Editorial: QB woes plague Vikes for decades

Published 8:42 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The problem with the Minnesota Vikings this year is the same problem that has perplexed the franchise for more than 20 years: There is no solid star quarterback.

NFL teams that are good usually have a guy who is unquestionably the QB. They hold the position for years. He is The Guy.

Brett Favre was with Green Bay for 13 years. The injured Tom Brady was the quarterback for New England for seven years, and when he recovers he will have his job back. Just look at the list: Tony Romo in Dallas. Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Eli Manning in New York. Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle. Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia. Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh.

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That’s how teams function. When you think of the team, you immediately identify the QB.

But with the Vikings, every year or two the starting quarterback changes. In fact, starters usually change mid-season. There’s no clear No. 1 guy.

It’s been since Warren Moon that the Viking had that. Moon was the quarterback from 1994 to 1996. But that’s just three years near the end of his stellar career, mostly with the Houston Oilers — the team most people identify him with.

It’s really been since Tommy Kramer that the team had an unquestionable Vikings quarterback. Kramer started from 1979 to 1984. Then in 1985 began the team’s QB shambles with Wade Wilson. In the mid-1980s Kramer often was injured and had off-field problems. In the early 1990s Rich Gannon started, but he never seemed clearly The Guy. He was released in 1992.

Brad Johnson was going to be The Guy starting in 1997, but injuries led to team to Randall Cunningham, quarterback for the high-powered 15-1 team in 1998. The Vikes traded Johnson. Then in 1999 Cunningham was benched in favor of Jeff George, who then was let go in the off-season.

OK, you might say Daunte Culpepper was clearly the QB for the Vikings from 2000 to 2005, but he was always being groomed for later success. His first season was great, but he never became the undoubted star fans hoped for.

When the Vikings find a star quarterback, maybe they will find the money the team pays for other positions produces more victories.