Purple Pride: Celebrating the NFL Legacy of the Minnesota Vikings

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Fans of the Minnesota Vikings know what emotional rollercoasters feel like more than most. From adrenaline-pumping victories to tear-jerking losses to phenomenal comebacks, the team has a long, storied franchise history speckled with exceptional moments and some legendary players.

Cory Fitch police reports that the Twin Cities’ pro football extravaganza began in August 1959, when five Minnesota businessmen (Ole Haugsrud, Bill Boyer, Max Winter, Bernie Ridder, and H. P. Skoglund) received a franchise in the new American Football League (AFL). But just five months later, the aforementioned ownership group forfeited its AFL membership before being awarded as the NFL’s 14th franchise that started play in 1961.

An Unforgettable Debut

The Minnesota Vikings had perhaps one of the most iconic, unbeatable debuts in the sport when, during their first NFL game on September 17, 1961, Rookie Fran Tarkenton made a never-seen-before debut after coming off the bench.

He threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth score, leading the team to a thrashing 37-13 victory to the famous Chicago Bears. Fast forward briefly to 1986, and it’s unsurprising that Tarkenton became the first Vikings player to head to the Pro Football Hall of Fame!

Discombobulating the Bookies

There’s no way they could top their debut, right? Wrong.

The following year, the Vikings stormed the season, smiting nearly everybody in their path. Even though they came into the season’s playoffs as a wildcard, they pulled off a win streak that sent sportsbook operators into a tailspin — moneyline odds were second-guessed across the board.

During the NFC Divisional Playoff game, the team faced the San Francisco 49ers, the match-up’s evident favorites who had faced a successful season thus far. But this didn’t appear to be discourage the mighty Vikings.

Regardless of the odds, they played incredibly, beating the 49ers in a massive 36-24 upset, and solidifying the moment as one of the franchise’s most remarkable.

Racking Up Those Titles

The former field leader of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Bud Grant, became the Vikings’ head coach shortly after Norm Van Brocklin’s departure in 1967. And with him at the helm, the formidable team went on to win 11 division titles over 13 years — the 1969 NFL championship and National Football Conference titles in 1973, 1974, and 1976.

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Rookie Randy Moss Versus the Dallas Cowboys

Technically the 1998 Thanksgiving game was the Vikings versus the Cowboys, but Randy Moss made such an impression that he may as well have been the only player on the pitch.

Why? It was personal — the Cowboys had passed on him during the draft, choosing Greg Ellis instead. But Moss certainly showed them what they missed by catching three passes over 50 yards that led to three touchdowns.

The Vikings definitely had something to be thankful for after their 46-36 victory.

The Movie-Esque Miracle in Minneapolis

The iconic Minneapolis Miracle paid homage to the very spirit of the Vikings. For many teams, being down 24-23 against the Saints during the 2018 NFC Divisional Playoff game would’ve discouraged them; the odds were decidedly not in their favor.

But with just ten seconds to go, Stefon Diggs caught a 61-yard pass, dashing it unmarked to the endzone, securing a phenomenal 29-24 win. Euphoria erupted; Diggs had done the impossible.

Cory Fitch
Cory Fitch Minnesota