History Timeline: 1990s

The era of the Vikings in the 1990s.

 

The Vikings Timeline

Major news in Vikings History and other notable events.

The 90's

QB Tommy KrammerThe 1990s were a time of movement within the organization. It saw a new head coach, a new team president and a new ownership group.

The coaching staff moved from the Bud Grant era that characterized the late 1960s, the 1970s and early 1980s to a transition period where the team was coached by Jerry Burns before giving way to the Dennis Green regime. After Burns’ teams went 6-10 in 1990 and 8-8 in 1991, Green was named head coach in 1992 and immediately declared that there was a new sheriff in town.

Green’s philosophy of a wide-open offense took root early, as did success. He went 11-5 in his first year as a head coach in the NFL and didn’t have a losing season the rest of the decade. He released veterans early in his tenure and slowly gained more control of the franchise. While the glory years of strong defense started to decay over the 1990s, the offense exploded by the end of the decade, setting an NFL record in 1998 for most points scored. While his first team in 1992 gave up only 249 points, those numbers quickly inflated. In 1993, the defense gave up 290 points and only once after that (1998) gave up fewer than 300 points a season.

But with a defense in decline and an offense on the rise, Green’s teams made the playoffs often. He only missed the playoffs in 1995 with the team under his direction in 1990s, but his first playoff win would have to wait until 1997. He followed that with a trip to the NFC Championship Game following the 1998 season, but missed the Super Bowl after a controversial decision to have QB Randall Cunningham take a knee toward the end of regulation in that championship game and play for overtime. Atlanta won on a field goal in overtime, and Green’s decision was met with contempt among Vikings fans.

The offense made its mark with a variety of different quarterback — Rich Gannon, Jim McMahon, Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham and Jeff George — but the mainstay to the 1990s offensive production was WR Cris Carter. He retired in 2002 as the Vikings’ all-time leading receiver and ranked second in NFL history with 1,093 receptions for 13,833 yards and 129 TDs. He was named to the NFL’s all-decade team for the 1990s, along with tackle Gary Zimmerman and guard Randall McDaniel. Carter was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor in 2003.

Another big receiving threat was added alongside Carter when the Vikings drafted Randy Moss in 1998. As a rookie, Moss caught 69 passes for 1,313 yards and 17 TDs. Besides breaking numerous rookie receiving records, he was named Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press and Rookie of the Year by Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Football News and Pro Football Weekly. He was also named All-Pro by the Associated Press.

It wasn’t all offense in the 1990s. A few defensive players made names for themselves as well. Defensive end Chris Doleman, who played for the Vikings from 1985-1993 and again in 1999, was one of those defenders. Doleman led the team in sacks six seasons and set the franchise mark with 21 sacks in 1989.

The other was defensive lineman of note from the decade was John Randle, a defensive tackle who terrorized with his interior quickness with the Vikings from 1990 to 2000. Randle hold the team record for most seasons (nine) leading the Vikings in sacks, and most consecutive seasons (eight) leading them in sacks. He finished his Vikings career third to Carl Eller and Jim Marshall with 114 sacks.

Both Randle and Doleman were with the team before Green took over as head coach and both made the NFL all-decade team of the 1990s on defense.

Off the field, in 1991 Roger Headrick took over for Mike Lynn as the president and CEO. Eleven months later, Jerry Burns retired as coach. Grant was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994. Former general manager Jim Finks was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995. Former owner Max Winter died in 1996. In 1998, former safety and eight-time Pro Bowler Paul Krause joined Finks in the Hall of Fame.

But the biggest off-the-field shakeup came with the selling of the team. On July 3, 1998, the 10 owners of the team voted unanimously to sell to Texan Red McCombs after the financing of a deal fell through with author Tom Clancy. McCombs named Gary Woods his president and gave Green a contract extension in 1998, a prelude to "The Sheriff’s" most successful NFL campaign.

The 1990s saw much movement within the franchise, but it started with a losing record in 1990 and never dipped below .500 the rest of the decade.

Best Regular-Season Record: 1998, 15-1
Worst Regular-Season Record: 1990, 6-10
Best Athlete: WR Cris Carter (a steal of a pickup in off waivers in 1990 and almost a shoo-in for the Pro Football Hall of Fame).
Fastest Player: WR Randy Moss (despite only playing the last two years of the decade, his deep speed make him another Hall of Fame candidate receiver in Purple).
Slowest Player: G David Dixon (his longevity with the team was needed to complete the 40-yard dash).
Most Intimidating Player: DT John Randle (despite being a small defensive tackle, he loved to trash talk).
Famous Firsts: Top scoring team in NFL in 1998 with 556 points, most games won in a season (15 in 1998), most touchdowns in a season (64 in 1998), most pass completions in a game (71 for both teams vs. New England in 1994), most yards gained passing in a season (4,492 in 1998), most passing TDs in a season (41 in 1998), most TDs by interceptions in a season (six in 1992), and fewest fumbles in a season (10 in 1998).
Fashion Trends: DT John Randle's "Batman wings" face painting job and WR Randy Moss' fringed undershirts during practices.
Least Appreciated Player: QB Rich Gannon, who started for the Vikings from 1990-92 and was then released after one season under Dennis Green. Gannon eventually matured as a quarterback and brought the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl.
Best Trade/Pickup:: Landing WR Cris Carter off waivers for $100 (a holdover from the 1980s and still the best C-note the Vikings ever spent).
Best Trade/Pickup: Take a wild guess.....:-)

