The Minnesota Vikings have been skippered by head coach Mike Zimmer for seven full seasons. Only Harrison Smith and Adam Thielen have accompanied Zimmer for the entirety of the ride. Well, Kyle Rudolph has also carried the title of Zimmer disciple since 2014, but he left the Vikings via free agency for the New York Giants in March.
But none of that longevity equates to Zimmer, Smith, Thielen, or Rupdlph carrying the moniker “face of the franchise.” A study in February by Lines.com affirmed that Dalvin Cook is the most recognizable player on the Minnesota Vikings. Lines.com “quizzed over 1,000 people who watch only two NFL games (or fewer) each season with some pictures of football stars, including Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Donald, Cam Newton, Saquon Barkley and more.”
One thousand people were asked to identify “over 41 photos of current and former NFL players, 24% of men and 22% of women were able to correctly reveal the players by either their first name, last name or both.” By a smidgen, more people identified Cook over teammate Adam Thielen. Cook (32.32%) and Thielen (31.28%) were among the most recognizable Vikings players among casual fans. For Thielen in particular, 19% of respondents asserted that the Minnesota State alumnus plays for the Vikings while 20% knew that Thielen played specifically wide receiver [regardless of team affiliation].
On overall recognition, Cook was about as “famous” as Cam Newton (32.71%) and Julio Jones (31.96%). Had the study been conducted in recent weeks, Jones may have outpaced Cook as the ex-Atlanta Falcons WR was traded to the Tennessee Titans last weekend.
It is a bit puzzling that Thielen is less recognizable than Cook merely because Thielen has played in the NFL longer [by three seasons]. He’s also famously notable for his “rags to riches” walk-on story for Vikings employment.
Cook, well, deserves the title based on production. After exorcising the injury-bug label during the last two seasons, Cook ranks second-best in the league for virtually every major rushing metric. Derrick Henry from the aforementioned Titans leads nearly all rushing statistical parameters.
During Cook’s first two seasons, 2017 and 2018, he missed 17 out of 32 regular season football games, creating hesitance in some Vikings circles for believing in his long-term sustainability. Yet, in 2019 and 2020, Cook only encountered “normal” RB-related wear-and-tear injuries, so his prominence leaguewide has subsequently risen. The Vikings front office bought in, too. Cook signed a five-year, $63 contract extension right before the pandemic season commenced.
No other Vikings players were cited in the study — not Justin Jefferson, Kirk Cousins, nor Danielle Hunter.
The most recognizable NFL player in the world? Unsurprisingly, it’s Tom Brady. That’s what happens when one plays in the NFL for 21 years.
Russell Wilson and Aaron Donald rounded out the Top 3.