The Vikings franchise hadn’t played a game yet when they drafted and signed Tarkenton in 1961. It turned out to be a very wise personnel move. Tarkenton spent 13 seasons with them (split in two parts by a five-year stint with the New York Giants), and owned every major NFL quarterback record upon his retirement. He also led the Vikings to three Super Bowls and was named MVP in 1975. Tarkenton made a total of nine Pro Bowls (five with the Vikings) and ranks in the top six all-time in total passing yards, passing touchdowns and total wins. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
DE Carl Eller
Eller just had Minnesota in his blood. The legendary defensive end played his college ball for the Golden Gophers, then was drafted No. 6 overall by the Vikings in 1964. He became an integral part – along with Alan Page – of the vaunted “Purple People Eaters” defensive unit of the 1970s, racking up six Pro Bowl bids, five first-team All-Pro honors and a defensive player of the year award in ’71. He played in all four of the Vikings’ Super Bowl appearances and missed only three games in his 16-year career. Eller was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2004.
DT Alan Page
The Vikings scored big in the draft on another defensive end in 1967 when they scooped up Page out of Notre Dame with the 15th overall pick. He teamed with Eller to anchor the “Purple People Eaters,” played in all four Vikings Super Bowls and amazingly never missed a game in his entire 15-year career. Page was named to nine straight Pro Bowls from 1969-77, received six first-team All-Pro bids and was the NFL’s MVP in 1971. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988 and is now an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.
WR Cris Carter
After a troubled stint in Philadelphia, the Vikings took a chance on Carter, claiming him off waivers in September 1990. He did not disappoint. Carter made eight straight Pro Bowls between 1993 and 2000, ending all of those seasons with over 80 catches and 1,000 receiving yards. When the electric Randy Moss (a difficult omission from this list) joined the team in 1998 and quickly became the team’s most explosive weapon, Carter’s numbers didn’t suffer a bit. He ended his Vikings career in 2001 with 1,004 total receptions, 110 touchdowns and 12,383 yards – all still franchise records.
DE John Randle
From his wild face paint to his reputation for on-field trash talk, Randle certainly looked the part of a fierce defensive stud. And he had the game to back it up. The undrafted Randle came to the Vikings in 1990 and quickly established himself as one of the best defensive linemen of his era. He made six straight Pro Bowls and first-team All-Pro squads from 1993-98 (compiling 10 or more sacks in each of those years) and led the Vikings to the playoffs in eight of his 11 seasons with the franchise. His 137.5 total quarterback takedowns rank sixth all-time, and that knack for the sack earned Randle a Hall of Fame election in 2010.