guard and tackle. Detroit left him exposed to the Vikings expansion draft in 1961. Though Minnesota got several good players, including Hall of Fame halfback Hugh McElhenny, Alderman was their finest selection.
He started at left tackle day one. Alderman started every game he played over the next nine seasons, missing just one game over that span. Though the Vikings were struggling as a team, he quickly stood out.
The 1963 season was his first of five consecutive Pro Bowl honors. The team have five losing seasons in their first seven years of existence, but people recognized the work of Alderman. He played in an era where players and coaches voted on who would get that honor.
The Vikings steadily improved, and Alderman was a cconsistent force each year. The offensive line was one of the reasons for the improvent, with Pro Bowlers Mick Tinglehoff at center and Milt Sunde at guard. It would get even better whn Hall of Famer Ron Yary and Pro Bowler Ed White were added later on.
Though his Pro Bowl streak ended in 1968, it was the first year the Vikings won their division. Minnesota repeated as division champions the next year by winning 12 of 14 games. Though the team would win 12 games three more times up until 1973, it was a franchise record until the 1998 team won 15.
The Vikings are the last NFL Champion before the NFL and American Football League officially merged in 1970. They reached Super Bowl V that year before losing. Alderan was named to his last Pro Bowl, as well as earning his lone First Team All-Pro nod.
The last five years of his career was peppered with injuries, but he helped Minnesota keep winning. The team lost just 11 games in four of those years. Alderman would miss the first three starts of his career in 1970, and miss three more the next year. He also missed the second game of his career in 1971.
Now 36-yeard old in 1974, Minnesota took him out of the starting lineup for the first time in his career. He appeared in every game but one as a reserve. The Vikings reached their third Super Bowl in his career with them, but lost. Alderman then retired.
His 194 games played is still the seventh most in Vikings history. Few players in the history of the game were as reliable. Alderman missed just three games in his 14 years with Minnesota.
Alderman was somehow left off the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team despite geing to the Pro Bowl more than two of the three tackles selected. One, Bob Brown, is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Brown went to the Pro Bowl four times in the 1960's and the other selection, Ralph Neely of the Dallas Cowboys, went twice.
A masterful technician, he always took on the other teams best pass rusher. He also had to block with knowledge of the avenues Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Takenton might take off running to. Tarkenton was known as the "Mad Scrambler", so blockers would have to stay blocking on plays longer for him than other teams had to.
He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams. Alderman was an alert player who pounced on 13 fumbles in his career.
Alderman was somehow left off the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team despite geing to the Pro Bowl more than two of the three tackles selected. One, Bob Brown, is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Brown went to the Pro Bowl four times in the 1960's and the other selection, Ralph Neely of the Dallas Cowboys, went twice.
The six Pro Bowls he played in are tied with 11 other Vikings as the fifth most in franchise history, and it is the most ever by a left tackle. He is the first tackle in team history to be named First Team All-Pro. Alderman was named Second Team All-Pro five times.
What fans forget with all of his longevity, durability, and excellence is how he accomplished all of this despite being one of the smaller left tackles in the game. Alderman stood 6'2" and weighed 247 lbs. in an era where blockers were not allowed to extend their arms and use their hands like today.
Surviving alone shows how stellar he was with his technique. Then you factor in all of the accolades he attained in his career as his teams went from the basement of the NFL to becoming a dominant squad for many years.
I can only guess his exclusion from Canton is some sort of punishmenment for the Vikings failing to win a Super Bowl. He hasn't even gotten close in the voting process, which is a head scratcher.
There are many men in Canton because their teams won championships, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame is not a team honor. It is supposed to honor individual achievement. This is somehow forgotten by voters too many times to count. Just because the Vikings failed to win, they have several extremely worthy players still waiting on induction.
Inferior players go in as time forgets the greatness of these men. The expression that no one remembers second place seems to get louder in the case of men like Alderman, yet the voters seem clueless how hard it is just to reach a title game or even just make an NFL team.
Six Pro Bowls in a career is an excellent number, but it looks less thanks to how the National Football League ruined the Pro Bowl in both the game and how they sullied the hoonor by allowing no-nothing fans to vote. Where showboats or media whores get the honor instead of the deserving.
Offensive tackle is a position neglected by Canton's voters the last few decades. Yet Alderman's numbers match or exceed a few inducted. He has as many Pro Bowl appearances as Mike McCormack and Rayfield Wright and more than Bob St. Clair or Joe Stydahar.
It would be the right thing for the voters to do by getting the trenches some respect in Canton. Minnesota has three blockers worthy and two, Alderman and Tingelhoff, really should have been in long ago. Those who toiled in the trenches in virtual anonymity for the sake of victory.
The list of legendary tackles is long waiting for induction. Opening up the seniors pool to incluse a few more candidates would be the intelligent move as well, because watching inferior modern players get inducted first due to these rules is infuriating and diseased.
Not only is he still the greatest left tackle in the history of the Minnesota Vikings, but Grady Alderman is most certaonly worthy of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Tackle : Todd Steussie
Steussie was drafted by the Vikings in the first round of the 1994 draft. He started at left tackle immediately, and would start every game of his career with Minnesota.
He was also extremely durable and dependable, missing just one game with the Vikings. On a Vikings offensive line that had a Hall of Fame guard and Pro Bowl center, Steussie gained notice for his own excellent play.
At 6'6" 330, he was a mountain of a man on a team with one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Stuessie was given a Pro Bowl nod in both 1997 and 1998.
Stuessie became a free agent after the 2000 season, so he signed with the Carolina Panthers. Lasting three years with the team, he appeared in the Panthers Super Bowl XXXVIII loss. He was a salary cap victim in 2004 and was released.
After playing the next two seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Stuessie joined the Saint Louis Rams in 2006. He was hurt the next year, able to play in just six games, then retired.
Tim Irwin, a true Vikings legend, was considered heavily for this slot. Stuessie accomplished Pro Bowl honors, and Irwin did not. Though both are excellent players who were underrated when they played, Stuessie's accolades give him the nod here.
Korey Stringer, Tim Irwin, and Steve Riley deserve mention.
Guard : Ed White
White was drafted in the second round of the 1969 draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He was the 39th player picked overall. His high school stadium is named Ed White Stadium.
While attending the University of California, Berkeley, he was an All-American noseguard for the famous "Bear Minimum" defense that allowed opponents an average of only 3.6 yards per play. He was also used as a receiver and quarterback on occasion, showing how excellent an athlete he was.
White was then switched to left offensive guard, against his wishes, after being drafted. He earned the starting job mid-way into his second year. He also ended up playing defensive tackle towards the end of the 1970 season, after injuries ravaged the defensive line.
White would go on to team with Hall of Fame tackle Ron Yary, and center Mick Tingelhoff, to give the Vikings one of the best offensive lines in the NFL during the 1970's. The Vikings would appear in four Super Bowls during Whites tenure in Minnesota. Three appearances were between 1973 to 1976.
The Vikings won the last NFL Championship in 1969, before the NFL-AFL merger. In 1974, he was named the the UPI Second Team All-Conference, and was named by the Newspaper Ent. Association's First team All-NFL.
Before 1975, White was switched to right guard and was named to his first Pro Bowl that year. He would be named to the Pro Bowl the following two seasons as well.
In 1977, White was injured and was only able to start 8 games. Before the 1978 season, he was traded to the San Diego Chargers for running back Rickey Young.
He would earn his last Pro Bowl nod in 1979, and was one of the first players to be named to the Pro Bowl from both the AFC and the NFC in his career. White played with the Chargers until 1985. When injuries hit the Chargers offensive line in 1984, White ended up starting at right tackle for 13 games.
He would then be moved to left guard for his final NFL season, and started every game. He was named the Chargers Offensive Lineman of the Year from 1983 to 1985. White was inducted into the San Diego Charger Hall of Fame in 2004.
White was extremely athletic and incredibly strong. He was the the NFL arm–wrestling champion and once stated he hasn't lost an arm-wrestling match since he was in high school to a man 200 lbs heavier than him. White was also noted for his exceptional intelligence on the field.
He has often said he disliked playing on the offensive side of the line, and thought he would have been a much better player on defense. Still, he was one of the best in his era. Many of his contemporaries have long said White belongs in Canton.
White also made his teammates better just by practicing against him daily. Hall of Fame DT Alan Page, Gary "Big Hands" Johnson, Louie Kelcher, and Hall of Fame DE Fred Dean all have praised White for making them better players.
White was one of the most complete offensive guards in the NFL throughout his career. Stats for guys who play his position are ignored by most.
The most a fan notices a guard is when he makes a mistake. A big mistake has been made for years, and still continues on to this day. The culprits are those who vote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Ed White may not be remembered by many of them, but he is certainly respected by those who played against him, or watched him play. It is time to correct the mistake of not having inducted him into Canton.
He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams.
Guard : Milt Sunde
Sunde was drafted in the 20th round of the 1964 draft by the Vikings after having grown up in Minneapolis and attended the University of Minnesota.
After a rookie year of being a reserve, he earned a starting job at left guard in 1965. Sunde then earned his only Pro Bowl nod the next season, joined by left tackle Grady Alderman and center Mick Tingelhoff.
He got hurt the next year, appearing in 10 games. The Vikings moved him to right guard in 1968, where he split starts with Larry Bowie. He took over the starting job the next year as the Vikings became the last NFL champions before they merged with the American Football League.
He held the starting job until 1974 when new acquired Andy Maurer took over. The Vikings went to the Super Bowl in 1973 and 1974, but lost both times. Sunde retired at the end of the 1974 season.
Minnesota has had several great guards in the franchises history, but Milt Sunde was the first to ever go to the Pro Bowl. A perfect scenario for the local kid who made good against all odds. He is a member of their 25th Anniversary Team.
Terry Tausch, Wes Hamilton, Larry Bowie, David Dixon, and Charles Goodrum deserve mention.
Center : Mick Tingelhoff
Tingelhoff was an undrafted rookie signed by the Vikings before the 1962 season. He earned the starting job at center in the second preseason game of his rookie year.
It was a role he would not relinquish until he retired after 1978. He made his first Pro Bowl in 1964, and would attain that honor every year until 1969.
The 1969 season was the year the Vikings were crowned NFL Champions and went on to play the AFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV before losing. He was named to the 1,000-Yard Club in 1969, honoring the NFL’s top blocker.
In 1970, he was named to the First Team All-NFL by both the Pro Football Writers and Pro Football Weekly. He was named First Team All-Conference by the Associated Press and Pro Football Weekly.
He was named Second Team All-NFL by Newspaper Ent. Association and Second Team All-Conference by the UPI. The Vikings went back to the Super Bowl in 1973, before losing to the Miami Dolphins.
The Vikings returned to the Super Bowl the following season, but lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Vikings continued to be an NFL powerhouse throughout the decade and returned to Super Bowl XI in 1976, but lost to the Oakland Raiders.
He retired after the 1978 season having started every game the Vikings played his entire career. His 240 consecutive starts were then the second most in NFL history, thirty starts behind his Vikings teammate Jim Marshall.
The only player in Nebraska University history to enjoy a longer NFL career was Tingelhoff's Husker teammate, Ron McDole, who spent 18 years in the league from 1961 to 1978. Tingelhoff has been inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor and has had his no.53 jersey retired by the franchise.
Tingelhoff's omission from Canton is one of the most confusing of all players still awaiting induction. The numbers are obvious. He was one of the most dominant center's of his era, and defined the true definition of an iron horse.
You can easily note his consecutive starts streak, the fact he was a Pro Bowler six straight seasons, and was part of the most dominant team in the NFC during the 1970's.
The Vikings were a well balanced offense that scored points off the ground and via the air. Tingelhoff snapped the ball to such great NFL quarterbacks like Hall Of Famer Fran Tarkenton and Pro Bowler Joe Kapp. He also helped pave the way for Vikings fullback Chuck Foreman, and others, to gain huge chunks of yardage.
Much of the yardage Tarkenton acquired thru the air to set a then-NFL record in passing yards and passing touchdowns were helped along by Tingelhoff's protection. He was a sound technical blocker who used his intelligence, grit, and determination to get the job done better than most centers who ever played the game.
The fact that the voters have passed on him over these years truly shows many hardly pay attention to the battles in the trenches. There is absolutely no question that Mick Tingelhoff belongs in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams.
