Should the Minnesota Vikings Retire Any Other Jersey Numbers?

Will Ragatz

I'm currently in the midst of writing previews for all 87 players on the Vikings' roster, with the number of days remaining until the season opener corresponding with the jersey number of the player I write about on that day. You can find them all right here, along with other preview content for the 2020 season.

What that means is I'm writing a player preview just about every single day. However, there are 13 jersey numbers between 1 and 99 that are not occupied by any current Vikings. Some of those are random, but six of them are the numbers that have been retired by the franchise. As a reminder, those six numbers are:

  • No. 10 (Fran Tarkenton)
  • No. 53: (Mick Tingelhoff)
  • No. 70: (Jim Marshall)
  • No. 77: (Korey Stringer)
  • No. 80: (Cris Carter)
  • No. 88: (Alan Page)

Today (June 25th) is one of the days where I have no player to write about. There are 80 days until the Vikings host the Packers on September 13th to kick off the season, and because Cris Carter's number is retired, no Viking will ever wear No. 80 again.

That got me thinking: are there any other jersey numbers that the Vikings should retire? And which numbers – if any – could be next?

From a practical perspective, you can only retire so many numbers. But there's certainly room for the Vikings to retire more than six. NFL rosters can only go as high as 90 players in training camp, so that's at least nine available slots right there (although the positional restrictions make things slightly more difficult than that). Also, there are plenty of franchises with more than six retired numbers. The Bears and Giants lead the way with 14, the 49ers have 12, the Chiefs have 10, and there are five teams in the seven to nine range.

Here are three numbers that should arguably already be retired, plus a few that could be retired at some point down the road.

Numbers that should probably already be retired

No. 84 – Randy Moss

Moss is arguably the most talented player to ever put on a Vikings uniform. He's also arguably the most talented wide receiver in the history of the NFL. He burst onto the scene in 1998 and helped the Vikings reach two NFC title games in his first three seasons. Moss was a first team All-Pro in three of his seven seasons with the Vikings, and would've shattered Carter's franchise receiving records had he stayed for longer.

Instead, Moss and the Vikings parted ways in 2005. The fact that he only spent seven years in Minnesota is presumably the main reason why the team hasn't retired his number. His occasional off-the-field antics might be another factor. Still, it has always felt weird to see somebody else wearing the No. 84 in purple, whether that's Aundre Allison, Michael Jenkins, Cordarrelle Patterson or Irv Smith Jr.

On an unrelated note, ESPN needs to put Moss in the Monday Night Football booth.

No. 81 – Carl Eller, Anthony Carter

This is probably the most inexcusable one, in my opinion. Eller is a Hall of Famer who spent 14 seasons with the Vikings as one of the stars of the "Purple People Eaters" defensive line. If Page and Marshall's numbers are retired, why shouldn't Eller's 81 be retired as well? He's the franchise's all-time leader in sacks with 130 (Marshall had 127 and Page had 108). Eller is a true legend and there's no rational explanation for not retiring No. 81.

As a bonus, do it to honor Anthony Carter as well. He spent nine seasons with the Vikings and had one of the greatest playoff performances in franchise history in the 1987 divisional round. Carter is currently third in team history in receiving yards and touchdowns and fourth in receptions.

No. 93 – John Randle, Kevin Williams

This is another number that could be retired to honor multiple all-time greats. Randle is a Hall of Famer who is third in franchise history in sacks (trailing only Eller and Marshall) and is one of the most dominant defensive tackles of the past 30 years. He led the Vikings in sacks in eight straight years from 1993 to 2000. The fact that he went undrafted for being "too small" to play DT – not to mention his rivalry with Brett Favre – only adds to his legend.

Williams was also a dominant force at defensive tackle, finishing his 11-year Vikings career with 60 sacks. He was a first team All-Pro five times and is one of the franchise's best players of the 2000s.

Other numbers with a case to be retired

No. 56 – Chris Doleman

Doleman is a Hall of Famer who is fifth on the Vikings' all-time sacks list. The No. 4 overall pick in 1985 spent nine seasons in Minnesota and is one of the best edge rushers in franchise history. His 21 sacks in 1989 stood as the team's single-season record for over two decades until Jared Allen broke it in 2011. Doleman also had some dominant seasons for the Falcons and 49ers, but he played two-thirds of his career with the Vikings.

Retiring No. 56 would be a cool way to honor Doleman, who tragically passed away from brain cancer in January at the age of 58.

No. 64 – Randall McDaniel

Another Hall of Famer, McDaniel is on a very short list of the best offensive guards of all time. He missed just two games in a dominant 12-year career with the Vikings. McDaniel is highly underrated in NFL history due to the position he played.

No. 28 – Adrian Peterson

Based on career accomplishments alone, Peterson's jersey should absolutely be retired. He's the franchise's all-time leader in yards from scrimmage, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and several other stats. Peterson owns six of the top seven rushing seasons in Vikings history and is one of the most physically dominant running backs the NFL has ever seen. He's also one of only three Vikings to ever win the MVP award, and the other two – Page and Tarkenton – have their numbers retired.

Ultimately, the reason why it may not happen has to do with the child abuse charges that resulted in Peterson being suspended for the entire 2014 season. Regardless of how you feel about the situation, that's a stain on his legacy.

Numbers that could be retired someday down the line

No. 22 – Paul Krause and Harrison Smith

This one could've gone in the previous category as well. Krause is a Hall of Famer whose 53 interceptions are the most in Vikings history. He began his career with four years in Washington, but spent the next 12 seasons in Minnesota. He's one of the better safeties in NFL history.

Retiring No. 22 could become an easy decision if Smith continues to play at a high level in a Vikings jersey for another four or five years. He's already close to becoming an all-time franchise great after just eight seasons. Smith has been one of the best safeties in the league for almost all of his career, perfectly embodies the spirit of Mike Zimmer's defense, and was an egregious snub from the NFL's 2010s All-Decade team.

No. 99 – Danielle Hunter

This is a forward-thinking inclusion. Hunter has been a Viking for just five seasons, but with 54.5 sacks during that time, he's already on pace to break some records. Hunter set the record for the most sacks in NFL history before turning 25. Yeah, he's still 25. The LSU product is one of the most freakishly athletic players in the league and is still just hitting his stride. If he stays with the Vikings for the rest of his prime, he'll write his name into team history books.

Check out all of our Vikings 2020 season preview content right here.

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Comments (4)
No. 1-2
justalkin
justalkin

What is the hold up on any of the candidates listed?

ChiVike
ChiVike

I really don't think they should retire any #s. They should have a ring of honor for these players, but they should then just let the jersey #s circulate in the future. At some point, it just gets ridiculous to manage jersey #s if you have too many #s that are retired.

The only exceptions would be truly legendary players, like Tom Brady for the Patriots. When we win multiple Super Bowls, the Vikings should consider retiring #s. But until that day, I don't see much point in it.


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