Vikings 90's Timeline:

Jan. 1, 1991
Roger Headrick became president and chief executive officer of the Vikings. He replaced Mike Lynn as the person in charge of day-to-day operations.
Dec. 3, 1991
Jerry Burns retired after six seasons as head coach. He compiled a 52-43 record during his time at the helm, including three playoff appearances, a division title and an appearance in the NFC Championship.
Dec. 16, 1991
The Vikings reorganized their ownership structure on Dec. 16, 1991. Irwin Jacobs and Carl Pohlad sold their shares to an ownership group of president and CEO Roger Headrick, John Skoglund, Jaye Dyer, Philip Maas, Mike Lynn, Wheelock Whitney, James Binger, Bud Grossman, Elizabeth MacMillan and Carol Sperry.
Jan. 10, 1992
Dennis Green became the fifth head coach in Vikings history following three years of turning around the Stanford football program.
Dec. 20, 1992
In his first season with the team, Green led the Vikings to a Central Division title and the 16th playoff season since 1968. It was the most wins (11) by a first-year head coach in team history before losing in the first round of the playoffs.
Jan. 9, 1994
The team won their final three games of the 1993 season to earn a wild-card playoff appearance, their 17th time in the playoffs, before losing to the Giants 17-10 in Giants Stadium on Jan. 9, 1994.
April 19, 1994
The Vikings traded a 1994 fourth-round draft pick and a 1995 third-rounder to the Houston Oilers for quarterback Warren Moon, who will likely be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the coming years. In the next two years, Moon set team records for passing yards, completions and touchdown passes in a season.
Dec. 26, 1994
The Vikings won their second division title in three years under Green when they beat the San Francisco 49ers on the final Monday night game of the season. It was the 14th division title and 18th playoff appearance.
July 25, 1994
Former Vikings general manager Jim Finks was inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 25, 1995. During his decade with the Vikings, the team won five division titles and appeared in two Super Bowls.
July 26, 1996
Max Winter, who served as the owner and president of the Vikings from 1965-87, died. He was a leading force in bringing an NFL team to Minnesota, building the Metrodome and attracting Super Bowl XXVI to the Twin Cities.
Dec. 15, 1996
The Vikings earned their 19th postseason appearance, and their fourth in five seasons under Green, in 1996. However, the team lost 40-15 to defending Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys in the first round at Texas Stadium on Dec. 28, 1996.
Dec. 27, 1997
Green manufactured his first playoff win after the 1997 season when the Vikings beat the New York Giants 23-22 at the Meadowlands on Dec. 27, 1997. The win came after the Vikings were 16 points down, the biggest comeback win in team playoff history and the fifth-biggest in NFL history. San Francisco beat the Vikings 38-22 in the divisional round the next week.
July 3, 1998
The 10 owners voted unanimously to accept the bid of Texas businessman B.J. "Red" McCombs to purchase the Vikings. The deal came after a tumultuous few months when author Tom Clancy held a press conference away from Winter Park to announce himself as the owner of the Vikings, but his deal was rejected after his financing fell apart. McCombs' bid was unanimously approved on July 28 by NFL owners, finalizing the change of ownership from 10 owners to the McCombs family.
Aug. 1, 1998
Former Vikings free safety Paul Krause was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Krause played with the team from 1968-79 and with the Redskins from 1964-67. The eight-time Pro Bowler holds the NFL record with 81 career interceptions.
Aug. 20, 1998
Longtime McCombs business associate Gary Woods became the Vikings president and chief executive officer on Aug. 20, 1998, replacing Headrick as the person responsible for day-to-day operations.
Sept. 5, 1998
The day before the 1998 regular-season opener, head coach Dennis Green was granted a three-year contract extension, giving him the second-longest tenure among the four Vikings head coaches in team history. He was also named vice president of football operations before the 1999 season.
Dec. 26, 1998
With a 15-1 regular-season record, the Vikings posted their best regular season in team history and won their 15th division title. The offense established the NFL scoring record with 556 points.
Jan. 17, 1999
The Vikings failed to get to their fifth Super Bowl when they hosted and lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 30-27 in overtime. It was the first NFC Championship game played in the Metrodome.
Sept. 5, 1998
The day before the 1998 regular-season opener, head coach Dennis Green was granted a three-year contract extension, giving him the second-longest tenure among the four Vikings head coaches in team history. He was also named vice president of football operations before the 1999 season.
 
Dec. 26, 1998
The day before the 1998 regular-season opener, head coach Dennis Green was granted a three-year contract extension, giving him the second-longest tenure among the four Vikings head coaches in team history. He was also named vice president of football operations before the 1999 season.
Jan. 17, 1999
The Vikings failed to get to their fifth Super Bowl when they hosted and lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 30-27 in overtime. It was the first NFC Championship game played in the Metrodome.
Jan. 16, 2000
Minnesota finished 10-6 in the 1999 season, thanks to winning eight of its final 10 games and hosted a first-round playoff game against Dallas. Robert Smith set a team postseason record with 140 yards rushing in a 27-10 win. The Vikings lost to eventual Super Bowl champion St. Louis 49-37 in the divisional round at the TWA Dome.
Jan. 29, 2000
Vikings receiver Cris Carter was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year for his civic involvement and charity work. He received the award on Jan. 29, 2000 during Super Bowl week.
 
 


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