After 15 seasons as a standout DB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ronde Barber has called it a career. Vikings fans are most certainly familiar with Barber’s career because the Buccaneers and Vikings battled 13 times during the 5-time Pro Bowler’s career.
In light of Barber’s retirement, there’s been a bunch of chatter around the League about his prospects for being elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We’ll let others debate Barber’s credentials, and instead will use that sure-to-come debate to take a look at former Vikings who are deserving of election into the Hall of Fame. We already know that one legendary Vikings player will go into the Hall of Fame later this summer, as Cris Carter’s wait is finally over. But now that Carter is in, who’s next for the Vikings?
I think the Vikings have 2 great candidates. Here’s a look at each of them…
C Mick Tingelhoff
Tingelhoff came to the Vikings as a rookie free agent in 1962 and stepped into the starting lineup by the team’s second preseason game. He didn’t turn over the job until his retirement after the 1978 season, never missing a game over a 17-season span that included an incredible 240 consecutive regular season starts.
“Mick was a catalyst for our team and one of the most respected players on those teams,” legendary Vikings Head Coach and Hall of Famer Bud Grant said. “Mick’s intangibles were the thing that made him so great. He was a captain the whole time I coached him and guys looked at him as an example of how to do things.”
Over Tingelhoff’s 17-year career, he started in all 4 Vikings Super Bowl appearances, snapped to Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton, blocked for 4 RBs who earned 13 trips to the Pro Bowl, was named to 7 consecutive All-Pro teams, paved the way for a 100-yard rusher 40 times and played in 19 postseason contests. In Tingelhoff’s final 11 seasons, the Vikings did not have a losing record and they won a division title in 10 of those campaigns. The Vikings posted a regular season record of 112-42-2 and won 10 games 7 times in that 11-year span.
The Vikings offense thrived during Tingelhoff’s career, ranking in the top 10 of the NFL in rushing offense 10 times and in the top 10 in total offense 8 times. Tingelhoff is 1 of 6 Vikings that have had their jersey number retired, and he was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2001.
DE Jim Marshall
There are few Minnesota sports identities more revered than the Purple People Eaters. Marshall, a Vikings DE for 19 years (1961-79), was an integral part of the group and would be a fitting addition to the group of immortal NFL players in Canton, Ohio. He and fellow linemen Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, Alan Page and Doug Sutherland formed the vaunted group and led the team to a period of dominance that included 10 division titles and 4 appearances in the Super Bowl.
Originally a 4th-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 1960, Marshall held the NFL record for consecutive games played with 282 (270 with the Vikings) until Brett Favre broke the mark. He ranks 2nd in Vikings lore with 127.0 sacks and led or tied for the team lead in sacks in each of the Vikings first 6 seasons. Marshall also ranks 9th in franchise history with 988 career tackles, behind only fellow Purple People Eater Page among DL.
Aside from accumulating sacks and tackles during his career, Marshall also recovered 29 fumbles, a team and NFL record. Marshall started at DE in 4 Super Bowls and was a 2-time Pro Bowler.
Marshall was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor on November 28, 1999.