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3 best running backs in Minnesota Vikings history

The Minnesota Vikings are one of the winningest franchises in the NFL.

Minnesota ranks sixth all-time in win percentage and seventh overall in combined regular season and postseason wins. The Vikings have won a total of 20 division titles, and have made 30 playoff appearances. However, their luck seems to run out in trying to win a Super Bowl.

Their accomplished running backs still make it up to contribute to the winning tradition of Vikings lore.

Here are three of the best ball-carriers in Vikings history.

3. Robert Smith, 1993-2000

The second and third spot in this list could’ve gone either way. Smith and Foreman both had respectable careers that deserve to be placed higher. Ultimately, I went with Smith at third.

Robert Smith was drafted 21st overall in the first round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He didn’t become the starter until 1995 and eventually hit his stride in 1997, rushing for 1,266 yards. He had a better season in 2000, Smith rushed for 1,521 yards, had 348 yards receiving and scored 10 times.

Just as everyone thought he was about to reach the peak of his career, he proceeded to hang his cleats. He concluded his Vikings career with 6,818 rushing yards, good for 2nd best all-time, and a total of 38 touchdowns.

Vikings fans still think about the what-ifs should Smith played out for the rest of his career. He could have given Adrian Peterson a run for his money for the top spot if he did so.

2. Chuck Foreman, 1973-1979

Like Smith, Chuck Foreman had a similarly short time in Minnesota. He was selected as the 12th pick in the 1973 NFL Draft. Foreman dominated right off the bat as he was named the 1973 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and went to five Pro Bowls in his first five seasons.

Foreman was a premiere back for the team in the ’70s and was a key player in his three Super Bowl appearances with the Vikings. He held the Vikings franchise record for rushing yards from scrimmage upon his retirement. He also holds the franchise record for most total touchdowns in a season with 22. The Spin Doctor was named to two First-team All-Pro Teams and two Second-Team All-Pro Teams.

Foreman abruptly suffered a knee injury during the 1978 season, which forced him to officially retire from professional football in 1980.

1. Adrian Peterson, 2007-2016

The runaway winner of this list belongs to Adrian Peterson, who may arguably be one of the best running backs of all-time. The Vikings selected Peterson with the 7th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Peterson turned out to be one of the best draft picks in Vikings history. He went on to carry the team to relevance all throughout his 9-year stay with the team.

During his 2007 rookie season, Peterson set the NFL record for most rushing yards in a single game with 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers. He also set the record for most rushing yards in an eight-game period (1,322). Peterson also holds the most 60+ yard touchdown runs in a career (13).

The former Oklahoma Sooner still reigns supreme as the Vikings’ all-time rushing leader with 11,747 yards, 2,418 attempts, and 97 touchdowns. His trophy collection didn’t disappoint as well as he bagged the league’s most prestigious honors. He was named both the NFL Most Valuable Player and NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2012 and went to seven Pro Bowls. He was also a four-time First-Team All-Pro Team member and was included in the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.

There seems to be no stopping for Peterson as he is set to enter his 14th season in 2020, this time with the Washington Redskins.