The Minnesota Vikings have been a powerhouse in the NFC. They’ve won 20 division titles and managed to make it to the playoffs 30 times since entering the NFL in 1960. Though they’ve had quite a number of celebrated Hall of Famers wear their colors and take the field, there have also been a handful of players who you might not recall was actually part of their line-up. Here are five of the best players that played in the Twin Cities that you might have forgot about.
5. Brock Lesnar (DT, 2004)
Yes, you read that right. WWE superstar and UFC champion Brock Lesnar was actually once part of the Minnesota Vikings defensive line. Well, almost. After a successful stint in the WWE, Lesnar decided to reunite with his high school sport in 2003 and decided to try his luck at professional football. He was invited to the 2004 NFL Combine and had an impressive 4.7 second 40-yard dash time to add to his 35-inch vertical and a whopping 30 reps of 225 lbs on the bench press.
A freak accident shortly after the combine sidelined the wrestler for a few weeks before finally reaching a deal with the Vikings. Unfortunately, injuries from his accident hampered Lesnar’s overall performance and was cut right before the season began. He did receive an invite to play for the Vikings in NFL Europa but chose to stay in the US.
Who knows what Lesnar could’ve brought to the table for the Vikings.
4. Kendall Wright (WR, 2018)
Wide receiver Kendall Wright was a first-round pick for the Tennessee Titans in the 2012 Draft. Though Wright wasn’t the fastest and most skillful receiver in the Titans’ offense, he showed efficiency and great hands and eventually earned himself a spot in the roster. After a solid solo season for the Chicago Bears, Wright was signed by the Vikings in the 2018 offseason in the hopes of replacing the departing Jarius Wright.
It was a rather disappointing signing for the Vikings as Wright didn’t even make the final roster for Minnesota. He was released in September of 2018 and played a total of 0 games for the Purple and Gold.
3. Ben Tate (RB, 2014)
In the middle of the 2014 season, the Vikings were desperate to fill the void in their offensive line and forced them to pick-up running back Ben Tate off the waivers. After a successful stint with the Houston Texans, Tate signed with the Cleveland Browns and slowly showed potential as an elite running back in the league. However, line-up frustration was building up and Tate saw his career with the Browns cut short. Tate was then released by the Browns which the Vikings took full advantage of the running back’s availability.
This dice roll from the Minnesota front office was a bust as things didn’t work out as planned for Tate. He played for only three games and only tallied 38 yards on 13 carries. He was then released in December that same year.
2. Jake Long (OT, 2016)
2008 first overall pick Justin Long also had a short stint in Minnesota. The highly-touted offensive tackle was the best prospect in that year’s rookie class and proved his worth for the Miami Dolphins. After four successful seasons in Miami, injuries pushed the OT to the injury list of different teams before eventually signing with the Vikings in 2016.
Sadly, the 2010 first team All-Pro’s career with the Vikings didn’t quite pan out as injuries limited the Michigan native to just four games that season. Long wasn’t able to come back from that final injury and decided to call it quits and retire from the league in 2017.
1. Josh Freeman (QB, 2014)
Another first-rounder who found his way in the Vikings roster was quarterback Josh Freeman. Again, injuries in their line-up forced Minnesota to gamble on a free agent to help them aid their offensive woes. Freeman had an okay outing in his first five seasons int he league as part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had a breakout season in 2012 and threw 4,065 yards with 27 touchdowns. Unfortunately, the season after was one of the worst for the wide-framed signal-caller and was eventually released by Tampa Bay.
Freeman was immediately assigned as the Vikings starting QB in the middle of the 2014 season but unfortunately, the quarterback had an awful starting debut for Minnesota. He was only able to complete 20 of his 53 passes for 190 yards and one interception. Concussion-like symptoms forced him out of their next game which capped off a forgetful stay with the Vikings.