Matt Birk and Jeff Christy deserve mention.
Defensive Tackle : Keith Millard
Millard was a first-round draft pick of the Vikings in 1984, but he decided to sign with the Arizona Wranglers of the United States Football League instead. The Wranglers traded him to the Jacksonville Bulls. The USFL folded in 1985, so he joined the Vikings.
Minnesota had the 6'6" Millard play backup nose tackle as a rookie, which is extremely rare for a player of that height. The rookie started five games and led Minnesota with 11 sacks, which plated in the top 10 in the league.
Counting the USFL, Millard had 23 sacks in 1985. The Vikings switched to a 4-3 defense in 1986, moving Millard to defensive tackle on the right side.
After getting 22 sacks over three years, including the strike-shortened 1987 season, Millard was set to have one of the greatest seasons ever by a defensive tackle. The 1989 season saw him get 18 sacks, the most ever by a defensive tackle in the NFL and only 15 players have ever gotten more.
His teammate, Chris Doleman, led the league with 21 that season thanks to lining up next to Millard. Even Al Noga and Henry Thomas were extremely effective. Noga had a career-best 11.5 sacks, while the nine Thomas had was the second best total of his career. Millard also picked off a pass, rumbling for 47 yards, and took a fumble 31 yards for a touchdown.
He was given his second and last Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro honors, while becoming the second, and so far last, Viking named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Hall of Famer Alan Page was the first NFL player to ever win it in 1971 while with the Vikings.
He was also named the UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year, an award only Page and Doleman also won while with Minnesota. Page was the first defensive player ever to have won that award, which went defunct after the 1996 season.
Suffering a major knee injury in the fourth game on the 1990 season, he did not suit up again until 1992 as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. Despite a sack in two games played, Seattle released him and the Green Bay Packers had him on their roster for two games. Millard joined the Philadelphia Eagles in 1993, appearing in 14 games and starting five. He had four sacks, then retired.
His 53 sacks with the Vikings still rank fourth-best on the NFL list for the franchise, but Hall of Famers Page and Carl Eller had 108.5 and 130.5 "unofficially" with Minnesota, and Jim Marshall, who should be in Canton, had 127 himself.
Though injuries shortened a career that appeared destined for Canton, Millard was ranked 21st of the 50 Greatest Vikings Team put together in 2010. Minnesota has two defensive tackles enshrined in Canton with Page and John Randle, but Keith Millard was surely on their level for a short time before his injury.
Defensive Tackle : Henry Thomas
Thomas was drafted in the third round of the 1987 draft by the Vikings. Though his rookie year was cut short four games by a players strike, he started every game and intercepted a pass.
He scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery the nest year, while intercepting another ball. His teammates called him "Hardware Hank" because Thomas would line up over center and dismantle the opposing offenses point of attack.
This helped allow his three fellow defensive linemen to get 50.5 sacks. Thomas collected nine himself, while scoring again off another fumble recovery. Thomas was widely respected and a noted tackling machine.
The 1990 season was one of his best, getting a career best 109 tackles and 8.5 sacks. He followed that up with his first Pro Bowl year after getting eight sacks and 100 tackles. Thomas had collected an amazing 466 tackles in his first five seasons.
Thomas made the Pro Bowl for the last time in his career in 1992 even though his tackle totals began to dwindle. He got nine sacks, as well as recording a safety, in 1993 despite missing three games due to injury.
He joined the Detroit Lions in 1995 and got a career best 10.5 sacks while mentoring rookie, and future Pro Bowler, Luther Elliss. Thomas left the Lions after the next season, joining the New England Patriots in 1997.
Thomas played four years with the Patriots. He was very effective, getting two interceptions and 21 sacks over that time. He took one interception 24 yards for the last score of his career. Thomas retired after the 2000 season.
Of his 93.5 career sacks, 56 came with the Vikings. Hall of Fame defensive tackles Alan Page and John Randle are the only Vikings defensive tackles with more. He ranks third on the Vikings list in tackles.
The Vikings have many fantastic defensive tackles in their franchises history. Henry Thomas certainly ranks near the tip as one of their best ever. He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings.
Gary Larsen, Doug Sutherland, Charles Johnson, and Paul Dickson deserve mention.
Defensive End : Jim Marshall
Jim Marshall was a fourth round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns in 1960. He had played the year before in the Canadian Football League for the Saskatchewan Roughriders after leaving Ohio State University upon the completion of his junior year.
When Marshall came to the Browns, he started right away at right defensive end. He started the first three games, but had a falling out with legendary head coach Paul Brown. He soon lost his starting job, but continued to play the rest of the season.
In the off-season, Brown had plans to move Marshall to offensive tackle, but Marshall contracted encephalitis, and lost a great deal of weight. This fact, coupled with the problems Marshall and Paul Brown were having, did not bode well for Marshall's future in Cleveland.
Both teams have different versions on how Marshall became a member of the expansion Vikings. The Vikings state that Marshall was traded with Jim Prestel, Paul Dickson, Jamie Caleb, Dick Grecni, and CB Billy Gault while Cleveland received a second-round choice and an 11th-round choice that turned out to be Chuck Hinton and Ronnie Meyers.
The Browns state that "Jim Marshall was released by the Browns on Sep. 11, 1961. His rights were picked up by the Minnesota Vikings soon after, and the Browns, in a “gentleman’s agreement”, which is how Paul Brown carried out many deals, received cash and “future considerations”.
Regardless, Marshall was then a Viking until 1979. Marshall was with the team through the good and bad times. He led the team in sacks their first six years in the NFL.
He may best be remembered for his 66 yard "wrong way" run, the longest safety and shortest play in NFL history. Billy Kilmer, then a running back with the San Francisco 49ers, had fumbled the ball. Marshall scooped it up and bolted for the wrong end zone.
The Vikings won the game, as Marshall came up with a key sack in the fourth quarter. The "wrong way run" is truly a NFL classic moment to this day. But Marshall also achieved many more great feats on the field.
Many fans know he played in a then-league-record 282 consecutive regular season games and 302 games counting his playoff appearances. Punter Jeff Feagles passed this number, but the NFL still recognizes Marshall's consecutive starts streak because Feagles was a punter.
Marshall also owns the NFL record of 282 consecutive games played by a defensive end and he also recovered 29 fumbles, an NFL record for a defensive player.
He is listed as the Vikings franchises second leading All-Time leading sack totals leader, behind Hall of Famer Carl Eller, with 127. Marshall was the Vikings team captain for 17 seasons.
In all, discounting CFL games, Marshall played in 409 games (pre-season, season, post season and Pro Bowls), had over 1050 tackles, and over 133 sacks. His teams won 11 Divisional Championships and played in four Super Bowls.
Twice he kept his streak intact by walking out of hospitals where he was recuperating from pneumonia and ulcers. On another occasion, he played after accidentally shooting himself in the side while cleaning his shotgun.
In the final home game of his illustrious career, Marshall sacked Buffalo's Joe Ferguson twice and even played offensive tackle during the Vikings final series. Minnesota won 10-3, and Marshall was carried off the field by his teammates. He was awarded the game ball, the first one ever given to a Viking player by Hall of Fame head coach Bud Grant.
Many fans may best remember Marshall in his days of the Purple People Eaters. Teamed with Alan Page and Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, then Doug Sutherland, Marshall helped lead one of the greatest front fours in NFL history.
Paige and Eller are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Vikings may not have won the Super Bowl, but their teams were annually amongst the most feared and respected during the era.
Marshall was one of a kind. We have seen Darrell Green and Jackie Slater play as long since, but neither matched Marshall's consecutive games streak. Marshall played in 270 games in 19 seasons with the Vikings and never missed a game. These are probably records that will stand for a very, very long time.
He was versatile enough to play on either side of the ball, and anywhere along the defensive line. His toughness is legendary. Many in the Twin Cities remember how Marshall and 16 others on snowmobiles got caught in a blizzard in Wyoming.
Many of the party broke up in small groups as the snowmobiles conked out one by one. A bank president from Minnesota died. Marshall was with five other people as they tried to walk through snow that was 10-15 feet deep.
They made a snow cave to rest for the night by burning everything they had. Marshall's money, checkbook, and other papers were amongst those things burned.
They made it another 24 hours as they froze in their camp before help arrived. Marshall called the experience " “the toughest thing I’ve ever encountered in my life.”
When you look at Jim Marshall's stats, he is Canton worthy. When you factor in his legendary streak, it should be concrete proof that he is undeniably a Hall of Fame player. Maybe the voters won't let him him because of Eller and Paige or the lack of titles? That should not be a deterrent for the voters.
Paige and Eller finished their careers elsewhere, but certainly are worthy. Marshall? He was as consistent and reliable as they come. He should have been in the Pro Football Hall of Fame years ago.
He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams.
Defensive End : Chris Doleman
Doleman was the Vikings first round draft pick in 1985, as well as the fourth overall selection. Minnesota was running a 3-4 defense, so they had Doleman play left outside linebacker.
He was asked to primarily play the run, and he had a career best 113 tackles that season. He also picked off a pass and the half a sack he had that year would be the lowest total of his career.
Though he took an interception 59 yards for a touchdown the next year, his production dwindled drastically. The Vikings would then switch to the 4-3 defense in the strike-shortened 1987 season.
The move paid off as the Vikings soon featured a young, exciting, and explosive defensive line. Doleman has 11 sacks in the 12 games he played, as well as forcing a career high six fumbles. He was named to the first of his four consecutive Pro Bowls.
The 1989 season is considered the best of his career. He piled up a Vikings record 21 sacks, still the third best total in NFL history, and forced five fumbles. He was named First Team All-Pro on a defense that had an amazing 71 sacks. It is one less than the NFL record set by the 1984 Chicago Bears.
After failing to make the Pro Bowl in 1991, he returned to it the next year after getting 14.5 sacks and matching his career high mark of six forced fumbles. Doleman was also named First Team All-Pro for the last time of his career after recording a safety and scoring a touchdown off an interception.
The 1993 season was his last as a Viking. He joined the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent in 1992, lasting two years with the team and going to the Pro Bowl once. Doleman then joined the San Francisco 49ers in 1996.
His three years with the 49ers were very productive. He piled up 38 sacks, scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery, and made the Pro Bowl one final time in his career. He then left to rejoin the Vikings for the 1999 season. After getting eight sacks, he retired.
Doleman ranks fourth on the NFL career sacks list with 150.5. His 96.5 with the Vikings is officially recognized as the second most in team history because the NFL did not recognize sacks until 1982.
He ranks second in tackles and safeties as well. One of the most impressive statistics in his career is that he missed only four games and played in 232 contests over his 15 seasons.
The Vikings have one defensive end, Carl Eller, in Canton, and another, Jim Marshall, who should be. Doleman is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings.and has been a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame three times. His induction seems likely, but it is safe to say he is one of the best defensive ends in Vikings history.
Mark Mullaney, Doug Martin, and Al Noga deserve mention.
Outside Linebacker : Matt Blair
Blair was drafted in the second round of the 1974 draft by the Minnesota Vikings, and was the 51st player chosen overall. The Vikings started him in six games during his rookie year, and he was named to the NFL's All-Rookie Team after getting an interception and fumble recovery.
Minnesota would go on to appear in Super Bowl IX that year, where Blair would block a punt leading to the Vikings only points in their 16-6 defeat. He played as a reserve next season, but earned the starting left outside linebacker job in 1976.
He had a career high five fumble recoveries and had two interceptions that year, as the Vikings made it to Super Bowl XI before losing. In the NFC Championship Game two weeks earlier, he had helped block a field goal attempt that Vikings cornerback Pro Bowl Bobby Bryant took 90 yards for a touchdown that accounted for the first points of the game.
The 1977 season saw Blair make the first of six consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. His penchant for the big play was widely known throughout the league, as was his solid, steady play backed by great fundamentals. The entire defensive personnel around him changed at every position except his. He was named the captain of the defense in 1979 and held that position until he retired.
Gone were Hall Of Famers like defensive tackle Alan Page, defensive end Carl Eller, and free safety Paul Krause, along with Vikings legends like defensive end Jim Marshall, defensive tackle Doug Sutherland, linebackers Jeff Sieman and Wally Hilgenberg, and defensive backs Bobby Bryant and Nate Wright. Blair continued to be a top echelon linebacker in the league despite these massive changes.
