SUPER BOWL IX RUNNER UP 1974 MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Super Bowl IX!  Although the Vikings lost to Pittsburgh 16-6, this team outlasted the Rams 14-10 in the NFC Championship Game to get there.  This was the second of 3 Super Bowl appearances in a 4 year span after drafting Chuck Foreman, from The [[_]], and acquiring Fran Tarkenton in a trade from the Giants. vikingix

This was the Purple People Eaters at their best.  John Gilliam was a tremendous deep threat, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Alan Page (NFL MVP in ’71), and Gary Larsen were still the best front four in football and were in the midst of a division dominance that ruled the NFC Central for the better part of 8 years.

They didn’t win the Super Bowl but still had a hell of a run and should have more Hall of Famers off of that team:  Jim Marshall and Chuck Foreman. Foreman was as dominant a RB in the mid 70s as any.  He carried the Vikings to 3 Super Bowls in 4 years and was a leading receiver out of the backfield.  He was Marshall Faulk, Thurman Thomas, and Marcus Allen before they were and in a bigger body. One game that ruined his legacy was in of all places Buffalo to end the 1975 season.  super-bowl-logo-1974

In the same game where Fran Tarkenton threw for his 291st career touchdown pass to move ahead of Johnny Unitas, Chuck Foreman and OJ Simpson were putting on a clinic and were both after the NFL all time touchdown records for a season.  Well Chuck got 4 to OJ’s 3 but OJ finished with 23TDs to Chuck’s 22 to set the record.

Problem was Chuck had to leave the game after getting hit in the face with a snowball when he scored his 4th touchdown in the 4th quarter…had he scored a 5th he would have tied OJ for the single season touchdown record of 23 that would be later broken by John Riggins (24 in 1983) and an all time record may have garnered him some votes.

Yet Bud Grant’s team was aging having made their 3rd title appearance in 6 years. They were in the middle of a historic run when you look back on it. Those title losses could have reshaped history. Had they won Super Bowl IV against KC, it would have made the Jets win in the season before, a total fluke. The score would have been NFL3 to AFL1 in Super Bowl competition.

They would have kept Don Shula’s Dolphins from becoming a dynasty in VIII and would have stopped an emerging Steeler team in IX. However once they fell to the Steelers, you had to wonder if it was in their psyche to underplay in championship competition.

They had to look at Super Bowl IX and feel they gave one away.

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SUPER BOWL VIII RUNNER UP 1973 MINNESOTA VIKINGS

This was the bauble the Vikings won making it to Super Bowl VIII. Once there they lost to Miami 24-7 yet polished off Dallas 27-10 in the NFC Championship Game. It was the first of 3 in a 4 year run after drafting Chuck Foreman (The U) and  acquiring Fran Tarkenton in a trade with the Giants.

Bowl VIIIThis was the Purple People Eaters at their best.  They threatened to have an undefeated season until a late season upset at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons on a Monday night. The Vikings were 9-0 and the last unbeaten team.  Although they finished 12-2, Pete Rozelle’s schedule makers were trying to negate their cold weather home field advantage. They played 4 of their last 5 on the road where their 2 losses came. They were very close to going undefeated had they a more fair schedule.

Could this have been backlash against Bud Grant for saying Don Shula had an unfair advantage being on the NFL competition committee??

Chuck Foreman was rookie of the year with 1,363 total yards from scrimmage and 15 TDs.  John Gilliam was a tremendous deep threat with 42 receptions, 907 yards and 8 touchdowns. The play action was set up by the 6th best rushing attack that ran for 2,275 yards in 1973. Aside from Foreman, Oscar Reed (401 yds), Ed Marinaro (302 yds of 80’s tvHill Street Blues fame), Dave Osborn (216 yds), Bill Brown (206 yds), and even Fran Tarkenton pitched in with (202 yds) and everyone had a better than 4.0 avg per rush.

viii44Bud Grant’s ball control offense rested the NFC’s sixth best defense. Led by Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, Alan Page (NFL MVP in ’71), and Gary Larsen, they were still the best front four in football and were in the midst of a division dominance that ruled the NFC Central for the better part of 8 years.

super-bowl-logo-1973They came up short in Rice Stadium vs the Dolphins but with their offense intact they would have a few more chances. Everyone was still in their prime  Carl Eller, Jim Marshall, and Chuck Foreman should ALL be in the Hall!!

Chuck Foreman Should Be In The Hall Of Fame

Versatile Chuck Foreman receiving a handoff from Fran Tarkenton in Super Bowl IX.

There are several definitions of a champion and fewer for what constitutes a Hall of Fame player. When asked a week or so ago what I thought a Hall of Fame player was I responded “If you were to talk about a decade or era in which a player participated and you couldn’t talk about that time frame without that person’s mention. If you can’t he’s a Hall of Famer.” Chuck Foreman was such a player.

Has there ever been a running back that was more emulated than this 1970s icon?? When you look back at Foreman’s numbers, they don’t jump out at you. However it was his immediate impact on the entire football landscape that made him important. Every NFL fan can remember his spin moves and patented lateral side step moves that left linebackers reaching for him instead of getting a full on shot. If you close your eyes right now you can picture the famous shot from Super Bowl XI against the Raiders as he spun off two defenders. He was one of the breath-taking runners of the 1970’s…and before we get into the full argument, remember he spent many of his best years as a fullback. Yes, at fullback!

What impact are we talking about?? For starters the 1972 Minnesota Vikings were a run by committee team that only averaged 3.7 yards per rush as they gained 1,740 yards. Foreman’s insertion into the line-up as a rookie catapulted those numbers to 4.2 yards and a team total of 2,275 yards. Although he missed two games, he led the team with 801 yards while opening up the passing game being such a threat from the backfield. The Vikings went from 7-7 and fading from the promise of  a Super Bowl IV appearance a few years back, to 12-2 and NFC Champions in 1973.  Foreman reinvigorated the franchise.

 

Over the next three seasons, Foreman was as strong a force the NFL had seen when it comes to scoring production. He rushed for over 1,000 yards each season. Not only did he lead the Vikings back to the Super Bowl two more times, he set the standard for running back catching passes out of the backfield. Did you know in 1975 he led the NFL with 73 receptions??

This was the same year he rushed for 1,070 yards and scored an astounding 22 touchdowns. This tied him with the old record of 22 touchdowns with Gale Sayers because during the same game, OJ Simpson set the record with 23. Not to be outdone he scored 4TDs in that game when facing off against another great back. This was one of the landmark games in NFL history. Not only did OJ and Foreman (172 total yards & 4TDs) put on a show, Fran Tarkenton broke the NFL’s all time touchdown record by John Unitas throwing his 291st.

During the period 1974-1976, Foreman scored a league high 51 touchdowns. This was Chuck in his prime and before you compare his best 3 year period with any other running back’s best 3 year period remember this… Foreman had these numbers in a 14 game season, not the 16 game campaign.

  • Chuck Foreman – 1974-1976 : 51 touchdowns
  • OJ Simpson – 1973-1975 : 39 touchdowns
  • Franco Harris – 1975-1977 : 36 touchdowns
  • Jim Brown – 1963-1965: 45 touchdowns          *all were 14 game seasons
  • Marshall Faulk – 1999-2001: 59 touchdowns *Set TD record at 26 in 2000
  • Emmitt Smith – 1994-1996: 62 touchdowns    *Set TD record at 25 in 1995
  • Barry Sanders – 1989-1991: 47 touchdowns

However a closer look at his touchdown numbers reveal that his totals for ’74-’76 project to a whopping 57 scores had he maintained the same pace for a 16 game season. He measures up fairly well with these 6 Hall of Fame backs when it comes to scoring. That is the name of the game isn’t it?? It’s not just yards, its scoring, impact on the game, and winning. Even when you look at OJ Simpson’s yardage for his career it’s really a 5 year period that his work was condensed from 1972-1976. So to talk about a players career in a condensed time frame in their prime isn’t foolish. OJ had five 1,000 yard seasons to Foreman’s three. If that was enough to make OJ NFL Films “Hero of the Decade” for the 1970s, where does that leave Foreman who’s spin move was copied by fellow 70’s runners Walter Payton and Tony Dorsett?? Who also clearly outscored Simpson during their heyday.

His Vikings went to 3 Super Bowls in 4 years and only the “Hail Mary”  playoff loss to Dallas kept them from going to 4 straight.

 

He changed the way the game was played from the running back position. It was the Vikings realizing they could free him from the logjam of the line of scrimmage by throwing it to him instead of handing it to him. For his career he caught 50 or more receptions in a season five times during his career. Compare that to only 2 for Lynn Swann who is in the Hall of Fame as a receiver in the same era. For his career he ran for 5,950 yards 53TDs, which doesn’t include another 3,156 yards and another 23 scores. In the end, Foreman was burned out before his time.

  • Yet when you have a player match Gale Sayers for the second best touchdown total of 22 in a season.
  • Win the 1973 NFL Rookie of The Year
  • Made 5 straight Pro Bowls
  • He immediately turned a fading Vikings team into the winningest team in the NFC over a four-year period 45-10-1 and 3 conference championships.

If it’s about making an immediate impact and being an unforgettable talent, than Chuck Foreman needs to take his place with other great backs. One trend which has gone on too long is the omission of Minnesota Vikings from the 1970s not making the Hall of Fame because of Super Bowl losses. Foreman sits within that abyss and the situation needs to be rectified. As a one of a kind talent from “The [[_]]”, his playing style was mimicked by a generation of up and coming running backs and he hasn’t been forgotten by legions of NFL fans. If that is not enough, we have to redefine the definition of a Hall of Famer.

For induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I present to you: Chuck Foreman

provided by Tony Janetto

Chuck Foreman in motion. Just as we remembered him…compliments of Tony Janetto

If you want to get in touch with Chuck…and more on this talent hit him up at https://www.facebook.com/chuck.444444?fref=ts 

Please lend your thoughts as well by writing in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame to the address below. Please be respectful and positively lend your voice:

Please write & nominate #44
Send letters to:
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Attention Senior Selection Committee
2121 George Halas Dr NW, Canton, 
OH 44708

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