A Vikings Enforcer Goes Into the Ring of Honor

Posted Oct 24, 2013

In the team’s last season at Mall of America Field, one of the franchise’s most-feared enforcers, who also played his entire career in that building, will join a distinguished fraternity of Vikings. Former Vikings safety Joey Browner, a standout defender from 1983-91, will be the 21st member of the Vikings Ring of Honor when he’s inducted at halftime of Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers.

Known for his aggressive style and big-play mentality, Browner was a tone-setter for the Vikings defense and was at his best when attacking receivers in the middle of the field.

But Browner didn’t discriminate when it came to tackles. Pass catchers, ball carriers, kick returners, they were all prone to punishment in Browner’s eyes. He posted 1,098 career combined defensive and special teams stops (987 defensive, 111 special teams), a total that only four other Vikings and no other Vikings defensive backs can claim. And when Browner made a tackle, chances are something else happened on the play, as well. His 18 forced fumbles and 9.5 career sacks are the most by a defensive back in team history, and his 37 career interceptions are fourth in team history.


“Joey was one of those players that could transcend any generation of player,” Scott Studwell, also a Ring of Honor member, said of his former teammate. “He could’ve played today. When he played, he was one of the best at his position. It’s hard to find players like Joey in today’s game with the college game and the change of rules.

“Joey was big, he was fast, he was strong, he was athletic. He had all the tools necessary to be a great player, and he was a great player. I was honored and privileged to play with him. He had a great career with us, and he made us better both personally and professionally.”

Browner was able to play through the kind of pain he imposed on opponents. Durability, dependability and consistency are attributes that help separate the great players from the good ones, and Browner embodied those traits. He is one of few players in team history that truly embodied what it meant to be a Viking. With all of the aforementioned production, Browner was also a constant in the lineup, playing in 138 games as a Viking, the second-most by a defensive back.

Browner went to six straight Pro Bowls from 1985-90, tied with Paul Krause for the most Pro Bowl selections by a Vikings defensive back. A three-time Associated Press All-Pro honoree, Browner was named to the NFL’s Team of the Decade for the 1980s. A member of the 50 Greatest Vikings team, Browner earned his reputation as one of the NFL’s most feared defenders during his career. He led the team in tackles in 1986 and ’87 and was a key element to the Vikings ranking No. 1 in the NFL in total defense in 1988 and ’89.

Originally drafted out of USC in 1983, Browner was the 19th selection of the first round. He was the first Vikings defensive back to be drafted in the first round and is joined by only Harrison Smith in 2012 as safeties selected in the first round in team history.


Vikings Ring of Honor
The Vikings Ring of Honor recognizes legends in franchise history for their contributions to the success of the team on and off the field. Members of the Vikings Ring of Honor are recognized with a banner on the façade of Mall of America’s upper deck, forever living in Vikings lore.

The members of the Vikings Ring of Honor include Fran Tarkenton, Alan Page, Jim Finks, Bud Grant, Paul Krause, Fred Zamberletti, Jim Marshall, Ron Yary, Korey Stringer, Mick Tingelhoff, Carl Eller, Cris Carter, Bill Brown, Jerry Burns, Randall McDaniel, Chuck Foreman, John Randle, Scott Studwell, Chris Doleman, Matt Blair, Joey Browner.