When the Vikings were founded in 1960, general manager Bert Rose picked the team’s colors of purple and gold as a nod to his alma mater, the University of Washington. He also suggested the nickname Vikings because of the region’s Nordic heritage. Rose had been the PR man for the Los Angeles Rams before moving to Minnesota, so he could sell ice cubes to the Eskimos.
With that important business now behind us, here are 25 other things to know about the Vikings.
1. There was a heavy local feel to Sunday’s Minneapolis Miracle, however indirect. Former Cinnaminson High star Darrell Hazell is the Vikings’ wide receivers coach, and Kevin Stefanski (St. Joseph’s Prep, Penn) is the quarterbacks coach.
2. Stefanski spent the summer of 2005 interning with the Eagles and formed a relationship with then-offensive coordinator Brad Childress. When Childress got the head-coaching position in Minnesota in 2006, he brought Stefanski with him. Stefanski, the 1999 Catholic League Red MVP, has been there ever since and is the longest-tenured Vikings assistant.
3. Minnesota’s defense was No. 1 in fewest points allowed, total yards allowed, and touchdown passes. The Vikings were second in both fewest passing yards and rushing yards allowed. This is a hearty group.
4. Three of their four Pro Bowlers — LB Anthony Barr, DE Everson Griffen, CB Xavier Rhodes, and WR Adam Thielen — are defensive players.
5. The emergence of Thielen, who went undrafted out of Minnesota-Mankato, has helped the Vikings overcome the ineffectiveness of 2016 first-round wide receiver Laquan Treadwell. Thielen had more catches this year (91) than Julio Jones (88).
|1. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins||112||987||9|
|2. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals||109||1156||6|
|3. Michael Thomas, Saints||104||1245||5|
|4. Keenan Allen, Chargers||102||1393||6|
|5. Antonio Brown, Steelers||101||1533||9|
|6. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans||96||1378||13|
|7. Golden Tate, Lions||92||1003||5|
|8. Adam Thielen, Vikings||91||1276||4|
|9. Julio Jones, Falcons||88||1444||3|
|10. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers (RB)||85||655||2|
|20. Zach Ertz, Eagles (TE)||74||824||8|
6. Rhodes often follows the opponent’s top wide receiver in formation. Conversely, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz kept his corners (Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills) on the same sides of the field despite where Julio Jones lined up last week.
7. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, a Vikings first-round pick in 2013 out of Florida by way of George Washington High, developed nerve damage after a 2016 operation on his left knee and has missed the entire season. It is hoped this is not a career-ending injury for Floyd, who will turn 27 in May.
8. Tom Johnson, 33, has taken advantage of the opening to carve out a spot in the defensive-line rotation. Johnson, 33, went undrafted out of Southern Miss and had stops in NFL Europe, the Arena League (including a stint with the Soul in 2008), and the CFL. He was on the Saints team that beat the Eagles in the 2013 playoffs. “They’ve been saying I was old since I was 29,” Johnson told the Star-Tribune earlier this season.
9. The Vikings had the top third-down defense in the league during the season, turning opponents away 74.8 percent of the time. The Eagles were third at 67.8 percent.
10. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has had eight surgeries on his right eye from November 2016 to May 2017 because of a detached retina. He won a Super Bowl ring while coaching Cowboys defensive backs from 1994 to 1999.
11. Owner Zygi Wilf’s parents survived the Holocaust and emigrated to the United States in the 1950s. His father, Joseph, built the family’s fortune on real estate. Wilf’s first name is pronounced Ziggy.
12. Bud Grant, now a consultant for the Vikings, was drafted by the Eagles in 1950 and played for the Birds in 1951 and 1952. In between, he won NBA titles with the Minneapolis Lakers in 1950 and 1951. He coached Minnesota to four Super Bowl appearances (all losses) and is in both the U.S. Pro Football and the CFL Halls of Fame for his accomplishments as a coach.
13. Case Keenum set the record for career passing yards while at Houston (19,217). Undrafted, he started his pro career on the Texans practice squad in 2012.
14. Keenum has been the Vikings starter since Week 6, when Sam Bradford finally was shut down with an injured knee. None of Minnesota’s quarterbacks, including third-stringer Teddy Bridgewater, is under contract for 2018.
15. Keenum was 9-15 as a starter before this season. He’s 12-3 this year, counting Sunday’s win against the Saints. He has never faced the Eagles.
Eagles traded N. Foles to Rams for S. Bradford. Foles lost his job in St. Louis, C. Keenum takes over. Eagles draft C. Wentz and trade Bradford to Minn. Vikings sign Keenum, who replaces injured Bradford. Foles returns to Philly, replaces injured Wentz. Now, Foles vs. Keenum.
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) January 15, 2018
16. The Vikings played six outdoor road games this season. They beat the four teams with losing records: Chicago (5-11 this season), Cleveland (0-16), Washington (7-9), and Green Bay (7-9); and lost to the two teams with winning records: Pittsburgh (13-3) and Carolina (11-5). The Cleveland game was in London.
17. Norm Van Brocklin, the quarterback of the Eagles’ 1960 team, was the Vikings’ first head coach (1961-66). He was also the Falcons’ second head coach.
18. Kicker Kai Forbath hasn’t tried a field goal or extra point at Lincoln Financial Field since 2014. He missed an NFL-high five extra points this season (three on the road), but none since Week 12.
19. Linebacker Eric Kendricks is the all-time leading tackler at UCLA and is the younger brother of Eagles LB Mychal. Eric Kendricks was drafted 45th overall in 2015. Mychal was selected 46th overall in 2012. They have six other siblings.
20. Cornerback Terence Newman, 39, has been in the league since 2003 and is making his first appearance in a conference championship game. Of his 42 career interceptions, two have been against the Eagles (Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb).
21. Safety Harrison Smith will probably get the Pro Bowl nod that went to Malcolm Jenkins should Jenkins not be available because of Super Bowl obligations. Smith, in his sixth season out of Notre Dame, has a pilot’s license.
22. The only defensive ends who have played more games for the Vikings than Brian Robison (173) are Jim Marshall (270) and Carl Eller (209). Eller is in the Hall of Fame, and Marshall probably should be.
23. Defensive tackle Linval Joseph spent his first four seasons with the Giants and knows the Linc very well. He won a Super Bowl with Big Blue after the 2011 season.
24. Defensive end Danielle Hunter, 24, was the youngest player ever to lead the Vikings in sacks when he had 12.5 two years ago. Hunter, whose first name is pronounced Duh-neal, had seven this season.
25. Kyle Rudolph is Minnesota’s nominee for the Walter Payton Award for the league’s man of the year. The cause of children’s hospitals has been very important to Rudolph’s family for decades. His brother Casey overcame childhood cancer. It’s the first Payton nomination for Rudolph, who has year-old twin girls. “Your perspective changes a lot once you have your own kids,” he told the Star Tribune.
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