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  1. #1
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    The All-Time 1960s Minnesota Vikings Defense

    Minnesota Vikings

    [size=18px]The All-Time 1960s Minnesota Vikings (Defense)[/size]

    By Eric Krupka on July 7, 2006 12:24 AM

    After Monday's article naming the All-Time 1960's Minnesota Vikings offense, today I will tackle the task of selecting the team's All-Time offense of the decade.

    SS Karl Kassulke: A strong safety out of Drake, he played with the Vikings from 1963-1972. Sadly, a motorcycle accident ended his career in 1973 and left him paralyzed from the neck down. From '63-'69, he intercepted 12 passes and started alongside Hall of Famer Paul Krause (joined Vikings in '68) at safety. Kassulke helped lead a dominating secondary that was part of the epic "Purple People Eaters" defense.

    FS Paul Krause: Although he didn't join the team until the 1968 season, he is arguably the greatest free safety to ever play in the NFL, and therefore, couldn't be left off the list. Upon joining the Vikings, he immediately put up tremendous numbers, becoming a force in the secondary. He intercepted seven passes in '68 and followed that up with five, including one for a touchdown in the Super Bowl loss season of '69. Krause's name will surely show up again when talking about the 1970s Vikings defenses. In any event, the legend deserves some credit, even if he joined the Vikings in the latter part of the decade. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998.

    CB Earsell Mackbee: A Utah State product, he played with the Vikings from 1965-1969, earning his stripes as a lockdown corner. From '66-'69, he picked off 15 passes, returning one for a touchdown. Sadly, one of his most memorable moments came in the 1970 Super Bowl, when he failed to tackle Kansas City Chiefs receiver Otis Taylor on a flat pass, resulting in a long touchdown that propelled the AFL upstarts to a blowout victory over the Vikings. Nonetheless, he was an excellent corner, one of the best in team history.

    CB Ed Sharockman: A sure tackler who was always around the ball, Sharockman started alongside Mackabee at cornerback, completing a tremendous starting quartet in the Vikings' secondary. An original member of the Vikings franchise, he played from 1961-1972, accumulating an impressive 40 interceptions, 27 of which were in the '60s; he also scored four touchdowns and recovered six fumbles. Add in teammate Bobby Bryant, and the Vikings' secondary from the late '60s and early '70s is as good as any in NFL History.

    LB Rip Hawkins: An all-around great linebacker, he played from 1961-1965. Hawkins was one of the first great linebackers in coverage, intercepting five passes in '61, and totaling 12 (three for touchdowns) in his five-year career. Many of the older fans still remember his inspiring play on the field, which helped him earn a Pro Bowl bid in '63.

    LB Wally Hilgenberg: Much like the Vikings' current first-round pick, Chad Greenway, Hilgenberg attended the University of Iowa. Of course, Minnesota fans can only hope their new linebacker turns out as well as Hilgenberg, who joined the team in '68. He wasn't the biggest or fastest linebacker, but he played with sound fundamentals and consistency. While Hilgenberg's best years with the Vikings were in the '70s, he still made his presence felt in the '60s.

    LB Roy Winston: A Louisiana State product, he spent his entire 15-year career with the Vikings. From 1962-1976, Winston manned the linebacker position, playing alongside Hilgenberg for most of it. Although he was a solid contributor on all four of the Vikings' Super Bowl teams, he was never able to get a ring, but don't let that obscure the fact that he was a great linebacker, though. His contribution go largely unnoticed only because he was on a team full of defensive superstars.

    LB: Lonnie Warwick: A 'backer out of Tennessee Tech, he performed admirably in his time with the Purple and Gold. He also was starter on that '69 team that reached the Super Bowl, intercepting four passes that season (12 career). Like the others, Warwick played fundamentally sound football, with ideal tackling technique. He almost always rapped up and played the game hard, like everyone on the stellar defense he was a part of.

