Over the past quarter-century, the Minnesota Vikings
have consistently been at the top of their division.
During that same period, only Dallas has made more
playoff appearances. In addition, only four teams
have played in more Super Bowls than Minnesota, which
participated in Super Bowls IV, VIII, IX and XI.
Minnesota Vikings, professional football team and
one of four teams in the North Division of the National
Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football
League (NFL). The Vikings play at the Hubert H. Humphrey
Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and wear uniforms
of purple, gold, and white. The team’s name
refers to the Nordic peoples who were ancestors to
Minnesota’s large population of Scandinavian
Since the late 1960s, the Vikings have been one of
the most consistently successful franchises in the
NFL. During the 1970s head coach Bud Grant steered
the team to four Super Bowls. Quarterback Fran Tarkenton,
who spent much of his career with the Vikings, became
the most prolific passer in NFL history, compiling
the most career yards, completions, and touchdown
passes during his 15 years in the league. (Tarkenton’s
records were broken by Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins
in 1995.) Grant also assembled one of the fiercest
defenses in NFL history. Known collectively as the
Purple People Eaters, players such as linemen Carl
Eller, Jim Marshall, and Alan Page “devoured”
The Vikings joined the NFL as an expansion team in
1961 and selected Fran Tarkenton in the NFL draft.
The franchise got off to a slow start, producing only
one winning record in its first seven seasons. In
1967 Minnesota traded Tarkenton to the New York Giants
for the rights to four draft picks. These picks yielded
several talented rookies, including Alan Page.
In the 1968 season Bud Grant guided the Vikings to
the NFC Central Division championship. A year later,
Minnesota’s defense, the league’s toughest,
powered the Vikings to Super Bowl IV, where the team
lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Vikings’
offensive performance in 1969 was also the league’s
best. Quarterback Joe Kapp directed a balanced unit
that relied on both running and passing.
In the 1970s safety Paul Krause and linemen Page,
Carl Eller, and Jim Marshall anchored the era’s
most feared defensive unit, which ranked first in
the NFC five times from 1969 to 1976. Minnesota dominated
the NFC Central Division during this time, and in
1971 Page became the first defensive player to receive
the most valuable player (MVP) award. Tarkenton returned
to the Vikings in 1972 and subsequently piloted the
team to three Super Bowl appearances. Running back
Chuck Foreman and wide receivers John Gilliam and
Ahmad Rashad were his favorite targets. An elusive
scrambler, Tarkenton also used his agility to confound
opponents. He was named league MVP in 1975.
Although they were clearly the NFC’s dominant
club, the Vikings repeatedly fell to their American
Football Conference (AFC) opponents in the Super Bowl.
Minnesota lost to the Miami Dolphins 24-7 in 1974,
to the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-6 in 1975, and to the
Oakland Raiders 32-14 in 1977.
Many of the star Viking players retired by 1979,
and the team entered a period of decline, but Minnesota
soon recovered its success with a collection of new
stars. From the mid-1980s through the late 1990s,
the Vikings consistently recorded winning records,
and the club reached the NFC Championship Game after
the 1987 and 1998 seasons. Stars for the Vikings during
this time included quarterbacks Tommy Kramer, Warren
Moon, and Wade Wilson, and wide receiver Anthony Carter,
who produced three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
Safety Joey Browner and linemen Chris Doleman, Keith
Millard, and John Randle were among the league’s
premier defensive players.
1970 Super Bowl IV Lost to Kansas City Chiefs, 23-7
1974 Super Bowl VIII Lost to Miami Dolphins, 24-7
1975 Super Bowl IX Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers, 16-6
1977 Super Bowl XI Lost to Oakland Raiders, 32-14
Club Records >>
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