The Minnesota Vikings have two players primarily associated with the team and another that played a season for them among the 18 Pro Football Hall of Fame players traveling through Israel this week as part of an ambassador trip there.
The former players will experience the culture and history of Israel and participate in “special football events showcasing the growth of the game in the country,” according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The week-long trip, dubbed “Touchdown in Israel II,” is the second such trip put together by New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft.
The former Vikings players on the trip are Cris Carter, Dave Casper and Ron Yary.
Carter started his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Vikings picked him up on waivers for $100 when Eagles coach Buddy Ryan couldn’t deal with Carter’s issues. In Minnesota, Carter overcame his addictions and recorded eight straight 1,000-yard seasons, caught 70 or more passes in 10 seasons and amassed 130 career touchdowns in his 16-year career. His 1,101 receptions and 130 touchdowns were both second-most in the NFL at the time of his retirement in 2003. He was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection.
Casper played only the 1983 season with the Vikings, but earned his way to the Hall of Fame during his eight seasons with the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders and four more with the Houston Oilers before finishing his career with the Vikings. The Bemidji, Minn., native was named to five Pro Bowls.
Yary was the first player selected in the 1968 draft and went on to a Hall of Fame career during his 14 seasons with the Vikings (1968-81) before finishing his career with the Los Angeles Rams in 1982. He became a starter at right tackle in his second season and made six straight Pro Bowls (1971-76) and seven overall. He started in Super Bowls IV, VIII, IX, XI and five NFL/NFC championship games and missed only two games in his career.
This is the second straight year Kraft has led Hall of Fame players on a week-long trip to Israel. Last year, he had 19 Hall of Famers on the “Touchdown to Israel: Mission of Excellence” journey.
The trip provides the football greats “an opportunity to witness the growth of the game in Israel, experience a journey through the historic country, and provide inspiration through the focus on values learned from the game,” according to the Hall of Fame.
The hope is that the players inspire future generations of football fans in Israel by sharing stories from their legendary careers and “how they applied values learned from the game – commitment, integrity, courage, respect and excellence – to their lives after football.”
The other Hall of Fame players attending are Lem Barney, Jerome Bettis, Jim Brown, Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, Joe Greene, Willie Lanier, Joe Montana, Andre Reed, Mike Singletary (who coached linebackers with the Vikings during the Leslie Frazier era), Bruce Smith, John Stallworth, Roger Staubach, Andre Tippett and Aeneas Williams.