    DE Carl Eller: A first-round pick in the 1964 Draft by the Vikings, he played in Minnesota from 1964-1978, and was recently elected to the Hall of Fame (2004). A member of the "Purple People Eaters," he struck fear into opposing quarterbacks each and every week. At 6-6, 246 pounds, Eller had the speed and strength to rush the passer at will. In his rookie season, he recorded his first and only touchdown via fumble recovery. Had sacks been counted, he would surely be among the most prolific sack artists to ever play the game. Eller made the Pro Bowl six times, once in the '60s (1969). He was touted by many as the best defensive lineman in the game during his heyday.

    DE Jim Marshall: It's a shame that he's known by most for returning a fumble the wrong way against the San Francisco 49ers in 1964. One of the greatest defensive ends ever, he is the NFL record-holder for most fumble recoveries (29). He was a member of the Vikings from 1961 to 1979, playing in a then-record 270 consecutive games at defensive end from '60 to '79. Unfortunately that record was recently broken by New York Giants punter Jeff Feagles. Marshall was also the final player from Minnesota's initial expansion team of '61 to retire.

    DT Gary Larsen: He joined the Vikings in 1965, teaming up with Eller and Marshall, and later Page, to form the "Purple People Eaters." He wasn't as fast as the other three, but was dominant against the run, swallowing up opposing ball-carriers. He was also a pivotal player because he could hold blockers, freeing up Page to wreak havoc on the opposition. When it came down to it, Larsen could still rush the passer effectively, too. The four make up arguably the greatest defensive line tandem in history.

    DT: Alan Page: Arguably the greatest defensive tackle that ever played, Page is a Vikings legend. Head coach Bud Grant had never started a rookie, until Page came along. The Notre Dame product was so quick that he often would be ready to tackle the running back before he received the handoff. Although it didn't happen in the '60s, it still has to be mentioned that he was the first defensive player to win the NFL MVP Award, which he did in 1971. He played with a non-stop motor which endeared him to so many of the Vikings' faithful, who showed up in Canton when the now Minnesota Supreme Court Justice was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988.

    Honorable Mentions: DT Paul Dickson, DB Bobby Bryant.

    Toward the end of the '60s, all the pieces were in place for the Vikings to move from an expansion team to a dominant entity. With Norm Van Brocklin gone and Grant in at head coach, the team put the final pieces together in creating an intimidating and devastating defense, which thrived on pressure and turnovers. The "Purple People Eaters" helped lead the team to great heights. Unfortunately, they were never able to capture the elusive Super Bowl Title.

    In my next installment, I'll look at the 1970s offense.

    There you have it, folks. The All-Time 1960s Minnesota Vikings defense. Feel free to leave comments or email your own choices.

    -Eric Krupka can be reached at [email protected]

    The All-Time 1960s Minnesota Vikings (Defense)

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    whackthepack is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: The All-Time 1960s Minnesota Vikings Defense

    Singer great article, if you get the other ones can you please post them.

    I think the 1969 defense of the Vikings is the best they have ever had, and among the top 5 defenses in the history of the NFL!
    What we've got here is failure to communicate.

  3. #3
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    Re: The All-Time 1960s Minnesota Vikings Defense

    "whackthepack" wrote:
    Singer great article, if you get the other ones can you please post them.

    I think the 1969 defense of the Vikings is the best they have ever had, and among the top 5 defenses in the history of the NFL!
    You bet I will.

    FYI, the 60's offense one I posted last week. Here's the link;

    The All-Time 1960s Minnesota Vikings (Offense)

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  4. #4
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    Re: The All-Time 1960s Minnesota Vikings Defense

    There were many things that I enjoyed growing up in the 60's.

    Watching these guys play was at the top of that list.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  5. #5
    Prophet Guest

    Re: The All-Time 1960s Minnesota Vikings Defense

    I was never a big Bobby Bryant fan. I drew a blank on Rip Hawkins.

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