Who is the greatest quarterback in Vikings franchise history? That’s an easy question to answer. Fran Tarkenton was selected in the third round of the NFL draft in 1961 by the expansion team and had two stints in Minnesota. This included three Super Bowl appearances from 1972 to 1978, Tarkenton’s last year in the NFL.
What makes the below exercise so interesting is picking the four quarterbacks below Tarkenton in franchise history and putting them in the proper order. Given the instability the Vikings have had at QB since Tarkenton’s departure this wasn’t an easy process but it certainly was a fun one. We decided to have four voters rank their Top 5 Vikings quarterbacks in order and then tabulate the votes, giving five points for a first-place vote, two points for second place and so on. Patrick Reusse, Phil Mackey, Matthew Coller and I all cast our votes.
The fifth-place finisher is …
WARREN MOON (FOUR POINTS)
Before Minnesota: Moon played college football at Washington, leading the Huskies over Michigan in the 1978 Rose Bowl. He was named MVP of that game but was not selected in the 12-round NFL draft that spring. Moon began his professional career with the Edmonton Eskimos and had immediate success as Edmonton won five consecutive Grey Cup title (1978-82). He won was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 1983 as he passed for a league-record 5,648 yards. The Houston Oilers were able to land Moon when he jumped to the NFL and he spent 10 seasons with the franchise. The Oilers made seven consecutive playoff appearances (1987-93) during Moon’s time in Houston.
How Moon landed in Minnesota: The Vikings were coming off a 9-7 season and a first-round playoff loss to the Giants in 1993 in which Jim McMahon had started 12 games and Sean Salisbury four. Coach Dennis Green was looking for stability at the quarterback position and he got it in a trade on April 14, 1994 that sent a 1994 fourth-round pick (defensive back Mike Davis) and a 1995 third-round pick (running back Rodney Thomas) to Houston for Moon.
As a Viking: The future Hall of Fame QB — Moon was inducted into the Hall in 2006 — was 37 years old when he was traded to the Vikings and turned 38 in November of that year. Moon started 31 of the Vikings’ 32 regular-season games in his first two years in Minnesota. He went 9-6 as the starter during a 1994 season in which the Vikings went 10-6 before losing in the wild card round to the Chicago Bears at the Metrodome. Moon passed for more than 4,200 yards in each of his first two seasons, but Minnesota went 8-8 in his second year and missed the playoffs for the first time under Green. Moon opened the 1996 season as the Vikings’ starter but ended up playing in only eight games in part because of a broken collarbone. Moon missed the final six games because of his injury, enabling Brad Johnson to take over at QB and help the Vikings make the playoffs with a late hot stretch. Moon was released after he reportedly refused to take a $3.8 million pay cut.
It’s a fact: Moon helped wide receiver Cris Carter set the single-season NFL record for receptions in 1994 with 122. It didn’t last long as Detroit’s Herman Moore caught 123 passes the next season and Carter and San Francisco’s Jerry Rice each tied Carter’s record from the previous season by catching 122 passes.
Stats with Vikings: Moon started all 39 games in which he appeared with Minnesota from 1994 to 1996. He went 21-18, completed 882 of 1,454 passes for 10,102 yards with 58 touchdowns and 42 interceptions. He had a 60.7 completion percentage and 82.2 passer rating.
Moon’s next stop: Moon joined the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent after leaving the Vikings and started 14 games in 1997. He spent one more season with the Seahawks and two more in Kansas City (appearing in only three games in that time) before retiring at the age of 44 in January 2001.
Leave your comments below. On Tuesday, we will have our selection for the fourth-best quarterback in Vikings history.