Longtime Viking Retires From NFL

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The 2023 season is about to kick off. In Week 1, the Minnesota Vikings will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who will be without Tom Brady after three years of enjoying his excellence. Baker Mayfield is his successor and he will be the first test for Brian Flores’ new-looking defense. A player who suited up for both franchises is Kyle Rudolph and the 33-year-old will no longer play in the NFL.

Longtime Viking Retires From NFL

Longtime Viking Retires From NFL
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Rudolph had a long career and was a solid player for the Vikings for a decade. He called it a career according to Ari Meirov on X: “Former Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph is retiring from the NFL after 12 seasons, he told Peter King. A 2nd-round pick in 2011, Rudolph spent 10 years with Minnesota and the final two with the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rudolph will now be joining the media, working as a Big Ten analyst at Peacock while also co-hosting a show on FOX Sports radio on Sunday nights.”

The tight end has never been someone who tried to be the center of attention and there have been rumors of his retirement but the fact that there hasn’t been any formal announcement is quite astonishing. Still, it is the most Rudolph-way imaginable to quietly retire.

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph catches the winning touchdown over New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams in overtime on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints. © Elizabeth Flores, Tribune News Service, Elmira Star-Gazette via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

Rudolph’s most memorable moment was perhaps his game-winning reception to complete the upset in the 2019 postseason contest in New Orleans, beating the overwhelmingly favored Saints in overtime to advance to the divisional round.

The NFL veteran has already had some appearances as an analyst, calling some contests in spring leagues and the spring game at his alma mater Notre Dame.

Longtime Vikings TE Returns
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

In his 12-year playing career, Rudolph played ten seasons for the Vikes, one for the New York Giants, and one with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. In his ten years in Minnesota, Rudolph was one of the most reliable players in all of football, playing in 140 games, catching 453 passes for 4,488 yards and 48 touchdowns. That ranks him second in yards and catches in Vikings franchise history among tight ends, only trailing Steve Jordan.

The 48 scores rank him at the top at his position, and fifth in general. From 2015 to 2019, Rudolph didn’t miss a single game and started 81 consecutive games, the most among tight ends in franchise history. He was a Pro Bowler in 2012 and 2017 and was named Pro Bowl MVP in 2012. Only Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski recorded more receiving TDs during his time in Minnesota.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After Rick Spielman released his former second-round pick for salary cap-saving reasons, he joined the Giants where he only caught 26 passes for 257 yards and 1 TD in his lone season there. One season later at age 33, Rudolph publically flirted with a purple reunion but he ultimately joined Tampa Bay where he played with Brady but barely made an impact. He appeared in only nine games and caught 3 passes for 28 yards and a touchdown. That one score in a Buccaneers’ uniform turned out to be Brady’s last regular season touchdown pass.

A big part of Rudolph’s legacy in Minnesota is his charitable work. He was named the Vikings Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee three times.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt