With U.S. Bank Stadium just days from opening its doors and the Minnesota Vikings less than a week from training camp, it’s clear this team is set for some major changes. The same can be said for the roster, which will surely shift in the coming months.
As the team transitions into a new era of Vikings football, so do its players, many of whom have been a part of the franchise for years. There’s Adrian Peterson, longtime face of the Vikings. There’s also Chad Greenway, Minnesota’s longest-tenured defender and hometown hero.
But in their wake lie up-and-comers, like quarterback Teddy Bridgewater or the über talented Anthony Barr. Their surge to the forefront of the franchise marks another shift for the Vikings; a changing of the (popularity) guard. After the jump, we try to determine who’s the most popular Viking — player or coach — heading into the 2016 season.
Heading into 2016, who is the Vikings’ most popular player?
Sam: Teddy Bridgewater
This feels like a trick question. I can maybe see making a case for Harrison or Peterson, but in terms of pure popularity, it’s gotta be the young, up-and-coming quarterback.
The perception I get is much of the fan base has lost interest in Peterson—which is somewhat of a travesty considering he’s one of the best to ever play the position, has spent his whole career in Minnesota, likely still has something in the tank…but that’s for another time—and has shifted its love to the signal-caller with the excellent smile.
Truthfully, Teddy has shown promise at the most important position in sports, and the team’s fortunes are directly tied to how he performs, so all eyes are on him, now and in the future. Locally and nationally, he’s the most popular Viking.
Adam P.: Adrian Peterson
Somehow, someway, Peterson still remains the Vikings most popular player. While it may not be the case with those who cover the Vikings, the majority of Minnesota’s fan base still seems to adore him. Word of advice for anyone who runs into some trouble in the future: Score a couple touchdowns and all may be forgiven.
Adam W.: Mike Zimmer (Wild Card Answer!)
There are so many great candidates. Chad Greenway is the local good guy. Adrian Peterson’s popularity was split in half recently, but he’s still one of the greatest runners in history. Plenty of people believe in Teddy as the answer. Harrison Smith is a force of nature. But the vikings have had talented rosters in the past and still, this is the first time in a very long time that things just feel… right.
And most of the Vikings fans I talk to attribute that to the leadership and attitude of head coach Mike Zimmer. Seldom does a coach reach the popularity level seen by the likes of Bud Grant, and Zimmer isn’t there yet, but if things keep trending the way they are then he could get to that elite level of popularity. I’m not willing to give him that award yet (a Super Bowl trophy would do the trick), but I am willing to say he’s the most popular Minnesota Viking headed into the 2016 season.
Austin: Teddy Bridgewater
Whether it’s the gifs, the memes, or the rock-paper-scissors videos, Vikings fans have an obsession with Teddy Bridgewater. The presumed quarterback-of-the-future won an entire state over as soon as the Vikings jumped back into the first round to draft him. He’s a likable, genuine, and humble person. Add that to the fact that he’s led the Vikings to playoffs, and you’ve got a winning combination in No. 5.