Who is the greatest quarterback in Vikings’ 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.
Warren Moon finished fifth among all-time Vikings QBs. The fourth-place finisher is …
TOMMY KRAMER (SIX POINTS)
Before Minnesota: A native of San Antonio, Kramer played college football at Rice and established numerous single-season and career records at the school. He was named team MVP in 1976 and went into the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984. Kramer was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
How Kramer landed in Minnesota: The Vikings selected him with the 27th pick in the first round in 1977, making Kramer the first quarterback drafted by the franchise in the opening round. There have been three more since, including Daunte Culpepper (taken 11th in 1999), Christian Ponder (12th in 2011) and Teddy Bridgewater (32nd in 2014).
As a Viking: Although Tarkenton was still active when Kramer arrived in Minnesota, Kramer got an opportunity to play during his rookie season after Tarkenton suffered a broken ankle on Nov. 13, 1977 against Cincinnati. The Vikings had won six of their first nine and Bob Lee initially stepped in for Tarkenton. Minnesota’s offense struggled in its first two games with Lee at quarterback, scoring only 20 points, and the Vikings trailed San Francisco 24-7 after three quarters of Lee’s third start on Dec. 4 at Met Stadium. Coach Bud Grant made the switch to Kramer and the rookie passed for three touchdowns as Minnesota rallied for a 28-27 victory. Kramer would become known as “Two-Minute Tommy” because of his ability to engineer comebacks. The most famous might have come in the Vikings’ second-to-last regular-season game of 1980 — Kramer had taken over as the starter when Tarkenton retired — when Kramer’s Hail Mary pass ended up in Ahmad Rashad’s hands as time expired to give the Vikings a 28-23 victory over Cleveland and the NFC Central title. Kramer spent 13 seasons with the Vikings (1977-89) and made the Pro Bowl in 1986. He threw six touchdowns in a 42-7 win over the Packers that season. Kramer, who started all 16 games only once as injuries limited him in a time when quarterbacks took far more abuse than they do today, went 2-2 in four playoff starts for Minnesota.
It’s a fact: Kramer was credited with 15 fourth-quarter comebacks and 19 game-winning drives in his career, according to Pro Football Reference.
Stats with Vikings: Kramer played in 128 games and started 110 of them. He went 54-56, completed 2,011 of 3,648 passes for 24,775 yards with 159 touchdowns and 157 interceptions. He had a 55.1 completion percentage and 72.9 passer rating.
Kramer’s next stop: Kramer finished his career by spending the 1990 season with the Saints. He appeared in only one game, entering a blowout loss to the Vikings.
Leave your comments below. On Wednesday, we will unveil our selection for the third-best quarterback in Vikings’ history.