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Fran Tarkenton: Culture of Vikings Sets Franchise Apart

Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton reconnected with coaches and teammates of the past, current Vikings and thousands of fans during Homecoming. He wrote about the visit, what he sees in the organization and how great it was to greet fans for the Pioneer Press, saying "the culture that has been a part of the Minnesota Vikings franchise since 1961 sets it apart from any other team."

One of the events Tarkenton attended was a dinner during which multiple alumni spoke and agreed the Vikings are "different" from other teams.

*Everyone there had similar feelings about their time with other teams. We're Vikings. The culture here is different, it's special, and it's about respect and togetherness. My time in New York only made me appreciate and value that culture more. *

*We've been very lucky as Vikings. We still have Bud Grant, at 88 years old. We still have Jerry Burns, also 88. So many of our great players are still with us, and many came to be there this weekend, including Alan Page, Carl Eller and Ed Marinaro (who might just be more famous for "Hill Street Blues" than football) from my era, and other greats such as Chris Doleman, John Randle and Randall McDaniel.

*

Seeing all those fantastic players demonstrated what it is that has made the Vikings franchise so successful. When we went down on the field for Mick's Hall of Fame *ring presentation, all of the other gold jackets beside me were either coaches or linemen. *

Tarkenton added, that based on the time he spent with Owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, Head Coach Mike Zimmer, Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner and running back Adrian Peterson, "I can confidently say this: The Vikings franchise is in great hands."

The Wilf family are rock-solid owners who understand and respect the history and culture of this great franchise. They are committed to making the franchise better, and they hire smart football people and, most important, let those people run the team.

Marquee matchup?

The Vikings (2-1) will visit the Broncos (3-0) in a game scheduled to start at 3:25 p.m. (CT), but many believe it could be quite a show, including Sports Illustrated's Don Banks:

There's *no better matchupin the NFL's Week 4 than [Peyton] Manning's knack for surviving and thriving against a physical Vikings defense that is starting to impose its will on opponents. Minnesota the past two weeks has abused the opposing quarterback, knocking both Detroit's Matthew Stafford and San Diego's Philip Rivers around all day long in double-digit wins at home in TCF Bank Stadium.*

*You knew Minnesota was going to build one of the NFL's better defenses the minute it hired Zimmer as head coach in early 2014, and the longtime defensive coordinator has not disappointed on that front. *

"I think we're starting to get there," said [Chad] Greenway, the Vikings' 2006 first-round pick and now longest-tenured member of the defense. "I think we have to establish an identity of who we are, and you can't really get an identity without doing it multiple weeks in a row. Now we've put together two weeks in a row against some pretty solid opponents, and obviously Denver is going to be a huge challenge for us. But playing good two weeks in a row is only a step in the right direction.

"The reality is we do have a lot of good athletes and a lot of good players on this defense, with good young guys. But that doesn't make you a good defense. It just means you have the talent if you can put it together over the course of a 16-game season. The best thing about Coach Zimmer is he's going to keep us humble, he's going to keep us hungry, and he's going to keep us working, not letting anybody get out over their skis."

HC to OC and DC

Mark Craig of the Star Tribune**took a look at Turner and Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who are both thrice previously NFL head coaches who are "thriving as coordinators."

*In the over-analyzed NFL, the thin line between indisputable guru and undeniable failure is too often drawn by perceptions based more on a coach's situation than his ability. It can change from week to week, season to season, city to city, job title to job title. *

*As head coaches, Turner and Phillips have been fired from Washington to Oakland to San Diego to Denver to Buffalo and Dallas. At 63 and 68, respectively, neither is likely to be given a fourth sniff at a top job. *

*As coordinators, well, that's another perception entirely. They're beloved by fans, given unusual benefits of doubt by reporters and work for owners who hope they don't retire anytime soon. *

Craig added "Turner's power-running Vikings offense vs. Phillips' quarterback-breaking Broncos defense figures to be one of the NFL's more intriguing early season interconference matchups."

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