Many other changes occurred on the Vikings offense after 1977 as well. Minnesota went to four Super Bowls between 1969 and 1976, but none after that. After making it to the NFC Championship Game in 1977, the Vikings made the playoffs in 1978 and 1980 and lost in the first round each time. Blair would not appear in a postseason game again.
It was in that 1977 season that he scored his first touchdown, which came off a blocked kick. He scored again for the final time the next season off of a lateral that went 49 yards. It set the stage for maybe the finest year of his career, which happened during the 1980 season.
He was named to his only First Team All-Pro team that year, and was named the Most Valuable Linebacker of the NFC. Blair was also being recognized for all of the work he did away from the gridiron.
Working in several charities that included the Children's Miracle Network, Multiple Sclerosis Society, March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Lupus Foundation of Minnesota, Special Olympics, and the United Way, he was named the 1981 NFL Man of the Year. He also was the Top 10 Outstanding Young Men of America by the Jaycees in 1983. His work with the homeless and hungry has raised millions of dollars as well.
He missed the first games of his career in 1983 after becoming injured enough to miss five games. The Vikings drafted Chris Doleman in the first round before the 1985 season, and Hall Of Fame head coach Bud Grant had Blair teach him how to play linebacker and rush the quarterback from the edge. After appearing in a career low six games because of injury that year, Blair decided to retire.
The Vikings have never had a linebacker better than Blair. His 1,452 career tackles still ranks second in team history. No other Vikings linebacker has intercepted more passes than him either.
Though sacks were not a recorded statistic until the 1982 season, he was known for his ability to come hard off the edge and create havoc on opposing teams. But he was more than just an excellent player who supported the run and rushed the passer.
Minnesota liked to keep him on the field as much as possible, because he was so excellent defending the pass and creating turnovers on special teams as well.
His athleticism was on display in the 1975 season. The Vikings could not find a consistent punt returner that year, and used six different players that year. One of them was Blair, who took two punt returns that year. He may be the last linebacker ever in NFL history to be asked to field a punt.
His ability to block kicks was amazing. It didn't matter if it was a field goal, extra point, or punt, because he was a force each time the ball was snapped. His 20.5 blocked kicks in the regular season is a Vikings record, and this stat becomes even more spectacular when you factor in the fact Page blocked 16 more as well. In all, counting post season, he blocked 23.5 kicks. It is the second most in NFL history.
His 20 career fumble recoveries is tied as the 11th most by any defender in NFL history. What makes this statistic more impressive is the fact his teammates(Marshall, Page, and Eller) all had more in their careers.
It is a testament to the Vikings defense being able to create multiple turnovers, and Blair's abilities around so many teammates who shared his proclivity to jump on loose footballs.
How the voters of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame can induct a one dimensional linebacker like Andre Tippett, while ignoring better players like Blair, shows a process full of politics where the actual play on the field is disregarded.
Tippett just rushed the passer and went to the Pro Bowl a measly four times, while Blair did everything and more a linebacker could be asked to do and had more accolades.
Some may point to his six Pro Bowls and question if it is enough, especially when nine-time Pro Bowl linebacker like Maxie Baughn still await their call to the hall. What puts Blair over the top for induction over many other outside linebacker legends is his ability to play all over the field in every aspect of the game on defense and special teams.
He is a member of both the Vikings Silver and the 40th year anniversary teams, and soon will be inducted into the teams Ring of Honor. If one looks at the fact he continued his greatness long after all of the other "Purple People Eaters" had left the team, it should become quite apparent that Matt Blair deserves to be inducted into Canton.
Middle Linebacker : Jeff Siemon
Siemon was the Vikings first round draft pick in 1972. He ended up starting eight games as a rookie and picked off a pair of passes.
He earned the starting job full-time next year and held it until 1979, not missing a game over that time. He made the Pro Bowl in 1973. Siemon was an every down player capable of being effective against the run or pass.
Minnesota had one of the most dominating defenses in NFL history during the 1970's. The "Purple People Eaters" were a stifling unit that did not allow other teams to do much offensively.
Siemon went to the Pro Bowl three straight years starting in 1975. The Vikings went to the Super Bowl in 1976 but lost. The team started to age by then, but he maintained a steady presence in the middle of the defense.
Scott Studwell started in 1980, relegating Siemon to the bench mostly. Minnesota switched to the 3-4 defense the following year so Siemon and Studwell could both start. He retired after the 1982 season.
No middle linebacker in Vikings history has been to the Pro Bowl more than Seimon's four appearances. There was little he couldn't do on the field and he was known for his quickness, speed, and cerebral approach to the game.
There is no question that Jeff Siemon is the best middle linebacker in Vikings history. He is is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams.
Scott Studwell, Rip Hawkins, Ed McDaniel, and Jack Del Rio deserve mention.
Outside Linebacker : Wally Hilgenberg
Hilgenberg was drafted in the fourth round of the 1964 draft by the Detroit Lions. He spent three years with the Lions mostly as a reserve, then was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 1966 season. Pittsburgh cut him in training camp.
Minnesota picked Hilgenberg up in 1968 and he started half of the season. He then would start the next eight years, missing just two games due to injury. He was tough and dependable.
Though he never made the Pro Bowl, he was an important member of the "Purple People Eaters". He was always around the ball, able to defend against the pass and especially stout versus the run.
He scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery in 1973 and recorded a safety the next year. Hilgenberg played in all four of the Vikings Super Bowl appearances.
He became a reserve in 1977 because Fred McNeill, the Vikings first-round draft choice in 1974, was ready to start. Hilgenberg stayed with the Vikings until 1979 before retiring. He played in 158 games in his 12 years with the team and is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings.
He was reliable, tough, durable, and smart. Hilgenberg was also a noted prankster who kept the team loose. He is easily one of the greatest linebackers in Vikings history.
Fred McNeill and Roy Winston deserve mention.
Strong Safety : Joey Browner
Browner was the first-round draft pick of the Vikings in the 1983 draft. He comes from a family deeply ingrained into the NFL fabric. Three of his brothers and a nephew have played in the NFL, a record for one family.
Minnesota brought him along slowly in his first two seasons, starting nine games total and even seeing time at cornerback. He was able to score off a fumble recovery over that time. Browner was named the full-time starter in 1985, immediately becoming a star.
That season began a string of six consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. Not only was he a punishing hitter, but Browner was always where the ball ended up. He also came up with the big play often, returning three interceptions for touchdowns.
Browner was considered the best strong safety in the NFC for a number of seasons. He was named First Team All-Pro three times and recovered 17 fumbles in his first six seasons as a player. He also set a Pro Bowl record by returning three fumbles for scores.
The 1990 season may have been his best. He had a career best seven interceptions for 103 yards and three sacks. Besides scoring the last time in his career, Browner also made his Final Pro Bowl. Though he picked off five passes the next year, but he missed the first two games of his career.
Minnesota released him after that 1991 season, so Browner signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played seven games in 1992 then decided to retire. Though tackles were not an official statistic in his era, historians say Browner piled up at least 1,100 in his career.
The 37 interceptions Browner had with Minnesota is the fourth most in team history and the most ever by a Vikings strong safety. His 17 fumble recoveries are the seventh most in team history.
Though the NFL does not recognize his 18 forced fumbles as an official statistic, it shows the force of impact he brought when tackling. He has been on the Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot five times so far, and could one day find himself inducted.
He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of their 40th Anniversary Team. The Vikings strong safety position has had many great players, and Joey Browner may be the best in franchise history.
Robert Griffith, Todd Scott, Corey Chavous, Jeff Wright, and Karl Kassulke deserve mention.
Free Safety : Orlando Thomas
Thomas was drafted in the second round by the Vikings. He earned a starting job immediately and may have had the finest season of his career in his rookie year.
Though he started just 11 of 16 games as a rookie, Thomas led the NFL with nine interceptions. He recovered a career best four fumbles and also scored a touchdown off both an interception and fumble recovery.
Despite having superior numbers to Merton Hanks, Thomas was passed over for the Pro Bowl in favor of Hanks. The next season saw him pile up a career high 83 tackles while intercepting five more passes.
After scoring the last touchdown of his career in 1997, Thomas got hurt and missed the first game of his career. He rebounded in 1998 to help the Vikings have maybe the best season in franchise history.
Minnesota won 15 games that year, sending 10 players to the Pro Bowl. They were first in offense and sixth in defense in the NFL that year. Thomas teamed with Robert Griffith as a pair of hard hitting safeties who excelled in run support. The Vikings reached the NFC Championship Game that year before losing in overtime.
His last three seasons with the Vikings were frequently met by injury. Thomas missed 13 games over this time. This caused him to retire at the end of the 2001 season. His 22 interceptions with the Vikings is the seventh most in franchise history and his two touchdowns off fumble recoveries is tied with nine others as the most in team history.
When you talk free safety for the Minnesota Vikings, the first name to come up will always be Hall of Famer Paul Krause. Yet Orlando Thomas was an excellent player himself with the Vikings for many years.
Darren Sharper, John Harris, and John Turner deserve mention.
Cornerback : Bobby Bryant
Bryant was drafted in the seventh round in 1968 by Minnesota. He was a reserve as a rookie, though he did score a touchdown off two interceptions. Minnesota had his return a career high 19 kickoffs and ten punts that season.
Though the Vikings asked him to return just three more kickoffs the rest of his career, they did have him return 59 more punts. The Vikings preferred keeping him mainly on the defensive unit, where he excelled.
At barely 170 lbs, Bryant was called "Bones" by teammates and fans. He threw his slight frame around at reckless abandon, often causing nagging injuries. In his 13 years with the team, Bryant would have just four seasons where he played every game.
When he was on the field, Bryant was a fan favorite who was the teams lock-down defender often making big plays. He was known to blow kisses to the Vikings fans after making a big play.
He started and played in just 10 games in 1969, but was able to snag a career best eight interceptions. Bryant was named Second Team All-NFL for his efforts, but his injuries prevented him from playing in the Super Bowl that year. He scored off of one of his three interceptions the next year despite missing three games.
Minnesota inserted Charlie West as a starter in 1971, forcing Bryant into a reserve role. He got his stating job back the following season and scored off a fumble recovery. Bryant grabbed seven picks in 1973, scoring the last regular season touchdown of his career off one of the interceptions.
The 1974 season would be the only year of his career he failed to intercept a pass because he suffered a season-ending injury in the first game. Bryant rebounded strong the next year, earning his first Pro Bowl nod after picking off six balls.
His 1976 season was his last Pro Bowl year. The Vikings would reach the Super Bowl that year before losing a fourth and final time in Bryant's career. He had helped them get there a few weeks earlier in the NFC Championship Game by taking a blocked field goal attempt 90 yards for a touchdown.
At an age where most cornerbacks retire, Bryant was still the Vikings top defender. He picked off seven pass at the age of 34-years old in 1978. He held his starting job until 1980, grabbing three interceptions and then retiring.
Bryant played in three different decades for Minnesota, as well as being a member of all four of their Super Bowl teams. He was a key member of the famous "Purple People Eaters" defense.
The 51 interceptions Bryant had rank as the second most in team history. His three touchdowns off interceptions is tied with seven others as the most in Vikings history, and his 749 yards off interceptions rank as the third most in franchise history.
He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams. Bobby Bryant may be the greatest cornerback in Vikings history.
Cornerback : Ed Sharockman
Sharockman was drafted in the fifth round of the 1961 draft by the Vikings, the fifth player ever drafted by Minnesota. He got hurt in his first NFL game and missed the rest of the season.
Vikings Hall of Fame head coach Norm Van Brocklin plugged Sharockman immediately into the starting lineup in 1962. The move was rewarded with six interceptions and two fumble recoveries. One fumble was returned 88 yards for a score, the longest in the NFL that year.
He was part of a Vikings defense that was opportunistic. The 1963 season saw them set a still-standing NFL record of 53 fumble recoveries. They caused opponents to fumble the ball an NFL record 50 times, since equaled by the 1978 San Francisco 49ers. Sharockman also scored a touchdown off his five interceptions that year.
