History Timeline: 1970s

Vikings Timeline-1970s


The Vikings Timeline

Major news in Vikings History and other notable events.

The 70's

Tarkenton calls the shot in the huddle.As the 70's began, starting quarterback Joe Kapp wanted more money from the Vikings. The front office wouldn't budge and ended up trading Kapp to the New England Patriots. They replaced him with a young, fiery Gary Cuozzo. In their effort to rebound from the loss of Super Bowl IV in 1969, the Vikings failed by losing a tight playoff game to the 49ers in 1970, and Grant went back to the drawing board. He evaluated what he was missing and concluded that he needed more offensive punch by putting more points on the board. He concluded that he needed a top flight quarterback.

Searching over the league, he discovered the New York Giants were looking to trade Tarkenton to rebuild their offense. Grant took advantage of the situation and reacquired Tarkenton from the Giants. It was easy enough. Tarkenton wanted to be back with the Vikings and pleaded with the Giants, "If you send me anywhere, send me back to Minnesota." Grant drafted Chuck Foreman in the first round in 1973 and traded with the St. Louis Cardinals for John Gilliam.

With Tarkenton spraying bullets again, Foreman evading defenses, Gilliam snaring passes, Tingelhoff anchoring the offensive line, and the Purple People Eaters on defense, the Vikings exploded in 1973.

Chuck Foreman in true form.In fact they even invented a new statistic. Then future Hall of Famer Alan Page was a terror on the Viking defensive front four. It was Page who was the inspiration for the pass-rushing statistic known as the "hurry". Bud Grant came up with the term to better measure Page's effect on opposing quarterbacks. Sacks didn't tell the whole story.

Grant defined a hurry as making the quarterback throw the ball before he wanted to. Every team uses it now.

In 1971 Page had 42 hurries, in addition to 10 sacks. It may have been the finest season ever by a defensive lineman and earned him NFC Player-of-the-Year honors from the UPI. He had 109 tackles, 35 assists and two safeties, astonishing figures for a tackle.

The Vikings faced the returning Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VIII, and once again, the Vikings lost. However, they returned in 1974 for Super Bowl IX against the Steelers and the infamous 'Steel Curtain' but posted another losing effort. By 1975, most of the veterans were supposed to be too old for football, claimed fans and sportswriters. Nonetheless, they won the first 10 games of that season and clinched the division with four games still to go.

Fred Cox does what he does best.Tarkenton got better at passing each year, Krause was still the best at stealing passes, Tingelhoff and Marshall had proved their durability, and Fred Cox was still the most consistent kicker in the league. And Chuck Foreman was the best running back in the league. Well, almost.

A snowball in Buffalo on the last weekend of the 1975 regular season kept Foreman from winning the 1975 NFC rushing title. It also prevented him from (1) becoming the only player in NFL history to lead his conference in rushing and receptions and (2) sharing the league record for touchdowns in a season.

Well, sort of. This is what happened.

The Vikings were playing the Bills at Rich Stadium on Saturday, December 21. Foreman was having a fantastic game despite the conditions. He would finish with 85 yards rushing, 10 receptions and four TDs in less than three quarters.

After Foreman's third score (which gave him 21 for the year, one shy of the NFL mark), Fran Tarkenton joked in the huddle, "Anybody who gets to the one-yard line, go out of bounds. We want some touchdowns for Chuck."

Tarkenton hans off to Foreman.The crowd was getting ornery. Not only were the Bill being clobbered, 28-6, but it was looking like Foreman and not hometown hero O.J. Simpson might walk away with the TD record. Simpson had gotten his 22nd of the season in the first half, equaling Gale Sayer's 1965 total, but Foreman and the Vikes were really on a roll.

Late in the quarter Foreman was chasing a pass thrown out of the end zone when he was hit in the eye by a snowball. He went out of the game for a couple of plays, then returned with blurred vision and caught a six-yard touchdown pass to tie Sayers and Simpson. That was it, though. He spent the last quarter on the bench.

Less than a minute later, Simpson scored on a 54-yard reception to surpass Sayers. The next day, St. Louis' Jim Otis, playing only the first half, gained 69 yards in 14 carries to edge Foreman for conference rushing honors, 1,076 to 1,070.

Foreman did top the NFC, indeed the entire league, with 73 receptions. But it could have been much more.

Matt Blar towers over Archie Manning.Real tragedy did strike the next week as the Dallas Cowboys pulled off the famous Hail Mary pass in the last seconds of the 1975 NFC Championship game. The Vikings and fans cried for offensive interference on Drew Pearson, but the officials wouldn't listen. I guess some things will never change.

Before the 1976 season even started, the NFL had a brief fling with free agency. A federal court overturned the Rozelle Rule, making players who had played out their options the previous season to become unrestricted free agents. The Vikings lost John Gilliam as a result. His Vikings pay had been $75,000. With the Atlanta Falcons the 30-year-old receiver got as much as $275,000 over three years.

Standing straight up, DT Mark Mullaney man-handles a Raiders RB.In 1976, an angry Vikings team steamrolled their way to Super Bowl XI but were denied a rematch with the Cowboys in the playoffs. Everyone thought, surely the Vikings will their fourth Super Bowl against the Raiders. All commentary aside, the Vikings lost again to John Madden, Ken Stabler, and Fred Biletnikoff. In a television show after the game, Stabler had commented on the number of passes Tarkenton attempted. Fran replied, "Yeah, but most of them were to your guys."

In 1974, DT Gary Larsen had retired and was replaced by long time Viking Mark Mullaney who filled in well in his role along side the other Purple People Eaters. Mullaney played along side the best in the business and lived up to the role, so the Purple Eaters didn't miss a step. By 1979 however, the 'Purple Gang' was down to one, Jim Marshall. Page was traded to the Bears and Eller to the Seahawks. Jeff Siemon and Matt Blair anchored the linebackers, the secondary was relying on the veterans Krause and Bryant. By the end of the 70's, Foreman had spent his last day in a Viking uniform at the end of the 1979 season and retired from the Patriots the following year. The Vikings fizzled out as an average, but punishing team.

Best Regular-Season Record: 1970, 1973, 1975, all 12-2
Worst Regular-Season Record: 1979, 7-9
Best Athlete: RB Chuck Foreman (one of the best all around athlete's in the NFL, ever)
Fastest Player: WR Sammy White (agility few have seen)
Slowest Player: DE Bob Lurtsema (what can we say, love ya Lurts)
Most Intimidating Player: DT Alan Page (nobody was better before, or since)
Famous Firsts: Raider punter Ray Guy has his first ever punt blocked in Super Bowl X1 by Fred McNeil.
Famous Lasts: Sammy White spikes the ball before he reaches the end zone. "Son," his mother said over the phone after watching TV, "you learned something today." White did. He hugged the ball for the rest of his career.
Fashion Trends: Snowmobile suits worn by fans at January playoff games at the Old Met.
Least Appreciated Player: Ron Yary
Best Hit: Roy Winston on Larry Csonka in Super Bowl VIII. "I can't feel my legs," Csonka yelled from the bottom of the pile. Csonka said after the game he was sure he had become paralyzed. "That was the hardest hit I have ever received in football."
Best Trade: The Vikings reacquire QB Fran Tarkenton. The trade cost the Vikings Norm Snead, Bob Grim one other player and two first round draft picks in 1972 and 1973.

Vikings 70's Timeline:

November 30, 1970
Robert Griffith is born in Landham, MD.
December 1, 1970
Todd Steussie is born in Aguora, CA.
December, 1971
Alan Page was the first defensive payer in the NFL to be named as a NFL Player of the Year. He received it in 1971 by posting creating 42 QB hurries, 10 sacks, 109 tackles, 35 assists, and 3 safeties which are rare numbers, even by today's players.
In yet another stunning trade, the Vikings reacquire QB Fran Tarkenton. This was a nice coincidence. As Grant cast his steely gaze across the league in search of a new signal-caller, he found that the Giants were doing likewise. In 1971, the Giants had finished 4-10 behind Tarkenton. "If you send me anywhere, send me back to Minnesota" Fran told his Giants coach. The Giants agreed and Fran was reunited with the Vikings. The trade cost the Vikings Norm Snead, Bob Grim (acquired as a draftee in first trade), one other player and two 1st round draft picks in 1972 and 1973. As history will attest, the trade was worth the cost. Fran remained a Viking until he retired.
One of the original owners of the Vikings, William Boyer, passes away and is replaced by Jack Steele, his son-in-law.
March 4, 1972
Robert Smith is born in Euclid, OH.
October 21, 1972
Orlando Thomas is born in Crowley, LA.
November 19, 1972
David Palmer is born in Birmingham, AL.
January 13, 1974 (1973 season)
The Vikings attend their second Super Bowl in SB VIII vs. the Miami Dolphins and lose again in a 27-10 effort.
May 8, 1974
Korey Stringer is born in Warren, OH.
July 26, 1974
Moe Williams is born in Columbus, GA.
January 12, 1975 (1974 season)
In their third Super Bowl appearance, the second in two years, the Vikings face the Pittsburgh Steelers and post another losing performance by a score of 16-6.
December 12, 1975: season end
The NFL's famous Hail Mary pass occurs in a Divisional round playoff game vs. the Dallas Cowboys and the Vikings. More details available here.
1975, season end
QB Fran Tarkenton is named the NFL's Most Valuable player after posting a 91.7 QB rating, completing 273-of 425 passes for 2,994 yards, 25 TD passes, 13 INTs, and leading the Vikings to a 12-2 season record.
February 3, 1976
Dwayne Rudd is born in Batesville, MS.
March, 1976
After being on the Board of Directors for 16 years, Ole Haugsrud, one of the original owners, passes away and is replaced by his widow, Margaret.
December 26, 1976
The Vikings play their last playoff game in the Old Met and defeat the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 24-13.
January 9, 1977
The Vikings appear in their fourth Super Bowl, the first NFL team to ever do so. However, they post another losing effort vs. the Raiders by a score of 32-14.
December, 1978
After serving as the Vikings field general for 13 years (1961-1966 and from 1971-1978), Fran Tarkenton retires. At the time of his retirement, Tarkenton owned no less than 7 NFL records (most career pass attempts - 6,467; most career passes completed - 3,686; most career passing yards - 47,003; most career TD passes; most times sacked in career - 483; most career fumbles recovered {own/opponents} - 43; and most career own fumbles recovered - 43).
December, 1979
Jim Marshall retired and Chuck Foreman ended up with the Seahawks the following year.

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