Get Your 84 Jerseys Out

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Welcome to mid-May of the NFL offseason when questionable topics are conjured up and all the hours of speculation doesn’t actually matter.

And to make matters worse, Drew Carey seems too busy with the Price is Right to finish the month by informing the masses of whose line it is…, anyway. Maybe a bit bold to assume the Vikings Territory readership can resonate with a Whose Line is it Anyway? anecdote, but the odds were to good to pass on.

Now that we have gotten that out of our systems, let’s get into a bit of the meaningless Minnesota Vikings speculation mentioned amidst the anecdotal mess above. Over the past several weeks the “Great No. 84 Debate” has flooded Vikings Territory, as the long-standing debate topic centered around if and when Randy Moss’ jersey should be retired has been a primary talking point on both the About the Labor Podcast and the VT Roundtable.

The discussion naturally set off a multitude of simultaneous arguments concerning other numbers — both available and retired — and I think it is about time someone sets the record straight.

And while I do believe this particular responsibility is better-served for a piñata given the strongly-worded disagreements that will inevitably follow, I hereby accept the honor of designating which Vikings players should be enshrined in franchise lore assuming a hypothetical in which all numbers are fair game.

RETIRED NUMBERS REVIEW
Jim Bruton (2012)

10: QB Fran Tarkenton — Retired in 2010 — HOF Class of 1986

53: OC Mick Tingelhoff — Retired in 2001 — HOF Class of 2015

70: DE Jim Marshall — Retired in 1999 — 2x Pro Bowler

77: OT Korey Stringer — Retired in 2001 — 1x Pro Bowler

80: WR Cris Carter — Retired in 2003 — HOF Class of 2013

88: DT Alan Page — Retired in 1988 — HOF Class of 1988

Minnesota has retired six numbers, with each honoree being more than deserving of the honor. That said, however, the question today is not necessarily whether these six players are deserving of being recognized but more whether the collective group represents an optimized list of enshrined Vikings.

BASIC CRITERIA
Assigned Numbers for Each Position Group
  • No more than six numbers may be retired
  • No more than two numbers may be retired from the assigned pool of a single position group’s (Chart)
  • Only one player may be enshrined per number — no double-dipping
RETIRED NUMBERS REDO

10: QB Fran Tarkenton

22: S Paul Krause

28: RB Adrian Peterson

77: OT Korey Stringer

84: WR Randy Moss

88: DT Alan Page

Sticking with both Tarkenton’s No. 10 and Page’s No. 88 is fairly self-explanatory, as both players established themselves as not only Vikings greats but all-time caliber players. Tarkenton is undoubtedly the greatest signal-caller to don a purple jersey, which could very well lock his number in alone given the importance of the position. Page, as with just about every player referenced in this article, needs no explanation as to why he was selected, but the simple answer is he is arguably the greatest player in Vikings history and likely played a critical role in the future evaluation of “undersized” defensive tackles — Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins, for example, may not have been taken seriously had it not been for Page’s prolific career.

Stringer’s No. 77 sticks in order to preserve his legacy both as an outstanding athlete and how his heartbreaking death changed the game from a health perspective.

The three replacement selections — Krause, Peterson and Moss — are not only undeniably worthy of the honor, but each player holds his own very special place in Vikings history. Krause spent his first four seasons with the Washington Redskins before playing out his final 12 seasons in Minnesota. During his prolific tenure under Bud Grant, Krause intercepted 53 passes (Vikings record) was a three-time All-Pro and universally regarded as one of the greatest ballhawks in NFL history. His 53 picks combined with the 28 he totaled with Washington gives Krause a professional football record 81 career interceptions — sounds like a lock to me, and he clearly believes so as well:

“It’s ridiculous that my number hasn’t been retired,” Krause said back in 2003. “It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

My selection of Peterson may be met with sour grapes now due to how he was perceived both on- and off-the-field during the final years of his Vikings career. And yes, I know, he is still an active player; this is a hypothetical, but it should be a realistic expectation that All Day’s No. 28 will be enshrined at some point.

And we are left with the player responsible for this entire exercise — Moss. For me, this decision came down No. 80 and No. 84 and — just as ESPN — I decided to go with The Freak over The Fall Guy. Is there a very legitimate argument for Carter being “a more true-blue Viking” than Moss? Absolutely. Could one fairly state that Moss isn’t deserving of Vikings lore due to his off-the-field antics and pair of, uh, not-so-great departures from Minnesota? No doubt.

But, who is the greatest wide receiver in Vikings franchise history, arguably the greatest wide receiver in NFL history and a clear-cut definition of a “generational talent who will never be emulated”?

Yes, Yes, Yes.

Case Closed.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

5: QB Teddy Bridgewater

53: OC Mick Tingelhoff

56: DE Chris Doleman

64: OG Randall McDaniel

70: DE Jim Marshall

80: WR Cris Carter

81: DE Carl Eller

The majority of the players on this list need no explanation with a very deserving trio of Tingelhoff, Marshall and Carter all being replaced in favor of Krause, Peterson and Moss. Carter and Eller could both be listed as casualties of assigned position numbers being updated and changed throughout the years. Carter, Eller, Moss and Page all own what have been designated as wide receiver numbers in the contemporary NFL, and, per criteria rule, only two numbers may be selected per position group.

There is one number on this list that may required a bit of an explanation — Five. It is honestly a fairly simple explanation: If Bridgewater’s career is in fact over, retiring his No. 5 would represent a final salute to what he brought to the table during his few years with the organization while simultaneously assuring that the most absurd and horrific injury in franchise history is never forgotten.

Retiring No. 5, simply put, would be a tribute to Bridgewater’s short yet beloved career, and Minnesota could easily accommodate the enshrining given that Tarkenton’s No. 10 is the only unavailable QB-eligible number.