Though Sharockman was never invited to the Pro Bowl in his career, he was continuously getting the ball back for the Vikings. He led the team in interceptions four times during his career. He had six or more interceptions four times.
The 1970 season may have been his best. Sharockman had a career best seven interceptions for 132 yards. One ball was taken 43 yards for the last touchdown of his career. He followed that up with six more interceptions in the 1971 season.
Bobby Bryant replaced him in the starting lineup in 1972, and Sharockman played just seven games. Other than his rookie season, it was the only year of his career that Sharockman failed to record an interception. He then retired.
His 113 yards off fumble recoveries is the second most in team history, as are his 804 yards off interceptions. The 40 interceptions he grabbed are third most ever by a Viking, and his three touchdowns off interceptions is tied with seven others as the most in team history.
He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of their 25th Anniversary Team. Ed Sharockman is certainly one of the best cornerbacks in team history.
Carl Lee, Aundray McMillan, Nate Wright, John Turner, Willie Teal, Charlie West, and Earsell Mackbee deserve mention.
Kicker : Fred Cox
Cox was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1961, but he failed to make the team. Minnesota quickly picked him up, and used him as both a punter and kicker in his rookie season. He punted the ball the only 70 times of his career that season.
Now concentrating on just place kicking, Cox began to stand out. He led the NFL in field goal attempts and makes in 1965. Cox led the NFL in field goal percentage and field goal conversions in 1969, earning him a First Team All-Pro honor.
His 1970 season was his lone Pro Bowl year. Cox led the NFL in field goal attempts and makes while scoring a career best 125 points. Though he never scored over 100 points again, Cox scored 85 or more points five times.
He retired after 15 seasons in 1977, having played in 210 games for the Vikings. He is the Vikings leader in points scored for a career. Three of his seasons still rank in the top ten scoring seasons in team history.
Cox still ranks in the top-25 in NFL history in points scored, field goals and extra points attempted and made. Cox leads the Vikings in all of those categories as well. He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams.
Many people might recall Fred Cox as the person who invented the Nerf football, but hopefully they also remember that he is the greatest kicker in Minnesota Vikings history.
Fuad Reveiz and Gary Anderson deserve mention.
Punter : Mitch Berger
Berger was a sixth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994. He lasted five games before being cut, then he sat out of the entire 1995 season.
He made the Vikings squad in 1996, having two punts blocked on a career high 88 attempts. Berger steadily improved over the next three years, increasing his average on yards per punting attempt each year.
He became the first, and so far only, Vikings punter to go to the Pro Bowl in 1999. He averaged a career best 45.4 yards per punt, was an excellent tackler in coverage, and provided booming kickoffs. One punt went for a career long 75 yards.
After solid play the next two years, he left for the Saint Louis Rams in 2002. He left after one year to play for the New Orleans Saints the next three years and made the Pro Bowl in 2004.
He sat out of the league in 2006, but joined the Arizona Cardinals for five games the next year. Berger joined the Pittsburgh Steelers for 13 games in 2008, earning a ring after the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII. He then played with the Denver Broncos for 10 games in 2009 and hasn't played since.
Berger ranks third in Vikings history in punts, punt return yards, and yards per punt average. He certainly ranks as one of the best punters in team history.
Greg Coleman, Bobby Walden, and Harry Newsome deserve mention.
Kick Returner : Darrin Nelson
Nelson was the first draft pick, and the seventh overall, of the Vikings in the 1982 draft. Though the season was cut short by a players strike, Nelson was seldom used that year.
He spent the next two years where he was sporadically used, but he showed great skill as a receiver and return specialist. He set career highs in 1984 with 39 kickoff returns for 891 yards with 23 punt returns
Nelson returned 16 punts the next year, but was never asked by the Vikings to return punts again. He also set career high marks with 200 carried for 893 yards and five scores that season.
The 1986 season was his best as a pro. He toted the ball 191 times for 793 yards while setting career highs with 53 receptions for 593 yards and three touchdowns. He then began to frustrate the Vikings the next two seasons because he couldn't stay healthy.
Minnesota then created a blockbuster trade in 1989 known as the "Hershel Walker Trade", which also gets called the "Great Train Robbery". The Vikings received Walker and three draft picks from the Dallas Cowboys, as well as a draft pick from the San Diego Chargers. Minnesota used a pick on Jake Reed, while the rest of the picks did not work out.
Dallas got three first and second-round draft picks from the Vikings, as well as five veteran players that included Nelson. Minnesota used one of the Vikings draft picks to select Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith.
Nelson refused to join the Cowboys, so he was jettisoned to the San Diego Chargers. He did so little for the Chargers that they cut him after the 1990 season. Minnesota picked him up off waivers.
He lasted two years with the Vikings backing up Walker and returning kickoffs. Nelson retired after the 1992 season. He has the seventh most rushing yards in team history and has the fourth most receptions by a running back in team history.
Nelson is the Vikings all-time leader in kick returns and kick return yardage. He is a member of their 40th Anniversary Team as a kick returner, and was the best the Vikings ever had do it until Percy Harvin arrived on the scene recently.
Buster Rhymes, David Palmer, Eddie Payton, Brent McClanahan, Clint Jones, Hershel Walker, and Qadry Ismail deserve mention.
Punt Returner : David Palmer
Palmer was the Vikings second round draft pick in 1994. Despite winning the Paul Warfield Award as the top collegiate receiver, the diminutive Palmer never quite found his niche as an NFL receiver. He caught 73 balls and ran the ball 34 times in his career.
Where Palmer did excel was returning kicks and punts. He wasn't always healthy, but Palmer did have impact on special teams when he was able to play. He only returned punts as a rookie, being a rarely used player on offense.
Palmer led the NFL with a 13.2 average on 26 punt returns in 1995. One return went for a career long 74-yard score. He scored again the very next season on a punt return despite missing five games because of injury.
The 1997 season was the best of his career. Palmer averaged 13.1 yards on a career best 34 punt returns, while also returning 32 kicks and catching a career high 26 passes. One reception went for a touchdown, the only receiving touchdown of his career.
Palmer returned a career high 50 kickoffs in 1998, gaining 1,176 yards and scoring off an 88-yard return. He also returned 28 punts. After playing only 14 games the next two years because of injuries, Palmer retired at the end of the 2000 season.
Not only is his two career punt returns for touchdowns a Vikings record, he ranks second on punt returns and punt return yards. His 9.9 yards return average for a career is a Vikings record by anyone with 75 or more returns. He also holds the single-season punt return average with anyone who had 15 returns or more.
Minnesota has had several good punt returners for short amounts of time, but few have been special. David Palmer has probably done the best job at it in the history of the franchise.
Charlie West, Leo Lewis, Eddie Payton, and Mewelde Moore deserve mention.
These Are The Best Dolphins Who Are Not Yet, And Might Never Be, Inducted Into The Pro Football Hall Of Fame
Quarterback : Earl Morrall
Morrall was a first round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in the 1956 draft. He was mostly used as a punter in his rookie year, but he did start four games when the starter, Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle, was injured.
He was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers after that year, and was named to his first Pro Bowl in 1957. After starting the first two games of the 1958 season for Pittsburgh, Morrall was traded to the Detroit Lions for Hall of Famer Bobby Layne. There, he backed up Tobin Rote, Jim Ninowski, and Milt Plum until 1964.
He was traded to the New York Giants before the 1965 season. He started the entire year, and threw the longest pass of that season for 89 yards. Morrall started seven games the next year and threw a pass that is still franchise long of 98 yards to Homer Jones, the man who invented the spiking of the football after a score.
He then was dealt to the Baltimore Colts in 1968, where his career would be reborn. Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas was injured in the last preseason game and was out for the year, so Morrall became the starter. He led the Colts to a 13-1 record, tossed a career high 26 touchdown passes with a career best 2,909 yards.
He led the NFL in touchdown passes, touchdown percentage and yards gained-per-pass attempt. He was also selected First Team All-Pro and to his last Pro Bowl, while being named the 1968 NFL MVP. The Colts would go on to lose in Super Bowl III. With Unitas healthy again, Morrall started three games over the next two seasons.
In 1970, the Colts would win Super Bowl V when he was called upon again after Unitas was injured early in the game. Morrall helped the Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys 16-13.
Morrall started the first nine games of the 1971 year, leading the Colts to a 7-2 record.
He was then injured and replaced by Unitas as the Colts would go on to lose to the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship game.
The Colts then cut Morrall, but he was claimed by the Dolphins because their coach, Hall of Famer Don Shula, had coached him on the Colts' 1968 Super Bowl team and was familiar with the quarterback.
The move paid off early into the 1972 season, when Hall of Famer Bob Griese was injured during the fifth game. Morrall started the next 10 games and helped lead the eventual Super Bowl Champion Dolphins to the only perfect season in modern NFL history.
He took them to the AFC Championship game, but was replaced by Griese. Morrall was named the AFC Player of the Year, First Team All-Pro,, and won the first Comeback Player of the Year Award. He started one game the next year, as the Dolphins repeated as Super Bowl Champions.
Over the next three seasons, he started two games, and won both. Morrall retired after the 1976 season at the age of 42 years old. Though he started only 102 of the 255 games he played over 21 years, Morrall won 60 and tied three, while being on four Super Bowl teams..
He is an inductee of the Dolphins Honor Roll as a member of the 1972 team.
Don Strock, Jay Fiedler, and David Woodley deserve mention.
Fullback : Norm Bulaich
Bulaich was drafted in the first round of the 1970 draft by the Baltimore Colts. He led the Colts in rushing as a rookie, helping lead them to a Super Bowl V victory. He ran for 116 yards in the first playoff win against the Cincinnati Bengals, then his two rushing touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders provided the margin for victory.
His second season was his best. He ran for a career high 741 yards and eight touchdowns. Bulaich set a Colts record that year by running for 198 yards in one game, a team record that stood until 2000, and was named to his lone Pro Bowl appearance.
He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles before the 1973 season and lasted there two seasons. Bulaich joined the Dolphins in 1975, backing up Don Nottingham. While Nottingham was the primary short-yardage specialist, Bulaich was second on the team with 32 receptions and still scored five times on the ground himself.
He started six games the next year and was second on the team in rushing and receiving. The 1977 season saw him place third in rushing and receiving for Miami while splitting starts with Leroy Harris. After a decrease of touches over the next two seasons, he retired.
When you talk of the great fullbacks in Miami Dolphins history, it all starts with Hall of Famer Larry Csonka. Besides Csonka, only three Dolphins fullbacks have more rushing yards and scores than Bulaich. Just two have more receptions.
There have been many Dolphin fullbacks behind Csonka that brought different skill sets to the team. Even though he didn't always start, Norm Bulaich might have had the best of all of them.
Andra Franklin, Woody Bennett, Don Nottingham, Keith Byars, and Rob Konrad deserve mention.
Halfback : Mercury Morris
Morris was a third round draft choice by Miami in 1969. He spent his first three years as a Pro Bowl kick returner, carrying the ball just 140 times. The Dolphins had a Pro Bowl duo of Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick in their backfield, so Morris special teams play was his main contribution, though he did average 6.8 yards on 60 carries in 1970.
Things changed in the Dolphins perfect 1972 season. Morris began to share carries with Kiick, getting 190 carries. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry, finishing with 1,000 yards. Morris also led the NFL with 12 rushing touchdowns and caught a career best 15 balls as he was named to the Pro Bowl.
The 1973 season was his last as a Pro Bowler, as Miami won their second straight championship. He led the NFL with an excellent 6.4 yards on 149 carries. Morris also ran for ten scores, despite playing with a neck injury. His 6.4 yards per carry is a team record and ranks 17th best in NFL history.
Morris hurt his knee in an exhibition game in 1974, limiting him to just five games and 56 carries that year. With Csonka and Kiick now gone, he became the workhorse in 1975. Morris had a career best 219 carries while gaining 875 yards.
Miami then traded him to the San Diego Chargers. Despite averaging over five yards per carry, Morris retired after one season due to the lingering effects of his neck and knee injuries.
He still ranks fourth in rushing yards in a career for the Dolphins, and his 29 rushing touchdowns is fifth best in franchise history. Morris averaged 5.1 yards per carry with Miami, easily the best in team history by anyone with more than 42 attempts. He ranks sixth in Dolphins history with 754 rushing attempts.
Though he had to share carries with a Hall of Fame fullback and Pro Bowl halfback, Morris earned his Pro Bowls with sheer determination. Blessed with blazing speed, he went from being one of the best kick returners in the league to becoming one of the best halfbacks.
He is an inductee of the Dolphins Honor Roll as a member of the 1972 team, and might be the best halfback the Dolphins ever had.
Jim Kiick, Tony Nathan, Ricky Williams, Mark Higgs, Delvin Williams, and Karim Abdul-Jabbar deserve mention.
Wide Receiver : Mark Clayton
Clayton was drafted in the eighth round of the 1983 draft by Miami. He was buried on the depth chart behind Dolphins greats Nat Moore and Duriel Harris, so Clayton returned a career high 41 punts and scored once.
Miami had also drafted quarterback Dan Marino, a future Hall of Famer in 1983. Marino and Clayton soon developed a close rapport that soon translated onto the football field. He exploded in 1984, helping the Dolphins reach Super Bowl XIX before losing.
Clayton made his first Pro Bowl by leading the NFL with 18 touchdown catches. Not only is it a team record, it was an NFL record at the time and still ranks as the third most ever. He also led the Dolphins with 73 receptions for 1,389 yards at an impressive 19 yards per catch.
He made the Pro Bowl in each of the nest two years, teaming with Marino and bookend Mark Duper as one of the most exciting passing attacks of their era. He led the NFL with 14 touchdown receptions on a career best 86 catches in 1988, then began to experience health issues.
After missing seven games over two years, Clayton rebounded with his last Pro Bowl season in 1991. He had 12 touchdown catches on 70 receptions. After missing three games because of injury in 1992, he was released.
The Green Bay Packers signed Clayton, where he started. He caught 32 balls as Sterling Sharpe was busy setting a then-NFL record with 112 receptions that year. Clayton retired at the end of the season.
No Dolphins player has more receptions and touchdown catches than him. Clayton also ranks second in receiving yardage. His 86 receptions in 1998 was a team record for ten years.
His 84 career touchdown catches still ranks 15th best in NFL history, and he ranks 47th best in receiving yards. Though diminutive, Clayton was an underdog who came from nowhere to become of of the finest wide receivers in Dolphins history.
He is a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll, and his five Pro Bowls is tied with Hall of Famer Paul Warfield as the most ever by a Dolphins receiver.
Wide Receiver : Mark Duper
Duper was a second round draft choice of the Dolphins in 1982. Though the season was limited to nine games because of a players strike, Miami reached Super Bowl XVII before losing. Yet Duper played in just two games that season, not recording any statistics.
Business began to pick up for Duper in 1983 when the Dolphins used their first round draft pick on future Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino. Though he started just 11 games, Duper averaged a career best 19.7 yards on 51 receptions and scored 10 times in earning his first Pro Bowl honor.
He went back to the Pro Bowl in 1984 as the Dolphins reached Super Bowl XIX before losing. Duper was teaming with fellow wide receiver Mark Clayton as a deadly duo of 5'9" receivers nicknamed the "Marks Brothers".
Duper reached his last Pro Bowl in 1986 after catching a career best 11 touchdowns. One went for a career long 85 yards, which led the league. He caught eight touchdowns in 11 games during the strike-shortened 1987 season.
Injuries nagged him in 1988, but he came back to get 1,085 receiving yards on 70 receptions in 1991. After 44 receptions and seven touchdowns in 1993, he retired. Clayton was also released that year, effectively ending the "Marks Brothers" in Miami. Duper did reappear in 1994 to play two games with the Miami Hooters of the Arena Football League before retiring permanently.
Nat Moore almost was given this spot, and deservedly so, but we decided to let the "Marks Brothers" ride again. Duper's three Pro Bowls are the second most ever by a Dolphins wide receiver.
He has the most receiving yards in Dolphins history, and he ranks second in total receptions. Duper also has the third most touchdown catches in team history, and his 85-yard catch is the second longest by a Dolphin.
He is a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll, and one of the best receivers in Miami Dolphins history.
Nat Moore, Chris Chambers, Irving Fryar, O.J. McDuffie, Howard Twilley, Duriel Harris, Orande Gadsen, Tony Martin, Jim Jensen, Karl Noonan, and Jack Clancy deserve mention.
Tight End : Bruce Hardy
Miami snagged Hardy in the ninth round of the 1978 draft. After rarely being used as a rookie, he started the next two seasons. The following four years saw Hardy splitting starts with other players.
He was named the started in 1985 and caught 121 passes over the next three years. The 1986 season saw Hardy catch a career high 54 passes and five scores. Injuries besieged him in 1988 and 1989, limiting him to just three total games and forcing retirement.
He still ranks ninth all-time on the Dolphins reception list and leads all tight ends. He also tops the list in receiving touchdowns amongst all Miami tight ends.
When you think of all the offensive excellence the Dolphins have given the NFL, the tight end position is the one area that has yet to be truly great. The team has sent just two tight ends to the Pro Bowl a total of three times, yet neither player lasted long with the club. Bruce Hardy could be the best the Dolphins have had so far.
Ferrell Edmunds, Keith Jackson, and Jim Mandich deserve mention.
Offensive Tackle : Richmond Webb
Webb was the Dolphins first round draft selection in 1990. He was put in the staring lineup at left tackle immediately and went to seven consecutive Pro Bowls. He was quickly considered one of the best as his position, and Webb was named First Team All-Pro twice.
Though he was solid in 1997, it was the first time in his career he failed to go to the Pro Bowl. That was followed by an injury the next year that took away significantly from his game, forcing him to miss seven games. Though he returned the next season, he wasn't the same player.
Miami let Webb go to the Cincinnati Bengals in 2001. After one full season, he played in just four games in 2001. Cincinnati released him, so Webb tried out for the Dolphins but failed to make the team. He then retired.
He ranks first amongst all Dolphin linemen in consecutive starts with 118. The seven consecutive Pro Bowls he appeared in is also a team record. Webb also ranks second amongst Dolphin blockers in total starts.
His career started off destined for Canton, but his career seemed to hit the wall when he turned 30-years old. Yet there still is a chance he gets inducted one day because he was an upper echelon player for seven years and due to the fact he is a member of the 1990's NFL All-Decade Team.
Not only is Webb a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll, he might be the best offensive tackle in team history.
Offensive Tackle : Norm Evans
Evans was drafted in the 14th round of the 1965 AFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. He soon found himself in the starting lineup protecting Hall of Fame quarterback George Blanda. He also scored a touchdown off a blocked kick. Yet that still not prevent the Oilers exposing him to the expansion Dolphins before the start of the 1966 season.
Evans was plugged into the starting lineup right away and would stay there his entire career. The Dolphins would improve yearly and Evans was a big reason why. Starting in 1971, Miami reached three Super Bowl games and won the last two.
Part of the reason for their success was an offense that could run over teams with three Pro Bowl running backs while stretching the field with a Hall of Fame quarterback tossing it to a Hall of Fame wide receiver.
The Miami offensive line had two Hall of Famers, yet Evans also was sent to the Pro Bowl twice himself. He stayed a stalwart in the trenched until 1975, when the Dolphins exposed the 34-year old to the expansion draft.
The fledgling Seattle Seahawks grabbed him up and Evans would start over the next two seasons. After spending the 1977 season as a reserve for the first time in his career, he retired. He is an inductee of the Dolphins Honor Roll as a member of the 1972 team.
He never missed a game in his entire 10 seasons with Miami. Evans ranks third amongst all Dolphin linemen in consecutive starts with 91, as do his 135 total starts. There have been few Dolphins players as durable and dependable as Norm Evans.
Wayne Moore and Doug Crusan deserve mention.
Guard : Bob Kuechenberg
Kuechenberg was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round of the 1969 draft. He quit the Eagles during training camp and the played for the Chicago Owls of the Continental Football League, the first professional football team to play on Soldier Field since the Chicago Cardinals occupied it for one season in 1959.
He signed with the Dolphins in 1970, and eventually started five games that year. He was named the full time starter at left guard the next year, remaining there mostly the rest of his career. Kuechenberg immediately earned to respect of his peers.
Miami went to the Super Bowl in his first season, where they would lose to the Dallas Cowboys. Hall of Fame defensive tackle Bob Lilly, a star with Dallas, noted that Kuechenberg was one of the best offensive linemen he had ever seen.
After the loss to Dallas in Super Bowl VI, the Dolphins went undefeated in 1972 with the top rated offense and defense in the NFL. After winning Super Bowl VII, Miami repeated as champions the very next season. The offensive line led the way for Miami, with every starter of the 1973 team having made the Pro Bowl in their careers.
He made his first Pro Bowl in 1974, something he would duplicate in three of the next four years. The 1978 season was one of his best, making First Team All-Pro after having to play several games at left tackle because of injuries.
Kuechenberg played left tackle the entire 1979 season, then moved back to guard for the rest of his career the following season. He made his final two Pro Bowls in 1982 and 1983, then retired. His six Pro Bowls are the most ever by a Dolphins guard.
He ranks first amongst all Dolphin blockers in total starts and games played. Only Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino has played more games with the team than Kuechenberg. His 15 seasons is ranked second behind Marino's 17 years.
He is a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll as both an individual and member of the 1972 team and has been a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame six times so far. It seems likely that one of the best offensive linemen in Dolphins history will eventually find himself inducted into Canton.
Guard : Ed Newman
Newman was a sixth round draft pick of the Dolphins in 1973. He did start one game as a rookie, helping Miami win Super Bowl VIII. The next five seasons were mostly spent as a reserve behind Hall of Famer Larry Little and Pro Bowler Bob Kuechenberg.
He replaced Little in 1979 and soon became an integral part of the Dolphins attack. He made the first of four consecutive Pro Bowls in 1981, establishing himself an elite NFL right guard.
The Dolphins reached the Super Bowl in 1982 and 1984, but lost both times. Newman was named First Team All-Pro in 1984, yet retired after the Super Bowl XIX defeat. He has since become a judge in Miami.
He ranks second in games played for all Miami offensive linemen. His 12 years is tied with Hall of Famer Larry Little as the most by a Dolphins lineman. The four Pro Bowls he appeared in are the third most ever by a Dolphins guard, one less than Little and two fewer than Kuechenberg.
Roy Foster and Keith Sims deserve mention.
Center : Tim Ruddy
Ruddy was the Dolphins second round draft pick in 1994. After sitting on the bench as a rookie, he was named a starter from his second year on. Called "Big Master" by his teammates, Ruddy led an offensive line that protected Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.
He was durable and gifted. Besides his rookie year, Ruddy started in every game he played and missed just four games with the Dolphins. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2000. The 2003 season was his last due to knee problems.
Center has been a strength in Miami, starting with Pro Bowlers like Tom Goode and Bob DeMarco. Hall of Famers Jim Langer and Dwight Stephenson followed. Ruddy was once named one of the 40 greatest Dolphins of all-time, cementing his legacy with the franchise always.
Jeff Dellenbach, Bob DeMarco, and Tom Goode deserve mention.
Defensive Tackle : Bob Baumhower
Baumhower was drafted in the second round of the 1977 draft bu the Dolphins. He was drafted to handle the nose tackle position because Miami switched to the 3-4 defense that season. He started in all 14 games he played that year.
He quickly established himself an elite player in 1978, after scoring a touchdown off a fumble and intercepting the only pass of his career. Baumhower made he first Pro Bowl the very next season. He would return to the Pro Bowl in 1981.
The NFL did not recognize sacks as an official statistic until 1982, a season marred by a players strike. Yet Miami led the league in defense behind their "Killer Bs" defense. With Baumhower manning the middle in his third Pro Bowl year, the Dolphins made it to Super Bowl XVII before losing.
His 1983 season may be considered his best. Baumhower was named First Team All-Pro for the only time in his career after getting eight sacks, an excellent number for a nose tackle. He made the Pro Bowl that year and the next after scoring on another fumble recovery.
Miami returned to the Super Bowl in 1984, but were soundly defeated by the San Francisco 49ers after a record setting performance by the 49ers offense.
Most nose tackles are squatty player with wide bases. Baumhower was not of this mold, standing 6'5" and weighing just 261 lbs. He was a master technician with superior intelligence and athleticism. Yet nose tackle is the hardest position to play in football.
Though he was named to the 1984 Pro Bowl, he decided to have knee surgery instead. Earlier that year, his streak of 125 straight starts was ended when he hurt the knee, but he got right back out there, not missing another game, and damaged it further to try to help Miami win a title. He needed help walking off the field after the loss to San Francisco.
The knee got so bad that he couldn't walk for awhile. He sat out of the entire 1985 season, but tried to return in 1986. He played 12 games that year but decided to retire because the knee was giving him problems.
He is easily the greatest nose tackle in Dolphins history, but it was a position he was not keen on playing initially. “But a lot of that was because the center and two guards I was practicing against were Jim Langer, Bob Kuechenberg and Larry Little, three All-Pros, maybe the best trio ever.", Bauhower said. "They bounced my around like a pinball. But I learned a lot, and that made playing other teams easier.”
Baumhower is a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll. His five Pro Bowls is tied for second as the most appearances by a Dolphins defensive lineman, and it is far and away the most by an interior defensive lineman.
Defensive Tackle : Tim Bowens
Bowens was Miami's first round draft pick in 1994. After getting a career best 52 tackles and two forced fumbles, he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The 1997 season was one of his best. Bowens had a career high five sacks and scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery while tying his second-best career total of 48 tackles. He was named to the Pro Bowl the next season.
He returned to the Pro Bowl in 2002. What interesting about his two Pro Bowl years is that they are the only seasons of his career, excluding his last, where Bowens failed to record a sack as well as being two years that were amongst his lowest tackle totals.
Bowens hurt his back in 2003, forcing him to miss three games that year. He had missed five total in his ten years by then, showing his toughness and dependability. He played two games the next year, but retired because of his back issues.
The excellence of Bowens is especially amazing if you consider he was missing three toes on his left foot caused by a lawnmower accident as a teenager. He was the only Dolphins defensive tackle in franchise history to go to a Pro Bowl until Randy Starks went in 2010.
It is safe to say Tim Bowens is the one of the best defensive tackles in Dolphins history.
Brian Sochia, Manny Fernandez, Daryl Gardner, and Bob Heinz deserve mention.
Defensive End : Bill Stanfill
Stanfill was the Dolphins first round draft pick in 1969. Miami put him at defensive end despite his playing defensive tackle so well in college that he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Miami was intrigued by his athleticism, which once had Stanfill play quarterback in one collegiate game.
The move worked out great right away. He was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie after scoring twice on the only two interceptions of his career. He also had eight sacks, which is still a team record by a rookie.
Miami was building a special football team at this time, and Stanfill was a key component. Stanfill would lead the team in sacks the next two years as Miami began to make an impact on the NFL. They reached Super Bowl VI in 1971 before losing as Stanfill made the Pro Bowl.
The 1972 Dolphins team is the only team in modern NFL history to have a perfect season. Though their great defense was dubbed the "No-Name Defense", people knew about Stanfill. He was named to the Pro Bowl and given his only First Team All-Pro honor.
After Miami won Super Bowl VII in 1972, they repeated as champions the next season. Stanfill went to the Pro Bowl after setting a team record with 18.5 sacks. He also set a team record with five sacks in one game.
His 1974 season was his last as a Pro Bowler. He tied his record of five sacks in a game, finishing with 10 that year. Stanfill then jammed his next during a exhibition game in 1975 that was so bad that he spent much of the next two years as a reserve before retiring.
Though the NFL did not recognize sacks in his era, Stanfill retired with a franchise leading 67.5 in 1976. It is still the fourth most in team history. His five Pro Bowls is the second most ever by a Dolphins defensive lineman.
He is a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll as both an individual and member of the 1972 team. Stanfill is also a member of the Dolphins All-Time Team. When talk of the greatest defensive end in Dolphins history is discussed, Bill Stanfill should always be the first name mentioned.
Defensive End : Jason Taylor
Taylor was drafted by Miami in the third round of the 1997 draft. He quickly earned a starting job, getting five sacks. The next year he scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery, a prevalent theme throughout Taylor's career.
He was given his first Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro honor in 2000 after getting 14.5 sacks and scoring off another fumble recovery. Taylor would score his third touchdown off a fumble recovery the next season.
The 2002 season was one of the best in Taylor's career. He led the NFL with 18.5 sacks and was given his second Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro honors. Though he had 13 sacks the next year, as well as recording a safety and scoring off yet another fumble recovery, he was somehow not given a Pro Bowl honor.
Taylor then went to the Pro Bowl four straight years starting in 2004. He recorded a safety and scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery in 2005, as well as having a career best 73 tackles and 12 sacks.
The 2006 season is considered by some the best of his career. Taylor was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year after forcing an amazing nine fumbles. He also scored twice off interceptions, which led the league, and had 13.5 sacks.
After making his last Pro Bowl in 2007, where he scored off an interception, Taylor left Miami and was dealt to the Washington Redskins in a trade. His stay in Washington was so ineffective that the two parted ways after just one season, partly because Taylor refused to participate in team conditioning activities.
He returned to the Dolphins in 2009, but was moved to the linebacker position. He has seven sacks and scored once again off a fumble recovery. Taylor then signed a contract with the New York Jets as a reserve linebacker and recorded a safety. New York released him and he is currently a free agent.
Taylor is all over the record books for both the NFL and Dolphins. His six touchdowns off fumble recoveries and three safeties are the most in NFL history. His 27 fumble recoveries in just two short of an NFL record by a defensive player, and his 246 yards off fumble recoveries is 23 yards short of another NFL record.
His 132.5 sacks is eighth best in NFL history, and the 124 he had with Miami is a team record. Taylor's six Pro Bowls and three First Team All-Pro honors are the most by a defensive lineman in team history.
He scored nine non-offensive touchdowns in his career. Not only is it the most in Dolphins history, but it is the most by a defensive lineman in the history of professional football. His 42 forced fumbles is easily a team record, as is the nine he had in the 2006 season. Since the NFL does not keep track of this stat, it is unknown where it stands historically.
Yet his impact in Miami goes beyond the gridiron. Taylor's mission to try to teach kids to read in a foundation of his garnered him the 2007 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his charitable works.
At just 250 lbs most of his career, Taylor was surprisingly stout against the run despite facing off against the opponents best offensive tackles weekly. Most weighed at least 50 pounds more than Taylor, but his athleticism, quickness, strength, and intelligence allowed for him to make play after play.
It is unknown if his career is over, but Taylor does seem bound for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. He was always around the ball making huge plays. Whether it was scoring or getting the ball back for his team, the definition of "play maker" certainly can be branded onto his extensive resume.
Jeff Cross, Doug Betters Marco Coleman, Ed Cooke, T.J. Turner, and Vern Den Herder deserve mention.
Outside Linebacker : Bob Brudzinski
Brudzinski was a first round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams. He started half of his rookie year at left outside linebacker after an injury, eventually being named All-Rookie by several publications.
He moved over to the right outside linebacker the next year and was named a starter on a team known for their excellent defensive unit at the time. The Rams reached Super Bowl XIV in 1979 after an excellent season from Brudzinski. He piled up 127 tackles and five sacks while breaking up 14 passes.
After the Rams lost, Brudzinski headed into the 1980 wanting a pay raise. After the owners declined his request, he walked away from the team nine games into the season. He vowed to never play with the Rams again, which forced them to trade Brudzinski to the Dolphins before the 1981 season.
Miami plugged him in as the starting left outside linebacker right away, and he would stay there the next seven years. Though his specialty was stopping the run, Brudzinski was also solid against the pass and an effective blitzer.
He became an integral part of the Dolphins famous "Killer Bs" defense, which also had Glenn and Lyle Blackwood, Doug Betters, Kim Bokamper, Bill Barnett, and Bob Baumhower all helping Miami's defense rank first in yards allowed and second in points allowed in 1982.
Miami reached Super Bowl XVII in 1982, but lost. He led the team in sacks that year. The Dolphins went back to the Super Bowl in 1984, but lost again. After scoring the only touchdown of his career, off a fumble recovery, in 1985, he continued to be a steadying force.
In 1988, he was a key reserve of Miami. It was the first year of his career he was not a starter. He retired after the next year. Brudzinski is a member of the Dolphins All-Time Team.
Middle Linebacker : Zach Thomas
Thomas was drafted in the fifth round of the 1996 draft by Miami and immediately earned a starting job. He had a career high three interceptions, one of which was taken for a touchdown, and a career best 120 solo tackles. He was named AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The 1998 season was his first to be named First Team All-Pro after matching his career mark of three interceptions and returning two for scores. He then began a run of five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in 1999, three of which he was also named First Team All-Pro.
He returned to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006, as well as earning his final First Team All-Pro nod in 2006 after getting a career high 165 tackles. Thomas was hurt the next year, appearing in just five games. Miami then released him.
Thomas signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 2008 and played one year for them. He tried to join the Kansas City Chiefs the next year, but was cut in training camp. He then retired.
Since the NFL began officially recording tackles in 2001, Thomas has the fourth most in NFL history. He is one of three players credited with 100 or more tackles in each of his first ten seasons.
His 17 interceptions are the most ever by a Dolphins linebacker and his four touchdowns off interceptions is a team record. His five First Team All-Pro honors is tied with Hall of Famer Larry Little as the most in Dolphins history, and his seven Pro Bowls is the most by a Miami defender.
The list of legendary middle linebackers awaiting induction into the Pro Football if Fame is long, starting with Tommy Nobis, Randy Gradishar, and Lee Roy Jordan. Thomas has a very good chance at one day joining fellow Dolphins middle linebacker Nick Buoniconti in Canton because of his excellence as a player and leader.
Bryan Cox, A.J. Duhe, and John Offerdahl deserve mention.
Outside Linebacker : Larry Gordon
Gordon was the Dolphins first round draft pick in 1976. He started right away at left outside linebacker as a rookie.
Miami switched to a 3-4 base defense in 1977, deciding to move veteran Bob Matheson inside. Gordon replaced him at right outside linebacker, where he would stay the rest of his career.
Statistics like tackles and sacks were not recorded officially during his career, but Gordon was a force. Whether it was intercepting passes or sacking the quarterback, his steady play was a key to the teams defense.
The strike-shortened 1982 season would be his last. Gordon was part of a defense that allowed just 14.2 points per game, which was second best in the NFL that year. Miami began an improbable run in the playoffs, winning three games and giving up just 26 points total.
After shutting out the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game, Miami would lose 27-17 to the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVII. It was the last game of Gordon's career, because he passed away while jogging a few months later.
Though he was taken away in his prime, the seven seasons Larry Gordon spent with the Dolphins was special. He helped bring the team back to the Super Bowl after a nine-year drought and left a legacy those who knew him would not forget.
Kim Bokamper, Bob Matheson, Doug Swift, John Bramlett, Tom Erlandson, Larry Izzo, Joey Porter, Mike Kolen, and Derrick Rodgers deserve mention.
Strong Safety : Dick Anderson
Anderson was the Dolphins third round draft pick in 1968. He was named their starting strong safety right away and responded by leading the league with 230 interception return yards, which came off of eight picks. One interception went 96 yards for a touchdown. It was a team record until 1992.
After getting named AFL Defensive Rookie of the Year that season, he followed that up with 106 yards off three swipes the next year, Anderson led the NFL with 191 interception return yards. He had eight interceptions, returning one for a league leading 86 yards.
Despite all of that excellence, he did not go to the Pro Bowl until the 1972 season after leading the NFL with five fumble recoveries. He returned one for a score. Teaming with Jake Scott as one of the greatest safety duos ever, the Miami "No Name" defense dominated the league in helping the team have a perfect season.
The Dolphins went to the Super Bowl three straight years between 1971 and 1973, winning the last two games. The 1973 season was probably the best in Anderson's career. He led the NFL with eight interceptions and two touchdowns off of those interceptions. He was named to his second straight Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro honors.
Anderson was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in a year he picked off four passes for 121 yards for two touchdowns in a key late season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He stayed with Miami until 1977, making the Pro Bowl for the final time in 1974. After missing five games due to injury in 1976, Anderson failed to record any statistics the next year as a reserve. He then retired.
Though he ranks second in Dolphins history with 34 career interceptions, one less than Scott, Anderson was used several different ways by Miami. He played both safety slots, punted the ball nine times, caught a pass, and returned both punts and kickoffs.
The 792 interception return yards in his career is a Dolphins record. His 230 interception yards in one season is still a team record, as is his eight interceptions as a rookie.
Anderson is the only Dolphin with three seasons of at least eight interceptions. His four interceptions in one game in 1973 is a team record, and the 121 yards he got that day stood as a team record until 1992.
His three career touchdowns off interceptions is the second most in team history and the most by a Miami defensive back. The two he had in one game and season is tied as a team record.
He is a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll as both an individual and member of the 1972 team. He is also a member of the NFL's 1970's All-Decade Team. There is no question that Anderson is the greatest strong safety in Dolphins history.
Glenn Blackwood, Jarvis Williams, and Tim Foley deserve mention.
Free Safety : Jake Scott
When the Dolphins grabbed Scott in the seventh round of the draft, Miami general manager Joe Thomas proclaimed the team had gotten first-round talent for seventh-round cash. Scott had been an All-American player who is now on the 50th Anniversary All-Time SEC Team.
Scott was coming in from one season with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League after having left the University of Georgia as a junior because Vince Dooley had brokered a deal for his team to play in the Sugar Bowl, a lesser game at the time, despite the Bulldog players having voted to play in the Orange Bowl.
Dooley had long called Scott the greatest athlete he ever coached, which includes men like Hershel Walker, but their disagreement in has led Scott to declining induction into the College Football Hall of Fame because Dooley was involved.
Scott joined the Dolphins despite making $10,000 less than he had made in the CFL. He was starting right away at free safety and returning punts full time with the team. He picked off five balls for a career long 112 yards while returning 27 punts. He took one ball 77 yards for a touchdown
The Dolphins safety tandem of Scott and Dick Anderson was quickly becoming the best in the NFL. Both were supremely intelligent and athletic, capable of playing either safety slot at a Pro Bowl level. This versatility gave Miami an advantage few teams have ever enjoyed in NFL history.
The 1971 season saw Scott lead the NFL in punt return yards, getting 318 on 33 returns. He also intercepted seven balls, which led the team and helped Scott earn his first of five consecutive Pro Bowl nods. The Dolphins would get all the way to the Super Bowl that year before losing to the Dallas Cowboys.
He severely broke his left hand on the helmet of Kansas City Chiefs fullback Jim Otis in the 1971 AFC Championship Game, then he would break his right wrist early in Super Bowl VI. This led to both hands in heavy casts and the famous Scott quip, "Now I find out who my real friends are when I go to the bathroom."
The Dolphins 1972 season was one that all teams head into striving for, but only this team actually accomplished. They led the NFL in both offense and defense while going undefeated the entire year. Scott returned less punts that year because Charlie Leigh took most of the attempts.
Miami also had Scott playing strong safety often, and it led to five interceptions. He hurt his shoulder so bad that, heading into Super Bowl VII, prognosticators favored the Washington Redskins because the word was that Scott would be unable to play.
Not only was he able to play, but Scott became the first defensive back, and just second defensive player, to ever be named Super Bowl MVP. In a defensive battle where ball possession reigned supreme, the Dolphins outlasted Washington 14-7 in the lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history.
Scott intercepted a pass on the Redskins first possession, then picked off a second in a crucial moment in the fourth quarter. On a Billy Kilmer pass intended for Hall of Fame wide receiver Charley Taylor, Scott picked off the ball in the end zone and took it 55 yards.That would set up the famous "Garo's Gaffe", when Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian would throw an interception that resulted in the Redskins only points.
Miami would reach their third consecutive Super Bowl in 1973, a year that saw Scott get named First Team All-Pro on a defense that gave up only 10.7 points per game all season. Scott handled the return duties in Super Bowl VIII and recovered two fumbles in the Dolphins 24-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
When Dolphin legends Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Paul Warfield bolted for the fledgling World Football League in 1974, Scott bluffed Miami by saying he also had an offer. The Dolphins quickly signed him to a five-year contract for $600,000, making him the first defensive back in NFL history to make at least $100,000 per season.
He rewarded Miami by intercepting a career best eight passes, which had him earn his second First Team All-Pro honor while playing most of the year at free safety. He also returned 31 punts for 346 yards. He was named NFL Defensive Back of the Year by Football Digest.
Scott and Dolphins head coach Don Shula were close to the point the Shula's son wore Scott's jersey number when playing football because Scott was his hero. When the Dolphins brilliant defensive coordinator, Bill Arnsparger, left Miami after the 1973 season to become head coach of the New York Giants, several Dolphins defenders, including Scott, were unhappy that Vince Costello was chosen as the replacement.
Costello was replaced by Don Doll after one year. Playing under Doll, he enjoyed his final Pro Bowl seasons in 1975 after six interceptions. Rookie wide receiver Freddie Soloman handled the punt return duties instead of Scott that season.
One practice in 1974 had Scott telling Costello he didn't know what he was talking about. When Shula interjected, the pair had words. This carried over into 1976, when Shula wanted Scott to play a preseason game even though the safety said his shoulder was hurting too much.
When Scott refused to shoot pain killing medicine into his shoulder, the coach and safety argued so much that Scott was quickly traded to the Washington Redskins for safety Bryan Salter. Salter lasted six games with Miami before calling it a career after one more game as a Baltimore Colt that season.
Scott lasted three years with the Redskins, starting in every game that he played and missing only two games. Though Washington had him return three punts in 1976, those duties were primarily given to Pro Bowler Eddie Brown.
In his three years with Washington, Scott picked off 14 passes. He had a career best five fumble recoveries in his first year, then picked off seven and retired at the end on the 1978 season.
He is the Dolphins all-time leader in interceptions, punt returns, and punt return yards. Scott is a member of the Dolphins Honor Roll as both an individual and member of the 1972 team. He is definitely the greatest free safety in team history.
He might not yet be inducted into Canton, but his 49 interceptions, punt return prowess, and overall excellence say he surely belongs.
Brock Marion, Lyle Blackwood, Willie West, and Louis Oliver deserve mention.
Cornerback : Sam Madison
Madison was the Dolphins second round draft pick in 1997. He was mostly used as an extra defensive back as a rookie, but would earn a starting job from his second season on.
He intercepted eight balls in 1998, then led the league with seven the next season. He was named to the Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro after scoring a touchdown off a pick and recording a safety that year.
He made the Pro Bowl, as well as again being named First Team All-Pro, in 2000 after swiping five balls and taking one for a score. He and fellow Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain represented Miami in the Pro Bowl that year and again in 2002.
Madison and Surtain were perhaps the best cornerback duo in the NFL and Dolphins history over this time. Teams rarely tested Madison, who was know for his toughness and willing run support.
He became a free agent after the 2005 season, so he signed a contract with the New York Giants. He led the Giants with four interceptions in 2007, helping them reach Super Bowl VLII.
New York defeated a New England Patriots team trying to become the first perfect team since the 1972 Dolphins. He broke his ankle seven games into the 2008 season, causing him to retire at the end of the year.
His 31 interceptions with Miami is the third most in team history and the most ever by a Dolphins cornerback. His four Pro Bowls are the most ever by a Dolphins cornerback, as is his two First Team All-Pro nods.
Some longtime Miami fans will tell you that Sam Madison is the best cornerback in team history. He one day should find himself in the Dolphins Ring of Honor, hopefully joined by Surtain.
Cornerback : Patrick Surtain
Surtain was the Dolphins second round draft pick in 1998. He was used as a nickel back as a rookie and swiped a few balls. Taking over a starting job towards the end of the 1999 season, Surtain picked off two passes and had a career best two sacks.
Now firmly entrenched as a starter, Surtain became a top-flight AFC cornerback. After scoring a touchdown off a pick in 2001, he began a run of three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in 2002 after scoring once again. The 2002 season saw him named First Team All-Pro as well.
He and Sam Madison were perhaps the best cornerback duo in the NFL from 1999 to 2003, where at least one of them represented Miami in the Pro Bowl each season over that time. The pair would go to the Pro Bowl together twice.
After a career high seven interceptions in 2003, Surtain became a Pro Bowler for the final time in his career the next year. He was due a raise in salary, but Miami chose to dealt the 29-year old to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second round draft pick.
Kansas City had him paired with Ty Law starting in 2006, and the Chiefs had one of the NFL's best pass defenses in 2007. He got hurt in 2008, missing half of the season. The Chiefs then released him, so Surtain retired.
In his seven season with the Dolphins, Surtain intercepted 29 passes. It is the second most ever by a Dolphins cornerback, and tied with Glenn Blackwood as the fourth most in team history by any player. His three Pro Bowls are the second most ever by a Dolphins cornerback.
Miami has had several great cornerbacks wear their jersey over the years, and Patrick Surtain was one of their very best.
William Judson, J.B. Brown, Troy Vincent, Paul Lankford, Dick Westmoreland, Curtis Johnson, Lloyd Mumphord, Don McNeal, Tim Foley, Gerald Small, and Terrell Buckley deserve mention.
Kicker : Garo Yepremian
The journey of Yepremian to NFL stardom is a better story than any Hollywood writer could concoct. He had emigrated to the United States from the island of Cyprus in the 1960's looking for work. He inadvertently watched a few minutes of an NFL game on television and decided he could make money kicking a ball.
After tryouts with several teams, he made the Detroit Lions roster in 1966. He knew so little about the game that he decided not to wear a facemask at first. When Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke hurt him in the fourth game of the season, Yepremian decided to wear one.
A famous story of his football innocence was in a story Lions Pro Bowl defensive tackle Alex Karras liked to tell. Detroit scored a touchdown late in a game that they were losing heavily in. Yepremian celebrated after converting an extra point, prompting Karras to ask Yepremian what he what happy about.
"I keek a touchdown". was Yepremian's reply.
He set an NFL record as a rookie by kicking six field goals on eight attempts in a single game. Jim Bakken, of the Saint Louis Cardinals, broke that record the next season by making seven of nine attempts. Yepremian still holds the rookie record.
He also set an NFL record by making four field goals in one quarter. This has been tied since, but he owns the record for a rookie. Though he made six field goals that day, Yepremian made just seven of 14 attempts in the other eight games he appeared in.
Detroit had him suit up for eight games the next year, where he attempted just six field goals and made two. They preferred having Pro Bowl linebacker Wayne Walker kicking field goals.
He joined the Army for a short stint in 1968, then kicked for the Michigan Arrows of the Continental Football League. The team folded after the season, so Yepremian was out of the game in 1969.
The Miami Dolphins gave him a tryout in 1970, and Yepremian made the team. He had worked hard on his game during his year off, and this was shown by his leading the NFL in field goal percentage that year.
He was named First Team All-Pro in 1971 after making 28 field goals on a career best 40 attempts and leading the league a career best 117 points. His highlight that year was kicking a game-winning field goal during double-overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs in the longest game ever played in NFL history. Miami would go on to reach Super Bowl VI before losing.
Yepremian led the NFL in extra point attempts the next year, as well as the making the first three field goals of his career of 50 yards or longer. He would only make two kicks of 50 yards or longer the rest of his career.
The highlight for Yepremian was not just the fact the Dolphins had a perfect season, but his famous moment in Super Bowl VII will have him forever a part of the games historical lore.
The Dolphins were winning 14-0 when they decided to have Yepremian try a field goal against the Washington Redskins. The kick was blocked right back into Yepremian's hands, where he inexplicably tried to pass the ball.
The ball started to slip from his hands, causing Yepremian to bat it straight in the air. Washington's Mike Bass caught it and ran for a score. Though a play considered a comedy of errors, Miami prevailed with a 14-7 victory.
Yepremian made his first Pro Bowl, as well as earning his second First Team All-Pro honor in 1973, as the Dolphins repeated as champions. He was now a celebrity in Miami, rubbing elbows with their most famous residents.
In the 1973 Pro Bowl, he became the second kicker to ever win the MVP Award after making a Pro Bowl record five field goals. Though Jan Stenerud won it two years earlier, he shared the award with teammate, and fellow Hall of Famer, Willie Lanier. Yepremian is the first kicker to win the award by himself.
Staying with the Dolphins until 1978, he made his last Pro Bowl that year after making 20 consecutive field goals and leading the NFL in field goal percentage. Miami still allowed him to join the New Orleans Saints in 1979, where he played one season.
Yepremian joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1980, then retired after playing in three games the following season. Of the 1,074 career points Yepremian had, 830 came with the Dolphins and is the second most in team history.
His 117 points in a season was a team record until 1991. No other Dolphin has attempted nor made as many extra points as Yepremian. He has the second most field goal attempts and third most made field goals in team history.
He is an inductee of the Dolphins Honor Roll as a member of the 1972 team and the first Dolphins kicker to ever go to the Pro Bowl or be named First Team All-Pro.
Yepremian is a member of the NFL's 1970s All-Decade Team. He was named Kicker of the Decade for the 1970's, beating out Hall of Famer Stenerud. He was also named one of the Dolphins "Greatest Players" on their 40th Anniversary celebration.
Miami has employed several excellent kickers in their franchise history, yet there have been none better than Garo Yepremian.
Pete Stoyanovich, Uwe von Schamann, and Olindo Mare deserve mention.
Punter : Reggie Roby
Roby was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the sixth round of the 1983 draft, and was the 167th player chosen overall. He produced immediately, averaging 43.1 yards on 74 punts. He also had the first of just five career punts blocked. Roby went to his first Pro Bowl the next year, when he averaged 44.7 yards on 51 punts.
He would be named an All-Pro that season. Known for his strong leg and incredible hang time, Roby led the NFL in 1986 and 1987 with the longest punts of the year of 73 and 77 yards. He led the NFL with a net average of 38.7 yards per punt in 1986.
Roby returned to the Pro Bowl in 1989 after 42.4 yards on 58 attempts. He then led the NFL with a 45.7 yards average in 1991, on 54 attempts. He is the only Dolphins punter ever to go to a Pro Bowl.
He then joined the Washington Redskins in 1993, and went to his final Pro Bowl the next year. He averaged 44.4 yards on a career high 82 punts. It was also the final time he would be named an All-Pro.
Roby then joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 1995, and averaged 42.8 yards on 77 attempts. He also attempted his only career pass that year, which went for 48 yards. The 1996 season saw Roby in a Houston Oilers uniform, and he had a career best 38 yards net that year.
He stayed with the team as they moved to Tennessee the next year, and then joined the San Francisco 49ers for 14 games in 1998, and averaged 41.9 yards on 60 punts. He then retired from the game with a career average of 43.3 yards per punt on 992 attempts.
Roby was one of a kind. He was known for his quick two step delivery, which many have tried to emulate since. He also wore a watch many games so he could time his punts in the air. The NFL only started recording net punting average in 1991, as well as virtually every other type of punting statistic.
Roby's career net average is probably better than the recorded one of just over 36 yards. He was a great directional punter and put an incredible amount of air under his punts. Twice he had opponents fair catch his punts 23 times over the 8 years that stat was kept.
He still holds several NFL and team records. His 77-yard punt in the longest in Miami Dolphin history, as is his 58.5 yards per punt single game average.
His ten punts in the 1985 Pro Bowl is a record, and he ranks second in Dolphins history in punt attempts and yardage. Reggie Roby is a member of the NFL 1980's All-Decade Team, and should never be forgotten.
Larry Seiple and Matt Turk deserve mention.
Kick Returner : Mercury Morris
Morris was the Dolphins primary kick returner during hid 1969 rookie year. He led the AFL with 43 returns for 1,136 yards and a 105-yard touchdown return that is still the sixth longest in pro football history. He also returned 25 punts.
Averaging an impressive 29 yards on 28 returns the next season, Morris also started to become a bigger part of the Miami offense. He made his first Pro Bowl in 1971 after averaging 28.2 yards on 15 returns.
He began to share kick return duties the next two years as his responsibilities on offense increased. The 1973 Super Bowl-winning season was his last as a return specialist. He returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in his career, a Dolphins record.
The 26.5 yards per kick return average is the 16th best in NFL history and is the best in Dolphins history by anyone with 13 or more returns. His 29 yards per return average is a team record for anyone with 18 or more attempts. He still ranks third in team history in career yards on returns.
While other players have had more attempts and yards as a kick returner for the Dolphins, Morris was the most explosive and effective in franchise history. He is on the Dolphins Honor Roll as a member of the 1972 team.
Wes Welker, Fulton Walker, Brock Marion, and Tedd Ginn Jr. deserve mention.
Punt Returner : Tommy Vigorito
Vigorito was a fifth round draft pick of the Dolphins in 1981. He was the Dolphins primary punt returner, but he also returned the only four kickoffs of his career as well. He had a career high 36 punt returns for 379 yards while scoring on a team record 87-yard return.
He returned 20 punts in the strike-shortened 1982 season and scored again. He got hurt in the first game of 1983 after returning one punt for 62 yards, forcing him to miss the rest of the year and the entire 1984 season. He came back to return 22 punts in 1985, then retired.
Miami liked to throw the ball to Vigorito on third down in his first two seasons, but they ran him occasionally as well. He ran the ball 54 times and caught 57 passes his first two years, then caught just two balls the rest of his career.
His two touchdowns on punt returns is a Dolphins record and he still ranks fourth in team history in punt return yards. Vigorito was a passionate overachiever who finished his brief career as one of the best punt return specialists in Dolphins history.
Jake Scott, Wes Welker, Scott Schwedes, Freddie Soloman, and O.J. McDuffie deserve mention.
“Come over here son, we need to have a little talk. I know you are excited about graduation and that you’ve been looking forward to the fruits of your labors finally bearing. And I’ll be honest, your mother and I won’t couldn’t be more proud of you than we are right now.”
“Unfortunately, your mother and I are also part of the teachers union and we feel that we are grossly underpaid, that are benefits aren’t adequate, and that the school board is not taking care of retired teachers the way that they should have. Because of this, we’re asking you to not walk down that aisle and accept your diploma on that stage in front of the rest of your family and your friend’s families. We’re asking you to skip the graduation ceremony as a show of solidarity to your parents, their union, and the struggles we are now undertaking. I know it’s not fair, but we need you to be a man about this and do what is right in your heart.”
It should. It is basically the same load of tripe that the NFL Player’s Association is asking those rookies who were lucky enough to qualify for the NFL and get invited to the draft to do. That’s right; they want those kids to stay at home on April 28th and forego their moment of glory and attend another gathering held by the union rather than the NFL.
It is bureaucracy at its finest moment folks, folks like DeMaurice Smith asking those kids who worked hard t get where they are to now put it off in the favor of litigation. That’s the same DeMaurice Smith that didn’t earn his stripes on the playing field. He earned them in the courtroom, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
I’m sure Mr. Smith wasn’t asked to postpone taking the Bar Examination after graduating from law school though was he?
Truth be told, I don’t care what side of this argument prevails, I understand some of the points on both the players side and the owners side. My personal concern is that there is football next season to watch. I don’t care if one owner or another is willing to pay these guys millions of dollars and benefits to play a game 16 times a season. I don’t really mind if those guys who can capitalize on it want to have more of a share of the profits.
I just want football dammit!
Trying to take away the draft is just another sign that neither one of these parties has any interest in playing football in 2012. The players have been set on litigating this from the get-go, feeling that they will have a better chance of getting what they want by taking it to court. Meanwhile, the owners made no bones about the fact that they would lock-out the players in order to gain another billion dollars of profit at the players’ expense. Meanwhile, I’m fairly sure that the Americans that make up their viewing audience are getting more and more irritated with the level of greed over a game.
IT”S A GAME!!!!
They want difficult? Let them sling fries or clean bathrooms. Let them try to build the same product 200-300 times a day for a slave wage stressing over whether or not your company is going to send your job overseas to save money this month or next. Those are real problems.
Playing football is not a real problem. It’s a hobby that they are lucky enough paid to do. These kids getting their shot at it to do it are some of the lucky few and they deserve their time in the spotlight. Don’t take that away from them or us.
Welcome to The Fry Day Blog
Today dvt fries all of us who think we're experts in March Madnass...
When our family was in the printing business...
We had a sign in the front office...
It wasn't original...
We didn't write it...
But it made sense...
"We do Precision Guesswork..."
The client had no idea what he or she wanted...
It was our job to make it look pretty...
That's how I feel when I'm filling out my bracket...
I can go through an entire pre-tournament season...
And not watch a game in its entirety...
I catch a few highlights here and there...
On my way to work...
I listen to the Jay Bilases...
And the Doug Gottliebs...
Not to mention the Dickie Vees, baby...
And the Mike and Mikes...
And that's pretty much all the information I get...
When it's time for the dance...
I grab my bracket...
Close my eyes...
And do my pickin'...
Ooooh, this one feels good...
Ahhhhh, that one looks good...
Hey, they played well in the Confee Tournee last week...
Maybe it'll slop over...
And into the big tourney...
I don't know 90 plus percent of the players...
On 90 plus percent of the teams...
I don't have time for that...
I'm a busy man...
So I'll just sit right here and do my...
And there's another term for it, too...
"Stupid Wild A$$ Guessing..."
Let me check those uniforms...
Just like the Principal's Secretary does...
Which ones are the prettiest...
"Hey, he has a cute butt. What team is he on???"
And I know the other strategies, too...
If they like the name...
They pick the team...
How 'bout that Morehead State upset, Beezer???
Me knows you had that one, big guy...
Now I'm not saying I do a complete SWAG...
Just a partial SWAG...
I call it...
I'll go for two or three...
Or maybe four teams...
To Cinderella their way into the Sweet Sixteen...
It really ain't much of an upset until a twelve beats a five...
And we did have one cookie today, didn't we???
A five seed???
That was a lay up...
Thank you, Richmond...
On the other hand...
You have those toss-ups...
Two great coaches...
But in this case...
I have a rule...
"Don't go against Izzo..."
Especially in the first two rounds...
So much for that...
You just took care of one of my Elite Eights...
Then there's the...
"What to do with my school" predicament...
San Diego State...
Number two seed...
With a history of blowing it in the tournament...
First win ever in March Madness...
But the predicament is...
How far do I run them???
How deep do they go???
What's wishful thinking???
I played it conservative...
Into the Sweet Sixteen...
Then out at the hands of UConn...
The Huskies have plenty of it...
I hope I'm wrong...
But in the end...
And especially in the end...
The Elite Eight and beyond...
It's all Precision Guesswork...
It's all swagging...
We're all a bunch of Colonel Mustards...
We don't have a Clue...
Hi, everyone. Happy St. Patrick's Day, Italian Republic Day, and March Madness. I hope the college football offseason is treating everyone well in general, or at least better than it treated my college basketball team.
In giving itself a chance to beat West Virginia, Clemson confirmed again (as they did initially in the UNC game and again in the UAB game...I will discuss some of the other controversial inclusions and exclusions below) that they do have skills necessary to win games in this tournament, but my feeling is if you don’t beat an RPI top-50 team before the tournament, you don’t belong in the tournament as an at-large.
For the record, I began writing this when Clemson was ahead by 9 points, and it was partly written in my head before the game started. I just haven’t had time earlier this week to either watch the tournament reaction or write a blog, especially since I filled out around 30 brackets (I have two ESPN accounts, and I filled out all the ones I came across, as many as I could. It’s partly to cover my bases from not having watched enough games this year, but it’s also because I’m much better at individual match-ups than I am at, “This team is going to win this region”…of course most people who show confidence at the latter effort are frequently wrong.)
As for Clemson and its athleticism, I don’t care if they look like Bill Russell’s Celtics if they don’t beat anyone of note. There are few phrases more annoying in the football context where less than 2% of the teams can play for the BCS title at the end of the year, but in basketball, the “eye test” is arguably appropriate as an argument when it’s a close call for #40-something. But not when you can plainly rule out a team based on a lack of accomplishments. Being unable to keep a convincing lead against North Carolina was repeated against West Virginia. So maybe that game was a cause for concern as much as it was a credit to Clemson. (Roy Williams isn’t a particularly good conference-tournament coach anyway. Even his national-championship teams lost in the second game of their respective conference tournaments.)
I know the RPI is flawed, but come on. I wouldn’t require beating a top-25 or top-30 RPI team, but I think counting #50 and above gives enough leeway to factor in the RPI’s weaknesses.